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The Oil Cringe of the West: The Collected Essays and Reviews of J.B. Kelly Vol. 2
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Virgins? What Virgins?: And Other Essays
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by Norman Berdichevsky
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These are all the Blogs posted on Wednesday, 19, 2006.
Wednesday, 19 July 2006
What Do Journalists Do All Day?

"This is why the Israeli-Arab war, now transformed into the Israeli-Muslim war (Iran is not an Arab state), persists and widens. It is why the conflict mutates and festers. It is why Israel is now fighting an organization, Hezbollah, that did not exist 30 years ago and why Hezbollah is being supported by a nation, Iran, that was once a tacit ally of Israel's."
-- from this article by Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen

Searching for just the book to give a three-year-old, you may have seen the noun-filled picture books of Richard Scarry, including "What Do People Do All Day?" That title suggests another one:

What Do Journalists Do All Day?

What do they do? And especially, what do those celebrated columnists do – such as Richard Cohen, Tom Friedman Nicholas Kristof? They get huge salaries. They deliver lectures for gigantic fees, making more for one talk than I, and perhaps you too, reader, make in a year. They get free publicity for their "next book" on Charlie Rose or a hundred other television shows. They write about whatever they wish, a mere one or two 900-word columns a week. Not exactly taxing.

What do we think it legitimate to require of these journalists? What do we think they should do all week? We think, do we not, that before writing about a subject, they should know something about it. They should know a lot about it, far more than anyone else, because after all their opinion, as we know, so often carries weight. So many people think, for no good reason, that what "Friedman wrote the other day" or "what Kristof had to say about such-and-such" somehow matters. It matters to them. But why? Why should it matter if the people who write these things never give any partricular sign of unusual ability, unusual knowledge, unusual anything? What if, instead, one were to discover that a thousand people, or ten thousand, who were not well-known, who were bloggers on the Internet, consistently showed a greater knowledge, and a greater ability to make sense of the knowledge they possessed, about all sorts of things? What should that do to those columnists, with their richly-rewarded pontifications, their unearned respect, their place in our world. Imagine Tom Friedman, imagine Nicholas Kristof, imagine Richard Cohen, if each lost his job, and was stripped of the brief authority that being a columnist for the Times or the Post gives one. Would one listen to them? Do their offerings give a hint of intrinsic merit, or the reflected glory, what's left of it, of the famous though not necessarily very impressive newspapers they now work for, and which, even though many of us have come to despise them, are still read.

Which brings us to the case of Richard Cohen. He is not someone who controls words. They control him. His first sentence shows it: he wanted to indulge in some wordplay, and the fateful play he chose was on the word "mistake." For this is how he opens, and from that series of wretched remarks, prompted not so much by mastery of language as by a wretched inability to use language, so that the word "mistake" piles on not only other "mistakes" and "mistakes" but also piles on, at the same time, the outrage to history and the truth.

continue reading What Do Journalists Do All Day?
Posted on 07/19/2006 5:31 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 19 July 2006
Derb's lament
John Derbyshire has a piece up at NRO this morning in which he laments:

Does anyone else feel, as I do, an almighty weariness with the Levant and its intractable problems, its immemorial rancors, its savage rivalries, its unappeasable grievances? Back when Henry Kissinger was secretary of State he used to tell his aides that if he ever showed signs of taking an interest in the Cyprus problem, they should immediately put him in a straitjacket. If only we could be that indifferent to the Levant!

I know, I know, we can’t. Oil; nukes; Islam; terrorists; Russia and China — the Great Game of our time. We can’t ignore the damn loathsome filthy accursed place. Our statesmen have to come up with policies; we journalistic thumb-suckers have to come up with opinions; all we citizens have to come up with taxes to pay for the warships and armies, the bribes and subsidies, the front men and stool pigeons, the soldiers and diplomats. No, we can’t ignore the Levant. But Lord, how I wish we could!
Posted on 07/19/2006 7:08 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Wednesday, 19 July 2006
Mullah-lite

From The Telegraph:

Posted on 07/19/2006 7:11 AM by Mary Jackson
Wednesday, 19 July 2006
Wee warriors
The culture wars in America are being fought in surpising places.  Case in point:  the State of Georgia's first-ever Youth Birding Competition, won by the "Homeschool Hummers," scions of Christian Home Educators Encouragement and Resources (CHEER).  I found that bit of news in the Georgia Hummers newsletter (not available online). 

