Sunday, 20 May 2007
"OBSCENE hubris. A monument to INSANITY." --from a reader commenting on the $600 million US Embassy in Iraq
Hubris is right. Busily remaking the world in their own intended image. Polypragmonic hubris. Never have fools had so much unchecked power in this country. There is a geopolitical crisis. But behind that, there is a constitutional crisis. Congress has the sole power to declare war. Should not Congress then have the sole power, if it believes that circumstances have changed, or assumptions made at the time of the original vote were based on deliberate misinformation supplied by the government, to undeclare war?
Isn't that is what is being attempted -- not to "micromanage" the war (Bush) or to prevent "the generals from doing their job" (Bush again, telling us that "their job" is the "mission" which they, those generals, are not allowed to think about, for if they thought about it too much, thought about the larger war of self-defense against Islam, thought about the possible exploitation of sectarian and ethnic fissures within Iraq, they would be demanding withdrawal of the troops not today, but yesterday)--but to "undeclare the war"?
There is a Constitutional crisis. Apparently that document is silent on the subject of who gets to end a war, end it by cutting off funds when the man in the engine-car, and his cabal of associates, cannot be stopped, and are running the train at full throttle into a wall, or over a bridge, or just endlessly into the desert somewhere in the western desert of Iraq, from which the expense of getting out will be, metaphorically and literally, gigantic.
Those trying to cut off funding are not harming the troops. They are trying to stop that runaway train.
Posted on 05/20/2007 11:37 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 20 May 2007
English prisoners spend their time sewing mailbags or doing sociology degrees. Italy does these things a lot better. From The Telegraph:
Diners are flocking to what could perhaps be termed the most exclusive restaurant in Italy - one located inside a top security prison, where the chefs and waiters are Mafiosi, robbers and murderers.
Serenaded by Bruno, a pianist doing life for murder, the clientele eat inside a deconsecrated chapel set behind the 60 ft-high walls, watch towers, searchlights and security cameras of the daunting 500-year-old Fortezza Medicea, at Volterra near Pisa.
I wonder if he was in a terrorist trio.
Under the watchful eye of armed prison warders, a 20-strong team of chefs, kitchen hands and waiters prepares 120 covers for diners who have all undergone strict security checks. Tables are booked up weeks in advance.
The prison director, Maria Grazia Giampiccolo, said the inmates had developed a flair for their cooking: "I feel haute cuisine in a place like this prepares the inmates for when they are eventually released. The guests enjoy their meals and although the security seems at first very daunting and imposing, they get over it quite quickly and forget about the guards."
The Mafia may be in charge, but there is no horse's head on this menu. Instead, a smart, middle-aged crowd tucks into a vegetarian signature menu, cooked up by head chef Egidio - serving life for murder - and keenly priced at €25 (£17.50), including a glass of wine with each course.
Wouldn't a tequila slammer* be more appropriate? And I wonder what "head chef" means in this particular context.
Diners go through a series of checkpoints and past the cells, before sitting down in the candlelit restaurant.
In the kitchen, Egidio, a burly 50-year-old from Taranto, in southern Italy, reigns over his team of six chefs like an Italian Gordon Ramsay. "The pasta is boiling over! More salt, less garlic! Keep stirring the pasta sauce!" he shouts.
So that's why they call it stir*? Still, it's better than porridge*. I wonder if they serve jugged* hare. Can you hear the clink* of glasses?
Seventeen years into his sentence, he is thinking of going into the restaurant business when they finally let him out. "Like any Italian I take my food very, very seriously. I like to be sure the diners are satisfied and they don't just enjoy the food, but enjoy it with the same passion that I prepare it."
Perhaps unsurprisingly, given his record, diners have been reluctant to criticise...
"The fact that the dishes are prepared by murderers, armed robbers, Mafiosi or terrorists doesn't really bother me, though I might be worried if someone had been convicted of poisoning."
*Words for prison, probably unfamiliar to Americans.
Posted on 05/20/2007 11:35 AM by Mary Jackson
Sunday, 20 May 2007
"I say: Let France fester and rot." --from a reader
A country whose cinema can treat children with the delicacy and tenderness of "Etre et Avoir," "Ponette," and "Papillon" is not a country I think should be consigned to the outer darkness.
What consigning is to be done, however, has been done quite enough in the three parts of "Cahiers du Cinema,or, Pardon the French" is something I posted a few months ago.
The epigraph to that piece is as follows:
"L'homme d'Amérique, d'aplomb sur le sol, cheveux au vent, n'est pas le prisonnier d'une solitude océanique. Il sent l'Europe avec force, la France avec la ferveur d'une antique amitié. Nul n'est plus fidèle aux grands principes de la moralité humaine, nul n'est plus révolté par l'injustice, forme absolue du désordre."
-- Henri Focillon, "Les Etats-Unis et l'Allemagne"
May 1940, published in Témoignage pour la France
(New York, 1945)
Even without having my hair blow heathcliffishly in the wind, I don't feel cut off by the ocean (that "oceanic solitude") from Europe. I feel Europe with force, France with the fervor of an ancient friendship. And continued admiration for its two greatest achievements: the dictee, and the Declaration of the Rights of Man.
Today, by the way, despite a downpour, American war veterans in New England, who in the past had been honored by the French government, gathered for a ceremony organized by members of the French consulate, as part of an observance of the birthday of Lafayette. No doubt some hummed under their breath
Il pleut, il pleut, bergère,
rentre tes blancs moutons.
During the pluviose (climatologically, not calendrically, pluviose) --ceremony, however -- of this I have been assured -- the ghost of Henri Focillon hovered nearby, right at the pond where the swanboats are tethered. It is pleasant to think so.
