These are all the Blogs posted on Saturday, 5, 2008.
Saturday, 5 July 2008
Do They Know Something Which We Don’t?
All over the world China is investing heavily in order to secure supplies of essential raw materials. This ad-hoc programme is awkward for the rest of us because the government in Peking, ‘old friend’ though it is to we British, refuses, for good and honourable reasons by their own lights, to become involved with any discussions about the morality of the regimes with which it feels it must do business. However, I found myself a little baffled as to why China should assist the Cook Islands, and others, and invest in Government projects there, which, seemingly, have no conceivable benefit to China, until I consulted certain, very private, ‘old friends’ in Peking and Shanghai.
See the Cook Islands News in this article.
I understand from ‘old friends’ in Peking (yes, I use the old English version of the name for I am writing in English – get used to it – and mean no insult to my Chinese ‘old friends’) and Shanghai that such investments are being made routinely by China not just in Micronesia, but also throughout the Pacific. Obviously, China would not invest in such small countries with no obvious major resources unless some future need has been identified as being present in these small island states, so there has to be some resource which we in the West must have overlooked, or not found.
Worryingly, there are reports – not provable at the moment – that China is considering baling the Marshall Islands Government out of its current crisis.
The Marshall Islands declared a state of economic emergency Thursday afternoon to fast-track domestic energy reduction and cost cutting measures, while lending weight to appeals to donor countries for help. Despite three electricity tariff increases since January, “the national power utilities are projected to face an estimated shortfall of $17.5 million to $21 million over the next 12 months assuming the global trend continues,” said President Litokwa Tomeing in a nationally broadcast statement Thursday. This deficit amounts to close to 20 percent of the entire national budget. The Marshall Islands has enough diesel on island to keep the lights on until the end of August. But the Marshalls Energy Company has already warned Cabinet that it cannot come up with $8.5 million needed by next weekend to pay Seoul-based SK Networks for last month's diesel shipment and a down payment on the next shipment. If the Marshall Islands cannot come up with the money, the likelihood of power rationing - and the possibility of running out of fuel - is looming. In declaring the state of economic emergency, the government's Cabinet ordered the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to seek funding help from the United States, Taiwan, Japan, Australia, other diplomatic allies [my emphasis] and donor agencies for fuel to prevent a shut down of power services.
You will have also noted, of course, from lines four and five of this article which I quoted, the relevant phrase:
PNG-Sino [my emphasis] Trade and Investment symposium...
Time we woke up, I think!
Posted on 07/05/2008 6:46 AM by John Joyce
Saturday, 5 July 2008
Netherlands Bans Iranian Students From Nuclear Studies
A step in the right direction and about time. The United States needs to take similar, but wider, action to include all those Saudi students as well.
AFP: The Netherlands will ban Iranian students from studying nuclear technology, a source of tension between Iran and world powers, at its universities, the government said Friday.
"It is forbidden... to grant Iranian nationals access to special training or teaching that could contribute to nuclear proliferation activities in Iran and the development of systems for transmitting nuclear arms," the foreign ministry said in a statement.
Some powers including the United States suspect Iran of seeking to develop a nuclear bomb. Iran insists its nuclear program is aimed at producing energy to serve a growing population.
Friday's measure adds to a Dutch decree adopting international sanctions against Iran that were put in place last year.
It bans Iranians notably from the nuclear reactor in Borssele in the southeastern Netherlands, and from a test reactor at the Delft University of Technology....
Posted on 07/05/2008 6:55 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Saturday, 5 July 2008
At last, something decent on the chick-lit shelf.
To Tescos. With list
Cat food: Fruit and veg including Cooking apples :Bread :Cheese :Orange juice
Roses Lime cordial: Non bio washing powder: Beans :Cereal
From Tescos. In bag
Most of the above except no Roses cordial.
Rather more Bog Offs than I anticipated.
Some new dark chocolate and ginger crinkle biscuits.
The Last Fighting Tommy by Harry Patch and Richard Van Emden.
The life of Harry Patch the only surviving veteran of the trenches.
Harry Patch is 110. He is not the oldest survivor of the Great War; that is Henry Allingham of the Royal Flying Corps (later RAF) who is aged 112. But since the deaths of the last US and Austro Hungarian veterans earlier this year he is believed to be the only man left who fought in the trenches (as opposed to above them). Bill Stone of the Royal Navy is also still alive and some Frenchmen; they are only 108.
From a quick skim the book is about not just about the Battle of Passchendale but a whole century of experience. He was in the AFS during WWII, same as my Dad but in different cities. Much of his life he worked as a plumber.
The house is quiet so time to put the kettle on and open the bickies I think.
