Major battle in Afghanistan

If you haven’t heard, U.S., allied, and Afghan national troops are engaged in a major, large-scale operation in Afghanistan, attacking the region in which the  Taliban are at their greatest strength.

U.S. launches major surge against Taliban in Afghanistan – washingtonpost.com.

Iran’s surprise?

Well, February 11 came and went, and I’m still waiting to be “stunned” by Iran’s announced surprise to the West. The nation was busy: Banning Google mail. Upgrading some uranium. Suppressing mass demonstrations. Is that the one-two-three punch? That’s not very impressive for the descendants of Cyrus and Xerxes, formidable emperors who ruled much of Asia and threatened to overrun Europe, before being stopped by little Greece in its prime. What these things do show is the tyranny and the nuclear ambitions of Iran. But we already knew that. Maybe we are missing something.

Iran’s February 11 surprise

Iranian leaders are promising something that will stun the world on February 11:

Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Monday that Iran is set to deliver a “punch” that will stun world powers during this week’s 31st anniversary of the Islamic revolution.

“The Iranian nation, with its unity and God’s grace, will punch the arrogance (Western powers) on the 22nd of Bahman (February 11) in a way that will leave them stunned,” Khamenei, who is also Iran's commander-in-chief, told a gathering of air force personnel.

via Iran anniversary ‘punch’ will stun West: Khamenei.

What do you think it will be?

The jihadi elite

Anne Applebaum notes that the terrorists we are seeing lately are from the upper crust.  She discusses the widow of the suicide bomber who killed the CIA agents in Afghanistan, a woman who is a well-known author in the Arab world, having written, among other things,  a book comparing Osama bin Laden to Che Guevara:

Bayrak is a shining example of what might be called the international jihadi elite: She is educated, eloquent, has connections across the Islamic world — Istanbul, Amman, Peshawar — yet is not exactly part of the global economy. She shares these traits not only with her husband — a doctor who was the son of middle-class, English-speaking Jordanians — but also with others featured recently in the news. Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, for example, grew up in a wealthy Nigerian family and studied at University College London before trying to blow up a Northwest Airlines plane on Christmas Day. Ahmed Saeed Omar Sheikh (“Sheikh Omar”) was born in Britain and studied at elite high schools there and in Pakistan and dropped out of the London School of Economics before murdering American journalist Daniel Pearl in Pakistan in 2002. Army Maj. Nidal Hasan was born in Arlington, graduated from Virginia Tech and did his psychiatric residency at Walter Reed before killing 13 people in a shooting rampage at Fort Hood.

These people are not the wretched of the Earth. Nor do they have much in common, sociologically speaking, with the illiterate warlords of Waziristan. They haven't emerged from repressive Islamic societies such as Iran, or been forced to live under extreme forms of sharia law, as in Saudi Arabia. On the contrary, they are children of ambitious, “Westernized” parents who sacrificed for their education — though they are often people who, for one reason or another, didn't “make it,” or didn't feel comfortable, in their respective societies. Perhaps it sounds strange, but they remind me of the early Bolsheviks, who were also educated, multinational and ambitious, and who also often lacked the social cachet to be successful. Lenin's family, for example, clung desperately to its status on the lowest rung of the czarist aristocracy.

With that bin Laden and Che association and the Bolshevik comparison, could radical Islam be the new Communism? That is to say, a revolutionary ideology to challenge that of Western democracy?

via Anne Applebaum – We need a smarter way to fight the jihadi elite – washingtonpost.com.

Should Malaysian Christians call God “Allah”?

Muslims say “no.” Aren’t they right? Not that they need to riot about it. From the Associated Press:

Eight churches have been attacked over three days amid a dispute over the use of the word “Allah” by non-Muslims, sparking fresh political instability that is denting Malaysia’s image as a moderate and stable Muslim-majority nation.

Many Muslims are angry about a Dec. 31 High Court decision overturning a government ban on Roman Catholics’ using “Allah” to refer to their God in the Malay-language edition of their main newspaper, the Herald.

The ruling also applies to the ban’s broader applications such as Malay-language Bibles, 10,000 copies of which were recently seized by authorities because they translated God as Allah. The government has appealed the verdict.

Joe Carter asks, but why would Christians want to call the Triune God “Allah”? Yes, it’s the Arabic word for “God,” but he argues that since the term is used for a name, and the deities that Christians and Muslims worship are so different, the same name should not be used for both. The Malaysians do have a more generic term they could use. Read Joe’s argument at A God By Any Other Name . . . » First Thoughts | A First Things Blog.

Of course, Malaysians should be free to call their deity whatever they want without government sanctions or mob persecutions. But still, isn’t Joe right?

HT: tODD

The fate of Christians in Iraq

A Catholic mission organization reports that since 2003, the year Saddam Hussein was overthrown, 1,960 Christians have been killed in Iraq and nearly half have fled their homes, either to safer regions of Iraq such as Kurdistan or have left the country entirely.