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These are all the Blogs posted on Monday, 9, 2007.
Monday, 9 April 2007
From today's Currant Bun
Andy McNab, ex SAS and former POW of Iraq in The Sun this morning.
I AM staggered at the armchair “experts” who have the arrogance to criticise Faye Turney and her 14 colleagues.
These fools have piped up to whine and bitch about the hostages’ every decision.
Most recently these commentators are indignant that the Brits are talking to the Press about their ordeal.
Don’t they realise that if they remain silent about their treatment then Ahmadinejad has succeeded in his plan to fool the world?
Talking to the Press is the right of people in the free world.
If the MoD banned the group from talking, details about their capture would drip out from family or friends.
I spent today talking to British troops in Afghanistan. If they don’t have a problem with the way Faye and her colleagues acted — then neither should we.
Also in The Sun
SNEAKY Iranian officials released more video clips of the hostages yesterday as it was revealed they played mind games with Faye’s family.
They released footage of the 15 playing chess and watching TV to try to deny the hostages’ claims they were ill-treated.
Earlier it was revealed staff from the Iranian embassy in London phoned Faye’s mother-in-law to try to coax her to Tehran. They traced Sue Turney, 60, by calling every Turney in her local phone book. Faye said: “They told her if she went to Tehran it may help to secure my release.” The calls stopped after Foreign Office protests.
It should be pointed out that a large proportion of the fees offered, all of them in some cases, are being forwarded to Service charities. I will be prepared to agree to differ with those who wish to criticise the Navy 15, in the interests of our future, which is our work together in a civilian capacity.
Having some personal interest in the matter I will however continue to post items of worth on the activities of British and Commonwealth forces, as they occur.
Posted on 04/09/2007 3:40 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Monday, 9 April 2007
Time to go. Long past time.
BAGHDAD - The renegade cleric Muqtada al-Sadr urged the Iraqi army and police to stop cooperating with the United States and told his guerrilla fighters to concentrate on pushing American forces out of the country, according to a statement issued Sunday. --from this news item

Attacks on the Shi'a militia by the Americans merely have hastened, in some Shi'a minds, the timetable according to which they will call for the ouster of the Americans. Moqtada al-Sadr is only the first, and he wants them out because he has concluded that they stand in his way, by being willing to fight the Shi'a as well as the Sunnis. But SCIRI and Da'wa members will differ only as to the timetable: they still think the Americans can fight and die in Anbar Province for them, and also they think the longer the Americans stay, the more time that gives the Shi'a to get their hands on some of that awfully attractive American equipment, or perhaps will in the end cause the Americans to have to leave in such haste that the equipment will of necessity be left behind. But there are, out of 27 million Iraqis, less than a million of the Arabs to be counted on -- far less.

In the end, however, intelligent policy should be made without reference to Moqtada al-Sadr, and whether he leads demonstrations to get the Americans to leave, or begs them to stay. It should make no difference in the calculation of American interest. Nor should officers in Iraq allow themselves to be swayed by the occasional Iraqi military officer who seems genuiinely patriotic, and possibly even trustworthy. It is the masses of Iraqis, and not the odd exception, that should be consided when policies are being formulated, not for the good of Iraq, but for the good of the Americans and other Infidels.

A relevant posting from a year ago:

Time to go. Long past time

I have been asked: "Will not the Shi’a, once they feel empowered and secure, not ask us to leave and exact a bloody revenge on the Sunni?" The mere asking of such a question is telling: the part about will they not "ask us to leave" at a certain point.

Of course they will. But not before having kept us around, if they can, as long as possible, for several reasons. The most important is to have the American soldiers do as much of the fighting and dying and getting wounded as possible on behalf of the "government of Iraq" -- i.e. the Shi'a who now control the "government of Iraq." The second is to make sure that as much money as possible is inveigled out of those Americans -- and how many Iraqis are now living high, including those who escaped abroad, with loot from the generous and freespending Infidels, winning hearts, winning minds, spending like there was no tomorrow. The more time the Americans spend there, the more money they are likely to hand out. The more time they spend in Iraq, the more likely it is that they, those Americans, will keep building that absurd $595 million dollar monument to a fantasy, that American Embassy complex in the Green Zone that will never, ever, serve the function, or be filled with the personnel, that were so blithely envisioned when that ridiculous project was begun three years ago.

The longer the Americans stick around, the more likely it is that they can be inveigled into handing over all kinds of military equipment, on the theory that "without it" the "Iraqis" can't function, can't protect themselves. The American generals, or some of them (not Abizaid, probably, but hearts-and-minds Chiarelli, and Casey, and some of the others) will find that plausible. The Administration will find that plausible. It isn't enough, after all, to train the "Iraqis" to be a real fighting force, and thus to create the best-trained Arab Muslim army in the Middle East. No, we must arm it better -- after all, aren't they going to be our permanent friends? Otherwise, why would we have spent all the money we already have spent? Why would we be building that $595 million dollar embassy complex? No, having spent so much, now's not the time to become suspicious -- let's give the Iraqis what they so desperately need. That is the Iraqi calculation.

But the telling part of the question above is that business of when they "ask us to leave." When, in god's name, did the disposition of American soldiers become a matter of waiting around to be told when to stay or go by others, and especially by others who are innately, irreducibly, immutably hostile -- hostile every time they hear a Qur'anic recitiation, hostile when they read the Hadith, hostile when they leave Friday Prayers after a horrific anti-Infidel khutba is fierily delivered, hostile even if they never read the Qur'an and never attend a mosque because the atmospherics and attitudes of Islam suffuse every part of society, so only a few, the advanced, Westernized, few, can conceivably escape from this general attitude?

Why in god's name do we accept the very idea that American officers and men must stay until the "Iraqis" (the non-existent Iraqis) tell us that we can go, tell us that they have "stood up" sufficiently in their own minds, so that we can "stand down"? They want us there for other reasons, for as long as possible. And I haven't even gotten to why the Sunnis might want us to stay as well, for they may see us as their protectors from the full viciousness of Shi'a-trained police and army units. And then there is the Iranian side -- the Iranians want us to stay, bogged down, and also close to possible Iranian retaliation should any attack be made on their nuclear project. Thus it is entirely conceivable that the Americans may now be holding back the Israelis from doing what the Israelis can hardly be expected to refrain from doing at some point, if the United States continues to dither about it. For after all, Ahmadinejad has called for Israel's destruction, and there is no doubt that he is willing to endure casualties in return for that destruction -- a small price to bring about the Mahdi's return, and everything wonderful. So the Iranians, too, have a stake in keeping the Americans there.

And even if one side were to decide that they wanted the Americans to leave, what would the other side then do? It would immediately scream that the Americans "ruined things" and "they must stay" and "protect us." In other words, the Tarbaby of Iraq will never ask us to unstick ourselves. The American government has to stop allowing its policies to be held hostage either by the behavior, or capacity, or express wishes of some "Iraqi" government. It should make up its own mind as to what is best for America.

