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Recent Publications by New English Review Authors
The Oil Cringe of the West: The Collected Essays and Reviews of J.B. Kelly Vol. 2
edited by S.B. Kelly
The Impact of Islam
by Emmet Scott
Sir Walter Scott's Crusades and Other Fantasies
by Ibn Warraq
Fighting the Retreat from Arabia and the Gulf: The Collected Essays and Reviews of J.B. Kelly. Vol. 1
edited by S.B. Kelly
The Literary Culture of France
by J. E. G. Dixon
Hamlet Made Simple and Other Essays
by David P. Gontar
Farewell Fear
by Theodore Dalrymple
The Eagle and The Bible: Lessons in Liberty from Holy Writ
by Kenneth Hanson
The West Speaks
interviews by Jerry Gordon
Mohammed and Charlemagne Revisited: The History of a Controversy
Emmet Scott
Why the West is Best: A Muslim Apostate's Defense of Liberal Democracy
Ibn Warraq
Anything Goes
by Theodore Dalrymple
Karimi Hotel
De Nidra Poller
The Left is Seldom Right
by Norman Berdichevsky
Allah is Dead: Why Islam is Not a Religion
by Rebecca Bynum
Virgins? What Virgins?: And Other Essays
by Ibn Warraq
An Introduction to Danish Culture
by Norman Berdichevsky
The New Vichy Syndrome:
by Theodore Dalrymple
Jihad and Genocide
by Richard L. Rubenstein
Spanish Vignettes: An Offbeat Look Into Spain's Culture, Society & History
by Norman Berdichevsky

These are all the Blogs posted on Friday, 24, 2011.
Friday, 24 June 2011
Marine Reservist Jihadi Charged in Washington Area Attacks

The Washington Times, reports that Marine Reservist, Lance Corporal Yonathan Melaku  of Alexandria, Virginia has been charged with several attacks on Washington, DC military installations in an apparent Jihad retribution for the US assassination of late al Qaeda founder, Osama bin Laden. Clearly, from the Washington Times account Melaku is fulfilling the way of Allah to commit Jihad against us. After all he created a video with the tell-tale cry of “Allahu Akbar” on it before loaded up his weapons and several bags of ammonium nitrate to make a crude IED.  And to think that he was awarded a medal for his meritorious service in his Motor Pool unit.   

One wonders what our obsessively political correct military services will do to screen out Muslim soldiers in our ranks from being potential jihads out to kill fellow GIs. Probably nothing. Now we read that Maj. Nidal Hasan’s trial may be in doubt, given recent Pentagon rulings concerning the conversion of a 101st Airborne private Abdo to Conscientious Objector Status, because of his refusal to fight against his Muslim brothers in the ummah if deployed overseas. Patrick Poole in a recent Pajamas media story suggests that the Pentagon ruling in the matter of  101st Airbone division  Pvt. Nasser Abdo may gut the government’s prosecution of Major Hasan for his massacre at Fort  Hood in November 2009. That would be a travesty of justice to the more than 13 killed and 39 wounded during his ‘lone wolf’ Jihad at Fort Hood. And to think that former Army Chief of Staff General Casey thought that the first victim of that Jihad massacre was ‘diversity’. Our military leaders are victims of the Stockholm syndrome; blind to the threat of disloyal fundamentalist Muslim servicemen in the ranks because it would offend  Islamic beliefs. This is tantamount to criminal negligence to provide force protection for our non-Muslim service personnel. The Melaku case is just the latest example of the threat to military personnel from jihadists out to kill their infidel soldier.

Note what the Washington Times reports about the seriousness of the Melaku case:

A Marine Corps reservist who prompted a security alert near the Pentagon last week was charged in federal court on Thursday in connection with five shootings at military installations last year.

Yonathan Melaku, 22, of Alexandria was charged with destruction of property and gun violations in the series of overnight shootings in October and November. No one was hurt in the incidents.

“Today’s charges allege a long-term pattern of violent behavior against the U.S. military that escalated until his detention last Friday,” said Neil H. MacBride, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia.

Authorities arrested Mr. Melaku on June 17 when he attempted to flee officers after he was spotted at Fort Myer at about 1:30 a.m. According to an affidavit filed in court, as Mr. Melaku fled he dropped four bags containing ammonium nitrate — one of the components used in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.

He also dropped a backpack that contained spent 9 mm shell casings, a spiral notebook with Arabic statements referencing the Taliban, al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, “The Path to Jihad” and a list of individuals associated with foreign terrorist organizations.

Law enforcement work near the Pentagon after a suspicious vehicle forced multiple road closures Friday, June 17, 2011 in Arlington, Va. In a situation that is still unfolding, officials say one man is in custody after they found his car, parked in the bushes near the Pentagon. The car contained material that appears to be ammonium nitrate, spent 9 mm shells and written materials stating “al Qaeda Taliban rules.” (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

The affidavit said authorities searched Mr. Melaku’s home and found a typed list in his bedroom closet titled “Timer” that included nine items used in the building of an improvised explosive device (IED).

“Combined with ammonium nitrate, these items would make up several significant components needed for an IED,” the court papers said.

The affidavit also says law enforcement found a videotape in Mr. Melaku’s bedroom that shows him in an automobile driving near what appears to be the U.S. Marine Corps Museum in Quantico, Va., and repeatedly firing a handgun out the passenger-side window.

It said Mr. Melaku made numerous statements on the video, including “That’s my target. That’s the military building. It’s going to be attacked” and after firing multiple shots saying, “Allahu Akbar.”


Posted on 06/24/2011 5:47 AM by Jerry Gordon
Friday, 24 June 2011
Alphabet reordered ‘to reflect demands of 21st Century’

Newsbiscuit reports:

The Government is to re-order the letters of the alphabet to reflect modern usage, in a plan which has caused outrage among teachers, parents, and men with carefully ordered CD and DVD collections.

‘The new alphabet will better reflect the importance of each individual letter,’ said a spokeswoman from the Department for Education. ‘Plus it’ll keep foreigners trying to learn the English language on their toes.’

Under the new system A will remain the first letter, reflecting its associations with status, such as in the term A-list. Developing this logic, Z has been propelled to second place to reflect the prevalence of Z-listers in modern British life. This means B falls a place, but this was justified by a recognition that with rising petrol prices and traffic congestion, getting from A to B is more difficult these days.

21st century egocentricity has led to I moving up the alphabet, and C and D are pushed further down after advocates of the letter E accepted a compromise that it would come after I only if the C was also demoted.

J had been on the verge of a drop down the rankings but representatives put up a spirited defence for its key role in abbreviations including OJ, JR, and BJ. K’s team failed to hustle and lost ground after being silent in front of its knockers. LMNOP teamed up and were quickly passed over with no change.

Q was said to be resigned to its new place at the back. R’s star is on the rise thanks to the re-emergence of pirates, but there was some regret that T isn’t as popular anymore in modern Britain. Despite some protest, SUV barged forward.

W was one of the highest gainers after appearing in a threesome with itself on the internet and swapped places with F. The alphabet’s X was dumped, but is expected to return if needed for sex. Nobody asked Y.

That new alphabet in full: AZBIECWDGHJRLMNOPKTSUVFYQ.

Posted on 06/24/2011 6:03 AM by Mary Jackson
Friday, 24 June 2011
Fitzgerald: Peace As A Strategic Option

[Re-posted from April 2008]

In his most recent taped broadcast, Ayman Al-Zawahiri doesn’t have a word to offer about the “legitimate rights” of the soi-disant “Palestinian people.” He notes that the perfidious Jews, or Israelis, have attacked Gaza. And so they have, in scrupulous fashion, in their attempt to end the rain and reign of rockets over Israel’s southern cities. For Al-Zawahiri it is “the Muslims” who have been hit and “the Muslims” who must avenge these attacks. There is not a secular or nationalist word in his speech.

But, some will claim, the “Palestinians” themselves are quite different. They truly, really, deeply, madly are interested not in Islam, or the triumph of Islam, but only in that “state” that will bring them, bring Israel, bring all of us, that “solution” we all – don’t we? – equally long for. And wasn’t Arafat, they will say, “secular”? Wasn’t he interested only in a “Palestinian” state, in the cause of “Palestinian” nationalism? Why do you try to transform, in your analysis, the completely “secular phenomenon” (see Rashid Khalidi, see Edward Said, see see see) of “Palestinian nationalism” into a Muslim, Islam-prompted phenomenon? Or are you doing this just to sinisterly transform, for your own purposes, what is so clearly “secular” in nature (just look at Fayyad, the technocratic accountant, or all those others, including Mahmoud Abbas, and all the other terrorist henchmen of yore, now carefully suited and tied, or fit-to-be-tied, just to show their Jizyah-demanding and Jizyah-receiving bonafides? Send your billions to us, those suits and ties and speeches about “we have chosen peace as a strategic option” tell us. “You can trust us, there’s nobody here but us accountants.”

It’s true. Arafat was a Muslim, but not fanatical about it. He had imbibed the attitudes of Islam, however, even if he was not a great mosque-goer. He was famously corrupt and even more famously (so famously, in the Arab world, that everyone managed to keep his little secrets from the Western world and Western press for almost his entire life), had a particular taste for blond German boys. His favorite forms of recreation were not likely to go down well among Muslim clerics. But he was forgiven, he was even protected from the prying, because, you see, for the “good of the cause” – the cause of opposing the Infidel nation-state of Israel – it was necessary to do so. As Magdi Allam said in his letter  describing his abandonment of Islam in the “Corriere della Sera,” Islam encourages, and even at times offers religious sanction for, dissimulation and lies.

Of course, in one important sense, Arafat was indeed “a nationalist.” What was that sense? It was simply this: he wanted his very own state, a state that he, Yassir Arafat, could rule over. Or rather, when put to the test, he didn’t, really didn’t, want that very own state, because having that very own state would have limited his travel (and the ease of orgies with those blond German boys), and would have involved such tiresome things as arranging to have the garbage picked up, and having to collect taxes. Why do that when it was so much more fun to have the Infidels keep sending those infusions of cash (and so much easier, in that form, to divert it, as Arafat did by the billions, into off-shore and Swiss accounts)? It was important to keep up the patter about the “Palestinian people” (invented circa late 1967, after the Six-Day War), for that was the surest way to Western hearts and Western diplomatic support and Western pocketbooks. The throw-Israel-into-the-sea rhetoric of Ahmad Shukairy, though admirable in its sincerity, hadn’t been convincing, so why not limit that kind of threatening, although sincere, rhetoric only to Arab and Muslim audiences and speak differently to Western audiences eager to hear this kind of thing, because it could then justify, first indifference to Israel’s plight (too painful to consider, especially in the light of guilty consciences all over Western Europe – or, put more accurately, a little residual guilt about not having sufficiently guilty consciences), and then, not merely indifference, but active hostility, a hostility fed by the most outrageous kind of press coverage of Israel and of its attempts to defend itself.

Indeed, no one paid much attention to what Arafat continued to say, never indeed stopped saying, to Arab and Muslim audiences. Those who knew the truth, those in the American government who had access to those blue-papered FBIS reports (Foreign Broadcast Intelligence Service), containing transcripts of radio and television programs, were few, and those few often, in their positions, were often willing  to skew the material, and certainly not to push it forward. Not the least of the reasons that the Western world, and American policymakers, are in the fix they are in, is that they did not, decades ago, begin to comprehend the nature, the meaning, the menace, of Islam, for they were not permitted to find out, and they were monomaniacally preoccupied with the threat of Soviet Communism. For people at the mental level of the Dulles brothers, Turkey was an “ally” and Saudi Arabia, apparently doing us a favor – as Aramco, Saudi Arabia’s full time propagandist, insisted -- by selling us oil (and besides, hadn’t King Saud met Roosevelt on shipboard) and was therefore also an “ally.” And between Pakistan and India there was no contest. Pakistan’s ramrod-straight terry-thomassed moustachioed generals were so much more to the liking of American generals and civilians, than Nehru and especially anti-American Krishna Menon, both seen as so dangerously left-wing. Islam, you see, was just fine, indeed was admirable, because it was “a bulwark against Communism.” That it was also a collectivist, even totalitarian Total Belief-System, in the end far sturdier and therefore far more threatening, than Communism, was never understood.

And the Western policy-makers, and the Western publics, did not know what Arab and Muslim reality was all about. How could they? It was the apologists who were the “experts.” The few remaining Orientalists of the old school, the ones who started to be alarmed in the 1950s and 1960s, especially as they saw Muslims beginn to be allowed to settle, in large numbers,  deep within Europe, were on their way out, and did not get any attention. And ARAMCO was busy in Washington presenting a view of Saudi Arabia that, as J. B. Kelly has written, "the ghost of Scheherezade could not have bettered."  Had the peoples of Western Europe understood Islam, had those among their political and media elites who were capable of understanding what was to come been listened to, rather than ignored or pushed to one side, then a much stricter immigration policy would have been instituted, and the present woes, and future conceivable disasters, avoided.

And the same is true with Israel, and the war on Israel. Had Israelis themselves not been so desperately eager to “make peace” and therefore to engage in a “Peace Process” (a phrase that should immediately raise suspicion) they might have been able to pierce the “Palestinian-people” veil, focus attention on Islam, and in so doing, not only have saved themselves, but also those in Western Europe who might have been the unintended beneficiaries of such consciousness-raising about Islam. In the 1960s and even into the 1970s, those experts had not yet been replaced by others with shorter memories, and less experience of life, and had not yet been brainwashed into accepting either the “Palestinian-people” business or the monstrous misrepresentation of Israel, and could have stopped it.

How did all those Turks come to Germany? Those Algerians to France? Those Moroccans to Spain? Those Pakistanis to England? It was all based on the assumption, or a series of assumptions, in some cases about people coming to work and then returning home (those Gastarbeiten in Germany), but also about the nature of those immigrants, whose problems, whose un-assimilability, whose hostility, were at first likened to the problems that “all immigrant groups,” we were told, present or endure, and that eventually things would settle down, and like other immigrants, recent and not so recent, adjustment would be difficult but in the end achievable. That Muslims carried with them in their mental baggage not merely an alien creed, but an alien and a hostile creed, that the first generation, willing to work, and of course unacquainted with all the benefits of a welfare state (which their children and grandchildren have learned to exploit to the hilt, and then some), would not immediately present such a problem, and one might, if one did not know more about Islam, make all kinds of dreamy assumptions (assumptions that are still being made, not least in France, as for example, when Sarkozy talks about government-funded mosques and other vain attempts at large-scale “integration”—as if the handful of Muslim-for-identification-purposes-only Muslims in his cabinet were representative of the 6-8 million Muslims in France already).

But the Israelis, though in the midst of the Muslim world, were too wedded to finding a "partner for peace.” The people in the political class were so busy fighting day to day, that they never allowed themselves the necessary time to study and to think. And in the universities, the real scholars of Islam, the ones who were the earliest to warn, were not heeded, for their message was a disturbing one, one that no one wished to believe.

Note, too, that lately the usual NGOs have been lamenting the fact that "conditions in Gaza are worse than at any time since 1967." Think about that. What that means is that the conditions in Gaza were terrible under Egyptian rule, and then, once the Israelis took over in 1967, steadily improved as long as Israel was in control, and then, now that Israel has been entirely out of Gaza (so much for this "occupation" the local Arabs in Gaza keep screaming about -- they mean, of course, Israel itself is occupied by Jews, and that simply, to them, isn't right)--conditions have again, under Arab rule, slowly degenerated until conditions of life now approach, despite Israel turning over intact much-improved infrastructure, and those greenhouses that were promptly looted and destroyed by the "Palestinians," and the billions in aid money received from Infidels (strangely, nothing appears to come from fellow members of the Umma), what conditions were the last time Arabs were in control.

