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Sunday, November 23, 2003
Notes from Dr. Daniel Pipes' lecture
Last week, on November 18th, the Middle East Forum at Brandeis (MEFAB) hosted a speech by Dr. Daniel Pipes.
Below are the transcribed notes of the talk as reported by Josh over at JawsBlog. Please note that these notes are not comprehensive and some things may have been ommitted. Also, I did interject some personal commentary here and there, and I've tried to seperate it from the main parts of the notes on the talk.
The lecture was held in Sherman Function Hall. There was a small police barracade set up outside the building (to prevent run away cars?) and there were two Brandeis police vehicles and one Waltham cop car. Inside the building there a few cops and a lot of plain clothes security people (I don't know if they were bodyguards or just private security).
At first I'd say only 150chairs were set up, and that was a woefully inadequate number. Slowly but surely more people began to enter the hall, and more chairs were quickly brought out and set up, but in the end the hall was quite full and people were sitting both on the floor and standing. As for the planned protesters, there were no more than 10-15 people dressed in black (the protesters plan), combined with a handful of professors who you could tell were part of the anti-Pipes crowd. Then there appeared to be many school officials (the "suits") and some staff members from other University departments (such as Student Life, Campus Life). There were a small number of people from outside of Brandeis, but the large majority of people in attendance were none other than Brandeis students. There was a really big crowd in attendance, maybe 300-400 people? (I'm not good at these kinds of estimates).
The presentation began with an individual from the office of Student Life [whose name I'll omit b/c it's not relevant] who gave the general "were honored to have..." shpeil, than went on to read the "Core Values of Division of Student Life".
The floor was then turned over to the President of the Mid East Forum at Brandeis (MEFAB), who gave a biographicalintroduction for Dr. Pipes, and explained that Dr. Pipes would first be speaking and then there would be a moderated Q and A session after he was done talking. She asked that due to time constraints, people only come with one Question (and then one subsequent follow-up), and in the process, that they please keep their questions short and to the point. She also kindly asked that people not interrupt the speech, and that if they wanted to hold up signs during the talk, they do so in the back of the room as not to block anyones view of the speaker.
Then what everyone was waiting for--Dr. Pipes got up (to a large chorus of applause) and began to speak.
Dr. Pipes began by saying that while he'd been invited to speak as part of panels previously at Brandeis, this was his first "General Talk" at the Unviersity!
He said the theme of the talk was going to be "The Middle East Crisis: A review of the bidding". Pipes said that he was going to focus on what he called the "Three "I"s": "Islam [and the War On Terror], Israel [and the Arabs] and Iraq".
He started out with the War On Terror [WoT] and Islam:
Pipes said that the War On Terror didn't start on 9/11/01; rather, war against the US was unilaterally declared by radical Islam back in 1979, when two major episodes occured. The first, is the well known taking of the US Embassy in Iran and then the lesser known attacks on two US missions in Pakistan.
Then attacks against the US by Islamic radicals really began to increase. Pipes pointed out some of the better known incidents--such as the 1993 WTC bombing, the 1998 bombings of US Embassies in Tanzania and Kenya, the attack on the USS Cole. Pipes also mentions that there were other lesser known terror attacks within the US. For example, the shooting at the Empire State Buidling (1997), the 1993 shooting outside the CIA headquarters, and the 1994 Brooklyn Bridge shooting. [Josh notes:Pipes only mentioned a few specific indicdents in his talk--although, many more occured and Pipes has mentioned these in his writings. These events include the Beruit bombings, Khobar Towers, the Kahane Assasination, the Achile Lauro]
Pipes noted that at the time, the belief was that these cases could be dealt with stricly through the Judiciary system. Everything could be handled by law enforcement. Pipes noted that in some of the cases we did get the men responsible, however, that didn't solve the problem. [Josh notes: The FBI and the police departments also did drop the ball in some of the cases, as did the JTTF, but that wasn't part of Pipes' talk--however he's mentioned it in his columns].
Pipes said that on September 11, 2001 things changed in the way we were going to fight terrorism. We were no longer going to fight with the Judiciary alone. Now we were going to bring in the military and our intellegence agencies to fight this battle. The United States was going to go after the terrorist, defund them, destroy their bases (such as uprooting the Taliban)--in short, we were going to take "active steps" against terror.
However, Pipes noted, this was just one phase of the battle. There's a second phase that needs to take place--a war against ideology: the war against militant Islamic ideology. Pipes went to great lengths to sperate Islam the religon/faith from radical Islam the ideology. He said they were two different things. One was a religion--one was an ideology of radicalism that needed fought.
