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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 Thursday, 3, 2011.
Thursday, 3 November 2011
Jailed terrorists refuse to make British Legion poppies in prison

From The Mirror

EXTREMISTS banged up in Britain’s toughest jail are refusing to make iconic Remembrance Day poppies.

Leaders of feared terrorist gang the Muslim Boys, a splinter group of al-Qaeda, have warned its members of reprisals if they get involved in the prison poppy workshops.

Bosses at HMP Belmarsh ... won a contract to make three million of the British Legion badges. Inmates can earn £15 a week extra making the poppies. But the South East London prison is struggling to meet its looming deadline since ­extremists refused to take part.

A source said: “Word has gone around the prison the Muslim Boys gang will not tolerate members taking part. Their message was pretty clear – anyone who breaks their code of honour would be dealt with. At the moment they’ve left other prisoners who are taking part alone. But it is causing some friction.”

 “Plenty of prisoners are enjoying earning extra money and doing something constructive. Some have been making them in their cell, without extra pay, because they’re proud to make the poppy. Some people will think it is good that the prisoners are putting something back into society and doing something useful. But others might not be too pleased to discover their poppy was made by a serious criminal,” the source said.

Posted on 11/03/2011 3:44 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Thursday, 3 November 2011
Christian call to prayer riles Muslims

From The Detroit News

Dearborn — The local head of a national Muslim civil rights group says a Christian prayer summit to be held at Ford Field next week promotes anti-Muslim sentiment and is warning local mosques to step up their security.Dawud Walid, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations — Michigan, met Wednesday with Muslim activists to voice his concern over the rhetoric he fears could be at the center of the event Nov. 11. "There's a bigger force or movement behind this prayer summit and how they're literally demonizing Muslims," he said.

But Metro Detroit pastors involved in the event say the gathering is merely meant to help Detroit, not target Muslims. "I don't know anything about that," said Bishop Edgar Vann of Second Ebenezer Church. "People are coming here to pray for our city and that's what I'm concerned about. Christians will be praying, but it's open to anyone."

The Call is being promoted as a 24-hour long prayer event aimed at lifting the city out of its "greatest darkness." Its website says attendees will "gather to this city that has become a microcosm of our national crisis — economic collapse, racial tension, the rising tide of the Islamic movement, and the shedding of innocent blood of our children in the streets and our unborn."

Walid advised the heads of local mosques to "maintain security at all entrances, and make sure to notify the police immediately if suspicious persons congregate on mosque property."

Posted on 11/03/2011 3:50 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Thursday, 3 November 2011
Those Predictions Of Syrian Government Collapse Are Still Wrong
To compare opposition to a despot -- mad Qaddafy, avaricious Ben Ali, slippery Saleh, stolid Mubarak -- to the opposition in Syria, whose Sunni agitators  (save for a handful of the most advanced ) want an end to Alawite rule, and the Alawites, the Christians whose wellbeing depends on that Alawite rule, understand this perfectly: "That side will win which has the better guns."
 From the Philadelphia Inquirer:
Trudy Rubin
November 2, 2011

Cairo, Egypt. Even as it continues to kill protesters, Syria accepted an Arab League plan today that calls on Damascus to end the fighting, and start talking to the Syrian opposition.

The plan requires Syria to implement an immediate ceasefire, withdraw its military forces from all cities; release thousands of opposition detainees and permit Arab media and independent observers to enter the country. If these conditions are met, the plan calls for a dialogue to begin within two weeks, at the Arab League headquarters in Cairo, between Syrian officials and Syrian opposition leaders, including those inside the country and the recently formed Syrian National Council of leaders-in-exile.

Syria initially resisted the Cairo venue, but Arab League officials insisted that a neutral location was required. I asked Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, who was in Cairo for Wednesday’s Arab League meeting, whether he thought the Syrians were serious.

 Zebari, who helped persuade the Syrians to sign on, admits that “many believe the Syrians are buying time to relieve the pressures on them.” He says that Syrian leaders “are banking that the opposition will reject the plan,” but external Syrian opposition leaders are not rejecting it outright. Instead they are waiting to see if Syria implements a ceasefire.

The Saudis, and other Arab Gulf countries “don’t have much faith in Syria’s promises,” Zebari said. “This is the last opportunity” for Damascus, he added. “Two weeks from today is the deadline.”

The Arab League took action to stop the Syrian bloodletting as it became clear that the international community was unlikely to do so, especially after Russia and China vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution harshly critical of Damascus.

Arab leaders are tremendously nervous about an all out Syrian civil war that would pit majority Sunnis against Syria’s Alawite (Shiite) leadership, and reignite sectarian conflicts around the region.  Iraq is especially worried.  Syria is a close ally of Iran, and if its president falls, the Iranians may focus more intently on exerting influence inside Iraq.

If Syria reneges on the Arab League plan, more pressure is likely to be applied by neighboring Turkey. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is said to be incensed by the behavior of Syrian President Bashar al Assad, who rebuffed extensive Turkish mediation efforts. Turkish officials believe the Syrian regime can’t be reformed, and Ankara is already permitting defecting Syrian army officers to find shelter across the border in Turkey.

Zebari says that, if Syria rebuffs the Arab league, Turkey is likely to “impose many sanctions”, including restrictions on trade and free movement across the Syrian-Turkish border; both have become essential to the Syrian economy.

Rumors are swirling here about stepped up Saudi financing for Syrian rebels and the possibility that opposition activists could receive military training in Turkey, perhaps leading ultimately to another NATO no-fly zone over parts of Syria. So far NATO has squelched such ideas, nor is there any Western appetite for another Mideast military adventure.

What is clear is that, as Zebari said, this is probably Assad’s last chance to avoid a far bloodier civil war that will eventually do him in.

Posted on 11/03/2011 8:35 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Thursday, 3 November 2011
Those Who Want To Bring Netanyahu Down Will Use Any Means

From Israel Hayom:

by Amos Regev

|

An irresponsible debate

Fleet Admiral William Daniel Leahy was a respected naval officer. Five gold stars adorned his uniform -- the most senior rank in the American military. His wisdom and experience conferred upon him a certain reputation; so much so, that in the midst of the darkest days of World War II, Roosevelt brought him back from civilian life and appointed him chief of staff to the commander in chief, essentially making him the supreme commander of the armed forces. By virtue of his personality, he also become the president's most trusted military adviser, and served as the link between the president and the army's top brass.

When Roosevelt died in April 1945, with war still raging in Europe and in the Far East, Leahy continued in the role under the new president, Harry Truman, who until then had served as vice president. One of the first things about which the new president was briefed was the greatest secret of all: the development of the American atomic bomb. Yes, even as vice president, Truman had not been aware of the existence of the Manhattan Project. That is how state secrets are kept. The only ones who know are those who need to know. Even the vice president was out of the picture until he became president and commander-in-chief.

"Mister President," Admirial Leahy, the senior military adviser, told him, "This is the biggest fool thing we have ever done. The bomb will never go off, and I speak as an expert in explosives."

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The rest is history.

The decision to drop the atomic bomb was President Truman's, the U.S. army's official history asserts.

"The decision to use the atomic bomb was made by President Truman," writes military historian Louis Morton. "There was never any doubt of that, and despite the rising tide of criticism, Mr. Truman took full responsibility for his action ... Mr. Truman leaned heavily on the advice of his senior and most trusted advisers on the question of the bomb. But the final decision was his and his alone." Some of those advisers supported the attack as the surest way to bring about a quick end to the war, thus saving millions of lives, both American and Japanese. Others objected, among them Admiral Leahy, who not only thought the bomb would not work, but also believed that the use of atomic weapons was immoral.

Furthermore, many of the scientists who, with their own hands, developed the most destructive weapon ever created by mankind, also beseeched the presidents -- first Roosevelt, then, after his death, Truman -- not to use the bomb. Among them were an abundance of Nobel Prize laureates, brilliant people who split the atom and laid the groundwork for the development of nuclear weapons. People like the scientists Niels Bohr and Leo Szilard. "The decision about what to do with the bomb needs to be at the discretion of those who specialize in the subject, those who developed it," they said.

