The Real News of the Month

January 2007
Volume 14, Number 1

Editor: Joe Sobran
Publisher: Fran Griffin (Griffin Communications)
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  -> President Clinton?
  -> The Abolition of "Man"
Sobran's Forum
  -> The Seige of Belgrade
Nuggets (plus electronic Exclusives)
Cartoons (Baloo)
"Reactionary Utopian" Columns Reprinted in This Issue


President Clinton?
(page 1)

     The U.S. Constitution dooms us to have a 
presidential election in 2008, whether we need one or 
not, and the media are trying to create excitement about 
the grim prospect. NEWSWEEK has run a breathless cover 
story pitting Hillary Clinton against Barack Obama with 
the big question, "Is America Ready?" A historic choice 
indeed! Will it be the First Woman President or the First 
Black President? Be still, my heart!

     The other day I awoke with a groan to find Hillary 
being interviewed about her plans. She was trying to be 
coy, but nobody was fooled. A new edition of her classic, 
IT TAKES A VILLAGE, has just been published, and she was 
droning on about "child poverty" being "up," as if this 
were an issue convulsing the electorate. Still barely 
half-awake, I was seized with a conviction: "No way is 
this tiresome old woman going to win."

     In the endless presidential horserace this former 
republic has become, Barack Obama is the frisky young 
colt, and Hillary is the old nag. We've already had to 
put up with her far too long. We've heard everything she 
has to say, and we don't need four (let alone eight) more 
years of it. Nearly half the voters say they will never 
vote for her, and the Democrats doubt that she's 
electable. Besides which, many Dems are disgusted with 
her for failing to oppose the Iraq war. She'll never be 
exciting again. She belongs in a rest home.

     All this may sound as if Obama is a shoo-in to take 
the nomination from her, but Dick Morris, who hates her, 
isn't so sure. He thinks her lead is still too big for 
any Dem challenger to overcome. Paradoxically, he argues, 
Obama is actually helping her. He's creating so much 
excitement that he is making it hard for the party's 
other hopefuls to get any attention or traction. Yet he 
himself is young and unproven.

     Not to mention black and liberal. Amid the general 
cooing over this amazing phenomenon, Peggy Noonan, 
writing in the WALL STREET JOURNAL, has gently pricked 
the bubble with her usual presence of mind. When you blow 
away the froth, she points out, all you find is a routine 
left-Democrat without the usual abrasiveness. Over time, 
this will sink in with the voters.

     At least I hope so. Starting with 1968, it seemed to 
be an iron law that the Republicans won the presidency 
whenever the Democratic nominee seemed clearly the more 
left-wing of the two; the Democrats won only when they 
managed to blur the difference, as Carter and Clinton 
did. We will see whether that still holds true in 2008.

     If Morris is right, Hillary gets the party's nod by 
default and then loses the election to whichever of the 
GOP's sorry lot opposes her: McCain, Romney, Giuliani, or 
some other political cadaver. Obama seems to me the 
Democrats' answer to Giuliani. Whether he will similarly 
flare out is the question.

The Abolition of "Man"
(page 2)

     Once again TIME magazine has made me its Person of 
the Year. Well, not just me personally, but a category to 
which I belong: "You." ("Yes, you. You control the 
Information Age," the caption explains.) 

     I believe the first time this happened was in 1967, 
when the entire baby-boom generation was named Person of 
the Year. Only it was "Man" of the Year in those days. I 
was 21 then. A few years later, feminist propriety 
dictated that the virile "Man" be changed to the 
androgynous "Person." But so what? The honor is so great 
that I don't mind sharing it with tens of millions of 

     You can fairly hear the ghost of Henry Luce wailing. 
The magazine's founder always made it clear that the 
title "Man of the Year" was actually not an honorific; it 
meant the year's biggest individual newsmaker, whether it 
was a Roosevelt, a Stalin, or a Hitler -- and now and 
then it was a woman. 

