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Stanley Kurtz is writing a series of suburb essays on Islamic society over at the National Review. This essay explains the role of "parallel cousin" marriage in preserving an in-group and its honor. (Arabs especially tend to view a first cousin on the father's side as the ideal marriage partner.)
In my history classes, I often would compare world politics to a high-stakes poker game between ruthless players.

Iran has been at war with the United States since the Iranian Revolution and subsequent hostage taking. Now, Iran is doing its best to insure U.S. defeat in Iraq, including taking actions that kill American soldiers. All the while the Tehran regime is working furiously on a nuclear weapons program, constructing its own ace-in-the-hole.

Meanwhile, the Democrats in Congress are trying to show Iran our cards, specifically, showing them that we do not have the military action card. The mullahs are tough players. If they know the U.S. lacks the military strike card, they are confident that theirs is the winning hand.

Pelosi's comments here.
Once again Gateway Pundit is on top of the news out of Iran. More violence against the Republican Guards. As I have mentioned before, Iran is inherently unstable as a modern nation-state because of ethnic and tribal loyalties.
Gateway Pundit is on top of the news on the fighting inside Iran. Here. Iran is inherently unstable as a modern nation state, with different ethnic/tribal groups who do not support the regime. How do you say, Viva la Revolucion in Farsi?

From the New York Times, link from Jihadwatch.

introduction: As a 22-year-old Somali Muslim, Ayaan Hirsi Ali disappeared en route from Nairobi, Kenya, to an arranged marriage in Canada, and fled to the Netherlands. A decade later, she won a seat in the Dutch Parliament, where she became known as an advocate for women and a critic of Islam. She collaborated with Theo van Gogh on a movie that depicted abused women with passages from the Koran written on their skin. In 2004, Mr. van Gogh was shot dead in Amsterdam by a Moroccan immigrant, who then staked a letter threatening Ms. Hirsi Ali onto Mr. van Gogh’s chest, sending her into hiding for a while. Three months ago she landed in Washington as a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. Her autobiography, “Infidel,” will be published in English on Tuesday. Recently she spoke to Laurie Goodstein, a reporter for The New York Times.

An interesting Q & A:
Q. Have you seen any ideology coming from within Islam that gives young Muslims a sense of purpose without the overlay of militancy?

A. They have no alternative message. There is no active missionary work among the youth telling them, do not become jihadis. They do not use media means as much as the jihadis. They simply — they’re reactive and they don’t seem to be able to compete with the jihadis. And every time there is a debate between a real jihadi and, say, what we have decided to call moderate Muslims, the jihadis win. Because they come with the Koran and quotes from the Koran. The come with quotes from the Hadith and the Sunnah, and the traditions of the prophet. And every assertion they make, whether it is that women should be veiled, or Jews should be killed, or Americans are our enemies, or any of that, they win. Because what they have to say is so consistent with what is written in the Koran and the Hadith. And what the moderates fail to do is to say, listen, that’s all in there, but that wasn’t meant for this context. And we have moved on. We can change the Koran, we can change the Hadith. That’s what’s missing.

Who says that Islam has been hijacked by a tiny minority of extremists?
Name the current giants in Christianity. . . . . Okay, is this name on your list--Pope Shenouda III. Most Americans would have overlooked his name also. But, he is a man that will be in books of church history a thousand years from now, who will be the subject of dissertations and books by scholars not yet born.

He is the leader of the Coptic Church, the indigenous Christian church in Egypt whose history goes back to apostolic days. Under his 36 years of leadership the Coptic church in Egypt and abroad has seen revitalization and renewal. (Historical note: prior to the Muslim conquest Egypt was one of the most Christianized nations in the world.)

He is in Ambridge, northwest of Pittsburgh, to consecrate a church building for the growing St. Mary parish.

Article here from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The article gives a good summary of Pope Shenouda III's life and significance.
Yesterday on the radio I caught part of an interview with Arnaud de Borchgrave, who covered the Tet Offensive as Newsweek‘s chief foreign correspondent and had seven tours in Vietnam between 1951 under the French and 1972. Since I missed the opening segment, I do not know if the interview was live or taped.

Since many are comparing Iraq to Vietnam, I think it is important to be clear on what the similarities and differences actually are. To that end, de Borchgrave's 2004 article for UPI is must reading. In it he makes the case (now more widely accepted by historians) that Tet was actually a military defeat for the Vietcong and NVA, but was misreported by the US media as a defeat for us. The political consequences of this misreporting eventually resulted in the fall of South Vietnam.

The UPI article is here.

A Buddhist ice-cream vendor tries to sell in the wrong village, and is beheaded. Here from Jihadwatch.

Remember, if the Palestinian problem is solved Islamic militancy will vanish.