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Sixty nails in climate alarmism’s coffin By Jerry Shenk

There are plenty of well-credentialed, objective, if little-publicized, climate skeptics, but few who are able to present their material in layman’s terms to an audience of curious, unschooled, but receptive climate truth-seekers.

A new resource provides a point-by-point review and response to each of the climate industry’s claims, citing the “normalcy” of much of their “alarming” data.

In an entertaining, easy-to-read, elegantly-written, meticulously-researched, well-documented and illustrated 143-page book (including citations) entitled “Inconvenient Facts: The science that Al Gore doesn’t want you to know,” geologist Gregory Wrightstone presents a clear picture of the climate alarmism that attracts cynical big-government advocates and grips much of the scientific community, complicit media and the gullible among us.

Wrightstone employs government sources, peer-reviewed publications and other scholarly works to reassure readers that our Earth has become healthier and more prosperous because of rising carbon dioxide and temperature levels, rather than in spite of them.

The book details sixty inconvenient facts. Considering the climate alarmists’ persistent clamor about “scientific consensus.” Arguably, Inconvenient Fact #31 should have appeared first: “Science is not consensus and consensus is not science.”

Wrightstone’s droll observation about the financial incentives driving many career-invested scientists to mislead or overstate the “catastrophic” potential of climate change, often without historical or even scientific context, is spot on: “Fund it and they will find it.”

The book documents as facts that global warming is not happening at anywhere near the rates predicted by climate doomsayers, and that forewarnings of abnormal extreme weather events related to climate change simply haven’t occurred. Wrightstone makes a persuasive case that the “settled science” of global warming — alternately, climate change, extreme weather (or pick the term du jour) — is neither settled nor, in many cases, even science.

Some highlights: Only a trace gas, carbon dioxide isn’t the primary greenhouse gas; CO2’s warming effect declines as its concentration increases; and CO2 is plant food, so more of it means moister soil, fewer droughts and forest fires, a greener Earth, more plant growth and more food for humans and animals.

Islam, Women, and Phyllis Chesler By Bruce Bawer

Phyllis Chesler’s new collection of articles, Islamic Gender Apartheid: Exposing a Veiled War against Woman, is shot through with a notes-from-the-front-lines urgency and a righteous rage. The earliest of these pieces date back to 2003; the most recent are a few months old. Together, they form a chronicle of the post-9/11 era as observed by the only top-tier second-wave American feminist who – as the pernicious patriarchy of the Muslim world was increasingly introduced into the West – remained true to her values, consistent in ideology and in principles. Other feminists, including the entire academic Women’s Studies establishment, have linked arms with the sharia crowd. They’ve preached that it’s wrong for Westerners, operating from positions of post-colonialist privilege and power, to profess to “save the brown woman from the brown man.” They’ve made a heroine out of the vile, hijab-clad Linda Sarsour, a booster of sharia and apologist for jihad whose star turn at the Women’s March on Washington last January catapulted her to international fame. Even to suggest that such a person can be a feminist in any reasonable sense of the word is, of course, right out of 1984: war is peace, freedom is slavery, Sarsour is a feminist.

But that’s the consensus now. And Chesler? Well, Chesler, in the eyes of her former sisters, is a traitor to the movement. Just ask feminist blogger Ellen Keim, who in a 2011 rant called Chesler “a rabid Islamophobe” and pronounced her “ignorant” of the very subject on which Chesler is, in fact, a walking encyclopedia. Quoting factual statements by Chesler about women under Islam, Keim said they were “typical of a person who cares more about justifying her own prejudice than in adding something constructive to the debate.” As for Chesler’s account of Muslim sex slavery and trafficking, Keim flat-out refused to buy them: “Where does she get her ideas??” In the same year, another feminist blogger similarly mocked Chesler’s “ideas” about women and Islam. Triumphantly, the blogger cited a recent lecture in which an “Islamist Feminist” explained it all: Egypt’s January 25, 2011, revolution had actually been spearheaded by “highly-educated, professional, working women” who helped install Morsi’s “Islamic, patriarchal society” because they knew the latter would afford better protection “from gropings on the street” – plus better health care and day care – than Mubarak’s secular state did. (No, this is not a joke.)