Posted on 07/05/2008 7:43 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Saturday, 5 July 2008
New Duranty On Female Suicide Bombers
Alyssa Rubin explains how those poor, sweet, female suicide bombers are "driven by despair" and have lost a male relative or been imprisoned or, something or other, that has very little or nothing to do with Islam.
...Why so many women? Why now? In a particularly painful twist, the phenomenon seems to have arisen at least in part because of successes in detaining and killing local members of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, a homegrown Sunni insurgent group that American intelligence officials say is led by foreigners.
The women who become suicide bombers often have lost close male relatives — a husband, a brother, a son — in fighting, because they became suicide bombers themselves or because they were detained by American or Iraqi security forces.
Ms. Mutlaq was no exception: her older brother had already taken the same path, detonating a suicide vest on June 10 during a shootout with Iraqi government forces.
“If there’s one single trend that I see, it’s the women’s relationship with the male figures that were members of A.Q.I. and were captured or killed,” said a senior military analyst, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was discussing information that had not been released publicly.
The subordinate role of women in conservative, rural Sunni families in Diyala makes them particularly vulnerable to pressure, said Sajar Qaduri, a member of the Diyala Provincial Council and the only woman on its security committee.
“Although she is bombing herself and aiming to kill people, I feel these women are really victims of terrorism,” said Mrs. Qaduri, who is a Shiite and whose husband was kidnapped two years ago and has not been heard from since. “Only women in despair, in desperate situations, would do this. Dealing with such a phenomenon is not easy.”
She added: “Our Oriental society is not like your Western society. It seems in many of these cases the women have had their husband killed or sent to prison and she feels she has no choice, she is very depressed.” ...
She's "depressed." She has "no choice" but to strap on a suicide bomb vest and go out and commit mass murder because she's part of an "Oriental" society.
Interviews with police officers and politicians, American military analysts and Iraqi women yield different views of the phenomenon. But many agree that the province’s traditional, conservative and still largely rural society is a factor...
So, women from societies that are "traditional, conservative and rural," much like the American south, are prone to strapping on a suicide bomb vest and blowing up as many people a as possible every time they get "depressed?" Notice also that the choice of victims (could it be infidels and their collaborators?) seems to be omitted. Late in the article, the word Islam appears once.
Insurgent recruiters and religion instructors add promises to the threats, too, assuring people that they will go to paradise if they die fighting for Islam — a sometimes alluring dream for many in their largely poor, uneducated audience, said police officials and politicians in Diyala...
Is there any ordinary person left in America, outside the offices of the New Duranty Times and the White House that is, who still buys the line that being poor and uneducated creates the urge for psychotic mass murder? This article is supposed to make us feel sorry for mass murderers - women who are murdering our boys in Iraq.
As Ibn Warraq says, Muslims are the first victims of Islam, but nevertheless, Muslims are murdering Westerners in the name of Islam and they simply must be stopped. Teaching them how to read and giving the working skills won't touch the problem, but the dreamy staff at New Duranty and the Pentagon and the White House, all seem to think if we poor billions of dollars into Iraq to raise the standard of living among Muslims all this will go away, as if the ten trillion dollars in oil revenues received by the Arab world since 1973 wasn't enough. What madness!
Posted on 07/05/2008 7:07 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Saturday, 5 July 2008
Est, Est, Est...
It is, it is, it is, the complete perfection. I will drink the wine of this great rendition, She, despite this sub-standard recording, has, is, everything. This, this, this make no mistake, is the perfect diva in this role. Listen to her here. What a voice! What a perfect rendition! But, and but, Angela Gheorghiu is almost as perfect. What can I say. Callas is just a little too thin in the role - attenuated, perfect, but thin.
Of the three, Angela has it, at least at Prospect Park – but, for God’s sake fire that crap Orchestra who couldn’t play a single note on key supposing that they were paid twice what they were worth – always a sixteenth to a twenty-fourth of a tone off!
But my heart belongs to that wonderful mature voice of Caballe – that grown up angst.
Est, est est.
Early in ’74 I heard her alla Scalla – just before her operation. Brilliant, rich and deep – much as here. What’s not to love? And this, it is, it is, it is, at the Liceo de Barcelona is just before the surgery – by one week. Brilliant!
But where does one put the gorgeously self-conscious and knowingly almost perfect Renata Tebaldi – musically perfect but lacking that certain something (passion, meaning, who knows?). A cold but perfect rendition – no warmth. In my youth I thought that she had purity and knowledge – but now, as I grow older, it’s too good, too perfect, too cold. It lacks passion, human warmth. The voice is good, but there’s no heart. No, we can safely disregard La Tebaldi. One down. Many to go. Let’s move on!
