Clifford May
Clifford May
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Pundicity: Informed Opinion and Review

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Winning an unconventional war

February 10, 2016  •  The Washington Times

War is — and always will be — hell. The Law of Armed Conflict is not meant to change that — only to make it a little less hellish. There are weapons you agree not to use. In exchange, your enemy doesn't use those weapons against you. You treat captured combatants humanely. You expect the same when your soldiers are taken prisoner.

It's a rational and enlightened concept and, in the global war of the 21st century, it has failed spectacularly. Those who call themselves jihadis feel bound only by their reading of Islamic law — not by the Geneva Conventions and other international obligations and restrictions.

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The Islamist wears Dolce & Gabbana

February 3, 2016  •  The Washington Times

In the "culture" section of the venerable Atlantic magazine last month, there was a news item I wouldn't want you to miss: "The Italian fashion house Dolce & Gabbana has just launched a line of hijabs (headscarves) and abayas (cloaks) in the label's signature playful, theatrical aesthetic."

The article's author, "fashion historian" Kimberly Chrisman-Campbell, goes on to wax enthusiastic about how these "pieces" are being "accessorized," including with "oversized sunglasses, cocktail rings, stilettos, and statement bags." She saves for the last paragraph, her analysis of the deep meaning of these stylistic innovations:

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Skirmishes on the Indian front

January 27, 2016  •  The Washington Times

DELHI — What do you make of this month's attacks on Pathankot Air Force Station and Bacha Khan University? My guess is you don't know — you've heard next to nothing about either.

In part, that may be because the Indian subcontinent is very far from America. On the other hand, aren't we supposed to be living in a global village? The media's inattention also may reflect the view, recently expressed by trendsetter Barack Obama, that it's "over the top" to suggest we are engaged in "World War III." If there's no world war, why should distant battles concern us?

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The threat to America's national existence

January 20, 2016  •  The Washington Times

President Obama judged the Islamic State the "JV team," boasted that he'd set al Qaeda "on its heels" and implemented successful counterterrorism policies in Yemen. He insists that both the nuclear deal and the hostages-for-felons swap he concluded with Iran's rulers are triumphs of diplomacy. In his State of the Union address last week, he reassured us that our enemies do not "threaten our national existence." Why am I not filled with optimism?

"Existential threat" is a term that has been most commonly used in recent years about Israel, a nation-state that Islamists aim to exterminate. As Iran's rulers have noted, the detonation of just one nuclear weapon on Israeli soil could be the quickest means to achieve that goal.

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Erdogan and the meaning of Hitler

January 6, 2016  •  The Washington Times

It's one of those questions political science majors debate over too many beers at the college pub: Which is better, a parliamentary system or a government headed by a powerful chief executive?

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was asked that question last week. He replied that he was inclined toward the latter, noting that there "are examples in the world" that have worked rather well. One sprang to mind: "You can see it when you look at Hitler's Germany," he said.

Oh, yeah. That was a successful government model if one puts aside well, you know.

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