Presty the DJ for May 30

Two more Beatles anniversaries today: “Love Me Do” hit number one in 1964 …

… four years before the Beatles started work on their only double album. Perhaps that work was so hard that they couldn’t think of a more original title than: “The Beatles.” You may know it better, however, as “the White Album”:

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Soccergate

The indictment of several leaders of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association, the worldwide soccer governing body, is certainly unprecedented. It’s hard to imagine duplicating this elsewhere in sports beyond the Olympic movement.

USA Today reports:

The Justice Department’s corruption inquiry into organized soccer has deep roots in the USA. Attorney General Loretta Lynch said Wednesday that suspects in the $150 million bribery scheme met in this country often to plan their illicit activities and used U.S. banking institutions and domestic wire transfers to distribute giant bribe payments.

Describing the alleged wrongdoing as “rampant, systemic,” Lynch said the actions spanned two generations of soccer officials abroad and in the USA who “abused their positions of trust to acquire millions of dollars in bribes and kickbacks.”

“They planned to profit from their scheme, in large part, through promotional efforts directed at the growing U.S. market for soccer,” Lynch said.

The attorney general, a month into her term as the nation’s chief law enforcement officer, specifically highlighted the operation of the U.S.-based Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football, or CONCACAF, a powerful subsidiary of soccer’s international governing body FIFA, whose member countries include the USA. The group’s top leaders, according to court documents, played major roles in soliciting and accepting bribes related to the selection of host nations for the 1998 and 2010 World Cup tournaments.

What might as well be called Soccergate, or Soccerghazi, proves that the difference between fiction and real life is that fiction has to make sense. Sam Vecenie chronicles several of the indicted, with one major exception …

1. Chuck Blazer

Title: Formerly — General Secretary of CONCACAF, member of FIFA executive committee. Currently — FBI informant, lover of cats.

Story: Blazer might be one of the most strangely interesting human beings on Earth. First and foremost, the big, bearded gentle giant has been at the center of the explosion in the popularity of soccer in the United States. He was instrumental in bringing the World Cup to America in 1994 and has been very important in the television deals that have brought the sport into a wider focus across the country.

But then there’s the seedier side to his deeds, such as the fact that he has plead guilty to racketeering conspiracy, money-laundering conspiracy and income-tax evasion, among other things. These charges led to his employ as an FBI informant. Also, did I mention that he had a $6,000-a-month apartment just for his many cats? Well, that’s also a thing (according to the New York Daily News).

It’s an unexpected end for Blazer, who operated with high-flying impunity for decades, inhabiting a world of private jets, famous friends, secret island getaways, offshore bank accounts and two Trump Tower apartments with sweeping views of Central Park and the crenellations of The Plaza hotel.

CONCACAF’s offices took up the entire 17th floor, but Blazer often worked from two apartments where he lived on the 49th floor in $18,000-per-month digs for himself and an adjoining $6,000 retreat largely for his unruly cats, according to a source.

According to that article, Blazer also had a “fleet” of mobility scooters, had a Hummer to use in Manhattan (WHY?!), and didn’t pay his taxes for about a decade. Basically, he might be the most strange yet essential sporting official in all of the world.

2. Nicolas Leoz

Title: Formerly — President of the Paraguayan football association, President of [the Confederación Sudamericana de Fútbol], member of FIFA executive committee

Story: Leoz is one of the double-digit executive committee members to have been implicated in corruption since voting on the location of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. He resigned his position on the ExCo days before a ruling was to come down on World Cup kickbacks, citing health reasons at 84-years-old. Between this and the ISL investigation where he was thought to have taken over $700,000 in bribes, it’s pretty clear that he was never exactly on the up-and-up as far as his time.

However, those bribes pale in comparison to the hilarious requests he had of the English football association back in 2010. Despite being Paraguayan, he apparently asked to be knighted by the queen in exchange for his World Cup vote. Also, one of his aides asked for the FA Cup, an event that has been played since 1871, to be named after him.