     TIME hit bottom in 2001, when it picked Rudy 
Giuliani, New York's popular demagogic mayor, as its POY. 
This was clearly a feel-good choice, because the biggest 
newsmaker of 2001 was clearly Osama bin Laden. It wasn't 
even close. All the media had been obsessed with him 
since September 11. Until then, Giuliani had been a 
washed-up politician with a sordid marital record, and 
escaped a sound drubbing by Hiilary Clinton only because 
prostate cancer forced him to pull out of the Senate 
race. Today, for no good reason, he is being touted as a 
Republican presidential hopeful for 2008, despite his 
liberal stands on abortion, gun control, sodomy, and so 
forth. Even his fervent support for the Iraq war is no 
longer a clear political plus.

     Sic transit gloria mundi. And by 2008, who will 
remember that I was Person of the Year in 2006?


The Siege of Belgrade
by Thomas Fleming
(pages 3-4, 12)

(The following is excerpted from a speech at the 12th 
annual SOBRAN'S Charter Subscribers' celebration, 
December 9, 2006.)

     The desire for truth in America today is rarer than 
the spotted owl and more necessary even than the rite of 
exorcism in Washington. Nowhere is contempt for truth 
more obvious than in discussions of foreign policy. The 
Bush administration began lying to us even before it took 
office. Even after the much-needed Republican electoral 
defeat and the long-desired dismissal of Don Rumsfeld, 
the lies continue to fly thick and fast.

     To reassure us that we are not involved in a 
religious war, neoconservatives sometimes speak of a 
"clash of civilizations." This blatantly anti-Christian 
expression, which divides us from our Orthodox brothers, 
pits the secularism and hedonism of the West against an 
imaginary East dominated by bigotry (by which they mean 
religion) and ignorance (by which they mean tradition). 
By the terms of debate set up by Samuel Huntington and 
Bernard Lewis, decent Christians would all be rooting for 
the Muslim side. The struggle cannot be about religion, 
because, as our president has told us over and over, 
Islam is a religion of peace. Like most things said by a 
politician, this statement is not only false; it is 
diametrically opposite to the truth. Islam is 
preeminently a religion of war, and it is war that has 
always defined Islam's relationship with the Christian 
world. Of course there are many Muslims who like the 
West, but the true believers regard them as turncoats. We 
do not wish to acknowledge the religious basis of the 
conflict, primarily because, from the beginning of the 
Renaissance and Reformation, Western man has been 
learning to think of himself as anything but Christian. 
Pick up any history book, watch any news program on TV, 
and you will hear about European aggression against the 
Middle East and of the crimes committed by Crusaders. Of 
the insane Islamic terrorism that preceded and provoked 
the Crusades, there is not a word.

     We say we are fighting a war against terrorism. We 
are not. The fact of the matter is that Islamic 
terrorists have always been supported by the United 
States. In Afghanistan, we armed and trained Osama bin 
Laden's boys and provided them with militant Islamic 
preachers who taught them it was always right to kill 
non-Muslims. When bin Laden went to Bosnia, where he was 
given citizenship, we continued to support and fund 
terrorism against Christians. When the gang members went 
down to Kosovo to exterminate the Christian remnant there 
and dynamite 500-year-old churches, we went to war on 
their behalf and bombed a European city, a thing that 
even the Soviets had not dared to do.

     Belgrade has been built up, destroyed, and rebuilt 
40 times. The two most recent bombings both involved the 
U.S. Air Force: First, on April 17  --  coincidentally 
Orthodox Easter 1944 --  by English and American planes, 
and second for several days in April 1999 that -- 
coincidentally again -- included Good Friday and Easter. 
The purpose of the bombing was to support the Albanian 
Muslims in the jihad against Christians in Kosovo, the 
heartland of Christianity in the Balkans. Belgrade, of 
all the cities of the world, is among those that are most 
symbolic of Christendom's struggle with Islam.

