In the aftermath of the attacks of 11 September 2001, amid the grief and rage that followed the toppling of the World Trade Center, President George W Bush did not declare war on Islam. “These acts of violence against innocents,” he told Americans in the week after 3,000 people were killed by Muslim terrorists, “violate the fundamental tenets of the Islamic faith.” The war that Bush went on to declare soon thereafter was not against a religion, but against “terror” – and within that baggy term, he focused on al-Qaida, “a fringe movement”, in Bush’s words, “that perverts the peaceful teaching of Islam”.Sign up to the long read emailRead moreBush’s tact may have been caused by a short-term desire to rein in attacks on American Muslims (and others mistaken for them, such as Sikhs) in the wake of 9/11. But it also served the longer view of the president and his advisers, who believed that the Muslim world, much like everywhere else, was capable of being improved by exposure to democracy, free market capitalism and individual freedoms. In this regard, Bush’s views were in line with the then-influential “end of history” thesis proposed by the American political scientist Francis Fukuyama in 1989. With the end of the cold war, Fukuyama argued, it was only a matter of time before western liberal democracy was recognised everywhere as the best form of government. By the turn of the century, the belief that we were witnessing “the total exhaustion of viable systematic alternatives to western liberalism” was never more widely shared, and it lay behind one of Bush’s professed goals in invading Afghanistan and Iraq: to shepherd the Muslim world towards the universal ideology of liberalism.
One recent afternoon I set out on my old Raleigh bike on a tour of post-Brexit Britain. Two years earlier I had travelled the country on my bike as I researched a book. Now, after the vote for Brexit, I began another journey, this time with an even stronger sense of political disorientation. I wanted to discover what had become of the euphoria and, indeed, anger so present after the referendum of 23 June. For two weeks I cycled through the ex-industrial towns and cities of the Midlands and the north of England, two of the regions I visited in 2014.My method then had been basic and, to some, ill-advised. Over the four months I cycled, I either wild-camped or stayed in the homes of people who had heard about my venture by word of mouth, or whom I’d met along the road, and I asked people, simply: “What is life like here?” I received a bewildering range of responses, from worries about wages or what world their children might inherit, to explanations about ecological and community projects built on a sense of renewal and hope. I encountered generosity and insight into different ways of life in Britain, and last summer published my findings as Island Story, a travelogue in the spirit of William Cobbett and Orwell.
Source: The working class revolts
No one knew much, but the crowd was growing. We were at the rest stop off Highway 29 between Eden and Pelham, where North Carolina meets Virginia, and everyone was looking for the Ku Klux Klan. It was 8.40am.The day after the election of Donald Trump, the Loyal White Knights of Pelham, a chapter of the KKK with a suitably unhinged website, had announced that they would be holding a victory parade on 3 December. In the weeks since, there had been no word on the Knights’ website or anywhere else about when or where the parade would be. But the initial declaration was perhaps the most dramatic manifestation of what we might call the New Emboldening – a coast-to-coast rise in everyday American racism and bigotry spurred by the rhetoric and election of a billionaire who had taken swipes at certain Mexican-Americans and all Mexicans, certain women and all women, certain Muslim-Americans and all Muslims, all African Americans and all immigrants.In the month after the election, the Southern Poverty Law Center had tracked more than 900 incidents targeting non-whites. A Muslim college student in Ann Arbor had been told, by a young white man, to remove her hijab or he would light her on fire. At a Utah high school, two Mexican-American sisters were told by their white classmates, “You get a free trip back to Mexico. You should be happy.”The idea of a Klan rally in this kind of atmosphere was potentially explosive. The KKK had demonstrated a year earlier, in Columbia, South Carolina, and the results had been ugly. Three hundred Klan members had been there. The New Black Panthers had countered with 400 of their own members. In all, there were 2,000 protesters. There were cops in body armour. Ripped Confederate flags. A grandmother with a bloody nose. A Klan member, trying to flee in his vehicle, ran into a lamppost.
It was just a friendly little argument about the fate of humanity. Demis Hassabis, a leading creator of advanced artificial intelligence, was chatting with Elon Musk, a leading doomsayer, about the perils of artificial intelligence.They are two of the most consequential and intriguing men in Silicon Valley who don’t live there. Hassabis, a co-founder of the mysterious London laboratory DeepMind, had come to Musk’s SpaceX rocket factory, outside Los Angeles, a few years ago. They were in the canteen, talking, as a massive rocket part traversed overhead. Musk explained that his ultimate goal at SpaceX was the most important project in the world: interplanetary colonization.Hassabis replied that, in fact, he was working on the most important project in the world: developing artificial super-intelligence. Musk countered that this was one reason we needed to colonize Mars—so that we’ll have a bolt-hole if A.I. goes rogue and turns on humanity. Amused, Hassabis said that A.I. would simply follow humans to Mars.This did nothing to soothe Musk’s anxieties (even though he says there are scenarios where A.I. wouldn’t follow).
