May 31, 2003
freedom v. weapons
I tried to read Sean Penn's whole screed. I really tried. I kept falling asleep.
Perhaps our administration did declare that weapons of mass destruction were the reason for going into Iraq. I never declared it as my reason for wanting this war. Yes, it was one reason, but not all of it.
I have not, as someone in a comment on an older post said last night, been used like a cheap hooker. Those of us still defending this war and its outcome have other things in mind. Like freedom.
Did you really expect that within a month of the war, Iraq would be some sort of carbon copy of the United States, filled with open markets and democratic elections and prospering people? Are you so naive to believe that freedom can come in a week, a month, even a year?
There are signs of a new life in Iraq. An internet cafe has opened. There are more newspapers now than there have ever been in that country. There are people walking free in the streets, admitting their loathing of the former regime. There are children who have been freed from prisons, mother reunited with their sons who they had assumed to be dead.
Uday is no longer raping young women at whim. Heads are not being chopped off in public view. People do not cower in fear in their own homes, afraid that at any moment Saddam's people will rush in and kill them for some imagined slight.
The torture chambers are dismantled. The prisons are empty. The acid baths are gone.
Is that not enough for you? Will it always be for you an argument over weapons? I question anyone who claims this war was unjust because we have yet to find definitive proof of Saddam's weapon making escapades. How can you tell a person sitting in an internet cafe in Baghdad, reading news that he had never been able to view before that he does not deserve that?
How can you tell a child that he does not deserve to be back home with his parents after being freed from a prison because there were no WoMD to be found?
The end does justify the means. It takes time for freedom to flourish. It takes time for democracy to be installed. It takes time for wrongs to be righted and reapirs to be made and for the stench of a rotten regime to dissipate.
Yes, there will always be factions that want to rule in their own way, with violence or threats or an iron fist. We have that here right in our own country. We have domestic terrorists. We have extreme minorities on both sides of politics. We have cross-burners and gay bashers and groups that condone the destruction of private property to get their way. It's the nature of man to oppose, whether that opposition is just or not. It's the nature of man to want a society to be ruled in his own way, according to his own views. Fortunately, in our country, we have a system that enables the people to speak out against those who want to use tyranny to express their views. We have a system where majority rules, where the extreme among us are kept in check, where we don't allow illegal entities to rule our people.
That will come in Iraq. The free United States was not built in a day or even a month. Freedom takes time.
Personally, I don't care if they never find a weapon of mass destruction. What I care about is the people of Iraq. I care that good things have happened because of this war and it makes me angry that there are people who refuse to see that or acknowledge it, that they are so wrapped up in their hatred for Bush that they would deny a tortured Iraqi woman her freedom just to laugh in the face of the president's supporters.
Would you be happier, Sean Penn, if we never went into Iraq? I'm sure you would be.
Would the Iraqi people be happier? I doubt that.
If we have our right to live free, why would you deny that to others? Is freedom only viable when it is attained by an administration you admire?
This is not about Iraq for Penn and his kind. It is about their selfish hatred for George Bush. It is about the craving they have to be able to say I told you so, about their need to be right, always right and to prove everyone else in the free world wrong. They care about nothing but themselves and their self-centered ideology.
I have not been used by this administration like a cheap hooker. But most of you who oppose this war on the grounds of lack of WoMD have been used by the anti-Bush movement, by Scott Ritter and Noam Chomsky and Michael Moore and Robert Fisk. Your slogan should not be "Not in My Name," it should be "No Freedom for Iraq." That's what your ideology comes down to.
May 30, 2003
Manny Howard reveals a dark secret about our prisoners at Gauntanamo: they're gaining weight and getting free blue jeans. Oh, the horror!
Bring 'em back home
The Cato Institute's Doug Bandow provides some excellent analysis in his "Bring the Troops Home: Ending the Obsolete Korean Commitment." As Bandow summarizes:
The U.S. alliance with the Republic of Korea has been America's most consistently dangerous commitment since the end of World War II. Yet South Korea is beginning to look away from the United States for its defense. Newly elected President Roh Moo-hyun campaigned on a plat-form of revisiting the security relationship, and he has attempted to adopt the role of mediator between America and North Korea.
You are highly encouraged to read Mr. Bandow's analysis in full.
May 29, 2003
Central Comman issues a press release every day titled "COALITION EFFORTS AID IRAQ'S RECOVERY". They also issue one titled "COALITION AND IRAQI POLICE WORK TO MAKE IRAQ SECURE". I'm trying to blog both on a regular basis because you don't see this stuff in the news media. The second one is an old fashioned police blotter such as used to appear in the newspaper.
See for yourself at Central Command
Bob Hope at 100
Bob Hope, by all accounts, leads a quiet life at home with his wife of 75 years. Slower in movement, a little trouble with hearing and sight, but still Bob Hope.
I watched two separate specials about Mr. Hope in the past week. Two things stuck in my mind more than anything else. Christmas after Christmas he and his troupe were out there, entertaining the troops. He was there for literally generations for our young men and women, far from home, risking their lives to keep us, and uncounted strangers free.
Members of his troupe talked about the missed Christmases, and how their families dealt with it. The looks on their faces, the tone of their voices; there was something special about this. They looked upon it as a mission, a mitzvah, a holy work. These were true believers, in the good that is America's troops and what they do, and in Bob Hope.
I saw men and women cry as they recalled visiting hospitals. Decades later, their experiences moved them beyond words. One woman told of crying and being pulled aside by Mr. Hope and told that she needed to be stronger because they weren't there to cry for these boys but to make them laugh. Boys without limbs or faces. Boys dying, but one of their last memories would be of pretty girls and laughing with Bob Hope.
Other people have done what he did, too. But, I maintain that none have done it as well. Certainly not as long, or with as much dedication.
On this, Bob Hope's 100th birthday, let's take a moment to remember who the real man from "Hope" is and it's not a former President. Bob Hope is the man who brought "hope" to millions. We honor and thank him for that.
Oh, For God's Sake
This takes the cake. Some Ranger trainees complained to a General about having to do pushups for punishment and sleep deprivation and now the Ranger Instructors are walking on eggshells for fear of offending their trainees' delicate ears with cuss words. Give me a f*cking break.
It sounds to me like a few Ranger trainees need to switch professions. People whose job it is to go to war have no business complaining about sleep deprivation and pushups. Especially not RANGERS who, as light infantry, represent the future of our military as we are transformed from heavy and light to drones and light infantry.
Rangers are supposed to be among the best and be able to tolerate among the worst and this bunch of pussies at Fort Benning would undo that. Do you really think a competent enemy will care about your self-esteem or how much sleep you've had? No, he'll kill you at the first sign of weakness. This is not a good sign and that General should be sent for duty elsewhere rather than screwing up America's finest.
Since the Korean War, the Infantry Center at Fort Benning, Ga., has been training individual Rangers at the conventional Army’s most demanding course. Upon completion, these proud Ranger graduates have always infused the rest of the Army with the high standards of professionalism required to prepare men for battle and to make it through the horror of combat.If this is the future of the Rangers, yes, let's pray that all of our enemies are as weak as the Iraqis. Otherwise, these pussies and their self esteem will be coming home in body bags.
UPDATE: I'm assured by a Ranger buddy that rough men do indeed stand ready and the existing Rangers won't tolerate cheap imitations.
The Accordions of War, Part VI
(Hat Tip Jeffrey Collins)
As one might expect from a military superpower, the United States hosts the most intense war games on the planet. These war games provide valuable training for the US military as well as elite allied forces. This allied participation has many benefits, including enabling closer cooperation between these allies in times of war. The best air combat war game in the world is Red Flag.
...the goal is still to provide training that is as close to combat as participants can come "without facing bullets," as one Red Flag pilot put it.Cope Thunder is a similar program, but is done on a smaller scale. Keep this in mind as you read the comments of former deputy undersecretary of defense Jed Babbin.
The French air force has traditionally been on the limited invitation lists for Red Flag and its smaller cousin, Cope Thunder (which follows Red Flag by a few months and is held in Alaska). So when Rumsfeld told the Frenchies they were disinvited to both Red Flag and Cope Thunder, their air-force guys were shocked. Being excluded from the best war games sends two unmistakable messages. First, we don't need you. Second, we don't want you. Capiche?Earlier this week, I mentioned Condoleezza Rice's view on those who actively tried to keep Saddam in power " Punish France, ignore Germany and forgive Russia." A small part of this new policy toward France is now evident.
For some reason, the French are very proud of their military. Rumsfield has, again, struck a major blow against Gaulic pride. Surprisingly, this has come as a shock to the French. I suspect this is just the tip of the iceberg. I do not think that the US is going to show their displeasure with France by actively going after this small country. But the days of treated France as a respected ally are over.
Poverty Doesn't Breed Terrorism
Poverty Doesn't Create Terrorists
This is good news for the (classical) liberals and bad news for the Left. It's been a matter of Leftist dogma for decades that poverty leads to all sorts of evils, yet here we have a scientific study -- a regression analysis -- that holds other factors equal and finds that terrorism is positively correlated to freedom and not poverty. This lends much support to the idea that we should be working to create liberal democracies in the Middle East and should use Iraq as a jumping-off point.
For our long-term security it's essential that we create liberal democracies in the Middle East and that means the neocons were right. Doesn't it hurt?
The stereotype that terrorists are driven to extremes by economic deprivation may never have held anywhere, least of all in the Middle East. New research by Claude Berrebi, a graduate student at Princeton, has found that 13 percent of Palestinian suicide bombers are from impoverished families, while about a third of the Palestinian population is in poverty. A remarkable 57 percent of suicide bombers have some education beyond high school, compared with just 15 percent of the population of comparable age.This reminds me of my Jefferson quote from the other day and its relevance now more than ever:
"I sincerely pray that all the members of the human family may, in the time prescribed by the Father of us all, find themselves securely established in the enjoyment of life, liberty, and happiness."Amen to that. Let's hope it's not too distant.
May 28, 2003
The NY Daily News Weighs In On Maureen Dowd
Wondering who saw this today in the New York Daily News:
Dowd famously dislikes President Bush. She often calls him names and says mean things about him. This time, she accused him of flimflamming the country. Two bombs had just gone off in Saudi Arabia and Morocco, presumably detonated by Al Qaeda. According to Dowd, this gave the lie to the President's assertion, delivered in a speech in Little Rock, Ark., that Al Qaeda was "spent."Turning the meaning upside down? Surely not Maureen Dowd. Read the rest. Oh, and here's the Dowd piece in question.
The Daily Times Of Pakistan Weighs In On How The Bush Administration Is Like Joseph Goebbels
This Kaleem Omar article in Pakistan's Daily Times leads with the headline "POETIC LICENCE: The US’s reason for invading Iraq was based on a lie." It leans heavily on the recent Seymour Hersh New Yorker article about the Pentagon's Office of Special Plans, a subject of this prior TCP Op/Ed post. A highlight:
According to a Pentagon adviser who worked with Special Plans, the group was created in order to find evidence of what Wolfowitz and his boss, Rumsfeld, “believed to be true — that Saddam Hussein had close ties to Al-Qaeda and that Iraq had an enormous arsenal of chemical, biological and possible even nuclear weapons that threatened the region and, potentially, the United States.”But wait ... then there's this:
Joseph Goebbels, Nazi Germany’s master of propaganda, said that if you tell a lie often enough, people will begin to believe it. Operating on the same principle, the Bush administration launched a propaganda blitz last autumn to convince the American people that Saddam Hussein’s regime did indeed have “links to Al Qaeda.”Read the rest here, which you'll do, because you're all mindless, gullible simpletons ... unlike Kaleem Omar, who's obviously an investigative genius given his masterful ability to parrot another journalist's work.
A path to Mid-East peace ... and prosperity
The power of a U.S. - Israel - democratic Muslim nations - free trade zone ... and the need for the main organization for international relations to be LIMITED to democracies.
A U.S., Palestine, Israel, Iraq, Afghanistan Free Trade Zone would be to the rest of the Muslim world as Hong Kong used to be to China. That is, these new Muslim democracies would finally be prosperous and free - and strikingly so compared to the remaining Muslim dictatorships. (Such a Free Trade Zone has been proposed by the Bush Administration).
The new Muslim democracies would leave the remaining, dictatorial Muslim countries in the dust economically - like the free west left the communist east in the dust during the Cold War. And this would most assuredly put the remaining dictatorships of the Muslim world in a very bad light (hopefully prompting reform - and eventually democracy).
This kind of persuasive power should be used in all international relations. Indeed, I think the U.S. should severely cut back its role in the U.N. - and put its weight (and money) behind an international organization of democracies. Once this new international organization became THE place for international diplomacy, that would create that much more pressure for the world's dictatorships to join the democracy club.
None of this would end Mid-East terror. But truly prosperous democracies will produce far fewer suicide bombers than currently come from dictatorships like Saudi Arabia. Few people will see the benefits of being a suicide bomber when they can actually get a good job, vote for their representatives - and raise their family in peace.
Memorial Day Thanks
For Coral Sea, For Guadalcanal, For Pusan Perimeter and Operation Anaconda. For Omaha and Utah Beaches. For Okinawa. For every Leatherneck, Grunt or Swabbie who gave their lives. For those Bubbleheads on Eternal Patrol. For those lost while flying to Schweinfurt and Ploesti. For Khe Sanh, Iwo Jima and Belleau Wood. For those KIA in heroic battle or minor skirmish. For the victims of the Bataan Death March. For those who succumbed to wounds, disease or starvation. For those who died alongside others or alone. For those killed in minor accidents, or vanished in unreported Cold War incidents. For the crews of Apollo 1, Challenger and Columbia.
May 27, 2003
The German People Deserve Better, Part VIII
It has been a while since I last discussed German politics. Since then, Schroeder has had a bit of good news. His party actually won a regional election. However, even that victory was tarnished for Schoeder.