Sarkozy will do for now; Philippe de Villiers for later. Let's hope that Bernard Kouchner has changed his mind about Iraq, and that the impulse in France and other Western countries to regard them as NGOs is put paid to, permanently. Countries are not NGOs. Good is not what they are in the business of doing. They are supposed to instruct and to protect us, and to recognize what is best in their own traditions and heritages, and to transmit that legacy (that transmission is what education, if it is to be more than mere vocational training, is all about), and also to make clear, in the Western case, why we are not merely different from, but superior to, everything in the lands ruled by Muslims, and for the sake of Islam. For not a single one of those who contributed to enlarging that cultural legacy of the Western world could, for one minute, have been produced by, or been tolerated by, Islam.
Posted on 05/20/2007 11:25 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 20 May 2007
Mark Steyn posts this:
Section 601(h) Treatment of Applicants
(1) IN GENERAL —An alien who files application for Z-nonimmigrant status shall, upon submission of any evidence required under paragraphs (f) and (g) and after the Secretary has conducted appropriate background checks, to include name and fingerprint checks, that have not by the end of the next business day produced information rendering the applicant ineligible
(A) be granted probationary benefits in the form of employment authorization pending final adjudication of the alien's application;
B) may in the Secretary's discretion receive advance permission to re-enter the United States pursuant to existing regulations governing advance parole;
(C) may not be detained for immigration purposes, determined inadmissible or deportable, or removed pending final adjudication of the alien's application, unless the alient is determined to be ineligible for Z nonimmigration status; and
(D) may not be considered an unauthorized alien (as defined in Section 274A(h)(3) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1324a(h)(3))) unless employment authorization under subparagraph (A) is denied.
Posted on 05/20/2007 11:07 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Sunday, 20 May 2007
Mickey Kaus writes at Slate:
President Bush in an address from the Oval Office a year ago:
I believe that illegal immigrants who have roots in our country and want to stay should have to pay a meaningful penalty for breaking the law, to pay their taxes, to learn English, and to work in a job for a number of years. People who meet these conditions should be able to apply for citizenship ... [E.A.]
Forget that part about the taxes. The Bush administration actually asked that the provision requiring payment of back taxes be dropped from the bill, and it was taken out. Kennedy had it in! ...
P.S.: White House spokesman Scott Stanzel said:
Determining the past tax liability would have been very difficult and costly and extremely time consuming.
Try that "difficult and time consuming" excuse out on the IRS if you're a U.S. citizen and see how far it gets you. ...
Posted on 05/20/2007 10:48 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Sunday, 20 May 2007
Hispanics are converting (or "reverting" as they say) to Islam in growing numbers. Of course nobody knows how many because despite the many reports over the years, nobody is tracking this phenomenon. From ChannelNewsAsia:
...Imam Muhammad Musri said: "There are so many common denominators between immigrant Muslims and immigrant Hispanics who see the issues common to both of them - immigration issues, trying to find a job, keep a job, buy a home - all the same struggles two groups of people happen to be going through creates this bond between them."
Hundreds of worshippers attend Imam Musri's mosque, and there is an increasing demand for religious literature in Spanish....
Posted on 05/20/2007 10:28 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Sunday, 20 May 2007
ROME -- Christians must distance themselves from anyone or anything that insults Islam's prophet Mohammed and should come to a greater appreciation of his role in bringing millions of people to recognize the one God, said a German Jesuit scholar.
But Christians cannot share Muslims' recognition of Mohammed as the last and greatest prophet, said Father Christian Troll, a professor of Islam and of Muslim-Christian relations at the Sankt Georgen Graduate School of Philosophy and Theology in Frankfurt, Germany. --from this news item
The next time someone in the West is revealed to having his own variant of what can be demurely called the "Aisha problem," shall the jury examine "what's good" about the defendant? Shall the judge? Shall the public? And what about the "Asma bint Marwan" problem? The "Abu Akaf" problem? The "slaughter of the helpless prisoners of the Banu Qurayza" problem? The "attack on the inoffensive Jewish farmers of the Khaybar Oasis" problem?
How much of Muhammad's life are we to ignore, in the desire not to offend Muslims?
Is it going to be the game of Everyman An Apologist for Islam, so as not to offend, and in offending, not to bring down the murderous wrath of Muslims?
Is that the strategy? Re-interpret the life of Muhammad, or remain silent about much of it, and while you are at it, keep telling Muslims that Islam is perfectly peaceful, perfectly wonderful so that some of them will believe what Christians say, rather than what they learn from their own imams in the khutbas, and in the Qur'an, the Hadith, and the sira.
A Jesuit is Father Christian Troll, a professor of Islam and of Muslim-Christian relations at the Sankt Georgen Graduate School of Philosophy and Theology in Frankfurt, Germany. And he is behaving jesuitically. It's called jesuitical casuistry. It has, rightly, a bad rap. Casuistry, and sophistry.
Posted on 05/20/2007 10:20 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 20 May 2007
NEW YORK — The President of the United Nations General Assembly, Shaikha Haya Rashed Al Khalifa, has issued a strong call for re-interpreting Islamic texts in order to address the social, educational and other constraints impeding the equality of women in the Middle East. --from this news item
A three-year-old post, about the only thing that, for Infidels, should count: not hinted changes in what Islam inculcates about the treatment of Muslimahs, but what Islam inculcates about the treatment of, and attitude toward, Infidels. That is what counts, and nothing should be allowed to distract us from keeping that firmly in mind.
