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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 Tuesday, 3, 2012.
Tuesday, 3 April 2012
What's Islam Got To Do With It?

REWARDS FOR JUSTICE LIST

  • Ayman al-Zawahiri: $25m
  • Mullah Omar: $10m
  • Hafiz Saeed: $10m
  • Abu Du'a: $10m
  • Yasin al-Suri: $10m
  • Hakimullah Mehsud: $5m
  • Jamal Mohammad al-Badawi: $5m
  • Sirajuddun Haqqani: $5m
  • Wali-ur Rahman: $5m
  • Hafiz Abdul Rahman Makki: $2m
Posted on 04/03/2012 2:02 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Tuesday, 3 April 2012
Islamic militants detained in France 'planned to kidnap Jewish magistrate'

From the Telegraph and the Belfast Telegraph

Some of the 16 suspected Islamic militants detained in France allegedly planned to kidnap a Jewish magistrate and other people, according to reports.

A source close to the investigation told the AFP news agency: "It looks like some of them planned to carry out kidnappings including that of a magistrate who has a Jewish-sounding name." Another source confirmed that a Jewish magistrate from Lyon in central France was to be targeted.

Prosecutor Francois Molins said that the Forsane Alizza group, or Knights of Pride, did physical training in parks and forests, collected weapons and preached hate and violence on their internet site, showing clips of Osama bin Laden. Mr Molins said the investigation showed the network was organised around Forsane Alizza leader Mohammed Achamlane.

Mr Molins said the plan to kidnap a judge who dealt with a child abuse case of a member of the Lyon cell was hatched at a September meeting. The magistrate in question has been placed under police protection. Other potential targets included people from groups that have spoken out against the Muslim community, the prosecutor said.

Police found stashes of weapons during their raids last Friday in the Paris region and the cities of Nantes, Marseille, Nice, and Toulouse as well as documents and computer equipment. The probe so far has shown that members had consulted internet sites showing how to make explosives, Mr Molins said.

Forsane Alizza chief Mohamed Achamlane was on Monday transferred to Paris where he was to appear before anti-terror magistrates who already extended the custody of the 15 other suspected Islamists arrested on Friday.

France on Monday announced the expulsion of five radical Islamic preachers – an Algerian, a Malian, a Saudi, a Turk and a Tunisian – as part of a crackdown in the wake of the Merah killings.

Posted on 04/03/2012 8:36 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Tuesday, 3 April 2012
Romney, Not Quite Right

                   “A fool and his money are soon elected.” - Will Rogers
 

A few days ago,  American Thinker carried a piece entitled: “How Mitt Can Win.” The argument was unremarkable, but the comments that followed were not. Published reader sentiments were almost universally negative, not about the writer’s facts or logic, but about Romney’s character – or lack of it. Such visceral animus is startling because many American Thinker readers might be described as somewhat east of Genghis Kahn - or be described as believers in “anybody but BO’B.”

Yet, queasiness about a Mitt candidacy or a Romney presidency is not news. He may never be the choice for most Americans, but he is clearly the preferred choice of the Republican establishment. Nothing says ‘business as usual’ like an endorsement from John McCain or the Bush family. 

And Romney may be able to buy the nomination; yet, he is very unlikely to purchase the White House. Beating Obama was once thought to be a lead pipe cinch. A Romney candidacy changes that calculus in many significant ways. If the character question can’t be answered for work-a-day Republicans, conservatives, or American Thinker readers; imagine what Democrats or liberals will do with that single flaw in a general election.

What Romney believes or pretends to believe no longer matters. That ship has sailed. What matters now is what voters believe about Mitt Romney. And here the news is not good.

Romney’s character problem is variously described as inconsistency, double talk, flip flopping, or any number of euphemisms that suggest that his beliefs are as variable as weather. Still, significant change of heart on any issue is not necessarily a political handicap. Churchill was fond of saying that a change of facts should alter beliefs.

Ronald Reagan provides a telling contrast. Early in life, Reagan was a liberal activist and high union official. Based on his experience with west coast Communists, California’s social profligacy, and union corruption; Reagan eventually altered his views and his party affiliation. Through his writings and speech making, it was always possible to audit the vector of his thinking. Reagan came over from the dark side and the electorate knew how he got there. Indeed, few presidents since Lincoln left a better paper trail of personal political evolution. With Romney, there is no intellectual paper trail, just a series of apparent reversals which paint him, fairly or not, as a serial opportunist.