Posted on 07/05/2008 8:09 AM by John Joyce
Saturday, 5 July 2008
A Musical Interlude: That Ain't Right (Fats Waller, voc. Ada Brown)
Posted on 07/05/2008 8:45 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Saturday, 5 July 2008
A Tell-Tale Interlude: The Pidey Pipeload Of Hameling (Stanley Unwin)
Posted on 07/05/2008 8:55 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Saturday, 5 July 2008
Muslims Are Not The New Jews -- Infidels (But Especially Jews) Are The New Jews
The most powerful current carriers of antisemitism in Europe are Muslims - 50% of the antisemitic attacks in Western Europe have been attributed to Muslims, who make up less than 5% of the population. and of course Arabs, from Rashid Ali in Iraq, who staged a pro-Nazi coup, to Anwar Sadat, who was jailed by the British for his pro-Nazi plotting (while Nasser's brother-in-law distinguished himself after the war by publishing an Arabic edition of "Mein Kampf"), to the Mufti of Jerusalem, Amin al-Husseini, who met with Hitler, expressed his enthusiasm for the Endlosung and, what's more, helped raise an S.S. brigade of Bosnian Muslims.
It is Muslims not only in Great Britain, but in every country of Western Europe in which they have been allowed to settle, because of the ignorance, negligence, and simple-minded belief that "everyone is essentially the same and wants the same thing" of the political and media elites. The people pay first for that madness; the elites will pay later on. Those Muslims do not accept the legal and political institutions of the countries -- far more advanced and better-run, in every respect, than the Muslim lands they come from, lands whose failures, political, economic, social, moral, and intellectual, are a direct result of Islam itself. No, they come, essentially fleeing that Muslim disarray and misrule, but unlike those who fled the Nazis, or the Communists, they are not grateful, and what's more, they bring with them, undeclared, in their mental baggage, the very thing that was the main cause of the failures of their own societies, with their despotisms, and their inshallah-fatalism, and their encouragement of mistreatment of women and all non-Muslims, and everything else that makes Islam, in practice, what it is, and what we Infidels, though we may not quite understand the relationship of Islam to the behavior and attitudes of Muslims, yet recognize as the hideous mess it all is.
In Great Britain, as in every other country of Western Europe, it is the Muslim immigrants alone -- not any others -- who pose a problem that is permanent, that will not go away, no matter how much tender solicitousness is shown them, no matter how much money is thrown their way, or how much bending-over-backwards to accommodate the most outrageous demands, or if not to accommodate them, at least not to treat them openly as outrageous, when everywhere, those demands are made, and keep being made. They range from special hours at public pools so that men and women may not be together, or that even non-Muslim men may not contaminate a pool when Muslim men are swimming, to demands for prayer-rooms at airports, at taxi tetes, in schools, at workplaces. They include demands for special treatment, that is, for Muslim workers (time off for prayers, or not being required to touch certain products, or not having to do this, or do that), and Muslim students. They include attempts, successful in some places, to rewrite textbooks so that the history of Islam is not merely sanitized, but turned into an appealing and glorious tale, while the history of Christianity becomes one of monstrously exaggerating, and misstating, the history of the limited-in-time-and-space-and-goals Crusades, and when it comes to Jews, in ignoring or limiting the study of what has come, a bit too glibly I'm afraid, to be called "the Holocaust."(Muslim students in France have refused to study this subject, just as they refuse to study the history of France itself, claiming it is of no importance to them -- mere Jahiliyya).
The point out these claims -- you can supply your own list, an ever-growing list -- is that even where the authorities sometimes come to their senses, and deny those Muslim demands, the demands will never end, because Islam and non--Islam are not compatible, in the Muslim view, and the ideal of Shari'a flatly contradicts not only the American Constitution, but all of the major principles and achievements, including the rights of individuals to free speech and freedom of conscience, of advanced Western democracies. Look at Muslim attempts to limit any critical discussion or comments on Islam. Several translators of Salman Rushdie were attacked; at least one was killed. Theo van Gogh was killed. A member of the Dutch Parliament, Geert Wilders, and an Italian journalist, Magdi Allam, and the celebrated apostates Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Wafa Sultan, are all living with Muslim death threats, threats that require them to change their lives, and for some of them, to live in permanent hiding, under permanent armed guard. The entire population of Denmark was threatened with death if the government of that country did not violate the most solemn right, the right to free expression, and punish those who had drawn, and those who had published, some cartoons of Muhammad. The entire Muslim world threatened to boycott Danish goods, as they have Dutch goods because of the appearance of a fifteen-minute film, made by Geert Wilders, that save for a single question that he added, consists entirely of excerpts from the Qur'an and the Hadith, with not a word changed for effect, over accompanying videos from news stories showing Muslim behavior that corresponds to, and was no doubt prompted by, those very texts -- and hundreds of others just like them.