This foolishness, this madness – this outright patriarchy-worship in the guise of feminism, this perverse insistence that political virtue always consists in taking the side of “the other,” even if “the other” is out to oppress or rape or even kill you – this is what Chesler is up against. And her only weapon is the facts. That’s what this book is – 462 pages of facts about a culture whose systematic abuse of women she refuses to stop talking about. In these pieces, she takes us to Iran and Iraq, Sudan and Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia and Egypt, Syria and Turkey, Nigeria and Pakistan, and France and Britain and the U.S. She attends to such phenomena as forced marriage, underage brides, honor killings, female genital mutilation (FGM), Muslim family rapes, female suicide bombers (and their Western defenders), splenetic Muslim cabdrivers in New York, slaveholding by a Muslim millionaire on Long Island, and much else. Not to mention plenty about burkas – about a burka ban in Syria, proposals for burka bans in the West, opponents of burka bans in the West, fights over the burka in Nantes, riots over the burka in Paris, and so on.

It’s all there in Chesler’s book. But the people who most need to read this stuff and take it to heart – the Women’s March marchers, the pussy-hat wearers, the would-be glass-ceiling-breakers like Lena Dunham and self-described “nasty women” like Ashley Judd – they’ll probably never go near this book. As for Women’s Studies, of which Chesler is one of the founding mothers, it has – as Chesler herself laments in these pages – been “Stalinized,” shifting its concern from “the ‘occupation’ of women’s bodies worldwide” to “the alleged occupation of a country that has never existed: ‘Palestine.’” In 2015, the Women’s Studies Association (WSA) actually voted to boycott Israel, the only country in the Middle East where women actually enjoy full equality. Meanwhile, as Chesler points out, the WSA hasn’t bothered to condemn the brutal treatment of women by Hamas, ISIS, Boko Haram, or the Taliban. It hasn’t condemned forced veiling in Saudi Arabia or FGM in Egypt. Across the Muslim world, little girls are forced into “marriages” with elderly men who already have other wives – but the WSA considers it inappropriate for Western women to comment on the practices of non-Western men.

This is official feminism in 2017. It is a mark of her strength of character, her enduring warrior spirit, and her fierce, abiding devotion to freedom and equality for all women that Phyllis Chesler refuses to be a part of it and isn’t cowed for a moment by any of the noxious name-calling she’s routinely subjected to. Islamic Gender Apartheid is an informative and illuminating piece of work; it is also a noble work – an act of moral duty and, yes, of love by a woman who (make no mistake) is the real thing. CONTINUE AT SITE

Cataclysm: Victor Davis Hanson’s The Second World Wars Hanson’s background as a classicist and historian of the ancient world enables him to place World War II in a broader historical context. By Mackubin Thomas Owens

I have always found Victor Davis Hanson to be one of the most insightful historians of warfare, whether he was specifically discussing ancient wars, as he did in The Western Way of War (1989) and A War Like No Other (2005), or addressing the broader question of Western civilization and war, as he did in Carnage and Culture (2001). In addition, he is a master of clear prose. His books are a pleasure to read.

Nonetheless, I was a little apprehensive when asked to review The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won (Basic, 720 pp., $40). I wondered whether perhaps this was a bridge too far, the case of a gifted historian’s addressing a topic beyond his acknowledged area of expertise (the Greeks and Romans). I had seen this before. Some years ago, I was invited to review a book on the American Civil War by the marvelous military historian John Keegan. To my great sorrow, this book by a man I greatly admired was dreadful. It pained me to write a negative review. In addition, I thought that the organization of the book — chapters focused on large issues rather than presenting a chronological narrative — might result in a disjointed account of the great struggle.

I needn’t have worried. The Second World Wars is an outstanding work of historical interpretation. It is not an operational history of the war: Hanson does not provide extended accounts of military campaigns. It focuses instead on the decisions about why, how, and where to fight the war, the diverse methods of warfare employed by the belligerents, and how the investments and strategies of each side led to victory or defeat.

Hanson observes that this great cataclysm of the 20th century began as a traditional series of border conflicts among European powers, the manifestations of an old story: better-prepared aggressive states’ launching surprise attacks against weaker neighbors. He writes that by the end of 1940, this familiar form of European fighting had achieved a “Caesarian or Napoleonic” scale, but within a year, these smaller conflicts had unexpectedly coalesced into a cataclysm for which the aggressors — the “Axis” of Germany, Italy, and Japan — were strategically and materially unprepared. “Advances in Western technology and industrialization, when married with both totalitarian zealotry and fully mobilized democratic states, also ensured that the expanded war would become lethal in a way never before seen.”