That success is put down to the personal popularity of the SPD's leader in Bremen and the fear of breaking up the left-right coalition running the state, rather than anything Schroeder has done. Indeed, Social Democrats in Bremen deliberately kept the chancellor out of their campaign.
Why is Schroeder being shunned by his own party?
It might be because he has led his Social Democratic Party to its lowest ratings since it was formed; recent polls suggest the Social Democrats would only get 25% of the vote if general elections were held today. While true, this just begs the question. Why is his party in such dire condition? Is it because Schroeder and his Social Democrats played the anti-American card to get elected? After all, President Bush and his administration are still holding Schroeder responsible for his actions.
Schroeder had been pushing hard for a separate meeting with Bush but this was rejected by US Secretary of State Colin Powell whose visit to Berlin last week underlined the chilly relations.
On this issue, the US administration is united. Condoleezza Rice has been advising US officials to Punish France, ignore Germany and forgive Russia. More specifically:
"We're now doing everything we can to improve relations to Germany at all levels," the unnamed German visitor quoted Rice as saying. "But we're going to work around the chancellor. It's better to leave him out."
And to enunciate the messages of Powell and Rice, President Bush went out of his way to spend time with a potential 2006 challenger to Schroeder.
When word got back to Berlin last Friday that George W. Bush had found about 15 minutes to personally welcome visiting Hesse Premier Roland Koch to the White House, Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder was reported to be livid.
So it is clear to the most obtuse follower of politics that the U.S. administration is clearly not going to give Schroeder another chance. But is this enough of a reason for 75% of the German electorate to disapprove of the Social Democrats? Based upon this article, the answer is no:
A new public opinion survey shows that Germans now overwhelmingly see France as their country's most important and reliable ally, with the United States having declined significantly in importance. The survey, prepared by the Allensbach Institute of Public Opinion Research for the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, found that 49 percent of Germans said France was their country's most important partner, compared to 17 percent for the United States.
Schroeder's alienation of the United States may have reduced his popularity among the minority of Germans who strongly treasure a relationship with the States, but this would not account for his low popularity. After all, Schroeder and his party were elected on an anti-American platform. So what else explains the low popularity of the Social Democrats?
Michael Mertes, a former policy advisor to Helmut Kohl, believes Germany is less relevant in both European and world politics than it was before the Iraq war. Repairing the damage will not be easy. The Social Democrats perceived mismanagement of the Iraqi War is probably partially responsible for their current low appeal. However, this alone would not completely explain Schroeder's falling ratings.
Most of the fall can probably be explained by former President Clinton's campaign motto, It's the economy, stupid. Unemployment for the working-age population is approaching 11%, the highest since 1990.
Economic growth is well below the EU average, Berlin has given up hopes of balancing the budget by 2006 and the public deficit has earned it a reprimand from Brussels.
I expect Germany's economic woes to continue for quite some time. On top of the economic problems just discussed, the euro is also hitting record highs against the dollar. While I doubt the Bush administration would deliberately pursue a weaker dollar just to punish certain European countries, I also doubt the White House will try to prop up the dollar. A weaker dollar greatly increases the competitiveness of US exports. Since many Asian countries (including China) link their currencies to the dollar, this means European goods are becoming more expensive around the world, not just in the States.
A strong euro is not all bad, the US has enjoyed many benefits from a strong currency for years. However, it is harmful for European exports. High-tech exports from the US will become more and more price competitive and low-tech exports from Asian competition will become even more attractive. Europe, which competes in both markets, will see a noticeable decline in trade.
What does all of this mean? Schroeder will not win another election. The German people deserve better than Schroeder, and they know it. When Schroeder is no longer in power, the American people will be there extending a welcoming hand to Germany so long as another anti-American leader is not elected. The choice is up to the Germans.
War against al-Qaida won't end quickly
From Sunday's Birmingham News"
The recent al-Qaida attacks in Saudi Arabia and Morocco have demonstrated that the war on terror continues. They have also brought forth criticism of the administration, such as the following from Sen. (and presidential candidate) Bob Graham, D-Fla.: "We have let al-Qaida off the hook. We had them on the ropes, close to dismantlement, and then as we moved resources out of Afghanistan and Pakistan to fight a war in Iraq, we let them regenerate."
May 26, 2003
Remembering, Then & Now...
(from Sharp Knife)
This Memorial Day, Americans find ourselves involved in the early stages of a global struggle against an ideology of hate, murder & repression.
Yet, we have been here before.
On a bright summer's day in 1943, Americans gathered to honor our dead, while in the midst of a world war against a similarly monstrous evil.
While these evil scum do control nations, such as Iran, this conflict is less about nation-states than a clique of madmen in many countries, including our own. Then; our enemies proclaimed racial purity; Now; religious purity...but the only pure thing about them is pure hatred.
President Bush correctly uses the term 'Battle of Iraq'. It's one battle in a long war. It's not over.
'Permanent War' is what has been declared against us...We are Americans; we wage Victory.
Then, as now, we rode upon the precipice of a cresting wave; unsure exactly where the future would lead, but sure of our purpose and duty, as Almighty G-d gave us the light to see it.
Take some time today to honor those who have given "the last full measure of devotion". Remember them. Some of us have forgotten. 'Memorial' means 'remember'.
And tell your children of those who fell along the way. It's the way that leads to freedom, the freedoms we enjoy on this sunny summer day, 60 years on.
Tell them the truth.
Tell them, after all these years, Freedom still isn't free.
This Memorial Day, I remeber those who fought here ...
We're here to mark that day in history when the Allied peoples joined in battle to reclaim this continent to liberty. For four long years, much of Europe had been under a terrible shadow. Free nations had fallen, Jews cried out in the camps, millions cried out for liberation. Europe was enslaved, and the world prayed for its rescue. Here in Normandy the rescue began. Here the Allies stood and fought against tyranny in a giant undertaking unparalleled in human history.
We stand on a lonely, windswept point on the northern shore of France. The air is soft, but forty years ago at this moment, the air was dense with smoke and the cries of men, and the air was filled with the crack of rifle fire and the roar of cannon. At dawn, on the morning of the 6th of June 1944, 225 Rangers jumped off the British landing craft and ran to the bottom of these cliffs. Their mission was one of the most difficult and daring of the invasion: to climb these sheer and desolate cliffs and take out the enemy guns. The Allies had been told that some of the mightiest of these guns were here and they would be trained on the beaches to stop the Allied advance.
Behind me is a memorial that symbolizes the Ranger daggers that were thrust into the top of these cliffs. And before me are the men who put them there.
These are the boys of Pointe du Hoc. These are the men who took the cliffs. These are the champions who helped free a continent. These are the heroes who helped end a war.
Forty summers have passed since the battle that you fought here. You were young the day you took these cliffs; some of you were hardly more than boys, with the deepest joys of life before you. Yet you risked everything here. Why? Why did you do it? What impelled you to put aside the instinct for self-preservation and risk your lives to take these cliffs? What inspired all the men of the armies that met here? We look at you, and somehow we know the answer. It was faith, and belief; it was loyalty and love.
- Ronald Reagan - Pointe du Hoc, Normandy, June 6, 1984
The war against the United States was engaged long before 9/11. Every act of terrorism is an act of war, so I choose to remember Pete Ganci today in the way that one remembers a war hero.
My father, quoted in the book Out of the Blue: The Story of September 11, 2001, from Jihad to Ground Zero, By Richard Bernstein and the staff of the New York Times.
"Firefighters, the good ones anyway, live to do a good job at the right places - that's all you want to do," said Angelo Catalano, a firefighter who served in the same company as Ganci when both of them were young. "And Pete hated the guys who were skaters."
Today, weather permitting, I will attend a ceremony where the Farmingdale, Long Island Post Office will be renamed the "Peter J. Ganci, Jr., Post Office Building."
On this day, I will also remember every single soldier who died so I can live free.
There's nothing wrong with going home afterwards to spend the day with family and friends, having a picnic or celebrating the coming summer.
Just remember what this day is for. When you raise that first cold one to your lips, give a toast to those who this holiday is for. Remember their families, as well.
When you exercise any of your freedoms today, remember those who fought and died so you can enjoy them.
Remember every victim of terrorism against this country for they too are casualties of war.
As stated by a very compassionate person, "The best Memorial to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in our defense is the one you must construct in your heart; the one you look at each day, however briefly, on your way around the mundane chores, the necessary work, perhaps even the heroic efforts you perform.
Dar Al Hayat Weighs In On The Arab League
The Saudi paper Dar Al Hayat today posts this article calling for modification of the Arab League. And while you may not expect it, the article appears to call for liberal democratic systems in Arab states:
This organization [the EU] also relies on executive, judicial and legislative authorities that are independent from one another, not to mention that the country members are all democratic, with liberal political systems. Thus, democracy plays a major role in the European unification, and is considered to be an indispensable condition for the organization. Looking back at the Arab experience, we find that it lacks in every factor that has made the European one a success.But wait ... there's also this:
America will not stop before breaking down on all the "terrorist" organizations in the Arab world; in other words, it wishes to destroy all those who do not cooperate and submit. It shall force every regime to adopt cultural and communications policies that fit with American and Israeli standards. Some Arab elites perceive this American pressure as an opportunity for a quick political and cultural change that needed such a foreign influence. But the problem is that the change would be operated according to American and Israeli criteria, and hence contrary to Arab expectations. So there is a pressing need to introduce a change at two levels; one at the regional local level, and the second at the regional national one. This requires of course a regional leadership to manage the operations. And since no country in the region is able to shoulder such a responsibility, the only hope standing is for an Egyptian-Syrian-Saudi alliance to form, in order to face future dangers.Read the rest ...
Relics of Idiotarianism
You can still find them. While looking through the "latest world news" pages of the ABC, that is, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, what should I see but the following:
It's full of choice predictions, some quite accurate, viz.
OK, so after two days of probes, the "lightning raids" went in to stay, in platoon, then company, then battalion, then brigade, then divisional, then corps force. It's called the "Rock Soup" method, and the US Army in particular have it down to a fine art, and have had since about 1944. But there are some other, less perspicacious quotes:
ALAN DUPONT, STRATEGIC & DEFENCE STUDIES CENTRE, ANU: Once they've identified these key targets, then they need to go in and get the people inside them.
Now that's what I call Spin-n-n-n. I mean, we're talking 3000 rpm here, 25 gravities at the tips, at least 5 Goebbels or one Baghdad Bob's worth.
MARGOT O'NEILL: In the end, disease, starvation and bloody street fighting could make this siege as gruesome as many of its predecessors.The ones she mentions before. Grozhny. Stalingrad. This isn't spinning, it's just plain wrong, as in "mistaken", and is quite excuseable. Just quite... quaint.
Possible Violations Of The Geneva Conventions
The Observer | Special reports | Red Cross denied access to PoWs
However, if we are indeed mistreating the Iraqi POWs we should quit and give them immediate access to the Red Cross. The reason is because we don't want our POWs mistreated in some future conflict -- yeah, I know we're the only ones who play by the rules and the Vietnamese tortured American POWs routinely. Even so, future mistreatment of our POWs could be treated as a post-war war crime and the perpetrators could be punished. Besides, we are the United States and are supposed to be the good guys.
With the lecture now over, I'm still skeptical. Our soldiers are better trained than that and the Left, of which the Guardian is a member, has been looking for something to ping us on. We'll see.
The United States is illegally holding thousands of Iraqi prisoners of war and other captives without access to human rights officials at compounds close to Baghdad airport, The Observer has learnt.One correction: there's no question as to the status of the detainees at Gitmo. They're illegal combatants who don't wear uniforms and are not protected by the Geneva Conventions, though they are naturally entitled to humane treatment.
May 25, 2003
The Ayn Rand Institute features an excellent Memorial Day editorial by Andrew Bernstein, Honoring Virtue. Excerpt: "The meaning of Memorial Day is particularly pressing today when the United States is engaged in a war against fanatics who represent the extreme of intellectual, religious and political suppression. Freedom is unknown and utterly alien in the countries that support terrorists. They feel threatened by our most cherished principles and institutions, and so they seek to destroy us. Our soldiers who fought so courageously and so effectively against the Taliban and Saddam Hussein helped to overthrow both of those brutal dictatorships while defending the lives and freedom of American civilians. ... What protects us is our moral courage and our military might."
May 23, 2003
Urban Warfare and the Lessons of Jenin
Azure is the journal of the Shalem Center (where Michael Oren is a senior fellow). This extensively footnoted article by Yagil Henkin is from the most recent issue. Henkin discusses lessons learned about urban warfare from the IDF operation in Jenin (while meticulously refuting the accusations of "massacre"), and gives additional examples from Chechnya, Serbia, and Somalia. If you find military strategy interesting, or if the problem of civilian casualties in war is of concern to you, this is a must read.
[Note: Originally posted here in my weblog.]
Somewhat lost in the din of the major local news networks' handling of the recent terror attacks in Mindanao and the on-going shelling and pursuit operations the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is conducting against the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) is the angle that the outlaw Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing the New People's Army (NPA) is openly assisting the Islamic radicals.
This is not the first time that the Filipino people have heard of such a partnership between the two strange bedfellows. But I am a bit surprised that the local networks have not highlighted the alliance much further.
The Manila Times in less than a week released at least two articles detailing such an arrangement between the two insurgent groups with diametrically contrasting ideologies. The reports merely confirmed the rumored-in-the-past coalition between the communists and the Islamic extremists.
In the report entitled "NPA teaching guerilla tactics to Moro group":
The New People's Army is training Moro Islamic Liberation Front rebels in guerrilla warfare, a source in the movement told The Manila Times on Sunday.From the article "Elite assassins to help MILF":
FORTIFYING its tactical alliance with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, the New People's Army has mobilized its hit squads in Mindanao to attack government forces pounding the separatist rebels, a source in the NPA said on Thursday.And in a related story, CPP ordered the NPA to "disrupt the R.P.-U.S. military exercises":
The Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines has issued a directive to its armed wing, the New People's Army, to launch tactical offensives against American and Filipino troops participating in the Balikatan exercises.Of course, throughout human history, groups with contrasting beliefs are known to temporarily set aside their differences in order to solidify their efforts against a so-called "common" enemy. But I'm still wondering how the CPP-NPA (classified as a "terrorist organization" by Washington) and the MILF (and Abu Sayyaf?) partnership can actually work out. What is this really all about? Training? Mere demarcation of operating areas? Joint extortion activities? Share of ransom loot for kidnapping sorties?