Here's the past post:
"I don't think the war, if it is to defend non-Muslims against the imposition of the belief-system known as Islam, is "predominantly about women." Women could be treated less barbarically in Islam, while the inculcated hostility, and aggression, toward all Infidels could remain. "Dr. Germ" in Baghdad was treated more-or-less as an equal, a proud member of the weapons work force. Shirin Ebadi won her misplaced Nobel (see the article about her at www.secularislam.org) for working to help women in the Islamic Republic; she has repeatedly shown that she 1) refuses to connect the suppression of women with texts in Qur'an and hadith and 2) can "fight for women's rights" and still be implacable on the subject of the United States, Israel, and other Infidels. You won't see her owning up, any time soon, to the forced conversion of Armenians and Jews in Safavid Persia (under Shah Abbas); you won't find her even hinting at what happened, in their own country, to the Zoroastrians -- right up to the present day (see the studies and memoirs of the Englishwoman Mary Boyce; some may be online).
Infidels should worry most about what's in it for them. It may be that the suppression of women, as characteristic of Islam, may help to persuade some otherwise indifferent or quasi-apologist Infidels that something is wrong with Islam, and then to investigate further -- or it may be that sentimentalism about "it's not the religion, it's just a cultural problem" (which Ebadi and even some of the Afghani women like to pretend) will actually delay the full understanding of Islamic tenets, and what they mean, not for Muslim women. Yes, they have my sympathy, but let us not lose sight of the main problem -- the manichaeism of Islam (Muslims Good; Infidels Bad), the requirement that Islam be spread, by all means; the requirement that having conquered the lands of the Infidels, all non-Muslims must either be killed, converted, or subject to a status of permanent humiliation, degradation, and insecurity. There is not a chapter in Islamic history, in time and space, if thoroughly studied, that does not produce evidence of precisely that."
[Posted by: Hugh at June 9, 2004 07:53 AM]
Did I forget to mention that the Shaikha is Sunni, and that the man once known to the British as "The Ruler of Bahrain" is a Sunni Arab who keeps giving himself promotions, so that by now I think he may be the Soglowish King of teeny-tiny Bahrain. Meanwhile, 70% of his subjects are Shi'a, and don't like the way they are treated. If you knew the way the Sunnis treat the Shi'a, whenever and wherever they can (in Pakistan, in Lebanon, in Yemen, in Saudi Arabia, in Iraq until the last few years) you would understand.
So while the President of the United Nations General Assembly, Shaikha Haya Rashed Al Khalifa offers a few misleading, and vague words about improving the lot of women in Islam. But why, one wonders, should that be necessary, if the world's Muslims keep telling us that the lot of women in Islam is already so wonderful, if they are treated with such respect, allowed the "portable seclusion" of their burqas, and treated not as "objects" of the "male gaze" (Al-Azhar meets the MLA) but as....as whatever they are treated as in Islam. What texts would she, The President of the United Nations General Assembly, Shaikha Haya Rashed Al Khalifa, dare to change? Would she, Shaikha Haya Rashed Al Khalifa, meddle with, or ban in akyolish fashion, the Hadith? Would she dare to change the immutable words of the immutable Qur'an?
Posted on 05/20/2007 10:11 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 20 May 2007
Increased attention to, and greater understanding of, Islam should do several things.
First, it will allow the Western public, or at least those in positions of power and influence, to come to understand why all the enormous time and effort put into "negotiations" leading to "treaties" between Israel and this or that Arab state or entity, as part of a soi-disant "peace process," are in the end futile, whether they lead to a document and a ceremony in the Rose Garden and smiles and handshakes all around, or do not.
The basis for Muslim treaty-making with Infidel lands is not, as in the Western world, the principle of "pacta sunt servanda" (see Lauterpacht, see Julius Stone, see Visscher, see Hugo de Groot, see anyone you want), that is that "treaties are to be obeyed" (a principle that may seem to be obvious, but was in fact a political and moral advance). In Islam, however, treaties are to be made, and obeyed, only as long as the Muslims are weak and need to make such treaties in order to buy time from the Infidels, and when they feel sufficiently strong, then they are not merely entitled to, but required to ignore any commitments made to the Infidels, and to go to war yet again. The model for this is the treaty of Al-Hudaibiyya, which Muslim made with the Meccans in 628 A.D.. It was to have lasted ten years (hence the "ten-year-but-renewable" rule for Muslim offers of a "hudna" or truce). It is the model for all subsequent Muslim-Infidel treaties. See, for example, the very clear explanation of this in Majid Khadduri's "War and Peace in the Law of Islam."
Yet successive American administrations, with their various "disengagements" and Rogers Plans, and Kissinger Plans, and richard-haases-and-dennis-rosses frequent-flying it hither and yon, and every other effort, has been based on ignorance of Islam -- studied ignorance, willful ignorance, or possibly just plain ignorance, and an inability to think outside that famous, constraining, teeny-tiny box that is constructed out of assumptions and party-lines in official, dull-as-dishwater company-town Washington, where those who think what everyone else thinks, are suitably rewarded in their careers, and the others, those who can think, and begin to learn and understand things on their own, are not only not rewarded, but treated with suspicion.
The war against Israel is simply a local manifestation of the impulse, or duty, of Jihad. It is a Lesser Jihad. It remains today what it was in May, 1967, or in May, 1948, or for that matter in 1938 or 1929, or 1920. It is a war to prevent the Jews, the weakest and therefore most-despised of Infidels, from establishing, or once having established, from preserving against destruction, their own, Infidel state. The borders of Israel do not matter, in the end, to Muslim Arabs, even if, in order to obtain concessions now, from Israel and from the Western powers whose task, in the Arab and Muslim view, is to pressure Israel into these suicidal concessions, the Muslim Arabs will pretend (and they needn't pretend too much -- a few words will do for Western governments eager to believe, eager to ignore the real problem because if they were to recognize it, then they, those Western governments, would either have to openly abandon Israel, throwing it to the wolves, or would have to become adamant about defending it, and refusing to pressure it, in the hideous ways that have been done in the past.