The title of the book reflects Hanson’s observations that this war was fought to an unprecedented degree in diverse geographic locales (Europe, Africa, South Asia, China, and the expanses of the Pacific Ocean) based on premises that seemed unrelated, and that it was fought in so many diverse and unfamiliar ways — not only on land and at sea but in the air and below the surface — while mobilizing the manpower and industrial might of modern states.

Hanson points to three events — Axis blunders all — that transformed the traditional European border wars of 1939–40 into the global conflict that we now call World War II or the Second World War: Germany’s invasion of its erstwhile partner, the Soviet Union, in June 1941; Japan’s attack on the United States in December 1941; and the subsequent decision of both Germany and Italy to declare war on the United States.

‘The Right to Maim:’ Jasbir Puar’s Pseudo-Scholarship and Blood Libels Against Israel A new spin on centuries-old anti-Semitic defamation. Richard L. Cravatts

Jews have been accused of harming and murdering non-Jews since the twelfth century in England, when Jewish convert to Catholicism, Theobald of Cambridge, mendaciously announced that European Jews ritually slaughtered Christian children each year and drank their blood during Passover season.

In the regular chorus of defamation against Israel by a world infected with Palestinianism, a new, more odious trend has shown itself: the blood libel has been revivified; however, to position Israel (and by extension Jews) as demonic agents in the community of nations, the primitive fantasies of the blood libel are now masked with a veneer of academic scholarship.

No more salient example of that type of mendacious academic output can be found than in a new book by Rutgers professor Jasbir K. Puar published by Duke University Press, The Right to Maim: Debility, Capacity, Disability. The thesis of Puar’s book is formed by her examination of “Israeli tactical calculations of settler colonial rule,” which, she asserts, is “that of creating injury and maintaining Palestinian populations as perpetually debilitated, and yet alive, in order to control them.”

In other words, Puar’s core notion is that Israeli military tactics—as an extension of its political policies—involve the deliberate “stunting, “maiming,” physical disabling, and scientific experimenting with Palestinian lives, an outrageous and grotesque resurrection of the classic anti-Semitic trope that Jews purposely, and sadistically, harm and kill non-Jews.

Puar, Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies, boasts that she regularly writes on a hodgepodge of currently fashionable academic fields of study, including “gay and lesbian tourism, queer theory, theories of intersectionality, affect, homonationalism, and pinkwashing,” the latter being the perverse theory that Israel trumpets its broad support of LGBT rights in its society to furtively obscure its long-standing mistreatment of the Palestinians.

Race and America’s Soul A fearless, eye-opening new book probes the wound. Myron Magnet

What gives Gene Dattel’s Reckoning with Race: America’s Failure its special power is that, even after its bracingly original and thoroughly researched account of the racism of the abolitionist North from the late eighteenth century until long after the Civil War, the book nevertheless does not shrink from laying the ills of today’s black American underclass not at the door of a painful history, with ample blame for northern as well as southern whites, but squarely at the feet of black Americans themselves. Yes, shameful, deeply shameful, were slavery, Jim Crow, and northern racism, and who can doubt that they left grievous scars? Still, America fought a war to end the evil institution, had a civil rights movement to try to erase its malign remnants, and spent decades on affirmative action and other nostrums to expunge even the faintest remaining traces. Whatever white Americans could do to atone for and repair the damage they caused, they have done, as much as imperfect humans in an imperfect world can do. Now, Dattel argues, it’s up to black Americans to save themselves.

The most surprising part of the book is Dattel’s documentation of the racism of northern abolitionists. As early as the 1790s, about a decade after Massachusetts had abolished slavery and while Connecticut was in the midst of its gradual abolition, the white townspeople of Salem and New Haven fretted that the movement of blacks into their neighborhoods would crash property values by up to 50 percent. Nor did Yankees make any distinction between freeborn blacks and freed slaves, as an 1800 survey by the Connecticut Academy of Arts and Sciences found. Yale president Timothy Dwight, who sponsored the survey with lexicographer Noah Webster, summed up its consensus on the state’s blacks: “Uneducated to principals of morality, or to habits of industry . . . they labor only to gratify gross and vulgar appetites. Accordingly, many of them are thieves, liars, profane drunkards, Sabbath-breakers, quarrelsome, idle.” New Haven’s freedmen, Dwight expanded a decade later, “are, generally, neither able, nor inclined to make their freedom a blessing to themselves” and end up as “nuisances to society.” Little wonder, given such attitudes, that as white immigrants crowded into the new nation, employers preferred them to native blacks, left with mostly menial jobs as domestic servants, chimney sweeps, washerwomen, and outhouse cleaners.