Other than giving each other chest bumps and high-fives for the mutual satisfaction they get in destroying government infrastructures, killing innocent civilians, and murdering Filipino and American soldiers participating in R.P.-U.S. war games, I really don't see any logic in such an arrangement. In fact, methinks such a collusion merely cheapens further the "purity" of what the two insurgent groups are supposedly fighting for.
Saddam's dead baby parade
Throughout the 13 years of UN sanctions on Iraq that were ended yesterday, Iraqi doctors told the world that the sanctions were the sole cause for the rocketing mortality rate among Iraqi children.
The fighting words of the left, pre-dating the war, were sanctions killed all those Iraqis, not Saddam.
The U.S. starved the babies. The U.S. was killing the children and poor people of Iraq.
Under the sanctions regime, "We had the ability to get all the drugs we needed," said Ibn Al-Baladi's chief resident, Dr. Hussein Shihab. "Instead of that, Saddam Hussein spent all the money on his military force and put all the fault on the USA. Yes, of course the sanctions hurt - but not too much, because we are a rich country and we have the ability to get everything we can by money. But instead, he spent it on his palaces."
How is the left going to spin this? Are they going to call it a lie? Propaganda? Another conspiracy by "BushCo?"
This is what many of us have been saying all along. Saddam killed his own people. Saddam starved them, kept medicines from them. But the left laughed in our faces and scolded us for believing in filthy lies.
Turns out they aren't lies after all. And we were right.
Just as with the teary-eyed people who decried the massive looting of the Iraq museum that turned out not to be a massive looting, the left will react to this news one of two ways; they will either be disturbingly quiet or they will drum up some fantasy laden web of distorted facts and claim that this story is fake.
"Saddam Hussein, he's the murderer, not the UN," said Dr. Azhar Abdul Khadem, a resident at the Al-Alwiya maternity hospital in Baghdad.
Doctors said they were forced to refrigerate dead babies in hospital morgues until authorities were ready to gather the little corpses for monthly parades in coffins on the roofs of taxis for the benefit of Iraqi state television and visiting journalists. The parents were ordered to wail with grief - no matter how many weeks had passed since their babies had died - and to shout to the cameras that the sanctions had killed their children, the doctors said. Afterward, the parents would be rewarded with food or money.
Read the rest, as they say. It's quite telling.
May 22, 2003
Did Atty. Gen. Janet Reno refuse to permit a plan for the capture of Bin Laden to proceed in 1998?
An open letter to Brock Meeks, correspondent on MSNBC's Homeland Security Beat re: Janet Reno's alleged refusal to permit a plan to go forward in 1998 to capture Osama Bin Laden in Kandahar, Afghanistan.
This letter was emailed to Mr. Meeks earlier today.
* * *
Dear Mr. Meeks:
I heard (& saw) a story on Washington's radio station WMAL (AM 630) (on the Charlie Warren Show at about 6 p.m. last night) - and again last night on MSNBC with Keith Oberman - regarding a 1998 plan by the FBI and CIA to capture Osama Bin Laden. The story was that FBI Agent Cogen (phonetic) now indicates that the FBI/CIA had a plan in 1998 to go into Kandahar, Afghanistan, to capture Bin Laden in a safe house where he was staying. The FBI/CIA had strong intelligence that he was in this particular safe house. Agents trained outside of San Diego in preparation for the actual capture. The agents had previously obtained a criminal arrest warrant for Bin Laden in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
When the plan was presented to then Attorney General Janet Reno, however, she refused to permit the arrest/capture plan to go forward. (Also, both of the reports from yesterday indicated that, when contacted regarding this story, Ms. Reno refused to comment).
Despite the above coverage I heard and saw yesterday, and the important nature of this story, I have been unable to find any links to this story on the MSNBC website (or elsewhere) today. Can you direct me to a link for the Keith Oberman report on this story - or to any other link on this story?
* * *
See the story discussed at World Net Daily.
This War Made Possible by the Following Sponsors
My boss received an email from his good friend, who is the Executive Officer of the U.S.S. Teddy Roosevelt.
I'm happy to say this will be my last installment for this deployment. We passed the Straits of Gibraltar yesterday (headed westbound), and we'll fly off our 8 jets off Theodore Roosevelt and back into Jacksonville next Wednesday. The ship will pull into Norfolk on the 29th. We've got quite a few anxious sailors ready to get home and take some well deserved time off.
The State Dept. Departs from the Constitution
From the Washington Times:
"Walk the halls of the State Department's main offices in Washington these days, and you'll encounter an abundance of political cartoons — something you could not have found even three years ago. It's not that the diplomats at Foggy Bottom have suddenly developed a sense of humor, but rather a newfound contempt for the leader of the free world. The cartoons overwhelmingly lampoon President Bush as a simpleton who doesn't understand the "complexities" of the foreign policy."
That's insubordination. Not to mention tacky. But hardly the worst of it:
"On March 31, representatives of the North Korean government told State Department officials, for the first time, that they were reprocessing plutonium, a key step in developing nuclear weapons. The Pentagon and the White House did not learn of this stunning announcement until Pyongyang told them during previously scheduled talks with North Korea in China on April 18. The State Department intentionally withheld this vital piece of information, fearing that, if the White House knew, officials there might call off the meeting."
For two and a half weeks, State felt it had the right to deny information vital to this nation's security to the Commander-in-Chief, in order to promote it's own policy preference. That's criminally seditious. And meglomaniacal. It smacks of a coup.
These are the people who let the 9-11 terrorists write their own visas in crayon.
They've had their noses planted up Arafat's posterior for years, despite his having murdered Americans...including State Dept. employees!
They're just back from a tour of Nevada's brothels.
Someone needs to tell them they do not work for themselves... they work for the President. The President of the United States...not France.
If Gen. Powell's officers had pulled a stunt like that when he was in command, their asses would still be in Leavenworth.
A damned outrage.
May 21, 2003
U.S. to implement Saddam-like policies in Iraq
Just when I thought things were starting to go well in Iraq, I hear that Iraqis are going to be subject to dictatorial-style gun grabs by U.S. and Allied forces. The New York Times reports that Allies will begin seizing guns from Iraqis, and those that refuse to comply will risk being arrested.
"We are in the final stages of formulating a weapons policy to put rules on who can and cannot possess a weapon," Lt. Gen. David D. McKiernan, the chief allied land commander said in an interview. "We want to get explosives and AK's out of the wrong hands."So much for the God given right to self defense. I agree that criminals shouldn't be permitted to run around with guns, but the Allies aren't targeting the criminals. They are targeting anyone and everyone who is not a member of the police force or military. The mass of Iraqi civilians are being treated like criminals for the misdeeds of a few miscreants and looters.
The sad fact is that criminals will undoubtedly evade having their firearms confiscated, leaving the average law-abiding Iraqi at their mercy. Not too mention that any government that is set up in Iraq will have an easy time oppressing the populace, given that the U.S. has already disarmed them. As soon as our troops leave, they are a lot more likely to return to being an Islamic Fundamentalist dictatorship.
When I think back to the founding of our own nation, I don't recall reading anywhere in the history books that guns were rounded up for the safety of our fledgling government. In fact, firearms ownership was encouraged, and protected with the drafting of the Second Amendment. Where is George Mason when you need him?
A Summary Of Middle-East Editorial Opinion
The Daily Star of Lebanon has posted a summary of op-ed pieces from papers throughout the Middle-East. Written under the headline Terrorism is a ‘cancer’ spreading through Muslim world, it's a collection well worth reading. You can find it here, and here's a selection:
Arab News (Riyadh): The pro-government daily says the real victim behind the attacks in the region is Islam and the Arabs, not the Americans or other foreigners. “The biggest victim of all is Islam. The actions of the fanatics feed Islamophobia. They send the warped message that Islam is a religion drenched in blood. They must stop.
May 20, 2003
Surprising New Allies in the War on Terror: Al Qaeda's Second-String Strategists
I Think We Killed All the Smart Ones
Originally posted at Little Tiny Lies. Please be aware that the author is not suggesting that suicide bombing is funny.
In the wake of last week's suicide bombings in Riyadh and Casablanca, intelligence agencies the world over are scrambling to gather information on the new, reconstituted Al Qaeda terrorist network. Al Qaeda's security measures have made it impossible for the West to pinpoint the hiding place of mastermind Osama bin Laden, but using an electronic eavesdropping device of my own design, the Fict-U-Lizer (patent pending), I have managed to record and transcribe a recent meeting between bin Laden and two of his henchmen.
SCENE: a damp, dark cave in Afghanistan. In a corner of the room stands a hospital bed containing the crumpled, bandaged form of terrorist leader Osama bin Laden. His head is in a partial cast which makes it impossible for him to speak.
ENTER Mahmoud and Naseem, two lower-level Al Qaeda operatives.
NASEEM: Is the great one awake? I am eager to tell him the wonderful news!
MAHMOUD: Silence, son of a dung beetle. We will wait until he rouses.
NASEEM: Your mother is a dung beetle.
MAHMOUD: Your father is a shabbos goy.
NASEEM: Perhaps he is your father, too. Ask your mother, the dung beetle.
MAHMOUD: I have your dung beetle right here. Lower your voice; Osama sleeps.
NASEEM: Osama will be so pleased! Knowing he inspires such devotion will help him forget he lives on diluted hummus pumped in through what once was his nose!
NASEEM: He will not mind the sacrifices. The eyepatch, the skin grafts, the missing buttock, the adult diapers...
NASEEM: The news will make him forget! Just as his head injuries made him forget how to make chraa on his own, in a proper squat-toilet instead of wherever he happens to be at the time.
MAHMOUD: Do not make me strike you.
NASEEM: [Standing by Osama's nightstand, he fingers an Arabic translation of Mein Kampf. He gives it a sudden push, sending it to the floor, where it lands with a bang.] OOPS!
OSAMA: [He wakes.] MMFF! MMFF! [Looking around wildly with his remaining eye, he uses his good arm to claw at the bed's rails. Believing the B-52's are back, he is determined to hide under the bed.]
NASEEM: Look, Mahmoud! He cannot wait to rise and fight the infidels! [He sniffs.] Say, Mahmoud, do you smell chraa?
MAHMOUD: [Draws back his hand and smacks Naseem on the back of the head.] See how you startled him?
MAHMOUD: Blessed one, we bring good news! I know you were worried when the bombers came and killed every one of your lieutenants who could read, and you were forced to promote those of us who had been recruited to dig latrines and throw ourselves on stray cluster bombs. But we have risen to the occasion! Al Qaeda is reborn! We have resumed our campaign of holy hatred! Once again, the intestines and mangled torsos of the faithful are raining down among our enemies! Our suicide bombers are back at work! Praise Allah!
OSAMA: [He is dressed in a hospital gown and adult diapers made by duct-taping together Huggies decorated with smiling ducks and bunnies.] MMF! NNNG! NNNG! [He waves his good hand back and forth in a gesture clearly meaning "no."]
NASEEM: Look, Mahmoud! He says, "No! No! No more good news! I cannot bear it!" I know, o seed of the Prophet! Your joy is so great, it cannot be contained!
OSAMA: [Flops back onto his pillow.]
MAHMOUD: Great imam, the news is even better than you think! Before, we sent our bombers to Israel and America, to kill the Jews and Christians. Now, we send them into the hearts of Islam's great cities, to slaughter those who have not helped us enough!
OSAMA: [Turns his head and stares at Mahmoud in horror.]
NASEEM: Yes, great leader! This week we bombed the treacherous Saudis and Moroccans! Wise is Allah, and terrible is his hand, Al Qaeda!
OSAMA: [Raises his hand and slaps the plaster covering his forehead.]
MAHMOUD: Yes, imam, the Saudis and Moroccans helped us, but not enough. They sent us money. They armed our men. But they lined their pockets with dollars and paid lip service to the Western pigs. We rewarded them for their treachery by blowing their body parts as high as the minarets of a mosque.
NASEEM: I guess we showed THEM, eh, imam?
MAHMOUD: We would like to bomb the appeasing, boot-licking Syrians as well, but for some reason, we are now having a cash-flow problem.
NASEEM: This morning when I opened the mail bag from our chief fundraiser in Saudi Arabia, I was surprised to find that it contained his severed head.
MAHMOUD: We suspect some sort of woodworking accident.
NASEEM: But we fixed the problem. Prince Abdullah called this morning.
MAHMOUD: I know, I know. You are afraid your unworthy servants have claimed the credit for themselves. Naseem and I would never betray you so! We would sooner be bar mitzvah'd and vacation in the Catskills!
NASEEM: We told him the bombings were the work of our great master, Osama!
MAHMOUD: And he said he wanted to come in person and give you "what you have coming."
NASEEM: Some sort of prize, we think. Perhaps a hot tub.
MAHMOUD: Or a cruise!
NASEEM: And we wanted to make sure you would get your reward.
MAHMOUD: So we told him where you were staying.
OSAMA: [Whimpering noises.]
NASEEM: Look, Mahmoud. Tears of joy.
MAHMOUD: We should really spruce up the cave for his visit. Perhaps some balloons. What do you think, Naseem?
NASEEM: Can we have ice cream?
MAHMOUD: Perhaps an ice cream cake in the shape of a Q'uran.
OSAMA: [Gestures to Mahmoud.]
MAHMOUD: What do you wish, o lion of the desert? You wish me to come to your side? [He walks to the bedside.]
OSAMA: [Yanks Mahmoud's revolver from its holster, presses it to his temple, and pulls the trigger repeatedly, only to hear a series of clicks.]
