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What Geert Wilders and the Ottomans have in common

The legal and philosophical conclusions of Geert Wilders’ proposals look oddly like something from Ottoman history

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Upon the break-up of The Beatles, John Lennon wrote a song called God, a kind of pessimistic surrender to nihilism after the idealism of his quests for spiritual fulfilment and his idealistic Beatles years, came to an end at the same time.

The Netherlands, the culture that once sheltered Spinoza and the first western European society to embrace the idea of freedom of religion, has now surrendered to nihilism.

It is not difficult to understand why this surrender to nihilism has come about. Many of the shibboleths upon which contemporary Dutch society is built, have crumbled. Many of the modern Dutch ideals have failed.

The Netherlands is a country where certain regions remain highly religious and it is one where big cities are filled with legalised drugs and prostitution. However strange this contradiction might seem, it is one which the Netherlands has just about been at peace with in the modern era.

The Netherlands is a country that has prided itself on tolerance and open borders, but increasingly finds itself ill at ease with what this has looked like in real life, as opposed to mere theoretical pontificates.

Now, a man who is correctly known as a tyrant, a supreme egotist, an irrational individual and political Islamist, has done more to expose the contradictions of Dutch society than he has done to weaken Turkish society. The contradictions he has exposed may be insurmountable, unless the Netherlands radically reconstructs its present legal and cultural realities.

Although Erdgoan appears to be as powerful as ever in terms of his iron grip on Turkey, as Ataturk wisely said, “They go as they come”. When Erodogan finally bites off more than he can chew and with such men this is almost inevitable unless he dies or retires suddenly, Turkey may indeed have a Kemalist backlash that many are hoping for.

Holland’s future path is far more murky because it is mired in contradiction whereas Erdogan’s Turkey is a more straightforward clash between Erdogan’s neo-Ottoman, strongman political Islam versus the secular Kemalism which defined the Turkish state and Turkish cultural identity  from the 1920s up to Erdogan’s consolidation of power.

After years of  legally allowing and indeed welcoming foreigners into The Netherlands,  many mainstream Dutch politicians seem unwilling to live up to their end of the bargain.

The foreigners that came to the Netherlands came to a land of free speech and multi-culturalism. The foreigners did not invent such laws, the Dutchmen and Dutch women did so.

Now, generations later, many Dutch people do not like what they see. In many ways it is too late to undo the changes that Dutch leaders brought on as a result of their own policies.

If one has selective free speech laws, then free speech is dead. One cannot say that Dutch people can speak freely about issues ranging from Protestantism versus Catholicism versus atheism, but that Moroccans legally living in Amsterdam cannot pray to Mecca in public or that Turks legally in Rotterdam cannot make public speeches about Turkish political affairs.

It would be hypocrisy to have selective free speech and call it a right. The Dutch are however, welcome to have free speech as a privilege for some and not for others, but this of course would mean having several classes of citizenship, which isn’t unheard of in world history.

Prior to and in some instances even after the Tanzimât reforms of the 19th century, Ottoman Turkey had what we can retrospectively label as multi-tiered levels of citizenship or more accurately, subjecthood.

Ottoman society was divided into Millets, legal units wherein each confessional community had their own degree of autonomous law making. Leaders of Orthodox communities, Armenian communities, Jewish communities etc, had leaders who would determine the local/community destinies of their own people within the Ottoman Empire.

In exchange for this, non-Muslims had to pay a jizya (religious tax for non-Muslims) to the Ottoman state. It was a tremendous source of revenue for the Ottoman Empire. Additionally, non-Muslims had to acknowledge the legal supremacy of Islam in the wider legal system, although at times local autonomy worked surprisingly sufficiently in day to day legal disputes.

In today’s Dutch society, it is both possible and legal to prohibit non-EU migration. If the Netherlands withdraws from the EU and from associated border agreements such as Schengen, it will be possible for The Netherlands to end all immigration should they wish to. It is their legal right.

The more immediate issue though is what to do with non-Dutch individuals living legally in The Netherlands?

The legally simple solution would be to have one law for all. This is how things work at present, but Dutch people are largely unhappy with it, as it means that Turks can use their free speech rights to wave Turkish flags in public and give speeches about Turkish politics with the same legal ease as a Dutch protestant preaching about Christ or a Dutch atheist displaying pornography.