It is disgusting for Muslims, who have made it their mission in the Middle East to destroy Israel, and to kill, or expel, or reduce to the status of permanent dhimmis any Jews who remain, and who in the countries of Western Europe have been the main carriers and promoters of antisemitism, and also have been quick to exploit the pre-existing antisemitism to further their misrepresentation of the Jihad against Israel and Israel's attempts to merely defend itself from a malevolent, inexhaustibly vicious and cruel enemy.
There is no other an immigrant population -- not Hindus, not Chinese Christians or Confucians, not Vietnamese Buddhists, not non-Muslim (or casually syncretistic) black Africans, not Andean Indians, not Siberian Tunguz from the frozen North nor Aborigines from the sun-baked South -- that poses the same problem, one that cannot be remedied or diminished, as the immigrants who are Believers in Islam, members of the "Umma" to which, they are taught, they must owe their sole loyalty.
Some, a very few, those who call themselves "Muslims" but merely mean by this that they are not going to openly identify themselves as apostates but reject the ideology of Islam, and have no intention of attempting now or ever to change Infidel institutions, or to be hostile to Infidels, may -- but only "may" (because we never know when awareness of that "identity" may spur an embrace, a return, to what Islam inculcates), not represent a threat themselves. Nonetheless, and this is unpleasant to state but true, even those who may be the "moderate" Muslims of the only kind of "moderation" that could conceivably be of value to Infidels -- that is, those who exhibit a real and deep rejection of the tenets of Islam that support Islamic supremacism, and, therefore, support mistreatment of Infidels -- can nonetheless, by their very existence, that is by swelling the ranks of those who, in democratic societies, are assigned to the category of Muslims, may by that fact increase the power of the real Muslims by helping them, those real Muslims, exaggerate their numbers and therefore their ability to make pusillanimous politicians, the kind unwilling to see Islam as the permanent threat it is to the laws and customs of an advanced society, to art, and to science, and to individual autonomy, but all too willing to bend to the dictates of those who are perceived to vote as a bloc, to promote the goals of Islam.
And if Muslims all over the countries of Western Europe are a menace to the Infidels among whom they have settled in a way that no other group of immigrants has been, and do not cease to be a menace in the second or third generations but, rather, become ever-more militant (as has been seen in Germany, in France, in Great Britain), it is also true that Muslims have for decades enjoyed great favor in official circles. See, for example, Exhibit #1 in Great Britain, which is not The Guardian nor papers like it but, rather, the BBC, especially the BBC World Service. The BBC employs a very large group of Arab and Muslim staff members, and of non-Muslims who have, for ideological reasons -- antisemitism or leftist political views, or both -- been willing collaborators in the effort to present the Muslim view of things, above all in the misrepresentation of the Jihad against Israel). This bias had its effect. And elsewhere in the British press, and radio, and television, the apologists for Islam (who ordinarily overlap with the anti-Israel brigade) have been much in evidence, as they have in other countries of Western Europe.
The failure of Israel, and of its supporters to recognize this, has of course contributed to the steady blackening, over the past few decades, of Israel's image. That has had consequences for Israel, obviously, but has also helped to confuse the understanding of those Infidels who, having been steadily misinformed about the Arab and Muslim Jihad against Israel (so that it has been accepted as a "nationalist cause" by these soi-disant "Palestinians" rather than what it not only is, but always has been and always will be, an attempt to deny a non-Muslim people a state of their own, whatever its size, and whatever its inoffensiveness or even repeated demonstrated willingness to aid the economic well-being of its neighbors, as if that would somehow overcome what even successive Israeli governments did not realize cannot be overcome in such a way, not now, and not ever.
Every single country in Western Europe, whether it be ruled by the Common Law (Great Britain) or by Civil Codes, whether it have a long tradition of enshrining easygoing Tolerance as a kind of state religion (The Netherlands, Denmark), or possibly have become so solicitous of human rights because of a keen awareness of a fascist or quasi-fascist past (Germany, Spain, even Italy), has had the same problem, differing only in intensity and scale, but in nothing else, with its Muslim population. Muslims who believe in Islam do not and cannot accept the political and legal institutions of non-Muslims. It is not what Islam teaches. It is not what Muhammad, uswa hasana, al-insan al-kamil, prescribed long ago -- and what he prescribed long ago, 1350 years ago, remains valid for all time and for all places.
