« April 2005 | Main | June 2005 »

May 29, 2005

Memorial Day 2005

Thank you to all American military veterans, and those who are currently serving. We owe our freedoms to you. You uphold all that is right and true in our great nation. For that we are profoundly thankful.

One of the best expressions of the spirit of our armed forces was made by General of the Army Douglas MacArthur in a speech he gave at West Point in 1962. The occasion was his acceptance speech upon receiving the Sylvanus Thayer Award. This presigious honor is bestowed every year on "...an outstanding citizen of the United States whose service and accomplishments in the national interest exemplify personal devotion to the ideals expressed in the West Point motto, “DUTY, HONOR, COUNTRY.”'


General Douglas MacArthur: Thayer Award Acceptance Address

delivered 12 May 1962, West Point, NY

"Duty, Honor, Country"


General Westmoreland, General Grove, distinguished guests, and gentlemen of the Corps!

As I was leaving the hotel this morning, a doorman asked me, "Where are you bound for, General?" And when I replied, "West Point," he remarked, "Beautiful place. Have you ever been there before?"

No human being could fail to be deeply moved by such a tribute as this [Thayer Award]. Coming from a profession I have served so long, and a people I have loved so well, it fills me with an emotion I cannot express. But this award is not intended primarily to honor a personality, but to symbolize a great moral code -- the code of conduct and chivalry of those who guard this beloved land of culture and ancient descent. That is the animation of this medallion. For all eyes and for all time, it is an expression of the ethics of the American soldier. That I should be integrated in this way with so noble an ideal arouses a sense of pride and yet of humility which will be with me always: Duty, Honor, Country.

Those three hallowed words reverently dictate what you ought to be, what you can be, what you will be. They are your rallying points: to build courage when courage seems to fail; to regain faith when there seems to be little cause for faith; to create hope when hope becomes forlorn.

Unhappily, I possess neither that eloquence of diction, that poetry of imagination, nor that brilliance of metaphor to tell you all that they mean. The unbelievers will say they are but words, but a slogan, but a flamboyant phrase. Every pedant, every demagogue, every cynic, every hypocrite, every troublemaker, and I am sorry to say, some others of an entirely different character, will try to downgrade them even to the extent of mockery and ridicule.

But these are some of the things they do. They build your basic character. They mold you for your future roles as the custodians of the nation's defense. They make you strong enough to know when you are weak, and brave enough to face yourself when you are afraid. They teach you to be proud and unbending in honest failure, but humble and gentle in success; not to substitute words for actions, not to seek the path of comfort, but to face the stress and spur of difficulty and challenge; to learn to stand up in the storm but to have compassion on those who fall; to master yourself before you seek to master others; to have a heart that is clean, a goal that is high; to learn to laugh, yet never forget how to weep; to reach into the future yet never neglect the past; to be serious yet never to take yourself too seriously; to be modest so that you will remember the simplicity of true greatness, the open mind of true wisdom, the meekness of true strength. They give you a temper of the will, a quality of the imagination, a vigor of the emotions, a freshness of the deep springs of life, a temperamental predominance of courage over timidity, of an appetite for adventure over love of ease. They create in your heart the sense of wonder, the unfailing hope of what next, and the joy and inspiration of life. They teach you in this way to be an officer and a gentleman.

And what sort of soldiers are those you are to lead? Are they reliable? Are they brave? Are they capable of victory? Their story is known to all of you. It is the story of the American man-at-arms. My estimate of him was formed on the battlefield many, many years ago, and has never changed. I regarded him then as I regard him now -- as one of the world's noblest figures, not only as one of the finest military characters, but also as one of the most stainless. His name and fame are the birthright of every American citizen. In his youth and strength, his love and loyalty, he gave all that mortality can give.

He needs no eulogy from me or from any other man. He has written his own history and written it in red on his enemy's breast. But when I think of his patience under adversity, of his courage under fire, and of his modesty in victory, I am filled with an emotion of admiration I cannot put into words. He belongs to history as furnishing one of the greatest examples of successful patriotism. He belongs to posterity as the instructor of future generations in the principles of liberty and freedom. He belongs to the present, to us, by his virtues and by his achievements. In 20 campaigns, on a hundred battlefields, around a thousand campfires, I have witnessed that enduring fortitude, that patriotic self-abnegation, and that invincible determination which have carved his statue in the hearts of his people. From one end of the world to the other he has drained deep the chalice of courage.