Many voters seem to view Romney as the rich kid trying to pledge for the most exclusive fraternity on campus; more interested in joining the club than changing it. Hard to determine what Mitt stands for besides getting elected. And by playing to both sides of any issue, Romney panders to the worst instincts of the beltway establishment.

Surely, mainstream conservatives are looking for an iconoclast willing to break the social, economic, and geo-strategic paradigms that have contributed to the American decline. Romney is a lot of things, but few think of him as a game changer. He may have shed the jacket and tie, but not the image of a mediocre, buttoned down, traditional politician.

Obama’s greatest asset is that people know what he represents. “Obamacare” may go down in flames before the election, but no one has any doubts about Barack’s politics. Even his opponents will give him credit for an effort based on neo-socialist principles, however misguided those ideals might be. That much cannot be said of Romney.

Adding insult to injury, of four Republican candidates, Mitt is the one who makes Obama look the best. Indeed, Romney might have to spend the majority of his political capital trying to explain how a Massachusetts elephant is not just another Washington jackass.

Romney’s “etch-a-sketch” reputation was not created by Democrats. Even his staff appears to believe that Mitt is, and will be, a chameleon as the political terrain dictates. This may be, at once, a winning primary tactic and a disastrous election strategy. All that is certain about Romney to date is that he desperately wants to be president. And wanting to be somebody may not be enough. If Romney is selected as the Republican candidate, liberal or Democrat Party hit men may be the least of his worries.

Consider the following nightmare scenario.

Reagan conservatives, the Americans Elect movement, and traditional Jews/Christians represent three minorities whose influence in a close election could be decisive. True conservatives may not be moved by the “anybody but Obama” appeal and just stay home. Most voters are motivated to vote for, not against, a candidate. The Americans Elect movement, while possibly a Trojan horse or a fake “third way,” will, like hard core conservatives, nonetheless, tap into the ‘plague on both (Republican and Democrat)) their houses’ sentiment. Remember that Ross Perot made Clinton possible – twice. And traditional Christians, and some Jews, have long standing beefs with Bishop Romney’s co-religionists, the details of which are well represented in the Press and on the internet. If and when the Democrats have to go nuclear; religion is sure to be a weapon of choice.

Should a Romney candidacy be as inevitable as it now seems, 2012 may be known as the year of the lesser of two evils; or the year for choosing between the devil you know and the devil that makes you gag. If historical voting statistics mean anything, Barak Obama has the edge in such a contest. The loudest voice in any American election is often inertia.

Posted on 04/03/2012 9:38 AM by G. Murphy Donovan
Tuesday, 3 April 2012
Al-Qaeda gain ground in troubled Mali

AFP ~ BAMAKO — Radical Islamists tightened their grip on northern Mali on Tuesday, ordering women to wear veils in fabled Timbuktu, as the nation's junta began to feel the bite of sanctions following its coup. The Islamists who seized control of the fabled trading hub over the weekend alongside Tuareg rebels have since chased out their allies and declared to residents and religious leaders that they were imposing sharia law.

"Timbuktu has passed its first night under sharia, everything is calm in town," civil servant Saliou Thiam told AFP by telephone.

Three of the four leaders of Al-Qaeda's north Africa branch, known as Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) were in Timbuktu on Tuesday, security and religious sources in the city said.

Residents reported women in the normally secular city that held a major rock music festival in January were on Tuesday wearing veils and none were wearing trousers. The festival, Festival au Desert has been running in or around Timbuktu since 2001. Robert Plant has played there, Tiniawen who are probably the most well known in Europe of the local bands, Damon Albarn and this year Bono. They are already advertising next year's event. I do hope it takes place but music, confident unveiled women and fun don't last long under sharia. I wonder if Bono will come over all political in support of these soon to be oppressed musicians.

The Islamists had been fighting with the Tuareg but on Monday they chased their erstwhile allies out of Timbuktu, flanked by the notorious AQIM leader, Mokhtar Belmokhtar. AQIM chiefs Belmokhtar, Abou Zeid and Yahya Abou Al-Hammam met with Malian Islamist leaders and are staying at the Timbuktu military camp, now under rebel control.