And here is what the American government should do, after the failures of Maliki to complete a government, after his outrageous denunciation of putative American attacks -- a "common occurrence" in his view -- on civilians: announce a complete withdrawal, within a few months, to be completed within six months. And leave, and leave no equipment behind. Let them "stand up" then, or not, as they see fit or are able. And stop work on the damned embassy. And show that the hopelessness of creating an "Iraq" out of disparate and hostile groups has been recognized, and now a different, cooler and for some crueler strategy will be implemented. And it will now be up to the Muslims, in and out of Iraq, to make that situation work for them -- for otherwise it will work for us.

And while both Sunnis and Shi'a jockey and appeal to co-religionists outside of Iraq, other states in the area should be read the riot act, for we will no longer be needing them to preposition troops at bases -- and that should begin with Qatar, a state whose ruling family gives refuge to Al-Jazeera, tips off Al-Qaeda members, and financially supports Hamas. That can continue, but it can't continue with American bases, and implied American protection against Iran, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia (the three regional bullies). No, Qatar will be on its own.

Stop waiting to be asked, like an anxious guest who won't leave until the host starts to yawn and direct him toward the door. We don't have to wait for what the "Iraqis" want. And those various "Iraqis" may vary, over time, in whether they want us to stay or to go -- a decision they will make only on the basis of what's in it for them, never on the basis of what might further American interests.

Time to go. Long past time.


[Posted by Hugh at June 6, 2006 09:06 AM]

Posted on 04/09/2007 7:12 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 9 April 2007
Ancient History isn't bunk

In the late Eighties, in an advertisement for BT (British Telecom) Beattie, played by  Maureen Lipman, had a phone call from her grandson staying that he had failed his exams, passing only Pottery and Sociology.

 

“You got an –ology?” she cried, “He gets an –ology and he says he’s failed. You get an –ology you’re a scientist.”

 

It is telling that even the advertising people thought this was a joke, and knew their audience would too. Times have changed. This was before the dumbing down of A-levels, grade inflation and the downward adjustment of university standards had really got going. These days many students who come out with top grades and degrees would fail an old-style O-level, even in a soft subject like Sociology, let alone a hard subject like Greek or Physics.

I have posted many times on this site about the dumbing down of our A-levels, and our universities to match, and also about the destruction of the grammar schools, which I believe is a principal cause of this dumbing down. A-level grades have never been higher, yet university lecturers complain that students cannot construct a sentence. Why is this?

A-levels are getting easier and they are marked more generously, with top grades given away like sweets. Another reason for the discrepancy between paper qualifications and student calibre is the type of A-level taken. There has been a proliferation of soft subjects – most things ending in “–ology” and everything ending in “Studies”. Even in my day soft subjects were available, but these were studied in addition to proper subjects. For example, a candidate might take Mathematics, Further Mathematics, Physics and Computer Studies, or Latin, Greek, History and Art. And there was no such thing as General Science A-level, which cannot be anything other than a watered-down, easy version of Physics, Chemistry and Biology (the only –ology I respect).

Those of us who had done proper A-levels knew the difference between Latin and Greek, on the one hand, and “Classical Studies” on the other.

Ancient History was, and is, a tough A-level. It has never been popular, or widely offered, especially in the state sector. Now, as I said in this post, it may be about to become – well – ancient history, despite recent renewed interest in the subject. Boris Johnson is up in arms:

If ancient history disappeared as an A-level it would be "another battle in the general dumbing-down of Britain." He said: "Once again, a tough, rewarding, crunchy subject is poised to give way to the softer option."

The decision, he said, was perverse because the number of students taking the subject had risen by 300% since 2000. He said: "Look at the immense interest in the Persian wars, and the success of the new film about Leonidas and the Spartans. "It is demented that the authorities should now be cutting off the supply, just when the demand is rising. The Spartans were fighting to save their civilisation - and so are we."

Perhaps this madness can be stopped. Here, on the Prime Minister’s website, is an online petition. Any British citizens or residents can sign it. It only takes a minute, and sometimes – not always, but sometimes – the Government takes notice of these petitions.

This is a minority interest. Unlike the road-pricing petition, it is unlikely to attract thousands of signatures.

However, the petition has been up only a few days, with nearly a year to go and has 572 signatures already. In fact about ten people signed it in the ten minutes it took to type this.

Sign it now if you can, and if you care.

Posted on 04/09/2007 6:58 AM by Mary Jackson
Monday, 9 April 2007
Fallaci's Doubts

Oriana Fallaci was not a fan of useless warfare. She was someone who had grown up in civilized Florence (fighting uncivilized Fascists and Nazis), in civilized Italy, and then made a profession that often took her to the Muslim world, where she interviewed -- and came to detest -- such people as Arafat and Khomeini and their world-views. And it did not come naturally to her at first because she certainly started life with certain left-wing views. Her Greek lover Panagoulis was murdered by the right-wing Greek regime of the pinochetesque colonels. She was on the side of freedom, however, and also sufficiently well-educated and sure of herself not to be the mindless parroter of anything.

She saw Islam and Muslims up close. She found nothing to admire. She found, in the main, lies and nonsense, hate and hysteria. Beginning with vaguely "pro-Palestinian" views, she came to be a stout defender of Israel -- stouter, I should say, than the Israelis themselves. She became much more appreciative of the United States, and much more enraged at easy European expressions of cheap anti-Americanism, because she knew that Europe owed its freedom, and certainly Italy did, to the United States. In other words, she was full of common sense.

Oriana Fallaci was haunted by the possible loss of Europe, of Italy, of Tuscany. She would go into a rage, on the page and in life, over the mere thought of that mosque that Muslims wanted to put up in the most Tuscan of places, the Col di Val d'Elsa. An equivalent in this country would be Muslims wishing to put up a giant mosque, bristling minarets and all, right by the rude bridge where the embattled farmers stood and fired the shot heard 'round the world, in Concord.

Knowing Islam, knowing Muslims, she would have laughed at the naivete of Bush and his "democracy" project. And she would have been furious, I am sure, at the inattention to Europe, and the ridiculous and sentimental inability of the Administration not to identify and then exploit the points of weakness or of division within the Camp of Islam and Jihad that have been identified and discussed ad nauseam at this website and JW for more than three relentless years. And finally, some of it is filtering out into the Greater Ether. It should have happened long ago.