As I listened to those songs [of the glee club], in memory's eye I could see those staggering columns of the First World War, bending under soggy packs, on many a weary march from dripping dusk to drizzling dawn, slogging ankle-deep through the mire of shell-shocked roads, to form grimly for the attack, blue-lipped, covered with sludge and mud, chilled by the wind and rain, driving home to their objective, and for many, to the judgment seat of God.

I do not know the dignity of their birth, but I do know the glory of their death.

They died unquestioning, uncomplaining, with faith in their hearts, and on their lips the hope that we would go on to victory.

Always, for them: Duty, Honor, Country; always their blood and sweat and tears, as we sought the way and the light and the truth.

And 20 years after, on the other side of the globe, again the filth of murky foxholes, the stench of ghostly trenches, the slime of dripping dugouts; those boiling suns of relentless heat, those torrential rains of devastating storms; the loneliness and utter desolation of jungle trails; the bitterness of long separation from those they loved and cherished; the deadly pestilence of tropical disease; the horror of stricken areas of war; their resolute and determined defense, their swift and sure attack, their indomitable purpose, their complete and decisive victory -- always victory. Always through the bloody haze of their last reverberating shot, the vision of gaunt, ghastly men reverently following your password of: Duty, Honor, Country.

The code which those words perpetuate embraces the highest moral laws and will stand the test of any ethics or philosophies ever promulgated for the uplift of mankind. Its requirements are for the things that are right, and its restraints are from the things that are wrong.

The soldier, above all other men, is required to practice the greatest act of religious training -- sacrifice.

In battle and in the face of danger and death, he discloses those divine attributes which his Maker gave when he created man in his own image. No physical courage and no brute instinct can take the place of the Divine help which alone can sustain him.

However horrible the incidents of war may be, the soldier who is called upon to offer and to give his life for his country is the noblest development of mankind.

You now face a new world -- a world of change. The thrust into outer space of the satellite, spheres, and missiles mark the beginning of another epoch in the long story of mankind. In the five or more billions of years the scientists tell us it has taken to form the earth, in the three or more billion years of development of the human race, there has never been a more abrupt or staggering evolution. We deal now not with things of this world alone, but with the illimitable distances and as yet unfathomed mysteries of the universe. We are reaching out for a new and boundless frontier.

We speak in strange terms: of harnessing the cosmic energy; of making winds and tides work for us; of creating unheard synthetic materials to supplement or even replace our old standard basics; to purify sea water for our drink; of mining ocean floors for new fields of wealth and food; of disease preventatives to expand life into the hundreds of years; of controlling the weather for a more equitable distribution of heat and cold, of rain and shine; of space ships to the moon; of the primary target in war, no longer limited to the armed forces of an enemy, but instead to include his civil populations; of ultimate conflict between a united human race and the sinister forces of some other planetary galaxy; of such dreams and fantasies as to make life the most exciting of all time.

And through all this welter of change and development, your mission remains fixed, determined, inviolable: it is to win our wars.

Everything else in your professional career is but corollary to this vital dedication. All other public purposes, all other public projects, all other public needs, great or small, will find others for their accomplishment. But you are the ones who are trained to fight. Yours is the profession of arms, the will to win, the sure knowledge that in war there is no substitute for victory; that if you lose, the nation will be destroyed; that the very obsession of your public service must be: Duty, Honor, Country.

Others will debate the controversial issues, national and international, which divide men's minds; but serene, calm, aloof, you stand as the Nation's war-guardian, as its lifeguard from the raging tides of international conflict, as its gladiator in the arena of battle. For a century and a half you have defended, guarded, and protected its hallowed traditions of liberty and freedom, of right and justice.

Let civilian voices argue the merits or demerits of our processes of government; whether our strength is being sapped by deficit financing, indulged in too long, by federal paternalism grown too mighty, by power groups grown too arrogant, by politics grown too corrupt, by crime grown too rampant, by morals grown too low, by taxes grown too high, by extremists grown too violent; whether our personal liberties are as thorough and complete as they should be. These great national problems are not for your professional participation or military solution. Your guidepost stands out like a ten-fold beacon in the night: Duty, Honor, Country.

You are the leaven which binds together the entire fabric of our national system of defense. From your ranks come the great captains who hold the nation's destiny in their hands the moment the war tocsin sounds. The Long Gray Line has never failed us. Were you to do so, a million ghosts in olive drab, in brown khaki, in blue and gray, would rise from their white crosses thundering those magic words: Duty, Honor, Country.

This does not mean that you are war mongers.

On the contrary, the soldier, above all other people, prays for peace, for he must suffer and bear the deepest wounds and scars of war.

But always in our ears ring the ominous words of Plato, that wisest of all philosophers: "Only the dead have seen the end of war."

The shadows are lengthening for me. The twilight is here. My days of old have vanished, tone and tint. They have gone glimmering through the dreams of things that were. Their memory is one of wondrous beauty, watered by tears, and coaxed and caressed by the smiles of yesterday. I listen vainly, but with thirsty ears, for the witching melody of faint bugles blowing reveille, of far drums beating the long roll. In my dreams I hear again the crash of guns, the rattle of musketry, the strange, mournful mutter of the battlefield.

But in the evening of my memory, always I come back to West Point.

Always there echoes and re-echoes: Duty, Honor, Country.

Today marks my final roll call with you, but I want you to know that when I cross the river my last conscious thoughts will be of The Corps, and The Corps, and The Corps.

I bid you farewell.


Posted by Tom at 5:34 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 28, 2005

This Man Should Not be a Senator

If a grown man is going to blubber on the floor of the U.S. Senate it had better be over something more than how he's going to vote on a nominee to the United Nations. It you can stand it yhou can listen to him here.

Senator George Voinovich just about broke out in tears while announcing that he wasn't going to vote for John Bolton. He even managed to bring his children and grandchildren into it.

For heaven's sake, grow up.

(Hat tip Michelle Malkin for the link)

Posted by Tom at 1:49 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Thune's Weird Linkage

Of much more importance than the emotional distress of Voinovich are Republican defections from the Bolton nomination. Now John Thune, who replaced Tom Dashle as Senator from South Dakota, has announced that he will vote against Bolton.

What's odd is the reason he gave. From the AP (hat tip Michelle Malkin):

Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., said Thursday that he would vote against the nomination of John Bolton to be ambassador to the United Nations, hinting his vote is a protest against the Pentagon's recommendation to close Ellsworth Air Force Base.

But he did support his party on the vote that mattered most Thursday.

Republicans needed 60 votes to end the Democratic procedural delays and move to an immediate final vote on Bolton's confirmation. Fifty-six senators - including Thune - voted to end the stalling, four shy of that threshold. Now the final Bolton vote will probably not take place until June.

Thune said Thursday that saving Ellsworth is "inseparable from my work" in the Senate.

"It is part of the fabric of every day of our agenda and the things we are trying to accomplish here," Thune said Thursday. "It's something that has become a great preoccupation of mine now."

Asked whether his opposition to Bolton was because of his qualifications or the base-closing plan, Thune said dryly: "I'm concerned about our diplomatic posture as a nation, and I'm concerned about our defensive posture. These issues are not unrelated."

Thune otherwise would not say why he would vote against Bolton's nomination.

"Everyone has to come to their own decision about it, and that's the decision I have come to," Thune said. "John Bolton is not the best man for this job."

Before the base-closure list was released, in April, Thune said on the MSNBC program "Hardball" that Bolton could be good for the United Nations.

"Folks on our side I don't think have problems with where he is on policy or ideology or the fact that he is taking an approach and a style to the U.N.," Thune said. "That is much needed at the U.N."

If Ellsworth closes, about 3,800 military and civilian jobs will be lost in the Rapid City area.

From what I can figure he's voting against Bolton because Ellis Air Force Base is scheduled for closing? I keep rereading the article but can come to no other conclusion.

I checked his web site and can find no information on the matter. As of this writing his last press release was on May 25 and makes no reference to John Bolton. He doesn't want any bases closed, which is unfortunate but predictable.

Ok he're goes: We don't have military bases to serve the economic needs of communities. Many are no doubt obsolete and need to be closed or moved, and doing so would save us much money that we could reinvest elsewhere. Yes I know that Senators have to look after their constituents and no doubt he's received a thousand phone calls begging him to oppose the closings. And yes I know that people will be thrown out of work and all that. And I don't even know the specifics of the situation so can't really say if any one base should or should not be closed. I just wish that these Senators and Representatives would be a little less knee-jerk about these things once in a while.

Bottom Line: If Thune is trying to send a "message" to the administration he's choosing the worst possible way to do it. Well, he's better than Daschle so I should count my blessings.

Posted by Tom at 1:02 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

I Got a Call this Morning

... from a Republican fundraiser.

I told him that I wouldn't be giving any money until we made progress in getting Bush's judicial nominees thought.