Half a century after Connecticut’s survey, New York senator and governor William Seward made a famous abolitionist speech, perhaps a template for Abraham Lincoln’s immortal 1854 Peoria speech. Lincoln’s future secretary of state argued that “a higher law than the Constitution,” decreed by “the Creator of the Universe,” forbade slavery. Nevertheless, that same abolitionist, a decade later, pronounced that “the African race here is a foreign and feeble element . . . incapable of assimilation . . . a pitiful exotic unnecessarily transplanted into our fields, and which it is unprofitable to cultivate at the cost of the desolation of our native vineyard.” Just after the Civil War, Seward added that “I have no more concern for [Negroes] than for the Hottentots. They are God’s poor, they always have been and always will be so everywhere.”

Abolitionists, said ex-slave author and clergyman Samuel R. Ward in the 1840s, “best love the colored man at a distance.” Such even was the case with abolitionist heroine Harriet Beecher Stowe, author of the epochal Uncle Tom’s Cabin. At the end of her novel, she sends her ex-slave character and his family, who could easily pass for white, she notes, as missionaries to Liberia. “I have no wish to pass for an American,” says George. “I want a country, a nation, of my own.” Wrote Frederick Douglass, starchily, to Stowe: “The truth is, dear Madam, we are here, & we are likely to remain.”

To Hell in a Handbasket: Carter, Obama, and the Arab Spring by Ruthie Blum

To Hell in a Handbasket is a chilling account of how Jimmy Carter’s abandonment of a longtime U.S. ally in favor of a murderous mullah thirty years ago enabled the Islamization of Iran—and how Barack Obama’s current oblivion to and appeasement of the radical Muslim world are helping to Islamize the rest of the Middle East. ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ruthie Blum, who immigrated to Israel from the United States in 1977, was a columnist, interviewer, and senior editor at The Jerusalem Post for two decades. She blogs for Israel Hayom. PRAISE: “Whether Barack Obama is another Jimmy Carter is unfortunately not just academic speculation. Carter was bad enough, especially in the Middle East, but Obama is close on his heels. A second Obama term could well bring a nuclear Iran, a militantly anti-Israeli Egypt, and the overthrow of the pro-American Arab monarchies. The United States needs to wake up to what is happening, and Ruthie Blum’s book is just the ticket. Let’s hope she doesn’t have to write a sequel.” —John Bolton Former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations “The esteemed writer and commentator Ruthie Blum has produced a timely and essential account of President Obama’s betrayal of a longtime U.S. ally, former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, and its consequences for America’s vital national-security interests. Just as important, by placing Obama’s mishandling of the current pan-Arab populist wave against the backdrop of then-president Jimmy Carter’s betrayal of longtime U.S. ally the shah of Iran, Blum demonstrates the timeless truth of George Santayana’s lament that ‘those who fail to learn from the mistakes of their predecessors are destined to repeat them.’ ” —Caroline B. Glick Senior contributing editor, The Jerusalem Post, and senior Middle East fellow, Center for Security Policy


A modern-day story of love, music, and death, with echoes of the Nazi retreat in World War II France.

Septuagenarian Jules Lacour is a widower and a cellist in agony after losing his wife, Jacqueline. His grandson, Luc, has leukemia and will die without treatments that neither Jules nor his daughter, Cathérine, can possibly afford. Stage fright has always prevented him from achieving fame and fortune, and he considers himself a failure. Though in terrific physical shape—he runs, he rows on the Seine—he wants to die and be with Jacqueline again, because “he himself did not need to live. It was Luc who needed to live.” Then, mirabile dictu, a “giant international conglomerate” asks him to write “telephone hold music,” promising obscenely high pay that would easily cover Luc’s treatment. Jules delivers beautifully, but alas, complications ensue. An intelligent and deeply sympathetic man, Jules remembers the day in 1944 when a Nazi soldier retreating through Reims heard his father playing Bach on his cello instead of La Marseillaise, realized the cellist was a hidden Jew and executed the family, leaving only 4-year-old Jules. That shock shaped the man Jules became, but it’s just one thread the author weaves. He is in no hurry to finish telling this beautiful tale as he lavishes attention on characters such as Armand Marteau, perhaps the worst insurance salesman in France; a team of homicide detectives, a Muslim and a Jew, eating a ham lunch with a judge; and women of ineffable beauty with whom Jules falls into instant love. One, Élodi, is a cellist 50 years his junior. Even the conglomerate has a personality: “the great, indefatigable, trillion-dollar machine of Acorn, a dispositif with neither soul nor conscience.” As Élodi declares to Jules that she will be his student, he sees “directly into her eyes, and never had he beheld a more elegant and refined woman, not even Jacqueline.” The conversations often read like mini-essays, as when Jules tells Élodi about the “jealous” God of the Jews—arguing with Him is “like a goddamn wrestling match.”