And yet these British NGOs dare to suggest that this is Israel's fault?! What nonsense people are allowed to get away with, if no one calls them to account.

Let’s go back, back before Al-Qaeda, back before Hamas, and Hezbollah, and the redundantly-named Islamic Jihad. Do we, indeed, see that there was a time when there was true secularism, true nationalism that was the impulse for the Arab effort, or was Islam always there, Islam disguised when necessary, but still the subtext, or substratum, of that supposed “nationalism” and “secularism”?

Start further back, back before Arafat, and look at the statements of his predecessor as the spokesman for the local Arabs (the ones who have been carefully renamed the "Palestinians" or "the Palestinian people") Ahmad Shukairy, and see if you find rhetoric that is "secular" or rhetoric that comes straight out of Islam.

Go back further. Go back to the leaders of the Arab Revolt (not the "Palestinian" revolt) of 1936-1938 and look at their rhetoric, at what moved them against both "the Jews" and "the British." Is it the language of secular nationalism, or the language, the imagery, the impulse, the promptings, the attitudes, the atmospherics, of Islam?

Go back further still, to the Mufti of Jerusalem, Amin el Husseini. from one of the powerful local families. What did he say, in 1920? Or in 1930? Or in 1940, when he was in Berlin, offering Hitler his support and encouragement for the "Endlosung," the Final Solution, and talking not about "Palestinian nationalism" but about "the Arabs" and "the Muslims." When Hajj Amin el Husseini raised Muslim S.S. brigades in Bosnia, or when he went to Iraq to spread his message of hate that contributed to the Farhood, or massacre of the Jews in June 1-2, 1941, it was not in order to win points for some non-existent "Palestinian people" but rather to whip up, by appealing to the texts of Islam and the attitudes that were a natural result of those texts, those who might be made to take their Islam to heart, and then to act on it.

Long before there was a “Palestinian people” Arabs, in Mandatory Palestine, and in Ottoman-ruled areas that made up “Palestine,” were deeply opposed to Jews returning to, and buying up land, and starting farms, and making that desert bloom. They were opposed not because of any desire for a “Palestinian state” for they were quite content to continue under Ottoman rule, which meant rule as well by local (and absentee) Arab landlords, in the “ruin” and “desolation” that centuries of Muslim desertification – with nomadic grazing, not farming -- had brought to what had been described in the Bible as a “land of milk and honey.”

Arafat, in his heyday, carefully presented to the West a “secular” and “nationalist” face for his war against Israel. But under the rhetoric aimed at Muslims, he continued to reveal, in such things as his astonishing admission that “Palestine itself” is merely a tiny part of the “Arab domain” “from the Atlantic to the Gulf” in the early 1970s, and extending right through to his statement, to an audience of Muslims in Johannesburg, just a few weeks after signing the Oslo Accords, that he knew what he was doing, no one need worry, and then he mentioned the Treaty of Hudabiyya and his Muslim audience knew exactly what he meant.

Mahmoud Abbas, for his part, has always been a weak leader, and he and his other Fatah warlords are seen, correctly, as willing to mouth certain phrases for the Americans -- "we choose peace" are the first words, and the only words that the credulous willing-to-believe Americans hear, but never failing to add another phrase, which signals clearly to Arab audiences that Hudaibiyya is the model, Hudaibiyya the aim: "as a strategic option." (The Americans never understand what that phrase means. It is a little puzzling or troubling, so better for them, and for the "peace-process," not to think about it, much less discuss it).

Abbas is essentially running a criminal gang, a gang that is willing to set a few not very significant limits on its behavior, but that still serve to distinguish it from the rival gang, Hamas, in the eyes of the police -- that is, of the outside world. Like a gang most interested in turning a profit and willing, temporarily, here and there, to tamp down violence, or to deal in cocaine and heroin but virtuously abjuring dealing in methamphetamine, the warlords of Fatah are most interested in money, the money they get from the renewed Jizyah of the nearly eight billion dollars in foreign aid, and to keep that aid flowing, they occasionally have to give speeches suitable for Western ears.

Meanwhile, the Israeli government is run by an outstanding -- even for Israeli political leaders -- collection of fools of Chelm. These include, but are not limited to, the disgraced but still-in-office Olmert, the timid and confused Livni, the irrepressible Haim Ramon who deeply believes that all kinds of things should be given up -- and pronto --  to the Arabs, and that dreamer of dreams whose last twenty years have consisted of collecting awards from Jewish groups abroad, while at home he continues to prate about how history, the past, none of that matters, facts don't matter, what counts are dreams -- his, Shimon Peres's -- dreams. And this collection of four stooges is unlikely ever to exhibit the kind of sobriety and ability to think things through, even very unpleasant things, such as the nature of Islam, the promptings of texts and tenets, that explain not only Arab behavior in the past, but Arab behavior now, and in the future. For if that sobriety and studiousness were exhibited, the conclusions would be different, and there would be no faith at all put in peace-processing, and no reliance, none, on those in Fatah who are merely Slow Jihadists when compared to the Fast Jihadists of Hamas. They all share -- they must share -- the same goals, of removing the Infidel nation-state of Israel from land once possessed by Muslims. On the To-Do List of Muslims, re-taking land that was once possessed by Muslims is given priority, although now, with the new instruments of Jihad other than the use of military force -- the Money Weapon, Da'wa, demographic conquest -- that make more likely that other areas, as in parts of Western Europe or sub-Saharan Africa, may possibly yield even before all areas once held by Muslims are recaptured, it may be that the traditional prioritizing on that To-Do list will be less rigidly adhered to than it might once have been.

Why, despite all that aid money, that nearly eight billion dollars, is Abbas losing out? As stated above, it is in the first place because his hold was always that of a racketeer paying out money to obtain at most a temporary allegiance. But since that money has been promised in such abundance, and apparently will come anyway, to be distributed to everyone no matter whom they support, or what they think (in Gaza as in the "West Bank"), no real change in behavior is required from the "Palestinians" as long as Abbas (or his usefully technocratic accountant Fayyad, whom the Westerners all love, failing to realize that he is not quite what they take him to be, and in any case has no following at all, and no political power, but is merely a useful employee with reassuring eyeshades) remains in power or even if he is deposed.

It would be far better to deny any Western aid to the "Palestinians" and ask them to go, hat in hand, to the rich Arabs. If they get money, they will at least not be getting it from Infidels whose generosity they will not be grateful for, but which will merely reinforce their sense of aggrievement, that the money is given to them by Infidels because it is their do, because “Infidels” allowed Israel to come into existence (actually, no one allowed Israel to come into existence; it was fought for by Jews, and constructed by Jews in Israel with some help from others outside of Israel, but until after the second successful defense of the country, in 1967, no military or other aid came from the United States, or any significant aid arrived from anywhere else) and, furthermore, because “Palestinians” are Muslims and Infidels owe them a living, just as Infidels in Western Europe and North America owe Muslims in countries without oil wealth aid, or owe Muslims living in Infidel lands all kinds of benefits, including those that support monstrously large Muslim families, and even polygamous arrangements, by those who are keenly aware of the use of demographic increase as an instrument of domination and conquest. It is important to stop all acts that reinforce the historic relationship of dhimmi to Muslim overlord, and the best way to do so is to stop transferring more Infidel funds and other aid to Muslims, including the “Palestinian” Arabs who are the shock troops of the wider Jihad, the Lesser Jihad, conducted by Muslim Arabs (and seconded by non-Arab Muslims who take both Islam, and Arab supremacism, deeply to heart).

There is still no recognition of why it is that decades of peace-processing have led, and always will lead, essentially nowhere. Or at least, nowhere if the goal is a true and permanent peace between Israel and those who wish to see it removed from the face of the earth. Occasionally one reads someone recognizing that this is a long conflict, and that is when someone says something like “it has been going on for a hundred years.” No, not a hundred years. The inadmissibility of an Infidel nation-state within Dar al-Islam (and ultimately, anywhere in the world) is a doctrine that goes back not one hundred years, but 1350 years. It comes out of the texts and tenets of Islam. One can pretend otherwise. One can try now this, and now that. One can fly about, conducting “shuttle diplomacy.” One can force this tangible concession out of the Israelis, and now that one, in exchange, as always, for promises, only promises, and the statement – deeply disturbing – that “we have chosen peace as a strategic option.”

Or one can do something else. One can look steadily and whole at those texts and tenets of Islam, and read what the scholars say about treaty-making between Muslims and non-Muslims. The indispensable understanding of the relevant doctrines can be found in Majid Khadduri’s “War and Peace in Islam,” and if one wishes, one can find dozens or hundreds of other authoritative texts that will all say the same thing. How is it these books and articles never make it into the hands of those who make our policies in the Middle East? What keeps them from ever being consulted, or read by those who advise those who make policy?

And if a policy-maker were to do that, ne would have to conclude that peace and a peace treaty are not the same thing. A durable peace can be maintained between Israel and those who do not wish it well, who wish it very ill, if Israel does not yield any further, and is seen by its enemies not merely as powerful, but as obviously, overwhelmingly more powerful. That, and that alone, will allow Arab and other Muslim leaders to explain to their own aggressive and permanently unsettled populations that “Darura” or the principle of necessity, requires that they wait, and wait, and wait. To do otherwise, to further reduce Israel’s size and therefore to place that country into conditions where self-defense goes from being fantastically difficult to being hellishly difficult, is to encourage attacks and encourage war.

Deterrence worked for the United States during the Cold War. It can be made to work again, especially as it is clear that the rest of the Western world, nolens-volens, is waking up to the meaning, and menace, of Islam. Even those who try to appease Muslims, by for example preventing or denouncing the showing of Geert Wilders's "Fitna," demonstrate unwittingly that they know what that meaning, and that menace, must be. Such new awareness, and such a shared apprehension of the same threat, will naturally increase. The Israelis need only hold on. The cavalry is coming – in the shape of greater knowledge – and that will make the rest of the West more sympathetic to Israel’s permanent plight. But Israel has to do its part. It has to recognize the nature of that threat itself, and unembarrassedly discuss it with Western allies -- behind closed doors, or possibly in front of them.

Posted on 06/24/2011 6:07 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 24 June 2011
Osama Bin Laden Keenly Aware Of Need To Re-Brand
Osama wanted new name for al-Qaida to repair image

WASHINGTON (AP) — As Osama bin Laden watched his terrorist organization get picked apart, he lamented in his final writings that al-Qaida was suffering from a marketing problem. His group was killing too many Muslims and that was bad for business. The West was winning the public relations fight. All his old comrades were dead and he barely knew their replacements.

Faced with these challenges, bin Laden, who hated the United States and decried capitalism, considered a most American of business strategies. Like Blackwater, ValuJet and Philip Morris, perhaps what al-Qaida really needed was a fresh start under a new name.

The problem with the name al-Qaida, bin Laden wrote in a letter recovered from his compound in Pakistan, was that it lacked a religious element, something to convince Muslims worldwide that they are in a holy war with America.

Maybe something like Taifat al-Tawhed Wal-Jihad, meaning Monotheism and Jihad Group, would do the trick, he wrote. Or Jama'at I'Adat al-Khilafat al-Rashida, meaning Restoration of the Caliphate Group.

As bin Laden saw it, the problem was that the group's full name, al-Qaida al-Jihad, for The Base of Holy War, had become short-handed as simply al-Qaida. Lopping off the word "jihad," bin Laden wrote, allowed the West to "claim deceptively that they are not at war with Islam." Maybe it was time for al-Qaida to bring back its original name.

The letter, which was undated, was discovered among bin Laden's recent writings. Navy SEALs stormed his compound and killed him before any name change could be made. The letter was described by senior administration, national security and other U.S. officials only on condition of anonymity because the materials are sensitive. The documents portray bin Laden as a terrorist chief executive, struggling to sell holy war for a company in crisis.

At the White House, the documents were taken as positive reinforcement for President Barack Obama's effort to eliminate religiously charged words from the government's language of terrorism. Words like "jihad," which also has a peaceful religious meaning, are out. "Islamic radical" has been nixed in favor of "terrorist" and "mass murderer." Though former members of President George W. Bush's administration have backed that effort, it also has drawn ridicule from critics who said the president was being too politically correct.[if this statement is true, that "the documents were taken as positive reinforcement for President Barack Obama's effort to elminate religiously charged words from the government's language of terrorism," then then is one more demonstration of ignorance and inability to think things through, on the subject of Islam, by the admnistration. And it draws exactly the wrong conclusions, the very opposite of those one would conclude, from reports of Osama's worry about "Al Qaeda" being insufficiently Muslim in its name, and that something more obviously Muslim, rather than vague -- "The Base" (Al-Qaeda) -- would have greater appeal to the world's Muslims. If that does not show the  understanding  of fellow Muslims by a Muslim strategist named Osama Bin Laden, what does?]

"The information that we recovered from bin Laden's compound shows al-Qaida under enormous strain," Obama said Wednesday in his speech to the nation on withdrawing troops from Afghanistan. "Bin Laden expressed concern that al-Qaida had been unable to effectively replace senior terrorists that had been killed and that al-Qaida has failed in its effort to portray America as a nation at war with Islam, thereby draining more widespread support."

Bin Laden wrote his musings about renaming al-Qaida as a letter but, as with many of his writings, the recipient was not identified. Intelligence officials have determined that bin Laden only communicated with his most senior commanders, including his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri, and his No. 3, Mustafa Abu al-Yazid, according to one U.S. official. Because of the courier system bin Laden used, it's unclear to U.S. intelligence whether the letter ever was sent.

Al-Yazid was killed in a U.S. airstrike last year. Zawahri has replaced bin Laden as head of al-Qaida.

In one letter sent to Zawahri within the past year or so, bin Laden said al-Qaida's image was suffering because of attacks that have killed Muslims, particularly in Iraq, [why does the killing of Muslims in Iraq matter so much? Because they are Arab Muslims, the very best kind, the kind that count, as Bin Laden's arrogant behavior, and that of fellow Arabs, in Afghanistan demonstrated to locals] officials said. In other journal entries and letters, they said, bin Laden wrote that he was frustrated that many of his trusted longtime comrades, whom he'd fought alongside in Afghanistan, had been killed or captured.

Using his courier system, bin Laden could still exercise some operational control over al-Qaida. But increasingly the men he was directing were younger and inexperienced. Frequently, the generals who had vouched for these young fighters were dead or in prison. And bin Laden, unable to leave his walled compound and with no phone or Internet access, was annoyed that he did not know so many people in his own organization.

The U.S. has essentially completed the review of documents taken from bin Laden's compound, officials said, though intelligence analysts will continue to mine the data for a long time.

Posted on 06/24/2011 6:19 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 24 June 2011
Fitzgerald: The Phenomenon Of The Islamochristian

[This re-posting of a piece that first appeared on  Dec. 27, 2005 was prompted by Dexter Van Zile's dissection-discussion of  Rifat Odeh Kassis here].


The phenomenon of the "islamochristian" deserves wider attention, and the word wider use. An “islamochristian” is a Christian Arab who identifies with and works to advance the Islamic agenda, out of fear or out of a belief that his "Arabness" requires loyalty to Islam. Islamization by the Arab Muslim conquerors of Mesopotamia, Syria, and North Africa was a vehicle for Arab imperialism. This imperialism, the most successful in human history, convinced those who accepted Islam to also forget their own pre-Islamic or non-Islamic pasts. It caused them, in many cases, to forget their own languages and to adopt Arabic -- and in using Arabic, and in adopting Arabic names, within a few generations they had convinced themselves that they were Arabs.

Some held out. The Copts in Egypt today are simply the remnants of a population that was entirely Coptic, and that has suffered steady and slow asphyxiation. How many of Egypt's Arabs are in fact Copts who fail to realize this, much less have any sympathy or interest in how their Coptic ancestors, out of intolerable pressure, assumed the identity of Arabs?