Surely the people of Europe, despite their governments, and despite the Esdrujula Explanation -- the timidity and stupidity and rigidity and cupidity of their ruling elites -- have to act on this now, and not later. Either they will preserve their own ways, their own superior ways, their free and skeptical inquiry, their modes of artistic expression, either they will preserve, and protect, and defend, all of the material and spiritual achievements of their own civilization, against those who have only contempt and even hatred for that civilization (without knowing quite why, but knowing in some cases only that, as "Muslims," they must have such contempt, must act on such hatred), that is, they will defend the civilizational legacy that they have so far done so little to deserve, or they will not. And if they do, they are going to have to recognize that the main threat is not "qitaal" or open warfare, but the slow and steady stillicide that drop-by-drop of Muslim demands, based on an unopposed and growing Muslim presence, that works away at, eats away at the foundations of Europe.
It is demographic conquest by Muslims that can undo Western Europe. It is only by halting all Muslim migration, cutting off the use, by rich Arabs abroad, of the Money Weapon that helps deepen the Muslim presence, as it pays for mosques, and madrasas, and communal institutions to strengthen Muslim power, and of course, especially among powerful former diplomats, and journalists, and academics (in some cases buying up whole departments, or setting up whole "centers" of Islamic or Middle Eastern Studies), or gaining the cooperation, and more, of corruptible members of the intelligence agencies, the armies, and the police forces, of Western Europe. The governments of Western Europe have to cut off all such aid, or at least do as best they can, and not make the mistake of themselves supporting, with government funds, mosques or indeed any Muslim institutions, in the vain hope that a tame imam or ten or a hundred will make a difference, when it is the immutable texts of Islam itself, and the hold they have over the minds of men, that are the problem. And campaigns of Da'wa must be checked, by banning them if possible, and if not, then by monitoring them vigilantly, and attempting to immunize, in advance, the populations -- such as black prisoners -- who are most frequently targeted by Muslims for such campaigns. All those who can be identified as economically or psychically marginal are likely to be especially susceptible to the siren song of Islam; such groups and people should, as a matter of national security, be identified, and campaigns specifically tailored to such groups should be instituted. For example, black ministers might be employed to describe to prisoners what the role of slavery is in Islam, and of the length and nature of the Arab slave trade (which began sooner, and ended -- where it did end – much later, than did the Atlantic slave trade), which was particularly cruel and violent (with young black boys castrated in the jungle, and then taken by slave coffle and dhow to the slave markets of Islam, with scarcely 10% surviving the journey). The slave trade in the Persian Gulf was ended by the Royal Navy. The slave trade in North Africa was ended by the French. There never was, there never could be, a Muslim William Wilberforce. And even today, blacks are enslaved by Arabs in West Africa and in the Sudan and, many believe, slavery still continues, hidden from Western view, in the Arabian Peninsula. Remember, in 1962, when under Western pressure Saudi Arabia officially ended slavery, there were still hundreds of thousands of black slaves in Saudi Arabia.
Another point of purchase to render people less susceptible to Da'wa is to show how almost all forms of music are banned in Islam (there is no Islamic religious music, for example, no Bach, and no Muslim equivalent of gospel music). Note how the Islamic rebels in Algeria murder the singers of Rai, or how in Afghanistan the Taliban killed the traditional wedding-singers, or of how Muslims, such as those in Hamas blow up or smash music stores in Gaza. This is the kind of thing that helps make an impression.
But are the governments of Western Europe prepared, as yet, to see Islam, to see the spread of Islam, and the growth of a Muslim population, as the security threat it is, or will they remain frightened of the implications of that recognition?
It's still hard to say, but there are signs of sanity breaking out. The evidence mounts up, and up, and up. The texts of the Qur'an, the Hadith, the Sira are there. Muslim defenders never mention those texts, stay far away from what those texts inculcate, prefer always and everywhere the strategies of Taqiyya and Tu-Quoque (which google).
To sum up, as has been done a hundred times before, with the exact same sentence:
"The large-scale presence of Muslims in the countries of Western Europe has led to a situation, for the indigenous Infidels, that is far more unpleasant, expensive, and physically dangerous than would be the case without such a large-scale presence."
Though long, that oft-repeated sentence is meant to be lapidary. But the stone on which it is meant to be inscribed is that which should hang in public places all over Europe, or in the mental equivalent of such public places, so that something effective will at long last be done -- implacably, relentlessly.
There is another sort of stone, however, on which the same lapidary sentence might be written, and then read, in quite another spirit, a spirit of triumphalism, by not Infidels but by Muslims, at some future date. For as a famous writer once began a novel, there is "plenty of space on a gravestone, bound in moss" to "contain" -- well, to contain all sorts of things, including that would-be lapidary sentence above.