The "Palestinian people" was a construct invented, and invested with meaning, after the Six-Day War. Before then, that phrase, that idea, simply did not exist in any of the tens of thousands of interventions made by Arab diplomats or leaders (check, for yourself, in the U.N. records). It was a phrase intended to disguise the Lesser Jihad against Israel, to make it into something it is not, and never was: a supposed quest for "legitimate rights" (who could object to "legitimate" rights?) of the "Palestinian people," a phrase disseminated by the Arabs with careful art, and picked up, with careless negligence by the Western powers, and of course, by Israel itself, and its mediocre because inattentive and casual leaders, making the enemy's case and never making their own overwhelming case. They had, they have, genius in reverse. But the people of Israel should not be made to suffer, any more than the people of France or Great Britain or the United States, should be made to suffer for the mediocrity and ignorance of so many who still, currently, are in positions of power, and who in Europe permitted millions of Muslims to settle over the past few decades, and who in America have permitted the colossal mistake of Tarbaby Iraq to substitute for a coherent, well-thought-out, and cunning strategy of undoing not merely "terrorism" but all the instruments of Jihad.
Posted on 05/20/2007 10:01 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 20 May 2007
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - President Gen. Pervez Musharraf acknowledged that Islamic militancy was increasing across Pakistan and said tough measures were needed to counter it, as religious students from a pro-Taliban mosque abducted four police officers. --from this news item
And if our "staunch ally" Afghanistan goes to war with "staunch ally" Pakistan which "staunch ally" do we help? What a tangled web we weave, when e'er we practice to deceive. And how much more tangled the web of entangling alliances, when e'er we practice to deceive not others, but ourselves.
Posted on 05/20/2007 9:56 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 20 May 2007
CONFESSED terrorist supporter and Guantanamo Bay inmate David Hicks has arrived at Adelaide's Yatala prison to serve the rest of his nine-month sentence, after his flight landed earlier this morning.
Hicks was transported in a vehicle convoy which drove straight through the jail's gates and into the prison compound, without allowing a glimpse of convicted man.
Hicks will remain at the Yatala Labour Prison until he completes his sentence for providing material support for terrorism.
After five years in the US-run Guantanamo Bay prison, Hicks boarded a government-chartered Gulfstream G550 jet at the American base yesterday amid heavy security.
The chartered plane landed at the Edinburgh RAAF base, in South Australia, at 9.50am (Adelaide time).
The plane flew back to Australia via a long route becaue the US would not allow the Guantanamo Bay detainee Hicks to fly into its airspace.
Hicks received a seven-year jail sentence with all but nine months suspended. He is expected to be released on 30 December.
Posted on 05/20/2007 9:35 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Sunday, 20 May 2007
"Hamid al-Ali has been linked with forming al-Qaeda cells in Kuwait and supplying financial and ideological support for al-Qaeda across the Middle East."-- from this news item
The Administration's apologists tell us that everyone in Al Qaeda has flocked to the "honeypot of Iraq" to be picked off, one by expensive one, by American soldiers just lying in wait. Al Qaeda is in, Al Qaeda is of, Al Qaeda is mainly to be found, in Iraq. That's the line. It's nonsense. Al Qaeda, and Lashkar-e-Toiba, and Hezollah, and Hamas, and Ansar al-Sunna, and Jemaah Islamiyah, and Gemaa Islamiyah, and a hundred groups, and ten thousand groupuscules, and tens or hundreds of millions of individual Believers who need no groupuscule or group to act on their own, can form or group or re-form or re-group, whenever, and wherever, there are the texts of Islam to inspire them. Just give someone the texts on the world-wide web, and let them take those texts seriously (and why shouldn't they take those texts as seriously as Muslims have taken those texts over 1350 years, whenever they had a chance to act effectively upon them?), and something akin to what this Kuwaiti preaches, will be preached or taught or self-taught. How could it b otherwise? So the question becomes how to diminish the power of those who are prepared to act, or act merely by their own presence in the Lands of the Infidels, on the duty of Jihad?
And while we are at it, remember "brave little Kuwait" and the enormous effort to depict that country as a place full of pro-Americans, back when "brave little Kuwait" was invaded in 1991? The stories about the more unpleasant aspects of Kuwait, and the Al-Sabah family, were hushed up. Public relations firms went to work. Kuwait was our friend, "moderate" Kuwait. Was it then, and is it now? Why have the Al-Sabah not suppressed Al Qaeda, not kicked out this sheik? After all, they do allow the Americans a base in Kuwait, don't they? Isn't that a sure sign of being pro-American? No. It is a sure sign that like the Al-Thani in Qatar, or like the Al-Saud during the Gulf War, the local regimes want the Americans around to defend them, to ward off their enemies. That does not imply any degree of "pro-American" sympathy, and it does not imply any logical inconsistency with their continued tolerance for Al Qaeda, or in the case of the Al-Thani of Qatar, of their support for the Muslim-Brotherhood dominated Al Jazeera.
When this lesson is learned by American military and civilian higher-ups, and such words as "ally" and "staunch ally" cease to be applied with such disastrous results, and are forever banned from the minds, the mentalities, of those whose task it is to instruct and protect us, it will be a great advance, and we will all be safer.
Posted on 05/20/2007 9:23 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 20 May 2007
We are fighting them over there, in Iraq, so we needn't fight them over here. Nor, apparently, need we fight them (from the air, this time, for god's sake) in Iran. Or anywhere else.
Because, as Frederick Kagan notes in his sentimentalist-careerist cri de coeur from Baghdad, (where he and his wife walked in perfect safety, he reports, down a short stretch of Haifa Street, with only General Odierno and a detachment of American guards by their side, and only a few helicopter gunships whirling overhead), not only must 150,000 troops and possibly another trillion or two dollars be spent in Iraq in order to rescue the handful of local Gunga Dins whom Frederick Kagan names (and he can name them all, because there are so few), but because Iraq is according to the Kagans of this world the Place That Counts, the Place Where Al Qaeda Stands to Inherit Everything, the Place Where the United States Will Have Its Gotterdammerung Test of Wills, and Be Weighed, and If We Leave, Al Qaeda Will Stride the World Like a Colossus.
Forget about the slow and steady islamization of Western Europe. Forget about the campaigns of Da'wa directed at all the economically and psychically marginal people, beginning with prisoners, in Western societies. Forget about the Money Weapon, which has given the Arab and Muslim states ten trillion dollars since 1973, to pay for mosques and madrasas all over the world, and those campaigns of Da'wa, and those armies of Western hirelings doing the bidding of their Arab (chiefly Saudi) paymasters.
And forget too, or hand off to someone else, the matter of Iran's nuclear weapons project.
Why? Because it is Al Qaeda in Iraq, all 3,000 members of it, who are tying us down, diminishing by the day the quality of our military (not least because of the quiting by young officers who see the inability of the generals to understand Islam, from their cosseted empyrean, and see their willingness to ignore the larger picture, as they loyally carry out, and do not question, the counter-productive strategy in place.
But don't worry. The "insurgency" (that single and easily-categorized "insurgency" of counterinsurgency manuals) has been going on for about four years. And as we all know from the the most up-to-date Universal Rules of Counter-Insurgency in the latest "Counterinsurgency Manual" (in which such words as "Islam" and "Jihad" and "Sunni" and "Shi'a" do not appear) "insurgencies last, on average, ten years." So if this is an "average" insurgency (whatever that means), it will last until 2013.
If, on the other hand, it is a little more complicated, with all kinds of aid being able to come from the outside, and so many different groups divided against themselves, though united in their dislike (save for two or three of the "good" Iraqi officers who so gunga-dinishly impressed Frederick Kagan) of one other, are also united in their shared, if shared to different degrees, hostility toward the American Infidels, then it might go on to 2020.
But fortunately, the American government doesn't have anything else to worry about, so can continue to give its full attention, of its civilians and its military, can continue to lavish hundreds of billions, on Iraq.
No need to worry about Iran's nuclear weapons. No need to worry about the Saudi-Egyptian desire to acquire such weapons. No need to worry about continued demographic conquest by Muslims, eager to press their demands, all over the historic heart of the West, in Europe. No need to worry about anything else.
China, you say? Don't be silly. The Chinese, who depend on the oil of the Middle East at least as much as we do (come to think of it, so does Japan,and so do so many other places) will be so grateful that the Americans have spent so much time and money, those trillions of dollars, in defeating Al Qaeda (which if we leave, say the Frederick Kagans of this world, will simply inherit, practically overnight, Iraq, defeating the Shi'a and the Kurds, and the Sunnis of the tribes -- a few thousand Al Qaeda will be able to take over a country of 27 million, just like that), so grateful that they will no doubt, as a sign of the gratitude, ask if we will allow them to share the cost of the Iraq venture.
Forget about Iran. It's trivial. Al Qaeda in Iraq -- that's the big problem. That's the Test of Wills. That's where we will stand or fall. Ask Kagan. Ask Kristol. Ask anyone in the "war-on-terrorism" business whose main client is the American government.
Posted on 05/20/2007 7:40 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 20 May 2007
Oh, for god's sake. Stop this idiotic project now. But of course it won't stop, because to stop it would imply a recognition, as General Sir Michael Rose (google that British "cut-and-runner") and others have noted, a "defeat" for the Bush policy in Iraq.
A monument, that American Embassy, in its grotesque size and swagger and expense, to the statue of the Near Eastern despot Ozymandias, in the eponymous poem by Shelley, once learned by every sixth-grader in America. But the Ozymandiases of the age are unlike the original. They are not despots dreaming of their unlimited power, but rather despotic bringers-of-democracy, determined not to learn, not to study, Islam or Iraq, but rather to transform the world, or as much of it as they think they can, so busily, so busybodily, so polypragmonically. And the symbol of that is this Embassy of Erewhon in the Country of Nowhere, its fearful bureaucrats supposedly bringing "freedom" to "ordinary moms and dads" in Iraq, and then to all the Sunni lands (so delighted to see Baghdad in Shi'a control) of the Middle East, and -- why stop there? -- to the whole wide world, where everyone is an "ordinary mom" and an "ordinary dad" and wants exactly the same thing.
Look on this "nearly-completed" $592-billion dollar Embassy placed in an antique and hostile land. Look at it. Yea, look on their Works, ye Mighty -- and, from here on out, try to be not nearly as Dumb as they, the men who planned this monument to their own ignorance and stupidity, turned out to be.
Posted on 05/20/2007 7:32 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 20 May 2007
Posted on 05/20/2007 7:25 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Sunday, 20 May 2007
And getting killed for our trouble. New Duranty:
WASHINGTON, May 18 — Casualties among private contractors in Iraq have soared to record levels this year, setting a pace that seems certain to turn 2007 into the bloodiest year yet for the civilians who work alongside the American military in the war zone, according to new government numbers.
At least 146 contract workers were killed in Iraq in the first three months of the year, by far the highest number for any quarter since the war began in March 2003, according to the Labor Department, which processes death and injury claims for those working as United States government contractors in Iraq.
That brings the total number of contractors killed in Iraq to at least 917, along with more than 12,000 wounded in battle or injured on the job, according to government figures and dozens of interviews...
Posted on 05/20/2007 6:52 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Sunday, 20 May 2007
Pakistan has received more than $27.5 billion since 9-11 from the U.S. to purchase their alliance in the "war on terror" Now add to that another $80 million a month, even though it is thoroughly obvious to everyone by now that Pakistan can never, and will never, be an American ally.
New Duranty: WASHINGTON, May 19 — The United States is continuing to make large payments of roughly $1 billion a year to Pakistan for what it calls reimbursements to the country’s military for conducting counterterrorism efforts along the border with Afghanistan, even though Pakistan’s president decided eight months ago to slash patrols through the area where Al Qaeda and Taliban fighters are most active.
The monthly payments, called coalition support funds, are not widely advertised. Buried in public budget numbers, the payments are intended to reimburse Pakistan’s military for the cost of the operations. So far, Pakistan has received more than $5.6 billion under the program over five years, more than half of the total aid the United States has sent to the country since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, not counting covert funds.
Some American military officials in the region have recommended that the money be tied to Pakistan’s performance in pursuing Al Qaeda and keeping the Taliban from gaining a haven from which to attack the government of Afghanistan. American officials have been surprised by the speed at which both organizations have gained strength in the past year.
But Bush administration officials say no such plan is being considered, despite new evidence that the Pakistani military is often looking the other way when Taliban fighters retreat across the border into Pakistan, ignoring calls from American spotters to intercept them. There is also at least one American report that Pakistani security forces have fired in support of Taliban fighters attacking Afghan posts.
The administration, according to some current and former officials, is fearful of cutting off the cash or linking it to performance for fear of further destabilizing Pakistan’s president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, who is facing the biggest challenges to his rule since he took power in 1999.
The White House would not directly answer the question of why Pakistan is being paid the same very large amount after publicly declaring that it is significantly cutting back on its patrols in the most important border area. But Gordon Johndroe, a spokesman for Stephen J. Hadley, the national security adviser, emphasized Pakistan’s strategic importance in the region...
The Pentagon, in response to inquiries, said Friday that the payments to Pakistan since October 2001, when the war in Afghanistan began, had averaged $80 million a month. The Congressional Research Service estimated last year that they accounted for about a fifth of Pakistan’s total military expenditures...
“They send us a bill, and we just pay it,” said a senior military official who has dealt extensively with General Musharraf. “Nobody can really explain what we are getting for this money or even where it’s going.” ...
Posted on 05/20/2007 6:30 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Sunday, 20 May 2007
Your tax dollars at work:
WASHINGTON — The new U.S. embassy in Baghdad will be the world’s largest and most expensive foreign mission, though it may not be large enough or secure enough to cope with the chaos in Iraq.
The U.S. administration designed the 42-hectare compound, set to open in September in what today is a war zone, to be an ultra-secure enclave. Yet it also hoped that downtown Baghdad would cease being a battleground when diplomats moved in...
The US$592 million embassy occupies a chunk of prime real estate two-thirds the size of Washington’s National Mall, with desk space for about 1,000 people behind high, blast-resistant walls. The compound is a symbol both of how much the United States has invested in Iraq and how the circumstances of its involvement are changing...
Posted on 05/20/2007 6:18 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Sunday, 20 May 2007
Ali G, "voice of da yoot", would ask this question indignantly when challenged. Ali G, played by Borat - sorry, Sacha Baron Cohen - was, of course, white. His blackness was an illusion created by ghetto slang, gestures and clothes. Far from being unfairly stigmatised for his "blackness", he was permitted to voice idiotic, misogynist and generally Neanderthal opinions by the indulgent dupes he interviewed. The results were hilarious.
Blacks, in a culture where racism is regarded as a mortal sin, are indulged and forgiven much: think of the over-promotion and cosseting that goes on in the public sector for the sake of "diversity"; think of Zadie Smith's pretentious, verbose and hugely overrated novels. Then there are the violent rap lyrics, which we must celebrate as part of black culture, the woman-hatred and gay-bashing that is excused, not to mention the low achievement and disproportionately high crime rates that we must "understand".
All this is very irritating, but perhaps it may be seen as a reaction against the genuine racism that was quite widespread as late as the Eighties. It may disappear, as fads and trends often do. Far more serious than the indulging of rappers or ethnic chick lit is the shameful adulation of mass murderer and psychopath Robert Mugabe.
Hitler made a big mistake. He could have got away with his crimes had he been socialist, or Muslim or black African. In fact, he would be celebrated. Rian Malan, in The Spectator, takes no prisoners - unlike his subject:
I first saw Robert Mugabe in the flesh at a UN Earth Summit in Johannesburg in 2002. His arrival on the podium was preceded by US defence secretary Colin Powell, who was booed and jeered, and by Tony Blair, who met with similar indignities. Mugabe, on the other hand, was greeted by a tumultuous standing ovation. I wrote it off as a passing fad. At the time, black power fanatics were still pumped up over Mugabe’s ethnic cleansing of white farmers, and one assumed their enthusiasm would wear off once the consequences of Mugabe’s folly manifested themselves.
Not so. By 2004, Zimbabwe’s economy was in freefall and his subjects were growing hungry, but Mugabe was more popular than ever. No, not in Zimbabwe. His fans were black people elsewhere. He received standing ovations in many African capitals, and at President Mbeki’s 2004 swearing-in ceremony. By then, it was clear that his ‘fast-track land-reform programme’ had not significantly reversed his unpopularity at home, and he had already taken to bludgeoning black opponents and rigging elections in order to stay in power. His black supporters didn’t care. Mugabe was giving the whites hell. Mugabe was therefore a hero. ‘Mugabe is speaking for black people worldwide,’ wrote the Johannesburg commentator Harry Mashabela.