In Lebanon, the mountains provided a refuge for the Maronites, by far the most successful group to withstand the Muslims. And most Maronites are quick to make the important distinction that, while they are "users of Arabic," that does not make them "Arabs." When they claim that they predate the Arab invasion (which of course they do) and are the descendants of the previous inhabitants of Lebanon, the Phoenicians, they are greeted with ridicule. But why? Where did the Phoenicians go? Did they just disappear? It is far more plausible to believe that the Maronites and the others in Lebanon are, most of them (for how many real "Arabs" actually came from the Arabian peninsula to conquer far more numerous populations of non-Arabs?) the descendants of those Phoenicians. The Maronites recognize this; the Muslims do not, because for them the superior people, the people to whom the Qur'an was "given" and "in their language," are the Arabs. The sense of Arab supremacy comes not only from the fact that the Qur'an was written in Arabic (with bits of Aramaic still floating in it), but because the Sunna, the other great guide for Muslims, consists of, and is derived from, the hadith and the sira, and reflects the life of people in 7th century Arabia.

Thus one sees the forcibly-converted descendants of Hindus, the Muslims of India and Pakistan, full of supposed "descendants of the Prophet" who are identified by the name "Sayeed." It is as if, in the middle of a former British colony, say Uganda, black Africans gave themselves such names as Anthony Chenevix-ffrench or Charles Hardcastle, and dressed like remote Englishmen at Agincourt, or Ascot, and insisted, to one and all, that they were indeed lineal descendants of Elizabeth the Virgin Queen, or Hereward the Wake, or Ethelred the Unready.

Yet when those whose ancestors were forcibly converted to Islam (and force can be not military force, but the incessant and relentless pressure of dhimmitude, which will over time cause many to give up and embrace the belief-system of the oppressor) and adopted the names, and mimicked the dress and the manners and customs of Muslims -- which are essentially those of a distant time and place (Arabia, more than a thousand years ago) -- we do not smile or think it absurd. A few Muslim "intellectuals" in East Asia occasionally suggest that local customs and ways, even local expressions of music and art, ought not to be sacrificed to the Sunna of Islam, but to no avail.

And so strong is the power of Islam among the Arabs, so ingrained is their desire to ward off Muslim displeasure, that unless they do not feel themselves to be Arabs but a self-contained community (Copts, Maronites) that has managed to survive, they are very likely to reflect the Muslim views and promote the Muslim agenda.

Nowhere can this be seen better than among the "Palestinian" Arabs. Michel Sabbagh is only one example. The Sabbagh who gave $6.5 million to support Esposito's pro-Muslim empire at Georgetown was a "Christian." (Note to James V. Schall: can you convince Georgetown's administration to sever its now-embarrassing tie to Esposito? At some point he, and Georgetown, have to part ways, for the sake of Georgetown's reputation and continued support from alumni.) The gun-running icon-stealing Archbishop Hilarion Cappucci was, in name, a Melkite Catholic; he was, in his essence, a PLO supporter. Islamochristian promoters of the Jihad -- beginning with the Jihad against Israel -- include a few "Palestinian" Presybterians who have carefully burrowed within, and risen within, the bureaucracy of the Presbyterian Church in America (no names here, but you can easily find them out), and Naim Ateek, who comes to delude audiences of Christians about the "Palestinian struggle" even as the Christian population of the "Palestinian" territories has plummeted, since Israel relinquished control, from 20% to 2% -- out of fear of Muslim "Palestinians."

Nor, of course, do Michel Sabbagh and his ilk pay much attention to the situation of Christians in the Sudan, or Indonesia, or Pakistan. Why would they? It would get in the way of their promotion of the Islamic attempt not only to reduce Israel to the dimensions that will allow them to go in for the final kill, but to seize control of the Holy Land. What, after all, do you think would happen to that Holy Land if Israel were to disappear? Do you think the Christian sites would be as scrupulously preserved? As available to pilgrims? Would Christians walk around Jerusalem if it were under the rule of Muslims with quite the same feelings of security that they do now?

No? Why not? And don't expect Michel Sabbagh to give you a truthful answer.


Posted on 06/24/2011 8:21 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 24 June 2011
How The Libyan Business Got Started, And What Might Still Be Done

There are so many things wrong with the intervention in Libya beginning with the manner of its staring, Four men, two of them known not to have a glimmer of a hint about  Islam (How can we tell? Because these men, Hague and Juppe, have in the past shown themselves remarkably unsympathetic to Israel, almost wilfully oblivious to the nature of the war -- the Jihad -- being waged, and for all time, against that Infidel nation-state, and for such people, a coherent strategy that depends on recognizing, and exploiting, local conditions, fissures, animosities -- personal, family, tribal, sectarian, ethnic, and economic -- within the Camp of Islam, is likely not to even occur to them. They don't think along those lines.)

The hasty, nearly hysterically sentimental way, four men -- Cameron and Hague, Sarkozy and Juppe -- decided it would be a fine idea to intervene in NATO -- all four of them dimly assumed, though they did not openly say, that the American military would come in, and do whatever needed to be done -- was then followed by Barack Obama, who always keen to get, as he and so many others like to say, "On The Right Side Of History"  -- as God Gives Us To See the Right Side Of History -- was so impressed by  the go-ahead he felt he had from the Arab League, when it passed a resolution in favor of a "No-Fly Zone" over Libya, which resolution was neither "unanimous" as some in the Obama Administration like to say (Algeria and Syria did not vote for it), and was prompted not by a sudden wave of democratic feeling (for god's sake, among those voting for it was Saudi Arabia), nor my any moral shudder at the behavior of Qaddafy toward non-Muslims, including his terrorist activities direct and, through support for the IRA and other groups, indirect but, rather, only by resentment of Qaddafy's longstanding mockery of certain Arab rulers, and his possible involvement in plots against them.

And then came that vote, equally important to Barack Obama, of the U.N. Security Council, endorsing this "No-Fly Zone." Oh, that was all that was needed: the Arab League vote, and then a vote by "the international community" -- as HIllary Clinton and so many others like to call something that does not exist -- in favor of this No-Fly Zone. Of course, five nations abstained from voting, thus expressing their displeasure, but they were minor countries, of no consequence, really, to "the international community" of geopolitical fantastists. What need China, India, Russia, Brazil, and Germany , when you have Qatar, and the U.A.E., on your side?

So that was to be it: a No-Fly Zone.

But how was that No-Fly Zone to be enforced? Oh, it was to be enforced through the undertaking of  thousands upon thousands of expensive sorties by Western pilots, flying Western planes. The Arab contribuion to this effort consisted of one or two planes flying, as far as we know, only once, and escorted by Western planes, swiftly over Libyan skies. That was it.

What might the Western powers have done, assuming that they were now at this stage, having been stoutly backed by the Moral Authority of the Arab League and the United Nations, and were trying to think of what made, from their point of view, the most sense? 

Surely the easiest thing to do would have been not to fly thousands of sorites, at great expense, but to do one thing, that would accomplish two goals. That would have been to attack Qaddafy's airfields, to destroy them, and more importantly, to destroy as many of his planes and helicopoters as possible. If he hasn't planes and helicopters, then the No-Fly Zone will be enforced, and there is no need for sorties. And this would also deprive him of the wherewithal to make mischief elsewhere outside his borders - in the past he waged war on Chad, and has sent, with his planes, all kind of military and other aid to other places of potential conflict in sub-Saharan Africa.. Why did NATO's planners not decide to use this occasion, exploit that fig leaf that the Arab League and U.N. Security Council offered, to end Qaddafy's ability to project power beyond his borders. Would that not have relieved NATO of the need to fly those thousands of expensive sorties? And does not NATO have a stake in making sure that Muslim countries cannot project military power beyond their own borders, so that they cannot threaten non-Mulsim states and peoples? An opportunity has been lost.

One good thing to come out of the Libyan business is that Qaddafy has now been so weakened, that he will never be a problem for the West again. He can splutter, he can call spirits from the vasty deep, but they will not come. He can't make them come. And he will go. But must his most advanced son, the one most influenced by his stays in Europe, Seif al-Islam, also be dismissed?

And aside from directly bombing, and destroying, airfields, airplanes, and helicopters in Libya -- a demonstration project, by the way, that should be brought explicitly to the attention of the Sudanese government, which has been responsible for the deaths of more than two million civilians, Christian and animist, in the southern Sudan (and another few hundred thousand Muslim, but non-Arab, black Africans in Darfur)--the Western governments might have thought about the effect of the war on halting Libya's oil exports -- 1.5 million barrels a day have been taken off the market, of sweet crude that in Italy, Libya's largest market, is the kind on which refineries depend. That has caused a great rise in the price of oil, so the Libyan War is costing Western oil consumers many tens of billions of dollars more, money which now flows to the other Muslim members of OPEC, who are in a sense war profiteers from the Libyan War, even as the West spends money to do what the Arab League wanted, which was to get rid of Qaddafy because, you see, he offended them. Members of the Arab League were never offended by Saddam Hussein's mass murder of Kurds, nor of his massacres of Shi'a after the Gulf War. What offended them about Saddam Hussein was only his aggressiveness toward them, as shown in his invasion of Kuwait. Similarly, what offends them about Qaddafy has nothing to do, as Obama dreamily appears to think, with some sudden desire to straighten up and fly right morally.

That oil, those oilfields, those oil pipelines, those oil terminals - not all of them, perhaps, but certainly some -- could have been seized by Western forces, to assure the continued production and transportation to Libyan ports, of oil, so as not to disrupt oil markets, and to prevent a skyrocketing price of oil. The revenues for that oil could have been kept in some account, to be paid eventually to whatever Libyan government or governments (perhaps there will be two) later to be determined to have a "legitimacy" greater than that of other claimants. Or the money might be used by some international body -- oh for god's sake, bring in some succursale of the U.N. if that pleases you -- to dispense, piously, "for the benefit of the Libyan people."

Why was this not considered, so as to save Western oil-consuming nations tens of billions of extra dollars now going to our enemies in the Gulf?

Fear, you say, of being accused of "seizing Arab oil"? Oh, for god's sake, when the oil money is held in trust -- say, by the IMF or some other body -- for "the Libyan people" that will take care of that charge.

Destroy the planes, the helicopters, the airfileds, and the surface-to-air missiles. That's it. Forget about attacking tanks in Brega or on the outskirts of Misrata.

And seize some of the oil installations. It will be a lesson, a salutary lesson for, among others, the Saudis, of what the West can do, if it thinks it needs to. A lesson worth learning, a message worth imparting.

Posted on 06/24/2011 8:26 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 24 June 2011
A Musical Interlude: Kissing In The Dark (Memphis Minnie)

Listen here.

Posted on 06/24/2011 9:06 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 24 June 2011
Caliphate, reunification of Muslim world stressed

The British Government's failure to keep promises to ban this dangerous organisation means that Hizb ut Tahir can use their continued presence here to bolster their claims to be 'peaceful' and 'no-violent'. As we know in Islam peace does not mean the same thing to those of us who live in nations founded on Judeo/Christian ethics. This is the Pakistani newspaper The Nation

ISLAMABAD - In its first ever media response after Brig Ali Khan’s arrest, the Hizb-ut-Tahrir (HT) has denied being a United Kingdom based organisation saying that it’s headquarters is in Al Quds. That's Jerusalem to normal people.
During a detailed meeting with this scribe at an undisclosed location here on Thursday, Hizb-ut-Tahrir’s deputy spokesperson Imran Yusufzai denied that HT was a militant organisation, calling it an Islamist political party. “HT is a well known non-violent Islamist political party testified by the British and the US governments, several media organisations, think tanks, courts and human rights organisations,” he said. The HT official claimed that he had documentary evidences of testimonies from the UK and US governments, which declared the HT as a peaceful political organisation and it was neither banned in the UK nor in US.   

When asked to comment on the linkages between the HT, Brig Ali Khan and four other majors, Yusufzai said, “As policy, we neither confirm nor deny such news. The Holy Prophet (SA) sought Nusra (material power) and did not share details with the companions even. This is sacred work of global HT leadership and we continue to call people in power to give Nusra (material power) to Hizb-ut-Tahrir for re-establishment of Khilafah (Caliphate).”  

Posted on 06/24/2011 11:05 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Friday, 24 June 2011
Now Attempts To Deal With Muslim Misrule -- Caused By Islam -- Damage NATO Unity

From The Washington Post:

Sarkozy lashes out at U.S. over Libya mission

(Philippe Wojazert/Reuters)

French President Nicolas Sarkozy lashed out Friday at America’s commitment to the NATO effort in Libya, saying that Europe was bearing the main burden of the effort, despite American complaints to the contrary.

The remarks came on the same day that the House of Representatives took up a largely symbolic bill to limit U.S. funding for the mission, and at the end of a week of political splintering over the future of the NATO action, which has stretched far longer than most politicians expected.

Sarkozy said that France and Britain were the main contributors to the efforts to bring an end to Moammar Gaddafi’s 41-year reign over Libya, and he vowed to keep up the pressure so long as Gaddafi remains. He also condemned the notion that the future of NATO was in doubt because of European reluctance to devote resources to their militaries, something retiring Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates suggested in a speech this month.

“I wouldn’t say that the bulk of the work in Libya is being done by our American friends,” Sarkozy said in remarks to reporters at a European Union summit in Brussels, according to the Associated Press. “We must continue until Mr. Gaddafi leaves.”

As for Gates, Sarkozy said, his comments about European military might — or lack thereof — were “unfair,” stemming from “a bit of bitterness.”

Questions over the future of the Libyan mission reached new heights this week, as the bombing campaign stretches into its fourth month with no immediate end in sight for Gaddafi. An errant missile strike this week that apparently hit a residence in Tripoli, killing civilians, has further put political pressure on the mission. Italy’s foreign minister, Franco Frattini, called Wednesday for an immediate halt to hostilities to allow for humanitarian aid to reach the country.

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said Friday at the Brussels summit that he was pushing for “political mediation which will deliver a final solution,” wire services reported.

The White House has said that American forces have flown about a quarter of the more than 12,000 sorties over Libyan soil, and American officials have also acknowledged that both U.S. drones and jets continue to occasionally drop bombs on Libya.

NATO officials in the Libyan operations center in Naples say that the reason the conflict has lasted so long is because they have been extremely careful to avoid civilian casualties, and that if they stopped operations now, it would give Gaddafi an opportunity to rearm.

Posted on 06/24/2011 12:33 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 24 June 2011
WEEKEND READING: William Langewiesche: The Crash Of EgyptAir 990

This article does not date. It brilliantly captures the conspiracy-theorizing, the quickness of seemingly sensible Muslims to blame the Infidels, their twisted logic, their  hysterical defensiveness, even of the most outwardly advanced, seemingly  friendly and "moderate"  Muslims, that is, the trained investigators, pilots, and bureaucrats  sent from Egypt to study the causes of the EgyptAir 990 disaster. I have left out the first part of the article; the excerpt starts toward the end of the general discussion of the Boeing 767 and its characteristics:

Not that it's [The Boeing 767] idiot-proof, or necessarily always benign. As with any fast and heavy airplane, operating a 767 safely even under ordinary circumstances requires anticipation, mental clarity, and a practical understanding of the various systems. Furthermore, when circumstances are not ordinary—for example, during an engine failure just after takeoff or an encounter with unexpected wind shear during an approach to landing—a wilder side to the airplane's personality suddenly emerges. Maintaining control then requires firm action and sometimes a strong arm. There's nothing surprising about this: all airplanes misbehave on occasion, and have to be disciplined. "Kicking the dog," I called it in the ornery old cargo crates I flew when I was in college—it was a regular part of survival. In the cockpits of modern jets it is rarely necessary. Nonetheless, when trouble occurs in a machine as massive and aerodynamically slick as the 767, if it is not quickly suppressed the consequences can blossom out of control. During a full-blown upset like that experienced by the Egyptian crew, the airplane may dive so far past its tested limits that it exceeds the very scale of known engineering data—falling off the graphs as well as out of the sky. Afterward the profile can possibly be reconstructed mathematically by aerodynamicists and their like, but it cannot be even approximated by pilots in flight if they expect to come home alive.