You could hear the deep sadness in the preacher’s voice as he named “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today — my own government.” With those words, the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., launched a scathing indictment of America’s war in Vietnam. It was April 4, 1967.
That first antiwar sermon of his seemed to signal a new high tide of opposition to a brutal set of American policies in Southeast Asia. Just 11 days later, unexpectedly large crowds would come out in New York and San Francisco for the first truly massive antiwar rallies. Back then, a protest of at least a quarter of a million seemed yuge.
King signaled another turning point when he concluded his speech by bringing up “something even more disturbing” — something that would deeply disturb the developing antiwar movement as well. “The war in Vietnam,” he said, “is but a symptom of a far deeper malady within the American spirit.”
Donald Trump is so spectacularly horrible that it’s hard to look away – especially now that he’s discovered bombs. But precisely because everyone’s staring gape-mouthed in his direction, other world leaders are able to get away with almost anything. Don’t believe me? Look one country north, at Justin Trudeau.Look all you want, in fact – he sure is cute, the planet’s only sovereign leader who appears to have recently quit a boy band. And he’s mastered so beautifully the politics of inclusion: compassionate to immigrants, insistent on including women at every level of government. Give him great credit where it’s deserved: in lots of ways he’s the anti-Trump, and it’s no wonder Canadians swooned when he took over.But when it comes to the defining issue of our day, climate change, he’s a brother to the old orange guy in Washington.
Fifteen years ago, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was the hope of the Islamic world. He was an Islamist, of course, but that was part of his appeal. As the mayor of Istanbul, one of the world’s great cities, Erdoğan had governed as a charismatic and smart technocrat. He’d served time in prison, in 1999—for reading a poem that seemed to celebrate militant Islam—but his jailers had been the country’s rigid, military-backed secular leaders who, by then, seemed as suited to the present day as dinosaurs. When Erdoğan became Prime Minister, in 2003, every leader in the West wanted him to succeed. In a world still trying to make sense of the 9/11 attacks, he seemed like a bridge between cultures.
The mysterious case of Reza Zarrab, a Turkish-Iranian businessman facing federal charges in New York, has grown even stranger over the past couple of weeks.Zarrab, who is thirty-three, was arrested by F.B.I. agents, in Miami, last March. At the time, he was one of the flashiest and wealthiest businessmen in Turkey. He sported a pouf of black hair; owned twenty houses, seven yachts, and a private jet; was married to one of Turkey’s biggest pop stars; and counted among his friends Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Turkey’s strongman President.The U.S. government, however, believes that Zarrab masterminded a sprawling operation to help the Iranian government evade economic sanctions that were put in place to hinder the country’s nuclear-weapons program. Zarrab’s operation—which relied on what the Turkish government claimed was a legal loophole in the sanctions—involved shipping gold to Iran in exchange for oil and natural gas, which Zarrab then sold. The scheme, according to prosecutors in New York’s Southern District, involved moving enormous amounts of cash, gas, and gold; at the operation’s peak—around 2012—Zarrab was buying a metric ton of gold and shipping it to Iran every day. The Obama Administration protested Zarrab’s operation, which the media dubbed “gas for gold,’’ but he carried on anyway. For the Iranians, the gold was as good as American cash, and it helped shore up the rial, Iran’s currency, whose value was collapsing.
Ak Saray, the residence of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is a complex of around 1,100 rooms in acres of hillside over Ankara. It is not garish or tasteless, like some of Saddam Hussein’s architectural monstrosities were, but then Turkey’s President sees himself not as just another Kalashnikov-wielding strongman, but heir to the legacy of Ottoman sultans.
A few colleagues and I were given a conducted tour of Ak Saray, “White Palace” in English, soon after last summer’s attempted coup, when Erdogan was being presented as a defender of democracy against the perfidy of a treacherous exiled cleric, Fethullah Gulen, and a renegade military faction. But the White Palace definitely seemed a home more befitting a potentate than that of a champion of the people and Turkey’s referendum has now confirmed Erdogan in that position. And, at the same time, any effective international backing for attempts to dethrone him is now relatively meaningless after Donald Trump called him from the White House to congratulate him on his victory.
What critics claim is the openly fraudulent Turkish referendum ends parliamentary democracy in the country and gives President Recep Tayyip Erdogan dictatorial powers. The most unexpected aspect of the poll on Sunday was not the declared outcome, but that the ruling AKP (Justice and Development Party) allegedly found it necessary to fix the vote quite so blatantly.
The tightness of the final outcome of the referendum – 51.4 per cent “yes” to the constitutional changes and 48.59 per cent voting “no” – shows that the “no” voters would have been in the majority in any fairly conducted election.