So, it's not just the Internet, talk radio, and cable news: the culture wars are fought in the smallest of venues, and among the youngest members of our community. 

Query: Is homeschooling allowed legally in Great Britain?  I say "allowed" because Britain's adoption of the Human Rights Act has turned inside out centuries of English law.  Having finished Melanie Phillips' Londonistan, I wonder if England has too tight a grip on the white flag.


© 2006 by Rusty Trump
Posted on 07/19/2006 7:20 AM by Robert Bove
Wednesday, 19 July 2006
re: Rich and Poor
From a reader who lives in a very large state with a five-letter name, adjacent to our southern border: 

"Mr. Derbyshire—-The viability of the middle class is near & dear to my heart, seeing as my family is part of it.  I work as an engineer and my wife keeps the kids and house in order, while getting her second degree at night. We make a bit more than the average household income in [name of large city], a locale with a lower cost of living & housing than most.

"Yet we still squeak by some months, living a quiet, sober life in our 1300sqft house, built in 1959.  We have two vehicles: one 10 years old and the other 2 1/3 years old.  We could put my wife to work, I suppose, and cart the kids (4 & 21 months) off to day care, an option supported by tax incentives and other before-tax income manipulations.  We have no debt save our mortgage and eight more payments on our newer vehicle.

"Some of our other middle-class friends are not doing as well.  One family, supported by both mom & dad, has had to forgo using an obstetrician in favor of a midwife due to cost and rather shoddy health insurance.  They are praying for no complications.  Another family of our acquaintance is in the same boat: they simply can not have children in the way Americans are accustomed to: hospital, doctors, nurses, etc.  That the middle class is being squeezed economically is debatable.  [The logic here suggests my correspondent missed out a 'not' in that sentence, but that's what he wrote.]  Below-replacement birthrates by its members do not bode well for its viability over the long haul.

"Having ones' friends consider a riskier birthing regimen due to cost is galling enough.  What makes it nigh enraging is seeing that at [name of local mega-hospital] 70% of their 16,000 births per year are to illegal aliens (11,000+).  That is my property tax dollars at work.  No attempt is made to get payment from the illegals themselves, as the cost is written off when incurred from illegals.  If my wife or our friends' wives were to give birth at [name of hospital], that debt would follow us like a hound dog.  If it went over 90 days past due, it would be turned over to a collection agency and our credit would be trashed.  A $25,000 bill for a Caesarean section would sink our family ship.

"This is not how my folks (degreed, middle class) and their friends had to live."
Posted on 07/19/2006 8:18 AM by John Derbyshire
Wednesday, 19 July 2006
Why the Syrians do what they do

The Alawites are a mere 12% of the Syrian population. Yet they control, through their control of the military, which in turn is owed to the total Alawite domination of the officer corps, the entire country. They have permitted the open celebration of Christmas. They have permitted church bells to ring. They protect the Christians and the ruling group even relies on Christian drivers, Christian guards (often Armenians), Christian cooks -- just the way Saddam Hussein did (and those Christians were inherited by the Americans in the Green Zone in Baghdad). After all, the Christians are never a threat.

But the "real" Muslims are. It is those "real" Muslims who were killed in Hama, when Hafez al-Assad razed the city, instructing his army to kill anyone who was heard to utter Muslim cries (Allahu Akbar would do), and that was in response to a long series of attacks by the Ikhwan (the Muslim Brotherhood) on Alawites, including the murder of 82 Alawite military cadets at a graduation ceremony.