On March 13, 2003, when 90% of this country supported the war, Oriana Fallaci wrote of her considerable doubts in "The Wall Street Journal." She was particularly harsh on the notion of conducting war for "humanitarian" purposes such as "bringing democracy." Here are some excerpts:

They are also in Europe. They are in Paris where the mellifluous Jacques Chirac does not give a damn for peace but plans to satisfy his vanity with the Nobel Peace Prize. Where there is no wish to remove Saddam Hussein because Saddam Hussein means the oil that the French companies pump from Iraqi wells. And where (forgetting a little flaw named Petain) France chases its Napoleonic desire to dominate the European Union, to establish its hegemony over it. They are in Berlin, where the party of the mediocre Gerhard Schröder won the elections by comparing Mr. Bush to Hitler, where American flags are soiled with the swastika, and where, in the dream of playing the masters again, Germans go arm-in-arm with the French. They are in Rome where the communists left by the door and re-entered through the window like the birds of the Hitchcock movie. And where, pestering the world with his ecumenism, his pietism, his Thirdworldism, Pope Wojtyla receives Tariq Aziz as a dove or a martyr who is about to be eaten by lions. (Then he sends him to Assisi where the friars escort him to the tomb of St. Francis.) In the other European countries, it is more or less the same. In Europe your enemies are everywhere, Mr. Bush. What you quietly call "differences of opinion" are in reality pure hate. Because in Europe pacifism is synonymous with anti-Americanism, sir, and accompanied by the most sinister revival of anti-Semitism the anti-Americanism triumphs as much as in the Islamic world. Haven't your ambassadors informed you? Europe is no longer Europe. It is a province of Islam, as Spain and Portugal were at the time of the Moors. It hosts almost 16 million Muslim immigrants and teems with mullahs, imams, mosques, burqas, chadors. It lodges thousands of Islamic terrorists whom governments don't know how to identify and control. People are afraid, and in waving the flag of pacifism--pacifism synonymous with anti-Americanism--they feel protected.

Besides, Europe does not care for the 221,484 Americans who died for her in the Second World War. Rather than gratitude, their cemeteries give rise to resentment. As a consequence, in Europe nobody will back this war. Not even nations which are officially allied with the U.S., not even the prime ministers who call you "My friend George." (Like Silvio Berlusconi.) In Europe you only have one friend, one ally, sir: Tony Blair. But Mr. Blair too leads a country which is invaded by the Moors. A country that hides that resentment. Even his party opposes him, and by the way: I owe you an apology, Mr Blair. In my book "The Rage and the Pride," I was unfair to you. Because I wrote that you would not persevere with your guts, that you would drop them as soon as it would no longer serve your political interests. With impeccable coherence, instead, you are sacrificing those interests to your convictions. Indeed, I apologize. I also withdraw the phrase I used to comment on your excess of courtesy toward Islamic culture: "If our culture has the same value as the one that imposes the burqa, why do you spend your summers in my Tuscany and not in Saudi Arabia?" Now I say: "My Tuscany is your Tuscany, sir. My home is your home."

The final reason for my dilemma is the definition that Mr. Bush and Mr. Blair and their advisors give of this war: "A Liberation war. A humanitarian war to bring freedom and democracy to Iraq." Oh, no. Humanitarianism has nothing to do with wars. All wars, even just ones, are death and destruction and atrocities and tears. And this is not a liberation war, a war like the Second World War. (By the way: neither is it an "oil war," as the pacifists who never yell against Saddam or bin Laden maintain in their rallies. Americans do not need Iraqi oil.) It is a political war. A war made in cold blood to respond to the Holy War that the enemies of the West declared upon the West on September 11. It is also a prophylactic war. A vaccine, a surgery that hits Saddam because, (Mr. Bush and Mr. Blair believe), among the various focuses of cancer Saddam is the most obvious and dangerous one. Moreover, the obstacle that once removed will permit them to redesign the map of the Middle East as the British and the French did after the fall of the Ottoman Empire. To redesign it and to spread a Pax Romana, pardon, a Pax Americana, in which everybody will prosper through freedom and democracy. Again, no. Freedom cannot be a gift. And democracy cannot be imposed with bombs, with occupation armies. As my father said when he asked the anti-fascists to join the Resistance, and as today I say to those who honestly rely on the Pax Americana, people must conquer freedom by themselves. Democracy must come from their will, and in both cases a country must know what they consist of. In Europe the Second World War was a liberation war not because it brought novelties called freedom and democracy but because it re-established them. Because Europeans knew what they consisted of. The Japanese did not: it is true. In Japan, those two treasures were somehow a gift, a refund for Hiroshima and Nagasaki. But Japan had already started its process of modernization, and did not belong to the Islamic world. As I write in my book when I call bin Laden the tip of the iceberg and I define the iceberg as a mountain that has not moved for 1,400 years, that for 1,400 years has not changed, that has not emerged from its blindness, freedom and democracy are totally unrelated to the ideological texture of Islam. To the tyranny of theocratic states. So their people refuse them, and even more they want to erase ours.

Upheld by their stubborn optimism, the same optimism for which at the Alamo they fought so well and all died slaughtered by Santa Anna, Americans think that in Baghdad they will be welcomed as they were in Rome and Florence and Paris. "They'll cheer us, throw us flowers." Maybe. In Baghdad anything can happen. But after that? Nearly two-thirds of the Iraqis are Shiites who have always dreamed of establishing an Islamic Republic of Iraq, and the Soviets too were once cheered in Kabul. They too imposed their peace. They even succeeded in convincing women to take off their burqa, remember? After a while, though, they had to leave. And the Taliban came. Thus, I ask: what if instead of learning freedom Iraq becomes a second Talibani Afghanistan? What if instead of becoming democratized by the Pax Americana the whole Middle East blows up and the cancer multiplies?"

What about those last two sentences? What about someone who wishes to quote them and to use them in defense of remaining in Iraq? What about someone who says see, Oriana Fallaci is with us, she's worried about Iraq becoming a "Talibani Afghanistan" and the "cancer" multiplying? To that I answer: no, I don't think so. I think she would see, once it had been pointed out to her, that the glib phrases about Iraq "being taken over by Al Qaeda" are silly, because no one is going to "take over Iraq," least of all Al Qaeda, which is the sworn mortal enemy of the Shi'a (who are considered to be "Rafidite dogs" not only by the current leaders of Al Qaeda in Iraq, but by the late Al-Zarqawi). Thus Al-Qaeda already has 60-65% of the Iraqi population against it, as well as the Kurds, who regard Al-Qaeda as an "Arab" group -- and they make up another 20% of the population. And the 19% that is Sunni Arab itself consists of many people who -- as the tribal revolt against Al Qaeda suggests -- have their own interests, and refuse to be dictated to by Al-Qaeda, even if they will continue to oppose the Shi'a, and of course the Americans, those permanent Infidels.

She didn't live long enough to see the mess go on and on. But though on the left much of her life, she was also deeply grateful to the Americans for helping rescue Europe.

I have no doubt about which arguments, those made by me or those cobbled together by those who oppose me, Oriana Fallaci would have found more convincing, and more likely, in her own view, to lead to a weakening of the Camp of Islam and above all, to a situation that would give Europe some breathing room to come to its civilizational senses.