NASEEM: Look, Mahmoud! He wants to be a martyr, too!
MAHMOUD: My master, your guards made me leave my ammunition with them at the door.
NASEEM: You can't be too careful.
MAHMOUD: But be of good cheer! Soon your turn will come.
OSAMA: [Nods morosely.]
NASEEM: Do not worry, your seventy-two virgins await, and they are taking excellent care of your ears and missing buttock, which have preceded you to Paradise.
MAHMOUD: O, lucky, lucky buttock.
NASEEM: And ears.
MAHMOUD: Indeed, the ears are lucky as well.
NASEEM: And the eye.
MAHMOUD: Yes, Naseem, and the eye.
NASEEM: And the nipple which was torn off by shrapnel.
MAHMOUD: Clearly, Naseem has forgotten his pills today.
OSAMA: [Sobs quietly.]
MAHMOUD: He weeps for the fallen.
NASEEM: Perhaps he weeps for the nipple.
MAHMOUD: Truly, Naseem, the midwife should have thrown you to the jackals and kept the placenta.
At that point, the batteries for the Fict-u-lizer went dead, and I was forced to cannibalize a pair from my motorized, talking Donald Rumsfeld bobble-head. But it was too late; the meeting had ended.
This correspondent promises to stay abreast of related developments. Encouraged by Al Qaeda's clever new strategy of bombing nations whose citizens have given them financial support, State Department officials have reportedly offered Al Qaeda money to cut out the middleman and simply bomb themselves.
Reliable sources say Al Qaeda's leaders are stalling while they try to figure out the catch.
Music From Hell Torture Suggestions
The bit about Americans using heavy metal and Barney the Dinosaur music on auto-repeat in order to break Hussein's henchmen has triggered a lot of commentary in the blogosphere.
Charles of Little Green Footballs threw out the challenge, and asked "what else should they use?" The pitiless Green Horde wasted no time in coming up with answers, proving once again that Allah's justice works in strange and mysterious ways. Command Post readers have offered their own suggestions, but there was no focused effort and so LGF's Green Horde is ahead at the moment.
For a listing of some of the top eeevil music entries so far, and an opportunity to submit your own Music from Hell, come visit Winds of Change.NET. Think of it as your personal contribution to the war effort!
May 19, 2003
Manila can't depend upon an American crutch
Philip Bowring, International Herald Tribune:
MANILA - Presidents Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and George W. Bush are to meet in Washington on Monday, buoyed by the assumption that the governments of the United States and the Philippines need each other. But the mutual admiration has pitfalls.Full story »»
Local Boy Makes Good
OpinionJournal: The Digital Warrior: A tribute to the men who make the Information Age military work.
In 1991 during the air preparation, orders for air strikes had to be flown to U.S. Navy carriers on courier jets, on paper. In 2003, there was a direct communication link between guys on the ground and jets in the air, and instead of knowing their mission when they took off, jets went into the theater and were told what to strike when they reached the zone of combat. When our ground forces were moving forward, there were always air assets available above them, which they could call on as needed.
May 18, 2003
That Oughta Do It -- Cruel And Unusual Punishment For Saddam Sympathizers
Psyop: The Love
I remember reading a story a few years ago where a man, no doubt the father of a small child, beat the shit out of a Barney imitator at a Texas mall. I know how he feels and I don't even have children.
Link via Blogdex.
May 17, 2003
Foreign Policy, Victor D. Cha and David C. Kang
North Korea is not crazy, near collapse, nor about to start a war. But it is dangerous, not to mention dangerously misunderstood. Defusing the threat that North Korea poses to its neighbors and the world will require less bluster, more patience, and a willingness on the part of the United States to probe and understand the true sources of the North’s conduct.Analysis of statements and related facts
Maggie comes in swinging
Former UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher broke her medical ban on public speaking with a speech at an Anglo-US free market think-tank in New York last week. Choice quote:
"There are too many people who imagine that there is something sophisticated about always believing the best of those who hate your country, and the worst of those who defend it."She also said:
. . . she had “drunk deep from the same well of ideas” as her great ally, the former US President Ronald Reagan. Both instinctively knew what worked, she said, including low taxes, small government and enterprise. “We knew, too, what did not work, namely socialism in every shape or form. Nowadays socialism is more often dressed up as environmentalism, feminism, or international concern for human rights. All sound good in the abstract. But scratch the surface and you will as likely as not discover anti-capitalism, patronising and distorting quotas, and intrusions upon the sovereignty and democracy of nations.”As an environmentalist feminist with a concern for human rights, I acknowledge this is true. There are people working in those areas who understand that rule of law, protection of minority rights, representative democracy, and market economies will further those goals much more effectively than vague, biased international bureaucracies, but they are too busy working inside the system to get much publicity.
UPDATE: I apologize - I forgot to include the URL!
Al Qaeda, Already on Thin Ice, Begins to Tap-Dance
Stupidity More Shocking Than Brutality
Originally posted at Little Tiny Lies.
It appears that Al Qaeda is behind the recent bombings in Casablanca. Targets included a Jewish community center, the Belgian consulate, a Spanish social club and a hotel.
I haven't seen anyone propose a rationale for choosing these targets. I suspect that's because there isn't one.
Sure, the community center makes sense. They're Jews, or at least most of them are. Muslim terrorists attacking Jews; no explanation required. I suppose the social club could have something to do with Spain's support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
How do you explain the attack on Belgian interests? If Germany and France are Groucho and Chico, Belgium is Harpo. Belgium has been utterly useless to the coalition.
The hotel bombing is another puzzle, unless you start with the premise that the puzzle has no answer. I would imagine that Moroccan hotels are generally staffed and occupied by Muslims. That dovetails nicely with my belief that Al Qaeda now sees Muslims as expendable or even as enemies. I hope the feeling becomes mutual.
We know Al Qaeda is hostile to some Muslims. Those in the Saudi government, in particular, because they allowed American infidels to defile Arabia's sacred sand with their footprints. But even in the Arab world, there's a wide gulf between sour relations and terrorism. If bitterness always equaled terrorism, the Saudis would be bombing us themselves instead of quietly paying Al Qaeda to do it.
Operation Iraqi Freedom got support from Muslim nations, but unless I am greatly deceived, it has been lukewarm support. The Saudis wouldn't let us use their soil. The Syrians allowed Iraqis to go home and fight us. Arab news organizations routinely distorted the news in Hussein's favor. It's not like Muslims the world over were rushing to support us. But it looks like the halfhearted, two-faced "support" they gave us suffices to make them targets of Al Qaeda terrorism.
In the past, the Arabs' incentive to help us was largely commercial. They wanted to keep the oil flowing. I assume they also wanted to avoid pushing us deeper into the pro-Israel, anti-Arab camp; that's just common sense. Now Al Qaeda is killing Muslim Arab civilians unpredictably and with no clear goal. Suddenly, Saudi Arabia and the other Arab nations are saying, with sincerity, the same things they used to say merely to placate us. Terrorism has to be stopped; the perpetrators have to be punished.
I hate to say this, knowing it's exactly the kind of statement the left's tinfoil-hat brigade likes to seize on and turn into pillars of faith, but if George Bush had wanted to get the Arabs into our corner for a change, one great way to do it would have been to have the CIA arrange just the sort of attacks Al Qaeda has been pulling. Bomb a few hotels and shopping areas, blame it on Al Qaeda, and watch the fur fly. Of course, that's hard to do when the instruments of destruction are suicide bombers. It's not easy to find people who will blow themselves up for pay.
Obviously, this is Al Qaeda action. It's not a clever plot by the CIA. But if we were able to plan Al Qaeda's moves for our own benefit, we couldn't do much better than they've done on their own.
I hate to get my expectations up. Islam is a faith that owes its very existence to religious intolerance. Mohammed had a hard time getting the ball rolling until he made a rule that Muslims were only allowed to rob and pillage the villages and cities of non-Muslims, and once he put that rule in place, it became much easier to convert people. Intolerance for non-Muslims has been an important part of Islam since the very beginning, and I think little has changed. I believe that by and large, Muslims view the non-Muslim West with contempt. That's a hard obstacle to overcome.
Still, Al Qaeda is doing everything it can to help. If they keep it up, rank-and-file Muslims the world over may well decide it's easier to stomach fighting Al Qaeda than to put up with news broadcasts featuring shots of Muslim blood pooling in Middle Eastern gutters. Maybe Al Qaeda isn't Robin Hood and his band of merry men; maybe they're misguided cultists who don't care who they hurt. Maybe Arabs will come to see Al Qaeda the way we saw the Branch Davidians.
Muslim unity is not as monolithic and unassailable as people think. There are Bedouin groups who, for decades, have served in the Israeli military. If Israel can make allies of Muslims, it's not unreasonable to hope that the Arab world will abandon a dangerous, unpredictable cult that lashes out in random directions.
I hope reason triumphs over passion and bigotry just this once. If Al Qaeda manages to unite Muslims and non-Muslims even temporarily, the improvement in relations could lead to a peace that could last for decades.
Al Qaeda Craps Where it Eats
Meanwhile, Major News Outlets Still Discussing Dung-Flinging Teenagers
Originally posted at on May 16, 2003, at Little Tiny Lies.
Dean Esmay blogged something really interesting today. Now that Al Qaeda is bombing other Muslims, Arabs have decided suicide bombing may possibly be a BAD THING. He found some Arab papers describing the bombers as criminals and expressing sincere fury over their actions.
Welcome to the party, boys.
There may be some bloodstained treasures to pick out of this hill of dung.
For one thing, it says a lot about the state of Al Qaeda. If these guys had really gotten it together, the way they claim to, they would never have done something this stupid. As Dean said to me tonight, "It smacks of desperation." And you have to wonder if it reflects the severity of the damage we've done to their leadership. When you cut a chicken's head off, it still runs, but it doesn't run anywhere important. Al Qaeda is still killing, but is it killing the people it needs to kill?
In my opinion, it's killing exactly the wrong people, if you look at it from Al Qaeda's perspective. Excuse me for being flippant about mass murder, but my summary of the Arab articles condemning the bombers was as follows: "This s--t isn't funny any more!"
Until now, there was an idiotic, unfazable current of Muslim pride that caused Muslims all over the world to back our enemies. They backed Saddam Hussein, who was the world's leading persecutor of Muslims. It didn't bother them when he gassed and machine-gunned Iraqis. Frankly, oppressive, brutal government is something Arabs expect. But look at them jump when Al Qaeda rips up innocent Saudis. Borderless terrorism that strikes Arabs in locations that can't be predicted? That's not cricket.
The terrorists aren't just Muslims. They're not just Muslim extremists. They're lunatics. Idiots. And armed idiots are bad for everyone; their destruction knows no direction, no method. In 2001, it was us. Next week, it may be a column of pilgrims walking toward Mecca, saying prayers Al Qaeda hasn't approved.
Whoever planned this thing, he is not deserving of the usual term, "mastermind." He blew up people whose relatives support terrorism. He may have blown the biscuit wheels right off his own gravy train. Though he harmed us in the short run, he may have done something we could never do on our own. He may have united Arabs and Americans in a sincere battle to slaughter his troops and jail their supporters until the average Saudi would rather donate money to the B'nai Brith than Al Qaeda.
This act reeked of stupidity. As I told Dean, the tone-deafness was "Hillaryesque."
Read the story. I think you'll agree, this tragedy may carry inside it the seeds of an alliance we could never have forged on our own.
Salam Pax a hoax?
Ottawa Citizen, David Warren
Salam is the scion of a senior figure from Iraq's Baathist nomenclature. He was brought up at least partly in Vienna, which is the OPEC headquarters; his father was therefore an oilman, and possibly a former head of Iraq's OPEC mission.Full story »»
Also read this Command Post Op-Ed article
May 16, 2003
Jesse Jackson Weighs In On Race & The Marine Withdrawal
Mr. Jackson spent a large portion of his speech emphasizing the existence of a racial divide in the United States. He demanded that the audience look closely at the military, which is 35% black and 15% Latino. He argued that the withdrawal from Iraq of the Marines, who have a higher white percentage, suggests racism on the part of this nation's military commanders, as the Army, which has a higher percentage of blacks than the Marines, would have remain in Iraq.Hat tip to Krempasky.
Is a "Big Deal" with North Korea Really Possible?
The May 13 edition of the Baltimore Sun ran a very thought provoking opinion piece by Michael O'Hanlon and Mike Mochizuki ("We need to make North Korea a big deal") in which the two scholars call on Washington and Seoul to propose a "grand bargain" with that last outpost of Stalinism otherwise known as the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK). In contrast to the approaches so far articulated by Presidents Bush and Noh, O'Hanlon and Mochizuki advise:
Negotiate without preconditions and without excessive concern about who else participates. But negotiate from a position of strength and resolve, Reagan-style. We should offer North Korea substantial incentives, well beyond what has been provided or discussed to date, to end dangerous weapons programs and begin to reform its economy and way of governance. But we should also insist that any increase in outside aid will require compliance with a much broader set of demands than we have made so far.
In other words, Washington and Seoul should propose a "grand bargain" that the United States and its regional security partners should pursue with North Korea. Although accords could be negotiated and implemented step by step, they would be guided by a clearly articulated and broad vision. That vision should help grab the attention and focus the imagination of North Korean leaders, who would be presented with a clear alternative to their present dangerous and self-destructive path.
Such an approach, the two writers explain, would place the Bush Administration in a much better position than it is now to convince other regional powers of the need for stronger policies should such a "grand bargain" be turned down. However, O'Hanlon and Mochizuki feel that:
there is also very good reason, based on the history of negotiations with North Korea, to think an ambitious plan could succeed. North Korea has concluded even unpalatable deals in the past when it thought it was getting enough in return, and it has indicated an awareness that it must reform its economy for years even if it has failed miserably in the attempt to do so.