If the popularity of politicians like Geert Wilders is any indication, many in The Netherlands are happy to have Protestants and pornographers in public, but not politically minded Turks. This is their right to favour both moral ends of the native cultural spectrum over foreign cultures, but legally things will need to drastically change in order for Dutch people to see this come to pass.

Legally, it is very difficult to kick people out of a country who have the legal right of residence. It is almost impossible to kick out citizens, even if they hold the passport of more than one nation. Ethically, many think it is wrong to withdraw one’s legal rights in such circumstances anyway. I am not passing judgement on any of these issues, I am simply listing manifest realities.

So if the same free speech and freedom or worship laws for all is unacceptable to people like Wilders (who speaks for a large portion if not the majority of modern Dutch society) and kicking all non-ethnic Dutch people out would be too fraught and likely violent, where does that leave The Netherlands?

It logical leads to the concept of various tiers of citizenship/legal residence. It leaves the Netherlands with, a Millet system. Under such a system, Dutch Christians and atheists and given the philo-Semitism of Wilders, Jews as well, would be able to have the full rights of free speech and worship.

Likewise, Muslims whether Arab or Turkish or Indonesian would not be able to pray publicly, not be able to build mosques and not be able to engage in political demonstrations, however peaceful, in support of Muslim politicians from foreign lands, men like Erdogan.

If these proposals seem hyperbolic, they are not. Wilders wants to do all of this, but I don’t know if he’s thought the legal and philosophic implications through.

If the Netherlands leaves the EU and its associated conventions, it could do this as a sovereign state. It could create its own Millet system in all but name. Of course there would be differences with its Ottoman Turkish counterpart.

If Wilders is to be believed, the legal and fiscal autonomy of the Dutch Millets would be far more restrictive than those in pre-Tanzimât Ottoman Turkey. But that would be his right if he became the head of government in a sovereign Dutch state.

In regretting the collective decision to allow for mass multi-faith and multi-ethnic immigration for decades, the Dutch have found themselves backed against the wall. The small, sub-sea level Kingdom may become a bite-sized Ottoman Empire after all. The road paved by Dutch nihilism has ironically led an exasperated people not on the road to Damascus but to Ottoman Constantinople.

The irony is confounding to say the least.

 

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Trump Has Gifted “No More Wars” Policy Position To Bernie Sanders (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 148.

Alex Christoforou

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RT CrossTalk host Peter Lavelle and The Duran’s Alex Christoforou discuss how US President Donald Tump appears to have ceded his popular 2016 ‘no more wars’ campaign message and policy position to Bernie Sanders and any other US 2020 candidate willing to grad onto a non-interventionist approach to the upcoming Democrat primaries.

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“Is Bernie Stealing Trump’s ‘No More Wars’ Issue?” by Patrick J. Buchanan…


The center of gravity of U.S. politics is shifting toward the Trump position of 2016.

“The president has said that he does not want to see this country involved in endless wars… I agree with that,” Bernie Sanders told the Fox News audience at Monday’s town hall meeting in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

Then turning and staring straight into the camera, Bernie added:

“Mr. President, tonight you have the opportunity to do something extraordinary: Sign that resolution. Saudi Arabia should not be determining the military or foreign policy of this country.”

Sanders was talking about a War Powers Act resolution that would have ended U.S. involvement in the five-year civil war in Yemen that has created one of the great humanitarian crises of our time, with thousands of dead children amidst an epidemic of cholera and a famine.

Supported by a united Democratic Party on the Hill, and an anti-interventionist faction of the GOP led by Sens. Rand Paul and Mike Lee of Utah, the War Powers resolution had passed both houses of Congress.

But 24 hours after Sanders urged him to sign it, Trump, heeding the hawks in his Cabinet and National Security Council, vetoed S.J.Res.7, calling it a “dangerous attempt to weaken my constitutional authorities.”

With sufficient Republican votes in both houses to sustain Trump’s veto, that should be the end of the matter.

It is not: Trump may have just ceded the peace issue in 2020 to the Democrats. If Sanders emerges as the nominee, we will have an election with a Democrat running on the “no-more-wars” theme Trump touted in 2016. And Trump will be left defending the bombing of Yemeni rebels and civilians by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia.

Does Trump really want to go into 2020 as a war party president?