But it was Truman who made the decision. Two atomic bombs dropped on Japan caused enormous damage and cost the lives of hundreds of thousands of Japanese, but also brought about the immediate end of World War II. They also set off the nuclear arms race, just as Szilard had predicted would happen. In hindsight, however, it may be that nuclear weapons also prevented, through mutual deterrence -- "Mutually Assured Destruction," or MAD -- the outbreak of a third world war. Truman's decision cast the shadow of a mushroom cloud over the world, but also changed history, and not necessarily for the worse. It's a matter of interpretation.

Rubbing their eyes in Tehran

What is not a matter of interpretation is the fact that there are state secrets, and that there are some subjects over which it is not correct to hold a "public debate." For the simple reason that if the experts don't always understand the fields for which they themselves are responsible, even more so the average citizen. The experts, at least, are liable to receive intelligence (a problematic matter in its own right); but the citizen is not able to base his opinions on reports from SIGINT (electronic or "signals" intelligence) or HUMINT (human intelligence), computer warfare or a spy planted next to the ear of a decision-maker in an enemy state.

There is no greater secret than the secret that concerns a state's very existence. So why the hell, and with what chutzpah, do some of our media outlets, led by Yedioth Aharonoth, dare initiate a "public debate" on an issue so secret, so important, so existential, as the question of whether we need, or do not need, to attack Iran in order to prevent it from arming itself and using nuclear weapons against Israel? In whose name, and in the name of what, do journalists lacking any knowledge roll their eyes and decisively assert that two crazed people -- a front-page report in Yedioth Aharonoth has asserted that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak have decided between themselves to launch a military attack on Iran's nuclear facilities -- are leading us toward destruction? What do they know, these self-appointed experts, that could lend their claims any special weight regarding such a weighty subject?

The answer is simple: They don't know anything. In their eyes, such is my impression, everything is permissible in the struggle to bring down the current government, led by Netanyahu. The "diplomatic tsunami" didn't work? The social protest didn't succeed? Netanyahu surprised them by releasing Gilad Shalit? Yalla, we'll continue the war by other means. They are not satisfied with Barak as defense minister either, so now we'll play the Iran card. If that involves publicly airing a secret which hitherto had been guarded with utmost secrecy -- so be it. After all, we can always claim that we are doing it in order to prevent a disaster. With holy fervor, we'll disperse the ambiguity, impair deterrence, raise the curtain, gradually expose the secrets, and provide ammunition to our enemies. Day after day -- what does this matter when compared to the single, consecrated aim of getting rid of this government, which is not of our ilk, as quickly as possible. What about the "peace process," anyway?

In Tehran they are certainly rubbing their eyes every morning in disbelief when they see the latest edition of Yedioth Aharonoth, and perhaps they are also buckling over with laughter when they watch several news commentators offer their opinions on Israeli television. They couldn't ask for better gifts than these. Not far away, the centrifuges go on spinning, enriching more and more uranium into fissionable material, the kind that can be used in bombs. Does anyone doubt that this is happening? Take a look at the story that came out Tuesday morning about Syria. According to foreign publications, Israel attacked a reactor there, destroying it and ridding itself of an existential threat. Right? Not exactly. There is another reactor, which intelligence was apparently not aware of. And even if it was, that reactor was not destroyed by anyone. Perhaps this should also be investigated by the State Comptroller, as one respected television commentator suggested on Tuesday, who, completely by chance, also happens to publish a column in Yedioth Aharonoth.

That isn't how things are, people in the know will say. There are certain former senior officials who, until they finished serving out their terms (which were not extended, to their chagrin), were privy to secrets -- and some say that it is "their associates" who are spreading rumors about the attack that is just around the corner, and that they put themselves on the line to prevent it, because if the attack happens we're all finished. So maybe we should trust them, because of who they were, because of their knowledge? And maybe they were tossed out because of their brave stance?

Maybe, or maybe not. Because if supposedly this whole witch hunt flows from a personal wish for revenge, that is an even bigger scandal. A person who is privy to classified information is supposed to keep these things to himself, forever. That is part of the basic trust on which the system is built. At West Point, where the U.S. trains its army officers, every wall is engraved with the slogan "Duty, Honor, Country." Basic values, simple and binding. Even more so when the people holding these positions are bound to preserve and protect the country's very existence. This applies to people in the military, as it does to anyone holding a senior position.

Who guarantees the "balance of terror"?

What do we know about Iran? A new report by the International Atomic Energy Agency is set to be published soon, and one hopes that it will add more details and lift the veil on what Mahmoud Ahmadinajed and his colleagues are preparing. In the meantime, we can assume, on the basis of foreign reports, that the Iranians are continuing to advance their plan for nuclear weapons. Some say they are in no hurry: they are simply preparing, and preparing. This situation is called "a state on the nuclear threshold" -- a state preparing all the necessary elements, putting them on the shelf, and when it feels the moment is right, taking all the pieces of the puzzle and putting together a bomb. And when that happens, it happens fast. Very fast.

The Iranians are not stupid. If they wanted to announce to the world that they have a nuclear weapon, they could have done so. If they wanted to launch wars, they would do so. But since the end of the Iran-Iraq war in 1988, they have preferred to let someone else do the job for them. Thus, they create satellite proxy states: in Lebanon, in Gaza, in Yemen, in Iraq, in east Africa. When they feel like it, they set aside the inter-Islamic hatred and, despite being Shiites, prop up Sunni movements. Such as Hamas, for example, or the Muslim Brotherhood in several Arab states.

Meanwhile, they continue putting more and more pieces on the shelf, more enriched material, more detonators. Until the moment when they decide to assemble the bomb. And by the way, building a nuclear facility is not such a challenge once a large state, with means at its disposal, decides to do so. The technology is quite old, actually. Even putting a bomb on a warhead is more difficult, but not impossible. In military museums in the West, a visitor can look at disassembled missiles, some of them long-range missiles capable of travelling thousands of miles and equipped with nuclear warheads. They are in a museum, because they were in active service more than 50 years ago. What was complicated then is certainly simpler today. Aside from that, Iran some time ago attained plans made by Pakistani scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan, the father of the Pakistani atom bomb. Pakistan not only has bombs, but missiles equipped with nuclear warheads. It's simple enough, in fact, from the moment a decision is made. It is reasonable to assume that in the moment of truth, intelligence will have to deliver the information: Is Tehran already putting the parts together? Nu, does Moishe from Petach Tikva really need to be notified about this intelligence, straight from Mossad headquarters?

Great, say journalists here. So they'll have a bomb, and (according to foreign sources) we have a bomb, so there will be a "balance of terror," and we'll all live in peace with one another. That's how it went in the Cold War, no?

Yes, that's how it was, with one small difference: The U.S. and the U.S.S.R. were rational states. Even the most ardent communist knew that, on Judgment Day, Moscow would be wiped off the map. And when Nikita Khrushchev dared to challenge the U.S. with the most dangerous move ever made -- the positioning of missiles in Cuba -- eventually, in the face of a real nuclear threat, he backed down.

But Ahmedinejad? And the ayatollahs? Does anyone among us really know what they would do? Perhaps we should listen to what they are saying. Many Israeli journalists still believe that what a Muslim leader says about Israel is meant for internal consumption only, for his public, while behind the scenes he speaks differently, more moderately. History does not necessarily back up this interpretation. Perhaps we would do better to listen to their words, and take them at face value? "We will set the Middle East alight with the fires of hell, we'll eliminate the Zionist cancer, and then the Mahdi will come," Ahmedinejad has said more than once. Are statements such as these meant for internal consumption only, or does he really mean what he says?

Unfortunately, it's our problem

It would be better for everyone if the U.S. solved the Iranian problem. It hasn't done so thus far. It would be better if the Iranian people brought down the regime of the ayatollahs and turned toward the West. That hasn't happened either. Thus, we have a problem with Iran, an existential problem. And our leaders will eventually have to make a decision -- possibly alone.