I got a feel for the 767's dangerous side last summer, after following the accident's trail from Washington, D.C., to Cairo to the airplane's birthplace, in Seattle, where Boeing engineers let me fly a specially rigged 767 simulator through a series of relevant upsets and recoveries along with some sobering replays of Flight 990's final moments. These simulations had been flown by investigators more than a year before and had been reported on in detail in the publicly released files. Boeing's argument was not that the 767 is a flawless design but, more narrowly, that none of the imaginable failures of its flight-control systems could explain the known facts of this accident.

But that's getting ahead of the story. Back on October 31, 1999, with the first news of the crash, it was hard to imagine any form of pilot error that could have condemned the airplane to such a sustained and precipitous dive. What switch could the crew have thrown, what lever? Nothing came to mind. And why had they perished so silently, without a single distress call on the radio? A total electrical failure was very unlikely, and would not explain the loss of control. A fire would have given them time to talk. One thing was certain: the pilots were either extremely busy or incapacitated from the start. Of course there was always the possibility of a terrorist attack—a simple if frightening solution. But otherwise something had gone terribly wrong with the airplane itself, and that could be just as bad. There are more than 800 Boeing 767s in the world's airline fleet, and they account for more transatlantic flights than all other airplanes combined. They are also very similar in design to the smaller and equally numerous Boeing 757s. So there was plenty of reason for alarm.


One of the world's really important divides lies between nations that react well to accidents and nations that do not. This is as true for a confined and technical event like the crash of a single flight as it is for political or military disasters. The first requirement is a matter of national will, and never a sure thing: it is the intention to get the story right, wherever the blame may lie. The second requirement follows immediately upon the first, and is probably easier to achieve: it is the need for people in the aftermath to maintain even tempers and open minds. The path they follow may not be simple, but it can provide for at least the possibility of effective resolutions.

In the case of EgyptAir Flight 990 the only information available at first was external. The airplane had arrived in New York late on a flight from Los Angeles, and had paused to refuel, take on passengers, and swap crews. Because of the scheduled duration of the flight to Cairo, two cockpit crews had been assigned to the ocean crossing—an "active crew," including the aircraft commander, to handle the first and last hours of the flight; and a "cruise crew," whose role was essentially to monitor the autopilot during the long, sleepy mid-Atlantic stretch. Just before midnight these four pilots rode out to the airport on a shuttle bus from Manhattan's Pennsylvania Hotel, a large establishment where EgyptAir retained rooms for the use of its personnel. The pilots had been there for several days and, as usual, were well rested. Also in the bus was one of the most senior of EgyptAir's captains, the company's chief 767 pilot, who was not scheduled to fly but would be "deadheading" home to Cairo. An EgyptAir dispatcher rode out on the bus with them, and subsequently reported that the crew members looked and sounded normal. At the airport he gave them a standard briefing and an update on the New York surface weather, which was stagnant under a low, thin overcast, with light winds and thickening haze.

Flight 990 pushed back from the gate and taxied toward the active runway at 1:12 A.M. Because there was little other traffic at the airport, communications with the control tower were noticeably relaxed. At 1:20 Flight 990 lifted off. It topped the clouds at 1,000 feet and turned out over the ocean toward a half moon rising above the horizon. The airplane was identified and tracked by air-traffic-control radar as it climbed through the various New York departure sectors and entered the larger airspace belonging to the en-route controllers of New York Center; its transponder target and data block moved steadily across the controllers' computer-generated displays, and its radio transmissions sounded perhaps a little awkward, but routine. At 1:44 it leveled off at the assigned 33,000 feet.

The en-route controller working the flight was a woman named Ann Brennan, a private pilot with eight years on the job. She had the swagger of a good controller, a real pro. Later she characterized the air traffic that night as slow, which it was—during the critical hour she had handled only three other flights. The offshore military-exercise zones, known as warning areas, were inactive. The sky was sleeping.

At 1:47 Brennan said, "EgyptAir Nine-ninety, change to my frequency one-two-five-point-niner-two."

EgyptAir acknowledged the request with a friendly "Good day," and after a pause checked in on the new frequency: "New York, EgyptAir Nine-nine-zero heavy, good morning."

Brennan answered, "EgyptAir Nine-ninety, roger."

That was the last exchange. Brennan noticed that the flight still had about fifteen minutes to go before leaving her sector. Wearing her headset, she stood up and walked six feet away to sort some paperwork. A few minutes later she approved a request by Washington Center to steer an Air France 747 through a corner of her airspace. She chatted for a while with her supervisor, a man named Ray Redhead. In total she spent maybe six minutes away from her station, a reasonable interval on such a night. It was just unlucky that while her back was turned Flight 990 went down.

A computer captured what she would have seen—a strangely abstract death no more dramatic than a video game. About two minutes after the final radio call, at 1:49:53 in the morning, the radar swept across EgyptAir's transponder at 33,000 feet. Afterward, at successive twelve-second intervals, the radar read 31,500, 25,400, and 18,300 feet—a descent rate so great that the air-traffic-control computers interpreted the information as false, and showed "XXXX" for the altitude on Brennan's display. With the next sweep the radar lost the transponder entirely, and picked up only an unenhanced "primary" blip, a return from the airplane's metal mass. The surprise is that the radar continued to receive such returns (which show only location, and not altitude) for nearly another minute and a half, indicating that the dive must have dramatically slowed or stopped, and that the 767 remained airborne, however tenuously, during that interval. A minute and a half is a long time. As the Boeing simulations later showed, it must have been a strange and dreamlike period for the pilots, hurtling through the night with no chance of awakening.

When radar contact was lost, the display for EgyptAir 990 began to "coast," indicating that the computers could no longer find a correlation between the stored flight plan and the radar view of the sky. When Brennan noticed, she stayed cool. She said, "EgyptAir Nine-ninety, radar contact lost, recycle transponder, squawk one-seven-one-two." EgyptAir did not answer, so she tried again at unhurried intervals over the following ten minutes. She advised Ray Redhead of the problem, and he passed the word along. She called an air-defense radar facility, and other air-traffic-control centers as far away as Canada, to see if by any chance someone was in contact with the flight. She asked a Lufthansa crew to try transmitting to EgyptAir from up high. Eventually she brought in Air France for the overflight. The prognosis was of course increasingly grim, but she maintained her professional calm. She continued to handle normal operations in her sector while simultaneously setting the search-and-rescue forces in motion. Half an hour into the process, when a controller at Boston Center called and asked, "Any luck with the EgyptAir?" she answered simply, "No."


Among the dead were 100 Americans, eighty-nine Egyptians (including thirty-three army officers), twenty-two Canadians, and a few people of other nationalities. As the news of the disaster spread, hundreds of frantic friends and relatives gathered at the airports in Los Angeles, New York, and Cairo. EgyptAir officials struggled to meet people's needs—which were largely, of course, for the sort of information that no one yet had. Most of the bodies remained in and around the wreckage at the bottom of the sea. Decisions now had to be made, and fast, about the recovery operation and the related problem of an investigation. Because the airplane had crashed in international waters, Egypt had the right to lead the show. Realistically, though, it did not have the resources to salvage a heavy airplane in waters 250 feet deep and 5,000 miles away.

The solution was obvious, and it came in the form of a call to the White House from Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, an experienced military pilot with close ties to EgyptAir, requesting that the investigation be taken over by the U.S. government. The White House in turn called Jim Hall, the chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, an investigative agency with a merited reputation for competence. Hall, a Tennessee lawyer and friend of the Gores, had in the aftermath of the TWA Flight 800 explosion parlayed his position into one of considerable visibility. The Egyptians produced a letter formally signing over the investigation to the United States, an option accorded under international convention, which would place them in a greatly diminished role (as "accredited representatives") but would also save them trouble and money. Mubarak is said to have regretted the move ever since.

In retrospect it seems inevitable that the two sides would have trouble getting along. The NTSB is a puritanical construct, a small federal agency without regulatory power whose sole purpose is to investigate accidents and issue safety recommendations that might add to the public discourse. Established in 1967 as an "independent" unit of the Washington bureaucracy, and shielded by design from the political currents of that city, the agency represents the most progressive American thinking on the role and character of good government. On call twenty-four hours a day, with technical teams ready to travel at a moment's notice, it operates on an annual baseline budget of merely $62 million or so, and employs only about 420 people, most of whom work at the headquarters on four floors of Washington's bright and modern Loews L'Enfant Plaza Hotel. In part because the NTSB seems so lean, and in part because by its very definition it advocates for the "right" causes, it receives almost universally positive press coverage. The NTSB is technocratic. It is clean. It is Government Lite.

EgyptAir, in contrast, is Government Heavy—a state-owned airline with about 600 pilots and a mixed fleet of about forty Boeings and Airbuses that serves more than eighty destinations worldwide and employs 22,000 people. It operates out of dusty Stalinist-style office buildings at the Cairo airport, under the supervision of the Ministry of Transport, from which it is often practically indistinguishable. It is probably a safe airline, but passengers dislike it for its delays and shoddy service. They call it Air Misère, probably a play on the airline's former name, Misr Air ("Misr" is Arabic for "Egypt"). It has been treated as a fiefdom for years by Mubarak's old and unassailable air-force friends, and particularly by the company's chairman, a man named Mohamed Fahim Rayan, who fights off all attempts at reform or privatization. This is hardly a secret. In parliamentary testimony six months before the crash of Flight 990, Rayan said, "My market is like a water pond which I developed over the years. It is quite unreasonable for alien people to come and seek to catch fish in my pond." His critics answer that the pond is stagnant and stinks of corruption—but this, too, is nothing new. The greatest pyramids in Egypt are made not of stone but of people: they are the vast bureauc-racies that constitute society's core, and they function not necessarily to get the "job" done but to reward the personal loyalty of those at the bottom to those at the top. Once you understand that, much of the rest begins to make sense. The bureaucracies serve mostly to shelter their workers and give them something like a decent life. They also help to define Cairo. It is a great capital city, as worldly as Washington, D.C., and culturally very far away.

An official delegation traveled from Cairo to the United States and ended up staying for more than a year. It was led by two EgyptAir pilots, Mohsen al-Missiry, an experienced accident investigator on temporary assignment to the Egyptian Civil Aviation Authority for this case, and Shaker Kelada, who had retired from active flying to become a flight-operations manager and eventually vice-president for safety and quality assurance. These men were smart and tough, and managed a team primarily of EgyptAir engineers, many of whom were very sharp.

The U.S. Navy was given the job of salvage, and it in turn hired a contractor named Oceaneering, which arrived with a ship and grapples and remote-controlled submarines. The debris was plotted by sonar, and found to lie in two clusters: the small "west field," which included the left engine; and, 1,200 feet beyond it in the direction of flight, the "east field," where most of the airplane lay. From what was known of the radar profile and from the tight concentration of the debris, it began to seem unlikely that an in-flight explosion was to blame. The NTSB said nothing. Nine days after the accident the flight-data recorder—the "black box" that records flight and systems data—was retrieved and sent to the NTSB laboratory in Washington. The NTSB stated tersely that there was preliminary evidence that the initial dive may have been a "controlled descent." Five days later, on Sunday, November 14, a senior official at the Egyptian Transportation Ministry—an air-force general and a former EgyptAir pilot—held a news conference in Cairo and, with Rayan at his side, announced that the evidence from the flight-data recorder had been inconclusive but the dive could be explained only by a bomb in the cockpit or in the lavatory directly behind it. It was an odd assertion to make, but of little importance, because the second black box, the cockpit voice recorder, had been salvaged the night before and was sent on Sunday to the NTSB. The tape was cleaned and processed, and a small group that included a translator (who was not Egyptian) gathered in a listening room at L'Enfant Plaza to hear it through.


"I Rely on God"

istening to cockpit recordings is a tough and voyeuristic duty, restricted to the principal investigators and people with specific knowledge of the airplane or the pilots, who might help to prepare an accurate transcript. Experienced investigators grow accustomed to the job, but I talked to several who had heard the EgyptAir tape, and they admitted that they had been taken aback. Black boxes are such pitiless, unblinking devices. When the information they contained from Flight 990 was combined with the radar profile and the first, sketchy information on the crew, this was the story it seemed to tell:

The flight lasted thirty-one minutes. During the departure from New York it was captained, as required, by the aircraft commander, a portly senior pilot named Ahmad al-Habashi, fifty-seven, who had flown thirty-six years for the airline. Habashi of course sat in the left seat. In the right seat was the most junior member of the crew, a thirty-six-year-old co-pilot who was progressing well in his career and looking forward to getting married. Before takeoff the co-pilot advised the flight attendants by saying, in Arabic, "In the name of God, the merciful, the compassionate. Cabin crew takeoff position." This was not unusual.

After takeoff the autopilot did the flying. Habashi and the co-pilot kept watch, talked to air-traffic control, and gossiped about their work. The cockpit door was unlocked, which was fairly standard on EgyptAir flights. Various flight attendants came in and left; for a while the chief pilot, the man who was deadheading back to Cairo, stopped by the cockpit to chat. Then, twenty minutes into the flight, the "cruise" co-pilot, Gameel al-Batouti, arrived. Batouti was a big, friendly guy with a reputation for telling jokes and enjoying life. Three months short of sixty, and mandatory retirement, he was unusually old for a co-pilot. He had joined the airline in his mid-forties, after a career as a flight instructor for the air force, and had rejected several opportunities for command. His lack of ambition was odd but not unheard of: his English was poor and might have given him trouble on the necessary exams; moreover, as the company's senior 767 co-pilot, he made adequate money and had his pick of long-distance flights. Now he used his seniority to urge the junior co-pilot to cede the right seat ahead of the scheduled crew change. When the junior man resisted, Batouti said, "You mean you're not going to get up? You will get up. Go and get some rest and come back." The junior co-pilot stayed in his seat a bit longer and then left the cockpit. Batouti took the seat and buckled in.

Batouti was married and had five children. Four of them were grown and doing well. His fifth child was a girl, age ten, who was sick with lupus but responding to treatment that he had arranged for her to receive in Los Angeles. Batouti had a nice house in Cairo. He had a vacation house on the beach. He did not drink heavily. He was moderately religious. He had his retirement planned. He had acquired an automobile tire in New Jersey the day before, and was bringing it home in the cargo hold. He had also picked up some free samples of Viagra, to distribute as gifts.

Captain Habashi was more religious, and was known to pray sometimes in the cockpit. He and Batouti were old friends. Using Batouti's nickname, he said, in Arabic, "How are you, Jimmy?" They groused to each other about the chief pilot and about a clique of young and arrogant "kids," junior EgyptAir pilots who were likewise catching a ride back to the Cairo base. One of those pilots came into the cockpit dressed in street clothes. Habashi said, "What's with you? Why did you get all dressed in red like that?" Presumably the man then left. Batouti had a meal. A female flight attendant came in and offered more. Batouti said pleasantly, "No, thank you, it was marvelous." She took his tray.

At 1:47 A.M. the last calls came in from air-traffic control, from Ann Brennan, far off in the night at her display. Captain Habashi handled the calls. He said, "New York, EgyptAir Nine-nine-zero heavy, good morning," and she answered with her final "EgyptAir Nine-ninety, roger."

At 1:48 Batouti found the junior co-pilot's pen and handed it across to Habashi. He said, "Look, here's the new first officer's pen. Give it to him, please. God spare you." He added, "To make sure it doesn't get lost."