I hated to do it but we've got to send a message. Hopefully they'll get enough replies like mine so that it registers with the national leadership.

Don't worry, I was very nice to the guy who called and thanked him for his efforts. There's no excuse for getting angry with the caller, as we should be thankful that we have people willing to donate their time.

Senator George Allen, however, will be receiving a check from me. I got one of his fundraising letters in the mail, and because he's been very strong on this issue, he will be rewarded.

Posted by Tom at 12:52 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Sudan, Mass Murder, and the War on Terror

Nat Hentoff provides enlightenment as to why the Bush Administration has not been even more forthright on Sudan. It's basically a deal with the devil, he says. According to Henthoff, Ken Silverstein of the Los Angeles Times has revealed close intelligence ties between the two countries:

"The Sudanese government, an unlikely ally in the U.S. fight against terror, remains on the latest U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism. At the same time, however, it has been providing access to terror suspects and sharing intelligencedata withtheUnited States." The Los Angeles Times' substantially and carefully documented report makes clear that this collaboration between our CIA and the Mukhabarat, the Sudanese equivalent of the CIA, has produced very important results in our war against terrorism. For instance "A U.S. source familiar with Sudan's cooperation said, 'They've not only told us who the bad guys were, they've gone out and gotten them for us.'"

Furthermore, a Muslim intelligence agency like the Mukhabarat "can 'get firsthand information, while we get 10th-hand information,' said Lee S. Wolosky, a former National Security Council staffer in the Clinton and Bush administrations." Accordingly, in countries where barbaric jihadists organize and plan against us and where the CIA has very limited contacts, Sudan's intelligence agents can be of considerable,andpossibly life-saving, help.

Ugh.

I guess I shouldn't be surprised. This is the type of thing that separates the 'real world' from pure idealism. In a perfect world we would unilaterally condemn countries like Sudan without regard to such...complications. Unfortunately it doesn't always work out so neatly.

So What to Do?

Readers of this blog will know that I've recommended strong action against Sudan in the past.
I've gone so far as to say that we ought to bomb government buildings if that's what it takes to persuade their leaders to stop their mass murders. We did it in Kosovo, why can't we do it here?

Because we would lose a valuable source of intelligence, we're told. And those who make this argument should not be dismissed. One can be a human rights absolutist like Jimmy Carter, and look where it got him: he lost Iran and Nicaragua to dictatorships worse than the ones they replaced.

But the difference was that Carter pontificated about human rights without being willing to back up his words with action. He mussled our military. All his talk achieved was to alienate traditional allies. He undermined odious regimes without providing an alternative.

George Bush has so far not made this mistake.

My Recommendation

It's easy for me to talk, since I do not have access to the intelligence that Sudan is passing us. It may be good stuff, it may not. My position is that it had better well better be super-hot if its going to keep us from taking action against the Sudanese government for their continued mass murders in Darfur.

Posted by Tom at 10:32 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 25, 2005

More on the Cave-in

Yeah, some "compromise", eh? Then why are the Democrats claiming victory?

Democratic leaders claimed victory yesterday over the deal senators cut regarding filibusters of judicial nominees, while most Republicans said it violated their principles and conservative activists vowed retribution.

"Our republic stands strong. Our Constitution is solid. Our flag flies over a nation that has reaffirmed its faith in freedom," said Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, while Sens. Edward M. Kennedy, Massachusetts Democrat, and Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi praised the deal for averting a crisis.

Just the people I want on my side. When the likes of Kennedy, Schumer, and Pelosi praise something you know there's something wrong.

And what exactly was this "compromise" all about? What did we agree on?

No one seems to know. The Democrats crow that they can still filibuster in "extreme circumstances", a term that was undefined in the agreement:

The primary point of contention is the definition of "extraordinary circumstances" under which the deal permits Democrats to mount future judicial filibusters without facing Republican retribution such as the nuclear option.

"The terms 'extraordinary circumstances' do not lend themselves to any easy interpretation," Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter said yesterday. "But when the Democratic leader observes that means 'occasional' and 'very infrequent,' that is very reassuring."

Within minutes of the deal's announcement Monday night, NARAL Pro-Choice America announced that "extraordinary circumstances" should include any nominees who don't state their positions on Roe v. Wade, the court case that made abortion a constitutional right. Other liberals have defined "extraordinary circumstances" as any vacancy on the Supreme Court.