A masterpiece filled with compassion and humanity. Perfect for the pure pleasure of reading.

The Spiral of Silence How media bias aids the Left’s totalitarian climate-change crusade By Rupert Darwall

Editor’s Note: The following excerpt is adapted from Rupert Darwall’s new book Green Tyranny: Exposing the Totalitarian Roots of The Climate Industrial Complex. It appears here with permission.

Solitude many men have sought, and been reconciled to: but nobody that has the least thought or sense of a man about him, can live in society under the constant dislike and ill opinion of his familiars, and those he converses with.
— John Locke, 1690

It is not so much the dread of what an angry public may do that disarms the modern American, as it is sheer inability to stand unmoved in the rush of totally hostile comment, to endure a life perpetually at variance with the conscience and feeling of those about him.
— Edward Alsworth Ross, 1901

In August 2014, the Pew Research Center, an offshoot of the Pew Charitable Trusts, published the results of a survey on people’s willingness to discuss contentious issues on social-media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. “An informed citizenry depends on people’s exposure to information on important political issues and on their willingness to discuss these issues with those around them,” Pew explained. If people thought friends and followers on social media disagreed with them, they were less likely to share their views, the survey showed. “It has long been established that when people are surrounded by those who are likely to disagree with their opinion, they are more likely to self-censor.” These findings confirmed a major insight of pre-Internet-era communication studies: the tendency of people not to voice their opinions when they sense that their view is not widely shared. The report’s authors, led by Keith Hampton of Rutgers University, wrote, “This tendency is called the ‘spiral of silence.’”

The Spiral of Silence, published in 1984, was written by Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann, West Germany’s foremost pollster. There was more to Noelle-Neumann. As the first sentence of her Times obituary put it, Noelle-Neumann moved from working as “a Nazi propagandist to become the grande dame of opinion polling in post-war Germany.” A cell leader of the Nazi student organization in Munich, she met Hitler at Berchtesgaden. “She found him sympathetic, lively and engaging.” Thanks to a scholarship from Joseph Goebbels’s Reich Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda, she went to the University of Missouri to study journalism. Her 1940 doctoral thesis on George Gallup’s polling techniques brought her to Goebbels’s notice, and he gave her a job writing for Das Reich. “To reach into the darkness to find the Jew who is hiding behind the Chicago Daily News is like sticking your hand into a wasp’s nest,” she wrote in June 1941. Dismissed a year later, she distanced herself from the Nazi regime, and after the war she and her husband, also an alumnus of Goebbels’s propaganda ministry, established the Allensbach Institute. Turned down by the SPD, Allensbach’s services were offered to the CDU. She was soon having tea with Konrad Adenauer, West Germany’s first chancellor.

Noelle-Neumann claimed that her thinking about the spiral of silence had been triggered by the 1965 German election, though this was far from the whole story. Polls had shown the CDU–CSU coalition running neck and neck with the SPD, while expectations of the outcome shifted dramatically in favor of the CDU–CSU coalition, accurately forecasting the actual result. Others’ opinions might influence one’s own behavior, Noelle-Neumann hypothesized. When a population is continuously exposed to a persistent and consistent media account of current events on controversial issues, the primary motivation of a person will be to conform, at least outwardly, to avoid discomfort and dissonance. “Over time there is thus a spiraling of opinion change in favor of one set of views,” Noelle-Neumann argued.