One hopes that such a sentence would not have to be placed on the tombstone of Western civilization, a civilization that could be undone by the initial indifference and ignorance and negligence of its political and media elites, and then further undone by the failure of the governments and peoples involved to do what they need to do, coute que coute, in order to defend and protect their own civilizational legacy, out of stupidity, or timidity, or cupidity, or rigidity, or some, or all, of this mnemonically-sdrujula'ed list.
Numbers, "mere numbers," alas, do count. Demography turns out be a very large part of Destiny.
Posted on 07/05/2008 9:01 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Saturday, 5 July 2008
CDC To Tomato Growers: Nevermind
WSJ: WASHINGTON -- Officials investigating the salmonella outbreak now are looking at jalapeño peppers as a leading suspect for spreading the bacteria that has sickened hundreds across the U.S. over the past three months, according to people familiar with the probe.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention initially blamed tomatoes. That led to industry losses of hundreds of millions of dollars, according to the National Restaurant Association, as consumers cut down on consumption and restaurants pulled them from menus...
Posted on 07/05/2008 9:37 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Saturday, 5 July 2008
Michael Massing writes about his experience being embedded with US troops in Iraq in the New York Review Of Books:
...The sergeant, a military intelligence officer named Zachery Brown, told me how the repeated deployments were driving up divorce rates among noncommissioned officers. They were also hard on single men like himself, but this, he said, was not the reason he was leaving. "I don't want to get too political," he observed, "but the way it looks now—it's almost as if we're fighting a perpetual war." He was quick to point out that he was "a patriotic guy" who had joined the military right after September 11. Sent to Afghanistan, he had felt that he had genuinely been able to help people. Back in the US, he had started taking classes, and that, he said, is when his "liberalization" had begun. It had continued in Iraq. "We're helping people here," the sergeant said.
If we weren't here, there are a lot of people who'd be dead the next day. But we're spinning our wheels. Al-Qaeda is defeated, but now we face Iraq's internal problems. They have to be handled politically and socially. I wouldn't say that I don't believe in the mission here, but we're not going about it in the right way.
Was there another way? "No, I don't really think so," Brown said. General David Petraeus's counterinsurgency strategy, with its stress on protecting the local population, had been very effective, but, he added, "it's a thin veneer. Beneath it—no matter how we try to make it look—we're ultimately occupiers. And I don't think you can democratize a country by being occupiers. Though we've made a lot of progress, the core issues remain. And if we can't find a political solution to them, we'll never get out of here." Most of his fellow intel officers, he noted, felt the same way...
At the same time, I'd gotten a look at the crushing effect the war is having on the troops. The breakdown in the Army has advanced so far that in a mere thirteen hours, I could see the rising dissatisfaction, anger, and rebellion within it. The message from the soldiers themselves was that keeping so large a force in the field over the long term seemed unsustainable.
But how to draw that force down? As Sergeant Brown had observed, the success in Dora and other neighborhoods has been largely tactical in nature. Only by joining it to a broader political strategy could the space created by the surge be fully exploited. What was the US doing in that regard? Did it have an exit strategy?
As Hugh Fitzgerald wrote in March:
No one knows. The Americans certainly do not know, and they never will be able to figure out who or what is on first, because in Iraq, there are so many fissures within fissures, so many groups who may, or may not, be receiving aid, in the form of weapons (as with Iraq) or money (as with Saudi Arabia) to do so many various things, including but not limited to:
1) supporting Al Qaeda in Iraq
2) fighting Al Qaeda in Iraq
3) supporting Al Qaeda against the Americans and the Shi'a but fighting them when they kill Iraqi Sunnis
4) supporting SCIRI and Mr. Hakim
5) supporting the Da'wa Party
6) supporting the Shi'a of the Jaish al-Mahdi
7) Supporting the Shi'a of the Jaish al-Mahdi but not their leader, Moqtada al-Sadr
8) supporting any group that kills Americans, whether or not it is Sunni or Shi'a Arab
9) supporting the corrupt government of Maliki
10) supporting the handful of incorruptible officials who have left that same government and bewailed the corruption that is made possible, in pertinent part, by American aid that allows the Iraqi government to keep, and play with, and distribute to particular friends and family of particular officials, that $100 billion in oil money that Iraq has received in the last two years but refuses to spend in support of the country as a whole
11) supporting fellow Arabs in Mosul and Kirkuk, whether Sunni or Shi'a, as long as they are fighting against Kurdish domination of those cities
12) those fighting for an independent Kurdistan
13) those fighting for an independent Kurdistan under the Barzanis
14) those fighting for an independent Kurdistan under the Talebanis.