“Regarding the offer to name a cup after him, Alberto’s comments were ‘Dr Léoz is an old man and to go to London just to meet the Prince and go to the FA Cup final is not reason enough. If this is combined, say, with the naming of the CUP [sic] after Dr Léoz then that could be reason enough’ his words literally.”

Oh how I wish Aaron Ramsey would have scored the game winner in the Leoz Cup last year.

3. Jack Warner

Title: Formerly — Vice President of FIFA, President of CONCACAF, member of FIFA executive committee

Story: Warner is pretty much your prototype for corruption in a FIFA executive. His past misdeeds could fill an entire book. A brief outline of them would include allegations of understating World Cup earnings to withhold bonuses to his players, selling black market tickets to the 2002 World Cup to make a profit, and possibly accepting payment for a vote for Qatar in the 2022 World Cup vote.

Basically, he is the closest thing you’ll find to a Bond villain in the world of international football. Don’t believe me? He’s daring the American government to arrest him (which the Trinidad and Tobago government apparently just did).

He’s certainly not the type to go quietly into that good night, and he’s the kind of guy who will take others down with the ship if he knows he’s going down. Heck, just four years he threatened and kind of came through on a “football tsunami” following a provisional suspension due to his connections with Mohammed Bin Hammam, a former ExCo member that has been banned from football. He’ll be fun to watch.

4. Jose Maria Marin

Title: Formerly — President of [the Confederação Brasileira de Futebol], President of 2014 FIFA World Cup Committee

Story: Marin followed up Ricardo Teixeira as president of the CBF after Teixeira resigned for “health reasons” months before it was revealed he and his father-in-law former president of FIFA Joao Havelange accepted millions in bribes. Marin’s time as president wasn’t the most eventful two years, as he was replaced by Marco Polo del Nero last month in an election.

The implication in this indictment is arguably not even the worst thing he’s done in the last three years though. That likely came when he pocketed a little kid’s medal after the Sao Paolo Youth Football Cup in 2012.

Come on, man.

… because he hasn’t been indicted yet: FIFA dictator Sepp Blatter, who will probably get reelected president of FIFA today.

The indictments are over bribes allegedly paid to secure Russia and Qatar as the World Cup host countries in 2018 and 2022, respectively. If bribes were made, you’d think FIFA would rebid those World Cups, particularly given the fact that a few countries, including this one, probably could assemble the entire World Cup schedule in existing stadiums in a year of two. FIFA is not rebidding the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

Charles C.W. Cooke approves of the arrests, I guess:

Well, well, well. Seemingly out of nowhere, the U.S. government has entered the fray and done what nobody else would. After a lengthy investigation, the New York Times records today, the Justice Department, the F.B.I., and the I.R.S. have “pledged to rid the international soccer organization,” FIFA, of the “systemic corruption” that has been its hallmark for decades. Describing “soccer’s governing body in terms normally reserved for Mafia families and drug cartels,” the Times adds, the DOJ is focusing on a host of crimes, including but not limited to “racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering conspiracy.” These arrests, the paper confirms, came as “a startling blow.”

How peculiar it is that FIFA should finally be cleaned up by a nation that doesn’t care about soccer.

Rooting out the vast array of criminals that have been operating within FIFA’s grubby little syndicate is necessary and virtuous work — and it is a relief that somebody has finally decided to do it. But, amid all the excitement of the charges, it is worth remembering that even when Sepp Blatter and Co. are ostensibly on the level, they are never too far away from disaster. Once upon a time, FIFA cared primarily about putting on first-class sporting events: If a country had the infrastructure and the will, it could expect a fair shake at hosting a tournament. Now the outfit’s processes have become mired in political correctness, in the quixotic search for “legacy” projects, and in the dirty and hopeless mess that is modern internationalist politics. Because FIFA’s rules are so strict — and because it is more concerned with kickbacks and with infrastructure spending than with soccer — for a given nation to “win” the right to play host is, in truth, for that nation to lose. “Clueless” doesn’t even begin to describe the buggers.