This resumse on the second of the three "I"s, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
Pipes says that there's a major misconception in the discussion of the Israeli-Palesitinian issue.
That misconception is the result of the letter which Arafat apparently sent the late Israeli PM Rabin saying that the Palestinians accepted Israel. The misconception was that there were just details that needed worked out, and that these would be accomplished through the diplomacy of the Oslo accords.
Over the course of the years since the Oslo accords were originally signed (September 1993), the Palestinians saw Israel as being weaker than she ever was before--in their eyes Israel was a demoralized nation. Naturally, this fed into the excitement of the radical terror groups (Jihad Islami, Hamas).
At the same time, there was nothing in the Palestinian Authority to indicate that they'd come to accept Israel [aside: there's nothing to this day]--one needn't look further than the Palistinan media, the speeches of the leadership, nothing in the newspapers, and the Friday sermons in the Mosques--forget it.
The Palestinians then decided with the start of their latest round of violence in 2000 that they'd be able to force this "demoralized" Israel into making concessions. And as a result of enough concessions, they'd be able to destroy Israel.
All in all, Pipes said that the diplomacy of the 1990s has turned out to be counter-productive in terms of an Arab-Israeli peace accord.
There were three main points:
First: To learn that diplomacy doesn't always work--as such, diplomacy shouldn't be used unless the circumstances are right.
Second, regarding the current state of affairs: one side must win, one side must lose. There's no meeting in the middle. There's gotta be a winner and a loser. The arabs are either going to continue to work to destroy Israel or they must learn to accept Israel.
Third, as for the United States, Pipes basically said that the first US goal should be to get the Palistinians to actually (genuinely) accept Israel's existance. And US policy must change in order to meet this goal.
Now onto the third major part of his lecture, the third "I": Iraq
Pipes was originally against Operation Desert Storm in 1991 (he didn't explain why), but he admitted that he was pleased with the outcome. However in 1998 the sanctions regime established by the UN after the Gulf War began to crumble as many of us know. Ultimately, Saddam Hussein broke the ceasefire and something needed to be done.
Now in 2002-3 Pipes supported war against Iraq. We were doing two things by kicking out Saddam Hussein---we were living up to our side of the agreement, and penalizing him for breaking the ceasefire. We were also establishing our doctorine of pre-emption (against terrorist supporting nations).
As for post-war Iraq, Pipes isn't the biggest fan of the administration's current course of action. He thought that there should've been a "Democratically minded 'Strongman'"--a harmless dictator built on the Turkey, Tiwan model. Pipes then thought that we should keep US troops in the country, but they should pull out to desert bases and let Iraqis run their country for themselves. We needn't pay and do things for them. This isn't a case of rebuilding a country (like Germany and Japan were), rather we just liberated Iraq, we didn't defeat it.
And with that Pipes recaped what he said and moved on to Questions...
Now the floor opened up to Questions from the crowd. People were instructed to keep their questions to a simple one line thing (rather than make a statement), due to time constraints. They were then allowed a follow-up question.
I don't have most of the questions written down verbatim, but I tried to capture the important part.
Q: What is your response to the allegations made against you?
A: This all began with a "radical" group known as the Council on American Islamic Relgations. This group is an apologist for terrorist groups, and their leaders want the US to be an Islamic country. [Aside from Josh: for more on CAIR see LGF or this piece by Pipes himself with bibliography]
CAIR maintains a list of quotes and publishes it. Pipes then said something along the lines of that a lot of the criticism comes from "some people who don't do their own thinking"
Pipes then said that the first victims of militant Islam are muslims; militant/radical Islam has the microphone, loud voices and this includes voices and professorships on college/university campuses.
Q: About the Oslo accords and a peace plan (a request for clarification/elaboration)
Israel made a mistake with Oslo. There shouldn't be talks until the Palestinians are ready [in other words to stop terror and recognize Israel]. Peace treaties also don't "trickle down" to influence the public's perceptions either (look at Egypt)
As for settlements and the "right of return"--no talks until the Palestinians make the initial steps.
Q: How can the War On Terror not be perceived as a Judeo-Christian War against Islam?
A: Add any and all anti-radical Islamists should be added to the coalition.
There's an intramural war that'll need to take place within Islam itself, the moderates vs. the radicals--and this battle is for the future of the religion.
This isn't the first war that's been fought against an ideology. Look at WWII, then there was the Cold War against Marism-Leninism.
As for the Rummsfeld Memo that got leaked to the press, Pipes commented that there needs to be a counter influence on the Madrasas. Pipes agreed with Rummsfeld that we need to somehow counter their ideas.
Q: On the Patriot Act: is it against "thoughts"? How doesn't it infringe on Civil Liberties?