The intuition that had led her to the spiral of silence lay outside opinion polls. “The fear of isolation seems to be the force that sets the spiral of silence in motion,” she wrote. Historians, political philosophers, and other thinkers provided corroboration. Alexis de Tocqueville had written in 1856 that people “dread isolation more than error.” The quotations at the head of this chapter appeared in a lecture given by Noelle-Neumann just two months after the 1965 election. People can be on uncomfortable or even dangerous ground when the climate of opinion runs counter to their views. “When people attempt to avoid isolation, they are not responding hyper-sensitively to trivialities; these are existential issues that can involve real hazards,” she wrote in The Spiral of Silence. It could be proved

Daryl McCann Defeating Islam in the Battle of Ideas

Not only have Islamic revivalists declared war on the West, our ruling elites have joined them. This is the arena in which the Battle of Ideas will be won or lost, and not through the version of appeasement given voice in British MP Liam Byrne’s deceptively ‘objective’ book.

Black Flag Down: Counter-Terrorism, Defeating ISIS and Winning the Battle of Ideas
by Liam Byrne
Biteback Publishing, 2016, 272 pages, £12.99

Liam Byrne, former British Labour cabinet minister and author of Black Flag Down: Counter-Terrorism, Defeating ISIS and Winning the Battle of Ideas, has been a harsh critic of President Trump, describing him as a megalomaniac “trumpeting anti-Muslim hate speech”. Byrne, who sought the opinions of Muslims in his inner-city Birmingham constituency, extensively interviewed British intelligence and police officers and even spent time in Iraq, prefers the softly, softly PC approach in “bringing down the black flag of extremism”. His Black Flag Down is an almost plausible account of how the Battle of Ideas might be won in this era of the global jihad.

Black Flag Down positions itself as a sensible and practical response to radical Islamic terrorism, although Liam Byrne would not label the phenomenon beyond calling it “violent extremism”. Any attempt to connect Islam with the atrocities perpetrated by Salafi jihadism, from the Islamic State group and Al Qaeda to Al Shabaab, Ansar al-Sharia and Boko Haram, is straight-out wrong. Additionally, it can only be unhelpful in the Battle of Ideas, the key to winning our confrontation with what Byrne does, at least, agree is a global insurgency (if not a global jihad).

Not that Black Flag Down undervalues the role of the military, security and counter-intelligence in defeating terrorism. Byrne champions the role of security agencies in monitoring the terrorist recruiters and thwarting attempts to co-opt young Muslims in the United Kingdom for their nefarious cause. By February 2016, the Islamic State group, according to the statistics in Black Flag Down, was boasting that it operated 10,000 Facebook accounts and 5000 Twitter profiles. The sheer scale of digital communication among the British general public is overwhelming, with Scotland Yard’s figures indicating that every minute of the day some 3.3 million Facebook posts, 342,000 tweets, 41,000 Instagram photos and 120 hours of video to YouTube are uploaded. As Byrne says: “Try policing that.” The longer-term answer, in his opinion, is not policing but self-policing. It is more important to train Muslim parents “to spot the warning signs in their children’s online habits” rather than “fight the last war against extremist preachers in the backrooms of mosques”.

black flag downThis will obviously come as cold comfort to the British victims of radical Islamic terrorism—I mean violent extremism—in the short period since the publication of Black Flag Down. In March this year, we recall, a jihadist drove a four-wheel-drive into a crowd of pedestrians on London Bridge, killing four people, before going on a knife rampage and slaughtering a policeman. Two months later, a suicide bomber killed twenty-two people and injured dozens more at the conclusion of an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester. On June 3, three radical Islamic terrorists drove into a crowd of pedestrians on London Bridge, before going on a knife rampage resulting in eight dead and dozens wounded. And then, on June 19, an anti-Muslim fanatic drove his car into a crowd of worshippers outside a London mosque, killing one person and injuring nine others. People have a right to know why this kind of carnage is happening in Britain, not to mention the atrocities perpetrated in Nice, Paris, Brussels, Berlin, Sydney, San Bernardino, Orlando and Barcelona.

Liam Byrne has been a leading figure in calling for the British government to crack down on global tech companies that allow terrorist organisations to spread their propaganda. He might even be able to take some credit for Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, in July this year, announcing plans to introduce into Parliament laws that would compel businesses such as Apple and Facebook to release encrypted data to assist urgent counter-terrorism operations: “Encryption is vital for information security but the privacy of the terrorist must never trump the personal security of Australians. We cannot allow the internet to be an ungoverned space.” But even Byrne—if not Turnbull—would acknowledge that increased security, online and off, is not an all-encompassing remedy for terrorism.