Consider South Africa, which accommodated the 2010 World Cup. Per Canada’s Globe and Mail, the majority of the venues that were constructed for the 2010 World Cup are deteriorating rapidly, at great cost to the country’s government. As of today, “the $600-million Cape Town Stadium” — the flagship of the collection — has been “largely abandoned” and is “losing an estimated $6-million to $10-million (U.S.) annually.” So dire is its future supposed to be, the paper concludes, that “some residents have even suggested that it should be demolished to save money.” This, apparently, is typical. “Almost all of the stadiums are losing money annually,” the Globe and Mail adds. And why? Well, in part because FIFA “refused to allow some South African cities — including Cape Town and Durban — to use their existing stadiums” during the competition. And so, “eager to win the rights to the prestigious tournament, the host countries [agreed] to FIFA’s terms” and were thereby “burdened with massive costs and perennial operating expenses for the stadiums.”

A similar story has obtained in Brazil, which played host to the World Cup last year. Because the deadlines were so narrow, the Washington Post has observed, much of the infrastructure for 2014 was never finished. Now, it sits incomplete and useless — an ugly testament to a makework project that should never have been started. Meanwhile, much of what was finished has been unceremoniously abandoned. “Several of the stadiums built for Brazil’s World Cup have been underused,” Reuters records, “and at least one has been closed because of structural problems.” …

Lamentable as these legacies are, even they represent nothing at all when compared with the slow-motion disaster that is at present unfolding in Qatar. Whatever one believes went down in the bidding process — per the New York Times, “a whistle-blower who worked for the Qatar bid team claimed that several African officials were paid $1.5 million each to support” Qatar’s bid for 2022; per a group of senior British parliamentarians, a $2 million bribe was paid to a FIFA vice-president and his family — that the decision has been allowed to stand is a nothing less than a moral disgrace.

As we are now learning, Qatar’s bid was built atop a pyramid of carefully contrived lies. Acknowledging that the desert heat could prove to be a problem, representatives from the country promised repeatedly that they would design their stadiums to be fully air-conditioned. This, it turns out, is physically impossible. (The failure has forced FIFA to move the event to the winter — slap bang in the middle of international soccer’s busiest season.) Hoping to attract the more socially conscious among the body’s voters, Qatar vowed that it would build twelve full-scale stadiums for the tournament itself and then ship the parts to poorer countries in the aftermath. This, we have subsequently learned, is almost certainly not going to happen. (Qatar now intends to build eight stadiums and has gone worryingly quiet on their reuse.) Most worrying of all, those who were concerned that to award the competition to a Middle Eastern country would inevitably be to sanction a human-rights disaster have been well and truly vindicated.

In December, the Guardian reported that the “Nepalese migrants” who have flooded into the country to build the necessary infrastructure “have died at a rate of one every two days in 2014.” When one adds in the “Indian, Sri Lankan and Bangladeshi” workers who have complemented them, the Guardian adds, that number reaches almost one per day. In the West, even a small portion of these deaths would have been sufficient to shut down the project. In Qatar, nobody seems much to care. According to the International Trade Union Confederation and the Nepalese and Indian governments, a startling 1,200 workers have died since construction began — most of them from heart attacks triggered by the extreme heat. If current trends continue, the ITUC anticipates this number will rise to 4,000. We haven’t seen that much death ordered in the name of a sporting event since the more enterprising among the Roman leisured class felt a touch bored one day and decided that it might be fun to see how human beings would fare against their lions.

Put in context, these numbers are even more extraordinary than they appear. Not a single person died during the construction phase of the 2012 London Olympic Games, while just six were killed preparing China for its 2008 turn as host. In total, eight workers were killed prior to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil; the 2010 tournament in South Africa took two. Even if nobody else dies in Qatar between now and 2022, the death toll will be 150 times what it was during the last competition. To find a construction disaster that is remotely comparable, one has to go back more than a century — and even then this level of attrition is abnormal. The Chrysler Building, the Statue of Liberty, and Mount Rushmore were all completed without fatalities. Just five people died building the Empire State Building; eleven were killed putting up the Golden Gate Bridge; and between 20 and 59 perished erecting the Brooklyn Bridge. The only recent civilian engineering project that killed people at the rate we are seeing at present in Qatar? The Panama Canal.