Posted on 04/09/2007 8:02 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 9 April 2007
A Surprising Omission?

Interesting titbit in Cindy Adams' gossip column this morning. From America's Newspaper of Record:

IF you don't like Mel Gibson, who zaps those of Jewish faith, you'll newly consider him Brother Teresa compared to Bill Maher, who is poised to void on every faith. Any faith.

Oy, is Bill Maher a bad boy. His stand-up shows are sellouts. His books are best sellers. His HBO thing "Real Time" is real big. At a dinner table, if you can wrench him away from his bimbette du jour, he's hilarious. But, boy, is he a bad boy.

Bad Boy Bill Maher, someone who has never had Belief, has never ever been aligned with Devotion, Divinity, Prayer, The Supreme Power. He has now teamed with even badder boy Larry Charles, director of that epic "Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan." These two have co-created an inflammentary. That's a documentary sure to inflame whoever sees it. We're talking a scathing, searing, stabbing attack on religion. Anybody's. Everybody's. Hysterically funny, it is the most sacrilegious movie ever made.

The man makes Michael Moore into a moderate. This gem, which should drop on us in six months, will rate four fires in hell.

Maher's inflammentary is so far untitled. The whole schmear was his idea. He's worked on it six months. Paramount put the money up. In Brad Grey's pre-Paramount Pictures chief days, he was Bill's agent. Maher shot this film in Jerusalem, Stonehenge in England and God (excuse the expression) knows where else. He's interviewed all of today's great religious minds. He did it in secret. Maybe because he's afraid we'll all stone him, he still wants this kept secret.

Trust me, after this all that could be next for him is a musical version of "Schindler's List."

Jerusalem... Stonehenge... but no mention of Mecca.

I am sure that Bill Maher's lefty fans would be just as outraged as I would be if, in making an "inflammentary" (nice word—who coined it?) movie against religion, he were to omit Islam. How could it be "the most sacrilegious movie ever made" if it did not lampoon Mohammed (pbuh)?

But I am being unfair to Bill. No doubt this is just an omission on Cindy's part. When the movie appears in our theaters, I am sure we shall see lots of side-splitting mockery of the Religion of Peace.

Posted on 04/09/2007 8:18 AM by John Derbyshire
Monday, 9 April 2007
If the Headscarf Fits...

The Brit sailorette who, on being captured by the Iranians, had her headscarf in place before you could say "Allahu akbar!" now says that she "felt like a traitor" when groveling to her captors.

Well, honey...

Posted on 04/09/2007 8:28 AM by John Derbyshire
Monday, 9 April 2007
Mufti told to quit or leave
THE Howard Government has intensified its pressure on Australia's most senior Islamic spiritual leader, Taj Din al-Hilali, demanding he consider leaving the country and step down from his position as mufti.
Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews and Foreign Minister Alexander Downer yesterday expressed outrage at Sheik Hilali's weekend visit to Tehran, during which he called on the Islamic world to unite behind the radical Iranian regime.
Muslim leaders from around Australia attacked the Egyptian-born cleric for becoming an "ongoing problem".
And Australian Federal Police are examining whether to involve state-based counter-terrorism agencies in their investigation of allegations that Sheik Hilali diverted Australian-raised charity funds to terrorism supporters in Lebanon last year.
"The Australian community has lost patience with the sheik," Mr Andrews said. "The sheik needs to say if he wishes to continue as a citizen of Australia or reside in an alternate country."
Mr Downer said Sheik Hilali had "become a completely discredited figure" in Australia and was causing embarrassment to this country.
Posted on 04/09/2007 10:35 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Monday, 9 April 2007
Spreading Barbarism

WaPo: MEXICO CITY -- Bloody bodies -- slumped at steering wheels, stacked in pickup trucks, crumpled on sidewalks -- clog nearly every frame of the music video that shook Mexico's criminal underworld.

Posted on YouTube and countless Mexican Web sites last year, the video opens with blaring horns and accordions. Valentín Elizalde, a singer known as the "Golden Rooster," croons over images of an open-mouthed shooting victim. "I'm singing this song to all my enemies," he belts out.

Elizalde's narcocorrido, or drug trafficker's ballad, sparked what is believed to be an unprecedented cyberspace drug war. Chat rooms filled with accusations that he was promoting the Sinaloa cartel and mocking its rival, the Gulf cartel. Drug lords flooded the Internet with images of beheadings, execution-style shootings and torture.

Within months, Elizalde was dead, shot 20 times after a November concert. His enemies exacted their final revenge by posting a video of his autopsy, the camera panning from Elizalde's personalized cowboy boots to his bloodied naked body.

Elizalde's narco-ballad video and its aftermath highlight a new surge of Internet activity by Mexican drug cartels, whose mastery of technology gives them a huge advantage over law enforcement agencies. Following the model of terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda, the cartels have discovered the Web as a powerful means of transmitting threats, recruiting members and glorifying the narco-trafficker lifestyle of big money, big guns and big thrills...

"With an order from the boss, more heads will roll," an unknown performer sings. As the singer wails, the screen fills with an image of a blood-smeared floor and four heads severed from their bodies. It ends with a pistol shot into the forehead of a supposed gang member and a gushing wound....

Posted on 04/09/2007 9:15 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Monday, 9 April 2007
A Mormon President?

Kenneth Woodward writes in the New Duranty Times:

...It isn’t just evangelical Christians in the Republican base who find Mr. Romney’s religion a stumbling block. Among those who identify themselves as liberal, almost half say they would not support a Mormon for president. Although with 5.6 million adherents Mormonism is the nation’s fourth-largest denomination, 57 percent of respondents to a recent CBS poll said they know little or nothing about Mormon beliefs and practices. Mr. Romney needs to be their teacher, whether he likes that role or not.

Among the reasons Americans distrust the Mormon church is Mormon clannishness. Because every worthy Mormon male is expected to be a lay priest in voluntary service to the church, the demands on his time often leave little opportunity to cultivate close friendships with non-Mormon neighbors. A good Mormon is a busy Mormon. Those — like Mr. Romney — who serve as bishops (pastors of congregations) often find it difficult to schedule evenings at home with their own families.

To many Americans, Mormonism is a church with the soul of a corporation. Successful Mormon males can expect to be called, at some time in their lives, to assume full-time duties in the church’s missions, in its vast administrative offices in Salt Lake City or in one of many church-owned businesses. Mormons like to hire other Mormons, and those who lose their jobs can count on the church networks to find them openings elsewhere. Mr. Romney put those same networks to effective use in raising part of his $23 million in campaign contributions.

Moreover, Mormons are perceived to be unusually secretive. Temple ceremonies — even weddings — are closed to non-Mormons, and church members are told not to disclose what goes on inside them. This attitude has fed anti-Mormon charges of secret and unholy rites. Already in his campaign, Mr. Romney has had to defend his church against beliefs and practices it abandoned a century ago. That some voters still confuse the Latter-day Saints with fundamentalist Mormon sects that continue to practice polygamy and child marriage is another reason the candidate should take the time to set the record straight.