Who are these people who would decide for me, one TV commentator fumed this week. In case he forgot: This is the country's elected government, that's how it is in a democracy. Truman, who was a major in the army and the owner of a small haberdashery shop in Kansas City before becoming a politician and, later, president, is the one who made the historic decision. Here too, the elected government is liable to make the historic decision. Presumably, many of the country's citizens do not like the terrifying headlines with which they have been bombarded recently. Perhaps they would even prefer that the decision-making remain in the hands of this government. In its hands, and not in the hands of journalists. Journalists are allowed to make mistakes. In any case, nobody really bothers to confront them with what they wrote the day before yesterday, and which already turned out yesterday to be wrong, or with what they published today, which will prove incorrect tomorrow. The leader makes the decisions -- and he must live with them, to bear the responsibility, toward his people, and in the eyes of history. It's a shame we can't ask the late Menachem Begin what lesson he learned from his decision to attack the Iraqi reactor in 1981, in the face of internal opposition, and without any "public debate."

The "public debate" over the attack on Iran is irresponsible, and endangers state security. There is no doubt that if, God help us, Iran has a bomb, and if, heaven forbid, they use it against us -- then too, out of the ruins, those same all-knowing and unrestrained journalists will emerge, shake the dust and plaster off their clothes and their hair, and immediately launch into a scathing condemnation: "Why didn't the government do anything?" they will shout, "Failure!" And Yedioth Aharonoth, in a one-page edition, will make this into the lead headline.

Posted on 11/03/2011 9:49 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Thursday, 3 November 2011
Those Who Want To Bring Netanyahu Down Will Use Any Means

From Israel Hayom:

by Amos Regev

|

An irresponsible debate

Fleet Admiral William Daniel Leahy was a respected naval officer. Five gold stars adorned his uniform -- the most senior rank in the American military. His wisdom and experience conferred upon him a certain reputation; so much so, that in the midst of the darkest days of World War II, Roosevelt brought him back from civilian life and appointed him chief of staff to the commander in chief, essentially making him the supreme commander of the armed forces. By virtue of his personality, he also become the president's most trusted military adviser, and served as the link between the president and the army's top brass.

When Roosevelt died in April 1945, with war still raging in Europe and in the Far East, Leahy continued in the role under the new president, Harry Truman, who until then had served as vice president. One of the first things about which the new president was briefed was the greatest secret of all: the development of the American atomic bomb. Yes, even as vice president, Truman had not been aware of the existence of the Manhattan Project. That is how state secrets are kept. The only ones who know are those who need to know. Even the vice president was out of the picture until he became president and commander-in-chief.

"Mister President," Admirial Leahy, the senior military adviser, told him, "This is the biggest fool thing we have ever done. The bomb will never go off, and I speak as an expert in explosives."

Get the Israel Hayom newsletter sent to your mailbox!

The rest is history.

The decision to drop the atomic bomb was President Truman's, the U.S. army's official history asserts.

"The decision to use the atomic bomb was made by President Truman," writes military historian Louis Morton. "There was never any doubt of that, and despite the rising tide of criticism, Mr. Truman took full responsibility for his action ... Mr. Truman leaned heavily on the advice of his senior and most trusted advisers on the question of the bomb. But the final decision was his and his alone." Some of those advisers supported the attack as the surest way to bring about a quick end to the war, thus saving millions of lives, both American and Japanese. Others objected, among them Admiral Leahy, who not only thought the bomb would not work, but also believed that the use of atomic weapons was immoral.

Furthermore, many of the scientists who, with their own hands, developed the most destructive weapon ever created by mankind, also beseeched the presidents -- first Roosevelt, then, after his death, Truman -- not to use the bomb. Among them were an abundance of Nobel Prize laureates, brilliant people who split the atom and laid the groundwork for the development of nuclear weapons. People like the scientists Niels Bohr and Leo Szilard. "The decision about what to do with the bomb needs to be at the discretion of those who specialize in the subject, those who developed it," they said.

But it was Truman who made the decision. Two atomic bombs dropped on Japan caused enormous damage and cost the lives of hundreds of thousands of Japanese, but also brought about the immediate end of World War II. They also set off the nuclear arms race, just as Szilard had predicted would happen. In hindsight, however, it may be that nuclear weapons also prevented, through mutual deterrence -- "Mutually Assured Destruction," or MAD -- the outbreak of a third world war. Truman's decision cast the shadow of a mushroom cloud over the world, but also changed history, and not necessarily for the worse. It's a matter of interpretation.

Rubbing their eyes in Tehran

What is not a matter of interpretation is the fact that there are state secrets, and that there are some subjects over which it is not correct to hold a "public debate." For the simple reason that if the experts don't always understand the fields for which they themselves are responsible, even more so the average citizen. The experts, at least, are liable to receive intelligence (a problematic matter in its own right); but the citizen is not able to base his opinions on reports from SIGINT (electronic or "signals" intelligence) or HUMINT (human intelligence), computer warfare or a spy planted next to the ear of a decision-maker in an enemy state.

There is no greater secret than the secret that concerns a state's very existence. So why the hell, and with what chutzpah, do some of our media outlets, led by Yedioth Aharonoth, dare initiate a "public debate" on an issue so secret, so important, so existential, as the question of whether we need, or do not need, to attack Iran in order to prevent it from arming itself and using nuclear weapons against Israel? In whose name, and in the name of what, do journalists lacking any knowledge roll their eyes and decisively assert that two crazed people -- a front-page report in Yedioth Aharonoth has asserted that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak have decided between themselves to launch a military attack on Iran's nuclear facilities -- are leading us toward destruction? What do they know, these self-appointed experts, that could lend their claims any special weight regarding such a weighty subject?

The answer is simple: They don't know anything. In their eyes, such is my impression, everything is permissible in the struggle to bring down the current government, led by Netanyahu. The "diplomatic tsunami" didn't work? The social protest didn't succeed? Netanyahu surprised them by releasing Gilad Shalit? Yalla, we'll continue the war by other means. They are not satisfied with Barak as defense minister either, so now we'll play the Iran card. If that involves publicly airing a secret which hitherto had been guarded with utmost secrecy -- so be it. After all, we can always claim that we are doing it in order to prevent a disaster. With holy fervor, we'll disperse the ambiguity, impair deterrence, raise the curtain, gradually expose the secrets, and provide ammunition to our enemies. Day after day -- what does this matter when compared to the single, consecrated aim of getting rid of this government, which is not of our ilk, as quickly as possible. What about the "peace process," anyway?

In Tehran they are certainly rubbing their eyes every morning in disbelief when they see the latest edition of Yedioth Aharonoth, and perhaps they are also buckling over with laughter when they watch several news commentators offer their opinions on Israeli television. They couldn't ask for better gifts than these. Not far away, the centrifuges go on spinning, enriching more and more uranium into fissionable material, the kind that can be used in bombs. Does anyone doubt that this is happening? Take a look at the story that came out Tuesday morning about Syria. According to foreign publications, Israel attacked a reactor there, destroying it and ridding itself of an existential threat. Right? Not exactly. There is another reactor, which intelligence was apparently not aware of. And even if it was, that reactor was not destroyed by anyone. Perhaps this should also be investigated by the State Comptroller, as one respected television commentator suggested on Tuesday, who, completely by chance, also happens to publish a column in Yedioth Aharonoth.

That isn't how things are, people in the know will say. There are certain former senior officials who, until they finished serving out their terms (which were not extended, to their chagrin), were privy to secrets -- and some say that it is "their associates" who are spreading rumors about the attack that is just around the corner, and that they put themselves on the line to prevent it, because if the attack happens we're all finished. So maybe we should trust them, because of who they were, because of their knowledge? And maybe they were tossed out because of their brave stance?

Maybe, or maybe not. Because if supposedly this whole witch hunt flows from a personal wish for revenge, that is an even bigger scandal. A person who is privy to classified information is supposed to keep these things to himself, forever. That is part of the basic trust on which the system is built. At West Point, where the U.S. trains its army officers, every wall is engraved with the slogan "Duty, Honor, Country." Basic values, simple and binding. Even more so when the people holding these positions are bound to preserve and protect the country's very existence. This applies to people in the military, as it does to anyone holding a senior position.

Who guarantees the "balance of terror"?