That explains the otherwise inexplicable behavior of Alawite Syria in doing whatever it can to deflect criticism, by Muslims outside Syria (and if possible inside) from the regime. For the Sunnis there has been the splendid cooperation of the Syrian regime with those Sunnis in Iraq who wished to park their money or guns for a while, and with all those Zarqawish Sunnis who wanted to enter Iraq in order to kill not only the Infidel Americans, but the Infidel Shi'a, those "Rafidite dogs." Assad did whatever he needed to do to keep them happy. And at the same time, the same Alawites, even though Syria's Muslims are largely Sunni, wanted to placate the dangerous Islamic Republic of Iran, and so has fulfilled scrupulously every request of that regime to ferry some 12,000-15,000 rockets through Syria, and to find those who will give them good homes in Lebanon, until those rockets are ready to be sent out into the world, and many other, lesser arms, beside. From the Syrian point of view, their is no contradiction between making things easier for Sunnis who regard Shi'a as deserving to be killed in Iraq as "Rafidite dogs" and making things easier for the Iranian Shi'a who support, who are the same, as those "Rafidite dogs." This, after all, is the Middle East, where Islam colors everything, affects every decision, every way of looking at the world, even of those who are not fully Muslim or Muslim at all, but have been affected by Muslim attitudes and bullying (those Arab islamochristians), and those who, while not Muslim at all, have got to figure out how Muslim or quasi-Muslim regimes, will necessarily, inevitably, operate or strive to retain power, and therefore money. (For in the Muslim countries, one seldom gets rich and then, as in the West, tries to enter political life, but rather, one enters political life in order to get rich. Rafik Hariri was the first person to do it the other, the Western, way, and even he, once in power in Lebanon, was still involved in all kinds of louche real estate activities that showed he had not exactly given up money-making for "public service" Muslim-Arab style).

The Alawites, if they do not want someday to find their miitary officers turned on and murdered by their non-Alawite men, and do not want to find every Alawite village suddenly full of "real" Muslims behaving as many "real" Muslims would like to toward those Alawites, should make a deal with the West. It need not be, should not be, explicit. The deal is this. They, the Alawites, get to stay in power. They will not be forced out, not least because the "real" Muslims would be just as bad, even though they would not be so frantic, as the Alawites are, to curry favor with outside Muslims in order to prove, as the Alawites feel they must, that they are "good" Muslims (precisely because they aren't). And we will not make too much, in our public statements, about the Alawites as "not real Muslims." We won't encourage Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states to broadcast, and to print, far and wide, the glad news that Alawites are not real Muslims but akin to those "Rafidite dogs" and their pretense of supporting the real, true, Sunni Islam, should be exposed. They even worship Mary. They even close down the government at Christmas. Oh, there are many things that could be done to make life very unpleasant and dangerous for the Alawite ruling class.

But none of this need happen. They can keep Syria, but not Lebanon. And they can continue to keep down the "real" Muslims, though Bashar al-Assad has been such a disappointment, that he will no doubt have to be replaced by an Alawite officer whose realpolitik will consist only in this: Staying Alive, in a country where the "real" Muslims outnumber the Alawites five or six or seven to one. And that will require stopping this nonsense with Hezbollah -- not only because the Israelis don't like it, but because (for now, while Iran remains a threat) many of the Sunni powers don't like it.

Let's Make A Deal. But first, let's see the Alawites for what they are, and why they do what they do, in placating both the Shi'a of Iran, and the Sunnis from everywhere who use Syria as their point of entry to go into Iraq to kill Shi'a.

Posted on 07/19/2006 8:35 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 19 July 2006
CARP FLOAT BLADDERS
This is to help your breakfast go down.
Posted on 07/19/2006 8:39 AM by John Derbyshire
Wednesday, 19 July 2006
Muslims in India

An atrocious piece, by an Indian editor, Shekhar Gupta, on how splendidly the "communities" are getting along, and how Mumbai is back at work, as if nothing happened (but something did happen -- 200 people were killed and 700 injured, and commuters are now permanently fearful in Mumbai and in all of India's cities, and with reason), can be found in Newsweek International.

The key sentence in the piece mentions that "150 million Muslims live in India" and that, therefore....therefore, they just have to be loyal, they simply cannot be seen as threats, we cannot dare to analyze or think about things as they might be but must shut off all thought and discussion because....well, because there are those 150 million Muslims.