The Islamist Ansar Dine, led by its notorious commander Iyad Ag Ghaly, wants to implement sharia law in the mostly Muslim but secular state. A powerful player in northern Mali, Ag Ghaly and his fighters have placed their black jihadist flag around Timbuktu, which in the 16th century was a trading and intellectual capital. "Last night Iyad Ag Ghaly met the town's Imams (religious leaders). He explained he has not come for independence but to apply Islamic law," said the civil servant Thiam.

The UN cultural agency UNESCO called on the Malian authorities and on the warring factions to respect the desert country's heritage and the "outstanding architectural wonders" in Timbuktu, including ancient manuscripts and earthen buildings such as a nearly 700-year old mosque.

Posted on 04/03/2012 12:24 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Tuesday, 3 April 2012
That Hopeless Mess in Awful Afghanistan

From TIME:

Afghanistan: A Bleak Report from the Front

Marine General John Allen, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, was here in Washington two weeks ago saying the U.S. and the Afghan government are making progress in their decade-long battle with the Taliban. “We remain on track to ensure that Afghanistan will no longer be a safe haven for al-Qaida and will no longer be terrorized by the Taliban,” he said. “Our troops know the difference that they’re making every day, and the enemy feels that difference every day.”

Now comes a decidedly contrary point of view. It’s from Douglas A. Wissing, author of the just-published Funding the Enemy: How U.S. Taxpayers Bankroll the Taliban. After spending time with U.S. troops in Afghanistan, he’s come to the conclusion that the U.S.-led effort there is flagging, if not already doomed. Battleland conducted this email chat with Wissing last week:

What share of the Taliban’s money do you estimate comes from illicit drugs? From the U.S. government?

I spent time in Afghanistan and in Washington trying to track that number down. One day at the U.S. embassy in Kabul, an American official serving in the Afghan Threat Finance Cell (ATFC) talked to me. The ATFC is comprised of about 30 specialists on loan from the Department of Drug Enforcement, the Department of Treasury, the Department of Justice, the Department of Defense’s CENTCOM, the CIA, and the FBI, who try to identify and disrupt sources Taliban funding. They are the experts.

The official told me that U.S. government officials estimated the insurgents’ annual budget to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars. “Is it $1 billion? $500 million? The total amount is a tail people are going to chase until the end of time,” he told me. “We know they are raising substantial amounts of money; they can finance their operations. If you take away the Gulf money, they can make it up. If you take away the narco money, they can make it up. It’s like punching Jello.”

The official confirmed the U.S. and civilian reports that the insurgents used extortion of U.S. development and logistics contracts for their funding. He cited logistics-convoy security shakedowns, construction-protection rackets, Taliban “taxes” on corrupt officials, payoffs from international NGOs and major Afghan businesses—such as cell phones, utilities, and banks—as well as skims from poorly overseen Afghan government projects of the National Solidarity Program.

Citing the flood of American development and logistics money pouring into Afghanistan, the official said, “The more money that comes in here, the more opportunities, and then there’s a lot more exploitation, more corruption. And there’s a lot more money coming in here.”

Why do you believe the Taliban is getting so much money from U.S. taxpayers? Is this just the way things work – or don’t – in a counter-insurgency?

The Taliban is getting so much money from U.S. taxpayers because there is a toxic, opportunistic system that developed in Afghanistan in the years after the U.S. invasion. The system connects distracted American careerists, private U.S. corporations, corrupt Afghan kleptocrats—and the Taliban. U.S. soldiers compare it to the Mafia: everyone’s in on the take. The soldiers tell me, “We are funding our own enemy.”

Because of the corrupt Afghan government leadership, this particular counterinsurgency is particularly rife with skims and scams of U.S. logistics and development contracts, which ultimately help finance the Taliban—what the military calls “threat funding.”

The U.S. military leaders have to know that counterinsurgency won’t work with a corrupt Afghan government. FM 3-24, the famous counterinsurgency manual authored by General David Petraeus that guides the U.S. military strategy in Afghanistan, states that partnering with a legitimate host government is an indispensable “north star” to a successful war. Instead, the U.S. is allied with an Afghan government that is largely ineffective and systemically corrupt.

Why did you write Funding the Enemy: How U.S. Taxpayers Bankroll the Taliban?

When I was embedded with U.S. troops in eastern Afghanistan, the soldiers started telling me that the U.S. government is wasting tens of billions of American taxpayer dollars on scandalously mismanaged aid and logistics contracts that end up financing the Taliban.