As far as what such a "big deal" would encompass, North Korea would be expected to fully denuclearize, and its ballistic missile program will need to be addressed. But that's not all:
... the broad plan would go much further than the nuclear question. Consistent with Mr. Bush's instincts that any deal with North Korea's current government is unappealing and unpromising, it would seek to begin to change the basic nature of that regime.
The centerpiece of O'Hanlon and Mochizuki's plan, however, is a "combination of deep conventional arms reductions on the peninsula and assistance to North Korea to help it reform its economy." China, "which has navigated the road from a communist command system to an entrepreneurial economy," would be expected to provide guidance and advice, while Japan, South Korea, China, and the United States would provide aid. The two writers explain:
Only such a policy could reduce the enormous economic burden that North Korea's oversized military places on the country. Without such weapons cuts and economic reform, North Korea will probably continue to provoke future crises in order to extort resources from the international community simply because its leaders will see no other way to stay financially afloat.
As I said earlier, O'Hanlon and Mochizuki's proposed approach does provide us with much food for thought (or at least it should). However, I find it flawed in a number of crucial areas. Firstly, despite the two analysts' observation that North Korea has shown a willingness to conclude "even unpalatable deals in the past when it thought it was getting enough in return," North Korea has also shown a distinct willingness to violate those very same deals whenever it felt doing so might prove profitable. The histories of both inter-Korean relations and US-DPRK relations are littered with the debris of agreements that the North moved to undermine before the ink on them had even dried. If there is any dount about this, remember that we are still negotiating with the North Koreans over a nuclear issue that was supposedly dealt with by three seperate agreements in 1985, 1991, and 1994.
A more fatal flaw, however, is O'Hanlon and Mochizuki's assumption that the North Korean system can somehow be "reformed." I think it can be rightly assumed that after over a decade of negative economic growth and nearly two million deaths due to starvation, the North Korean leadership knows something is amiss in the Workers' Paradise. The fact that it has not undertaken even modest economic reforms, however, reflects certain limitations in North Korea's socio-economic structure. Unlike the rural societies of China and Vietnam, two socialist nations that have successfully pursued market reforms, North Korean society is urban and industrialized. In this regard, Pyongyang's relevant precedent of reform is not China, but the Soviet Union. The North Korean leadership is well aware of this; even as inter-Korean "reconciliation" and "cooperation" accelerated following the election of Kim Dae-jung in the South, the DPRK's official media repeatedly cautioned Seoul against taking measures to "undermine the North's socialist system."
Pyongyang will rebuff any attempts to encourage meaningful economic or political reform in North Korea, because it rightly equates such reforms with the death of the regime. Likewise, massive cuts in North Korea's oversized but politically important military are unlikely; not only would they alienate Kim Jong-il from one of his most important bases of support, but they would effectively destroy one of the two ideological pillars of the North Korean regime - its destiny to unify the peninsula under the banner of the Korean Workers Party. That the KCNA (Korean Central News Agency) now makes reference to the North's "Songun" (Army-first) policy as much as it does to "Juche" should not be ignored.
With reform out of the question, the North Korean leadership has most likely decided that it is through aid, and aid alone, that the regime's survival can be ensured. With this in mind, it has provoked crisis after crisis on the Korean peninsula with the aim of extracting increasinly large amounts of aid from its wealthier neighbors. O'Hanlon and Mochizuki correctly noted this cycle of behavior. Unfortunately, North Korea's previous attempts at brinkmanship have proved all too profitable, and it's unlikely that Pyongyang can be dissuaded from continually employing such a strategy as long as the regime exists; O'Hanlon and Mochizuki's "grand bargain" would serve only to confirm to North Korea's leaders what they already know - that crime pays. Moreover, like in Orwell's 1984, the crises that the DPRK provokes may very well serve a very important domestic function: by keeping the nation on a perpetual war-footing, Pyongyang is better able to justify the material deprivations its citizens must endure in order for the regime to survive. If this is the case, it is highly unlikely that any "big deal" with the DPRK can be struck that will lead to real peace in the region.
It can be argued that it's in the interests of all concerned to pay increasing amounts of "blackmail" to North Korea in order for it to freeze (but not terminate) its nuclear program. This seems to be the postition of Seoul, and to a lesser (and dimishing) extent, Tokyo. But if we do decide to go down that road, let's not kid ourselves about what we're doing - putting on life-support a regime that lacks the means of reform, and views crisis as its very source of life.
May 15, 2003
Baghdad Blogger: Agent 00-Salam?
Here's my response to this controversy about Baghdad blogger "Salam Pax" being a Ba'athist agent, sparked by a David Warren column that also makes some good points about Pax's moral myopia.
I buy the family connections, the moral myopia, and the narcissist streak. I also think there's a kind of mentality at work that likes to be seen as a "bad boy" out there "on the edge," whether he is or not in real life (personal bet? Not). But an Iraqi intelligence officer? I'm not exactly naive about intelligence matters, so I understand the theoretical possibility. What I don't see here is the point of the op. A real intelligence op should try to accomplish concrete things, and Pax was too all over the map to fit that profile for any intelligence organization I can think of. He actually undermined the Iraqi story in important ways, and a trained agent wouldn't accidentally reveal the things David Warren cites re: his family connections. Cover is an agent's priority one, and Salam Pax has done a less than stellar job of that throughout.
As for the claims that Salam didn't post anything critical of Saddam et. al. before the war, I suggest doing one's research first:
--- UPDATES ---
Much ado about the 'terrorist' tag
[Note: This entry is a cross-post from my blog]
Today's Philippine Daily Inquirer editorial ("Useless ultimatum") questions the June 1 ultimatum Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo gave to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF):
It's not only the President who seems to think that being labeled as a terrorist is the worst thing that could happen to the MILF. Everyone in the government, from the President to her Cabinet down to some local officials has been brandishing it as if it were the ultimate weapon assuring the MILF's total destruction. The problem is that such a threat has not made very many MILF members quake in their boots. On the contrary, they have been acting lately as if they themselves were in a great hurry to earn that label. Whereas before they were quick to deny any involvement in the bombings near the Davao airport and the Sasa wharf, lately they have shown no qualms about accepting responsibility for last week's raid in Siocon which left 35 people dead and the Koronadal blast that killed nine people last Saturday.Furthermore, the piece concluded:
There is one sure outcome of declaring the MILF a terrorist organization: a much wider and longer conflict and possibly more terrorist attacks on civilian targets. Kabalu said such labeling would mean "the government is closing the door to the peace process and pursuing a military solution."But what is happening now? What did we see in the past few years? The MILF routinely defy established ceasefires by randomly mowing down military personnel passing through rebel-controlled areas, blowing up vital government infrastructure, bombing civilian targets, and kidnapping women and children and using them as human shields against military pursuers while MILF spin doctors and their influential coddlers apply psy-war and work the media to the hilt by making it appear that everything is the fault of the Armed Forces. They have mastered the art of the blame game and table reversal.
By not labeling the MILF as a "terrorist organization", the government keeps the door open for peace. But judging from recent developments, it is the MILF itself who doesn't want peace. Keep the talks going? Will it work? How? What makes the government believe that the Moro rebels will accept anything less than what the latter has been waging war for for decades now - that is, a separate Islamic state? We know concessions in any form will not be acceptable for the group of Hashim Salamat.
Although it is utterly unfortunate that the civilians living in communities near where the Islamic extremists operate are the most heavily affected by military maneuvers, the government has no other recourse but to go after these perpetrators of terrorist attacks. One way or another, these murderers for their religion must be stopped and be held accountable for their criminal actions, whether the rebels get officially tagged as "terrorists" or not.
In one of the recent television newscasts featuring candid interviews of villagers in Koronadal, one of the places recently bombed by the MILF, a reporter asked a resident what he wants done with the rebels. The man replied, "kailangang ubusin na 'yang mga rebelde na 'yan. Sobra na'ng pinsala ang dinudulot nila. Kung gusto nila, sasama na din kaming mga tao na labanan sila. Tutal, may mga baril din naman kami" ("We need to wipe them out. They're causing too much destruction. If they want, we people can join the fight against them. Anyway, we have guns ourselves.") One woman even said, "dapat sa kanila, balatan ng buhay sa pagpatay nila sa mga inosenteng mamamayan" ("They should be skinned alive for killing innocent citizens.")
I'm not for the imposition of, nor do I condone, cruel and unusual punishment. But sometimes, you can't blame victims of terrorism for wishing the infliction of brutal retribution for those who initiate the heinous acts. As I have mentioned here in the past, terrorists should be treated like the common criminals they are and should not enjoy the romanticized label of "freedom fighters".
Al-Qaeda's warning to Riyadh
Japan Times Editorial
The terrorists smell opportunity. They sense weakness in Saudi Arabia, as the government's chief protector, the U.S., harbors increasing doubts about its ally's utility at a time of tectonic shifts in Persian Gulf geopolitics. The U.S. is now weighing the price of its support for the government in Saudi Arabia. To cut its losses would be as shortsighted as the Saudi decision to keep its distance from al-Qaeda's battle with the West. It is a lesson for us all in the fight against terrorism.Full Op-Ed »»
May 14, 2003
Some interesting quotes :
We cannot say that suicide bombings in Israel and Russia are acceptable but not in Saudi Arabia. The cult of suicide bombings has to stop. So too has the chattering, malicious, vindictive hate propaganda. It has provided a fertile ground for ignorance and hatred to grow.From LGF perhaps? No, guess again.
But as the preliminary death toll from the blasts was put at 20 and the number of injured still unknown, it was business as usual for Saudis. Denial.Too NeoCon (read Jewish) for the mainstream media, the New York Times or Washington Post. Certainly everyone at Indymedia knows that the Riyadh bombings were the work of the CIA and Mossad. Obviously some Zionist Muslim-hating Republican Blog, right?
Not as such.
Both Op-Ed pieces from the Arab News.
May 13, 2003
UN bioweapons inspector tells what he saw in Iraq
(CC'd from my blog here.)
This account of UN bioweapons inspector Rocco Casagrande is rather unsettling.
The Saddam Center for Biotechnology on the campus of Baghdad University boasted a state-of-the-art facility, replete with surreptitiously imported equipment for amplifying tiny amounts of DNA and running tests with gels to determine protein sizes. "It looked like you were walking into a laboratory in one of the better-equipped U.S. institutions," remembers Rocco Casagrande, who began his trips as a United Nations inspector to various Iraqi facilities in mid-December 2002.
So here we have a state of the art biotech facility which has a very poor cover story. The obvious guess is that it's part of a bioweapons program. If so that's remarkably disturbing. You don't need state of the art biotech facilities to make bioweapons, the standard techniques for such things involve simple incubation, preparation (e.g. drying, "weaponization"), and ongoing tests of potency (e.g. through exposure to animal test subjects). Use of state of the art biotech techniques would represent a dramatic step up from the techniques we assumed Iraq was capable of. In the best case, for us as the enemies of the Iraqi Ba'athist regime anyway, this equipment was only used as a more convenient way of verifying "batch quality". Even so, that probably means a substantial improvement in "quality" of bioweapon agents. In the worst case Iraq may have been working on transgenic organisms for use as biowarfare agents, perhaps with the aid of "freelancing" former Russian bioweapons scientists. What we know about other former Russian officials working for the Ba'athist regime seems rather less than encouraging on that point.
You should be concerned, very, very concerned.
Transgenic bioweapons are far more serious a threat, potentially, than even smallpox, plague, or anthrax. The potentials are almost endless and mind-boggling, and what has already been accomplished does not ease my mind. It is possible with state of the art transgenic techniques to "inject" disease causing genes into existing organisms. For example, it would be possible, theoretically, to modify a non-lethal, highly infections biological agent (such as a cold virus) to cause some sort of lethal or debilitating disease with delayed symptoms relative to the infection. This would be useful because highly promptly lethal epidemics rarely spread quickly or broadly. They tend to kill off their victims so quickly that the disease doesn't have time to infect enough other individuals from each victim to spread effectively. Or, in developed countries during modern times, they tend to be much more susceptible to effective medical treatment and quarantine. AIDS/HIV is a good example of this, with an incubation period of years it spread quickly and fairly widely through the developed world.
Speculating wildly, an engineered disease of this sort might not be able to effectively avoid causing immediate fatalities in all cases, and could, conceivably, nevertheless have a low immediate fatality rate. SARS perhaps? Is there another foot waiting to drop for the surviving victims of that disease? Personally I highly doubt it, and I don't want to encourage anyone into needless fear. But the possibility is there, and we ought to take it seriously. Hopefully the powers that be are taking such possibilities seriously and have been working vigorously behind the scenes.
Still, Casagrande came away with a distinct uneasiness. It seems unimaginable to him that a government so obsessed with documentation--the moving of a centrifuge from one room to another required extensive paperwork--would be unable to account for how it disposed of pathogens from its previous biowarfare program and to reveal what it did with large quantities of growth media used to culture pathogenic agents.
Also questionable was the discovery of a possible smallpox vaccination program. "It makes you wonder why someone in Iraq thought they needed to be vaccinated against smallpox," [...]
Makes me wonder whether I ought to get vaccinated against smallpox ASAP.
The Iraqi Ba'athist bioweapons programs have almost certainly been shutdown by now. But at least some of the products of that program are likely to be storable and portable, and deadly dangerous. Though we have liberated the Iraqi people and destroyed the Iraqi Ba'athist regime we ought not to diminish our concern for the existence and whereabouts of any Iraqi WMDs. Continued vigilance and strong, forceful action when necessary are, I believe, warranted.
Korean Games and Interesting Times
While the media’s attention has primary been focused on Iraq, some fascinating events have been occurring in both North and South Korea. While the story just broke this week, it appears that North Korean soldiers fired Chinese-made anti-personnel lasers at US helicopter pilots. This occurred in March. The pilots were patrolling the Demilitarized Zone and were not injured.