Habashi said, "Excuse me, Jimmy, while I take a quick trip to the toilet." He ran his electric seat back with a whir. There was the sound of the cockpit door moving.

Batouti said, "Go ahead, please."

Habashi said, "Before it gets crowded. While they are eating. And I'll be back to you."

Again the cockpit door moved. There was a clunk. There was a clink. It seems that Batouti was now alone in the cockpit. The 767 was at 33,000 feet, cruising peacefully eastward at .79 Mach.

At 1:48:30 a strange, wordlike sound was uttered, three syllables with emphasis on the second, perhaps more English than Arabic, and variously heard on the tape as "control it," "hydraulic," or something unintelligible. The NTSB ran extensive speech and sound-spectrum studies on it, and was never able to assign it conclusively to Batouti or to anyone else. But what is clear is that Batouti then softly said, "Tawakkalt ala Allah," which proved difficult to translate, and was at first rendered incorrectly, but essentially means "I rely on God." An electric seat whirred. The autopilot disengaged, and the airplane sailed on as before for another four seconds. Again Batouti said, "I rely on God." Then two things happened almost simultaneously, according to the flight-data recorder: the throttles in the cockpit moved back fast to minimum idle, and a second later, back at the tail, the airplane's massive elevators (the pitch-control surfaces) dropped to a three-degrees-down position. When the elevators drop, the tail goes up; and when the tail goes up, the nose points down. Apparently Batouti had chopped the power and pushed the control yoke forward.

The effect was dramatic. The airplane began to dive steeply, dropping its nose so quickly that the environment inside plunged to nearly zero gs, the weightless condition of space. Six times in quick succession Batouti repeated, "I rely on God." His tone was calm. There was a loud thump. As the nose continued to pitch downward, the airplane went into the negative-g range, nudging loose objects against the ceiling. The elevators moved even farther down. Batouti said, "I rely on God."

Somehow, in the midst of this, now sixteen seconds into the dive, Captain Habashi made his way back from the toilet. He yelled, "What's happening? What's happening?"

Batouti said, "I rely on God."

The wind outside was roaring. The airplane was dropping through 30,800 feet, and accelerating beyond its maximum operating speed of .86 Mach. In the cockpit the altimeters were spinning like cartoon clocks. Warning horns were sounding, warning lights were flashing—low oil pressure on the left engine, and then on the right. The master alarm went off, a loud high-to-low warble.

For the last time Batouti said, "I rely on God."

Again Habashi shouted, "What's happening?" By then he must have reached the left control yoke. The negative gs ended as he countered the pitch-over, slowing the rate at which the nose was dropping. But the 767 was still angled down steeply, 40 degrees below the horizon, and it was accelerating. The rate of descent hit 39,000 feet a minute.

"What's happening, Gameel? What's happening?"

Habashi was clearly pulling very hard on his control yoke, trying desperately to raise the nose. Even so, thirty seconds into the dive, at 22,200 feet, the airplane hit the speed of sound, at which it was certainly not meant to fly. Many things happened in quick succession in the cockpit. Batouti reached over and shut off the fuel, killing both engines. Habashi screamed, "What is this? What is this? Did you shut the engines?" The throttles were pushed full forward—for no obvious reason, since the engines were dead. The speed-brake handle was then pulled, deploying drag devices on the wings.

At the same time, there was an unusual occurrence back at the tail: the right-side and left-side elevators, which normally move together to control the airplane's pitch, began to "split," or move in opposite directions. Specifically: the elevator on the right remained down, while the left-side elevator moved up to a healthy recovery position. That this could happen at all was the result of a design feature meant to allow either pilot to overpower a mechanical jam and control the airplane with only one elevator. The details are complex, but the essence in this case seemed to be that the right elevator was being pushed down by Batouti while the left elevator was being pulled up by the captain. The NTSB concluded that a "force fight" had broken out in the cockpit.

Words were failing Habashi. He yelled, "Get away in the engines!" And then, incredulously, "... shut the engines!"

Batouti said calmly, "It's shut."

Habashi did not have time to make sense of the happenings. He probably did not have time to get into his seat and slide it forward. He must have been standing in the cockpit, leaning over the seatback and hauling on the controls. The commotion was horrendous. He was reacting instinctively as a pilot, yelling, "Pull!" and then, "Pull with me! Pull with me! Pull with me!"

It was the last instant captured by the on-board flight recorders. The elevators were split, with the one on the right side, Batouti's side, still pushed into a nose-down position. The ailerons on both wings had assumed a strange upswept position, normally never seen on an airplane. The 767 was at 16,416 feet, doing 527 miles an hour, and pulling a moderately heavy 2.4 gs, indicating that the nose, though still below the horizon, was rising fast, and that Habashi's efforts on the left side were having an effect. A belated recovery was under way. At that point, because the engines had been cut, all nonessential electrical devices were lost, blacking out not only the recorders, which rely on primary power, but also most of the instrument displays and lights. The pilots were left to the darkness of the sky, whether to work together or to fight. I've often wondered what happened between those two men during the 114 seconds that remained of their lives. We'll never know. Radar reconstruction showed that the 767 recovered from the dive at 16,000 feet and, like a great wounded glider, soared steeply back to 24,000 feet, turned to the southeast while beginning to break apart, and shed its useless left engine and some of its skin before giving up for good and diving to its death at high speed.


Conflicting Realities

When this evidence emerged at the NTSB, the American investigators were shocked but also relieved by the obvious conclusion. There was no bomb here. Despite initial fears, there was nothing wrong with the airplane. The apparent cause was pilot error at its extreme: Batouti had gone haywire. Every detail that emerged from the two flight recorders fit that scenario: the sequence of the switches and controls that were moved, the responses of the airplane, and the words that were spoken, however cryptic and incomplete. Batouti had waited to be alone in the cockpit, and had intentionally pushed the airplane to its death. He had even fought the captain's valiant attempt at recovery. Why? Professionally, the NTSB didn't need to care. It was up to the criminal investigators at the FBI to discover if this was a political act, or the result of a plot. Even at the time, just weeks after the airplane went down, it was hard to imagine that Batouti had any terrorist connections, and indeed, the FBI never found any such evidence. But in pure aviation terms it didn't really matter why Batouti did it, and pure aviation is what the NTSB is all about. So this was easy—Crash Investigation 101. The guy to blame was dead. The NTSB wouldn't have to go after Boeing—a necessary task on occasion, but never a pleasant prospect. The wreckage, which was still being pulled out of the ocean, would not require tedious inspection. The report could be written quickly and filed away, and the NTSB could move on to the backlog of work that might actually affect the future safety of the flying public.

When Jim Hall, the NTSB chairman, held a news conference to address the initial findings, on November 19, 1999, he was culturally sensitive, responsible, and very strict about the need to maintain an open mind. There had been leaks to the press about the content of the cockpit voice recorder. It was being said that Batouti's behavior had been strange during the dive and that he had recited Muslim prayers. Hall scolded the assembled reporters for using unofficial information and exciting the public's emotions. He made a show of being careful with his own choice of words. He said that the accident "might, and I emphasize might, be the result of a deliberate act." He did not say "suicide" or "Arab" or "Muslim." He did not even say "Batouti." He said, "No one wants to get to the bottom of this mystery quicker than those investigating this accident, both here and in Egypt, but we won't get there on a road paved with leaks, supposition, speculation, and spin. That road does not lead to the truth, and the truth is what both the American people and the Egyptian people seek." It was standard stuff, a prelude to a quick wrapping up of the investigation. The Egyptian delegation, which had moved into rooms at the Loews L'Enfant Plaza Hotel, might have felt grateful to have such a man at the NTSB to guide them through these difficult times. Instead the Egyptians were outraged.

At the NTSB this came as a surprise. Looking back, it's possible to see signs of a disconnect, especially the Egyptian government's baffling speculation about a bomb in the forward lavatory; but just the day before Hall's press conference the Egyptian ambassador had heaped praise on the NTSB and the investigation. Now, suddenly and with startling vigor, the Egyptian delegation went on the offensive. The leader of the charge, Shaker Kelada, later told me about running across one of the American investigators in the halls of the NTSB. When the investigator mentioned with satisfaction that the work might wrap up within a few weeks, Kelada brought him up short with the news that he'd better change his plans—because far from being over, the investigation had hardly begun.

First the Egyptians had to prepare the ground: the delegation started to loudly criticize the performance and intentions of Boeing, the FBI, and the entire NTSB. Kelada said that Batouti was the scapegoat, and that this was happening because it was an Egyptian airliner that had gone down. It did not escape Kelada's attention that the legendary head of aviation investigations at the NTSB—a brilliant and abrasive engineer named Bernard Loeb, who was overseeing the Flight 990 inquiry—was Jewish and something of a Zionist.

Loeb retired last spring; Kelada implied to me last summer that this was a deception, and that Loeb continued to pull the strings. Loeb laughed when I mentioned it to him afterward. He was looking forward to spending time with his grandchildren. But at the same time, he was angry that Egypt, after receiving $1.3 billion in American assistance every year, would have used any of its budget to cause the United States unnecessary expense by prolonging an investigation that for the NTSB alone had so far cost $17 million. As to Zionism, Loeb did seem bothered by aspects of the Egyptian culture. I got the feeling, though, that his opinion was fresh—that it stemmed from his contacts with EgyptAir, rather than from experiences that had preceded them.

But it didn't really matter who at the NTSB was in charge of the investigation. In faraway Cairo, inevitably, it was seen as unfair. From the day that Flight 990's recorder tape was transcribed and word of its contents began to leak out, the feeling in Egypt was that all Arabs were under attack, and that the assault had been planned. More than a year after the crash I met a sharp young reporter in Cairo who continued to seethe about it. He said, "For many Egyptians it was a big example of this business of dictating the reality. What made many people question the authenticity of the U.S. claims was the rush to conclusions ... The rush, the interpretation of a few words, it left no chance. The whole thing seemed to apply within a framework of an American sort of soap opera, one of those movies you make. You know—this is a fanatic, he comes from the Middle East, he utters a few religious words, he brings the plane down." But what if Batouti really had brought the plane down—where did the reporter's reaction leave Egypt? Earlier the reporter had written critically about the corruption at EgyptAir, but he refused even to think critically about it anymore.

The reporter's anger was similar, at least superficially, to the anger that was seething through Shaker Kelada and the rest of the Egyptian delegation in November of 1999. For Jim Hall, Bernard Loeb, and others at the NTSB, the source of the problem seemed at first to be the media coverage, which was typically overeager. Rumors of suicide had circulated in the press almost since the airplane hit the water, but it was only after the voice recorder was recovered that the reports began to make uninformed reference to Muslim prayers. Three days before Hall's press conference The Washington Post ran a headline saying, "PILOT PRAYED, THEN SHUT OFF JET'S AUTOPILOT." Television stations speculated that the "prayer" was the shahada ("There is no god but God; Muhammad is the messenger of God"), as if this were what one might say before slaughtering infidels. When the actual Arabic words—Tawakkalt ala Allah—became public, some news outlets gave the following translation: "I have made my decision. I put my fate in God's hands." This was reported so widely that the NTSB took the unusual step of announcing that "I have made my decision" had never been spoken. By implication, "I place my fate ..." had.

When NTSB investigators explained their lack of control over the American press, the Egyptians scoffed and pointed out—correctly—that the reporters' sources were people inside the investigation. And anyway, the Egyptians added, what Batouti had said was not "I put my fate in God's hands"—as the NTSB's interpreter had claimed—but, rather, "I rely on God." The investigators blinked at the subtlety of this distinction, and made the necessary changes to the transcript. Then the Egyptians produced a letter from an Islamic scholar in Cairo who certified that the meaning of Tawakkalt ala Allah is "I depend in my daily affairs on the omnipotent Allah alone." The Egyptians wanted the letter inserted into the record, but were willing to allow "I rely on God" to remain in the transcript. Again, the investigators blinked. This was not the sort of thing they normally dealt with. They tried sometimes to bridge the gap as they might have with Americans, with a nudge and a smile, but it got them nowhere.

In essence the Egyptians were making two intertwined arguments: first, that it was culturally impossible for Batouti to have done what the NTSB believed; second, that the NTSB lacked the cultural sensitivity to understand what was on the cockpit voice recorder. With those arguments as a starting point, the Egyptians tore into the complexities of the evidence, disputing any assumptions or conclusions the NTSB put forward and raising new questions at every possible turn—a process that continues to this day. They were tenacious. For example (and this is just a small sample of the Egyptians' arguments): When Batouti said "Tawakkalt ala Allah," he was not preparing to die but responding in surprise to something wrong with the flight. He said it quietly, yes, but with emotion that the Americans lacked the cultural sensitivity to hear. When he started the dive, he was trying to avoid a plane or a missile outside. If not that, then the airplane went into the dive on its own. When he idled the engines, it was to keep from gaining speed. When he cut the engines, he was going through the required restart procedure, because he erroneously believed—on the basis of the low-oil-pressure warning light that flashed in the cockpit—that the engines had flamed out. Apparently Habashi made the same mistake, which is why he discussed engine cuts. When Habashi called "Pull with me!," Batouti did exactly that. The split elevators were like the upswept ailerons—either an aerodynamic anomaly, resulting from the unknown pressures of ultra-high-speed flight on the 767, or, more simply, an error in the flight-data recorder. Whichever way, the Egyptians argued that expensive wind-tunnel testing was necessary at high Mach numbers near the speed of sound.

Meanwhile, most of the wreckage had been recovered and spread out in a hangar in Rhode Island. A second salvage operation was mounted in the spring to coincide with a state visit by Mubarak to Washington. It went to the west debris field and brought up the left engine and a boatload of worthless scraps. At the NTSB a story circulated about Al Gore, who was said to have angered Mubarak by making a casual reference to "the suicide flight." There was a short flap about that. The investigation continued. The documentation grew. The possibilities multiplied and ran off in a hundred directions. An airline pilot observing the scene said to me, "It could have been this, it could have been that. Bottom line is, it could have been anything except their guy."


The Search for a Motive

While the Egyptians were proposing theory after theory to absolve Batouti, the FBI was conducting a criminal investigation, collecting evidence that provided for his possible motive. Mostly through interviews with employees of the Pennsylvania Hotel, the FBI found that Batouti had a reputation for sexual impropriety—and not merely by the prudish standards of America. It was reported that on multiple occasions over the previous two years he had been suspected of exposing himself to teenage girls, masturbating in public, following female guests to their rooms, and listening at their doors. Some of the maids, it was said, were afraid of him, and the hotel security guards had once brought him in for questioning and a warning. Apparently the hotel had considered banning him. The FBI learned that EgyptAir was aware of these problems and had warned Batouti to control his behavior. He was not considered to be a dangerous man—and certainly he was more sad than bad. In fact, there was a good side to Batouti that came out in these interviews as well. He was very human. Many people were fond of him, even at the hotel.

But a story soon surfaced that an altercation may have occurred during the New York layover before the fatal departure. The FBI was told that there had been trouble, and possibly an argument with the chief pilot, who was also staying at the hotel. It was hypothesized that the chief pilot might have threatened disciplinary action upon arrival back in Cairo—despite the public humiliation that would entail. Was that perhaps Batouti's motive? Did the killing of 217 people result from a simple act of vengeance against one man? The evidence was shaky at best. Then, in February of 2000, an EgyptAir pilot named Hamdi Hanafi Taha, forty-nine, landed in England and requested political asylum, claiming that he had information on the accident. FBI and NTSB investigators flew immediately to interview him, hoping that he would provide the answers they needed. They were disappointed. Taha told a story that seemed to confirm that Batouti had been confronted by the chief pilot, and he added some new details, but he turned out to be an informant of questionable utility—a radical Muslim who, along with others in the ranks of EgyptAir pilots, had forced the airline to ban the serving of alcohol, and who now went on at length about corruption at EgyptAir, and also what he claimed was rampant alcoholism and drug use among his secular peers. The request for asylum was itself a little flaky. The American investigators flew home without solid information. Most of this came out in the press when the story of Batouti's sexual improprieties was leaked, further angering the Egyptians. They countered, eventually producing a Boeing 777 captain named Mohamed Badrawi, who had been with the other pilots in New York on the fateful night, and who testified at length that they were like a band of brothers—that Batouti and the chief pilot got along well and had had no direct confrontations. Rather, Badrawi said, he had acted at times as a "mediator" between the two men, cautioning Batouti on behalf of the chief pilot to "grow up" in order to avoid legal problems in the United States.

With that on the record, assigning a motive to Batouti became all the more difficult. For a variety of reasons, Bernard Loeb thought the FBI was wasting everyone's time. He did not really oppose the search for a motive, but he was against entering such speculative and easily countered discussions into the NTSB's public record. Privately he believed in the story of the fight. But as he later emphasized to me, "We just didn't need to go there."

Loeb thought the same about much of the investigation. Month after month, as the NTSB chased down the theories that EgyptAir kept proposing, Loeb worried about all the other projects that were being put aside. He tried to keep a sense of distance from the work, driving from suburban Maryland to his office dressed in a sports jacket and tie, just like any other Washingtonian with a quiet job. But it was a hopeless ambition. Most mornings the Egyptian delegation was there too. Later Loeb said to me, his voice strangled with frustration, "You had to be there! You had to live through this! Day in and day out! It was as if these people would go back to their rooms at night and then identify some kind of reason ... And then it would start all over again. It was insane! It was just insane!"

To bolster their arguments the Egyptians had hired some former accident investigators and also the retired NTSB chairman Carl Vogt, whose willingness to legitimize the Egyptian campaign was seen by many within the NTSB as a betrayal. The Egyptians also turned to the American pilots' union—in principle to improve their communication with the NTSB, but in practice probably just to add weight to their side. In the spring of 2000 the union sent to Washington a man named Jim Walters, a U.S. airline pilot with long experience in accident investigations. Walters thought he could patch things up. Later he said to me, "The Egyptians appeared to be listening to me. But as it turned out, they weren't." Then he said, "I thought I was there to give them advice..." It was a disappointment. He liked the Egyptians personally, and remained sympathetic to their side even after he left.

I asked him to describe the scene in Washington. He said, "The NTSB isn't terribly tolerant of people who don't follow good investigative procedure. And they weren't used to dealing with a group like this, right in their back yard, with offices in the same building, there every day. I thought, The first thing we have to do is calm everybody down. I thought I could explain to the Egyptians, 'This is how the NTSB operates,' and explain to Jim Hall, 'Hey, these guys are Egyptians. You've got to understand who these guys are, and why they're doing things the way they are, and maybe we can all just kiss and make up and get along from here."

But it didn't work out that way. Walters was naive. Kiss and make up? The Egyptians no more needed his advice about investigative procedure than they had needed the NTSB's opinions about the nature of a free press.

A small war had broken out between Egypt and the United States on a battlefield called Loews L'Enfant Plaza Hotel. On one side stood Shaker Kelada and his men, fighting for the honor of their nation against the mysterious forces of American hegemony, and specifically against an agency whose famed independence they believed had been compromised. On the other side stood Bernard Loeb and his people, fighting just as hard—but to set a schedule, write the report, and disengage. Jim Hall was scurrying in between. And Boeing was off in Seattle, not quite out of range, trying unsuccessfully to look small.

The irony is that Loeb, too, thought the agency's independence had been compromised, though for the opposite reason: there were meetings at the White House, and phone calls to Jim Hall, in which concern was expressed about accommodating the Egyptian view, and in which it was implied that there should be no rush to finish a report that inevitably would offend Mubarak. Loeb was disgusted and typically vocal about his opinion. When I asked him if the influence was necessarily so wrong, he said, "Next they ask you to change the report—to say Batouti didn't do it." He added, however, that no one had ever suggested such a change—and it was a good thing, too.

                                                                           Egypt Versus the West


By late last May the fight had slowed, and Shaker Kelada was able to spend most of his time back home in Cairo. The NTSB had just issued a draft report, and Egypt was preparing an opposing response. I found Kelada in his expansive new office at the Cairo airport, where we talked several times over the course of a week. These were not good conversations. Kelada insisted on repeating the official Egyptian positions, and would go no further. At one point he began to attack the New York air-traffic controllers, and specifically Ann Brennan, for having walked away from her display. He implied that her absence had a bearing on the accident, or perhaps sparked a subsequent cover-up by the American government. He said, "It was very sloppy air-traffic control, and not what the U.S. wants to show. They're number one at everything, and they don't want anyone to know that they have a sloppy operation in New York."

I tried to reach him as one pilot to another. I said, "Come on, I think of that as being a normal operation, don't you?"

He said, "Well, if it is, I don't want to fly in the New York area!"

It was nonsense. And in aviation terms, a lot of what he said to me was equally unconvincing. Eventually I stopped taking notes.

Even when he was being reasonable, the party line kept showing through. He said, "I cannot say it's a mechanical failure. I don't have enough evidence, but I cannot dismiss the possibility of a mechanical failure ... If I want to be careful."

I said, "On the other hand, you do have enough evidence to dismiss the human factor?"

And he said, "Yes."

"To dismiss the intentional act?"

"Yes." He paused. He said, "We search for the truth."

It was late in the day. Kelada sat behind his desk—a man in a big office with jets outside, a smart man, a careful man. I thought of the question that had plagued me all along: not whether the Egyptians were right or wrong but whether they really believed their own words. Loeb had said to me, "Do they believe it? I believe they believe in fear."

I went downtown, to an old coffeehouse near the Nile, and spent a few hours with Hani Shukrallah, a columnist and one of the more thoughtful observers of the Egyptian scene. Shukrallah is a small, nervous man, and a heavy smoker. He said, "I know that as far as the Egyptian government was concerned, the point that this was not pilot error, and that the Egyptian pilot did not bring it down—this was decided before the investigation began. It had to do with Egypt's image in the outside world ... The government would have viewed this exactly as it would, for example, an Islamic terrorist act in Luxor—something that we should cover up. So it got politicized immediately. And this became an official line: You are out there to prove that EgyptAir is not responsible. It became a national duty. It was us versus the West. And all the history played into it, from Bonaparte's campaign until now." In the minds even of people on the street, Shukrallah said, it became "an all-out war."


Following Flight 990's Path

If so, the United States was in such a strong position that it could lose the struggle only by defeating itself. This is why from the very start of the difficult process it was all the more important for the NTSB to consider the evidence fairly and keep an open mind. The problem was that so many of the scenarios the Egyptians posited were patently absurd—stray missiles, ghost airplanes, strange weather, and the like. Yet that didn't mean that everything they said was wrong. As long as Batouti's motive could not be conclusively shown, the possibility remained that the dive of Flight 990 was unintentional, just as Kelada maintained. And in the background the Egyptians had some very smart engineers looking into the various theories.

The 767's elevator movements are powered by three redundant hydraulic circuits, driving a total of six control mechanisms called "actuators," which normally operate in unison. Given the various linkages and cross-connections, the system is complex. The Egyptians thought it through and realized that if two of the six actuators were to fail on the same side of the airplane, they would drive both elevators down, forcing the 767 to pitch into a dive that might match the profile that had emerged from EgyptAir 990's flight-data recorder. Furthermore, if such a failure happened and either pilot tried to right it, that could conceivably explain the "splitting" of the elevators that occurred during 990's attempted recovery.

As might be expected, the discussion about dual actuator failures grew complicated. It also grew political. The NTSB had salvaged most of the actuators from the ocean floor and had found no clear evidence of failure, but with perceptions of public safety at stake, the agency asked Boeing for further information. Boeing engineers calculated that a dual actuator failure would not have deflected the elevators far enough down to equal the known elevator deflections of Flight 990, and that such a failure therefore would not have caused as steep a dive. To explore the question they performed a series of ground tests of a 767 elevator, inducing dual actuator failures and "splits" on a parked airplane in Seattle. After adjusting the measured effects for the theoretical aerodynamic pressures of flight, they found—as they had expected—poor correlation with the known record of Flight 990 elevator positions. They believed in any case that either pilot could quickly have recovered from a dual actuator failure by doing what comes naturally at such moments—pulling back hard on the controls.

The NTSB was satisfied; the Egyptians were not. They poked holes in the conclusions and requested basic and costly aerodynamic research, at speeds well beyond the 767's limits, toward Mach One. The question was, of course, To what end? But for Boeing this was a delicate thing, because Egypt kept buying expensive airplanes and was influential in the Arab world. A bit of additional research would perhaps be in order.

Meanwhile, the company's engineers had moved on to flight simulations of the accident, a series of dives set up to be flown in Boeing's highly programmable 767 engineering simulator—a "fixed cab" without motion, capable of handling extremes. These were the profiles that I flew when I went to Seattle last summer. On that same trip I went to Everett, Washington, where the airplanes are made, and in a cockpit with a company test pilot split the elevators in a powered-up 767, as the Egyptian crew presumably had. In order to do this we needed to break the connection between the left and right control yokes, which are mechanically joined under the floorboards, and usually move together. He pushed on his, I pulled on mine, and at fifty pounds of pressure between us the controls were suddenly no longer working in tandem. Far behind us, at the tail, the elevators separated smoothly. On a cockpit display we watched each elevator go its own way. The airplane shuddered from the movement of the heavy control surfaces. We played with variations. Toward the end the pilot laughed and said I was compressing his bones.

But when I got to the simulations, they felt too real to be a game. The simulator was a surrogate cockpit already in flight—humming and warm, with all the controls and familiar displays, and a view outside of an indistinct twilight. It was headed east at 33,000 feet and .79 Mach—just as Flight 990 had been. The first set of profiles were "back-driven" duplications of the fatal dive, generated directly from Flight 990's flight-data recorder. Another Boeing test pilot sat in Batouti's seat, and the engineers clustered around behind. I let the simulation run on automatic the first few times, resting one hand on the controls to feel the beast die—the sudden pitch and shockingly fast dive, the clicking of a wildly unwinding altimeter, the warbling alarm, the loss of most displays at the bottom after the engines were gone, and the dark, steep, soaring climb up to 24,000 feet, the control yoke rattling its warning of an aerodynamic stall, the airplane rolling southeast to its end. I watched this several times and then flew the same thing by hand, matching the pressure I put on the control yoke to a specially rigged indicator, which, after the elevators' split had occurred, allowed me to match the force required to achieve Habashi's "pull" and Batouti's "push" as captured by the flight-data recorder. First I stood and flew Habashi's "Pull with me!" from behind the seat—up to ninety pounds of force, which under those conditions seemed like not very much. It was the other intention, the pushing, that was dramatic. What was required was not only pushing but then pushing harder. The idea that someone would do that in an airplane full of passengers shocked me as a pilot. If that's what Batouti did, I will never understand what was going on in his mind.

The second set of simulations were easier to fly. These were the dual actuator failures, which EgyptAir proposed might have overcome Batouti when he was alone in the cockpit. The purpose was to test the difficulty or ease of recovery from such an upset. Again the simulations began at 33,000 feet and .79 Mach. I flew by hand from the start. The airplane pitched down strongly and without warning. I hauled back on the controls and lost 800 feet. It was an easy recovery, but not fair—I had been ready. The engineers then made me wait before reacting, as they had made other pilots—requiring delays of five, ten, and finally fifteen seconds before I began the recovery. Fifteen seconds seems like an eternity in a 767 going out of control. Even so, by hauling hard on the yoke and throttling back, I managed to pull out after losing only 12,000 feet; and though I went to the maximum allowable dive speed, the airplane survived. This was not unusual. Airplanes are meant to be flown. During the original simulation sessions done for the NTSB every pilot with a dual actuator failure was able to recover, and probably better than I. So what was wrong with Batouti? The simplest explanation is that he was trying to crash the airplane. But if he wasn't, if the Egyptians were right that he couldn't recover from a dual actuator failure, what was wrong with him as an aviator?

I posed the question to Jim Walters, the airline pilot who despite his disappointment remained sympathetic to the Egyptians' position. He had a ready answer. He called Batouti "the world's worst airline pilot."

But how good do you have to be?

Bernard Loeb would have none of it. He said, "Sure. In the end they were willing to sell him down the river. They said, 'He panicked!' Bottom line is, if the actuator drops the nose, you can pull it up. They know that. They admit it. Pulling the nose up is the most intuitive, reflexive thing you can do in an airplane. So when you start hearing arguments like that, you know people are blowing smoke."

"Look, first we sit through this cockpit voice recording in which ... " He shook his head. "How many cockpit voice recordings have I heard? Hundreds? Thousands? When someone has a problem with an airplane, you know it. One of our investigators used to say to me, 'These damned pilots, they don't tell us what's happening. Why don't they say, "It's the rudder!"' They don't do that. But I'll tell you what they do say. They make clear as hell that there's something really wrong. 'What the hell's going on? What is that?' Every single one of them. When there's a control problem of some sort, it is so crystal clear that they are trying desperately to diagnose what is going on. Right to when the recorder quits. They are fighting for their lives.

"But this guy is sitting there saying the same thing in a slow, measured way, indicating no stress. The captain comes in and asks what's going on, and he doesn't answer! That's what you start with. Now you take the dual actuator failure that doesn't match the flight profile, and is also fully recoverable. Where do you want to go after that?"



Posted on 06/24/2011 1:30 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 24 June 2011
Words, Words, Words

I start to read an excerpt from a book titled "Pakistan: Inside The World's Most Dangerous State" and this is what I find:

"After reporting from Pakistan for more than twenty years, one of the most incredulous aspects of Osama bin Laden’s final years was: how could he have lived in an acre-large, million dollar compound in the Pakistani Army town of Abbottabad, without the knowledge of the Pakistani military, especially its omnipotent intelligence organization, the ISI"

I am incredulous. I find this incredible. But what can I do? I'm not the writer who made the howler, I'm not the editor who failed to catch it. I'm just a poor reader.

I turn on the radio. I listen to "experts." You know, "experts on terrorism." "Middle East experts." "Experts on foreign policy." Those kind of "experts."

One of them -- quite a well-known official "expert" -- refers to a story being merely "opticrypyhal."

I listen to another "expert" explaiing that something is the "apothosis" rather than the "apotheosis."

But what can I do?

I'm not the speaker. I'm not the interviewer. I'm just a helpless, passive listner.

Don't feel sorry for me. Don't feel sorry for yourself. Feel sorry for the English language.

Posted on 06/24/2011 1:38 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 24 June 2011
Yeah, Right, Samuel Daniel

"And who in time knows whither we may vent the treasure of our tongue, to what strange shores this gain of our best glories shall be sent, 't unknowing Nations with our stores? What worlds in the yet unformed Occident may come refined with the accents that are ours?"

Posted on 06/24/2011 1:46 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 24 June 2011
A Musical Interlude: Le Soleil Et La Lune (Charles Trenet)

Listen here.


Sur le toit de l'hôtel où je vis avec toi
Quand j'attends ta venue mon ami
Que la nuit fait chanter plus fort et mieux que moi
Tous les chats tous les chat tous les chats
Que dit-on sur les toits que répètent les voix
De ces chats de ces chats qui s'ennuient
Des chansons que je sais que je traduis pour toi
Les voici les voici les voilà...

Le soleil a rendez-vous avec la lune
Mais la lune n'est pas là et le soleil attend
Ici-bas souvent chacun pour sa chacune
Chacun doit en faire autant
La lune est là, la lune est là
La lune est là, mais le soleil ne la voit pas
Pour la trouver il faut la nuit
Il faut la nuit mais le soleil ne le sait pas et toujours luit
Le soleil a rendez-vous avec la lune
Mais la lune n'est pas là et le soleil attend
Papa dit qu'il a vu ça lui...

Des savants avertis par la pluie et le vent
Annonçaient un jour la fin du monde
Les journaux commentaient en termes émouvants
Les avis les aveux des savants
Bien des gens affolés demandaient aux agents
Si le monde était pris dans la ronde
C'est alors que docteurs savants et professeurs
Entonnèrent subito tous en choeur

Le soleil a rendez-vous avec la lune
Mais la lune n'est pas là et le soleil attend
Ici-bas souvent chacun pour sa chacune
Chacun doit en faire autant
La lune est là, la lune est là
La lune est là, mais le soleil ne la voit pas
Pour la trouver il faut la nuit
Il faut la nuit mais le soleil ne le sait pas et toujours luit
Le soleil a rendez-vous avec la lune
Mais la lune n'est pas là et le soleil attend
Papa dit qu'il a vu ça lui...

Philosophes écoutez cette phrase est pour vous
Le bonheur est un astre volage
Qui s'enfuit à l'appel de bien des rendez-vous
Il s'efface il se meurt devant nouS
Quand on croit qu'il est loin il est là tout près de nous
Il voyage il voyage il voyage
Puis il part il revient il s'en va n'importe où
Cherchez-le il est un peu partout...

Le soleil a rendez-vous avec la lune
Mais la lune n'est pas là et le soleil attend
Ici-bas souvent chacun pour sa chacune
Chacun doit en faire autant
La lune est là, la lune est là
La lune est là, la lune est là
La lune est là, mais le soleil ne la voit pas
Pour la trouver il faut la nuit
Il faut la nuit mais le soleil ne le sait pas et toujours luit
Le soleil a rendez-vous avec la lune
Mais la lune n'est pas là et le soleil attend
Papa dit qu'il a vu ça lui...

Papa dit qu'il a vu ça lui...

Posted on 06/24/2011 1:55 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 24 June 2011
The Conclusion To Langewiesche's "The Crash Of EgyptAir 990"

The NTSB's final report on Flight 990 was expected for the fall of this year [2001], and it was widely presumed in aviation circles that the report would find no mechanical failure or external cause for the crash. It also seemed likely that the report would at least implicitly blame Batouti for the disaster—a conclusion that would, of course, be unacceptable within Egypt. Nonetheless, by last May, when I met him in Cairo, Shaker Kelada was looking pleased, and I later found out why. His engineers had gotten busy again, and had come up with new concerns—certain combinations of tail-control failures that might require further testing. Now Boeing had come to town for a quiet talk with its customers, and had agreed to do the tests. Boeing was going to inform the NTSB of the new work, and the end would again be delayed.

Sitting in his office, Kelada could not help gloating. He said, "Jim Hall told me, 'I've learned a very good lesson. When you deal with a foreign carrier in an investigation, before you go anywhere with it, you have to study the history and culture of the country.' These were his own words to me! He said, 'I knew nothing about Egypt or its culture before we got into EgyptAir 990.'"

I said, "What would he have learned?"

"Not to underestimate people. To think that he's way up there, and everybody's way down here."

Fair enough. But in the end there was the question of the objective truth—and there was the inclination not to seek real answers for even such a simple event as a single accident nearly two years before.

I knew that at the start of the investigation the Egyptian delegation had included a man named Mamdouh Heshmat, a high official in civil aviation. When the cockpit voice recording first arrived at L'Enfant Plaza, Heshmat was there, and he heard it through with a headset on. According to several investigators who listened alongside him, he came out of the room looking badly shaken, and made it clear he knew that Batouti had done something wrong. He may have called Cairo with that news. The next day he flew home, never to reappear in Washington. When NTSB investigators went to Cairo, they could not find him, though it was said that he was still working for the government. I knew I wouldn't find him either, but I wanted to see how Kelada would react to the mention of him. Kelada and I had come to the end. I said I had heard about a man who had been one of the first to listen to the tape—who could it have been? Kelada looked straight at me and said, "I don't recall his name." There was no reason to continue, from his perspective or mine.

Posted on 06/24/2011 2:09 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 24 June 2011
Why Can't The Obama Administration Do What It Must, And Telemachically Have A Non-War With Iran

Since there are no American troops on the ground in Libya, argues the Administration, it's not hostilities, it's not a war, that the War Powers Resolution, therefore, does not apply.

Why should the Administration not engage in a non-war against the Islamic Republic of Iran, to keep it from becoming the nightmare for American policy that Pakistan, no more meretricious and Muslim than Iran, has become, because they have assumed they must keep Pakistan together and afloat lest its nuclear weapons go astray -- an argument which would apply equally to the Islamic Republic of Iran should it acquire nuclear weapons?

How should such a non-war, without "hostilities" -- just like Libya -- be conducted? Oh, from the air, near just a little, to the extent that airfields in Western Europe, or in Israel, may be temporarily employed, but mostly from afar. For  why would God have given us intercontinental ballistic missiles, if He did not want us to use them? -This fighting from afar, without a war, without even "hostilities," is accomplished telemachically. This is what  wily Odysseus, polytropic Odysseus, would have done were he around today. And who konws, perhaps, his ghost in another guise  is still somewhere present, setting out ulysses-like nuggets of wisdom so that others might mine and refine and polish them, and then put them into general currency, so transformed that no one will be able, in that world-wide hinterland of which the blind seer Tiresias spoke,  to recognize his ore.

Posted on 06/24/2011 3:09 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 24 June 2011

I turn on the radio, and hear a former  lawman, apparently a U. S. Marshal, whose name I don't catch (perhaps it was given earlier), talking about Whitey Bulger, the just-captured most obviously dangerous of the thieving Bulger Boys of South Boston, of song and story.

"He would have used the money for his fugitivity" says the Marshal.

His fugitivity.

This makes my day.

And by way of lagniappe sent all the way from Plaquemines Parish (Leander Perez, presiding) that U.S. Marshal also uninhibitedly, straightforwardly, cheerfully -- from his speech one concludes he's a mean-streets good guy from the old days, when men were men and didn't watch their language -- describes someone as a "fat little Italian guy."

When the interviewer thanks him, I learn his name: Vic Oboyski.  I google him. There's a book about the feats of derring-do he and fellow marshals have performed. The book is called Too Tough to Die: Down and Dangerous with the U.S. Marshals .

I hope that Vic Oboyski won't take offense if I apostrophize him just this once -- see the title of this posting -- in order to put a bit more of County Donegal into his name. Right now, it fits.

Posted on 06/24/2011 2:57 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 24 June 2011
Old Believers

Look at the slide-show here.

Posted on 06/24/2011 4:07 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 24 June 2011
A Little Proleptic Patching It Up With Europe

In the next elections Marine Le Pen will do very well. And so will similar candidates, alarmed about Islam, all over Western Europe. This will come as a great surprise to the incessantly surprised American government. It will not be expecting this. It then has a choice. One possiblity is to denounce this rise in "extremism" and "nativism" and a deliberately generalized "anti-immigrant sentiment" and there will be all kinds of people, such experts as Tom Friedman and Nicholas Kristof and Fareed Zakaria, deploring the "rise of the far-right."

Now is a good time to  think about why, despite the efforts of almost every member of the political and media elites in Europe for the past several decades to convince people otherwise, so many in the West have come to their own conclusions about Islam and have decided that those who take it to heart represent a menace to the West, to its legal and political institutions, and to the wellbeing of all Infidels. In many cases those conclusions, so different from what the editorial writers and government officials want people to conclude, are based only on personal observation of how Muslims behave in the countries they have been allowed to enter and settle deep within, as non-refugee "refugees." In others, those immediate observations have been supplemented by knowledge of how Muslims elsewhere behave toward non-Muslmis, both in non-Muslim lands, and in those already dominated and ruled by Muslims. And observation is starting to be supplemented by reading. There are the written temoignages, or acts of witnessing and witness, by such people as Ibn Warraq, Wafa Sultan, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Nonie Darwish, Afshin Elian. There are the scholars of Islam -- Hans Jansen comes to mind, the compilers of anthologies of writing on important aspects of Islam -- Andrew Bostom's compilations come to mind -- and there are more and more people who, while they may not be able to break the near-monopoly on academic jobs having to do with Islam and the Middle East that apologists for Islam, both Muslim and non-Muslim, supported by Saudi and other Arab money, have managed to acquire in so many colleges and universities -- have on their own begun to study the contents of the Qur'an and Hadith, which are easily accessible on-line to all. And then there are the many commentators on Islam, not all of whom can be labelled as "far right" or even as "right" and not all of whom are self-promoters with their eyes on the main chance.

It's not too early to begin to figure out ways for an ideological alliance-- and least as, and p[ossibly more, important as the military alliance that is NATO -- to be formed, enrolling the combined clevernesses of a great many people, the kind of people who worked so effectively to lessen the appeal of Communism, and hence that of the Soviet Union, during the Cold War.


Posted on 06/24/2011 4:10 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 24 June 2011
Fitzgerald: Why We Need Reconciliation With France
Re-posted from August 29, 2005, before Sarkozy was elected, and while Bush was still President:
France's policies were never quite as intolerable as depicted. Chirac is a crook, DdeV a preener, a poseur, and a poetaster. Nicholas Sarkozy, the unbeatable future president, has his embarrassments with a wayward wife, but when it comes to Islam, he is somewhat less foolable that the others. He left Tariq Ramadan exposed and humiliated on television, every taqiyya-fiber shredded. But Sarkozy also still believes that "integration" of Muslims is the key -- failing to comprehend, or not allowing himself to comprehend, that "integration" is not the key (above all, not the kind of "integration" that will make Muslims better able to manipulate the minds of Infidels, which the kind of knowledge of language and moeurs can do, akin to what was taught in those KGB spy villages).

Jean-Louis Bruguiere, the head of anti-terrorism efforts within France, does not tolerate -- nor need he -- the kind of things that the British have permitted. The French, though they have the disadvantage of idiotically allowing in so many Muslims, nonetheless have a few advantages when it comes to listening in and monitoring. Not everyone who fled North Africa was an Arab or a Muslim. There are among the pieds noirs some who knew some Arabic. Arabic-speaking Jews, and Berbers of a secular bent, hardly wishing to have Arabs and Islam imposed on France, the country in which they now live, are all pools of talent from which to draw.

Compare the level of the intelligence of our intelligence agents with what the French possess. Think, for example, of that simpleton Michael Scheuer, who was actually put in charge of something called the "Bin Laden" desk, and who knows nothing, absolutely nothing, about Islam. What's more, he appears to be touched by the same pathological view of "Jewish power" which, by now, we all recognize not as something merely unpleasant, or deplorable, but nowadays, as in the 1930s, given the nature of the enemy, renders Scheuer and others like him positive security risks. The French media's coverage of the Middle East is intolerable, but that does not mean that among those casting a beady eye on domestic Muslims there is any illusion that this is merely a matter of "Palestine," or that once they throw Israel to the wolves (i.e., give the Arabs and Muslims what they want in their Lesser Jihad) that the Greater Jihad against all Infidels will cease, or that those Muslims will do anything in response to the sacrifice of Israel but display increased triumphalism and determination.

But the French still think that the intervention in Iraq was "pire qu'un crime" -- worse than a crime, it was a mistake, in the phrase of Talleyrand (the same Talleyrand who was booed in New York, incidentally, by American supporters of the Revolution -- see the "Travels of Moreau de St.-Remy"). As to the original intervention, one can still maintain that that was rational and was worth it. But as to the rest of it, the sticking around for what no one could describe as even a reasonable facsimile of "democracy" but rather ethnic and sectarian power-seizing at its most obvious, there the French, it is clear, have a point. We should put down the silly Infidel Man's Burden, cease to watch America Being Held Hostage In Iraq, and get on with the thousand things that could be done, that make sense to have done, to contain Islam and to diminish the power of Muslims and the presence of Muslims behind enemy lines. (And no, that is not too strong a way to describe the Lands of the Infidels, for those who take just a moment out of their busy Washington schedules, photo-ops, reading of 2-page summaries of the world every morning, to read Qur'an, Hadith, and Sira, even in abridged form).

Of course the American government has learned a lesson that it will not admit to having learned.[how hopeful I was six years ago, how unable to gauge the power of  "what everyone knows," the inertia of unconquerable stupidity] It knows it must never again try to refashion a Muslim country by sending large numbers of troops, for by now 425,000 Americans in the regular military, in the Reserves, and in the National Guard have served in the Iraq theatre. Not all of them are mindless. A good many can compare the Iraqi reality with what the Administration and some -- but not all -- of the dutiful generals insist, in hallucinatory fashion, is that reality.

And that is a lesson that France, possibly for all the wrong motives, understands. The way to deal with Islam is to recognize what Islam is all about, recognize the immutability of the doctrines, recognize that the only "moderate" Muslims one can really rely on not to relapse into "immoderate" Islam, or to be true "moderates" in any useful sense, are those who are not really Muslims at all, but rather what I continue to call "Muslims-for-identification-purposes-only." In other words, these are the ones who essentially do not believe in Islam at all, but are too afraid, or too wary of offending family members, or even who hold to Islam as a career move: one can do well as a "good Muslim" but outright apostates tend not to be given the hearing, the respect, and the financial support that "good Muslims" busily "reforming" Islam find so available.

The islamization of Europe, and not who wins or loses in Iraq is the real issue before us. In Iraq, in any case, the war is not between the "freedom-loving Iraqis" (good god) and the "terrorists" but, in the main, between the Sunnis and Shi'a. It is a fight for power, for who rules over whom, for what Lenin called Kto Kovo: "Who -- (does it to) -- Whom?"

Europeans are now coming out of a deep dream of peace. There is no peace. They have done something tremendously stupid, and more than stupid, by allowing in people who bear in their mental luggage something inimical to Western ways, who are hostile to Western political and social understandings, and who -- save for a few who will leave Islam altogether -- cannot be integrated. These people, now close to 20 million, also reproduce at rates three to four times higher than the indigenous Infidels. The mathematics of this, and the misery of this, and the menace of this, is clear.

Let Iraq be Iraq. That is, let "Iraq" the pseudo-nation devolve into, dissolve into, the three vilayets put together by Sir Percy Cox back in 1920. The last 80 years of the "nation" of Iraq under Sunni rule did nothing to diminish, and everything to increase, the Shi'a resentment and hatred of Sunnis, and the Kurdish resentment and hatred of Arabs.

Yet instead of taking advantage of this, our President continues to prate about "democracy" and "freedom-loving" people in Iraq, while avoiding carefully the subject of Islam which he still sees as through a glass darkly. For his claque he can do no wrong. He must be right, if for no other reason -- and there now is no other reason -- that Cindy Sheehan is a sinister simpleton, and so are all those who are like her. But so what? Stalin was sinister, and no simpleton, and we worked to defeat Hitler with him, and it might have appeared to the Man from Mars that we were on the same side. But we weren't.

The E.U. bureaucracy is as hopelessly philo-islamic, anti-American, and anti-Israel as the U.N., and should simply be ignored. But the days of Javier Solana, Chris Patten, and so on are numbered. The E.U. has been permanently weakened as an institution, and Muslim attacks within Europe have made its bureaucrats even more distasteful to European publics, more unrepresentative, than they were before -- for they are the complete Eurabians.