In a report for the Sunday Times four months ago R.W. Johnson interviewed a game ranger who said Zimbabwe’s hyenas were developing a taste for human flesh, the result of scavenging on corpses ‘cast into collective pits like cattle’. He concluded that Mugabe’s misrule had resulted in as many as two million deaths — twice as many as perished in the Rwandan genocide — and that ‘the number is now heading into regions previously explored only by Stalin, Mao and Adolf Eichmann.’
It was against this backdrop that the UN’s Commission on Sustainable Development met to elect a new leader last Friday. The chair of this body rotates between regions; this year it fell to Africa to make an appointment, and African countries were bent on installing Mugabe’s man. Western diplomats initially thought this was some sort of joke, but as the day passed, it emerged that Africans were indeed of the opinion that a body dedicated to fostering development could credibly be chaired by a murderous regime that had reduced a once-thriving nation to absolute penury. The West was dumbfounded. ‘Beyond parody,’ said an Australian newspaper columnist. ‘Appalling,’ said his Prime Minister, John Howard. ‘Preposterous,’ said the American human rights lobby Freedom House. But Africans wangled support from Latin America and their motion was carried...
It seems to me that last week’s events in New York render a terrible verdict on well-intentioned do-gooders and the climate of impunity they create for African dictators. These thugs and kleptocrats know there is no downside; blacks — some blacks — don’t care what horrors they inflict on black people, so long as they can make anti-imperialist noises. As for whites, they will take any insults you dish out and come to feed your people anyway, thereby sparing you from the consequences of your incompetence and criminality. ..
Blacks everywhere continue to adulate him, and to insult the West by appointing his despicable government to positions of honour. There is only one way to end to end this farce: cut off the aid and let Mugabe face the music.
Posted on 05/20/2007 6:16 AM by Mary Jackson
Sunday, 20 May 2007
"Critics attacked prison authorities, claiming they targeted Hamzy because he was Muslim when they revealed he had converted 11 inmates to Islam, using promises of help outside the jail. They were known as the 'Super Max Jihadists.'"-- from this news item
The well-financed carefully-targetted campaigns of Da'wa have a captive audience in prisons, and the perfect audience, an audience of the disaffected, the marginal, those ready for an explanation and justification of their own war on society. And the missionaries of Tablighi Jamaat and other groups, and those smiling Muslim "chaplains" (I know an Egyptian who trolls the prisons of New Jersey, unstopped by any authorities) and Muslim prisoners themselves, every one himself a missionary, find the perfect pool of potential converts in prisons. Meanwhile, the authorities do nothing, look away, pretend it is none of their business. They think they are helpless to do anything. But they are not. There is a clear relation between conversion ("reversion") to Islam, and that convert's subsequently becoming a permanent enemy, determined making subsequent war on the legal and political institutions of the Infidel nation-state, and furthermore, that convert now has a justification for his criminal behavior, when the victims are Infidels.
This cannot be ignored. Those whose duty it is to protect us either should inform themselves, and then do what is necessary, or resign, get out of the way, for others more intelligent and more capable.
Posted on 05/20/2007 6:14 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 20 May 2007
The weekly copy of First News the Children’s newspaper has just arrived and the family have brought two articles to my attention. These are not available on line in full so I will copy type.
Kids who can’t go to school tells of the 8 million Nigerian children, more than in any other country in the world who don’t go to school.
In the far northwest of Nigeria as few as one in three girls go to school. More girls drop out of school as the years go by due to poverty and cultural beliefs. Here are some we met.
They call me Sakina and I’m around 12 years old. There isn’t enough money to send me to the secondary school . . also they are preparing me to get married soon. When I see the other girls going to the western school I feel happy for them . .
I am Mansoor,(aged12) In the morning I go to Koranic school before I come to work in the market with my wheelbarrow . . . I would love to go to a proper school and learn to read and write.
My name is Shamsiya, I don’t know how old I am but people say I must be about 10. I once went to school and I really enjoyed it but after a year I had to leave as I was needed to . . . earn money. My brother is allowed to go to school but my family can’t afford for the rest of us to go. When I see him walking to school . . . I want to go to school to.
I scanned in this photo of the school in Shamsiya’s village, 5 girls in a class to every 30 boys.
Then the Kid’s World page carries an interview with a 14 year old girl in Afghanistan.
“My husband paid 60,000 Afghanis (£625) for me. I have been married for six months. . he is my first cousin and I found out I was going to marry him when I was eight years old. Getting married meant dropping out of school. I only found out about the wedding five days beforehand. . . Why did my mother do this to me? I would have been ready to get married six, seven or ten years later when I finished my education.
My father-in-law has told me I can’t go to school any more because there is a male teacher, so now I weave carpets all day long . . . also cook, wash dishes, laundry. I have to ask my mother-in-law's permission whenever I leave the house, even if I’m going to fetch water. I was a good student and wanted to be a teacher. Now I’m just a drop out”.
The newspaper gives the facts; bright young people are making the connection for themselves.
Posted on 05/20/2007 3:16 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Sunday, 20 May 2007
were these absolutely scrummy and delicious Reese’s peanut selection.
Little squares of Crispy Crunchy.
Better still, packets of Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup.
I had heard of the famous Hershey Bars from relatives and stories of US servicemen stationed in the UK during the war. I ate one once and it was a disappointment. These are also made by Hershey and they are gorgeous. Right up there with Krispy Cremes and the pecan pie I ate for pudding in Ye Olde Colonial Tea Roomes in Williamsburg.
Now I look on the website I see that they also come in a white chocolate version.
Ooooh . . .