And that is the same level of thought, I'm afraid, that one will find even among some in the West, including those who are in the very organizations that are meant to protect us. They have not, and carefully determinedly have no intention of studying, Islam, they do not want to find out what the Qur'an and Sunnah naturally teach, what anyone would naturally take away from them. They do not want to investigate the nature of Muhammad as the Perfect Man, uswa hasana, al-insan al-kamil, worthy of emulation in all respects, because to do so, some of them must suspect, would be deeply disturbing to them, and they could not possibly accommodate that knowledge to their own sense, careerist and otherwise, that they must continue to limit their interest to the Hard Jihad of "terrorism," and must continue to utter pieties about the "peaceful" and completely "unthreatening" Muslim community, and must not utter alarms about Muslim immigration, or about the determined campaigns by CAIR and other Muslim groups, at every step, to hobble efforts that are perfectly justified security measures. CAIR, and all such groups, are conducting Jihad - the Soft Jihad. In the end all those in the Hard Jihad of terrorism could not exist and work so easily, were they not sustained, financially, and morally, and in every other way, by all those who participate in the Jihad not by throwing bombs, but by deluding Infidels, by tying their legal systems in knots, by insisting on the most absurd methods (all those Lutheran grandmothers pulled over at airlines in order to make sure that no one can accuse Homeland Security of "profiling" -- as if the word "profiling" dragged along behind it the scare-word "racial" when in fact it is perfectly reasonable to have the kind of "profiling" of the ideological sort, finding those who take their Qur'an and Sunnah seriously, whether born to the belief-system or, often more dangerous, a "revert" to it.

This comedy should be closed down, out of town, and never make it to The Great White Way.

Posted on 07/19/2006 8:50 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 19 July 2006
Why are pro-terror demonstations tolerated?

The other day a public demonstration in support of Hamas and Hezbollah, was held in San Francisco. Among those demonstrating were many Arabs. Why are demonstrations in support of groups formally declared by our government to be terrorist organizations permitted at all? Would a public demonstration in favor of Nazi Germany have been tolerated during World War II? Why was not everyone arrested, and those who are not citizens deported, according to new, speeded-up procedures? What is preventing this? Is the problem judicial in nature (the Brandenburg Test, which such an arrest, by triggering the necessary case that will percolate upwards to the Supreme Court, and give the Court the chance to modify that test, the problem? Is the problem legislative in nature, and must new laws be passed to make support for terrorist organizations (why just money? why not such public displays of support, designed to legitimate the illegitimate?)? Is the problem with the executive, and with some, including those at the Department of Homeland Security, who themselves parrot, and may even believe, the nonsense about "extremists" and fail to see that support for Jihad, of all kinds, and Jihad defined properly, as employing many different instruments of war, needs to be made the object of punishment and certainly, at a minimum, prompt deportation of non-citizens, and of those whose naturalization oath (that too may need some rewording) was, and can be shown to have been, perjured?

There is Hard Jihad and Soft Jihad. One does not have to throw bombs to be a participant in Jihad. Until this "war on terror" is intelligently redefined, and until those in the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI and the CIA who fail to understand this are replaced by others with a surer grasp of the ideology, and instruments, of Jihad, one has a right to be alarmed.

Posted on 07/19/2006 9:44 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 19 July 2006
keeping a close eye on Hizbollah?

"FBI Director Robert Mueller told reporters in Toronto that agents were keeping a close eye on Hizbollah, especially 'when the international situation heats up.'"
-- from this article

What are we to make of this? Does this mean that the FBI thinks that members, or supporters, of Hezbollah should be watched intermittently, that they can be fine fellows sometimes but at other times, "when the international situation heats up," can get a little heated themselves?

And what does it mean if the Director of the FBI can talk about the FBI "keeping a close eye on Hizbollah" if not that there are supporters or members of Hizbollah that have already been identified, for they are the very ones on whom that that "close eye" is being kept. Does that make sense?

Why are they not rounded up and promptly expelled, if non-citizens, and if citizens, charged with aiding, in any number of ways, the enemy -- in this case, a terrorist organization? Is there something that needs to be added or modified in our laws, to deal with this? Should tens of billions of dollars, or hundreds of billions if we include all the various security measures, be spent monitoring members of, or supporters of, violent Jihad -- or for that matter non-violent Jihad, that is simply a different means chosen for the same end?

Why? Why should the FBI be forced to assign agents to "keep a close eye" on people who should simply be sent back to wherever they will find others just like themselves, consumed with fury at Infidels, at Infidel states, at the putative "humiliation" of not seeing Islam, and Muslims, always get their way, always be able to dominate, always to rule.

Posted on 07/19/2006 9:59 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 19 July 2006
Hundreds of Iranian Troops Are Fighting Against Israel in Lebanon

So reports the New York Sun's Ira Stoll this morning:

Hundreds of Iranian Revolutionary Guard personnel are on the ground in Lebanon fighting Israel, security sources say.

"I have no doubt whatsoever that they are there and operating some of the equipment," an Arab diplomatic source told The New York Sun yesterday.

Another foreign source, based in Washington, said the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps contingent in Lebanon is based in Beirut and in the Bekaa Valley. He said the troops usually number a few dozen, but that the size of the force increased in connection with the hostilities that have broken out between Israel and Iran's proxy, Hezbollah, over the past week.

The sources said the Iranians had directly operated a radar-guided C–802 missile that Iran acquired from Communist China and that hit an Israeli navy missile boat off the coast of Lebanon on Friday, killing four Israeli seamen.

"This was a direct message to the Israelis that we are fighting the Iranians here," the Arab diplomatic source said.

The Iranian Revolutionary Guard's mission in Lebanon includes keeping custody of Zalzal missiles and drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles. A report by an Israel-based research group, the Intelligence & Terrorism Information Center, identifies the units of Iran's Revolutionary Guard "deployed and active in Lebanon" as the "Al-Quds Force." The Lebanon-based Iranian force "provides military guidance and support for terrorist attacks against Israel," the report says.

President Bush has openly blamed Iran, along with Syria, for sponsoring Hezbollah, but he has stopped short of identifying the presence of Iranian troops in Lebanon.

Posted on 07/19/2006 11:33 AM by Andy McCarthy
Wednesday, 19 July 2006
MISCONSTRUED
Not...  exactly what I meant:

"Yes, John - you nailed it!!  I was thinking just this morning while watching Fox News on the 'crisis' in the Middle East how BORED I am with all this!!!  I wish they would all just kill each other and be done with it!!!  These people are ALL more trouble than they are worth!!"
Posted on 07/19/2006 12:52 PM by John Derbyshire
Wednesday, 19 July 2006
An offer Assad can't refuse

It may be time for Saudi Arabia to make Bashar al-Assad an offer he won't be able to refuse. Not money, or not mainly money. Something else: the threat that every Arab newspaper, every Arab television station, controlled by the Saudis and the Kuwaitis and the Emiratians. And while we are at it, since only two of the constituent emirates -- Abu Dhabi and Dubai -- in that U.A.E concoction are ever mentioned in the Western press, let's list the other five of the seven here. Drum roll, please. Come on out, and take a bow: Ras Al Khaimah, and Sharjah, and Ajman, and Umm Al Quwain and yes, you too, bashful little Fujairah. See. You hadn't heard of them, had you? Admit it.

Well, the Alawites of Syria have been under the gun and the bomb before. And Hafez al-Assad, were he alive, would never have gotten into the mess that Bashar al-Assad has now gotten himself, and the Alawites, into. He would have pulled back, and concentrated on shoring up the Alawite position inside Syria, sensing danger from everywhere -- from the Kurds, from Israel, from the United States, even possibly from Turkey that might wish to help itself to something to go with that dish of Alexandretta it was served up many decades ago.

Picture this. Al-Jazeera story on the Syrian Alawites. How they owe their power to the French in bad old mandate days. How they have lorded it over the "real" Muslims. How they close down the government at Christmas. How they trust the Christians to serve as everything from food tasters to bodyguards and drivers. How they have pictures of Mary in their houses -- shots, please, of an Alawite village, and of those pictures in the Alawite houses. Then remind everyone of how the Alawites massacred true-blue Muslims in Hama. Remind everyone watching at home, all those Sunnis, that the Alawites of Syria are now so closely allied with the mad Shi'a Persians who wish even to lay claim to the allegiance of Sunni Arabs.

Keep it up. Keep it up until the Sunni Muslims in Syria try, and try again, as they did before Hama, and let's see if Bashar al-Assad is a chip off the murderous old block or if, sensing his weakness, the Muslim men go after their Alawite officers and finish not only him, but his whole regime, and the Alawites, off.

Or he and the grownups in the Alawite ruling circles could switch course, and end their alliance with Iran, and concentrate on their own survival, as quasi-Muslims in a very Muslim neighborhood. It would not take much -- an Israeli victory of the 82-0 variety (that was the score the last time the Israeli air force and the Syrian air force tangled) would not be good for the Alawites.

But also not good for the Alawites would be a well-financed, by Saudi Arabia and the Emirates (one more time: Ras Al Khaimah, Sharjah, Abu Dahbi, Dubai, Ajman, Umm al Quwain, Fujairah) amd Kuwait and Bahrain (Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Bahrain all have a problem with Shi'a minorities in the first two, and a Shi'a majority in the last). Syria has tried to be as helpful as it can to Sunnis going off to kill Infidels and Shi'a in Iraq, and as helpful as it can to Shi'a going off to kill Infidels in Israel by way of Lebanon. So far the Alawites have stayed in power.

But that is only because the Sunni Arabs thought that Syria would not so firmly ally itself with Iran. Now it appears to have done so. The Saudis and other rich Arabs have ways. They should use them.

Posted on 07/19/2006 1:16 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 19 July 2006
death equivalence

The "comparative deaths" game is now being played. It is "unfair" and "unjust" that 200 people in Lebanon have been killed, while only 25 in Israel. You see, since there is to be a moral equivalence, there should be an equivalence in the number of dead. If the Israelis are subject to attacks that are deliberately on civilians, and launched without warning, that means nothing. It is unfair of them to have bomb shelters and to use them, unfair of them to behave like Western man, and find shelter unhysterically, and to promptly clean up the evidence of attacks right after.  As many Israelis should die, it is strongly suggested, as Lebanese -- otherwise something is wrong, morally wrong.

While the BBC and similar organs fill the airwaves with tales of Israel "pounding" Lebanon and "destroying" Lebanon and so on and so forth -- with never a single allusion to the incredible care with which the Israelis have selected their Hezbollah and Hezbollah-related targets (including the bridges and roads on which rockets travel), to the warnings given even to Hezbollah to leave certain areas (in some cases warnings given an hour or more ahead of time), the leafletting that is part of that campaign to minimize casualties (and that of course allows many of the enemy to escape), a scrupulosity without parallel in the history of warfare (compare NATO's bombing of Serbia, when as far as I know the Serbians did not possess 15,000 missiles they were preparing to rain down on France, on Italy, on Germany, on England, on the United States -- or did I miss something?).

In an entire week of this "pounding" about 200 people in Lebanon have died. Many have been uncritically described as "civilians." How many of those "civilians" were members, or delirious supporters of, Hezbollah? Perhaps a few? Perhaps more than a few?

How many Shi'a were killed, in the same period, in Iraq? How many Sunnis? For that matter, how many Infidels do you think were quietly killed in the Muslim countries this past week, without it being reported anywhere? How many Hindus in Bangladesh and Kashmir and India proper, how many Christians in the Sudan (despite that "peace treaty"), how many Buddhists in Thailand? Do you think, since this "comparative casualties" business is played upon by The Guardian and similar Western disseminators of anti-Israel venom, that these totals, too, could be chalked up on what should be labeled "victims of Jihad world-wide," to see if perhaps we could even that score, in a way The Guardian and George Galloway would find acceptable?

Posted on 07/19/2006 1:49 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 19 July 2006
Wide gate / narrow gate
Mary and Esmerelda both responded to my home school birder champs piece.  My sense is that it's not as  common in the U.K.  (Homeschooling in America was rife before the advent of John Dewey, America's preeminent education wrecker.) Two of the best sites for further reading on the subject include Education Wonk and Joanne Jacobs.  They are goldmines of wisdom and links.

As far as I have been able to find, there is no research that indicates homeschooled kids in America exhibit a higher than average lack of sociabilty.  In fact, perusing the above links, the homeschooled kids outperform their state-schooled peers in every academic area and by several grade levels.  (Interesting question: Who best to rate sociability in kids -- and do kids think adults of any political or religious persuasion are the best judges?  Teens might answer differently than anybody else on the planet.  It's their job.)

Competition is beginning to put pressure on state educationists.  Turn up the heat, I say:  Our state schools here increasingly produce lockstep pacifist metrosexualist numbskulls with zero knowledge in the English language, natural sciences and plain old geography.  And history?  It don't exist in the eternal moment of post-sixties.


Posted on 07/19/2006 2:04 PM by Robert Bove
Wednesday, 19 July 2006
Rule Britannia

It has become very fashionable to denigrate the British. Our tradition of self-mockery makes it easy. There are Brit-Bashers on the Left (Galloway, The Guardian, The BBC), and on the Right (some Americans who should look in the mirror). And the French, obviously - it would be rude of them not to. So I was pleased to see a post by somebody called Rule Britannia, here, of all places. I've no idea who he or she is, but he (or she) makes a good case:

You want to debate the British Empire? Then a debate you shall have...

At the beginning of the 20th century, Great Britain was at the pinnacle of its strength, and controlled the greatest empire ever seen. The Empire dominated trade and held control over more than one quarter of the world’s population, yet in modern times it is commonly thought of as a source of shame and dishonour. However, despite the counter-arguments, factors supporting the Empire, and British Imperialism, easily outweigh those that oppose it.

Unlike most empires, the British Empire was one built almost entirely upon commerce, rather than the simple desire to lay claim to land, as some definitions of Imperial, “Arrogant, commanding, obnoxious” may suggest. It is these definitions that are so regularly used by critics, but also under the classification of Imperialism come “Majestic” and “Commanding” – words far more befitting of the British Empire and its beneficial influence across the world. The historian Niall Ferguson supports the view that trade was the chief factor, ‘Though [Britain’s] imperialism was not wholly absent-minded, Britain did not set out to rule a quarter of the world’s land surface… but real and perceived threats to their commercial interests constantly tempted the British to progress from informal to formal imperialism’.

The period from 1815 to 1854 is commonly known as Pax Britannica and was free of any major European wars. Although it is argued that this gave Britain a chance to bully unchallenged other “lesser” countries, the period was in fact a time that established present and future stability. Britain gave her colonies and dominions a better future than they could have hoped for – a future with its foundations built upon trade with Britain. Allegiance to the Crown gave countries the protection of the Royal Navy and increased trade with Britain exempt from the trade tariffs imposed upon other countries. The powerful entrepreneurial spirit that was rife in 1800s Britain allowed her to gain the unofficial title of the ‘Workshop of the World’. As the first country to fully industrialise, Britain was the sole exporter of new labour-saving machinery such as the loom and steam engine (importing raw materials in return) – global trade gave exporters the open market, and the protection of the Royal Navy to fall back on, meaning that even the smallest idea could make a man rich.

Continue reading Rule Britannia.

Posted on 07/19/2006 4:47 PM by Mary Jackson
Wednesday, 19 July 2006
attention wrongly directed

The exaggerated attention given to Afghanistan, first by the Americans, and now by other members of NATO determined to prove that though they may have let the Americans down in Iraq they will do their bit in Afghanistan, is based on a series of errors.

The main error, however, is to believe that the experience of Al-Qaeda should fix, forever, the importance of Afghanistan. But while Al-Qaeda is an important terrorist group, it is hardly the only one. There are hundreds whose names we know, and other hundreds or thousands whose names we do not know, or that have no names, or knowing their names would hardly matter. The amount of time that goes into solemn parsing of whether or not "this terrorist act" (in Mumbai, or in Beslan, in Madrid or Amsterdam) is or is not "part of an Al-Qaeda plot" is absurd. These are all Muslim terrorist groups. They have their immediate and local aims. Lashkar-e-Toiba has as its immediate aim forcing the Indians to abandon Indian-held Kashmir. That does not mean that the members of Lashkar-e-Toiba would not, if they could, lend a hand, say, to those local Muslims enjoying themselves killing Hindus in Bangladesh, or killing Jews in Israel, or possibly, in London, helping out with killing British citizens on their way to work. It is just a question of what particular local or Lesser Jihad for the moment floats your murderous boat. Arabs of every kind have been found fighting with the Taliban, and in Bosnia, and in Chechnya, and Pakistanis were found by Christian Lebanse fighting with the PLO, and of course Pakistanis have been discovered blowing up the British Infidels who had nothing to do with Kashmir.

Afghanistan is no more indispensable to terrorists for training than is any other place on earth. Almost none of the terrorist attacks in Amsterdam and Madrid, London and Moscow and Beslan, Jerusalem and Djerba, were carried out by people who had ever trained in Afghanistan. The endless videotapes of those recruits on the monkey-bars, or high-stepping it in their black balaclavas, while eerie Arab music, music to kill the Infidels by, wails on the soundtrack, keeps reminding us all of those camps in Afghanistan. But again, it forces us to focus too narrowly.

Afghanistan is reverting to type. It is reverting, that is, to its deep-rooted and primitive Islam. Last week, in the magazine section of The New Duranty Times, there were several photographs of Afghani couples. The man, turbaned, prematurely wizened (they were all in their 40s and 50s), craggy faced, barefoot, sat looking straight at the camera. And beside the man in each grim and telling photograph sat his new bride, perhaps his second or third, a silent or smiling or chirpy young girl, 9 or 10 or 11, and anyone who looked carefully at those photographs, and who has been reading about Afghanistan, knows that it is not slick and plausible and slippery Karzai who is representative of Afghani society, but those men with their child brides.

What is to be done? What is to be done is to have as little to do as possible, to expend not more men and money, but to intermittently intervene from afar, in the meantime letting Afghanistan sink into its own internecine struggles. The Infidel Man's Burden is too much at this point. We don't have the time, the political will, the resources. We can rely on this or that warlord, no doubt someone who does not bear much looking into (for god's sake, the famous Massoud enjoyed massacring his enemies), but that is not our affair.

Our affair is to weaken, and to weaken at the lowest cost to ourselves because this war has no foreseeble end, the menace of Islam, by weakening, dividing, demoralizing, diminishing the appeal of, the camp of Islam. It can be done. But we need not be present in Iraq or Afghanistan to pursue this goal. In fact, a Western Infidel presence guarantees that some -- even some military men unduly impressed, on a human level, with this or that touching example of personal bravery or seeming loyalty by a particular Iraqi or Afghani, which can get in the way of a less sentimental assessment of why we cannot rely on the handful of semi-decent (and are we sure they are semi-decent, or merely for the moment, behaving well because, for the moment, they need our aid in killing their local enemies?).

The problems of Muslim peoples and states -- their penchant for violence and for conspiracy theories and hysterical reactions, their failure to create modern economies, their tendency to accept despots or a series of despots, as long as those despots are Muslims, the intellectual desertificiation, the moral paralysis -- these are all problems that come from the belief-system of Islam itself. Having to pretend to believe an unpleasant set of tenets, having to admire Muhammad or to pretend to, having to locate legitimacy of government not in the consent-- even the manufactured consent-- of the governed, but in the Qur'an and Sunnah, as codified in the Shari'a, having to adhere to the Islam-presribed hostility toward all non-Muslims and the contmept for women -- all of this has contributed to make these places what they are, and will be.

Within these lands,a strong leader, an Ataturk, might manage to impose systematic constraints on Islam, and to create a class of the secular who may dimly recognize that Islam is the source of their problems. But the example of Kemalist Turkey shows that even there, many decades, many generations, many laws and changes in attitudes are required, and that even then, after all that, Islam keeps coming back, like Rasputin.

We cannot devote our money and men to making Muslim countries better unless we realize that Islam is the explanation for their woes, and recognize further that no Infidels can change Islam, can constrain it in Muslim countries. But in the lands still part of that Infidel world, we are free to constrain it, to limit or hobble the various instruments of Jihad, including Da'wa and demographic conquest, and that this is the minimum that all Infidel governments owe their often ignorant and certainly largely unwary populations.

And that is best achieved by stopping to make the counter-Jihad an affair of creating "Iraq the Model" (an idiotic notion) or "Afghanistan"
where democracy, prosperity, you name it, is on the march.

What is on the march in Afghanistan is Islam. Just a few years have gone by, and already the hatred directed at the Taliban has dissipated, and that hatred turned to the eternal foe, the Infidels, and consequently, the Taliban itself is back, though not quite as before. It doesn't matter. Islam is back, or rather Islam in Afghanistan never went away.

Look at those photographs of those Afghan couples. That is Afghanistan. Not Karzai, or his restaurant-running siblings (or the one who went back to strike it rich in the "new" Afghanistan). Not Zalmay Khalilzad or those "Afghan-Americans" who have little to dow with, are completely unrepresentative of, the real Afghanistan.

Husbanding, not squandering, of resources of every kind is now required. It is, the Pentagon tells us now, to be a "long war." Indeed.

Posted on 07/19/2006 6:20 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald

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