And indeed it looks like they will filibuster the nomination of anyone to the supreme court but a complete milquetoast like a David Souter. What this means is that the president either cannot nominate his first choice (or maybe second or even third). Instead, we will be left with wishy-washy nominees who will do heaven know what on the bench.

Andrew McCarthy on NRO sums up the situation:

Let’s say, instead, that they simply gave us the bottom line: (a) three of the president’s nominees get an up-or-down vote (i.e., exactly three of the pending seven left standing after the Democrats — in that spirit of compromise — whittled down from the original ten); (b) the Democrats remain free to filibuster (but only on the strict condition that, uh, well, that the Democrats feel like filibustering); and (c) the Republicans, on the brink of breaking four years of obstruction, decide instead to punt (and on the eve of a likely battle over a Supreme Court vacancy, no less).

Sound familiar? Yes it does: It’s the deal that Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid offered a week ago — and that was flatly rejected as paltry and unprincipled.

The deal, moreover, says, “Signatories will exercise their responsibilities under the Advice and Consent Clause of the United States Constitution in good faith.” Well, their responsibility under the “Consent” part of the Clause is to confirm or reject the president’s nominees. Period.

Ugh.

I went to Senator Warner's website this morning (I live in Virginia) and wrote him a not expressing my displeasure with him. I would encourage everyone to write their senators regardless of whether they are one of the seven who caved or not. Those who hold steadfast need encouragement also. I wrote Senator Allen a few weeks ago and will do so again later today.

You can read a copy of the "agreement" here (thanks to NRO). I won't have time this morning to go over it but will try to do so this evening.

Posted by Tom at 7:41 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 24, 2005

Not one Dime

Like the rest of you I am very unhappy with the Republican Senators who "compromised" (read; caved in) to the Democrats yesterday. I don't have any unique analysis here so I'll leave that to others.

Just so that you see their names again, they are

Mike DeWine of Ohio
Susan Collins of Maine
Lindsey Graham of South Carolina
Lincoln Chaffee of Rhode Island
John McCain of Arizona
John W. Warner of Virginia
Olympia J. Snowe of Maine.

Some of the names on the list do not surprise me; McCain, Chafee, Collins, and Snowe prominent among them. McCain loves being the "maverick", and the other three are just liberals. Graham seems to be a McCain wanna be, and I don't know anything about DeWine. But Warner surprised me. I thought more of him. I live in Virginia, and I can tell you right now that unless he changes his mind on this and votes in favor of the nuclear/constitutional option he will not be receiving my vote, much less my money. Since I can't imagine voting for most Democrats, I'll sit it out.

My other senator, George Allen, has been rock-solid. He has been very forthright in his opposition to the Democrats. I've heard him on several talk-show, including Laura Ingraham, and my admiration for him increases each time.

Last month I wrote both Senators Allen and Warner (through their websites) about both the situation with judicial nominees and John Bolton. Senator Allen (his assistant I'm sure) wrote me an email, which I reprint in part below:

The United States Senate has a very important function of confirming Presidential appointments, particularly to the federal bench. Any qualified individual nominated for a seat on a federal court should get a full and fair hearing both in the Senate Judiciary Committee and on the floor of the Senate. I believe that a vigorous debate about judicial nominees is appropriate, but the blatant obstruction of a judicial appointment is both unfair to the nominee and unfair to the process. It is the role of the Senate to advise and consent, not to delay and obstruct.

As you may be aware, recent discussion has mentioned the possible use of a parliamentary change that would allow for a vote on judicial nominees. This “Constitutional option” or “nuclear option”, as some have referred to it in the media, would allow the Senate to have a simple majority vote as required by the Constitution on a judicial nomination. Currently, some Senators are choosing to filibuster judicial nominations in order to prevent a final vote on their nominations. Under the current rules, filibusters are defeated when a motion of cloture is passed by a supermajority of 60 votes. Therefore, in order to have a simple up or down majority vote on a qualified judicial nominee, the Senate must first pass a motion of cloture which far exceeds the 51 votes required by the Constitution. The Constitutional option would permit the Senate an up or down vote following the ruling of the Senate’s presiding officer. This common-sense approach will allow the Senate to consider the qualifications of a potential judge, while still affording the minority the opportunity to make its views known.

I recognize the importance of debate within the Senate chamber and its longstanding tradition in the Senate. I support the use of the “Constitutional option” should judicial nominations continue to be flagrantly obstructed. I have always encouraged free and open discussion by my colleagues on all of the issues. While I am aware that it is their responsibility to make their views known on behalf of their constituencies, it is also important to recognize that it is our duty to the nation as the Senate to ensure that judicial nominees get a fair up or down vote.