15) those fighting for a resurrection of Ba'athism as the only way to continue to keep rule by the Sunnis
16) those fighting -- all dozen of them -- for the liberal democracy that George Bush thinks he has brought to Iraq, with its purple-thumbed election just like those in the West, and that Constitution (just like those in the West), and the respect for the rule of law (just like what happens in the West), and the equal treatment for ethnic minorities (Kurds and Turcomans in Arab-ruled areas, Arabs and Turcomans in Kurdish-ruled areas), and the equal treatment of religious minorities, Assyrians and Chaldeans and Yazidis and Mandeans and Armenians (just as in the West), and the free market that helps to make men free (just as in the West), and all the other wonderful things that have been transplanted to Iraq, and are taking root, root, root (just as in the West).
Oh, I could go on.
But so could you.
And we have hardly scratched that meretricious surface of Iraq, a place where the only "victory" that could conceivably be achieved was achieved more than four years ago, by February 2004, when the following had been accomplished:
Saddam Hussein had been captured.
Saddam Hussein's sons had been killed.
The game of Fifty-Two Pickup had been successfully played, and almost all of the major figures in Saddam Hussein's regime had been captured, or killed, or were on the run.
The country had been scoured for WMD, and it had not been found, and David Kay had issued his report that clearly recognized this.
By early 2004 the unacknowledged (by the Americans) transfer of power was then complete. I don't mean the transfer of power to some "transitional government" put in place by the soi-disant Coalition, with some Allawi or Jaabari there. No, I mean the only transfer of power that counted: that from the Sunni Arabs to the Shi'a Arabs.
By early 2004 that transfer was over and irrevocable. The Sunnis had lost, and while they would never acquiesce in that loss, they will never regain power in Iraq. And this fact is something that, being Muslims, they will not accept. They will fight on, forever, and they will attempt to receive, and will receive, support from Sunnis abroad. Whatever those "Awakening Councils" do or do not do, in exchange for all kinds of money and weapons from the Americans (you didn't think the Iraqi government, which is an agent of the Shi'a, would supply that money, or those weapons, to any Sunnis, even those fighting Al Qaeda in Iraq, did you?), the Sunnis in them plan to undo what the American invasion did in causing them to lose power, and place, in Baghdad and in Iraq.
And the Shi'a will never give up that power. And why should they? There will be, there are, fights within the Shi'a camp, as there are within the camp of Sunnis. And it will go on for a very long time, and instead of being disturbed by this, instead of believing credulously in the warnings from such disinterested "allies" as Saudi Arabia and Jordan and Egypt, (all of them eager to have the Americans stay to prop up the Sunnis, and delay the day when the Shi'a rule over fabled Baghdad and the land of the Two Rivers has at long last to be recognized, a blow to Sunni pride and history-haunted sense of what is fitting), and there is always the hope that the Americans, being manipulated and used by their Sunni "allies," who don't want them to bomb Iran's nuclear project, but do want them to stand as a barrier against Iran's army and to prevent it from intervening too much in Iraq, and then, possibly, in the Gulf ("Arabian" not "Persian") itself. On the other hand, the rise of the Shi'a in Iraq will appeal to the Shi'a in Bahrain (where they constitute 70% of the population and the Sunni ruler worries), in Kuwait (where they are a large minority, treated by the Sunni majority as one would expect the Sunni majority to treat them), in Saudi Arabia's Eastern Province (where all the oilfields are located, and so too are all of Saudi Arabia's native, and resentful, and most ill-treated Shi'a).
If you recognize the meaning, and menace, of Islam, then all these fissures and fissures within fissures, all these distinctions, and lines of force, and leaders with ambition -- such as Moqtada al-Sadr -- can hardly be kept straight. But one thing should be kept straight. If two men, or four men, are in a barroom, and they all hate each other, and wish to kill each other, and at the same time they all wish to kill you, here's a bit of advice: don't go into that barroom, or don't stay in that barroom for very long, once you have grasped the situation. And above all, don't stay in that barroom and risk your life, in order to keep those two, or four (or six or eight) different people who all hate you, from harming one another.
Tiptoe out, and stand outside, listening to the thuds and the blows and the screams. And if occasionally you feel the need to throw inside a knife or a gun to this or that participant, do so. But don't go in yourself. Wait, watch, sit down, and take the time to figure out what you can do to make sure that others, related to the men inside, don't manage to settle in that next town over, beyond a few miles of mesquite, the town where all your kinfolk still live.
Posted on 07/05/2008 10:07 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Saturday, 5 July 2008
Sweet and fizzy interlude.
I'm a secret lemonade drinker from 1973.