Does he want to go into 2020 with Democrats denouncing “Trump’s endless wars” in the Middle East? Because that is where he is headed.

In 2008, John McCain, leading hawk in the Senate, was routed by a left-wing first-term senator from Illinois, Barack Obama, who had won his nomination by defeating the more hawkish Hillary Clinton, who had voted to authorize the war in Iraq.

In 2012, the Republican nominee Mitt Romney, who was far more hawkish than Obama on Russia, lost.

Yet, in 2016, Trump ran as a different kind of Republican, an opponent of the Iraq War and an anti-interventionist who wanted to get along with Russia’s Vladimir Putin and get out of these Middle East wars.

Looking closely at the front-running candidates for the Democratic nomination of 2020 — Joe Biden, Sanders, Kamala Harris, Beto O’Rourke, Pete Buttigieg, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker — not one appears to be as hawkish as Trump has become.

Trump pulled us out of the nuclear deal with Iran negotiated by Secretary of State John Kerry and reimposed severe sanctions.

He declared Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps a terrorist organization, to which Iran has responded by declaring U.S. Central Command a terrorist organization. Ominously, the IRGC and its trained Shiite militias in Iraq are in close proximity to U.S. troops.

Trump has recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, moved the U.S. Embassy there, closed the consulate that dealt with Palestinian affairs, cut off aid to the Palestinians, recognized Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights seized from Syria in 1967, and gone silent on Bibi Netanyahu’s threat to annex Jewish settlements on the West Bank.

Sanders, however, though he stands by Israel, is supporting a two-state solution and castigating the “right-wing” Netanyahu regime.

Trump has talked of pulling all U.S. troops out of Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. Yet the troops are still there.

Though Trump came into office promising to get along with the Russians, he sent Javelin anti-tank missiles to Ukraine and announced a pullout from Ronald Reagan’s 1987 INF treaty that outlawed all land-based intermediate-range nuclear missiles.

When Putin provocatively sent 100 Russian troops to Caracas — ostensibly to repair the S-400 anti-aircraft and anti-missile system that was damaged in recent blackouts — Trump, drawing a red line, ordered the Russians to “get out.”

Biden is expected to announce next week. If the stands he takes on Russia, China, Israel and the Middle East are more hawkish than the rest of the field, he will be challenged by the left wing of his party, and by Sanders, who voted “no” on the Iraq War that Biden supported.

The center of gravity of U.S. politics is shifting toward the Trump position of 2016. And the anti-interventionist wing of the GOP is growing.

And when added to the anti-interventionist and anti-war wing of the Democratic Party on the Hill, together, they are able, as on the Yemen War Powers resolution, to produce a new bipartisan majority.

Prediction: By the primaries of 2020, foreign policy will be front and center, and the Democratic Party will have captured the “no-more-wars” political high ground that Candidate Donald Trump occupied in 2016.

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Over 200 killed, hundreds injured in series of blasts at Sri Lankan hotels & churches

A series of bombings hit churches and hotels across Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, killing more than 200 people.

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Via RT…


A series of eight explosions rocked Catholic churches and luxury hotels in Sri Lanka as Christians began Easter Sunday celebrations, with over 200 killed and hundreds injured, media reported, citing police.

The blasts started at around 8:45am local time at St. Anthony’s Church in Colombo and St. Sebastian’s Church in Negombo, a Catholic-majority town outside of the capital. The Zion Church in Batticaloa on the eastern coast was also targeted. At around the same time, the Shangri-La, Cinnamon Grand and Kingsbury five-star hotels were also hit, police confirmed.

Two more explosions happened later in the day, targeting two more locations in Colombo. All attacks appear to have been coordinated.

At least 207 people were killed, Reuters reported, citing police. More than 450 were injured in the attacks.

Alleged footage of the aftermath, shared on social media, showed chaos and large-scale destruction inside at least one of the churches.

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Mike Pompeo reveals true motto of CIA: ‘We lied, we cheated, we stole’ (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 147.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris take a look at a Texas A&M University speech, and subsequent interview, with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

The former CIA Director admitted, ‘as an aside’ to the question asked, that the Intelligence agency he headed up before being appointed as the top US Diplomat had a motto “we lied, we cheated, we stole”…which, according to Pompeo, contained entire CIA training courses based on ‘lying, cheating and stealing.’

Pompeo finally speaks some truth.

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