We’d be trundling through Taliban-controlled areas in armored vehicles, dodging ambushes and hitting IEDs, and the soldiers would be saying, “We’re funding both sides of this war.” It seemed preposterous at first. But as I dug into the story, officers, diplomats, and aid officials confirmed the rough outlines of the pernicious system. One sardonic US intelligence officer told me, “It’s the perfect war. Everyone is making money.”

I was trained as a historian, so wanted to understand the origins of this system. As a journalist, I wanted to see how the patterns played out on a day-to-day level. And I wanted Americans to know the reality of the war in Afghanistan.

Tyagan Miller
Douglas A. Wissing

What background do you have to reach the conclusions you did? Why should we listen to you?

As an independent journalist who has contributed to outlets that include the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Foreign Policy, BBC, and VOA News, I’ve devoted considerable amounts of time and resources to objectively research development and logistics funding in Afghanistan.

I have a fair amount of experience in Central Asia, including time in the Pashtun tribal regions pre-9/11 and long stints among the famous Khampa Buddhist warriors of eastern Tibet in the process of researching my book, Pioneer in Tibet: The Life and Perils of Dr. Albert Shelton. Through the Khampa tribesmen, I learned about warrior cultures—knowledge that stood me in good stead in Afghanistan, where I encountered the intersecting worlds of fundamentalist Islamic mujahideen and devout American Baptist soldiers.

I’ve read a mountain of documents, reports, and books on the war in Afghanistan, conducted hundreds of interviews with people on all stripes and persuasions, embarked on two embeds in the war-zones of eastern Afghanistan. I’ve been in combat zones and Kabul embassy offices; in a little white taxi winding through way through a bomb-blasted landscape to Bagram Air Field; slogged with U.S. patrols through the Taliban-held mountains in 50 pounds of body armor; billeted in front-line bases where the blare of big-screen TVs and the hiss of espresso machines is punctuated with the boom of incoming rockets and the stutter of Kalashnikovs; shared the poignant front-line ceremonies honoring fallen soldiers returning homeward.

I’m an honest broker; I’m not beholden to the system. Based on my research and analysis, I’ve determined that grotesquely mismanaged U.S. taxpayers’ money is making its way to the Taliban. We are fighting a war while funding our enemy—hence, the title of my book.

Tell us what you saw on the ground in Afghanistan.

I saw a dysfunctional, often uncoordinated development system that placed an emphasis on spending money fast, but had little interest in measuring the impacts of billions of U.S. taxpayers’ dollars on reducing the insurgency.

I saw that messages that sound so good from podiums in Washington have little correlation with the on-the-ground reality in Afghanistan.

I saw an ADD-afflicted U.S. military and civilian leadership embark on a merry-go-round of sequential, sometimes contradictory strategies that has eventually cost us the war.

I have seen courageous American soldiers get increasingly frustrated and cynical about the war. Last summer a Marine colonel in southern Afghanistan told me there was low morale among the troops. He said, “On an operational level, the soldiers are saying, ‘I’m going to go over there and try to not get my legs blown off. My nation will shut this bullshit down.’ That’s the feeling of my fellow soldiers.” The marine officer said, “The juice ain’t worth the squeeze.”

What do you think the U.S. should do now in Afghanistan?

We’re now spending $2 billion dollars a week in Afghanistan. We spent $120 billion there last year. It is not doing much good. Most of the $60 billion the U.S. has spent in Afghanistan on aid and development is wasted. After investing $30 billion on standing up the Afghan national security forces, their performance is still abysmal.

By most accounts, the insurgency is rapidly growing. Afghans don’t want us there. Increasing numbers of Americans want the U.S. forces to leave Afghanistan as soon as possible. Most of the soldiers I talk to want to get out.

I think the U.S. officials need to accelerate the withdrawal of the troops, and prepare to assist with the inevitable humanitarian crisis that is bound to overwhelm Afghanistan when we leave. We broke it. We need to help pick up the pieces. ["we broke it' is nonsense; "we need to help pick up the pieces" is an intolerable thing to say -- the Americans have spent a trillion dollars so far trying "to help pick up the pieces"]


Read more: http://battleland.blogs.time.com/2012/04/02/afghanistan-a-bleak-report-from-the-front/?iid=obnetwork#ixzz1r0ZrHkun
Posted on 04/03/2012 2:44 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald

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