It’s unlikely anyone died during the construction of the stadiums for the 1994 World Cup, hosted in the U.S., either. That’s because all nine stadiums — Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.; Foxboro Stadium between Boston and Providence; RFK Stadium in Washington; the Citrus Bowl in Orlando; the Pontiac Silverdome outside Detroit; Soldier Field in Chicago; the Cotton Bowl in Dallas; Stanford Stadium in Palo Alto, Calif.; and the final site, the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif. — were existing stadiums that needed little revision (usually replacing artificial turf with grass) for World Cup soccer. Every stadium on that list either still exists today or has been replaced by an equally World Cup-capable stadium. And there are numerous stadiums elsewhere in the U.S. that could also host matches with little needed work.

That apparently flies in the face of how FIFA likes to do things. Not that this matters to most Americans, because every predicted wave of soccer interest has failed to materialize. As I’ve written here before, it seems that just because kids like to play soccer doesn’t mean they watch soccer as adults. And as, I guess, a soccer dad now, my observation is that the better quality soccer is, the less interesting it is to watch.

Own this, liberals

Is everything wrong in the country and the world the fault of liberals, or is every liberal answer to every problem automatically the wrong answer?

Read Victor Davis Hanson and decide for yourself:

ISIS took Ramadi last week. That city once was a Bastogne to the brave Americans who surged to save it in 2007 and 2008. ISIS, once known at the White House as the “Jayvees,” were certainly “on the run” — right into the middle of that strategically important city.

On a smaller scale, ISIS is doing to the surge cities of Iraq what Hitler did to his neighbors between 1939 and 1941, and what Putin is perhaps doing now on the periphery of Russia. In Ramadi, ISIS will soon do its accustomed thing of beheading and burning alive its captives, seeking some new macabre twist to sustain its Internet video audience. We in the West trample the First Amendment and jail a video maker for posting a supposedly insensitive film about Islam; in contrast, jihadists post snuff movies of burnings and beheadings to global audiences. We argue not about doing anything or saving anybody, but about whether it is inappropriate to call the macabre killers “jihadists.”

When these seventh-century psychopaths tire of warring on people, they turn to attacking stones, seeking to ensure that there is not a vestige left of the Middle East’s once-glorious antiquities. I assume the ancient Sassanid and Roman imperial site at Palmyra will soon be looted and smashed.

What is unique about American foreign policy today is not just that it is rudderless, but how quickly and completely the 70-year postwar order seems to have disintegrated — and how little interest the American people take in the collapse, thanks to the administration’s apparent redeeming message, which translates, “It’s their misfortune and none of our own.” As long as we are not involved at the center of foreign affairs and there is no perceptible short-term danger to our security, few seem to care much that western North Africa is a no-man’s-land. Hillary Clinton’s “lead from behind” created a replay of Somalia in Libya. The problem with Turkey’s Recep Erdogan is not that he is no longer Obama’s “special friend,” but that he was ever considered a friend at all, as he pressed forward with his plan to destroy Turkish democracy in the long march to theocracy.

There was never much American good will for the often duplicitous Gulf monarchies, so the general public does not seem to be worried that they are now spurned allies. That estrangement became possible because of growing U.S. self-sufficiency in oil and gas (thanks to fracking, which Obama largely opposed). Still, let us hope the Gulf States remain neutral rather than becoming enemies — given their financial clout and the availability of Pakistani bombs for Sunni petrodollars. Meanwhile, the Obama administration has it in for Israel. Why, no one quite knows, given that the Jewish state is the only democratic and liberal society in the Middle East. Perhaps it resembles the United States too closely, and thus earns the reflected hypercriticism that so many leftists cultivate for their own civilization.