We need to remove ourselves from Iraq, and cease to claim that "democracy" will bring a better outcome for Infidels. We can see already that if the Americans remain to keep Iraq together, and to keep an Iraqi state together, it will perforce be much more Muslim than it was before. Is this what the Administration wants? Well, if it thinks that the problem is not Islam, if it continues to pretend otherwise, because it lacks the wit to discuss the problem in terms that could be plausibly presented (the words "Jihad" and "Anti-Jihad" scream out for use; so do such phrases as "we are not against Islam, but only against those who apparently believe in the Jihad to force their own beliefs on the rest of the world, which of course the vast and overwhelming majority of law-abiding Muslims do not" (this is nonsense, and false, but useful nonsense, useful falsity).

A little reconciliation with Europe needs to take place. But the Administration, for all of its tough-guy rhetoric, is timid about Islam, afraid of offending Muslims, afraid to recognize that a belief-system is a permanent menace, and therefore keeps clutching at the straw of "democracy" in Iraq. In the process of herding those Shi'a, Sunni, and Kurdish cats, it shows us, and shows the Europeans, that some in this Administration, despite their boots and spurs and swaggering walk, are All Hat, and No Cattle.

Posted on 06/24/2011 4:40 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 24 June 2011
The Cost Of The Libyan Intervention Is Tens Of Billions Of Dollars

From Reuters:

Loss of Libya oil bigger disruption than Katrina: IEA

June 24, 2011

(Reuters) - The loss of Libyan oil output since February represented a greater disruption to global oil supply than the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Richard Jones, the deputy head of the International Energy Agency, told Reuters Insider TV.

Jones, speaking in Reuters' Paris bureau, said that the initial disruption to oil output in Libya happened at a "fortuitous" time for European oil refiners as many were closed for maintenance.

"Now we're going into the summer driving season, those refineries which have returned to operation are about to ramp up their production."

Jones said the market was facing a possible shortfall of 1.8 million barrels per day for the remainder of June and 1.7 million for the next quarter.

Asked whether all countries agreed to the release, Jones said: "All 28 countries were approached with the plan and not one country opposed it."

On Thursday, the International Energy Agency which represents the major oil consumers agreed to release 60 million barrels from emergency stockpiles, sending crude prices tumbling.

Thursday's announcement marked only the third time that the IEA, a policy adviser to the industrialized world's energy consuming nations, has released its emergency stockpiles.

As well as releasing stocks in the wake of the Hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico in 2005, the agency also made oil available during the 1990 Kuwait crisis.

Posted on 06/24/2011 4:49 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 24 June 2011
Islamabad's Islamic bus shelters

Even as America and Britain pump billions in aid into Pakistan, bus shelters are being given a costly religious makeover. Is this the best use of a nation's money asks Rob Crilly of The Telegraph:


Pakistan has a good thing going on. The US pumps in $1.5bn every year in civilian aid as part of the quid pro quo for being able to rely on Pakistan military support – such as it is – in tackling Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters along the border with Afghanistan. Then this year, Andrew Mitchell declared the Department for International Development would make Pakistan the biggest recipient of British overseas aid, raking in almost £1.4bn of taxpayers money over the next five years (so long as certain conditions were met).

The rationale is clear. Pakistan's economy is a basket case, it faces threats from foreign and domestic militants, and it has a growing arsenal of nuclear weapons. The collapse of Pakistan would be a disaster.

All well and good. Except for one thing. This week it emerged that the capital city Islamabad is to spend almost half a million dollars on tarting up its bus shelters, painting them in bright colours with pictures of flowers – and screeds of Islamic text. Giving each of the bus shelters a religious conversion will cost 400,000 rupees or about $4700. And 100 of the concrete sun shades – as they are known here – are in line to be spruced up.

A spokesman for the Capital Development Authority, responsible for public works in Islamabad, said it was part of the drive to give the capital “a more creative and Islamic look".

Of course, in a country where blasphemy is punishable by death, it's also a neat way to protect the bus shelters from graffiti. Woe betide anyone who tries to scrawl their tag across the Prophet's words.

Already residents have come out in favour of the bright colours and lively designs. Some even apparently asking to have them in their own neighbourhoods

Talib Hussain, a bearded student at a local madrassa, is also a fan of the new bus stops. "It is kind of a prayer to see and read verses and the names of God written in calligraphic art on the sunshade," he told me.

But is this really the best use of the city's money? Already the United Nations is warning that 5m people are at risk from flooding in this year's monsoons, because of poor reconstruction following last year's disaster. The money being spent on bus shelters would fund the National Disaster Management Authority for a full eight months.

Or wouldn't the money be better spent on rebuilding girls schools destroyed by the Taliban? Or on ending the chronic power shortages that cripple the country ever summer? (My house in Islamabad is blacked out for four hours a day because of electricity shortages – and many cities have it much, much worse.)

But then again, why bother when you are crucial ally in the war on terror with donors pouring money into your services.

Bus? Gravy train more like it.

Posted on 06/24/2011 7:11 PM by Mary Jackson
Friday, 24 June 2011
Advice From One Of New Jersey's Best 50 Women In Business...."The Payoff Is There"

From CNN:

Couple allegedly steals millions from New York, then flees to India

New York-- A couple once celebrated for their business savvy in the tech world are suspected of fleeing to India after allegedly defrauding the city of New York of at least $400 million, prosecutors said.

Reddy and Padma Allen were indicted in absentia Monday in a federal court in New York in what prosecutors described as a "massive and elaborate scheme" to steal taxpayer dollars, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement.

Also on Monday, Carl Bell, a chief engineer for Science Applications International Corp., considered one of the primary contractors accused in the scandal, pleaded guilty to charges of fraud and accepting millions of dollars in bribes.

The three are the latest in a string of people indicated for their alleged role in the scheme. Eight other people have been indicted.

"The corruption on the CityTime project was epic in duration, magnitude and scope," Bharara said.

The CityTime project is a New York City initiative meant to modernize a public payroll system for its municipal employees. It has been plagued by cost overruns and delays since it began in 1998.

Originally budgeted at $63 million, the still incomplete project has run up a bill of more than $600 million, according to the federal indictment.

Most of that excess is tainted with kickbacks and fraud, Bharara said.

Prosecutors say the couple ran a technology company, TechnoDyne, that systemically overbilled and intentionally caused delays in an effort to elicit additional funding.

The pair also created shell companies, drawing additional subcontractor dollars and depositing the funds into bank accounts in India.

Attempts to contact the Allens were unsuccessful.

Between 2003 and 2010, at least $400 million of the $600 million spent on the project had been paid to TechnoDyne, according to the indictment.

"The individuals primarily responsible for the project collaborated in an effort to overbill and otherwise defraud the city by exploiting their authority and influence," the indictment says.

Padma Allen, 43, was recognized in 2010 as one of Ernst & Young's entrepreneurs of the year in New Jersey as well as one of New Jersey's Best 50 Women in Business by NJBIZ newspaper.

In a profile of her printed in IndUS Business Journal in June 2010, she noted the challenge of working on government projects.

"It is not easy," she told the magazine. "It is a lot of paperwork and you really have to go by the book. ... But the payoff is there."

Prosecutors say the couple -- who are American citizens -- are currently in their native India.

Posted on 06/24/2011 7:59 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 24 June 2011
Don't Ever Stop
Latest developments in Arab world's unrest



Defying government guns, thousands of Syrian protesters pour down city streets and a main highway to press demands for President Bashar Assad's ouster. Security forces open fire, killing at least 15 people, including two children, activists say.



A car bomb believed to have been set off be a suicide attacker kills three Yemeni security personnel in the southern city of Aden, the government says, as residents grow fearful of a possible attempt by Islamic militants to seize control of the strategic port city.

The government quickly says it suspects al-Qaida, but opponents have accused the regime of exaggerating the al-Qaida threat to try to hang on to Western support in the face of the four-month protest campaign aimed at ousting the autocratic president.

Tens of thousands of anti-government demonstrators in Aden and around the nation again hold weekend rallies against President Ali Abdullah Saleh.



Bahrain's top Shiite cleric sharply criticizes the life sentences given to eight opposition leaders for their role in anti-government protests in this Gulf kingdom. Sheik Isa Qassim's sermon is the latest signal that Shiite leaders could snub Sunni rulers' appeals for dialogue next month amid the crackdown in Bahrain, which is home to the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet.

Bahrain's government defends the sentences, saying that the activists were convicted of "plotting to violently topple Bahrain's government" and "passing sensitive information to a terrorist organization in a foreign country."



Dozens of detained rebels return on a Red Cross ship to their eastern stronghold of Benghazi, detailing how they were tortured at the hands of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's forces.

The ship carrying 51 prisoners also brought back 249 people who wanted to be reunited with family in eastern Libya, a Red Cross spokeswoman says. It was not immediately clear whether there had been a prisoner swap with the Gadhafi government.

"They electrocuted us, they tortured us in every possible way," says Yousef al-Fetori, who had been detained in the capital of Tripoli. "They broke my ribs, hand and leg."



Dozens of supporters of Hosni Mubarak clash with opponents of the ousted Egyptian leader in central Cairo, with some on both sides hurling rocks at each other. Police say 20 people are injured. One side shouts, "We love you, Mr. President," and the other side screams back, "The people want to execute the butcher."

The 83-year-old Mubarak is to face trial in August on charges he ordered the killings of protesters during the 18-day uprising that ousted him on Feb. 11. A conviction could carry the death penalty.



Some 1,000 Jordanians take to the streets across the country to demand the prime minister step down and reforms be sped up. The rallies drew fewer participants than they have earlier on in the six-month protest campaign.

In the capital, about 250 members of Jordan's powerful Muslim Brotherhood, the communist party and other leftist groups demonstrated near the prime minister's office.

Protests were also held in the Islamist hotbed of Zarqa, to the east of the capital, and in several southern towns.

Posted on 06/24/2011 8:24 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 24 June 2011
Wilders: In Defense of "Hurtful" Speech - WSJ

   By Geert Wilders 

(Editor's Note: Mr. Wilders is a member of the Dutch Parliament and the leader of the Party for Freedom.)


Yesterday was a beautiful day for freedom of speech in the Netherlands. An Amsterdam court acquitted me of all charges of hate speech after a legal ordeal that lasted almost two years. The Dutch people learned that political debate has not been stifled in their country. They learned they are still allowed to speak critically about Islam, and that resistance against Islamization is not a crime.

I was brought to trial despite being an elected politician and the leader of the third-largest party in the Dutch parliament. I was not prosecuted for anything I did, but for what I said. My view on Islam is that it is not so much a religion as a totalitarian political ideology with religious elements. While there are many moderate Muslims, Islam's political ideology is radical and has global ambitions. I expressed these views in newspaper interviews, op-ed articles, and in my 2008 documentary, "Fitna."

I was dragged to court by leftist and Islamic organizations that were bent not only on silencing me but on stifling public debate. My accusers claimed that I deliberately "insulted" and "incited discrimination and hatred" against Muslims. The Dutch penal code states in its articles 137c and 137d that anyone who either "publicly, verbally or in writing or image, deliberately expresses himself in any way that incites hatred against a group of people" or "in any way that insults a group of people because of their race, their religion or belief, their hetero- or homosexual inclination or their physical, psychological or mental handicap, will be punished."

I was dragged to court for statements that I made as a politician and which were meant to stimulate public debate in a country where public debate has stagnated for decades. Dutch political parties see themselves as guardians of a sterile status quo. I want our problems to be discussed. I believe that politicians have a public trust to further debates about important issues. I firmly believe that every public debate holds the prospect of enlightenment.

My views represent those of a growing number of Dutch voters, who have flocked to the Party for Freedom, or PVV. The PVV is the fastest-growing party in the country, expanding from one seat in the 150-seat House of Representatives in 2004, to nine seats in 2006 and 24 seats in 2010. My party's views, however, are so uncommon in the Netherlands that they are considered blasphemous by powerful elites who fear and resent discussion.

That's why I was taken to court, even though the public prosecutor saw no reason to prosecute me. "Freedom of expression fulfills an essential role in public debate in a democratic society," the prosecutors repeatedly said during my trial. "That comments are hurtful and offensive for a large number of Muslims does not mean that they are punishable."

The Netherlands is one of the few countries in the world where a court can force the public prosecutor to prosecute someone. In January 2009, three judges of the Amsterdam Appeals Court ordered my prosecution in a politically motivated verdict that focused on the content of the case. They implied that I was guilty. The case was subsequently referred to the Amsterdam Court of First Instance.

The judges who acquitted me yesterday already had a peremptory ruling from the appeals court on their desk. They decided, however, to follow the arguments of the public prosecutor, who during the trial had once again reiterated his position and had asked for a full acquittal.

Though I am obviously relieved by yesterday's decision, my thoughts go to people such as Danish journalist Lars Hedegaard, Austrian human rights activist Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff and others who have recently been convicted for criticizing Islam. They have not been as fortunate. In far too many Western countries, it is still impossible to have a debate about the nature of Islam.

The biggest threat to our democracies is not political debate, nor is it public dissent. As the American judge Learned Hand once said in a speech: "That community is already in the process of dissolution . . . where faith in the eventual supremacy of reason has become so timid that we dare not enter our convictions in the open lists to win or lose." It has been a tenet in European and American thinking that men are only free when they respect each other's freedom. If the courts can no longer guarantee this, then surely a community is in the process of dissolution.

Legislation such as articles 137c and 137d of the Dutch Penal Code disgraces our democratic free societies. On the basis of such legislation, I was prevented from representing my million-and-a-half voters in parliament because I had to be in the courtroom for several days, sometimes up to three days per week, during the past year and a half. Such legislation should be abolished. It should be abolished in all Western countries where it exists -- and replaced by First Amendment clauses.

Citizens should never allow themselves to be silenced. I have spoken, I speak and I shall continue to speak.


Dow Jones Newswires

Posted on 06/24/2011 7:59 PM by Jerry Gordon
Friday, 24 June 2011
How The Pakistani Press Presents News From Washington

From a Pakistani paper, "The National": .


US boosting Afghan defence against Pakistan’

 June 25, 2011

WASHINGTON - Accusing Pakistan of trying to have a say in Afghan affairs, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has stated that the US was building up Afghanistan’s capacity to defend itself against regional and other players pushing to gain influence in the country.

Clinton told a Congressional panel that Pakistan does not want Afghanistan to become a satellite of India, and that whatever happens in the war-torn country will not affect Pakistani strategic interests.

‘So it (Pakistan) has in the past invested in a certain amount of instability in Afghanistan’, she said in her testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Thursday during a hearing on Afghanistan and Pakistan. Analysts saw her statements as biased. [Which analysts? Pakistani analysts!]

While pointing her finger at Pakistan, she glossed over Indian interference not only in Afghanistan but through it also in Pakistan, they pointed out. Having destroyed Afghanistan over the past 10 years, one expert said the US is now attempting to portray itself as a well-wisher of the country.[The Untied States did not "destroy Afghanistan" -- it had endured decades of savage warfare, and then the tyranny of the Taliban, a group created, funded, aud supported entirely by Pakistan, ever since the Taliban ("students") were formed among Afghan refugees in Pakistani madrasas, and then sent back to take over Afghanistan.] In her testimony, Hillary Clinton said: ‘It (Pakistan) also does not want Afghanistan to become a satellite of India, you know. India and Afghanistan have a historical affinity. And historically, Afghanistan has supported elements within Afghanistan, which Pakistan has seen as inimical to its own interests’.

‘So if Pakistan could be assured that what would be left would be favourable to and even, in their view, subservient to Pakistani interests, that would be fine with them. The Indians aren’t going to sit around and accept that. The Uzbeks and the Tajiks are not going to sit around and just accept that. So part of what we have been doing is to try to build up capacity within Afghanistan so it is strong enough to defend itself against all comers, but without falling back into civil war, because particularly the Northern Alliance constituents believe that they are threatened by Pakistan and the Pashtuns’, she stated.

Posted on 06/24/2011 9:08 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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