Posted on 05/20/2007 2:13 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Saturday, 19 May 2007
The "decent Iraqis
" or "Gunga Din" problem is not Frederick Kagan's alone. Entirely predictable. A calculating careerist, and a naive sentimentalist, is Frederick Kagan, determined to have the American government stuck to Tarbaby Iraq. Demographic conquest? The Money Weapon of the Jihad? Campaigns of Da'wa? Those mean nothing to this warmed-over Kremlinologist. One hopes that he, and others of his ilk, will be banned from all future corridors of power. One hopes.
Posted on 05/19/2007 5:39 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Saturday, 19 May 2007
Frederick W. Kagan is another freshly minted pundit who tells the public just what the administration wants us to hear.
Professional Experience - Associate professor of military history, 2001-2005; assistant professor of military history, 1995-2001; United States Military Academy (West Point)
Education - B.A., Soviet and East European studies; Ph.D., Russian and Soviet military history, Yale University
From his latest piece in My Weekly Standard:
...To imagine that America can lose in Iraq but prevail in the war against jihadism is almost like imagining that we could have yielded Europe to the Nazis but won World War II...
On a recent trip to Iraq, I saw the human stakes in this struggle. I spoke with the commander of the 8th Iraqi Army Division in Diwaniyah, Major General Othman. He is a Shia, commanding a heavily Shia unit in an entirely Shia area. I asked him what was the most serious challenge he faced. He answered at once: Shia militias. General Othman stands strongly for an Iraq ruled by law, in which the government holds a monopoly on the use of force, and in which Sunni and Shia are treated equally. He has put his beliefs to the test of battle. When he saw that members of Moktada al-Sadr's Shia militia, the Mahdi Army, had taken control of the city of Diwaniyah, he conducted a large-scale clearing operation with the help of American forces and drove them out. General Othman now holds Diwaniyah, where the people can breathe free again, subject neither to that militia nor to any other. There is no turning back for General Othman. The Mahdi Army is determined to kill him and his family, and they will do so if we do not continue to support him. The life of this decent man is in our hands.
Then there follows no less than 3 more "decent Iraqis" all of whom we must save from their fellow Iraqi citizens.
...What will happen if we abandon these children? Death will stalk them and their families. Al Qaeda will attempt to subjugate them. Shia militias will drive them from their homes or kill them. And they and their neighbors, and everyone in the Middle East, will know we left them to their fate. Everyone will know, "Never trust the Americans." Everyone will warn their children, "The Americans will only betray you." We will cement our reputation as untrustworthy. We will lose this generation not only in Iraq, but throughout the Middle East. And we will have lost more than our reputation and our ability to protect our interests. We will have lost part of our soul.
Part of our Soul? You've got to be kidding. The very thought that they "trust" us and that we should continue heavily investing ($880 billion and counting) in that "trust" is laughable beyond belief. These "decent Iraqis" are falling all over themselves to betray us to each other, that is, when they're not falling all over themselves to beg for more weapons, money, and anything else they can get from the terminally gullible Americans.
Posted on 05/19/2007 2:54 PM by Rebecca Bynum
Saturday, 19 May 2007
From My Greek Odyssey (with thanks to Ares Demertzis):
...May 19 has been recognized by the Greek parliament as the day of remembrance of the Pontian Greek Genocide by the Turks. There are various estimates of the toll. Records kept mainly by priests show a minimum 350,000 Pontian Greeks exterminated through systematic slaughter by Turkish troops and Kurdish irregulars. Other estimates, including those of foreign missionaries, spoke of 500,000 deaths, most through deportation and forced marches into the Anatolian desert interior. Thriving Greek cities like Bafra, Samsous, Kerasous, and Trapezous, at the heart of Pontian Hellenism on the coast of the Black Sea, endured recurring massacres and deportations that eventually destroyed their Greek population. The genocide started with the order in 1914 for all Pontian men between the ages of 18 and 50 to report for military duty. Those who "refused" or "failed" to appear, the order provided, were to be summarily shot. The immediate result of this decree was the murder of thousands of the more prominent Pontians, whose names appeared on lists of "undesirables" already prepared by the Young Turk regime.
Thousands ended up in the notorious Labor Battalions. In a precursor of what was to become a favorite practice in Hitler's extermination camps, Pontian men were driven from their homes into the wilderness to perform hard labor and expire from exhaustion, thirst, and disease. German advisors of the Turkish regime suggested that Pontian populations be forced into internal exile. This "advise" led directly to the emptying of hundreds of Pontian villages and the forced march of women, children, and old people to nowhere. The details of this systematic slaughter of the Pontians by the Turks were dutifully recorded by both German and Austrian diplomats.
The Pontians did try to organize armed resistance. Pontian guerrilla bands had appeared in the mountains of Santa as early as 1916. Brave leaders, like Capitan Stylianos Kosmidis, even hoisted the flag of an independent Pontus in the hope of help from Greece and Russia (which never arrived). The struggle was unequal. The Turkish army, assisted by the Tsets, who were of mostly Kurdish extraction, attacked and destroyed undefended Pontian villages. On May 19, 1919, Mustafa Kemal himself disembarked at Samsous to begin organizing the final phase of the Pontian genocide. Assisted by his German advisers, and surrounded by his own band of killers -- monsters like Topal Osman, Refet Bey, Ismet Inonu, and Talaat Pasha -- the founder of "modern" Turkey applied himself to the destruction of the Pontian Greeks. With the Greek army engaged in Anatolia, a new wave of deportations, mass killings, and "preventative" executions destroyed the remnants of Pontian Hellenism. The plan worked with deadly precision. In the Amasia province alone, with a pre-war population of some 180,000, records show a final tally of 134,000 people liquidated...
Posted on 05/19/2007 2:35 PM by Rebecca Bynum