[Aside: I was suprised this was asked. Dr Pipes isn't a lawyer, nor does he work for the DOJ...seemed like an odd question]
A: The act is over 400+ pages long; before it was passed Law enforcement couldn't liase with the military and now they can--which is helpful. Local law enforcement and the FBI now no longer have "firewalls" up between them and are able to share information which can help fight terror.
Q: You (Pipes) say its the aim of the Palestinians to destroy Israel, but how can they improve their live under occupation and the substandard conditions? And what about the "Geneva Accords"?
A: Pipes dismissed the idea of the Geneva accords. Noted what he'd said before about Diplomacy, and said he sees no change in the Palestinan mindset about destroying Israel.
Q: In reference to the following quote [and only the quote] from a 1990 article in National Review (NRODT):
Western European societies are unprepared for the massive immigration of brown-skinned peoples cooking strange foods and maintaining different standards of hygiene---Source
A: Pipes notes that that was one quote taken very much out of context. It was written in 1990, right after the end of the Cold War--the collapse of communism. Pipes saw radical Islam as the next global threat (to replace communism).
Pipes tells people to read the next paragraph of the article. He says that the purpose of the quote was to show how the French and German perceived muslims at the time. Not Americans--Europeans, mainly the French and Germans. As for the part about hygine--Pipes simply said, look at the contrast in standards of hygine between the US and Germany. Then compare Germany and the Mid-East or Pakistan...that's all it was.
Then Pipes says something along the lines of, this is what happens when people takes clippings from CAIR and other readings..they never read the article in full (*crowd applauds*).
[Aside: See this page where Pipes responds to CAIRs challenges in detail]
Q: Another question about a quote...What about innocense before guilt? The quote in question was:
‘Mosques require a scrutiny beyond that applied to churches, synagogues and temples"
Pipes explained that the gov't has limited resources and should be scrutinicizing things that are ordinarilly suspect. Look at the Gitmo espionage case. The DoD eventually said it would rescreen all its chaplains, but it would take a while b/c it doesn't have the resources, rahter than just investigating its muslim chaplains (who are much much smaller in number).
[note: if you read the above article you'll see the rest of what Pipes basically said]
Pipes also argued that as a society were' becoming hyper-politically correct. We're not really serious about conducting the war on terror if we're gonna be this PC.
Q: Seeming that the second biggest terror attack on US soil was perpetrated by a Christian [OKC in '95 and Tim McVeigh] why not be equally stringent about Christian Fundimentalists?
A: Were there a campaign going back 24 years, I'd say to take more action against 'em.
Our country also isn't being very stringent about Muslims and terror. Look at the July 4, 2002 shooting at LAX. First it was criminal, then eventually the FBI reclassified it as terror. But the gov't was hesitant about doing so. They kept trying to downplay it as a disgruntled man See this column too
As for the KKK and anti-abortion groups, they're a problem Pipes notes. but they're not threat to the nation as a whole (on the same level as radical Islam). They aren't on the rise in number, nor do they have any state-sponsors for their actions.
Then returned to the "hygine" topic and said it had nothing to do with ideology.
Q: About the Patriot act: doesn't t suspend rights?
A: Get realistic (regarding our situation). We may need to moderate things, but only temporarilly, because if we don't and something happens, we could lose more rights.
*At this point in time, it's about 1:05-1:10PM and there's only time for 1 more question
So up to the microphone comes one of my least favorite professors. The head of the peace studies program. I wish I had the quote virbatim, but I'll have to make do with what I could get.
Q: Isn't it dangerous to characterize movements in such a binary fashion as being "good" or "bad"? And don't you think the previous actions of the US may have fed into odious feelings (of the terrorists)?
A: Pipes chuckles. [Then 10 students dressed in black, in front row, stand up, throw up some flyers and walk out of room. crowd starts to boo].
Then Pipes simply said that past American actions have nothing to do with it. Then he says: "militant Islam is an evil ideology and I hate it...and if that makes me binary, then I'm binary".
*Crowd erupts in applause, cheering, standing ovation. Gordies' students (a few) congregate around him. People are still clapping. Then crowd leaves the room (people have to get to class--like me)
Outside of Sherman there are ~10 protesters with signs saying "Impeach Pipes from US Institute of Peace", and another one with pictures of Pipes and Joe McCarthy and it mentions Campus Watch, then another sign saying "don't hate, tolerate". Most people just walk by ignoring it.
The Weekly Standard Memo
From the November 24, 2003 issue: The U.S. government's secret memo detailing cooperation between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden.
The Saddam-Osama Memo (cont.)
A close examination of the Defense Department's latest statement.
and Hayes' response to Newsweek's criticism