This increased North Korean aggression may be one of the reasons why the South Koreans are increasingly worried that the US may pull out of the DMZ, and perhaps South Korea itself. In a lesson in being careful for what you wish for, South Korean leaders seem almost panicked that the US is considering leaving the defense of South Korea in the hands of the South Koreans. It is hard to imagine that just months ago, there were South Korean protestors demanding that the US leave.
President Bush’s war on terror is still in its early days. The days ahead will be full of surprises. But when all is said and done, I suspect the US will have a much smaller presence in South Korea, Germany, and Saudi Arabia and will establish closer ties with countries that desire our presence such as Poland and Qatar. These closer ties will include the creation or strengthening of military bases. These longer-term policies depend upon a lot and may be partially contingent upon Bush winning reelection in 2004. I suspect we will see many leaders that have opposed US interests (such as Chirac and Schroeder) come out in support of whoever wins the Democratic primary. As the Chinese curse and American blessing would have it, we do indeed live in interesting times.
May 12, 2003
Yawn.... North Korea Withdraws From Another Nuclear Pact
Yahoo! News - North Korea Nullifies No-Nuke Accord
Note how the U.S. has a "sinister" agenda that's undefined. We've even said we have no plans to attack them and the likelihood is near zero unless we are provoked by something big. The simple fact is that, with all the missiles the DPRK has pointed at Seoul, there's almost no chance we would attack because tens of thousands would die within hours.
I suppose their next move will be to withdraw from the armistice that ended the Korean War. What then? I don't know. Short of some offensive move on their part probably nothing.
Kim Jong Il is really full of himself. I'm sure President Bush will discuss the DPRK situation with the ROK's President while he's visiting the U.S., but the purpose of the trip is a thank you to South Korea for their support in dealing with Iraq.
Have you ever noticed that Kim Jong Il's hair would make an excellent birds' nest?
North Korea said Monday a 1992 agreement with South Korea to keep the Korean Peninsula free of nuclear weapons was nullified, citing a "sinister" U.S. agenda.
Could Be Al Qaeda
CNN.com - U.S., Saudis suspect al Qaeda in Riyadh blasts - May. 12, 2003
However, it could merely be an opening shot. The truth is the talking heads, including myself, don't know what they are capable of. That's why we have to remain vigilant and continue to pursue al Qaeda until the last one is dead or in prison.
We recently recovered a missing copy of the Bill of Rights that had been gone for 138 years. If we'll spend 138 years looking for a copy, not the original, of the Bill of Rights the terrorists have no chance. We'll fight 'til the last man is standing. Count on it.
U.S. and Saudi officials said they suspected al Qaeda in a series of four explosions that rocked the Saudi capital late Monday.
The Song Remains the Same
This item I drag up because I just wanted everyone to know that, for the institutional Left, it's STILL REALLY (NO, WE REALLY MEAN IT -- WE DO!) All About The Oil, Oh, and The Power, too.
by Ross Daniels - lecturer in human rights. Queensland University of Technology
May 11, 2003
No Artificial Deadlines -- Objectives Instead
Rumsfeld Warns Against Setting Deadline for Rebuilding Iraq
Our leaving Iraq should be determined by meeting some pre-established objectives such as creating a liberal democracy with the rule of law and separation of church and state. If it takes five years to do that then five years it is.
It won't be pretty. There'll be a lot of resistance but our ultimate goal requires this kind of commitment. We should be trying to turn the Middle East into something other than an incubator for terrorism and to do that we'll need a strong program of deBa'athification in Iraq to succeed. We'll also have to have significant input into the form of government and constitution that results. To do anything less will leave Iraq as a threat that we may have to deal with again later. Better to do the job right the first time.
Pentagon officials insisted today that the reconstruction of Iraq was going well, but they warned against setting a one-year timetable — or any other timetable — on how long American forces will have to be there.
May 10, 2003
The New York Times Arts Section Weighs In On "American Empire"
From the NYT Arts section (yes ... the Arts section) comes an article titled American Empire, Not 'If' but 'What Kind':
On one side are those who urge Washington to reject the imperial temptation. These voices can be found on both the far right and the far left. Pat Buchanan, author of "Republic or Empire?" and editor of the new American Conservative Weekly, is concerned that the "conservative movement has been hijacked and turned into a globalist, interventionist, open borders ideology," which, he says, is a far cry from the conservative movement he grew up with. Noam Chomsky, whose "Hegemony or Survival: America's Quest for Global Domination" is scheduled for publication in the fall, warns that the Bush administration's "forthright declaration that it intends to rule the world by force" amounts to fanaticism.What -- no mention of the fine Op/Ed contributors and commentators who frequent this page? At the very least I thought A. E. Brain, Backsight Forethought, Don, marc, NF, and some of the rest might get a mention. Oh well ... still, read the rest ...
May 09, 2003
It's Worth A Shot, But Don't Hold Your Breath
CNN.com - Bush proposes Mideast free-trade zone - May. 9, 2003
It isn't just that the Arab world missed out on recent economic progress, as the President states in the article, it's that they missed out on The Enlightenment altogether. They are at least 250 years behind the West intellectually and what little progress they have made -- in weapons technology and the like -- they buy from other countries or is technology we conquered decades ago.
The Arab countries should start with Adam Smith, John Locke and Thomas Jefferson if they wish to see prosperity and freedom. There's nothing in their history to support a free society and the prosperity that flows from it. If they do that they'll have peace as well.
Will they do it? No.
The United States will use its "influence and idealism" to "replace old hatred with new hopes" in the Middle East, establishing a free-trade zone with countries in the region within a decade and working to improve their educational and legal systems, President Bush said Friday.
May 08, 2003
NY Muslim clerics condemn bigoted Muslim textbooks
After an appeal by Jewish community leaders, two New York Muslim clerics condemned bigoted content in their community's textbooks.
The textbooks, used in Muslim parochial schools in Brooklyn and Queens, contain claims that Jews "killed their own prophets" and that they "subscribe to a belief in racial superiority." The texts also claim that many Jews and Christians "lead such decadent and immoral lives that lying, alcohol, nudity, pornography, racism, foul language, premarital sex, homosexuality and everything else are accepted in their society, churches and synagogues."Mayor Bloomberg also condemned the textbooks. This is also a story of successful community relations. When the textbook contents were brought to light by the NY Daily News in April, they became a hot topic in a local Jewish-Muslim dialogue group.
The swift Muslim reaction served as evidence that maintaining healthy Jewish-Muslim relationships is valuable in situations of crisis, said group participant Robert Kaplan, a staffer at the New York Jewish Community Relations Council. "Here is an issue that created quite a stir" in the local Jewish community, Kaplan said, "and these two imams got it and decided to immediately move on it. . . . The New York dialogue group is an example of the boost in local, grassroots Jewish-Muslim cooperation during the last two years, particularly after the September 11 attacks. The rise contrasts with a chill at the national level, where the event created a gulf of suspicion and resentment between Jewish and Muslim organizations.
London Mayor Rips Bush
US Responds: Mayor Who?
The mayor said: "I think George Bush is the most corrupt American president since Harding in the Twenties.
"He is not the legitimate president."
He later added: "This really is a completely unsupportable government and I look forward to it being overthrown as much as I looked forward to Saddam Hussein being overthrown."
Asked about Mr Livingstone's comments, White House Press Secretary, Ari Fleischer, said: "First of all, I've never heard of the fellow. Second, I'm not going to dignify it with a response."
And in a statement, officials from the US embassy in London, said:
"Mayor Livingstone's opinions about the United States are a matter of complete indifference to the American embassy, the American government and the American people."
the newest disease sweeping the nation
Margaret Drabble is a writer of some renown. She has a problem and she has admitted it.
She joins a long list of righteous writers like Ted Rall, Noam Chomsky and Norman Mailer, who have contracted a terrible, brain-shrinking disease. No, not SARS, but LARS: Loathe America Really Severely. (It was best I could come up with on short notice.)
LARS debilitates the thinking process. These writers try to write something clever or deep or profound, but all they can come up with is a million variations of "I hate you America, you SUCK!" Take, for instance, Ms. Drabble's most recent piece:
My anti-Americanism has become almost uncontrollable. It has possessed me, like a disease. It rises up in my throat like acid reflux, that fashionable American sickness. I now loathe the United States and what it has done to Iraq and the rest of the helpless world.
Ah yes, feeling vomit rise into your throat until it causes a burning sensation is quite fashionable these days. It sounds to me like Ms. Drabble could use an exorcist rather than an antacid, however. She has the demon soul of Maureen Down stuck in her esophagus.
Drabble's terrible sickness has caused a bit of amnesia as well, as she has completely forgotten anything good America has done for the rest of the world. In fact, in Drabble's fevered brain, America is the enemy of all, wreaking havoc wherever it goes, leaving victims lying in its wake like a killer tornado. She makes no mention of the enemies that America is actually fighting, like al Qaeda or Saddam or terrorism in any form, instead making the United States appear to be the enemy of all who look upon it.
There, I have said it. I have tried to control my anti-Americanism, remembering the many Americans that I know and respect, but I can't keep it down any longer. I detest Disneyfication, I detest Coca-Cola, I detest burgers, I detest sentimental and violent Hollywood movies that tell lies about history.
I can think of worse things a country could face than Mickey Mouse, soda and Ronald McDonald. Sure, the clown guy is scary and soda might make you burp, but I have a pretty good feeling that oh, the people of Iraq for instance, might prefer a few dwarves and a Happy Meal to being tortured, beaten, stripped of any dignity you once had and left to starve to death while their leader lives in luxury. (Ok, she does have a point about the movies. I hate Pearl Harbor, too.)
Of course, like any proud Brit, Dabble drags Shakespeare into the fray.
Just leave Shakespeare and Shakespeare's homeland out of this squalid bit of revisionism, I thought at the time. Little did I then think that now, three years on, Shakespeare's country would have been dragged by our leader into this illegal, unjustifiable, aggressive war. We are all contaminated by it. Not in my name, I want to keep repeating, though I don't suppose anybody will listen.
Unjustifiable. Tell that to the children who were freed from the prison. Tell that to the young girls who were raped by Uday Hussein, to the familes who lost husband, wives, sons and daughters to unjust torture and murder.
America is holding more than 600 people in detention in Guantánamo Bay, indefinitely, and it may well hold them there for ever. Guantánamo Bay has become the Bastille of America. They call this serving the cause of democracy and freedom.
So, America is an evil, putrid, sickness inducing country for holding suspected terrorists and enemy combatants in detention, but Iraq is ok for holding innoncent children in dank, airless prisons for not agreeing with his politics? I think the LARS has caused Drabble's loathing gene to mutate and go haywire.
Seriously. She has all but admitted to stalking Jack Straw.
I keep writing to Jack Straw about the so-called "illegal combatants", including minors, who are detained there without charge or trial or access to lawyers, and I shall go on writing to him and his successors until something happens. This one-way correspondence may last my lifetime.
I think Mr. Straw better have the Anthrax and Other Deadly Powders Department check out those letters before he opens them. Even if they are sealed with a kiss, he must make sure that the lipstick stain isn't tainted with cyanide. Those stalkers can be a passive-agressive bunch.
I hate feeling this hatred. I have to keep reminding myself that if Bush hadn't been (so narrowly) elected, we wouldn't be here, and none of this would have happened. There is another America. Long live the other America, and may this one pass away soon.
Ah, there it is! The tell-tale parenthetical reference to the last election. We now know where Ms. Dabble contracted her LARS disease from. She must have been hanging out with Ted Rall.
As for me, I would not want to see the America where Al Gore was president on September 11, 2001.
I do believe there are a lot of grateful Iraqis who would not want to revise history in that manner either.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for LARS, and it seems to be contagious. The most vulnerable people are those who use the word "selected" in place of "elected." If that is you, seek shelter immediately. Preferably in another country.
The New York Times Weighs In On "Free Fall In Iraq"
At least that's how their editors see it. A highlight:
Lines at the gasoline pump in Iraq now last up to three days. Electricity, needed for water and refrigeration units, flickers on and off. Uncollected garbage rots in the hot streets. An outbreak of cholera was reported yesterday in Basra. Cases of diarrhea in young children are also increasing. Hospitals looted of drugs and diagnostic equipment limp along. Few Iraqis are feeling nostalgic for the sadistic terror of Saddam Hussein. But in the bad old days, basic services were more dependable.Read the rest ...
May 07, 2003
Lessons from Durban
The UN World Conference Against Racism, held in Durban SA right before before the attack on the World Trade Towers, turned into a festival of Israel-bashing and outright anti-semitism of the type which many of us became better acquainted with as we learned more about the politics and news media of the Arab world, and indeed of many of the Western organizations that went on to oppose US intervention in Iraq.
US Rep. Tom Lantos, who helped plan the conference and was part of the US delegation, believes there are lessons to be learned from the conference about fighting terrorism. He places much of the responsibility for letting the conference get off-track on UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson. He holds the Bush administration responsible for the previous six months of unilateralist US foreign policy that made it difficult to rally support from our allies at the conference. Most of all, he blames several of the Arab nations for deliberately hijacking the conference in the first place.
Lantos' main thesis is that if the US wants liberal democratic societies to replace terrorist-supporting despots, we can't afford to be isolationist or unilateral in our foreign policy. If we do not stay engaged in world leadership, other nations will step into the vacuum. He describes in detail how this happened at Durban.
Among the interesting bits of information in this essay: There were five preperatory regional conferences prior to the global one. All of them went well until the Asian conference, held in Tehran, Iran, when Israeli, Jewish, Kurdish, and Bahai groups were barred from attending. (Remember this is a UN-sponsored conference.) Robinson did not insist the conference be moved to a different host nation that would not act in such a discriminatory manner. Although at the previous three conferences she exhorted the delegates about human rights abuses in their regions, at the Tehran conference she did not criticize Arab violations of human rights. Her avoidance of confronting the Islamic states set the tone for the conference itself, where she repeatedly refused to speak out against the debasement of rhetorical language, the demonization of one country, and the elevation of a regional territorial dispute to a major theme of a conference on racism.
Lantos also describes Jesse Jackson's unsuccessful grandstanding, Yasir Arafat's demagoguery, the parallel NGO conference infested with proto-Nazi imagery to depict Israel, and the "feverish" negotiations that went on in an effort to save the original purpose of the conference.
Although it was quickly overshadowed by the 9-11 attacks, the Durban conference is a useful case study in how international forums can be manipulated to foment the kind of hatred and bigotry that results in terrorism.
More on "law and order" in Iraq
David Plotz is writing a series of articles in Slate on rebuilding civil society in Iraq.
The problem is
not merely how to introduce "democracy" to Iraq—democracy, after all, is as easy as holding an election—but how to bring about a liberal, constitutional democracy—a popular government that also protects the rule of law and basic rights. It's a noble ambition and a preposterously difficult one: If there is anything that democracy experts agree on, it's that you can't easily manufacture the conditions for liberal democracy. No quick fix replaces the hard work of building trust in laws, establishing checks and balances, encouraging civil debate, and so on. Recent attempts to impose democracy in countries such as Cambodia, Bosnia, and Angola have failed dismally.Plotz then lists 7 ideas, including:
Establish rule of law and an independent judiciary before elections. There's a tendency in democracy-building to mistake elections for a stable democratic government. Every state requires order first. . . . The judiciary—which guarantees that order—must precede the elected government.
I previously linked to several articles about the necessity for rule of law in Iraq as a pre-condition for establishing trackable property rights which in turn support stable democracy and a market economy. Plotz' next article has some suggestions for establishing law and order.
The next article has suggestions for encouraging the voluntary civil associations celebrated by de Tocqueville, which actually get most of the work done, increase citizen confidence, and act as a check on government power.
UPDATE: The next article offers seven suggestions for moving the Iraqi economy the the direction of widespread prosperity, from microlending to oil trusts. He also mentions Hernando de Soto's idea of firmly established property rights,/a> as an essential prerequisite.
May 06, 2003
Lessons of History : Churchill
In previous articles, I've pointed out the parallels between the situation with Iraq in 2003 and Germany in 1945.
The book : Winston S. Churchill's History of the Second World War, Volume I : The Gathering Storm.
I had written even earlier, in 1925, some thoughts and queries of a technical character which it would be wrong to omit in these days:...so Churchill wrote, just after World War II. It is now over three-quarters of a century old.May there not be methods of using explosive energy incomparably more intense than anything heretofore discovered? Might not a bomb no bigger than an orange be found to possess a secret power to destroy a whole block of buildings - nay, to concentrate the force of a thousand tons of cordite and blast a township at a stroke? Could not explosives even of a conventional type be guided automatically in flying machines by wireless or other rays, without a human pilot, in ceaseless procession upon a hostile city, arsenal, camp, or dockyard? As for Poison Gas and Chemical Warfare in all its forms, only the first chapter has been written of a terrible book. Certainly every one of these new avenues to destruction is being studied on both sides of the Rhine with all the science and patience of which man is capable. And why should it be supposed that these resources will be limited to Inorganic Chemistry? A study of Disease - of Pestilences methodically prepared and deliberately launched upon man and beast - is certainly being pursued in the laboratories of more than one great country. Blight to destroy crops, Anthrax to slay horses and cattle, Plague to poison not armies only but whole districts - such are the lines along which military science is remorselessly advancing.All this is nearly a quarter of a century old.
Blair, Bush and Howard have all read this book, especially the Theme of Volume I:
HOW THE ENGLISH-SPEAKING PEOPLES
Let us all work together to make sure that the Moral of the work is also followed:
IN WAR : RESOLUTION
Simply Semper Fi
By Roger Roy, Orlando Sentinel
For more than a month, I'd been, in military parlance, "embedded" with the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, traveling and living with the Marines as they pushed north from Kuwait to Baghdad.
(Hat tip to Donald Sensing)
Seymour Hersh On The Pentagon's Office Of Special Plans
You have heard of the Pentagon Office of Special Plans, haven't you? No? Well, Seymour Hersh has, and he's written an extremely interesting article on the group in the current New Yorker, posted online here. Not only does he profile the OSP -- and their central role in advising Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and the rest of the Administration -- he also details their strong tie to the political philosophy of University of Chicago professor Leo Strauss, whose mentorship may have had profound consequences for current US foreign policy. Highlights:
The director of the Special Plans operation is Abram Shulsky, a scholarly expert in the works of the political philosopher Leo Strauss. Shulsky has been quietly working on intelligence and foreign-policy issues for three decades; he was on the staff of the Senate Intelligence Com-mittee in the early nineteen-eighties and served in the Pentagon under Assistant Secretary of Defense Richard Perle during the Reagan Administration, after which he joined the Rand Corporation. The Office of Special Plans is overseen by Under-Secretary of Defense William Luti, a retired Navy captain. Luti was an early advocate of military action against Iraq, and, as the Administration moved toward war and policymaking power shifted toward the civilians in the Pentagon, he took on increasingly important responsibilities.Read the rest; it's worth the time.
Lessons for postwar Iraq from Peru and Russia
The economic and legal challenges facing postwar Iraq aren't new, and there is a body of knowledge developing on how to surmount them. A Peruvian economist and a former Soviet Politburo official have some advice for the reconstruction team.
Hernando de Soto is a Peruvian economist who makes the argument that successful market economies and liberal democracies depend on recordable and trackable property rights. Ramesh Ponnuru interviews De Soto on Who Should Own Iraq?
De Soto estimates that people in the third world and in ex-communist countries hold more than $9 trillion in what he calls "dead capital" — property that is owned informally, but not legally, and is thus incapable of forming the basis of robust economic development. . . . "It's not clear [in most poor countries] who owns what in terms of national records. . . . in Egypt it is not clear who owns 90 percent of all assets. In Mexico, 78 percent is not clear. Having a modern market economy is not possible. . . . There's no market without property rights. Second, no credit. Third, no investment. Fourth, no rule of law, no enforcement. And there's no supplying of electricity: Who's at the end of the wire, who do you bill? If it takes too long to figure out, it's very costly.(It is instructive to read this together with the series of links I posted about Palestinian banker Omar Karsou, whose group "Democracy in Palestine" - composed of fellow businesspeople - is lobbying the US to depose Arafat, because they see clearly the link between peace, rule of law, and prosperity, and are refreshingly unideological where the bottom line is concerned.)
Roger L. Simon links to an article about Aleksandr Yakovlev, who has exhaustively documented the viscious human rights abuses of the Soviet system, and has some thoughts on how to go about cleaning house.
. . . In the case of the Soviet Union, he contends that the unwillingness to face history in its dreadful entirety has left his country as an invalid — the people still hobbled by prehensile fear, the system still paternalistic, if not exactly repressive. . . . The falsified glory of Soviet history makes heroes of the army and the intelligence services and helps them retain disproportionate influence.Yakovlev contrasts this situation with tribunals created under international auspices in South Africa, Yugoslavia, Rwanda, Cambodia, Sierra Leone and East Timor, which exorcise the totalitarian ghosts that would otherwise haunt societies trying to remake themselves. (Simon's blog has a long discussion thread on whether getting the UN involved would help or hinder this process.)
May 05, 2003
Mazin Qumsiyeh Weighs In On Lingering Questions
Mazin Qumsiyeh, Palestinian American associate professor at Yale and co-founder of the Palestine Right to Return Coalition and AcademicsForJustice.org, poses a series of "lingering" questions in this opinion piece in the Jordan Times, posted online here at Al-Jazzerah.info. Among the questions he raises:
Why was the airport the first important asset handed over in Baghdad with little resistance? ...And then there's this:
As the fog of war and propaganda begin to dissipate, isn't it time for some real journalism? Or are we becoming a mirror of Nazi Germany in the 1930s, when the media acquiesced to a slowly fading democracy while the people of Germany were drawn into fascism and dictatorship (using the same language of “threats to the homeland”). And talking about that, one should look carefully at the so-called Patriot II programme?Read the rest ...
The Weekly Standard On Hearts And Minds
Every pundit on the planet is getting into the Iraq reconstruction recipe game. In this article it's several authors at the Weekly Standard tossing in their two cents. The key ingredients:
President Bush should call on the mayors of a representative list of major cities across the United States to each adopt one Iraqi city, town, or village in order to help restore the public school systems, hospitals, and pharmacies that provide critical services to ordinary Iraqi citizens ...Read the rest ...
The Ayn Rand Institute Weighs In On Iraqi Freedom
Among The Command Post's regular readers are folks at the Ayn Rand Institute of Irvine, California. They've recently forwarded an Op-Ed by Robert W. Tracinski, a senior fellow at the Institute, titled "Iraqi Freedom" Requires Individual Rights. Here's a highlight:
What Iraq needs is a much more radical reform: not the sharing of political power but the limiting of political power--a focus, not on the prerogatives of ethnic groups, but on the rights of the individual.Read the rest ....
The French and the UN in Africa
More on the people with whom we were engaged in delicate diplomacy for the past year, which would have found an elegant peaceful solution to the problem of Saddam Hussein, and upheld the authority of the UN, if only Bush wasn't such a warmongering cowboy who wrecked our international standing by his appalling lack of sophistication.
The Most Effective Peace Process
Here's a summary of Saul Singer's excellent piece in the Chicago Sun Times:
Deadly war souvenir
I almost titled this post "Japanese Fisk Bombs Arab." Read on.
Shouting Across the Pacific (another BlogSpot victim - scroll down to "Oh, they're protecting the queen.") has some background on the Japanese reporter who caused an explosion in the Amman, Jordan airport (which killed a Jordanian security guard) by taking home a cluster bomblet as a souvenir of the Iraq war.
As Charles Oliver puts it,
Just cause the prez ends hostilities it doesn't mean all the munitions are turned off.It gets better. Turns out said clueless reporter is
pretty much the Robert Fisk of Japan. Not in a literate sense, but as a photojournalist Gomi's pictures focused on the daily suffering of the civilians, but only that which was attributable to the war. The implication was the US that was visiting unjustified hell on these poor, confused people who simply would be fine if left alone.Charles gives some examples of his stories. But it gets even better: "Gomi" means "trash" in Japanese. Fisking . . . . Trashing . . . . that works.
Need I point out that this would have been a much bigger story if an American reporter had caused that guard's death?
Another take on the museum looting
Stephen Schwartz - author of The Two Faces of Islam - has some thoughts on the Baghdad Museum looting, noting the silence at the destruction of numerous irreplaceable historical records during the Balkans wars.
May 04, 2003
Animosity Towards The French
In a comment to an earlier post on post-war recriminations, reader German offered the following:
What I believe to be interesting is the huge animosity towards the French. One gets the impression as if France was the only opponent during the UNSC-drama. As far as I can remember it had been Germany that opposed BushÂ´s policy at first when M. Chirac was still undecisive until the Elysée-party in January. DonÂ´t get me wrong, I observe the inhibited and hypocritical French-bashing with an amusing smile while the efforts to reconstruct German-American relations are proceeding very well. What could be the meaning of all that?I didn't get a chance to respond to his comment and thought it would make a decent post. Besides, I never get tired of bashing the French.
The first thing to remember with regard to the French, and I've said this several times, is that we haven't been real allies with them for forty years. de Gaulle saw to that. He pulled France out of the military wing of NATO, the primary device for controlling the Soviets at the time, and demanded that all American soldiers leave France. Lyndon Johnson shot back by asking if he meant the dead ones too. In addition, de Gaulle is the author of French suspicion of "the Anglosphere". He claimed, correctly it seems, that England would never be a real European country because of its relationship with America.
This last bit is interesting for a couple of reasons: it's true and why would the British want to screw up a good thing? Britain has few of the problems of old Europe: stagnant economies with wretchedly-high unemployment, low growth, heavy regulation and obscene taxes. Also, the continent has very little in terms of military capability.
France has been punching above its weight for decades now because of an accident of history: it ended up as a permanent member of the UN Security Council. Without that France would have little or no say in world affairs, which is as it should be. There's simply no justification for their influence based on any objective measure, either economic or military.
Why is Germany being treated differently? Well, they mostly deserve to be treated differently. The Schroeder government is certainly a screwy bunch, but prior to that the U.S. has had genuinely good relationship with Germany. In the early 1980's, in an attempt to actually win the Cold War, the U.S. wanted to place intermediate-range missiles in West Germany. Against the popular will the West German government went along. That's the act of a friend and these things are not forgotten.
France would have never gone along. Indeed, they refused flyover rights when we bombed Libya in response to a terrorist attack. These things are not forgotten either.
The French landscape is littered with the bodies of American soldiers who gave their lives to liberate their ingrate asses and what do we get from them: nothing, if we're lucky, and active opposition otherwise.
Germany is treated differently because they have been allies in the recent past and probably will be again in the future. They'll suffer some losses in the form of American soldiers and bases leaving their country, but that's long overdue: who are we protecting them from now that the Soviet Union is gone? I don't even favor moving the bases to Poland and would prefer that the soldiers either be sent to the Middle East or brought home. Their time in Germany is wasted due to a lack of enemies.
In closing, there's always -- at least as long as I can remember -- been animosity in the United States towards the French because they aren't real allies and haven't been for decades. Treating Germany differently isn't hypocrisy on our part, it's just a reflection of the true nature of our relationship with each country.
Katha Pollitt Weighs In On "Weapons Of Mass Delusion"
Katha Pollitt of The Nation is using her latest op/ed to take the Bush administration to task for not yet finding WMD in Iraq. Oh ... and she takes the time to toss a few punches at NTY columnist Tom Friedman as well (he's a sell-out, it appears.) A taste:
It's now sport to mock the antiwar movement for predicting that the invasion would be a catastrophe, with huge casualties on both sides, millions displaced and the Middle East in flames. Fortunately, the worst did not happen. But the antiwar movement was right about the war being unnecessary for our own security: As the twenty-six-day "cakewalk" to Baghdad demonstrated, the moth-eaten Baathist regime, with its poorly equipped soldiers and unenthusiastic citizenry, was in no shape to threaten the United States or cause world turmoil. That should be properly acknowledged, discussed and debated, not waved away, in the rush of victory, as a mere detail.Read the rest ...
But does he wear his Underpants on the Outside?
President Bush paid Australian PM a most unlikely compliment the other day. From the Sydney Morning Herald
Crawford, Texas: Relations between Australia and the United States hit a new high today as President George W Bush said Prime Minister John Howard was a man of steel.I'm sure I wasn't alone in my reaction when I saw this on TV. I reckon everyone in Australia burst into gales of hysterical laughter.
John Howard resembles nothing more than a short, slight, bestpectacled Wombat. He's tough as old boots, and as indefatigable as the late, great Iraqi Disinformation minister. But a flinty-eyed lantern-jawed musclebound Caped Crusader?
Not As Such.
And the Russian equivalent - Stalin - sounds no better. On the other hand, something else that President Bush said didn't suffer in the translation:
Mr Bush also paid what could be the ultimate compliment.Texas? Isn't that one of those states in the US, a bit smaller than New South Wales?
Texas - Pop 21 Million, Area 262,000 Sq Miles.
NSW - Pop 6 Million, Area 309,500 Sq Miles.
Sounds a bit crowded and cramped, but OK if you're not claustrophobic. Compact. Cosy even. Nice of the bloke to say that though. Texas - small, tough, rugged - kinda like John Howard.
Jim Hoagland Weighs In On North Korea
Add this to the Dowd and Friedman op/eds noted below, and you have to wonder if it's Command Post day in the US east-coast papers. Here, Jim Hoagland of the Washington Post goes so far as to call North Korean behavior "blackmail," but ties the success of American diplomacy to the quality of US relations with China and S. Korea. A highlight:
But skepticism is not a self-implementing policy. Piece by piece, a diplomatic strategy for containing North Korea's seemingly irrational and contradictory outbursts is taking shape as Washington, Beijing and Seoul start to work together rather than apart in defusing this dangerous crisis.Read the rest ...
Thomas Friedman Weighs In On Reconstruction
While Maureen Dowd looks to parody for her Sunday Op/Ed, Tom Friedman looks to analysis in his. His thesis: the reconstruction of Iraq is going to be a long and expensive haul, and to the extent that liberals and conservatives in the US continue to bicker about the war, the longer that haul will be. Excerpt:
Friends, whether you like or hate how and why we got into this war, the fact is America — you and I — has assumed responsibility for rebuilding Iraq. We are talking about one of the biggest nation-building projects the U.S. has ever undertaken, the mother of all long hauls. We now have a 51st state of 23 million people. We just adopted a baby called Baghdad — and this is no time for the parents to get a divorce. Because raising that baby, in the neighborhood it lives in, is going to be a mammoth task. If both Republicans and Democrats don't start looking clearly and honestly at what is evolving in Iraq, we're all going to be in trouble.Read the rest ...
Maureen Dowd Weighs In On Pilot Bush
ICEMAN: You're really a cowboy.Read the rest ...
Garry Trudeau Weighs In On Freedom Fries
In today's Donnesbury, Garry Trudeau makes his feelings about "France-bashers" known by writing nearly all of his strip in French, and then directing readers to Doonesbury.com for a translation.
I'll save you the trouble of hunting for the links. Here's the strip ...
... and here's a link to the transation. If you agree with Trudeau, you'll likely agree with his point. If you don't, rest well knowing that you're sucking up bandwidth by visiting his site.
Israel's new ambassador to the UN
The Globalization of Antisemitism
This essay contrasts the first two eras of anti-semitism (religion-based and then race-based), in which bigotry against Jews was localized, with the current era:
Perhaps most distinctive, though, is the unmooring of antisemitism from its original sources. It is detached from Christianity, even if there are still powerful Christian sources of antisemitism. It is detached from its 19th-century European sources of nation building, reactions against modernity and pseudo-scientific notions of race and social Darwinism, even if that era's demonology is still potent in somewhat transposed form.
Our Road Map Partners
A video encouraging Palestinians to murder Jews living in the occupied territories is being aired on official PA TV. (URL has links to view the video - see for yourself.)
An Iraqi Jew In Hollywood
One man's recollections of a childhood in Iraq.
May 03, 2003
You knew this would come
I haven't seen this anywhere, but I'd be shocked if I'm the first person who's thought of the idea...
cross-posted at Arguing with signposts...
UPDATE: I listen to readers! A new version of this with Laura Bush instead of Kelly McGillis is up at this entry on my site.
May 02, 2003
Pro-Marxist Slant Pushed at ABC, Retired Correspondent Claims
A former ABC news correspondent claims Peter Jennings repeatedly changed his reports to make them more favorable to Marxist regimes.
Collins is speaking publicly about his years at ABC and CNN for the first time because he has walked away from the news business and no longer desires to work in the industry. . . .
How To Get Syria Out Of The Terrorism Business
A little something for you from the Op/Ed page at the New York Times:
For the last eight years, I have been directly involved in United States policymaking toward Syria, as a C.I.A. analyst, on the State Department's policy planning staff and at the White House. In all that time, I have never seen officials as willing to take on the Syrian regime as they are today ...
The WHO puts out its latest SARS numbers daily at about 3 p.m. EDT. Today's are out here.
Worldwide there have been 417 deaths and 2643 recoveries for a death rate of 13.6% (deaths/(deaths+recoveries). Looking at the table, there are two countries that I don't believe. Communist China and the United States.
The Commies are reporting a death rate of 11.7%, the lowest among countries with large numbers of cases. In contrast, Canada, with day old numbers has a death rate of 19.1%. It is apparent that the Communist Chinese are either lying, or fortunate to be both the source of this disease as well as the most successful treater of this disease. Yeah, right!
The United States seems to have a problem communicating its numbers to the WHO. The current numbers are two days old. At one point in the last week they were five days old. The United States only reported recoveries in the last four days, before that they were unavailable. That was the case on the CDC page, too, so it wasn't a WHO problem.
One MD that blogs has told me that the CDC does not update its web site as promptly as it could. Apparently they don't report to the WHO as promptly, either. Now, I'm not necessarily a fan of the WHO but it makes a nice central data collection point. So, what's the problem?
The other issue with the United States is that there are no reported deaths. 56 cases, 24 have recovered, and no deaths. Statisticly, there should have been 3. OK, we're lucky. Three is small enough that we could vary to zero. Or, any deaths are being attributed to other causes. Heart attack, pneumonia, anything but SARS. I don't like the number ZERO when everyone else has a bigger number. It just smells a little.
So, the Commies are lying like rugs. Add at least one zero to the right side of all their numbers. And, I have no freakin' clue what's going on with the United States' numbers. I hope just sloppy bookkeeping.
Stop the Syrian Occupation of Lebanon
From the Jerusalem Post:
Damascus implanted a satellite regime in Beirut which
Mid East Studies Professors Again Dramatically Wrong
Martin Kramer is right-on again in The Expulsion That Never Was:
Paul Greenberg has an op-ed in the Washington Times detailing many of the things war opponents said would go wrong with the war in Iraq both before and during the conflict.
May 01, 2003
Remind You Of Anyone?
And the statue fell ...
-Percy Bysshe Shelley
SARS Report 5-1-2003
From WHO here
Now, let's see what Canada says here
As of April 30, 2003, Health Canada has received reports of 346 probable or suspect cases of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in Canada. There have been 21 deaths in Canada. To date, transmission has been limited to specific transmission settings such as households, hospitals and specific community settings. The information contained in this update is based on the information available to Health Canada at this time.The only change is one less probable in Ontario. Still the highest death rate among nations with large numbers of cases. That is, if you believe the Communist Chinese. I don't.
Road Map Plans End to Palestinian Terror Within 30 Days
From the Wall Street Journal's Best of the Web:
So the "roadmap" for Middle East peace is finally out. Does anyone else find it overly optimistic? The roadmap identifies "Phase I" as "Ending Terror And Violence, Normalizing Palestinian Life, and Building Palestinian Institutions." The time frame for this phase? "Present to May 2003." You've got 30 more days, guys; good luck.
Here's another gem from this April Fool's Document:
Hollywood Censors Its Critics
Proving that chill winds blow in all directions, a murdered website's dying entry is copied here to preserve the record of its censorship. As reported on Instapundit:
Here's the text of Boycott Hollywood's post response (image of the William Morris Agency letter pending upload):
Guest Editorial: Eric Olsen on Vietnam, the Draft and American Idol
Down to the final five contestants, Tuesday's American Idol was outstanding musically and dramatically as all five did surpassing renditions of first, '60s faves, and then guest judge Neil Sedaka's songs (they now perform two songs each) - that is all five OTHER than US Marine Joshua Gracin, who was so clearly outclassed by the other four finalists that ALL of the judges commented something to the effect that he appeared to have reached the end of the line.
Joshua Gracin, a good guy, military man, and good but not great singer, was very, very clearly outclassed by the others, yet when the stunning vote was announced last night, Trenyce and Ruben [!!!!!] were the bottom two, and Trenyce was shown the door.
America (or at least those who voted) were dumb as dirt when they voted Rickey Smith off in early April, but in voting Trenyce off last night, and Ruben behind Joshua, the electorate proved themselves to be just above paramecium and just below liver flukes on the intelligence chart: so shockingly stupid that something other than talent must have been at play.
I fear what is at play is a bias in favor of a military man in time of war, even though, through no fault of his own, Josh Grayson was singing and dancing in Hollywood while his cohorts were in harm's way in the desert halfway around the world.
On first thought it would seem obvious that America would reflexively rally round its military in time of war, and in this war it certainly did - just ask the Dixie Chicks - but it wasn't always so: ask a Vietnam veteran. I believe the hyper-support of the military by the US public now - even adamant war protesters have made clear their support for the troops - is a psychological compensation for the decidedly mixed reaction the military received from the public during Vietnam.
There are many differences between the Vietnam War and all subsequent US military actions including Gulf War 2, notably the character of the war itself, but it seems to me the main difference between America's relationship with its military then and now is the draft.
Conscription implies compulsion and this compulsion bred an attitude of fear and resentment felt by many draftees and the public at large, especially those within and near the sphere of eligibility, against a military-as-enforcer. The draft (which ended in 1973) has also been used to justify America's "failure" in Vietnam - though most would argue our loss was political and not military - and this prejudice against the skills of a conscripted military is today dogma. Note the flap caused by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's comments in January:
"As an organization founded by Vietnam War veterans seeking justice and fairness for all - whether military personnel or civilians - we are outraged by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's comments made at a January 7th DOD press conference when asked about the possibility of resurrecting the draft. Secretary Rumsfeld said troops from Vietnam War conscription, "added 'no value, no advantage, really, to the United States armed services…'"
A very sensitive matter, that. The draft was meant to do two things: ensure that the military, literally, had enough bodies; and secondarily, to create a more egalitarian military by forcing the middle and upper classes to participate in a historically working class-dominated sector. Of course, exemptions to students, teachers, family men and the well-connected tended to favor those same middle and upper classes, intensifying rather than mitigating the resentment of the less-privileged.
The grand irony here is that a professional, voluntary military, by disentangling itself from society, has in fact set itself up to be embraced by that very society. There is no longer a threat of compulsion from the military: the military is no longer in a position to DO something to us, it is now strictly in the business of doing things FOR us, and as such we feel unambiguously grateful for its awsome efficiency, skill, courage and POWER.
THAT is why Josh Gracinn got more votes than the clearly musically superior Trenyce and Ruben from the American public this week, which bodes very well for the condition of the American psyche, but is an outrage in a singing competition.
Eric Olsen is the founder of Blogcritics. You can find more of his writings at that site.
I know that revelations of CNN complicity in Saddam's propaganda are old news, but this piece by Andrea Levin is required reading for understanding that the phenomenon is pervasive and ongoing.
That is to say, the practices employed in Baghdad characterize CNN's kowtowing to dictators elsewhere. This extends to the autocratic regimes throughout the Arab Middle East, now being serviced by a recently launched CNN Arabic language division....
Dishonesty in the anti-war ranks? Surely not!
The anti-war groups are refocusing after their stunning defeat in Iraq. Are they refocusing on, say, another war? Please! You thought that was their point? Nope.
Questions about Iraq War
This isn't an opinion... it's a bunch of questions I have:
- What is the status of blogger Salam Pax?
- Where is Saddam?
- Where are the WMD's?
- Where is Dr. Germ?
- Why was there so little SAM activity over Baghdad?
- What percentage of the Iraq army actually fought? RG? Fedayeen?
- How much Iraqi armor was destroyed by air attack? How many units were destroyed by air?
- Were there ever mobile WMD labs?
- Why were WMD's not used against coalition?
- There was a report that mustard gas was detected in one of the rivers. What is the final status on that?
- Where were the SCUDs?
- For how long was it possible for bad guys to escape into Syria?
- What happens to the remaining "Arab fighters?" How many were there? How many were captured on the way in-country? How many were killed?
- Did the US get enough of the intelligence files? If not, why not?
- What happened to the reported 60km of subway tunnels under Baghdad? Have they been searched? Are Saddam and Elvis hiding down there?
- Have the two "decapitation" bombing sites been thoroughly examined by forensics experts? If so, what did they find?
- Were any of the inert (concrete) bombs ever used? [Update: yes - at least on a palace - per Ollie North]
- An Apache regiment, in one attack, had 27 of 34 choppers put "unserviceable" in a single attack (they were ambushed). One was downed and the crew captured. None of the originally intended targets were engaged. All of this was from small arms fire and possibly some ZSU-23s. This was considered the only combat defeat of the war. What happened? Are Apaches just too vulnerable? Were they used improperly? How did Apaches fair in the rest of the war?
-I was going to ask about Baghdad Bob, but he has appeared. So the only question is when he will first appear on the Jay Leno show.