But Mr. Romney must be sure to express himself in a way that will be properly understood. Any journalist who has covered the church knows that Mormons speak one way among themselves, another among outsiders. This is not duplicity but a consequence of the very different meanings Mormon doctrine attaches to words it shares with historic Christianity.

For example, Mormons speak of God, but they refer to a being who was once a man of “flesh and bone,” like us. They speak of salvation, but to them that means admittance to a “celestial kingdom” where a worthy couple can eventually become “gods” themselves. The Heavenly Father of whom they speak is married to a Heavenly Mother. And when they emphasize the importance of the family, they may be referring to their belief that marriage in a Mormon temple binds families together for all eternity...

Posted on 04/09/2007 9:32 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Monday, 9 April 2007
Beyond the eggs

A couple of days late, here is Gerard Baker on the compelling narrative of the Passion:

I felt more than a twinge of sympathy for the poor press officer at Somerfield who got in trouble this week for getting the theology behind her company’s seasonal campaign a bit mixed up. The hapless employee first put out a press release saying that the supermarket’s range of Easter eggs and other seasonal products was part of the traditional celebration at this time of Christ’s birthday. She quickly amended it to say that the eggs represented Christ’s rebirth, before a final version hazarded vaguely that it was all something to do with death and resurrection.

To be fair, of all the Easter mysteries we observe this weekend this one may be the hardest to unravel: why we commemorate history’s most consequential death and its aftermath through the agency of bunny rabbits that lay chocolate eggs in spring gardens.

To be fairer still, despite the grief she took for it, her evolving explanation was not such a bad stab at interpreting the significance of the Easter story. Of course Christians believe the central point about the Triduum — the three sacred days that began last night with the Holy Thursday commemoration of the Last Supper and conclude triumphantly on Sunday — is that it marks both a death and a rebirth.

Above all, in her defence, it’s hard, isn’t it, to grasp all of this stuff Christians believe, all of this mumbo-jumbo, as my colleague Matthew Parris called it the other day? Even a good Catholic education is no proof against bafflement about the dogmas. I can remember at school a friend being asked by a forbidding nun why the day we celebrate on August 15, when Mary, the Mother of Jesus, was taken up into Heaven is called the feast of the Assumption. “Well,” he said, thinking commendably quickly on his feet. “Since Mary disappeared and we don’t know what exactly happened to her we just assume she was taken up to Heaven.”

That's good. I like religious mistakes. I remember years ago a friend asking whether stabat mater meant "stab your mother". This was a different friend from the one who talked about a parable called "The Return of the Lost Samaritan".

Ecce homo is what Pontius Pilate said to the baying crowds as he showed them Jesus shortly before his death sentence (though with the twin decline of religion and Latin from our culture, the mind boggles slightly at what the Somerfield press office would make of that one). And man is, of course, what Jesus was.

Step into any church this afternoon and listen to the Passion as recorded by St John and I defy you not to be moved by a narrative that will resonate even with the most secular of sensibilities: the betrayal in the garden, the trial, the exchanges with the high priest and Pilate, the cowardice of Peter and the unbearably moving stoicism of Mary, the mother, her unimaginable grief etched into the story.

So isn’t it enough to believe that Christ was just a good man, a moral teacher, the classic victim of a cruel injustice? You can’t do it. Try as you might, none of the Good Friday story makes an iota of difference in the world without the Resurrection. Not just because without it Jesus is just another wronged man in a flawed world. But because it is only the shock of the empty tomb on Sunday morning that helps us to make sense of what happened on Friday.

It leads us to understand that all that suffering and dying was not the result of some horrible persecution of some man by isolated groups of Jews or Romans or former friends and followers. But that it was a man who represented all humanity who was the victim. That we were brought in that shocking moment of earthly suffering into complete union with the creator of it all — when in “strange and awful strife, met together death and life”, as the Easter hymn puts it. The idea that God himself suffered with us so we could all be saved is the central mystery of the story we remember this weekend.

Posted on 04/09/2007 9:40 AM by Mary Jackson
Monday, 9 April 2007
The Surge So Far

As reported on the ground in Iraq by the New Duranty Times (even though we mock them for their incoherence on Islam they have had excellent reporting from Iraq):

... the military and political reality has shifted from what American planners faced when they prepared the Baghdad operation, continuing a pattern of rapid change that has become painfully familiar since the 2003 invasion.

In the northern and western provinces where they hold sway, and even in parts of Baghdad, Sunni Arab insurgents have sharpened their tactics, using more suicide car and vest bombs and carrying out successive chlorine gas attacks.

Even as officials have sought to dampen the insurgency by trying to deal with Sunni Arab factions, those groups have become increasingly fractured. There are now at least a dozen major Sunni insurgent groups — many fighting other Sunnis as well as the Americans and the Shiite-led government. A deal made with any one or two would be unlikely to be acceptable to the others.

While Shiite militias appear to have quieted in Baghdad so far, elements of them have been fighting pitched battles outside the city, sometimes against one another, sometimes against Sunni Arabs. They are pushing Sunnis out of their homes and attacking their mosques.

And in a new tactic, both Shiite and Sunni militants have been burning down homes and shops in the provinces in recent months...

The Iraqi government and the American military refuse to release overall civilian casualty numbers; both give numbers only for a few categories of deaths, making it difficult to get an overall picture. One of the last official reports on civilian casualties came in January from the United Nations, which, citing morgue and hospital statistics, said at least 34,452 Iraqis were killed last year, or an average of nearly 100 per day.

Over the past seven weeks, American commanders say that the security push has had some success so far in cutting down the number of sectarian execution-style killings — tracked by counting the number of bodies found with gunshot or knife wounds. Military officials say that such killings have dropped 26 percent nationwide and even more in Baghdad.

But other kinds of attacks, like car bombings, have kept the overall civilian death rate high, and in recent days there are anecdotal reports that sectarian executions may be on the rise again...

“We used to see sometimes eight bodies a day,” said Sgt. Michael Brosch, of the First Battalion, Fifth Cavalry. “Sometimes they were all beheaded. Then right at the beginning of the security plan, we didn’t see any. Now we’re seeing them again.”

At the same time, deaths and injuries nationwide from vehicle bombs, which are typically associated with Sunni insurgents, particularly Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, have continued at a rapid pace.

January and February were particularly bad months for car bombing deaths; nearly 1,100 were killed in February alone. That number dropped to 783 in March, still high compared with months earlier in the war, according to an American military official. But the overall number of bombings actually increased: there were 108 car bombs that either detonated or were disarmed in March, a record for the war...

“We talk to people who say they represent the insurgents and they all say the same thing: ‘We oppose the occupation, but we don’t believe in killing civilians, in killing women and children,’ ” a senior adviser to Mr. Maliki said. “But our people are dying in bombs every day. Who is killing them?”

Posted on 04/09/2007 10:05 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Monday, 9 April 2007
MoD ban on troops selling stories
The MOD hats have over ruled the RN. From the BBC.
The Ministry of Defence has banned personnel from selling their stories to the media until a review of the rules governing the issue is completed.
Defence Secretary Des Browne said the review was aimed at making rules consistent across the armed forces, and right for a "modern media environment".  Mr Browne said he recognised the dilemma faced by the Royal Navy. "Should they refuse to give them permission to accept payment, recognising that some of them would find ways to tell their experiences anyway, without the support and advice of their service, and therefore with greater risk to themselves and crucially also at risk to operational security? Or should the navy accept that in this particular and exceptional case, and in the modern media environment, they should give permission for these young people to tell their story precisely in order to stay close to them but accepting the consequence of the potential payment involved?"
He said he hoped people would understand it had been "a very tough call" for the navy, but "all of those involved over the last few days recognised we have not reached a satisfactory outcome".
Until there was clear guidance for the future, no further service personnel would be allowed to talk to the media about their experiences in return for payment, he added.
Second Sea Lord Vice Admiral Adrian Johns defended the decision to allow the sale of stories. "We thought it was very important indeed to let these people tell the story in their own words and through the media," he said.
Posted on 04/09/2007 12:32 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Monday, 9 April 2007
Soldiers of the Queen

HOMAGE TO A GOVERNMENT

by Philip Larkin (1969)

Next year we are to bring the soldiers home
For lack of money, and it is all right.
Places they guarded, or kept orderly,
Must guard themselves, and keep themselves orderly.
We want the money for ourselves at home
Instead of working. And this is all right.
It's hard to say who wanted it to happen,
But now it's been decided nobody minds.
The places are a long way off, not here,
Which is all right, and from what we hear
The soldiers there only made trouble happen.
Next year we shall be easier in our minds,
Next year we shall be living in a country
That brought its soldiers home for lack of money.
The statues will be standing in the same
Tree-muffled squares, and look nearly the same.
Our children will not know it's a different country.
All we can hope to leave them now is money.

Posted on 04/09/2007 1:02 PM by John Derbyshire
Monday, 9 April 2007
Manna From Infidels

"Muslims hate individualism, capitalism, and prosperity..."-- from a reader

No they don't "hate...prosperity." Many are quite happy to accept the trillions that an accident of geology has made possible. And many others are intent on continuing to inveigle Western, Infidel donors out of as much aid, military and economic, as they can wangle -- always by insisting that "if they don't get this" or "they don't get that" then "the extremists may prevail" and so Egypt, and Pakistan, and Jordan, and the by-now utterly transparent Slow Jihadists of Fatah (that is, the "Palestinians" who differ from the Fast Jihadists of Hamas not in ultimate goals, but in tactics and timing) keep getting billions in Western aid heaped upon them, while the rich Arabs, with their trillions, are permitted to get away with donating nothing, of making it into a Western, Infidel, responsibility (if one assumes that for some reason the oil-poor Arabs are owed such aid -- they are the least deserving, the least worthy, of all the recipients of Western aid).

They want "prosperity." They just want it from the manna of oil and gas revenues, or the Jizyah of foreign aid from Infidels.

Nor can it be said with authority that they "hate..capitalism." An economic system need not be confused with the political freedoms, including emphasis on those recognized in the Bill of Rights, or in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It is true that inshallah-fatalism makes it difficult for economic activity at a level beyond the date-and-pistachio-and-spice market level, or the rugs in the souk, to be given much of a push. Inshallah-fatalism, and the corruption and bullying and tribalism and violence endemic in those societies most suffused with Islam, make real economic development difficult.

But where Islam has been thoroughly tamed, as in Kazakhstan (it helps to have a population that is 50% non-Muslim, and the remaining so-called "Muslims" be of the unbelieving "Muslim-for-identification-purposes-only" variety), or in Tunisia (thanks to Bourguiba and his Destour Party heirs, including the intelligently ruthless people who run Tunisia today, alert to the need to constrain, or crush, any opposition based on Islam), or in Turkey (Kemalism created a secular class, and that secular class in turn has managed to create, here and there, conditions for economic activity that, at this point, even those who take their Islam more seriously have been able to participate in, without recognizing themselves that it has been Kemalism that created the social, political, and economic conditions that allow even some Believers to participate in economic activities), or in Malaysia, where the existence of Chinese (and to a lesser extent Hindu) entrepreneurs has been responsible for Malaysia's economic success, but if the islamization continues, those entrepreneurs may leave, and with it will go the Malaysian economy.

As for "individualism," instead of writing that "Muslims hate individualism" why not rephrase it thus: Islam is uninterested in the individual. It is a faith suffused with collectivism. One's loyalty must be to the Umma, the Community of Believers. One is treated as a recruit to the Army of Islam, and any attempt to leave that army is treated as treason: hence apostasy is not allowed.

That would be more accurate.

Posted on 04/09/2007 1:07 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 9 April 2007
Industrial Production...

...around 20,000 B.C.

Posted on 04/09/2007 1:12 PM by John Derbyshire
Monday, 9 April 2007
Money Can Buy Everything, Except Civilization

"Do you believe that even one U.A.E. native as placed one rivet in a girder or soiled his hands building the metropolis in Dubai?"-- from a reader

The pecking-order of wage slaves (and the noun here should be given special emphasis) in the oil-rich Arab countries goes something like this:

1) At the top, the white European and American wage-slaves. These include doctors and most medical personnel. They are treated like hired help. I know of one celebrated American cardiologist who, having been hired to come and help set up a clinic, became disgusted with his treatment by the arrogant Saudis -- who treated him as a merely a well-paid coolie -- and vowed never to return. The Saudis do not respect the people whose expert knowledge they rely on, and they rely on others for everything. As long as they have the money, and can pay for things, they have no apparent sense of embarrassment at how little they can do for themselves, at how unimpressive their country is, perhaps the most unimpressive place on earth, given its receipt, entirely undeserved, of between one and two trillion dollars, with a small, pampered population (leaving out the Shi'a of Hasa, and the "Yemenites" or imperfect "Saudis" of 'Asir and Najran).

Also at the top: all those in the professional classes, including engineers and others who actually run the oilfields, airline pilots (possibly sudden "reverts"), the upper level of technicians, teachers in anything remotely resembling higher education. These positions are filled by Infidels from Western Europe and America. Financial finaglers and advisers of every sort can be Arabs or Arabic-speaking (a good job for Lebanese Christians and abroad some rich Arabs have been known for their own accounts to place funds not only with a Coptic Sarofim, but even with a Jewish Safra).