     I go to Belgrade at least once a year. A few years 
ago I was having drinks in a terrace cafe on the slope of 
Kalamegdan, the ancient fortress that overlooks the 
confluence of the Danube and Sava Rivers. It was spring, 
and as the sun was setting we began to shiver in the 
shadows. Answering some historical questions put by 
American friends, I began telling the story of the siege 
of Belgrade in 1456. We were not too far from the very 
spot where the Turks almost rolled over the defenders, 
whom they would have slaughtered to the last man. The 
Hungarian and Serbian defenders had few allies, but young 
Prince Vlad of Wallachia was guarding the passes into 
Romania to prevent an end run. I have always imagined 
that Vlad Tepesh had visited Belgrade right before the 
siege, and just as I was mentioning his family history 
and why he was called "Dracula," the moon rose above the 
trees and we heard an unearthly cry from over the slope. 
First one voice, then another, then what must have been a 
chorus of a dozen wolves greeted the Queen of the Night. 
Several of the Americans said in unison, "Children of the 
Night. What music they make." I had forgotten that the 
Belgrade Zoo was just over the crest of the hill on a 
plateau beneath us.

     The siege of Belgrade, which took place 550 years 
ago in 1456, is one of the most significant battles that 
has taken place in Christendom's 1300-year fight for 
survival against a religion that was its enemy from the 
beginning. In the 15th century, only the pope and a few 
brave peoples in Eastern Europe were willing to stand up 
to the Turks. The rest had already begun the West's long 

     The 100 years between 1450 and 1550 were an almost 
unmitigated disaster for the West. During those 100 
years, Constantinople was lost forever, the Serbian state 
annihilated, and Hungary -- the bulwark of the West -- 
disastrously defeated at Mohacs in 1526. The Ottoman 
attack on Europe had been stalled in 1402, when Tamurlane 
defeated the Turkish army and captured Sultan Bayezid. 
Two energetic sultans, Mehmed I and Murad II, reforged 
and expanded the Ottoman Empire. When in 1451 Mehmed II 
ascended the throne, he was determined to finish off the 
Byzantine Empire and conquer as much of Europe as he 

     After writing "finis" to the Eastern Empire, which 
he did in 1453, Mehmed turned to the West. His plan 
required him to absorb what was left of autonomous 
Serbia, eliminate Hungary as a threat, and seize control 
of Albania and the Dalmatian Coast from which he 
apparently intended to launch an invasion of Italy. To 
conquer Hungary, though, Mehmed would have to subjugate 
what was left of Serbia and take control of the Danube, 
which was guarded by the Hungarian-held fortress of 
Belgrade, a city that both he and his father regarded as 
central to their strategy.

     By the summer of 1455 Mehmed had fixed the doom of 
Belgrade and vowed that he would storm the citadel, 
conquer Hungary in two months, and eat his dinner in 
Buda. The Hungarians, although they were supported by 
some Wallachian, Serbian, and Christian Albanian allies, 
faced the coming onslaught with little support from the 
West. No one heeded Pope Nicholas V's call for a Crusade 
to save Constantinople in 1453. Though his successor, 
Callistus III, took an oath that "by war, maledictions, 
interdicts, and all other means in my power I will pursue 
the Turks, the most cruel enemies of the Christian name," 
the best he could do was to grant a plenary indulgence to 
any soldier who took the cross against the infidel. That 
would prove to be enough.

     For several hundred terrifying years, the frontier 
between Islam and Christendom ran through the Balkans. 
Greeks, Bulgars, and Serbs were the first victims. The 
Serbian Empire, which also included much of Greece, 
Albania, and Bulgaria, was dissolved, and only a rump 
state was presided over by Despot Djurad Brankovic. In 
Wallachia (western Romania) Prince Vlad led the 
resistance. The Holy Roman Emperor had enrolled Vlad's 
father in the order of the dragon (Drakul); hence the 
young prince went by the honorable name "Dracula." Vlad 
knew what his people were up against. He and his brother 
had been hostages at the Turkish court, his brother had 
been raped by the future sultan Mehmed II, and the 
Wallachian princes had more than once betrayed the people 
to the Turks. As his nickname, "the Impaler," suggests, 
Prince Vlad was not especially nice in his methods, but 
there is an old saying in the Balkans: "He who would not 
be a slave of the Turk must become a savage."

