In her Pulitzer Prize-winning book, "TheGunsofAugust," Barbara Tuchman chronicles how a cascading series of seemingly minor developments led inexorably to World War I and the worst carnage known to man up to that time. In the future, historians may point to the present "Diplomacy of September" as the catalyst for the next horrific conflict now in the offing in the Middle East, and potentially beyond.
I am thinking specifically of three agenda items slated to take place in the United Nations or on the margins of its meetings in coming days:
The first is a portentous move by the Palestinians with the strong backing of the 57-member bloc now known as the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). The idea is to secure international recognition of Palestinian statehood by, if possible, the U.N. Security Council and - failing that in the event of a U.S. veto - by the General Assembly.
The true purpose of this gambit, as the WallStreetJournalcalled it in an editorial Monday, could not be more invidious: "Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas offered a hint of his real ambition when he wrote, in the New York Times in May, that 'Palestine's admission to the United Nations would pave the way for the internationalization of the conflict as a legal matter, not only as a political one. It would also pave the way for us to pursue claims against Israel at the United Nations, human rights treaty bodies and the International Criminal Court.'
"That means not the usual feckless resolutions at the U.N.'s Human Rights Council, but travel bans and international arrest warrants for Israeli soldiers involved in the 'occupation' of a supposedly sovereign state. In other words, what Palestinians seek out of a U.N. vote isn't an affirmation of their right to a state, but rather another tool in their perpetual campaign to harass, delegitimize and ultimately destroy Israel."
Secondly, the U.N. shortly will host the third in a series of gabfests aimed at furthering this campaign - the so-called "Durban III" Conference. It is absolutely predictable that, like its predecessors in Durban, South Africa, in 2001 and in Geneva in 2009, this event will amount to an international anti-Semitic and anti-Israel hate-fest. One clue: The stated purpose of Durban III is to memorialize Durban I, which was so toxic toward the Jewish state and its friends that then-Secretary of State Colin L. Powell directed the U.S. delegation to walk out.
The Durban trilogy serves to reinforce and legitimate the hostility toward Israel that will, when combined with the recognition - de facto if not de jure - of "Palestine" as a U.N. member-state occupied by another member-state, encourage military action to rectify this "injustice."
Third, it appears that meetings of OIC representatives with U.S. government officials - possibly including Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton - will occur in conjunction with the U.N.'s September follies. The purpose will be to try to "bridge" differences between the OIC's 10-year campaign to prohibit expression that offends Muslims and the First Amendment to the Constitution.
Now, it is unclear how Shariah blasphemy law can be squared with freedom of speech. But Mrs. Clinton seems to be pushing forward with the idea that, by focusing on the "consequences" of expression, one can find a basis for meeting the OIC's demands for prohibiting and criminalizing what some call "Islamophobic hate speech."
Lest anyone think that Shariah blasphemy laws cannot come to the United States even if Mrs. Clinton wants them to, consider the case of Fred Grandy. Mr. Grandy, a former Republican congressman from Iowa and past president of the billion-dollar charity Goodwill Industries, was the host of the top-rated morning drive talk show in Washington - until, allegedly, he ran afoul of Shariah activists who were "offended" by the reporting about that doctrine that he and his wife, Catherine (aka "Mrs. Fred"), provided each week.
Not content with denying Mr. Grandy gainful employment, proponents of Shariah have enlisted the leadership of the Democratic Party in Maryland's legislature and Montgomery County to denounce him publicly as a "divisive" figure and to object to him addressing a private meeting of Republicans in the Washington suburbs. Such conduct by people who have sworn to uphold the Constitution of the United States is a scandal. It should be strenuously denounced by their fellow Democrats, as well as by Americans of every other stripe.
The effect of the Clinton-OIC exercise, like the others at the U.N. this week, will be to reinforce the perception on the part of freedom's Islamist enemies that Israel, the West and the United States are in retreat and in decline. Recognizing Palestine, excoriating Israel and restricting free expression will seen by such enemies for what they are: acts of submission. According to the threat doctrine they call Shariah, its adherents are required in the face of submissive behavior to redouble their efforts to make, in the words of the Koran, the infidels "feel subdued."
When combined with the ascendancy throughout the Middle East and North Africa of Islamist organizations and regimes that make no secret of their determination to wipe Israel off the map, we stand at the precipice. Tragically, the weapons with which the next war will be fought - an avoidable war brought on by the "Diplomacy of September" - will make the lethal "Guns of August" seem like pop-guns by comparison.
Frank J. Gaffney Jr. is president of the Center for Security Policy (SecureFreedom.org), a columnist for The Washington Times and host of the nationally syndicated program "Secure Freedom Radio," heard in Washington weekdays at 9 p.m. on WRC-AM 1260.
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