Lower down, there are the builders: South Koreans, in the main. Architects can be both Western and local, Saudi (Sami Agarwal may not be getting the government commissions, given his fierce criticism of the destruction of Mecca's history -- a destruction that did not begin, or end, with that Ottoman fort torn down a few years ago). The workmen are often from the subcontinent, Indians. And then there are all the assorted laborers and flunkies at the lowest level, from Sudanese and Somalis. One would not be surprised to discover that there were still, hidden from prying Western eyes, black eunuchs still tending the private harems of those primitive daggers-and-dishdashas Saudi magnates, each with his own high-walled palace or palacette.

And there are the slave-girls, from southeast Asia -- domestic slaves, put to one use by the assorted Arab women, and by another use, if sufficiently attractive, by the menfolk. Indonesian, Filipino, Indochinese, Indian -- they seldom talk about their experiences, and their governments, eager not to offend the once and future employers of so many citizens, seldom make a fuss at the mistreatment, the cruelty, the unpunished crimes committed against these girls, by their Saudi, or Kuwaiti, or Emiratian masters.

That's that world. Occasionally the veil is lifted for a minute, when some Kuwaiti or Saudi in London or Washington, or perhaps "studying" in Denver or Los Angeles or New York, has his housegirl escape, or she is found at the bottom of some stairs, bleeding, and then there is an item in the paper, and then it is covered over by well-paid lawyers and public relations flacks in Saudi or Kuwaiti or other Arab pay, and everyone forgets until the next time, and then the same thing happens again, and then again.

It all sickens.

"Money can buy everything, except civilization."

Posted on 04/09/2007 1:13 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 9 April 2007
Perils of Bad Math

These folk must have been talking with squeaky voices for hours.

"There was a hell of a bang, the tunnel housing the machine filled with helium and dust and we had to call in the fire brigade to evacuate the place,” he said.

Posted on 04/09/2007 1:19 PM by John Derbyshire
Monday, 9 April 2007
Ancient History Update

If that's not a contradiction in terms. Since I posted about the petition against the abolition of A-Level Ancient History earlier today another 54 people have signed up. (I'm not taking credit for this.)

I accept that Ancient History A-level is not going to get as many people as annoyed as road pricing, which got a record number of signatures. But if it continues at this rate - the petition has only been going a few days - we may come close by the expiry date. More to the point, Downing Street may listen.

Click here (British citizens and residents only) to sign.

Posted on 04/09/2007 2:31 PM by Mary Jackson
Monday, 9 April 2007
Weakening The Camp Of Islam

"this civil war will not "weaken the camp of islam". That is impossible."-- from a reader

This makes no sense. If there is a civil war in Iraq, if it has both sectarian (Sunni-Shi'a Arabs) and an ethnic (Kurds seizing the opportunity to create an independent Kurdistan) dimension, if this leads to co-religionists outside of Iraq to send in volunteers (especially from Iran), money (lots of money, especially from Saudi Arabia), and war matériel (ditto), and if this affects the already-strained relations between Sunni and Shi'a in Pakistan, in Yemen, in Lebanon, in Bahrain, in Saudi Arabia, even in Kuwait, why does that not "weaken the camp of Islam"?

How will this not "weaken the camp of Islam"? Why will Americans remaining in Iraq, spending more than two hundred billion a year on the present and committed future costs (based on the current estimated incurred costs of $880 billion for the first four years of war, and that is without any consideration of macroeconomic costs), using up war matériel (already 40% of that which should be in National Guard armories here is in Iraq, desert-degrading at six times the ordinary rate), using up our military (the Reserves and National Guard are already in a demoralized state, with the members of both components of our civilian army feeling betrayed about what they took to be a government commitment not to send them on second tours to a war zone, and those that have already been, and seen Iraq and the Iraqis, no longer capable of being fooled about "our mission" or the likelihood of accomplishing what to them now makes little sense -- that is no way to fight a war, with troops who overwhelmingly (look at the polling figures for the Reservists and National Guard on their views on the need for a prompt American withdrawal -- and even the much more obedient members of the regular army are, by a growing majority, coming to agree, for unlike the hallucinatory Bush and Cheney and the claque of lecturing and hectoring loyalists, ever more illogical and shrill, are expressing their opposition which merely reflects their own growing understanding, both of Iraq, and of the larger menace of Islam.

Tell me, Reader.

Did the Iran-Iraq War "weaken the camp of Islam" or not?

Posted on 04/09/2007 3:53 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 9 April 2007
Beyond Consoling

Readers are trying to cheer me up. With the story of this lad, for example.

It isn't working, though. I just know little Stuarthe must now be 22grew up to be a Community Relations Liaison Officer, with a "partner," no kids, and strong opinionshis only strong opinionsabout coriander versus oregano. He drinks bottled water, works out on expensive gym equipment, watches a lot of TV, has perfect dentition, feels bad about the Empire, votes Labour, and has one of those Blackberry gizmos. I just know.

Posted on 04/09/2007 4:01 PM by John Derbyshire
Monday, 9 April 2007
Iraq Is Over And Gone

"The infiltration of muslims [sic] to the west [sic[ will, if anything, accelerate with civil war in Iraq. Indeed, talk has already surfaced in government of allowing Iraqis to migrate to the US to flee such a civil war."-- from the same reader as below

How is it that the "infiltration of Muslims to the West will, if anything, accelerate with civil war in Iraq"? Will it just happen, the way Topsy just grew? Will all those Muslims simply be allowed in, because our government, the same brilliant government that thinks the American army should not be withdrawn from Iraq, is similarly idiotic in its domestic policy, and will simply allow "Iraqis to migrate to the US to flee such a civil war"?

Do we, the outraged Infidels of this country, have no way to prevent this? Have we no say at all in this? Is it for Bush and Rice to decide -- people who have shown no understanding of Islam or of the use of demography as a weapon of Jihad, and who apparently believe that "nice" Muslims,
"good" Muslims -- the ones who don't wear a bomb-vest, or declare that Osama Bin Laden is their beau ideal, are fit for entry into this country, and there should be no problem?

What are you suggesting? That 160,000 American troops, at a cost of between $100-$200 billion a year, should remain in Iraq, because that is the only way that you can think of to prevent them From Following Us Home?

What will they do? Sneak aboard the planes with the returning soldiers? We are free to keep Iraqis out. They can go, they have been going, to other Arab countries. That famous "middle class" can find work all over the Arab states, and especially, if non-Shi'a, in Saudi Arabia and the oil-rich sheiklets.

The failure of Muslims to exhibit the slightest sign of political compromise reflects, of course, the victor-vanquished narrative of Islam, and of what is to be found in Qur'an, Hadith, and Sira. It is not our fault, and we have done what we could, however clumsily and ignorantly and naively, to try to bring Sunni and Shi'a together. The Administration failed to understand, as do the Iraqis who now claim "it might have worked" if only the Administration had done this or not done that, that the primitive masses, not Chalabi and Rend al-Rahim and Allawi, will determine the fate of Iraq, and the fate of Iraq is to no longer be a unified state under a Sunni despot (which is the only way such a state could remain unified).