     During the 15th century the powerful Hungarian state 
was bogged down in civil wars, but the Madyars found a 
true statesman in Janos Hunyadi, who, like Vlad, was a 
Wallachian. Hunyadi, who had spent his adult life 
crusading against the Turks, enjoyed little support from 
the Hungarian nobility. One of his few reliable allies 
was Prince Vlad, who agreed to guard the passes into 
Romania, where a turncoat prince had made a deal with 
Mehmed. Hunyadi also expected support from the Serbs, who 
remained a powerful military force in the northern 
Balkans. The Serbian despot Djuradj Brankovic had fought 
campaign after campaign -- with the Hungarians against 
the Turks and with the Turks against Hungarians -- to 
keep his despotate alive.

     Brankovic, although he had been driven from his 
country by Sultan Murad II (his own son-in-law!), was 
also one of the most powerful dynasts in Hungary. Backed 
by a large part of the Hungarian nobility, Brankovic had 
tried to persuade the widowed queen to marry his son 
Lazar, but her reply foreshadowed the coming centuries of 
religious strife between Catholic Hungarians and Orthodox 
Serbs: "Better to marry a Hungarian peasant than a 
schismatic prince."

     On the eve of Mehmed's invasion, the despot had 
given up all hope of help, but when he attended a special 
meeting to consider the emergency in June 1455, John of 
Capistrano informed Brankovic that he would receive help 
only if he became Catholic (as Prince Vlad of Wallachia 
was to do). The 80-year-old despot was disgusted: "I have 
lived a long life and acquired a reputation for wisdom. 
People would think me a fool if I renounced the religion 
of my ancestors that I have practiced for 80 years." In 
despair, Brankovic once again acknowledged the sultan as 
his sovereign.

     Belgrade's tiny Hungarian garrison waited anxiously 
to see who would arrive first, the Turks or the 
Hungarians. Although the citadel was off-limits to Serbs, 
they were the dominant population of the town. On June 13 
Mehmed ended the suspense, arriving before Belgrade with 
the vast army he had assembled -- the lowest Western 
estimate was 150,000. Before the sultan could seal off 
the fortress, St. John had brought in five boatloads of 
his Crusaders, mostly Hungarians and Serbs, although 
Germans and even Greeks joined them. Because his Turks 
were still primitive in military technology, the sultan 
relied heavily on foreigners. Germans, Hungarians, 
Bosnians, and Dalmatians manned his principal cannons, 
all of which had been constructed by Western Christian 
craftsmen: North Italians, Germans, and Hungarians.

     Janosh Hunyadi arrived with 40 ships filled with 
Serbian archers, who broke the blockade on the Danube, 
and the ragtag Hungarian army made its way into the 
citadel. In the succeeding days, the defenders were 
hard-pressed, although the Turks must have been surprised 
and somewhat discouraged by the resistance. On March 21, 
the Ottoman army tried to take the fortress by storm. One 
brave Turk was in the midst of planting the sultan's 
banner on Kalamegdan, when a Christian Slav named Titus 
Dugovich tackled him and the two rolled down the slope 
toward the river. Hunyadi's son, Mathias Corvinus, king 
of Hungary, later ennobled the bold Titus.

     Maintaining discipline over the Crusaders must have 
been difficult; on the next day, four or five of 
Capistrano's peasants left their bunkers, contrary to 
orders, and began insulting the enemy, who ignored them 
until their numbers increased. Hunyadi, in the hope of 
restoring order, asked St. John to bring back his men; he 
did his best but to no avail. Finally, the 70-year-old 
priest was infected by their enthusiasm. He raised the 
cross he was carrying and cried out, "What God has 
started, we shall finish."

     The Turks, who were not used to this sort of zeal, 
panicked, then ran. Hunyadi, seeing what happened, sent 
his soldiers into the fray and, along with the pilgrims, 
they slaughtered thousands of Turks and seriously wounded 
the sultan himself. On the long retreat to Adrianople, 
the Serbs killed thousands more.

