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Clifford D. MayClifford D. MayApril 6, 201711min399

“The Kafir’s Blood Is Halal For You, So Shed it.” That’s just one of the catchier headlines in a recent issue of Rumiyah, a slick online magazine published by the Islamic State, also known as ISIS and ISIL. A “kafir,” of course, is a non-Muslim. “Halal” means religiously permissible. As for Rumiyah, that’s Arabic for Rome, one of the Christian capitals that the leaders of the Islamic State hope to conquer. (The other great Christian capital, Constantinople, fell to soldiers of the caliphate in 1453. It’s now called Istanbul.)


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Clifford D. MayClifford D. MayMarch 30, 201710min427

America can do anything but America can’t do everything, at least not within a four-year time frame. That suggests that the American president — any American president — needs to prioritize. In 2011, President Obama decided that the Muslim world should no longer be a top American priority. Against the advice of key members of his national security team, he decided to withdraw all U.S. troops from Iraq and do nothing about the growing turmoil in Syria. He expressed confidence that coalition forces would soon “begin to draw down” in Afghanistan. As for al Qaeda, it was “on the path to defeat.”


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Clifford D. MayClifford D. MayMarch 23, 201710min611

Pakistan was meant to be a model, an example for other nations to emulate. It was founded after World War II, as the sun was setting on the British Empire and India was preparing for independence. India’s Muslims, though glad to see the end of the Raj, were apprehensive about becoming a minority in a Hindu-majority land. They envisioned instead what might be called a “two-state solution”: the establishment of a homeland for the subcontinent’s Muslims in areas where Muslims were in the majority. Their new nation was to be free, pluralist and tolerant.


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Clifford D. MayClifford D. MayMarch 9, 20179min467

Intellectuals of the left and those influenced by them judge the United States and certain European nations as uniquely guilty of imperialism, colonialism, racism, sexism, xenophobia, homophobia, Islamophobia – the list goes on. But is the West really different from the rest when it comes to the modern sins? Anyone who has traveled in the Middle East, Latin America, Asia and Africa should know that’s not so. Except in this regard: Americans and Europeans constantly and publicly argue over what is fair and what is just, and how our policies and attitudes could be improved. And we frequently -- some might say obsessively -- apologize for our past and present behaviors.


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Clifford D. MayClifford D. MayMarch 2, 20178min442

RIYADH – Saudi Arabia is changing. When government officials here tell you that, you take it with an oversized grain of salt. But when Saudi human rights activists say the same, you pay attention. “Baby steps,” is how one bright young woman phrases it. She has studied abroad and recently become an attorney, one of only about 120 women admitted to the bar in this gender-segregated country.


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Clifford D. MayClifford D. MayFebruary 16, 201710min411

Al Qaeda does not value diversity and it’s not an equal opportunity employer. The same can be said of the Islamic State. And when the rulers of the Islamic Republic of Iran want to commit an act of terrorism — the bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut in 1983, to take just one example — they are likely to give the assignment to members of Hezbollah, a radical Islamic group of the Shia persuasion. They are highly unlikely to recruit Unitarians, Mormons or Baha’i. This is an uncomfortable reality for all of us but especially for the millions of moderate Muslims who are not our enemies and the smaller number of reformist Muslims who are our most valuable allies in the war that must be fought against ideologies that are supremacist, anti-Christian, anti-Jewish, anti-Hindu, anti-Buddhist, anti-LGBT, anti-women, anti-freedom, anti-democratic — I could go on.


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Clifford D. MayClifford D. MayFebruary 9, 201710min527

This may come as a shock: It’s possible, not likely but possible, that a committee of officials from the Defense, State and Justice Departments, as well as the National Security Council, will conduct a review of the disproportionate funding the United States provides to the United Nations and, hold onto your hats, come to the conclusion that American taxpayers should spend less on an organization that is inefficient, corrupt and inimical to American interests. Nikki Haley, the newly confirmed American ambassador to the U.N. hinted at this radical departure from tradition when she said on Jan. 18 that that while she would oppose “slash and burn cuts” to the U.N. she did want to ensure that the U.S. “gets what it pays for.”


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Clifford D. MayClifford D. MayFebruary 2, 20178min482

In an inaugural address that was more purposeful than poetic, President Trump last Friday vowed to “unite the civilized world against radical Islamic terrorism, which we will eradicate from the face of the Earth.” I hope we can agree, across party and ideological lines, that those are worthwhile objectives. But let’s acknowledge, too, that achieving them will require a much more strenuous and strategic effort than previous administrations have undertaken. The least likely place for uniting nations: the United Nations, an organization that has never managed even to define terrorism. A few U.N. members fight terrorism day after day (e.g. Egypt, Jordan, Israel). Others, however, condone and even sponsor it (e.g. Iran). The U.N. includes representatives of both the civilized and uncivilized worlds, and cannot be said to prefer one over the other.


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Clifford D. MayClifford D. MayJanuary 26, 201711min468

Death, where is thy sting? For Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, it certainly didn’t come from the mainstream media. The 82-year-old former Iranian president died of a heart attack earlier this month. The New York Times called him an “influential voice against hard-liners” and “a main voice in Iran calling for outreach to the West.” The Los Angeles Times said he had been “one of the most powerful allies of moderates in Tehran.” NPR praised him as “a leading voice for reform.” The news section of the Wall Street Journal agreed that he was a “leading voice among moderate politicians.” On what basis? Ayatollah Rafsanjani was a revolutionary, one of the founders of a state in which all power is exercised by a religious elite whose reading of Shia Islam is unswervingly bellicose; a regime implacably hostile to America, Israel and the liberal world order; one that has murdered, tortured and persecuted thousands of political opponents as well as those deemed blasphemers, apostates and heretics.