Iraq is over and gone.

And for the United States, and for the Infidels generally, the consequences of an attempt by Sunni Arabs to prevent the old order from permanently passing, and of Shi'a Arabs to resist giving up what they have won, will be a good thing.

Posted on 04/09/2007 4:03 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 9 April 2007
Fine Word, Legitimate

Hugh, Does your "real" name begin with an I? --from a reader

My "real" name is as you see it. Last I looked, the only "i" was in the embarrassing part of the name, that tell-tale "fitz," with its hallowed but muffled bend-sinister hint. But Shakespeare himself wrote: "Now gods, stand up for bastards!" And had Edmund sneer at that "fine word, legitimate."

Oh, Edmund wasn't nice, you say? Well, it's been a long time since I've read "King Lear." But I think it has a lesson for today, doesn't it? Isn't it about a kingdom that is divided into three parts, or is supposed to be? And aren't the Sunni Arabs Regan, and the Shi'a Arabs Goneril, which means that the nearest thing to Cordelia (I don't want to be too flattering here, it's all relative) would be the Kurds?

Why yes indeed.

But we don't have to end up with Shakespeare's ending. We can give it a happy, Colley-Cibberish ending.

C'mon King Lear. Get out of the Kingdom now. Barbados is beautiful this time of year. John Cleese loves the golf course at The Sandy Lane. Maybe you can get in a game.

Posted on 04/09/2007 4:23 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 9 April 2007
The Light Horse Of L.S.E.

When Larkin wrote this, the British garrisons in what had once been the Trucial States -- "trucial" (and not then quite so obviously oil-rich and therefore, to some, "crucial")--that is along the western littoral of the Persian Gulf, were closed to save money.

That did not mean that the British were nowhere to be found. They remained, and remain, in the most decent and most authentic, least unhinged by wealth, of the Gulf states -- Oman. Aden had been lost, despite Mad Mike Mitchell, because there was not the will to crush the locals, and besides, it made no sense to stay on.

J. B. Kelly was in Abu Dhabi, advising Sheikh Zayed on the legal case for the defense of Abu Dhabi's frontiers against the big bully of the neighborhood, Saudi Arabia. In 1971 one of those who attempted to cash in on Zayed's generosity was that supposed "grand old man" (if you believe credulous journalists) of Iraqi politics, the talented and unscrupulous (J. B. Kelly uses another phrase) and thoroughly untrustworthy Adnan Pachachi, who proceeded to leave a secret document (for Zayed's eyes only) on the floor of a taxi, where they were discovered by Kelly, the next passenger in the vehicle, much to his horror and chagrin.

Why mention this? Because the Larkin poem, posted today, might cause some readers to think that John Derbyshire is quoting Larkin's poem as a sign of mordant support for the Iraq venture. I don't think that is what is intended, and I don't think Larkin would have thought Tarbaby Iraq worth the Instant Makeover the naive Americans have been attempting to give it. He was making a different point, a point about cost-savings as your only policy-maker, and about something else, as old as the hills full of fool's gold: Radix malorum cupiditas est. 

There's another poem by Larkin on the same theme, that takes to mocking task the "anti-war activists" who apparently thought that the Soviet threat could be fended off without military force, and at the University of Essex, Chancellor Albert Sloman presiding, and at the London School of Economics, the student protests were particularly virulent:

"When the Russian tanks roll westward,

What defence for you and me?

Colonel Sloman's Essex Rifles?

The Light Horse of L.S.E.?"

Larkin was rightly contemptuous of those who would put their faith not in the West's maintaining its military strength, but rather in "Colonel Sloman's Essex Rifles/And the Light Horse of L.S.E." infuriated Larkin the commonsensical realist when it came to politics (he was a friend of Robert Conquest). When he dismissed the "Light Horse of L.S.E." he was referring only to the students. For those were the glory days for the L.S.E., when control was still held by the sensible -- to wit, Donald Watt and Kenneth Minogue and Elie Kedourie, before its takeover and makeover by a tiers-mondisant (himself third-world in origin) head determined to make the school safe for the unscholarly leftist likes of Fred Halliday, and so it was, and Halliday himself was plucked from some Trotskyite think-tank in Amsterdam (had it been the Herzen Foundation of Karel van het Reve that would have been quite another matter) and others, just as bad, have now crept into and infiltrated the LSE as they have so many other formerly sound or semi-sound institutions, with the results we all see. Larkin did not live to see that when he wrote, in 1971, of the "Light Horse of LSE" at least those "Light Horse" would have been charging, however ineffectually (and Watt, Minogue, and Kedourie were worth their weight in well-armed brigades), against the enemy, and not against England itself. The transformation of the LSE has been not the only declension of an academic institution in recent years, but it has been one of the most spectacular in its speed. 

Posted on 04/09/2007 4:44 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 9 April 2007
What Would Julius Stone Do?

AUSTRALIA'S most senior Islamic cleric, Sheik Taj al-Din al-Hilali, called on the Muslim world to unite behind the radical Iranian regime and to serve in its "trenches" in comments published during a visit to Tehran last weekend. --from this news item

Australia and other countries should see if they have on their books laws that can punish such behavior as treason, or can at the very least prevent the many hilalis of this world from ever returning to the "Infidel" nation-state in which they may exist geographically, but to which they do not, and cannot possibly, owe any allegiance.

Are there already such laws, waiting to be implemented but the Australian authorities are too timid? Or is it that the Western world has not yet understood the necessity of dealing, in the legal system, with the new, unprecedented, and for many incomprehensible difficulties that Islam, and those who take Islam seriously, pose for the entire non-Muslim world, its legal and political institutions, its social arrangements, its very existence.

Julius Stone, the great Australian scholar of jurisprudence (see, for a start, "The Province and Function of the Law") would have known what to do. Australians have managed to continue to behave as Europeans might have behaved, intelligently, no-nonsensically, in the 1950s. The time-warp is doing Australia good.

Now for those drafters of legislation to step forth. It is they, and the historians of Islam, and those who know about Islam but are not part of the MESA-Nostra Family, and not part of the army of Saudi-financed Western hirelings (ex-diplomats, journalists, businessmen, and especially former government officials) all over the capitals of the West), who are worth more, are much more valuable, than any number of brigades of "boots on the ground" in Tarbaby Iraq.

Posted on 04/09/2007 4:55 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 9 April 2007
Shire Network News Interviews Egyptian Sandmonkey
Join Brian of London and Tom Paine to find out what effect Nancy Pelosi is having in Egypt. Hint: it's not positive.

Podcast sojourns in Egypt with the Egyptian Sandmonkey and also mentions Marcus Brigstocke

Posted on 04/09/2007 5:00 PM by Rebecca Bynum
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