Theocratic Iran has won more sympathy from the Obama administration. No neutral observer believes that the current policy of lifting sanctions and conducting negotiations will not lead to an Iranian bomb; it is hoped only that this will be unveiled on the watch of another president, who will be castigated as a warmonger if he is forced to preempt its rollout. The current American foreign policy toward Iran is baffling. Does Obama see the theocracy as a valuable counterweight to the Sunni monarchies? Is it more authentic in the revolutionary sense than the geriatric hereditary kingdoms in the Gulf? Or is the inexplicable policy simply a matter of John Kerry’s gambit for a Nobel Peace Prize or some sort of Obama legacy in the eleventh hour, a retake of pulling all U.S. peacekeepers home from a once-quiet Iraq so that Obama could claim he had “ended the war in Iraq”?

Hillary Clinton has been talking up her successful tenure as secretary of state. But mysteriously she has never specified exactly where, when, or how her talents shone. What is she proud of? Reset with Russia? The Asian pivot to discourage Chinese bellicosity? The critical preliminary preparations for talks with Iran? The Libyan misadventure? Or perhaps we missed a new initiative to discourage North Korean aggression? Some new underappreciated affinity with Israel and the Gulf monarchies? The routing of ISIS, thanks to Hillary’s plans? Shoring up free-market democracies in Latin America? Proving a model of transparency as secretary? Creating a brilliant new private–public synergy by combining the work of the State Department, the Clinton Foundation, and Bill’s lecturing –as evidenced by the Haitian renaissance and nation-building in Kazakhstan?

Meanwhile, no one seems to much care that between 2009 and 2017, we will have borrowed 8 trillion more dollars. Yet for all that stimulus, the U.S. economy still has staggering labor non-participation rates, flat GDP growth, and stagnant household income. As long as zero interest rates continue, the rich make lots of money in the stock market, and the debt can grow by $500 billion a year and still be serviced. Financial sobriety is now defined as higher taxes bringing in record revenues to service half-trillion-dollar annual additions to an $18 trillion debt.

The liberal approach to the underclass continues as it has been for the last 50 years: The elites support huge, unquestioned redistributionist entitlements for the inner city as penance for avoiding it. Minorities are left to run their own political affairs without much worry that their supposed benefactors live apartheid lives, protected by the proof of their caring. The public is left with the lie “Hands up, don’t shoot” as a construct that we will call true, because the made-up last-seconds gasps of Michael Brown perhaps should have happened that way. As an elite bookend, we have a Columbia coed toting around a mattress as proof of society’s insensitivity to sexual violence, which in her case both her university and the New York City police agree never occurred. In theory, perhaps it could have and thus all but did.

As far as scandals go, no one much cares any more about the implosion of the Veterans Administration. In the public’s defense, though, how does one keep straight the multitudinous scandals — Lois Lerner and the rogue IRS, the spying on and tapping of Associated Press journalists, the National Security Agency disclosures, Fast and Furious, the serial lying about needless deaths in Benghazi, the shenanigans at the General Services Administration, the collapse of sobriety at the Secret Service, the rebooting of air-traffic controllers’ eligibility to be adjudicated along racial and ethnic lines, and the deletions from Hillary Clinton’s private e-mail server, which doubled as her government server Always there is the administration’s populist anthem of “You didn’t build that”; instead, you must have won the lottery from President Obama. If his economic programs are not working, there is always the finger pointing at those who are too well off. Michelle Obama lectured a couple of weeks ago on museum elitism and prior neglect of the inner city, in between recounting some slights and micro-aggressions that she has endured, presumably on jumbo-jet jaunts to Costa del Sol and Aspen. I think her point is that it is still worse to be rich, powerful, and black than, say, poor, ignored, and non-black.

Then there is the strange populism of Hillary Clinton. It is hard to know why she rails about growing inequality and the lack of fairness in American life. After all, Barack Obama has been president for over six years, an administration in which she served for four. Did she ever visit the Oval Office to decry her own administration’s failure to use its House and Senate majorities in 2009–2011 to help the poor?