     After the repulse, the defenders discovered two 
Venetian ships, out of a contingent of six, that had been 
outfitted and manned by the Venetian Republic and sent to 
aid the Turkish invaders. This was only the latest 
instance of Venetian treachery. Greed certainly was one 
motive for the indifference displayed by the Western 
Powers toward the Turkish invasion of Europe. The vanity 
and rivalries of European princes were another. While 
Serbia, Constantinople, and Hungary were under attack, 
England and France were fighting the Hundred Years' War; 
even after expelling the English, French kings were 
occupied with expanding their power, and their successors 
would do their best to frustrate any Crusade to recover 
the Balkans. In the 16th century Francis I joined with 
Sultan Suleyman against Holy Roman Emperor Charles V in 
the infamous alliance of the Crescent and the Lily. 
France agreed to attack Austria -- thus aiding and 
abetting Suleyman's campaign to conquer Vienna -- and 
received northern Italy in payment. Southern Italy, as 
former possessions of the Eastern Roman Empire, would be 
handed over to the tender mercies of the Turks. This 
French-Ottoman alliance also prevented the Hapsburgs from 
recovering the Balkans in 1683, after the Polish king Jan 
Sobieski drove the Turks from the gates of Vienna. 
Louis XIV invaded Germany at the very time his nephew 
Prince Eugene was reconquering the Balkans with the 
support of the oppressed Ottoman subjects.

     Underlying these pragmatic motives lies another. The 
Renaissance had begun, and educated Europeans were 
turning with revulsion from the "Dark Ages" and embracing 
neopagan atheism that viewed the Ottoman Empire as the 
lesser of two evils. The real enemy was a Church that 
preached a constrictive morality taught by that greatest 
of scandals, the God-who-became-Man. At the time of the 
siege of Belgrade, Cosimo de' Medici was setting up the 
Florentine Academy, whose agenda was the reestablishment 
of paganism. Cosimo and his young friend Marsilio Ficino 
had been inspired by the Greek pagan George Gemistus 
Pletho, when he attended the Council of Florence in 1439. 
Some of these enlightened intellectuals dreamed of 
rebuilding imperial Rome to be ruled by anyone but the 
pope or a Christian emperor. There were even Italian 
intellectuals who wrote to Mehmed, advising him that, as 
the conqueror of Constantinople, he was the heir of the 
Caesars with the right to reclaim the Western Empire.

     From Florence the contagion spread to France (under 
Medici queens) and to Elizabethan England. It was 
inevitable that a Europe that had repudiated its 
spiritual foundations could not defend itself against the 
Muslims, just as Europe today, whose Constitution 
mentions all the religions in Europe but one, 
Christianity, cannot resist the Islamic advance. It may 
be only a matter of time before Turkey, which continues 
to persecute Orthodox Christians, is welcomed back into 

Thomas Fleming, Ph.D., is president of the Rockford 
MONTENEGRO: THE DIVIDED LAND. He is a frequent lecturer 
at universities in the United States and Europe.


IN BARELY A GENERATION, birth control (assisted by 
abortion) has nearly achieved something approaching what 
nuclear weapons never achieved: the destruction of the 
West. Hundrends of millions of whites who should have 
existed, don't. (page 9)
            -- REGIME CHANGE BEGINS AT HOME by Joe 
            Sobran; $5 postpaid or free with a new 
            subscriptions to SOBRAN'S


REPRINTED COLUMNS ("The Reactionary Utopian")
(pages 5-11)

* Last Laugh (December 21, 2006)

* Logic, Anyone? (December 18, 2006)

* The Magician (December 14, 2006)

* Yes, It's a Cheney -- or Something (December 11, 2006)

* How Lincoln Gave Us Kwanzaa (December 7, 2006)

* In Praise of Bush (December 4, 2006)

* Science, Religion, and Hate (November 13, 2006)


All articles are written by Joe Sobran, except where
explicitly noted.

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