This is the only one of the well known adverts for R Whites lemonade available on You Tube. There were several. In one the drinker was in a band called The Thirst, and his wife, in flares, floral smock and a headband (I wore an outfit very similar at the time) brought him a glass of lemonade on stage.
I won't bore you with what brought it to mind.
Posted on 07/05/2008 11:47 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Saturday, 5 July 2008
Women Protest Creeping Sharia In Turkey
From the BBC (with thanks to Alan):
About 70 Turkish women have protested in Istanbul after a court found a woman guilty of exhibitionism for fishing in what was termed "improper clothing".
The protesters marched across the iconic Galata Bridge chanting slogans.
"It's not exhibitionism, it's male abuse!" and "State, take your hands off my body!" they cried.
Rows of bemused fishermen watched as they passed - many were wearing strappy tops, flimsy sun-dresses with plunging necklines, or shorts.
The incident they were protesting about occurred last summer, on the same bridge, when men complained that the woman's clothing was "improper."
Turkish newspapers quote court documents as saying she was wearing a lightweight outfit like a nightdress, which blew up in the wind.
Last week a judge upheld the men's complaints.
Women protesters say finding the woman guilty of "exhibitionism" is disturbing proof that conservative thinking is on the rise here.
"They think women should stay home and dress properly," complains Cigdem Mater.
"The question is what is proper? No-one has the right to tell us what to wear, that is the point." ...
Posted on 07/05/2008 3:14 PM by Rebecca Bynum
Saturday, 5 July 2008
First Century B.C. Tablet Being Studied
New Duranty: JERUSALEM — A three-foot-tall tablet with 87 lines of Hebrew that scholars believe dates from the decades just before the birth of Jesus is causing a quiet stir in biblical and archaeological circles, especially because it may speak of a messiah who will rise from the dead after three days.
If such a messianic description really is there, it will contribute to a developing re-evaluation of both popular and scholarly views of Jesus, since it suggests that the story of his death and resurrection was not unique but part of a recognized Jewish tradition at the time.
The tablet, probably found near the Dead Sea in Jordan according to some scholars who have studied it, is a rare example of a stone with ink writings from that era — in essence, a Dead Sea Scroll on stone.
It is written, not engraved, across two neat columns, similar to columns in a Torah. But the stone is broken, and some of the text is faded, meaning that much of what it says is open to debate...
Moshe Bar-Asher, president of the Israeli Academy of Hebrew Language and emeritus professor of Hebrew and Aramaic at the Hebrew University, said he spent a long time studying the text and considered it authentic, dating from no later than the first century B.C. His 25-page paper on the stone will be published in the coming months.
Regarding Mr. Knohl’s thesis [of the messianic description], Mr. Bar-Asher is also respectful but cautious. “There is one problem,” he said. “In crucial places of the text there is lack of text. I understand Knohl’s tendency to find there keys to the pre-Christian period, but in two to three crucial lines of text there are a lot of missing words.”...
Posted on 07/05/2008 5:03 PM by Rebecca Bynum
Saturday, 5 July 2008
Welcome To America
Gateway Pundit: AHMED BATEBI HAS ESCAPED TO THE UNITED STATES--
The brave Iranian student activist who was sentenced to death and who was severely tortured for years in the notorious Evin Prison in Iran has arrived safely in the United States!
During a break from prison, Batebi fled Iran traveling through Iraq and Austria and finally arriving in Washington DC.
Ahmed Batebi is the Iranian student who gained international fame for his appearance on the cover of The Economist magazine holding up a bloodied shirt claiming to belong to a fellow student beaten by the Basij paramilitaries. The photo, which has been called "an icon for Iran's student reform movement," was taken during the Iranian Student Protests in July 1999 in Tehran. Human Rights activist Shirin Ebadi, reports that the shirt belonged to Ezzat Ebrahim-Nejad, a student who was shot and killed reportedly by a plainclothes police or vigilante.
Ahmed Batebi was one of four people who received a death sentence in a closed-door trial by a Revolutionary Court on charges relating to "creating street unrest" and "agitating people to create unrest," and "endangering national security" following the demonstrations. Batebi, in an open letter addressed to the judiciary, wrote that he had been beaten in his "testicles, legs, and abdominal area- -Wiki.
Ahmad Batebi is now in Washington D.C. and had a tv appearance on VOA Persian a few days ago in which he spoke of the horrific torture he endured at the hands of his interrogators for 9 years!...
Posted on 07/05/2008 8:18 PM by Rebecca Bynum
Saturday, 5 July 2008
A Musical Interlude: Black Jim (Mieczyslaw Fogg)
Posted on 07/05/2008 8:28 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald