'The NSW Police Commissioner, Andrew Scipione, made it clear where he stood on Islamic law as practised in Australia.
"When it comes to sharia I've said it before and I'll say it again. There is no place in Australia for sharia law, full stop", he said.
Hear, hear! Mr Scipione: are you serious about that? Would you be prepared to follow through on it? If so, have you considered going into politics...on a NO TO SHARIA platform? You might be surprised how many votes you'll get.
But having cited Mr Scipione, without asking him his reasons for opposing sharia so strongly - or if he was asked, his answer is not reproduced - the Sydney Morning Herald acts quickly to reassure everybody that sharia is really not that bad, and by implication, that Mr Scipione is overreacting. And then there's more than a hint that sharia is here already, and here to stay, so we better get used to it... - CM
'But the reality for Muslims might not be so clear cut.
It was, for Mr converted-to-islam Christian Martinez, in his bedroom, while four bearded sharia-enforcers flogged him with a cable for having breached sharia for drinking alcohol. And let's not ask any awkward questions about what might happen to him if he decides to drop Islam and become an atheist, or return to his Christian roots. - CM
'From the religious requirements for divorce to issues around seeking a loan, the detailed religious regulatory system of all aspects of life is practised by many in the diverse Islamic community.
'Diverse'. Ever had a look at the zombie-like hordes going round and round the kaaba? Or all those dozens or hundreds or thousands robotically prostrating themselves in serried rows? Does that look like 'diversity' to you? Ms McKenny, I suggest you go to the Barnabas Fund website and look up their little hand-book, 'What is Sharia?' Or read Nonie Darwish on sharia - Cruel and Usual Punishment. Or try the Egyptian 'theologian', Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, "The Lawful and the Prohibited in Islam". Or go to any Islamic website and find out just how obsessively and totally Islam controls people's lives. You will decide that Mormonism, the Moonies and Scientology are tame compared to Islam. - CM
'A Melbourne University professor of Islamic studies, Abdullah Saeed, said far from the stereotypical (not 'stereotypical' - traditionally Islamic - CM) cutting off of hands (which is authorised by the Quran, no less, and has been carried out in Somalia, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Afghanistan - CM) or floggings (for which, see what was done , on Australian soil, to Mr Martinez - CM) sharia in Australia sought to harmonise religious laws - such as the prohibition [not just prohibition - sharia is about PUNISHMENT - CM ] of alcohol, adultery or theft - with those of the state.
Yes, for the moment, while the surrounding non-Muslims are still too numerous, and too strong..And memo to Mr Saeed: Australians though we disapprove of adultery do not regard it as a capital offence, nor do our laws require the amputation of a thief's hand (he will cop a jail term) and it is up to the individual whether he or she chooses to drink, in moderation, or go on the water-wagon. And nobody will flog someone who falls off the wagon. Being drunk and disorderly will get you in trouble; you will cop a fine, perhaps, or a bit of time in the cooler; but you will not be flogged. The days when convicts were flogged are long gone and we do not intend to go back there. - CM
"We are not talking about punishment (yet...- CM), we are talking about basic ethical moral norms and values that observant Muslims observe by and large in their day-to-day life."
Such as, for example, the statement in the Islamic scriptures, that Muslims are 'ruthless to the unbelievers, but merciful to one another' (Surah 48: 29)? Or Surah 4: 34, that tells a man to beat the wife or wives from whom he merely 'fears' 'disobedience'? Or the rule that dogs are unclean and must not be kept as pets? Or the permission of polygyny? Or the fact that the Islamic scriptures do not regard it as adultery if a Muslim man kidnaps, and rapes, the wife of a non-Muslim man (because once she becomes his 'right hand possession' her silly kafir marriage vows cease to matter)? Or the prohibition on forming genuine friendships or making permanent agreements with non-Muslims ( and the permission to end such friendships and break agreements, for the advantage of the Muslim, or of the Ummah generally?). Or, indeed, the general principle of expediency: that anything whatever that advances the temporal power and profit of the Ummah is right and good, and whatever weakens the Ummah, is bad? - CM
'The alleged case of a Sydney man being whipped for dirnking alcohol would only "reinforce this negative stereotypical view of sharia that many people have.
No: it revealed the ugliness of classical sharia to many who were previously naive, while being entirely unsurprising to those who have done their research into what sharia prescribes, and what goes on in Muslim countries where official and unofficial practice are heavily influenced by sharia - CM
"Even in Muslim-majority countries these punishments cannot be implemented by individuals, or by groups".
Pull the other leg, Mr Saeed, it's got bells on. How about Somalia, and the stoning-to-death of a 13 year old gang rape victim for having committed zina? How about Afghanistan, and the recent execution of an apostate from Islam? - CM
'Jamila Hussain, a lecturer in Islamic law at the University of Technology, said sharia criminal law did not operate in Australia, but the Islamic system could govern other aspects of life.
Like hell it will, lady - CM.
"Some people just have a religious marriage (yeah, taking that second or third or fourth wife in the mosque, quiet-like, without telling anybody outside the Ummah about it - CM) rather than having a secular marriage, [and] the only way they can undo that is by going to a religious authority", she said.
Really? Do explain to us, Ms Hussain, about talaq divorce, how a man can discard his wife with three words while the wife no matter how grossly he may abuse her will find it almost impossible to obtain a divorce from a sharia court. Let's hear about the Muslim rules for child custody, and the rules for remarriage if a man discards his wife and then decides he wants her back (she has to marry someone else, and have sex with that someone else, and then the someone else must divorce her, and then and only then can she remarry hubbie no. 1). Oh, and could you explain to us the rules about the man's right to force his wife to have sex, and his right to beat her if he 'fears' disobedience, and when it is that girls are considered to be of marriageable age? Tell us about Aisha, Ms Hussain. Let's hear all about Islamic marriage, or nikah - which cannot be translated literally into the nearest English equivalent, without the use of a certain four-letter anglo-saxon word beginning with F. - CM
'An article in the upcoming issue of the University of NSW Law Journal reports that, because sharia has long operated in the unofficial realm, "the wider Australian community has been oblivious to the legal pluralism that abounds in this country".
In other words, fait accompli? They're practising sharia - they have set up an alternative - and what is more, rival and wannabe dominant and dominating - system of law, and there's nothing we can do about it? Really? Let's put that differently. Once we were oblivious. But now we know. And now we know, we can start doing something about it. - CM
'But in 'Good and Bad Sharia: Australia's Mixed Response to Islamic Law', Queensland academics Ann Black and Kerrie Sadiq also note that the government had explored ways to facilitate sharia compliant investments and banking in Australia through changes to tax laws."
And now we see just what a very, very bad precedent was set by that foolish act of accommodation. We accommodate sharia finance - and discover that some Muslims in our midst feel free to flog a bloke for drinking beer. As non-Muslims in Malaysia or Northern Nigeria could tell us, there is no such thing as 'only a little bit' of sharia, any more than it is possible to be 'only a little bit pregnant'.
Time to rescind those accommodations of sharia finance. No sharia. None. Not in this country. Not one little tiny bit. No burqas, no hijabs, no mainstreaming of halal meat or halal anything else, no special separate toilets for Muslims, no nothing. Because sharia is all one thing, tout se tient, and wherever Muslims get some of it they will, sooner or later, push for more, and more, and more. - CM
The American University And The Hectic Vacancy Of "The Strategic Plan"
From The Chronicle Of Higher Education:
The Strategic Plan: Neither Strategy Nor Plan, but a Waste of Time
Michael Morgenstern for The Chronicle
By Benjamin Ginsberg
In his new book, The Fall of the Faculty: The Rise of the All-Administrative University and Why It Matters, Benjamin Ginsberg argues that the explosive growth in administration, the decline in faculty influence, and the institutional corporatization of American universities contributes to a loss of intellectual rigor. Here is an excerpt.
Until recent years, colleges engaged in little formal planning. Today, however, virtually every college and university in the nation has an elaborate strategic plan. Indeed, whenever a college hires a new president, his or her first priority is usually the crafting of a new strategic plan. As in Orwell's 1984, all mention of the previous administration's plan, which probably had been introduced with great fanfare only a few years earlier, is instantly erased from all college publications and Web sites. The college president's first commandment seems to be, "Thou shall have no other plan before mine."
The strategic plan is a lengthy document—some are one hundred pages long or more—that purports to articulate the college's mission, its leadership's vision of the future, and the various steps that are needed to achieve its goals. The typical plan takes six months to two years to write and is often subject to annual revision to take account of changing circumstances. A variety of constituencies are usually involved in the planning process—administrators, faculty members, staffers, trustees, alumni, even students. Most of the work, though, falls to senior administrators and their staffs, as well as to outside consultants who may assist in the planning process. The final document is usually submitted to the trustees or regents for their approval. A flurry of news releases and articles in college publications herald the new plan as a guide to an ever brighter future. Hence, as one journalist noted, most strategic plans could be titled "Vision for Excellence."
The growth of planning has a number of origins. University trustees are generally drawn from a business background and are accustomed to corporate plans. Accreditors and government agencies, for their part, are enamored of planning, which they associate with transparency and accountability. Florida, in fact, requires its publicly supported colleges to develop strategic plans. More generally, though, the growth of planning is closely tied to the expansion of college and university administrations. Their growing administrative and staff resources have given them the capacity to devote the thousands of person-hours generally required to develop and formulate strategic plans. Before 1955, only 10 of the very largest universities could afford to allocate staff time to institutional research and planning. But by the late 1960s, several hundred colleges possessed staff resources adequate for that purpose.
The strategic plan serves several important purposes for administrators. First, when they organize a planning process and later trumpet their new strategic plan, senior administrators are signaling to the faculty, to the trustees, and to the general community that they are in charge. The plan is an assertion of leadership and a claim to control university resources and priorities. This function of planning helps to explain why new presidents and sometimes new deans usually develop new strategic plans. We would not expect newly elected presidents of the United States simply to affirm their predecessors' inaugural addresses. In order to demonstrate leadership to the nation, they must present their own bold initiatives and vision for the future. For college leaders, the strategic plan serves this purpose.
A second and related purpose served by planning is co-optation. A good deal of evidence suggests that the opportunity to participate in institutional decision-making processes affords many individuals enormous psychic gratification. For this reason, clever administrators see periodic consultation as a means of inducing employees to be more cooperative and to work harder. Virtually everyone has encountered this management technique. Some years ago, a former president of my university called to ask my advice before he appointed a new dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. I was pleased to be consulted, and later neither I nor other senior faculty who felt that the new dean was insufficiently experienced voiced so much as a word of opposition when the president announced his appointment.
In a similar vein, the university planning process entails months of committee meetings, discussions, and deliberations, during which the views of large segments of the faculty and staff are elicited. For the most part, those involved in the process, even if only peripherally, tend to buy into the outcome and, more important, tend to develop a more positive perception of the administration's ideas, priorities, and leadership. I can recall being greeted with hostile silence at the faculty club when I asserted that our university's strategic plan was a waste of paper. I was completely correct. The plan was a waste of paper and within a year was forgotten. Nevertheless, my colleagues who had participated in the planning process were co-opted by it.
Still another way in which strategic planning serves administrators' interests is as a substitute for action. Many senior administrators are smooth and glib, in the manner of politicians. These qualities are sure to impress the corporate headhunters who direct contemporary administrative searches, and to help administrators secure job interviews. But, like some of their counterparts in the realm of electoral politics, university leaders' political dexterity and job-hunting skills are often somewhat stronger than their managerial and administrative capabilities, inevitably leading to disappointment on the campus after they take charge. Indeed, the disparity between their office-seeking savvy and actual leadership ability probably explains why many college and university presidents move frequently from campus to campus. By the time people on the campus have become fully aware of a leader's strengths and weaknesses, he or she has moved on to another college. Thus, for many administrators, 18 months devoted to strategic planning can create a useful impression of feverish activity and progress and may mask the fact that they are frequently away from campus seeking better positions at other colleges.
An individual of my acquaintance was appointed to the position of dean of arts and sciences at an important university. Soon after his appointment, he launched a yearlong strategic-planning process, telling all who would listen that the university's first priority should be the development of a sound plan of action. During this period, the dean delayed undertaking any new programs and initiatives because, he said, all major activities should comport with the soon-to-be-announced strategic plan. After a year, when the plan was ready, the dean announced that he was leaving to become president of a small college. Apparently the university was too engrossed in planning to notice that the dean was sometimes away on job interviews. Not surprisingly, as soon as he arrived on his new campus, this individual announced that he would lead the college in—what else?—the formulation of a strategic plan.
It would be incorrect to assert that strategic plans are never what they purport to be—blueprints for the future. Occasionally a college or university plan does, in fact, present a grand design for the next decade. A plan actually designed to guide an organization's efforts to achieve future objectives, as it might be promulgated by a corporation or a military agency, contains several characteristic elements. Such a plan typically presents concrete objectives, a timetable for their realization, an outline of the tactics that will be employed, a precise assignment of staff responsibilities, and a budget. Some college plans approach this model. The 2007 strategic plan of the University of Illinois, for example, put forward explicit objectives along with precise metrics, bench marks, timetables, and budgets. The leadership hoped to equal or exceed the performance of several other large public institutions in a number of dimensions. Whether one agreed or disagreed with the goals stated by the plan, there could be little disagreement about the character of the plan, itself. It resembled a corporate plan for expanding market share or a military plan choreographing the movement of troops and supplies.
The documents promulgated by most colleges and universities, however, lack a number of those fundamental elements of planning. Their goals tend to be vague and their means undefined. Often there is no budget based on actual or projected resources. Instead the plan sets out a number of fund-raising goals. These plans are, for the most part, simply expanded "vision statements." One college president said at the culmination of a yearlong planning process that engaged the energies of faculty, administrators, and staffers that the plan was not a specific blueprint, but a set of goals the college hoped to meet.
Obviously what was important was not the plan but the process. The president, a new appointee, asserted his leadership, involved the campus community, and created an impression of feverish activity and forward movement. The ultimate plan itself was indistinguishable from dozens of others and could have been scribbled on the back of an envelope or copied from some other college's planning document. As I noticed while reading dozens of strategic plans, plagiarism in planning is not uncommon. Similar phrases and paragraphs can be found in many plans. In 2006, the chancellor of Southern Illinois University's Carbondale campus was forced to resign after it was discovered that much of its new strategic plan, "Southern at 150," had been copied from Texas A&M University's strategic plan, "Vision 2020." The chancellor had previously served as vice chancellor at Texas A&M, where he had coordinated work on the strategic plan. In a similar vein, the president of Edward Waters College was forced to resign when it was noticed that his new "Quality Enhancement Plan" seemed to have been copied from Alabama A&M University's strategic plan.
This interchangeability of visions for the future underscores the fact that the precise content of most colleges' strategic plans is pretty much irrelevant. Plans are usually forgotten soon after they are promulgated. My university has presented two systemwide strategic plans and one arts-and-sciences strategic plan in the past 15 years. No one can remember much about any of those plans, but another one is in the works. The plan is not a blueprint for the future. It is, instead, a management tool for the present. The ubiquity of planning at America's colleges and universities is another reflection and reinforcement of the continuing growth of administrative power.
BEIJING — A total of 18 people were killed during an assault on a Chinese police station in the restive western province of Xinjiang on Monday, including 14 Muslim Uighur attackers who were shot by police, state media said Wednesday.
In the first detailed accounting of the incident, the Xinjiang government’s news Web site and Xinhua, the official Chinese news agency, said an armed policeman, a security guard and two civilian hostages — a woman and a teenage girl — were killed when the Uighurs stormed the station.
The reports said that three other civilians were injured, four attackers were captured and six hostages were freed.
However, the Germany-based exile group representing the Uighur community, the World Uighur Congress, offered a different version of events.
The group said Uighur protesters were trying to rally at the police station in support of people detained inside when the police opened fire on them. The group’s spokesman, Dilxat Raxit, said by telephone that 20 Uighurs were killed, and he called for an independent investigation.
The attack, which began at noon Monday in the desert city of Hotan, near the Pakistan border, marked the most serious eruption of violence recorded in the province since ethnic rioting in July 2009 left nearly 200 people dead and scores of shops and businesses burned.
State media said the attackers in Monday’s incident, described as “rioters,” stormed the police station armed with axes, knives, daggers, Molotov cocktails and other explosives.
The report on the Xinjiang Web site said the attackers “beat, smashed and burned crazily,” shouted slogans invoking “Allah” and hung a separatist flag on top of the station.
The Web site said the attack happened at a time when most of the police officers were absent on a mission. The security guard left behind was hacked to death, it said.
Raxit, the Uighur exile group’s spokesman, sharply disputed the official accounts. He said the incident began when people gathered at Hotan’s grand bazaar for a planned protest. Police broke up the rally, and 13 Uighurs were arrested. Raxit said the angry protesters then moved to the police station and a commercial office next door.
“There was violence, but it was caused by the government’s crackdown,” Raxit said. He said some of the dead and injured Uighurs were taken away in military vehicles to a military hospital.
After the incident, Raxit said, Chinese security forces were examining people’s cellphones to make sure no video of the incident could be released on the Internet.
The Turkic-speaking Uighurs consider Xinjiang their traditional homeland, but large influxes of ethnic Han Chinese over the years have left them a minority. The Uighurs complain that they are economically disadvantaged and that Chinese security forces impose security in their communities with a heavy hand, including mass arrests.
Hou Hanmin, deputy director of the local information department, said the exile group’s account was “totally fake and not true at all.”
“There was not any protest or conflict that happened before the attack,” she said. She said some of the surviving attackers admitted under questioning to carrying out a planned attack on the police station. She said some of the attackers were from outside Hotan.
“They shouted extremist religious slogans and hung an extremist religious flag,” Hou said. “Compared with past attacks, these were more religious fanatics. It’s a new characteristic.”
An image of the Sydney Opera House in a jihadist magazine does not change Australia's terrorist threat level, federal Attorney-General Robert McClelland says. The iconic building features on the front of Inspire Magazine, an online publication that includes instructions on how to make bombs.
The magazine is published by associates of al-Qa'ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which has been described as one of the most active sections of the terror network.
Despite this, Mr McClelland says the national terrorism alert level remains unchanged at medium. "I have been advised this publication does not represent any change to the extent of the terrorist threat within Australia," Mr McClelland said today. "And I am advised it has not been accompanied by any specific threat in Australia or to Australian citizens."
Given the magazine's "intent to incite violence", Mr McClelland said the government was taking steps to reduce its exposure, including writing to the Australian Communications and Media Authority to remove links to the magazine. "ASIO has also made a request to relevant Australian providers to restrict access to sites which link to this material." However, he acknowledged that in the age of the internet, removing all access was extremely difficult.
NSW Police Assistant Commissioner Peter Dein, the state's counter-terrorism commander, said police were "trying to work out what it really means. . . It probably represents an icon in the Western world which is an appropriate target for terrorists," he told ABC radio. "There's no text or commentary in the magazine that's either touched on the Opera House or Sydney or Australia for that matter, except for the full-page photograph depicting the Opera House."
Former federal police terrorism analyst Leah Farrall told Fairfax newspapers the photograph was a cause for concern but was also a product of "publicity-hungry jihadis". "In the end, all we know is that a photograph of one of our most prominent landmarks has turned up on a page about bomb-making in a magazine that is encouraging people to take action on their own and blow things up in Western countries," Ms Farrall said.
House Republicans sought to put their stamp on U.S. foreign policy Wednesday by advancing a bill that would slash federal payments to the United Nations and other international bodies and slap restrictions on aid to Pakistan, Egypt and others.
With the bill, the House Foreign Affairs Committee sought to rein in some of President Obama’s policies and to slice $6.4 billion from his $51 billion request for 2012 for the State Department and foreign operations.
The measure’s passage was a foregone conclusion because of the panel’s Republican majority. Even if it passes the full House, though, the bill is expected to be dead on arrival in the Senate, where the Democratic majority is preparing a State Department authorization bill of its own.
Still, the bill could signal to lawmakers how to shape the appropriations bill, a separate piece of legislation that determines where the money actually goes.
The committee’s measure mandates that security assistance be provided to Egypt, Yemen, Lebanon and the Palestinian Authority only if the Obama adminstration certified that no members of terrorist organizations or their sympathizers were serving in their governments.[but that is a loophole too large. Besides, the most important reason for cutting aid to these places is othewise: No Muslim state should be receiviing aid from non-Muslims that will inevitably take on the character of the Jizyah -- with the donor non-Muslims afraid to cut, and the Muslim recipients not only not grateful, but insistent that such aid is practically theirs by right, and promise to become dangerously enraged if such aid is ever cut, much less eliminated. The generosity of the rich members of the Umma should be put to the test -- let Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, with their trillions and more billions flowing in, undeserved, every day, be asked to support, if they wish, Egypt, Yemen, Lebanon, the "Palestinian" territories. Finally, Muslim states should not be protected from the consequences of Islam itself by steady infusions of Western aid. We do not want any delay in the widespread recognition, by Muslims, of just how it is that Islam explains the predilection for despotism, and economic backwardness. If these countries keep being bailed out with money from non-Muslims, they will continue to not recognize that their economic disarray is prompted by inshallah-fatalism, a collectivist mentality (Islam is a collectivist faith), discouragement of free inquiry and independent thought, and a view of the state as the source of wealth to be seized, and distributed selectively to one's family, tribe, sect.]. That was aimed at Islamist groups such as the Palestinian organization Hamas and Lebanon’s Hezbollah — which have political power but are on the U.S. terrorism list — and the Muslim Brotherhood, which is expected to do well in Egypt’s upcoming elections. It is not considered a terrorist group.
The bill would also hold up security and civilian aid to Pakistan unless the Obama administration certified that Pakistan was making progress on fighting terrorism. [that's an unnecessary loophole -- Pakistan is an enemy country, and the real requirement should have included an end to support for such groups as Lashker-e-Taiba, and banning political
The legislation “puts that government on notice . . . that they will be held to account if they continue to refuse to cooperate with our efforts to eliminate the nuclear black market, destroy the remaining elements of Osama Bin Laden’s network, and vigorously pursue our counterterrorism objectives,” said committee chairman Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.).
The administration has argued that the aid is critical to building Pakistan’s civilian institutions and to battling the Taliban and al-Qaeda.
During a marathon committee session that stretched into the night, House members approved amendments that cut Washington’s contribution to the United Nations by 25 percent, and eliminated the $48.5 million in U.S. dues to the Organization of American States. That group brings together Western Hemisphere governments to address political turmoil and poverty.
Rep. Howard L. Berman (Calif)., the committee’s senior Democrat, blasted the bill as having a “Fortress America” tone, with such measures as reimposing a cap on funds for U.N. peacekeeping forces.[what a dope]
Berman said the legislation reflected the decline of a “bipartisan center” that existed in the House in the past, in which “some of the more conservative people, they wouldn’t have thought of saying, ‘We should pull out of the OAS.’ ”
The OAS amendment was introduced by Rep. Connie Mack (R-Fla.), who said the organization had backed Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, a strong critic of Washington.
Berman countered that the OAS had in fact criticized Chavez for his country’s poor human-rights record.
Embarrassed And Chagrinned By His On-The-Air Lightheadedness, Robert Baer Tries To Backtrack
Jul. 21, 2011
Former CIA Man: Don't Bet on Israel Bombing Iran on My Speculation!
By Robert Baer
To paraphrase Ronald Reagan, I wonder what the Ten Commandments would have looked like if Moses had first discussed them on talk radio. Having found myself at the center of a bizarre series of stories claiming that Israel is planning to attack Iran in September as a result of some speculative answers to a talk-show host's questions, I think I now know.
Last week, my friend Ian Masters, who hosts the Los Angeles talk-show "Background Briefing", called me up to talk about the Arab spring, and especially what would happen if Israel were to attack Iran. He was struck by the comments of recently retired Mossad chief Meir Dagan, saying that an increasingly paranoid and isolated Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was considering launching a reckless attack on Iran's nuclear facilities, and doing that soon. Would an Israeli strike put a spike in the Arab spring? That was unknowable, I said, but the resulting crisis would certainly give repressive regimes the excuse to crack down a lot harder on the street. (See "The Worm in Iran's Nuke Program: Made in Israel?")
On air, we got into it with Syria, but then quickly moved to Dagan's comments. I noted there have been other recently retired senior Israeli security officials who'd said much the same thing, including the well-respected chief of staff, Gabi Ashkenazi. So far so good, but, as these things go on radio, fact quickly turned to speculation. I offered that Israelis of this stature don't wash dirty laundry in public unless there's a serious problem, and therefore that I doubted that these comments were all part of some grand, calculated bluff to intimidate the Iranians to give up their nuclear program under threat of being bombed.
Warming to the subject, I chattered on about how I'd heard there was a "warning order" at the Pentagon to prepare for a conflict with Iran. I was about to add that that this was not unusual; there are warning orders all the time, and it could have nothing to do with Israeli or anything it was or wasn't planning for Iran. (Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, after all, is accusing Iran of being behind the sharp uptick in deadly attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq.) But time was short, and the host needed to finish up for the next guest.
This was a wide-ranging speculative conversation on a local radio station, two like minds kibitzing, as media pundits so often do, with no inside information to back our interpretations of the significance of the flood of former senior Israeli security officials warning that Netanyahu is crazy and likely to do something rash. "If I was forced to bet," I ventured, "I'd say we're going to have some sort of conflict in the next couple of months, unless this is all just a masterful bluff — which I can't believe the Iranians would succumb to — I think the chances of it being a bluff are remote." Not exactly claiming to know any more than any other tea-leaf reader. (See why Israel outlawed business with Iran.)
And when Masters asked me when I thought this hypothetical attack might hypothetically occur, I blithely suggested September. I was only adding two plus two: a September attack would allow Netanyahu to destroy Iran's nuclear facilities and wreck plans for a U.N. vote on Palestinian statehood, which is slated for September. I would have added that in the Middle East, two plus two rarely adds up to four. But I was definitely out of time.
When I hung up the phone, I was sure Masters had lost more than a few listeners. After all, what I'd said was a tedious rehash of various media reports. I would have forgotten it altogether were it not for the blogosphere's version of a Pacific hurricane. I don't know where it started, but soon the choice bits of our conversation were being rebroadcast as a danger signal flashing bright red: "Former CIA Official: Israel Will Bomb Iran in September," read the headline in the Huffington Post.
The Huffpo's headline sparked a frenzy in Middle Eastern media outlets ranging from Israel's Jerusalem Post and Haaretz to Hizballah's TV station al-Manar. Their reports implied that I was some sort of unimpeachable authority, talking with the certainly of an insider looped into the plans and intentions of the key decision-makers. And then came the hate mail. One former State Department official wrote that my comments were all the proof he needed to know that I'd "gone rogue." A well-known pundit called me a loose cannon. By Monday, the former State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley started tweeting that I didn't know what I was talking about. His tweets also made front-page news in Israel. (What do Israel's leaders really think about Iran?)
Crowley is right about me speculating about things I don't know a lot about. (Isn't that what commentators do more often than not?) But my question was, didn't he have the time to check the radio's Web page and listen to the interview? My editors at TIME certainly have. Or, more obviously, I wondered why Crowley and everyone else didn't notice I hadn't drawn a government check in more than 12 years, and therefore wasn't bringing any inside knowledge to the subject. And I'd certainly never claimed a back-door access to Netanyahu's inner circle that would give me any privileged knowledge about a planned attack.
What I am now certain of, however, is that my speculative wandering accidentally kicked a hidden hornets' nest. For all I know, maybe there really is an attack planned for September. Or, more likely, the problem is that it's July, it's hot, and everyone's bored of the Murdoch stuff. And, here I leave pure speculation to return to fact: It's lucky tweets, talk radio and blogosphere hysteria don't drive the decision making in Jerusalem and Washington. But, then again, what do I know?
Robert Baer, a former Middle East CIA field officer, is TIME.com's intelligence columnist and the author of See No Evil and The Devil We Know: Dealing with the New Iranian Superpower.
When Glen Beck strode onto the stage at the CUFI Washington Summit for Israel in the Washington, DC convention Center on Tuesday night, July 19th he started off by publicly announcing that he had made up his mind to become the 700,001th Member of CUFI. He promptly produced a check for $10,000 from both him and his wife in support of the CUFI College Campus program that had earily in the program been discussed by CUFI's executive director Dr. David Brog. Beck's CUFI speech was a bravura performance; heartfelt, emotional but spot on in many ways, as only Beck can do.
In Glenn Beck's CUFI Washington Summit keynote speech he stated, If the world goes down the road of dehumanizing Jews again, "then count me a Jew and come for me first,"
If you hadn't watched it on a Live Webcast, take the time out to watch the high points or the entire 42 minute Vimeo recording below.
Les élus de banlieue ont le sentiment qu'une meilleure évaluation du poids des communautés permettrait de corriger ce qu'ils considèrent comme des «discriminations». Crédits photo : Reuters
Dix élus de banlieue, revenant des États-Unis, veulent relancer le débat sur ce mode de recensement encore interdit en France.
Chassez la statistique ethnique, elle revient au galop. Dix élus de banlieue d'origine maghrébine viennent de rentrer des États-Unis convaincus qu'il faut relancer le débat sur ce mode de recensement des populations encore proscrit en France. Ils annoncent qu'ils s'y emploieront dès septembre, alors que toutes les tentatives, plus ou moins soutenues par les autorités, se sont heurtées jusqu'à présent à un obstacle légal, constitutionnel et culturel. Le modèle français considère des individus et non des communautés.
Nicolas Sarkozy, le premier, a voulu faire bouger les lignes sur ce point, lorsqu'il était ministre de l'Intérieur et candidat à la présidentielle. Mais une fois élu, il semble avoir fait machine arrière, tant le sujet se révèle sensible. «Ce n'est pas dans l'année qu'un tel chantier sera ouvert» , prévient, en tout cas, l'un de ses proches conseillers.
Les élus de banlieue qui se manifestent aujourd'hui ont pourtant le sentiment qu'une meilleure évaluation du poids respectif des communautés permettrait de corriger ce qu'ils considèrent comme des «discriminations». Conviés huit jours à Washington par l'ambassade des États-Unis à Paris, tous sont revenus conquis par le système américain. «L'évaluation statistique, très utilisée aux États-Unis par les institutions et les entreprises, permettrait de détecter les injustices et de les corriger plus rapidement, pour une meilleure cohésion nationale» , déclare ainsi Kamel Hamza, l'un des membres de la délégation, président de l'Association nationale des élus locaux pour la diversité (Aneld) et conseiller municipal UMP à La Courneuve. Il adressera, dit-il, dès la rentrée, une lettre aux associations pour organiser une table ronde et ainsi lancer les bases d'un «I have a dream à la française», en référence au rêve de Martin Luther King.
Mais, au-delà du symbole, de quoi seraient constituées les fameuses statistiques ethniques, si elles devaient un jour traverser l'Atlantique ? «C'est tout le problème. Nul ne parvient à s'accorder sur la définition même de cette statistique» , estime Alain Bauer, président de la Commission nationale de contrôle des fichiers de police. Faut-il compter les Noirs, les Blancs, les Arabes, les musulmans, les juifs, les Asiatiques, toute personne s'estimant discriminée à raison de son origine, ou simplement dénombrer les «minorités visibles» ? «Cela justifierait un tel degré précision qu'à la fin, il faudrait un annuaire !» , s'exclame le Pr Bauer.
Un mariage sur trois est mixte
Aux États-Unis, le recensement détaille déjà de 116 à 130 catégories, les Latinos ayant été récemment divisés en deux. En Grande-Bretagne, les communautés répertoriées sont passées en vingt ans de 14 à 29, avec désormais trois sortes de Blancs (Britanniques, Irlandais, autres Blancs), les Gallois réclamant leur propre catégorie. Chacun, au nom de son particularisme, s'estime en droit de revendiquer un comptage à part, pour mieux faire avancer sa cause.
Que revendiqueront alors les métis et d'ailleurs où les catégoriser ? La question mérite, à tout le moins, d'être posée en France, pays où un mariage sur trois est mixte désormais. [!]
Pour l'heure, des outils de recensement existent dans l'Hexagone. L'enquête «Trajectoires et origines» de l'Ined, sorte d'outil de filiation, permet déjà de savoir qui vient d'où. Les personnes interrogées de façon anonyme peuvent aussi déclarer comment elles se perçoivent. Ce qui a l'avantage d'éviter le «fichage ethnique».
En tout état de cause, la question de la statistique ethnique masque celle des quotas ethniques, c'est-à-dire la tentation d'imposer pour chaque catégorie, dans les emplois, les fonctions de responsabilité, une représentation égale à la proportion constatée dans la société. La France en voie de communautarisation ? Le débat, à lui seul, mérite réflexion.
Can Bob Baer ex-CIA Case Officer be Trusted on Israel Iran Attack Warnings?
In a forthcoming August New English Review, article,“The Iranian Missile Threat,” we discuss a prediction by ex-CIA case officer, author and Time, Inc. Intelligence columnist, Bob Baer, that has created a buzz on the internet. That Israel will attack Iran’s nuclear facilities in September, 2011 in advance of a UN General Assembly vote for a unilateral Palestinian State.
We reached out to another ex-CIA case officer, “Cowboy.” We had interviewed “Cowboy” for a June NER article about the machinations behind a last minute clemency plea motion by defense lawyers for Omar Khadr, the Canadian-Afghan Jihadi. Khadr’s conviction at a GITMO military Tribunal for murdering an American Special Forces medic as a teenager in 2002 in Afghanistan had been upheld by the Pentagon Military Convening Authority in late May, 2011. We asked “Cowboy” for his opinion on fellow ex-CIA case officer Bob Baer.
Here is Cowboy’s response included in the August NER article.
In mid-July, 2011, Bob Baer, ex-CIA covert ops officer, author of books promoting his experience and Middle East expertise, opined in a radio interview that Israel might be gearing up for a possible attack in September on Iran’s nuclear weapons development facilities. Primary targets might include the Natanz facility engaged in enriching uranium with its thousands of whirling centrifuges. Allegedly, according to Baer, the US Joint Chiefs have issued possible war warnings to the Fifth Fleet in Bahrain and what remains of our forces in Iraq. “Cowboy,” also an ex-CIA covert officer believes that Baer is not to be trusted. He noted:
Indeed...Mr. Syrianahimself. [The film is based on his book See No Evil]. Baer is anti-Israeli, pro-Syrian, pro-Iranian and pro-Saudi...i.e. pro-Muslim. He speaks Arab and thinks we should all get rid of our SUVs.
Recall, this is the "ex-CIA officer" who wrote in his last book that the U.S. should "allow" Iran to take over the Saudi oil fields as well as Mecca and Medina...and that we should "ensure" that "when Lebanon in dismembered," Iran is part of the process.
Retired Israeli Mossad director Meir Dagan in a May, 2011 Jerusalem Postinterview, issued a warning that such an attack scenario was ‘foolish’ and would only result in unleashing missile attacks.
“Cowboy’s” assessment of Baer raises the question of why Baer would go out on a limb and make such a prediction. After all, the Israelis never telegraph in advance when they make a strategic military strike. Even afterwards, they tend to be silent until some third party like the US trumpets the success, as occurred with the successful IAF takeout of a Syrian nuclear bomb assembly plant on the Euphrates in September, 2007. Maybe, Baer is working on a new book and future film script focused on a fictional Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities and roiling consequences in the raging Middle East? In any case his anti-Israel proclivities make him suspect about why he chose to launch this piece of disinformation, now.
For god's sake, Robert Baer is one more of those -- those ex-C.I.A. agents on the "Bin Laden desk," or journalists who happen to have interviewed Bin Laden -- who then dine out for a decade as "experts on terrorism" or some such, presumed still privy to all kinds of knowledge they do not have, and perhaps never could have had, and certainly do not have when they have been out of the government, and out of all loops, for many years. Think of Scheuer, think of Bergen. Baer's much more intelligent than Scheuer, a real dope, and much more knowledgeable than either Scheuer or Bergen. But he's part of the same phenomenon -- these people who dine out for years afterward on what they did, however briefly (Bergen had the lucky interview with Bin Laden, which interview allowed him to become a well-paid consultant on "terrorism" -- or is the entire Middle East? -- for ABC News).
Baer wrote a good, an intelligent, book on the Saudis and their baleful influence in this country. I can't help wondering if, with his intelligent understanding, and therefore dislike, of the Saudis, he has become, in some way, too hopeful about the prospects for Iran -- civilizationally the Persians being much higher, partly because of their identify that plays against, rather than reinforces, Islam -- somehow transforming itself if it is not attacked, when it is only going to be transformed if the government does not obtain nuclear weapons.
When it comes to Iran, and speculating about, and trying to head off, an attack on Iran, Robert Baer appears to have gone off the deep end himself, as when he calls that highly intelligent Israeli leader, Netanyahu, surrounded by many other intelligent men, "paranoid" on the subject of Iran, and thinks that is enough to prove the absurdity of Israelis contemplating an attack on Iran. He's got it backwards: it's absurd for the Israelis, and just as absurd for the Americans, not to be planning to attack Iran, if they are not. It would be a dereliction of duty. It would mean they had learned nothing from the nightmare of nuclear Pakistan, a nightmare that does not end and helps explain the grotesque entanglement with that awful country. We cannot have another Pakistan on our hands, and Pakistan's generals, though treacherous and permanently hostile to the West -- and unable ever to drop the Jihad against India because it furnishes their reason for being -- are models of rationality compared to those who hold power in Iran, and I don't mean Ahmadinejad, but the clerics. They don't think they are crazed, but their worldview makes them, by Western lights, crazed. They might well be willing to endure a few million casualties for the sake of wiping out the Infidel nation-state of Israel or, in some future, wiping out others, including American forces in the Middle East, who are thought to stand in their way. Iran would be Pakistan on stilts,a nuclear Muslim state, with a terrorist group, Hezbollah, already in a position of power in Lebanon, where it calls the shots, and has succursales around the world. Does Baer think, from his experience with the Saudis, that Uber-Sunnis alone are the problem? Is it not Baer who has been smitten strangely with Iran, always worrying about attacks on it, for years? Pakistan is a country that cannot be dealt with now appropriately, and perhaps, some may think, must even be supported, "lest its nuclear arsenal fall into the wrong hands." In Pakistan the wrong hands are close to, but are not quite, the government. In Iran, the wrong hands are the government. And in Iran, acquisition of nuclear weapons would ensure the survival of the regime; a Western attack would ensure the downfall -- after a brief rally-round-the-flag period of bluster -- of that regime.
And musing publicly about exactly "when" the "attack on Iran" is going to come is nothing new, and is akin to those listeners who phone into to sports shows to solemnly discuss "do you think the Sox are going to win this year?" This kind of popular speculation is what journaliusts - including those ex-C.I.A. agents (given the C.I.A.'s naivete and gullibility and lack of vigilance, with Pakistan and A. Q. Khan, in Afghanistan with local muhajidin supplied with thousands of Stingers, with all sorts of Muslims, with their completely ignoring the demographic changes and dangers that might have been prevented in Western Europe.) Being in the C.I.A. should be a biographical detail that not only fails to impress, but also worries.
As for Baer and his "attack on Iran" business, he's still not quite as sensationalist as Seymour Hersh in his frequent sensationalist predictions and charges -- no substitute for analysis of policy, but apparently lots of fun for the whole family. He is, however, with that careless frivolous open-mike musing, getting close. But remember, predicting with confidence an "imminent attack on Iran" is nothing new for Baer. See, for example, this article by Baer in Time written almost four years ago:
U.S. forces detain suspected Shi'ite militants near Seddah, in southern Iraq.
Reports that the Bush Administration will put Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps on the terrorism list can be read in one of two ways: it's either more bluster or, ominously, a wind-up for a strike on Iran. Officials I talk to in Washington vote for a hit on the IRGC, maybe within the next six months. And they think that as long as we have bombers and missiles in the air, we will hit Iran's nuclear facilities. An awe and shock campaign, lite, if you will. But frankly they're guessing; after Iraq the White House trusts no one, especially the bureaucracy.
As with Saddam and his imagined WMD, the Administration's case against the IRGC is circumstantial. The U.S. military suspects but cannot prove that the IRGC is the main supplier of sophisticated improvised explosive devices to insurgents killing our forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. The most sophisticated version, explosive formed projectiles or shape charges, are capable of penetrating the armor of an Abrams tank, disabling the tank and killing the crew.
A former CIA explosives expert who still works in Iraq told me: "The Iranians are making them. End of story." His argument is only a state is capable of manufacturing the EFP's, which involves a complicated annealing process. Incidentally, he also is convinced the IRGC is helping Iraqi Shi'a militias sight in their mortars on the Green Zone. "The way they're dropping them in, in neat grids, tells me all I need to know that the Shi'a are getting help. And there's no doubt it's Iranian, the IRGC's," he said.
A second part of the Administration's case against the IRGC is that the IRGC has had a long, established history of killing Americans, starting with the attack on the Marines in Beirut in 1983. And that's not to mention it was the IRGC that backed Hizballah in its thirty-four day war against Israel last year. The feeling in the Administration is that we should have taken care of the IRGC a long, long time ago.
Strengthening the Administration's case for a strike on Iran, there's a belief among neo-cons that the IRGC is the one obstacle to a democratic and friendly Iran. They believe that if we were to get rid of the IRGC, the clerics would fall, and our thirty-years war with Iran over. It's another neo-con delusion, but still it informs White House thinking.[actually, this is one thing that those whom Baer tellingly calls "neo-cons" -- a scheureresque, buchananesque touch that tells one a lot about Baer -- appear to have understood correctly about Iran, even if their hopes and dreams for Iraq were so misplaced].
And what do we do if just the opposite happens — a strike on Iran unifies Iranians behind the regime? An Administration official told me it's not even a consideration. "IRGC IED's are a casus belli for this Administration. There will be an attack on Iran."
— Robert Baer, a former CIA field officer assigned to the Middle East, is TIME.com's intelligence columnist and the author of See No Evil and, most recently, the novel Blow the House Down
Robert Baer's predictions about that "attack" on Iran -- by Israel, by the Americans, by both, by neither. The subject should not be discussed in terms of "when" but what such an attack could achieve, could not achieve, and whether it makes geopolitical sense, and if so, why. And are the rulers of Iran more like the Soviet leaders, rational and calculating, or more like Hitler, who if he had had the bomb in the waning days of the Third Reich, would certainly have dropped it wherever he could, even if he knew it would bring the effacement of much of Germany. Baer's refusal to discuss this in detail, and instead being satisfied with calling Netanyahu -- and by implication all those, Israelis and others, who think that on the whole, an attack -- not a massive ground invasion, not a re-doing of Iran's society, just an attack to degrade, with an implied promise to re-degrade if necessary, with attacks ad libitum -- has much to recommend it -- who support them "paranoid" is itself bizarre.
In remarks published at this site recently, the Iranian-American exile, Amil Imani, a fearless apostate, and a patriot (who wishes both his former country, Iran, and his new country, America, well), argues that it would be misguided for either the United States or Israel to bomb the nuclear project of the Islamic Republic of Iran. He is totally opposed to such an action:
“Bombing the [nuclear weapons] facilities is the worst thing America and Israel can possibly do. By so doing, they throw the Mullahs a lifeline and hugely hurt the Iranian people.” A military attack would also solidify the Islamic world against America, Israel and the West. The best thing to do is to impose the measured but effective sanctions that I have listed above and provide moral and financial support for the Iranian opposition in Iran.”
I think Amil Imani, and other Iranians in exile who may share his views on this, are dead wrong, and that the interests, in some cases, of Iranian nationalists, even the most un-Islamic of them, and of the Infidels – the Americans and the Israelis above all, but not only the Americans and the Israelis – require that the nuclear weapons project, that has gone on, without any significant or long-term halt (whatever some in the C.I.A. may have tendentiously insisted a year or two ago) and the final achievement of which has become an obsession with the people who rule Iran, the remaining loyalists among the “akhoonds” (a term for a Muslim cleric, used only dismissively by Iranians in exile) and the ferocious Revolutionary Guards, called the Basiji.
For what Amil Irani should ask himself is this: what will be the consequences of the attainment of nuclear weapons by the people who run the Islamic Republic of Iran? It is not true that the Islamic Republic of Iran is on its last legs. It has demonstrated a ferocity – see Mohammad al Jaffari, see Shirazi, see Ali Larijani (just a few months ago breathlessly described as a “moderate” in the Western press), see assorted clerics who have not echoed the late Grand Ayatollah Montazeri, see many others. And see, too, how silent are the rural poor, the Iranian villagers who, it should not be forgotten, far outnumber the educated, or the being-educated, that is, the students of Tehran and Ispahan and a few other cities, and whose minds and hearts will swell with pride when the Islamic Republic of Iran acquires nuclear weapons, and perhaps even explodes one in the desert over, say, Baluchistan, just to make things clear to any Sunnis in that area, or to the southwest, in Khuzistan.
But, some Iranian exiles may insist that we will win, we are practically toppling the regime now. I don’t agree. I don’t think the regime is about to go. It would be nice to think so. But again and again, those who have been of a secular bent have always miscalculated the power of Islam, and those impelled by Islam. When Kanan Makiyya confidently predicted, for his Washington friends, a brand-new Iraq, sane and stable and grateful to the Americans, what was he thinking? He himself now says he did not understand, he did not appreciate, the realities of his own country. Could it be that, as someone who inhabited a world consisting of the moral and intellectual elite among the Iraqis in exile, and what’s more someone who had been not only out of Iraq, but out of the Muslim Arab Middle East for many years, he had forgotten the hold of Islam, and what the attitudes and atmospherics of Islam do to the minds of men, save for the remarkable few (such as Mithal al-Alusi), who must live in a society, a state, suffused with Islam?
Iran is not an Arab country. It has another, pre-Islamic identity, and the narrative of Iranian history, with its Darius and its Cyrus and its obvious monuments – Persepolis and similar places are hard-to-ignore evidence of the pre-Islamic history, and the Persian poets are held, in the Iranian national narrative, to have helped Iran withstand the cultural and linguistic imperialism of the Arabs, who benefited so often from all the ways in which Islam is, and always will be, a vehicle for Arab supremacism. When it came to Arab cultural and linguistic imperialism, the Iranians managed to repel it. But now a regime that has nothing to do with the history of Iran, and that has everything to do with the curse of Islam, could stay in power forever, or at least for many more grim decades, if it manages to obtain nuclear weapons.
Like Kanan Makiya, like Rend al-Rahim Francke, like perhaps even Ahmed Chalabi, Iranians who have spent years abroad come to believe, I think, that the regime must be crumbling. Vladimir Nabokov somewhere describes how like millions of other Russian émigrés, living in Paris, Berlin, Harbin, Prague, in the 1920s, he was absolutely convinced that the Bolsheviks would fall. They didn’t fall, not for another sixty years, and tens of millions of victims later. For years there have been those who claim to have inside dope about Iran, and “contacts with Iranian exiles” (think of Michael Ledeeen), and for years these people have been claiming that Iran’s regime is just about to fall. It should; it deserves to; it is a monstrous regime. But all the excitement of the demonstrations, the two weeks of them that followed the “election” of Ahmadinejad, and the recent smaller demonstrations that have caused such hope and such excitement and such premature anticipation, should not cloud minds that have to think about the consequences, and the consequences not only as they are viewed by Iranian exiles thinking only of how best to shake the regime, but of the security calculations that must be made by those responsible for protecting the people of the United States, of Western Europe, of Israel. The view, and the analyses, may be different; the interests may even be different.
I don’t think they are, however. I think that the greatest damage to the interests of Iranians in Iran, and in exile, that is those who want to remove the Islamic regime, is to see that regime manage to obtain that weaponry. I repeat: the Primitives always outnumber the advanced, secular classes. In Turkey, the secular class, after 80 years of uninterrupted and systematic constraints, of all kinds, put on Islam, find themselves under siege, find that Islam is back, despite Kemalism, and with a vengeance, discover that they, the secular class made possible by Kemalism, do not constitute a majority of Turks but more like one-quarter of the population, and that is not enough to resist the onslaught, clever and relentless, by Erdogan and the others we call “Islamists” but who should merely be called “the Turkish Muslims who take Islam seriously.” Just as the secular Turks miscalculated their power, secular Iranians miscalculate their power, or rather, they dismiss too readily the majority of Iranians who, while they may not be enthusiastic about the Islamic Republic, nonetheless will be so thrilled by Iran becoming a nuclear power (Kissinger appeared to be in favor) – a goal sought by the vainglorious Shah, and he might have received that nuclear information from America, and other forms of technical assistance, had he, the Shah, not been deposed by Khomeini by means of those tapes made at Neauphle-le-chateau, and the ruthlessness of Khomeini’s primitive brigades, who did such things as burn down the Rex Cinema (killing nearly 500 people trapped inside), deemed “decadent” for its perfectly innocent (but Infidel) movies.
Now the Iranian exiles should ask themselves this question: if the Shah had made his request for nuclear knowhow a few years earlier, and if his request had been granted, and if Iran had become a nuclear power, and if Khomeini and his bezonians had then managed to depose the Shah, they would have come into possession of such weaponry. And then where would the world be today? But, we are told, the epigones of Khomeini, the akhoonds and the Basiji, are on the ropes. Are they, really? And will they still be on the ropes if a nuclear bomb, an Iranian bomb, the Iranian, the Shi’ite, the Persian bomb, is dropped in the desert, or will they be hailed and hailed and hailed by the kind of people whose families supply the sons who go and become members of the Basiji, and enjoy smashing the skulls of those who like to watch Kierostami, or go skiing, or simply enjoy the book-learning of universities?
Let’s suppose that in the best of outcomes, the regime falls in Iran, and is then replaced by, say, a regime as close to that of the Shah, minus the corruption and minus Savak, as possible. Imagine it to be headed by the Shah’s son, who would take guidance from his charming francophone mother, the former Shahbanou. And imagine, too, that many Iranians in exile move back to Iran, determined to curb the power of Islam in Iran. Imagine even that, say, Abbas Kierostami, and a dozen other figures of similar stature, mimic the act of Emir Kusturica (who, though born into a Muslim family, and considered to be a Muslim, decided a few years ago to have himself christened as Serbian Orthodox because, he said, of course that was what his ancestors had been before being forcibly converted to Islam by the conditions of Ottoman rule), and decide to become Zoroastrians, noting that this is the religion of Iran, and that the conditions under which their ancestors were converted can well be imagined, and they thought it time to publicly demonstrate that freedom of religion, including freedom to jettison Islam, would now be protected, and so on. Stirring. Wonderful. But what would be the reaction, not to my imaginary scenario, but to something far more modest, if there were an attempt to re-secularize Iran, at least to the extent it had been under the Shah? Would the primitive masses of Iran easily acquiesce? If the Shah of Iran, that seeming pillar of stability, with that great oil wealth with which he attempted to make life better for the rural poor, could be followed by Khomeini (and the 30 years of hell that followed), why and if Khomeini and his epigones could then be followed, come the new regime, by the Son of Shah, then why could not the Son of Shah be replaced, ultimately, by another Khomeini-like figure, some Muslim cleric, or some military man nostalgic for Islam? In other words, Infidel lands that are the potential victims of Muslim nuclear aggression or nuclear blackmail, cannot rely on a change in regime, both because that change may not be quite so inexorable or impending as one may be led to believe, and because even if the change does come about, no Muslim country – even Iran – can be allowed to acquire nuclear weapons or other weapons of mass destruction, beyond the single unfortunate case of hideous Pakistan, a country which, however, is being vigilantly monitored and not being allowed to acquire more potent and effective means to deliver such weaponry.
It may be painful for those who are Iranian patriots to hear from those who wish them well that nonetheless we do not wish them so well that we are willing to accept their assurances, and their hopes, about the use of nuclear weapons. And it may seem presumptious, too, that a non-Iranian who does not know Farsi, and cannot possibly have the kind of contacts that Iranians in exile have, nonetheless is unwilling to go along with the hopeful enthusiasm and belief in an impending change in regime or, to some still more outrageously, saying that it doesn’t matter what regime Iran comes to have, because it still is a country, like Turkey after 80 years of Kemalism, still possesses masses who are Muslim, and who are susceptible to the siren song of Islam, even to a “return to Islam” as has happened, alas, in Turkey.
The series of assumptions made by Amil Imani and other Iranian exiles, including those who have shed their Islam forever, when it comes to the nuclear bomb project of the Islamic Republic if Iran (IRI), need to be examined. First, the assumption that the regime is teeter-tottering, and any day now, before the acquisition of nuclear weapons, that regime will fall. This is not a given. Then there is the assumption that even if the regime is still in power when those nuclear weapons are finally produced, and perhaps even tested, that will have no effect on the ability of the regime to withstand those who wish to overthrow it. Really? When I claim that such a feat will win the Iranian regime all kinds of support, formerly lukewarm, among the primitive masses (50% of the Iranian people? 60%? 70%?), outside of the major cities, what is the reply? Is it that most Iranians will not be thrilled by such an achievement, Iran now a nuclear power, for all to see? Oh, they will be thrilled. They will say to themselves, well, yes, the elites of North Tehran and the exiles may think one way, but the Islamic Republic makes us proud, proud, proud. When one reads the observations on Iran and Iranians by acute foreign students, such as Sir Reader Bullard and A.K. S. and J. B. Kelly,-the one aspect of national character that is always mentioned is that of pride.
One source of Western woe has been the naïve belief that Islam can be permanently constrained. It keeps coming up from under the ice like Rasputin under the Neva. It keeps trying to return, in the Shah’s Iran, in Ataturk’s Turkey, in Egypt under both the ancient regime of fat Farouk and then under the stratokleptocrats of Nasser and Naguib, and then just Nasser, and Sadat, and Mubarak with his Friends-and-Family Plan. The mistakes have been shared both by Western specialists, and by the secularists themselves. Bernard Lewis has spent much of his life studying modern Turkey, and he did forefeel the return of Islam (the title of an early essay in “Encounter”), but he surely has been surprised at how thorough and rapid has been the assault on Kemalism in Turkey. And so have the Turksih secularists themselves, who never expected to be threatened as they now feel threatened. And the power of Islam can be seen in post-war Iraq, where not the secularists (how many votes did Mithal al-Alusi receive when he last ran?) but the parties connected to particular Islamic sects are in the ascendant, though to read some of the secular Iraqi bloggers, of course writing in English in order to influence American policy, you would think that the secularists would soon be shown to be in control. But it isn’t so. The wishful thinking, all over the lands of Islam, of the secular and the Westernized is remarkable. Having managed to jettison Islam themselves, they refuse to recognize its fantastic and continued hold on the minds of others, of so many others.
Not only should the Americans bomb the nuclear project of the Islamic Republic of Iran, for their own good and siffucieint reasons. But they should do so, pace Imani, pace many other Iranians in exile, because it is the one thing that will so humiliate the regime in the eyes of its own people, that it will not recover. Oh, I’m sure in the first weeks, even for several months following such an attack, there will be a Rally-Round-the-Flag effect. Some of the less sober Iranian dissidents will ostentatiously declare their outrage, and some may declare their outrage and add that “we were on the verge of winning and now this” which will be a convenient way to explain, and lay blame for, the regime’s sturdy ability to resist those who would overthrow it.
But what happens after those weeks or months are over? How likely is it that the aggressive regime of Ahmedinejad , Khameini, Jaffari, Shirazi, Larijani, will be able, once it has been proven impotent, and its most important program, the focus of the entire regime, upon which vast sums have been spent, and yet now, though it will not be entirely destroyed, will have been so damaged as to be set back, by many years, and what’s more, the regime, like Saddam Hussein after the destruction by Israel of his nuclear reactor in 1981, did not dare to again pursue nuclear weapons, but abandoned it, knowing that Israel meant business and would attack again. If the Islamic Republic of Iran’s nuclear project is attacked, it need not be completely destroyed for the attack to be a great success. The attack need only buy time, and also make clear to the Iranians that the Western world, beginning but not ending with the United States and Israel (ideally, acting in concert), mean business.
The regime will have lost face, and will also have been seen to have squandered tens of billions of dollars on a project that has in the end came to nothing. It is surely not beyond the wit of the Iranians in exile, and of the Iranians in opposition, to make that point, again and again, and to explain that whatever other horrors the Islamic Republic has inflicted on those it rules, it has also wasted the country’s patrimony on its attempt at weapons acquisition of a kind that would inexorably call forth the kind of response that the smoldering soil of Natanz reflects. The regime will become no longer feared, but a figure of fun, of ridicule, of waste, and this will be understood not only in Teheran, but in the villages all over Iran. And the Islamic Republic of Iran, which has shown its ferocity, and shown it can withstand the students and their supporters, of every age and type, in the streets, will not be able to withstand the destruction of everything it has been working for, by the implacable military power, the planes, rockets, and missiles, deployed in a good cause by Infidel nation-states that are not kidding around, and are fully prepared to use them, in order to deny Iran or any other Muslim state, the possibility of acquiring weapons of mass destruction, prepared to use them, if necessary, again and yet again.
The most farseeing of the dissidents should not oppose, but ardently hope for, a military attack on the nuclear project that, if it succeeds, will only ensure the survival of the Islamic Republic of Iran for many more unendurable decades of cruelty and misrule.
'Crisis of Confidence Threatens College." So went a headline in the Chronicle of Higher Education this spring, describing a recent survey of the American public. "Public anxiety over college costs is at an all-time high," the report concluded. "And low-income college graduates or those burdened by student-loan debt are questioning the value of their degrees."
In the face of such anxiety, one might expect college faculty to re-examine the financial priorities of universities, or at least put up a reasonable front of listening and responding to their critics. Instead, academics have circled the wagons, viciously attacking any outsider who dares to disagree with them, and insisting that reformers are not sophisticated enough to understand the system.
In a book published last month, "The Faculty Lounges . . . And Other Reasons Why You Won't Get the College Education You Paid For," I argue that our system of higher education is focused too much on research and not enough on teaching. In fact, one 2005 study in the Journal of Higher Education suggests an inverse relationship between the amount of time spent in the classroom and a professor's salary. It would seem that professors who spend their time writing are the ones most valued by our universities.
College teachers have responded as one might expect to a publishing-pays, teaching-does-not incentive. As a 2009 report from the American Enterprise Institute pointed out, over the past five decades the number of language and literature academic monographs has risen to 72,000 from 13,000 while the audience for such scholarship "has diminished, with unit sales for books now hovering around 300."
In 2008, according to the bibliography review "Year's Work in English Literature," more than 100 new scholarly books on Shakespeare were published in English world-wide. Those books, whatever brilliant new insights they provided, represent thousands of hours lost to undergraduates who really could use a good classroom course on Hamlet.
It doesn't take a lot of digging to see that much academic research is trivial. But academics will defend it to the hilt. When I wondered, in a blog post on the Chronicle of Higher Education website, why J. Michael Bailey of Northwestern was hosting demonstrations of sex toys in his class, and questioned the value of his subject generally, I was told by a commenter on the website that, "psychiatrists, police officers, and others who deal with rapists and other sex offenders probably could use a course on human sexuality."
When I wrote about a University of Texas professor's book, "Indian-Made: Navajo Culture in the Marketplace," an academic emailed to say that "[the project on] the commercialization of Indian crafts, actually has some profound things to say about the role of indigenous peoples in modern capitalism."
After I suggested in a number of pieces that tenure is the reason that academics—even the most radical, incompetent or lazy—cannot lose their jobs, a professor wrote to tell me that I should "pick up an employment law textbook" because I didn't understand that tenured professors can, under exigent circumstances, be fired. Thanks for the tip. And how often does that happen?
A senior professor of psychology recently asked me how, if he didn't have tenure, he would be able to write op-eds criticizing his department chair and his college administration while keeping his job. I asked him how the rest of the world gets by without regularly denouncing their bosses in a newspaper.
At a recent conference where I spoke on collective bargaining in higher education, one professor questioned (and others in the room also fussed about) my right to speak on the subject without—she was incredulous—a Ph.D.! I might ask why a degree in medieval literature or molecular biology would qualify one to discuss the growing unionization movement on college campuses.
When a recent report by the Center for College Affordability and Productivity suggested that many professors in the University of Texas system were not being very productive as teachers or researchers, three of them offered the Chronicle of Higher Education diaries purporting to document their labors. One professor wrote of spending hours looking into summer camp for her daughter so the professor could have time to work. Now there's a problem other working parents don't have.
Another said he was going to read six (!) new books about Shakespeare this summer to prepare for his classes in the fall because "in order to be current there's a tremendous amount more research that you need to be familiar with." And these are the people who wanted to defend their salaries.
There is nothing new in the observation that academics are removed from the real world. But professors should understand that their attitude won't offer much protection as budgets get tighter and students get madder.
British 'Taliban fighters' arrested in Afghanistan terror raid
A better description would be 'Taliban fighters holding British passports etc' Will they be charged with treason? From The Telegraph.
Two Britons have been arrested in Afghanistan during an anti-terrorism operation to prevent an attack on British interests according to reports. The two were seized in a British-led raid and are now being held in Helmand Province where Britain has 9,500 troops.
Conflicting reports said the men had been seized either in a "combat area" in Helmand or during a covert operation at a hotel close to the Iranian border in the city of Herat. An Afghan official told one newspaper the two were dual nationals and were not Afghan citizens.
An Afghan official told the Times newspaper the men were taken from the International Trade Centre Hotel in the city of Herat. He said: "The British asked for our help to arrest these two individuals. . . [Those arrested] are not Afghans. . . It was terrorism-related. It was a UK-led operation."
However another source told the Sun newspaper the two men were found in Afghan dress in Helmand province and were suspected of planning to target British troops. The source said: "Helmand is not a holiday destination. The authorities will be very concerned they were wandering about. The first thing they will want to know is what they were doing here."
Take Away Western Aid, Let Loose Violent Muslims Formerly Held In Check By An Iron-Fisted Despot, And The Result Is Predictable....
From The Economist:
How turmoil is ruining an already rocky economy
Jul 21st 2011 | SANA’A
“IT’S shit, the situation in Yemen,” says a skinny man in a bakery in the old quarter of Sana’a, the capital. “Shit,” he says forcefully, as he walks out with a plastic bag of bread rolls, the price of which has soared by 50% in the past two months. Outside lorries trundle by, selling water at three times the usual price to the many households where the public water supply has failed. The occasional taxi sputters past, coasting downhill to save petrol and charging at least twice the usual rate due to fuel shortages. More firewood is being sold because cooking gas is now scarce.
Neglected for decades by the government of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, Yemen’s economy was deteriorating before the unrest began five months ago. But as the protests inspired by the Arab spring have widened in scope and become more violent, they have helped to send the economy into freefall. The currency is collapsing. Famine is looming in the country’s rugged interior.
Attacks by angry tribes on oil pipelines have made it more expensive to produce and transport food and water. The government now has to import fuel, doubling its monthly import bill to around $500m. The tax take, never large, has vanished. Central bankers are under pressure to raid reserves, said to be around $4.5 billion. Factories are shut because they lack fuel. Countless casual jobs have been lost.
While the economies of nearly all Arab countries have been hurt by protests, Yemen’s decline has been more dramatic because it was so poor to begin with. Mr Saleh, wounded last month in a bomb attack on his presidential compound and now in hospital in Saudi Arabia, has presided over an economy as centralised as it is corrupt.
Since the early 1990s two shocks have reshaped it. First, Yemen’s refusal to endorse military action against Iraq when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1990 so annoyed the Saudi and Kuwaiti governments that they expelled a million Yemeni migrant workers, costing the country huge sums in remittances. Second, at around the same time, oil was discovered in Yemen, so that a population that had been economically autonomous began to depend heavily on a suddenly richer state. Mr Saleh had previously asserted his power via handouts to tribal sheikhs and political allies. With more money available, a culture of corruption took root.
“Saleh institutionalised bribery from the coast to the mountains, encouraging it rather than punishing it,” says a businessman in Sana’a. The Yemeni elite’s route to prestige, he explains, was to have a job in government and exploit it to make money, a problem that went right to the top. Even as the government subsidises petrol at a cost of around $2 billion a year, at least 10% of it (and perhaps more) is smuggled on to the international market. One of Mr Saleh’s former advisers allegedly used army vehicles to take the stuff to Saudi Arabia.
Corruption, the absence of properly enforced commercial law, poor security and a badly educated population have impeded business for Yemenis, scaring off most foreign investors. Mr Saleh was so preoccupied with securing his political base that he ignored economic development, appointing incompetent stooges rather than qualified technocrats to run projects such as a vaunted free-trade zone in the port of Aden, which has never taken off.
In any event the oil revenues that bolstered the government in the 1990s are disappearing fast, and reserves too. Mr Saleh’s patronage network has been torn apart as his power to pay off an increasingly resentful population has dwindled. Yemen has long looked to its big, rich neighbour, Saudi Arabia, to bail it out; 3m barrels of Saudi oil have arrived in Aden, which should ease things for a while. But Saudi resources and patience are limited. Aid workers fear that Yemen is too chaotic and geopolitically insignificant for large-scale aid and loans to come its way.
For years, it has been clear that Mr Saleh’s removal was a prerequisite for economic reform. Now that he is gone (although he may yet try to come back) Yemen is so utterly ruined that the upheaval following his departure is as likely to kill the economy as to cure it.
. . . who knocked off his turban and pulled off his necklace and religious pendant.
The 25-year-old alleged victim suffered a cut head and other injuries after being hit to the ground and struck with a weapon, possibly a spanner, it was claimed.
The alleged victim told Leicester Crown Court he pulled into the forecourt of a nearby tyre factory hoping to get help. The Audi blocked him in and as soon as he got out of his car, he was attacked by several men, including one with a "rod or spanner."
The complainant said: "I fell on the ground and felt someone pulling my chain, which had a religious pendant on. They were hitting me." He said he got up and pushed one of them, but ended up back on the ground being hit.
He added: "I don't know who was hitting me on my head with the spanner. I can't remember how many times I was hit. Someone was twisting my (gold) bangle but it didn't come off. While they were hitting me, it (his turban) was knocked off. They were saying something like 'killing you' and swearing."
The prosecution allege that one of the assailants was Moshin Khan (20), of Evington Drive, Leicester. Khan denies jointly causing actual bodily harm or damaging a gold necklace belonging to the alleged victim on Friday, April 23, last year. He claims that it is a case of mistaken identity and the complainant had wrongly picked him in a police video identification procedure.
Mark Achurch, prosecuting, said one of the witnesses claimed he heard members of the group shouting "Allah, Allah" during the alleged attack. The complainant's injuries included a swollen right eye, a cut to the back of his head and tenderness to his arms and body.
American Aid To Egypt's Military Makes No Geopolitical And No Moral Sense
Egypt's generals accused of subverting revolution
Egypt's generals were accused of subverting the country's pro-democracy revolution on Thursday after they banned international observers from monitoring a vital parliamentary election to be held this autumn.
An Egyptian supporter of ousted president Hosni Mubarak holds his portrait at the Appeals Court in Cairo Photo: AFP/Getty Images
The decision triggered outrage among many of the activists at the forefront of February's overthrow of Hosni Mubarak, the former president, and raised fears of further instability at a time when many reformers believe the gains they made five months ago are under threat.
The ruling military council claimed that foreign oversight over the vote, Egypt's most important for decades, would impinge on the country's sovereignty.
The justification infuriated the liberal opposition, not least because it was used so often by Mr Mubarak, who consistently prevented outside monitoring over every election held during his three decades in power.
Pro-democracy activists said the decision to employ the same tactics meant that any vote could not be seen as credible and accused the military leadership of seeking to cover up a plot to "cook the result".
"The previous regime used to try to convince us that foreign observers were enemies and spies and now the military are promoting the same idea," said Sherif Etman of the Egyptian Organisation of Human Rights.
Ya'alon says Hamas exploiting unstable situation in country to buy available weapons from Libyan smugglers through Egypt.
JERUSALEM - Libya has become a new source of smuggled weaponry for Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, Vice Prime Minister Moshe Ya'alon said on Thursday.
"Weapons are available in Libya as a result of the unstable situation there, and Hamas has exploited it to buy weapons from Libyan smugglers," the former IDF chief of staff told foreign journalists in a briefing, without elaborating on the kind of munitions involved.
With eastern Libya largely held by rebels who rose up against Muammar Gaddafi in February, arms were being brought across the border, through neighboring Egypt, to the Hamas-ruled territory, Yaalon added.
Hamas officials had no immediate comment on Ya'alon's charge.
The Shin Bet said with Egypt's new leaders preoccupied with stabilizing their country, "governance in Sinai is not high and this allows smugglers to operate almost without hindrance.
"Today the Egyptian regime's attention is focused on stabilizing the new government and this eases the Sinai smugglers' task," the report explained.
The Beduin people of the Sinai, for whom smuggling is a major source of income, were mostly involved in getting weapons into Gaza to supply Hamas, it continued.
The Shin Bet also reaffirmed the belief that Iran, in seeking to strengthen its influence in the region, was supplying Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorist with "choice military-grade weaponry."
Hundreds of rockets with a range of 20-40 kilometers (12-25 miles), at least 1,000 mortar bombs, some anti-tank missiles and tons of high explosives and raw material to make high explosives had entered Gaza since the start of 2010, according to the domestic intelligence agency.
China and Togo on Friday agreed to work together to upgrade the relations between the two militaries.
"We value the ties with the Togolese armed forces," said Chen Bingde (photo), chief of the General Staff of the People's Liberation Army, during the talks with his counterpart from Togo Essofa Ayeva. Hailing the China-Togo traditional friendship, Chen said the two nations had enjoyed fruitful cooperation in various sectors in recent years.
China appreciated Togo's firm support to the country on issues concerning its core interests, he said.
The Chinese and Togolese armed forces in recent years also had enjoyed stable growth of bilateral ties, Chen said, hoping that the two militaries would make joint efforts to advance the traditional friendship.
When Iraqi politicians finally formed a new government in December 2010, nine months after the parliamentary elections, many voices in the international community were congratulatory. Observers emphasized that the Iraqis had managed to create an “inclusive government” in which all the different ethno-sectarian groups in the country were represented. Critics of the deal that led to the formation of the second government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki pointed out that it simply papered over persisting conflicts among Iraqi politicians. It also produced an oversized, ineffective, and unstable government with lots of unnecessary, bogus ministries (including such portfolios as civil society and the southern marshlands), whereas ministries that were truly needed, especially relating to national security, remained unfilled.
Eight months on, it seems the critics got it right: the government remains incomplete and lacks key ministers for the interior and defense, whereas the strategic policy council (celebrated by the United States as a key power-sharing instrument of the government-formation deal) has yet to even be formed. Much of 2011 has been spent agreeing on three unnecessary deputies for the ceremonial presidential office (one of whom has already resigned), while progress on the debate between the Kurdistan Regional Government and Baghdad over oil exports has been limited to a pragmatic agreement to export from two fields—and the pending parliamentary agreement on oil and gas laws still seems a long way off.
Meanwhile, Iraqis do not seem to share the international community’s enthusiasm for an oversized government in which each and every ethno-sectarian interest is represented. In their own limited articulation of the Arab Spring movement over the past five months, Iraqis have criticized the unnecessary positions that render the government less effective–namely, the multiplication of vice-presidents (who have extremely little power and are essentially a waste of government money). More recently, criticism has focused on unnecessary ministries of state created as part of the December 2010 government-formation deal – positions which were basically allocated as rewards for joining the Maliki government, with clear expression of their responsibilities a secondary concern at best.
The response from political leaders has been limited and detached from reality—and typical. The secular Iraqiyya Movement oscillates between calls for either implementation of a strategic policy council with executive powers or for new elections altogether. Both are unrealistic options: not being in the constitution, the policy council is likely to remain powerless; on the other hand, Iraqiyya simply does not have the absolute majority in parliament required to call general elections. For his part, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki of the Shiite Islamist State of Law alliance keeps talking about the alternative of a “political-majority” government as well as the reduction of his current cabinet. The former option (under discussion ever since the difficult budget negotiations in February) seems distinctly far-fetched as it would involve Maliki’s resignation as prime minister as a first step. The second idea holds greater promise for success but is bandied about without accounting for the considerable constitutional immunities enjoyed by incumbent ministers—who need to be dismissed by individual votes of no-confidence before cutbacks could be made.
On the coalitional level, there have been two interesting tendencies. First, the secular Iraqiyya has not broken apart in the way many Western analysts had forecasted. Certainly, a small faction known as White Iraqiyya has defected, but the main coalition has remained intact and has even grown —indeed, they were recently joined by the Unity of Iraq bloc (which shares its secular orientation). Significantly, just like Iraqiyya, Unity of Iraq is headed by a Shiite (Jawad al-Bulani), so the crude designation of Iraqiyya as a “Sunni party” will become doubly implausible going forward.
Secondly, Maliki’s State of Law alliance remains intact, and its selection of a parliamentary bloc leader has only served to underline the fiction of a greater, all-Shiite “National Alliance” that delivered the premiership to Maliki in autumn 2010. But Maliki has failed spectacularly at the parliamentary level in terms of reaching out beyond his traditional Shiite Islamist constituency—meaning his lofty talk of Iraqi nationalism still has a hollow ring to it.
In an interesting new development, some individual Kurdish politicians and Iraqiyya have lately found a common interest in secularism and anti-Iranian rhetoric. This has involved parliamentary discussions about the role of Islamic law as well as criticism of Iranian shelling of Kurdish areas, clearly undermining the Kurdish-Shiite Islamist alliance that laid the foundation for the formation of the second Maliki government. It also creates tension among Kurdish politicians who differ on relations with Iran.
None of these developments, however, has sufficient momentum to bring about an immediate change in government. In the near future, the focus is likely to revert to the more mundane issues of filling ministers’ positions for defense and the interior, although so far the discussion about these portfolios has stalled due to disagreements among political leaders. Yet, it is a hopeful sign that most of the disagreements have been of an intra-party and intra-sectarian character: Sadrists have rejected Maliki’s choice for the interior minister; contingents of Iraqiyya have dismissed a candidate for defense backed by other parts of their alliance but perceived by detractors as leaning too much toward the Maliki camp.
Exactly like the broader discussion about the future of the US forces in Iraq after 2011, the question of the security ministries has the potential to crack the alliances that emerged after the 2010 parliamentary elections and subsequent political stalemate. Perhaps it is these kinds of cracks – and not a quest for strategic policy councils or the addition of more ministers to bring everyone “inside the tent” – that will eventually give Iraq the more effective government it so desperately needs.