Review: The Turn to Tyranny We may never know what degree of personal obsession, political calculation and ideological zeal drove Stalin to kill and persecute so many. Joshua Rubenstein reviews ‘Stalin: Waiting for Hitler, 1929-1941’ by Stephen Kotkin.


In the aftermath of Lenin’s death in January 1924, Joseph Stalin —already secretary-general of the Communist Party—emerged as the outright leader of the Soviet Union. “Right through 1927,” Stephen Kotkin notes, Stalin “had not appeared to be a sociopath in the eyes of those who worked most closely with him.” But by 1929-30, he “was exhibiting an intense dark side.” Mr. Kotkin’s “Stalin: Waiting for Hitler, 1929-1941,” the second volume of a planned three-volume biography, tracks the Soviet leader’s transformation during these crucial years. “Impatient with dictatorship,” Mr. Kotkin says, Stalin set out to forge “a despotism in mass bloodshed.”

The three central episodes of Mr. Kotkin’s narrative, all from the 1930s, are indeed violent and catastrophic, if in different ways: the forced collectivization of Soviet agriculture; the atrocities of the Great Terror, when Stalin “arrested and murdered immense numbers of loyal people”; and the rise of Adolf Hitler, the man who would become Stalin’s ally and then, as Mr. Kotkin puts it, his “principal nemesis.” In each case, as Mr. Kotkin shows, Stalin’s personal character—a combination of ruthlessness and paranoia—played a key role in the unfolding of events.

Forced collectivization was the linchpin of Stalin’s first Five-Year Plan. With the peasants living mostly on small-scale plots, he compelled millions of households to move onto collective farms and sought to turn many peasants into the industrial workers who would build the factories and electric stations needed for crash industrialization. To enforce his plan, he set draconian quotas for the confiscation of “surplus” food and violently repressed millions of so-called kulaks (supposedly better-off peasants), whom he wanted to exterminate as a class.

The consequent famine killed more than five million people in Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Russia’s North Caucasus region. Scholars continue to debate whether the famine in Ukraine, which killed some 3.5 million, was a deliberate aim of Stalin’s policies—intended to destroy Ukraine’s national spirit and culture—or the unforeseen result of his war on the peasantry. Although Mr. Kotkin argues that the famine was “not intentional,” his book makes it clear that Stalin was well aware of widespread starvation and that he responded with remarkable cruelty, sealing Ukraine’s borders to make escape impossible. The Kremlin allowed the famine to deepen, accepting a high number of victims rather than ameliorate its most calamitous effects.

Stalin: Waiting for Hitler, 1929-1941

By Stephen Kotkin
Penguin Press, 1,154 pages, $40

Another crisis erupted after the assassination of the Leningrad party chief Sergei Kirov in December 1934. Although many historians, including Robert Conquest and Amy Knight, have argued that Stalin almost certainly orchestrated the crime, Mr. Kotkin accepts the current scholarly consensus that Stalin was not behind Kirov’s murder and that Leonid Nikolayev, a disaffected young worker, carried it out on his own.

There is no debate, however, over how Stalin exploited the murder. He had always insisted that the country “was honeycombed with wreckers,” as Mr. Kotkin writes, and beset by conspiracies to subvert Bolshevik rule. In the wake of Kirov’s death, Stalin first accused thousands of Communist Party figures of engaging in a conspiracy to kill Kirov and then expanded the purge to encompass tens of thousands of military commanders, state-security personnel and party officials, including leaders of the revolution like Nikolai Bukharin, Lev Kamenev and Grigory Zinoviev. Mr. Kotkin argues that Stalin carried out the purge to “smash his inner circle” and avenge elements within the party that had opposed collectivization, but he doesn’t provide sufficient documentation to buttress the claim. Stalin probably regarded army and state-security officers as the only force that could dislodge him.

With the purges under way, Stalin embarked on the Great Terror, a wave of violence that killed more than 800,000 people in the space of 16 months. Among those targeted were the members of ethnic groups—Poles, Koreans, Germans—whom Stalin regarded as unreliable elements, a fifth column that could threaten the regime in case of war. As with all great crimes, we may never truly know what degree of personal obsession, political calculation and ideological fanaticism drove Stalin to order the execution and imprisonment of so many. CONTINUE AT SITE