Is she now running against Obama’s economic policies, which she never publicly objected to before? And how can an unjust country be so fair to Bill and Hillary, who just made $30 million in the last 16 months, or about, on average, $62,500 per day — their speaking fees predicated on the likelihood that she would soon be a candidate for president and, as secretary of state emerita, had already enhanced the pay-to-play modus operandi of the Clinton Foundation? The Foundation currently pays young Chelsea — who bragged in bohemian fashion that money had no hold over her inner self (but only after achieving a net worth of a reported $15 million from various hedge-fund sweetheart billets) — $600,000 a year and provides her with a staff of five. At some point, to paraphrase Barack Obama, might the Clintons have confessed that making, say, $15 million was enough? Or might Chelsea now agree to work for her parents for the discount rate of $499,999 per annum to free up more money for the Haitians? Or might Hillary have talked to her son-in-law about paying a little more in taxes on his hedge-fund profits? …

The center of this culture is not holding. Even a few Democrats are worried that Hillary Clinton’s mendacities are unsustainable. More Americans privately confess that American foreign policy is dangerously adrift. They would agree that the U.S. no longer has a southern border, and will have to spend decades and billions of dollars coping with millions of new illegal aliens. Some Americans are starting to fear that the reckless borrowing under Obama will wreck the country if not stopped. Racial tensions, all concede, are reaching dangerous levels, and Americans do not know what is scarier: inner-city relations between blacks and the police, the increasing anger of the black underclass at establishment America — or the even greater backlash at out-of-control violent black crime and the constant scapegoating and dog whistles of racism.

Whatever liberalism is, it is not working. Our country’s policies overseas are falling apart, while at home our society stagnates and turns tribal — with a growing and embittered underclass, a shrinking and angry middle class, and a plutocratic and apartheid elite who, as absolution for their privilege, are desperate to praise in the abstract what they so studiously avoid in the concrete.

Who will prevail in the GOP?

For all those who believe Wisconsin Republicans march in lockstep with Gov. Scott Walker, at least 36 Assembly Republicans are about to prove them wrong, reports RightWisconsin:

Assembly Labor Committee Chair Rep. Andre Jacque announced Tuesday morning that the committee will hold a hearing and executive session Wednesday on AB 32, a bill to repeal the prevailing wage. The hearing and vote, long stifled by Republican leadership, provides new momentum for conservative legislators looking for taxpayer savings in a tight budget.

“We have a chance to get a real reform done for the taxpayers,” said Jacque in an interview with Charlie Sykes Tuesday morning.

Jerry Bader first reported the news of a public hearing Monday afternoon on his blog at WTAQ, and sources to RightWisconsin quickly confirmed the news.

The public hearing now sets up a standoff in the Republican controlled Assembly.
It is widely known at this point that Assembly Speaker Robin Vos has been working overtime to prevent a public hearing in the Labor Committee and a showdown over the repeal of the prevailing wage. With a new hearing and vote called for Wednesday, a full repeal will more than likely pass given that of the six Republican members, five are co-sponsors of AB 32.
Jacque acknowledged to Sykes that he did not have the support of Assembly Speaker Vos.
“I don’t think the Speaker wanted me to have this hearing at this point,” said Jacque. “But this is something that I felt as Chair was important to do.”
Assuming AB 32 passes out of the Labor Committee Wednesday, the pressure will be on Speaker Robin Vos to bring the bill to the floor for a vote in the Republican dominated chamber.
Vos has said that he doesn’t have the votes to pass a full repeal. But Jacque disagreed, saying, “I believe if this bill were to make it to the Assembly floor it would pass.”

I have yet to read a good rationale for the existence of the prevailing wage law as it is, so obviously I support this. The role of government should not include telling businesses what they must pay their employees, first. (Nor should it include telling businesses what they must charge their customers for their products and services.) If government is paying $1 more than it needs to pay for public works projects, government is ripping off the taxpayer.

Independent of the state’s 2015-17 budget, when you consider how we need to upgrade our roads and bridges (according to those who maintain those roads and bridges), the idea that current law that inflates those costs by 20 percent or more doesn’t need to change is, frankly, nuts. The idea that we should pay 20 percent or more beyond what a school project costs because of, again, current law is abuse of the taxpayer.