What do we know about Iran? A new report by the International Atomic Energy Agency is set to be published soon, and one hopes that it will add more details and lift the veil on what Mahmoud Ahmadinajed and his colleagues are preparing. In the meantime, we can assume, on the basis of foreign reports, that the Iranians are continuing to advance their plan for nuclear weapons. Some say they are in no hurry: they are simply preparing, and preparing. This situation is called "a state on the nuclear threshold" -- a state preparing all the necessary elements, putting them on the shelf, and when it feels the moment is right, taking all the pieces of the puzzle and putting together a bomb. And when that happens, it happens fast. Very fast.

The Iranians are not stupid. If they wanted to announce to the world that they have a nuclear weapon, they could have done so. If they wanted to launch wars, they would do so. But since the end of the Iran-Iraq war in 1988, they have preferred to let someone else do the job for them. Thus, they create satellite proxy states: in Lebanon, in Gaza, in Yemen, in Iraq, in east Africa. When they feel like it, they set aside the inter-Islamic hatred and, despite being Shiites, prop up Sunni movements. Such as Hamas, for example, or the Muslim Brotherhood in several Arab states.

Meanwhile, they continue putting more and more pieces on the shelf, more enriched material, more detonators. Until the moment when they decide to assemble the bomb. And by the way, building a nuclear facility is not such a challenge once a large state, with means at its disposal, decides to do so. The technology is quite old, actually. Even putting a bomb on a warhead is more difficult, but not impossible. In military museums in the West, a visitor can look at disassembled missiles, some of them long-range missiles capable of travelling thousands of miles and equipped with nuclear warheads. They are in a museum, because they were in active service more than 50 years ago. What was complicated then is certainly simpler today. Aside from that, Iran some time ago attained plans made by Pakistani scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan, the father of the Pakistani atom bomb. Pakistan not only has bombs, but missiles equipped with nuclear warheads. It's simple enough, in fact, from the moment a decision is made. It is reasonable to assume that in the moment of truth, intelligence will have to deliver the information: Is Tehran already putting the parts together? Nu, does Moishe from Petach Tikva really need to be notified about this intelligence, straight from Mossad headquarters?

Great, say journalists here. So they'll have a bomb, and (according to foreign sources) we have a bomb, so there will be a "balance of terror," and we'll all live in peace with one another. That's how it went in the Cold War, no?

Yes, that's how it was, with one small difference: The U.S. and the U.S.S.R. were rational states. Even the most ardent communist knew that, on Judgment Day, Moscow would be wiped off the map. And when Nikita Khrushchev dared to challenge the U.S. with the most dangerous move ever made -- the positioning of missiles in Cuba -- eventually, in the face of a real nuclear threat, he backed down.

But Ahmedinejad? And the ayatollahs? Does anyone among us really know what they would do? Perhaps we should listen to what they are saying. Many Israeli journalists still believe that what a Muslim leader says about Israel is meant for internal consumption only, for his public, while behind the scenes he speaks differently, more moderately. History does not necessarily back up this interpretation. Perhaps we would do better to listen to their words, and take them at face value? "We will set the Middle East alight with the fires of hell, we'll eliminate the Zionist cancer, and then the Mahdi will come," Ahmedinejad has said more than once. Are statements such as these meant for internal consumption only, or does he really mean what he says?

Unfortunately, it's our problem

It would be better for everyone if the U.S. solved the Iranian problem. It hasn't done so thus far. It would be better if the Iranian people brought down the regime of the ayatollahs and turned toward the West. That hasn't happened either. Thus, we have a problem with Iran, an existential problem. And our leaders will eventually have to make a decision -- possibly alone.

Who are these people who would decide for me, one TV commentator fumed this week. In case he forgot: This is the country's elected government, that's how it is in a democracy. Truman, who was a major in the army and the owner of a small haberdashery shop in Kansas City before becoming a politician and, later, president, is the one who made the historic decision. Here too, the elected government is liable to make the historic decision. Presumably, many of the country's citizens do not like the terrifying headlines with which they have been bombarded recently. Perhaps they would even prefer that the decision-making remain in the hands of this government. In its hands, and not in the hands of journalists. Journalists are allowed to make mistakes. In any case, nobody really bothers to confront them with what they wrote the day before yesterday, and which already turned out yesterday to be wrong, or with what they published today, which will prove incorrect tomorrow. The leader makes the decisions -- and he must live with them, to bear the responsibility, toward his people, and in the eyes of history. It's a shame we can't ask the late Menachem Begin what lesson he learned from his decision to attack the Iraqi reactor in 1981, in the face of internal opposition, and without any "public debate."

The "public debate" over the attack on Iran is irresponsible, and endangers state security. There is no doubt that if, God help us, Iran has a bomb, and if, heaven forbid, they use it against us -- then too, out of the ruins, those same all-knowing and unrestrained journalists will emerge, shake the dust and plaster off their clothes and their hair, and immediately launch into a scathing condemnation: "Why didn't the government do anything?" they will shout, "Failure!" And Yedioth Aharonoth, in a one-page edition, will make this into the lead headline.

Posted on 11/03/2011 9:49 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Thursday, 3 November 2011
More On That Mosque, And The Muslims, In Marseilles

From Hudson New York:

France: "This Mosque Is a Direct Obstacle to the Integration of [Muslims]"

by Soeren Kern
October 31, 2011

A French court has annulled the construction permit for a mega-mosque in the southern city of Marseille, home to the largest Muslim community in France.

The court ruling represents a major setback for proponents of the mosque, which has long been touted as the biggest and most potent symbol of Islam's growing place in France -- and Europe.

The move comes as a French newspaper published the contents of a leaked intelligence report about the rise of Islam in Marseille. The document states that "even if the number of individuals who have been radicalized to the point of supporting the Jihadists is relatively low, Islamic fundamentalism has progressed to the point where it has won over the majority of the Muslim population" who live in the city and who now number over 250,000.

The Administrative Tribunal of Marseille ruled on October 27 that the mega-mosque project would have to be cancelled because of failures to meet urban-planning requirements. The court raised particular concerns over the project's failure to finalize a deal for a 450-space parking lot and to reassure planners that the mosque would fit in with the urban environment.

The tribunal noted "a lack of graphical material permitting the evaluation of the project's integration with neighbouring buildings, its visual impact and the treatment of access points and land."

The 22-million-euro ($31-million) project would have seen the Grand Mosque -- boasting a minaret soaring 25 meters (82 feet) high, and room for up to 7,000 worshippers in a vast prayer hall -- built on the north side of the city's old port in

the city's northern Saint-Louis area, an ethnically mixed neighborhood that suffers from poverty and high unemployment.

Several decades in the planning, the project was granted a construction permit in November 2009. At the time, city officials said the new mosque would help the Muslim community better integrate into the mainstream and foster a more moderate form of Islam.

The first cornerstone of the 8,300 square meter (92,000 square feet) project was laid in May 2010. The elaborate stone-laying ceremony was attended by Muslim religious leaders and local politicians, as well as more than a dozen diplomats from Muslim countries.

Full-scale construction of the Grand Mosque -- which was also to have included a Koranic school and a library, as well as a restaurant and tea room -- was scheduled to begin in February 2012.

But the project has faced stiff opposition from local residents and businesses. Opponents of the Grand Mosque have argued that it would be out of harmony with the neighborhood's economic and social fabric.

Local residents also pointed to potential parking problems surrounding the building. Authorities have estimated that the number of people attending Friday prayers at the mosque could reach 1,500, a figure that could rise to up to 14,000 on Muslim holidays.

The court decision comes as the French newspaper La Marseillaise on October 24 published extracts of a leaked intelligence report about the state of Islam in Marseille, France's second-largest city, where the Muslim population has reached 25% of the total population.

The confidential seven-page document, drafted by domestic intelligence in the French administrative department of Bouches-du-Rhône in March 2011, focuses on the phenomenon of Muslim street prayers in Marseille, but also provides a more general assessment of Islam in the city.

The document also addresses a specific mosque on Gaillard Street in the 3rd district of Marseille that is associated with Muslim immigrants from the Comoros Islands, an archipelago island nation in the Indian Ocean that gained independence from France in 1975.

"Far from being Comorian, this mosque promotes Islam marked by tribalism. It is clear that this mosque is a direct obstacle to the proper integration of Comorians in the Marseilles area, a kind of voluntary marginalization," the document states.

The Koranic school associated with this mosque is also criticised: "Far from awaking spirituality and minds, it locks them even further into a cultural loop and thus increases their communitarian inwardness."

The report describes the Muslim population of Marseille as a "marginalized population, poorly informed, uncultured and with a limited understanding even of their own religion, finding themselves in the hands of self-proclaimed imams, barely more competent than their flocks but sufficiently charismatic to obtain their blind obedience."

The document also calls for fewer mosques in Marseille. It states: "The abundance of prayer rooms in Marseille is largely a reflection of divisions of all kinds: obediential as well as nationalistic, ethnic and even business strategies that set Muslims in Marseille against each other."

The proposed solution is to "refocus the places of worship" which would "permit a professionalization of the imams, achieve economies of scale and force the Islamic federations and sects to reach a consensus. It would marginalize extra-national interests and also facilitate relations and observations with our institutional partners. Not more mosques but better mosques."

Nevertheless, the report warns against the construction of a grand mosque: "This building would dominate an entire part of the city which is not very elevated. It would be visible from most of the surrounding main roads and would perform the call to prayer by using a massive beam of light that would be seen across Marseille. The mosque is generally considered aggressive to the point where a local referendum on the matter would give results at least equivalent and perhaps more emphatic than the voting organized in the Swiss confederation last year [the Swiss vote to ban minarets]."

The report says that building new mosques is only a solution if their architecture is "discreet" in order to "limit their visual impact on the urban landscape."

The document concludes by stating that Muslims in France appear to want the state to intervene in religious matters: "It is interesting to note that the majority of Muslims find it natural for the state to organize religious practice, even by force if necessary, and that many of them even declare that they do not understand the neutrality of France in this matter."

Posted on 11/03/2011 10:21 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Thursday, 3 November 2011
Islamic Jihad Says It's Ready For All-Out War

From Reuters:

Islamist Jihad ready for all-out war with Israel

November 3, 2011

By Crispian Balmer and Nidal al-Mughrabi

GAZA (Reuters) - The Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad, which traded deadly fire with Israel at the weekend in Gaza, does not expect a subsequent truce to last long and has at least 8,000 fighters ready for war, a spokesman said.

Islamic Jihad is the second largest armed group in Gaza, after Hamas, which rules the tiny Mediterranean enclave. The two share a commitment to the destruction of Israel and both are classified as terrorist groups by most Western governments.

However, while Hamas has recently spent much of its energy on the business of government, Islamic Jihad has kept its focus firmly on the conflict, gaining in prominence and enjoying significant backing from Muslim supporters, including Iran.

"We are proud and honored to say that the Islamic Republic of Iran gives us support and help," Abu Ahmed, the spokesman for Islamic Jihad's armed wing, the Jerusalem Brigades, told Reuters in a rare, long interview.

He denied widespread reports that Iran had provided his group with arms and smiled at suggestions it now receives more sophisticated weaponry from Tehran than Hamas. He also declined to comment on rumors that the Jihadists were trained by Iran.

"What I will say is that we have every right to turn to every source of power for help," said the burly, bearded Abu Ahmed, occasionally flicking a string of yellow prayer beads.

Islamic Jihad's latest confrontation with Israel left 12 Palestinian gunmen and one Israeli civilian dead. The fighting ended only after neighboring Egypt brokered a ceasefire with both parties, but Abu Ahmed did not see it lasting long.

"Theoretically the calm has been restored, but in practice it hasn't really," he said. Israel, he said, is itching for a fight in Gaza following last month's prisoner-swap accord, in which Israel released 477 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier held by Hamas since 2006.

Israel says it attacks only in self-defense.

It killed five senior Islamic Jihad militants on Saturday in retaliation for a rocket attack two days earlier that it blamed on the group. That rocket caused no casualties, but landed deep enough into Israel to set off sirens on Tel Aviv's outskirts.

Abu Ahmed denied responsibility for the missile, saying this was how Israel had managed to find five top fighters together in the open -- because they had not expected to be targeted.

But the Jerusalem Brigades soon hit back, firing numerous rockets into southern Israel, piercing the country's defensive missile shield. One Israeli man died, at least four others were injured, while cars and a building were also set ablaze.

The group posted a video online showing a missile-launcher on the back of a truck firing a salvo of rockets. It was the first time the group has claimed to have such firepower, although there was no independent confirmation of its use.

"The Jerusalem Brigades really surprised Israel, forcing them to rethink their assessment of us ... I don't think they realized we had that weaponry," said Abu Ahmed, indicating the vehicle was immediately hidden underground after the attack.

Jerusalem Brigades cells are dotted around Gaza and Abu Ahmed said there was huge demand from youngsters to join.

"We take some, but can't accept everyone ... It is a question of quality, not quantity," he said, giving for the first time an estimate of the strength of the force. "We have at least 8,000 fighters, who are fully equipped."

The group got a boost to its standing in August when the new rulers in Egypt started dealing with it directly over truces, rather than through Hamas. Abu Ahmed said Hamas was not involved in the latest fighting and that all the talking was with Egypt.

He played down reports of tensions with Hamas, which since Israel's military offensive in Gaza in late 2008 has appeared reluctant to go head-to-head with its sworn enemy.

"Certainly in terms of ideology, there is no difference between Hamas and the Islamic Jihad. The difference is in the methodology," Abu Ahmed said, adding that Hamas's governmental role meant that it was "more vulnerable to outside pressure."

He said Islamic Jihad's biggest problem was the Israeli armed drones that regularly buzz over Gaza seeking out militants. "Warfare has changed. You can't just hide a gun in your jacket like you could in the 1980s," he said, adding that the Jihadist fighters were not afraid of sudden death.

"It is a good feeling to be under drone attack. When we chose the path of resistance, we opted either for martyrdom or victory. Martyrdom is the more desirable."

Posted on 11/03/2011 10:24 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Thursday, 3 November 2011
Ann Marlowe On The War As She Experienced It In Libya

From World Affairs:

Flip-Flop War: Libya’s Punk Revolution

In the manual [Baron von] Steuben wrote for [George Washington’s] American army, the most remarkable theme was love: love of the soldier for his fellow soldier, love of the officer for his men, love of country and love of his nation’s ideals. Steuben obviously intuited that a people’s army, a force of citizen-soldiers fighting for freedom from oppression, would be motivated most powerfully not by fear but, as he put it, by “love and confidence”—love of their cause, confidence in their officers and in themselves. “The genius of this nation,” Steuben explained in a letter to a Prussian officer, “is not in the least to be compared with that of the Prussians, Austrians, or French. You say to your soldier, ‘Do this,’ and he does it; but I am obliged to say, ‘This is the reason why you ought to do that,’ and then he does it.”

— Passage from James R. Gaines’s recent Smithsonian article “Washington & Lafayette,” brought to my attention by Major Derrick Hernandez of the 82nd Airborne

The color photo showed a young freedom fighter, assault rifle in hand, running with all his might across the Libyan scrub desert. After a moment, I saw what made it interesting: one bare foot, one in a flip-flop.

My first thought was the flash of sympathy I’m sure the photographer intended—the photo was actually a color copy made by the earnest young men in the Media Center in Zwara, documenting their revolution on August 31st, just eight days after their town was liberated.

I was familiar with the freedom-fighter aesthetic. I had gone into battle with them, spent a night at the Sabratha fighters’ camp (far more of a taboo for a woman journalist), and interviewed dozens of them in July and August. “We are civilians,” the conventional conversation went. “I didn’t even know how to shoot a gun until a week ago.”

Related Essay

Boxed In? The Women of Libya’s Revolution

Libya’s leading women are eager to join in forming a new, post-Qaddafi government, but thus far they have been given seats on the sidelines.

Like everyone else, I lapped it up. Dentist turned machine gunner! Clever welder who makes homemade weapons! Tenderfoot who shows up at the grungy Sabratha Brigade training camp with a Louis Vuitton trolley bag! (True.) It helped that many Libyans have considerable charm—not like the Afghans, who have little else to offer, but in a free and easy American way, where one is charming not because one has to be but for the pleasure of it.

But when I finally saw combat myself, at the battle of Sabratha on August 14th, the proudly inexperienced rap suddenly seemed foolish. Within an hour, I understood why the American Army I’d come to know in the course of half a dozen embeds had a chain of command and division of labor. After a few hours more, I was amazed that the whole lot of us hadn’t been killed. (Qaddafi’s troops, it seems, were often as badly trained or led as the rebels.)

And so, my second thought on looking at the photo was: young fool, that’s why people wear boots or running shoes into combat.

“It’s a flip-flop war,” said my friend Helena Obolensky when I told her about the photo a few days later. I knew what she meant: one of those third-world wars where incompetent adversaries skirmish beneath the notice of the world. And indeed it would have been, but for the luck of the Libyan revolutionaries in attracting the attention of the world with their spirit, wit, and visual appeal. 

Why has the Syrian cause not seized the imagination of the world or the attention of NATO? Well, look at the Syrian protestors on Al Jazeera. The demonstrations that are so dangerous to their participants are not very photogenic. But the original Benghazi uprising was, and the young civilians on pickup trucks were. And the Libyan people have a kind of happy wit. Who wouldn’t like kids who held up signs with the Nike logo, saying, “NATO AIR: Just Do It”?

The Revolution of the 17th of February, as it’s known in Libya, was an accidental war, one of plucky, poorly equipped and trained civilians against a monstrous dictatorship: these are the media clichés and they are true. But it is just as interesting that the Libyan revolution was also a deliberately amateurish war. The revolutionaries often had no interest in acquiring a modicum of organization, discipline, or professional division of labor. Afghan insurgents fought in flip-flops because that’s all they had; many did not even know how to tie shoelaces. But Libyan cities were full of sneaker stores. It was a war of men who chose to wear flip-flops into battle because they are much more comfortable than closed shoes in the searing heat of the Libyan summer. And it was so photogenic precisely because the fighters paid attention to their aesthetic.”



Mustafa Sagezli, the jeans-jacket wearing, American-educated deputy interior minister of Libya’s new government and before that the deputy commander of the Martyrs of the 17th of February brigade, told me in mid-May that only two hundred of his roughly three thousand frontline fighters at the Brega front line had body armor. (By July, the fighters in Zintan and Jadu had a lot more body armor and even helmets. It was mainly provided by Qatar and the US, which delivered five thousand flak jackets.) But I saw not one fighter wearing a helmet, and few with body armor.

“They think that helmets make them look like old men,” Dr. Tarik Alatoshi, a forty-three-year-old scientist in the Zwara brigade, told me at their training camp in Jadu. And, he added, exasperated, no matter how much he told them that they are needed alive to build a new Libya, they think that putting on body armor is tantamount to admitting to fear. I also heard men say that if Allah willed it, they would be killed, so wearing body armor didn’t make sense—exactly the same argument almost all men in Libya make against using seat belts.

Even a highly educated, sophisticated young friend, Lou’ai, gave me a version of this, saying that he enjoyed the sensation of bullets dancing overhead because he knew that if he died he would go to heaven. A former rapper turned architecture student from a prominent family that has lived overseas, Lou’ai is westernized enough to have added, “I probably shouldn’t tell you this.” On the other hand, not everyone was brave and responsible. In Zwara, a medical student with exactly one day of fighting experience complained to me that the equally inexperienced commander of his small unit had fled in his car from the front line at the first incoming fire, leaving many men stranded without transportation.

In fairness, some of this isn’t as irrational as it sounds when you see how both sides fight. The M.O. seems to be, you fire the heaviest weapons you have in the general direction of the enemy, and when you don’t receive return fire, you jump on your pickup trucks and into your family sedans and race forward shouting “Allahu Akbar!” The rebels—and probably Qaddafi’s forces—were firing more or less blindly in the direction of the enemy’s fire, but they couldn’t aim their homemade combinations of gunship weapons and Russian machine-gun parts, mounted on pickup trucks.

The range of the most coveted of these weapons, the outmoded but still effective ZSU-23-4 “Shilka” antiaircraft weapon, was four kilometers, so no one was keen on getting much closer than that. Occasionally someone was killed by a sniper or more gorily by a lucky shot from one of Qaddafi’s Shilkas, but it wasn’t clear that wearing body armor would have kept these men alive. These deaths often had the feeling of random events, confirming many fighters’ sense of fatalism.

The failures of discipline and organization were harder to explain than the equipment isssues. Many of the fighters confused the freedom they were fighting for with a do-it-yourself ethos in war. Seat belts again: I was in a car in Uzbekistan in 1999 shortly after the partial liberation from the Soviet bloc. I urged the driver to wear his seat belt, and he laughed. “In Soviet times, we were not free, and we had to wear those things. But now we are free!” 

Many of Libya’s young freedom fighters labored under a similar delusion, behaving as though chains of command, divisions of labor, and discipline were part of the hated Qaddafi regime rather than neutral practices that make many organizations work better. It was the downside of the inspiring, euphoric cultural revolution I’d seen in Benghazi this spring. A former Libyan National Army colonel with the Zwara fighters, Abdullah Dinbawi, said, “It is very very difficult to work with the men. It is, ‘Please sit down’ and ‘please stand up.’ They like democracy but an army must be a dictatorship.”



The chain-of-command issue was a serious one. There were maybe two or three professional soldiers per hundred fighters and no one automatically accepted their authority. If fighters objected to an order from the brigade commander, they took it up with him directly, often at the top of their lungs and in public. I saw this happen as I trailed Senussi Mohamed Mahrez, a fifty-four-year-old former general in the Libyan National Army who defected to the rebels in April and ended up commanding most, but not all, of the fighters from his hometown of Zwara. (I had the sense that I’d chosen the right commander to follow when I saw him putting on running shoes in the car as we drove toward Sabratha. He couldn’t decide whether to wear one of the two sets of body armor in the trunk of his black Hyundai Tucson—his family car—but he had brought them.)

We were about four kilometers from the epicenter of the battle for Sabratha on August 14th, and for good reasons Mahrez didn’t want his fighters to go any farther. Some of the young men argued with him and others shouted at him. Time that could have been used to secure the area, question townspeople about the whereabouts of Qaddafi’s forces, or search houses or cars for weapon stockpiles was consumed arguing. I kept wondering why the enemy didn’t send snipers to kill us, and how many of the townspeople in this pro-Qaddafi city of fifty thousand had hidden caches of weapons. (Mahrez wasn’t keen on wandering around town; Sabratha, he told me, was home to a crack Libyan army unit, the 219th Brigade, and many officers could pick him out by sight—he’s a tall, very dark-skinned man in a part of Libya where most people are olive-skinned.)

Just as bad, there was hardly any division of labor within the ranks. In most armies, there are separate branches for personnel, intelligence, operations, logistics, and so on. This translates down to the battalion level in the US Army, with majors doing planning, captains commanding companies, and lieutenants commanding platoons. Down at the company level, there is an executive officer, a fire support officer, and intelligence and logistics teams. And even on the platoon level, some fighters have responsibility for communications. The Libyan rebels ignored any such system. This was most harmful in terms of battlefield communications, and often there simply wasn’t any. It was no one’s responsibility in particular and so it didn’t get done. 

During the fight for Sabratha, Mahrez asked me to take his sat phone to call “NATO” (which he endearingly referred to as “him,” as in, “Can you call NATO and tell him . . . ”). The general wanted to bomb the Qaddafi forces’ heavy weapons. I said I had no contacts in NATO but could call Mustafa Sagezli. We would try to use the sat phone to reach Sagezli for a while and then give up, or someone would run up to Mahrez demanding his attention to some other issue. It wasn’t anyone’s job to call Sagezli, so it became mine. After all, I didn’t have a weapon. Hours later, the bombing eventually came through, hitting a camp in a sports center; some of the Qaddafi militia were also holed up in the city’s famous Roman ruins, which of course NATO would not bomb.

I doubt that anyone in Benghazi knew Mahrez was in Sabratha, where his men were, and that he had lost touch with his allies in the Sabratha Brigade and even with the other units from Zwara because his walkie- talkie stopped working. At 10 p.m., Mahrez’s men retreated all the way back to Jadu—a three-hour drive—in the belief that fifty trucks of Qaddafi soldiers were on their way to reinforce Sabratha’s Qaddafi troops. Out of touch with just about everyone else, Mahrez didn’t learn until the next day that the Qaddafi trucks never arrived, and that Sabratha was free. (It remained a dangerous place for about a week, and on August 17th a group of Zwara fighters were almost killed by friendly fire from a Zintan brigade sniper while they were searching a Sabratha house.)

Avoiding professionalism looked at least partly conscious on the part of the freedom fighters—a sort of punk or DIY aesthetic for a liberated Libya. But it was a weird mistake. A guitar is not an army, and do-it-yourself doesn’t work very well outside the arts. After all, if you had to become a chef or a dentist or a ship’s captain under emergency conditions, you would probably try to learn as much as you could and imitate the way professionals function. You wouldn’t take off on your own and argue and pout. But many of the fighters did the equivalent of ignoring a ship’s captain in a heavy storm, saying, “We are revolutionaries! We’re not afraid to die!” The best insurgents—like the Viet Cong and the Tamil Tigers—have had tremendous discipline and a passion for training and self-improvement.

The freedom fighters also have trouble respecting military professionalism because of how poorly Qaddafi ran the Libyan armed forces. At the time of independence in 1951, the Libyan army was one of the fledgling country’s few functioning institutions. But as Mahrez explained, after Qaddafi came to power in 1969, he starved the regular army of weapons and equipment. It was just “for show,” in Mahrez’s words. Mahrez and other generals attended foreign military academies and staff colleges and went to conferences overseas. Mahrez himself went to Pakistan’s military academy, which accounts for the sprinkling of old-fashioned Briticisms (“young chaps”) in his speech. But as a “seven-star” general—a rank the Tunisian and Egyptian armies also have, he says—Mahrez earned just $400 a month.

Meanwhile, Qaddafi created autonomous brigades reporting to his sons and intimates, and paid them well. They also got better weapons—Mahrez said the regular army’s weapons were thirty-year-old Russian junk. I saw the ancient “14.5” machine guns the rebels had captured from Libyan army units. Mahrez also noted that his men didn’t even get sleeping bags when they went into the field. “A well-equipped army,” he summarized, “performs well in the field. And you can judge the performance of Arab armies in the field.” One fact in particular summarizes the shocking archaicism of the Libyan national army: no one used e-mail. Indeed, Mahrez has never sent an e-mail in his life. The officers were forbidden to go to many websites, and no one wanted to send e-mails “because they were always watching these things.”



In another remarkable aspect of the Libyan war, insurgents and “forces of order” seemed to have swapped their traditional approaches. Libyan revolutionaries forswore the use of improvised explosive devices and almost never used suicide attacks. They wore uniforms when possible and almost always tried to identify themselves with the tricolor independence flag. Qaddafi’s forces, on the other hand, used mines very heavily at Brega, often did not wear uniforms, and were reported to use human shields. The rebels were trying to gain legitimacy while the Qaddafi government ignored theirs, or simply believed decades of propaganda and carried on without any pretense of offering Libyans anything more than the status quo.

Finally, this flip-flop war marked a departure from the “classic” or Mao-pattern insurgency in which the guerilla fighter does not care about capturing territory but about controlling the people. This is important because the American Army has spent the last ten years revamping itself to fight against this very approach—crudely speaking, “hearts and minds” wars. The idea has been that future wars would either be “small wars or stupid wars” (as the brilliant Conrad “Con” Crane, former colonel and author of the famous Counterinsurgency Field Manual 3-24, put it). And you could argue that the Libyan war was both small and, from Qaddafi’s standpoint, stupid; he could be basking on a beach right now had he exited in February. But you could also argue that the Libyan war showed that old-fashioned ground combat is far from obsolete.

The Mao cliché that the revolutionary must win the people’s support, and that the front line exists in the minds of the people, certainly applied to parts of the Libyan war. Locals fed and housed fighters in the Nafusa Mountains, Misrata, and other front lines. Yet the ubiquitous use of the term “front line” suggests that this was a pre- or post-Maoist insurgency. It was very much a war for territorial control, not merely for Libyans’ headspace. At times, it looked like a parody of World War II maneuver warfare—history repeated as farce, with ancient weapons operated by people who hardly knew how to use them.

But to fight for one’s country is no farce. My sense is that the Libya of the future will be much stronger for the broad participation of Libyans in their liberation. (I do not mean to imply that most male Libyans of military age fought for their freedom—in fact, only a small percentage did. I’d guess fewer than ten thousand. But many times that number supported them more or less actively.) Yes, there are those who will be filled with a foolish bravado—ignorant of just how poorly they would fare if they had faced a real army—but there are also those who will have a new respect for an understanding of the military and its role in guaranteeing the freedom of a free land. Some young fighters have even found their vocation by their accidental soldiering.

Twenty-year-old Bendeq Bendeq (an unusual name, even in Libya) was a college dropout who played guitar when the revolution happened. From a broken, troubled home in Zwara, he joined the brigade commanded by General Mahrez. During the months of preparation and the couple of weeks of fighting, he served as Mahrez’s unofficial aide-de-camp. He was often his driver, and at other times was constantly in motion delivering ammunition to frontline fighters, phoning other commanders for Mahrez, and, of course, fighting. Bendeq looked very punk rock, with cutoff sleeves on his camo uniform top and badass sunglasses. But in a development that follows a familiar American script, Bendeq has now decided he wants to be a professional soldier—an officer in the new Libyan Army. On my last night in Libya, I promised Bendeq that if he makes it over here, I will take him to visit West Point. For the first time since I’d met him, he really smiled.

Posted on 11/03/2011 10:35 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Thursday, 3 November 2011
One More Wife-Beating Imam In Italy

Il marito la picchia e la violenta
perché non vuole portare il velo

Imam marocchino residente nel Trevigiano è indagato dalla procura di Vicenza

Una donna è stata minacciata dal matiro perché voleva vivere all’occidentale (archivio)

Una donna è stata minacciata dal matiro perché voleva vivere all’occidentale (archivio)

VICENZA È stata picchiata, forse anche violentata dal marito. Lui è un imam che guida una moschea del Trevigiano, che da mesi la sta perseguitando. Lei è una donna la cui unica colpa è di volersi integrare: guidare l'auto, togliere il velo e imparare l'italiano. Richieste inaccettabili per il marito. Ora Fatima (nome di fantasia) è scappata portando con sé i bambini e si è rifugiata a casa della sorella. L'uomo è stato iscritto nel registro degli indagati dal pm Cristina Gava, dopo le segnalazioni dei carabinieri della locale stazione che si stanno occupando del caso, per maltrattamenti in famiglia, per violenza sessuale e stalking. I due, di origine marocchina, si erano sposati al loro paese. Il 32enne aveva trovato in un'azienda del Trevigiano un buon posto di lavoro come operaio specializzato. Appena possibile aveva chiesto alla moglie, che in Marocco aveva conseguito poco prima la laurea in giurisprudenza, di raggiungerlo per riunire la famiglia, e così era stato.

Dal loro matrimonio, nel frattempo, era nato un bimbo che ora ha sei anni, e una femminuccia di tre. I problemi sono nati quando Fatima ha cominciato ad ambientarsi, con entusiasmo, nel nuovo Paese, senza però rinnegare né le proprie origini né la propria religione, ma chiedendo al marito di concederle di beneficiare di quelle nuove libertà che si affacciavano nella sua vita. Non voleva più essere costretta a portare il velo. Voleva poter guidare l'auto per portare i bambini a scuola, imparare l'italiano per riuscire a rapportarsi con le altre mamme che incontrava o per fare la spesa. Il marito, dopo il suo arrivo in Italia della moglie, aveva invece rafforzato il suo attaccamento alla religione arrivando a guidare un centro di preghiera. Le disobbedienze della moglie erano punite con le botte, di cui la donna, in questi giorni con una mano ingessata, porta ancora i segni. Fino a quando, non potendone più, aveva raccolto poche cose ed era scappata di casa. Da quel momento il 32enne non le ha più dato pace. Fatima, ospite nel Vicentino, aveva trovato un lavoro come badante ma i continui appostamenti del marito hanno spinto i datori di lavoro a cercare una nuova assistente. Dopo i numerosi interventi dei carabinieri davanti alle scuole perché il marito si presentava con l'inutile intento di prelevare i figli prima dell'arrivo della moglie, il maresciallo Donato Summa aveva consigliato alla donna di presentare denuncia per stalking. Fatima aveva acconsentito ma poco dopo l'aveva però ritirata, per paura di ritorsioni. E sarebbe sempre di quel periodo di pressioni che l'uomo l'avrebbe trascinata in una zona boschiva e violentata. Ora la procura di Vicenza vuole accertare le eventuali responsabilità.

Posted on 11/03/2011 11:38 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Thursday, 3 November 2011
Shocking! “Charlie Hebdo� covers screams The Daily Beast

The Daily Beast had a compilation of a dozen of the so-called “shocking" Charlie Hebdo satiric covers.

If there is anything “shocking” it is that allegedly, "offended" Muslims fire bombed the Charlie Hebdo editorial offices in Paris. Why you ask? Because they couldn’t stand another of the satiric journal’s issues dissing Islam. This one focused on Sharia, satirizing the "divine" Muhammad, Allah’s messenger, as "co-editor."  This disputed edition is only the latest. Another French publication France Soir had problems after it re-published the controversial Danish Cartoons of Jyllands-Posten in January, 2006.

See the ones I culled from the “shocking” dozen Charlie Hebdo covers that The Daily Beast compiled. The series started back in 2001 just after 9/11 and episodically pops up in the later half of the decade following the Danish cartoons riots in the Ummah in 2006, and the burqa ban in France in 2010. 

                                              

2011                                                       2010                                          2007

                  “Sharia Hebdo”                           “Wear the burqa inside”        “Charlie Hebdo must be veiled”

  

 

                                          

                                                     2006                                                      2001

                                         “Mohammed Overwhelmed”              “Look No Hands”

Not so shocking were the reactions of the leftist media in Europe, the UK and the US wringing their hands about another "right wing conspiracy." Get off it. What is satire for but to poke fun at the pomposity of officialdom, whether secular or religious, and their public faux pas and feigned angst that they foist on us. Frankly, the more scathing, the better. For once, I am pleased that a left wing French newspaper, Liberation, offered temporary quarters to the Charlie Hebdo editorial staff to continue their work. We hope that is the start of a trend, although we remain skeptical.

Charlie Hebdo should be given a French Legion of Honor rosette as a cultural icon in la belle France and the EU. An EU now enforcing OIC blasphemy codes in a blatant attempt to silence free speech and criticism of a religion, Islam. We trust that Danish Cartoonist Kurt Westergaard and Swedish artist Lars Vilks were among the first to offer their support to their French colleagues. Charlie Hebdo is emblematic of Westergaard’s dictum: “free speech, USE IT.”

The Charlie Hebdo firebombing episode should be a compelling graphic backdrop to tomorrow’s Capitol Hill Forum on Sharia Apostasy and Blasphemy codes in Washington, DC sponsored by The Federalist Society. The forum will showcase the Paul Marshall and Nina Shea book, Silenced- see our review, here.

Posted on 11/03/2011 11:21 AM by Jerry Gordon
Thursday, 3 November 2011
Haveth Wilders Everywhere

What with the euro crisis, what with the Muslim immigrants,  what mit the drinking, mit the cha-cha, mit the no napkins, doesn't every country in poor benighted Europe, in "the Old and rotting World" as Humbert Humbert calls it in his memoir,  need a Geert Wilders? Of course every country does, or needs at least some reasonable facsimile thereof.

And James Joyce -- isn't he just the man to call on for guidance, too, in times like these? 

Posted on 11/03/2011 12:40 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Thursday, 3 November 2011
A Musical Interlude: I've Got A Feeling I'm Falling (Ben Bernie Orch., voc. Scrappy Lambert)
Listen here.
Posted on 11/03/2011 7:04 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Thursday, 3 November 2011
Israeli ICBM Test Raises Possible EMP Attack on Nuclear Iran

Israeli Jericho ICBM Launch

Israel announced Wednesday, the successful test of a Jericho III ICBM with a range of 4000 kilometers, approximately 2,500 miles. Yaakov Katz, Jerusalem Post military analyst, commented in an article today, “Rattling the Cage”:

The Israel Air Force announced that it had returned from a week of joint maneuvers with Italy over Sardinia that included long-range flights, midair refueling and complicated bombing runs. On Thursday, the Home Front Command held a large-scale civil defense exercise aimed at preparing the public for missile attacks in the center of the country.

The Jericho III ICBM equipped with a nuclear warhead provides Israel with a powerful deterrent against a nuclear Iran.  It gives Israel a credible Electronic Magnetic Pulse (EMP) capability to loft a low kiloton yield warhead to an apogee over Iran that upon detonation would destroy the country’s industrial infrastructure, frying motherboards of hundreds of thousands of computers, disabling telecommunications, transportation and industrial systems. According to veteran Iran watcher, Ken Timmerman, President and CEO of the Foundation for Democracy in Iran, that possibility was confirmed by ex-CIA case officer Chet Nagle at a Capitol Hill EMPact America  press conference in Washington, DC on Tuesday, the day before the Jericho III test was announced. Doubtless an Israeli EMP attack would cause thousands of whirling centrifuges enriching uranium at the Natanz cascade hall and the Bushehr nuclear plant producing plutonium to be shut down. It might spare Iran’s vital oil and natural gas producing region in the Gulf. It would free Iran’s restive people from the nuclear nightmare of the Mullahs. If the EMP apogee was low enough, then according to Timmerman, it would largely spare Iran’s agrarian rural areas and the country's bread basket. The Islamic regime and industrial infrastructure concentrated in the Tehran region could collapse. Moreover, he said, the neighboring Gulf region would be spared collateral effects. The Israelis hope that Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, President Ahmadinejad and the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) leaders got the message behind the ICBM test on Wednesday. We referred to the capabilities of Jericho III in our NER article on The Iranian Missile Threat:

We have written that Israel has a full quiver of options. These include its own nuclear capable missile the Jericho III, cruise missiles launched from its Dolphin submarine fleet, and cyber warfare techniques like Stuxnet that have disabled Iran’s nuclear development infrastructure.  Conventional air attack scenarios that would endeavor to reduce the Natanz and other nuclear underground facilities would be fraught with complex air route and logistical problems. Obtaining Saudi, Iraqi and even Turkish airspace permission would be doubtful.

In the wake of the Jericho III test there are Ha’aretz  reports about Security Cabinet debates in the Netanyahu government pressing for an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities and the IRGC. According to MSNBC, polls show that the Israeli population is divided about such a prospect. This despite an assessment by Iranian Defector and ex-CIA spy Reza Khalili in a recent report in the Washington Times  who said that Iran already has nuclear arms. Debka speculates that recent IAF joint maneuvers in Italy with NATO Air Force units are a prelude to unleashing a possible attack involving the US, UK and Israel directed out of Washington. There are some who  believe with the withdrawal of US forces from Iraq and re-deployment to Kuwait and the Emirates might facilitate such an Iran attack scenario. 

That would be the equivalent of a Wag the Dog scenario by the Obama Administration that frankly seems incredible. You may recall the 1997 Robert di Niro black comedy by that title.  

Timmerman commented that it is doubtful that Obama would countenance such an EMP attack scenario. However, he did agree that Israel has demonstrated its own credible EMP capability with the successful test of the Jericho III. That is why other high technological capabilities in the IDF quiver with more laser-like precision seem more likely to be deployed should the balloon go up. Think of a super Stuxnet, swarming attacks of ground hugging, radar evading UAVs and attacks by Pope Eye tube-launched cruise missiles from Dolphin submarines. Couple this with Western support of credible Iranian opposition both inside and outside Iran which could culminate in regime change. Clearly the nuclear clock is ticking and Israel is deliberating over which Iran attack scenarios achieves the greatest good.

Posted on 11/03/2011 10:44 PM by Jerry Gordon

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