It’s not clear to me why Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, or Walker (who has been silent so  far), is on the wrong side of this issue. (Too much John Gard influence? Fear that Democrats will say mean things about the GOP?) But Vos is on the wrong side of this issue, and if Walker agrees with Vos, Walker is also on the wrong side of this issue.

 

Who created ISIS?

To David French, and to people with a brain, the answer to the question posed in the headline is obvious:

Days ago, 19-year-old University of Nevada student Ivy Ziedrich … “made headlines around the world” when she confronted Jeb Bush about ISIS. Ms. Ziedrich had the gumption to confront Bush in the midst of a scrum of reporters and confidently recite leftist conventional wisdom about the current Middle East crisis, declaring: “Your brother created ISIS!” After all, according to accepted academic conventional wisdom, the war in Iraq is the source of all (recent) jihadist evil. …

And while Ms. Ziedrich is no expert, there is one thing she said that is all too true: “It’s frustrating to see politicians ignore the origins of our conflicts abroad.”

Yes, Ms. Ziedrich, it certainly is. And if you’re on the left or from some quarters of the right, it must be downright exhausting to not only “understand” those origins but also link them in some way to the failings of American, Israeli, or imperialist European policies. Here’s the current scorecard: ISIS is George W. Bush’s fault. Al-Qaeda and the Taliban exist because of Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush (through the Afghan war against the Soviets and then the Desert Storm-related American troop presence in Saudi Arabia, of course), with the various al-Qaeda franchises in Syria, Yemen, and North Africa merely the fruit of the same poisonous Reaganite tree. The jihadist destruction of ancient — pre-Muslim — world heritage sites? That’s just collateral damage in the war against Reagan and the Bushes. Hamas, Hezbollah, and the PLO are easy to peg — Israeli creations, one and all, existing solely because of the “Occupied Territories.” As for Libya, we actually put those jihadists in power. But what about Boko Haram? I’m sure any decent professor can tell me some way we’re responsible for their atrocities.

But that’s just the last few decades. What about tracing further back? To the founding of the Muslim Brotherhood or to the Ikhwan of the Arabian peninsula? The Ikhwan — as savage as ISIS — trace their origins back to 1913, before the Europeans dominated the Middle East. What about the centuries of conflict between Christian Europe and the Ottoman Empire? Vienna must have richly deserved its sieges. After all, Europeans launched the Crusades, right? And before the Crusades, when jihadist Muslim armies invaded and conquered the Christian lands of the Middle East and North Africa, capturing the Iberian Peninsula and threatening modern-day France, there’s little doubt that they were simply striking out at … something the Christians did.

No, Ms. Ziedrich, George W. Bush didn’t create ISIS. Islam did. Embedded within this faith is a concept called “jihad,” and no matter how many professors tell you otherwise, there are countless millions of Muslims throughout more than a millennium of history who’ve interpreted “jihad” not as a mandate for self-help and personal improvement but as a mandate for war and conquest, a mandate to purify and spread the faith at the point of the sword. The influence of militaristic jihadists waxes and wanes, but it is there, always.

To believe that American actions have created the jihad is to give America greater influence over the Muslim heart than Allah. The current jihad is an extension of the ancient jihad. The foes have changed (the Habsburgs are long gone, and the Holy League peaked at Lepanto in 1571), but the motivation is the same. Why did Osama bin Laden mention “the tragedy of Andalusia” (the more than 500-year-old reconquest of Muslim Spain) in his post-9/11 address? Because, for the jihadist, it’s all one war.

So, by all means, let’s not ignore “the origins of our conflicts abroad.” Regarding our conflict with Islamic terrorists, the origins lie in a religious imperative, one that predates the founding of the United States by more than ten centuries. George W. Bush is no more responsible for creating that conflict than he is for writing the Koran, passing down the Hadith, or establishing the first Caliphate. And in confronting that foe, our choices are the same choices faced by the great non-Muslim powers that came before us: convert, submit, die, or fight.

Let’s repeat that paragraph: “To believe that American actions have created the jihad is to give America greater influence over the Muslim heart than Allah.” What kind of religion is Islam if this country has “greater influence over the Muslim heart than Allan”?