I have yet to hear from Senator Warner.

I've got several GOP fundraising letters that I've been sitting on. Well guess what, I've now decided what to do about them. Every one of them will be sent back with a version of the following letter in them:

Dear Republican Party fund-raiser

There is no money in this envelope for you. You will not receive any money from me until Republicans in the Senate decide to end Democrat filibusters of judicial nominees. The recent "compromise" was in reality a cave-in

What is the point of a GOP majority if we're not going to do anything with it? What is all my money for if all Republican Senators are going to do is "compromise" when they have the votes to override the Democrats? I sent you my money last year so that you could elect Republican Senators who would work approve President Bush's judicial nominees. I have been let down, and until and unless Republican Senators override Democrate filibusters my money will only go to select local Republicans who have proven to me that they can be trusted.

Sincerely,

Tom

I'm going to print several copies of this letter as I have the sinking feeling that I'm going to need them for some time.


June 14 Update

I received a letter from Senator Warner, but it is about the Bolton nomination, not the agreement above. Senator Warner says that he supports John Bolton

Posted by Tom at 7:45 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 22, 2005

"It's Not Just Newsweek"

As Michelle Malkin says in her latest column, "It's not Just Newsweek".

Michelle rocks, of course. Her TV career has taken off, too. She guest-hosted O'Reilly (again) on Friday and did an excellent job. Of course the fact that she's awefully darn cute has nothing to do with my admiration of her. But I digress.

Back to her column:

If you want to hear an earful, ask an American soldier how he feels about our news media. You will invariably hear an outpouring of dismay and outrage over antagonistic and reckless reporting. I have stacks of letters and e-mails from soldiers and their families sharing those frustrations. During the Vietnam War, such sentiments would get packed away private hurts to be silently borne for decades.

But today the Internet has allowed soldiers on the front to disseminate their viewsbreaking through the media's entrenched anti-military bias— in unprecedented ways. In the wake of Newsweek's publication of its unsourced, mayhem-inducing, and now-retracted item about Koran desecration by U.S. military interrogators at Guantanamo Bay, a sergeant in Saudi Arabia immediately responded on a blog called The Anchoress (theanchoressonline.com):

I have placed my life and the life of my fellow soldiers in danger in order to achieve a measure of the freedoms we enjoy at home for the Iraqi and Afghani people. As soldiers, we all understand that we may be asked to participate in wars (actions) that we (or our countrymen) don't agree with. The irresponsible journalism being practiced by organizations such as Newsweek, however, [is] just inexcusable. At this point, because of their actions and failure to follow up on a claim of that magnitude, they've set the process back in Afghanistan immensely…

I don't regret serving my country, not one bit, but to have everything I'm doing here undermined by irresponsible journalists leaves me disgusted and disappointed.


Here, here.

There was an airshow this weekend at Andrews Air Force Base (which is just outside of Washington DC). They hold it every year, and I've been maybe fifteen times in the past twenty years. I'd have gone yesterday or today (the weather was great so it was tempting) but I just had too much else to do. Besides the pure thrill of seeing high-performance aircraft do their stuff (which like a hockey game is quite different live than on TV) I figure it's a way to show the military that I care enough and respect what they do. The pilots love to answer your questions, too. But again here I go off on a tangent.

Who's Side Are They On?

Malkin reminds us of all the lies, distortions, and misrepresentations we've had to put up with over the past few years from the mainstream media.

The members of our military are more than just an expedient means to a titillating magazine cover or juicy scoop or Peabody Award. Too often since the "War on Terror" was declared, eager Bush-bashing journalists have forgotten that the troops are real people who face real threats and real bloodshed as a consequence of loose lips and keyboards.
She then (on her regular blog) provides links to some of the other media misrepresentations. Remember these?

We heard that the military stood by while thousands of priceless Iraqi artifacts were stolen from museums. Then, oops, it wasn't really that way.

They tried to tell us that there was this big problem with desertions. But the photo that they used wasn't of any deserters.

Eight days before our presidential election they tried to tell us the we let insurgent terrorists loot a big cache of explosives because dumb 'ol Rumsfeld didn't send enough troops to invade Iraq. It wasn't true, of course. But hey, the timing was coincence, right?

Most don't even have the decency to call the bastards what they are; TERRORISTS.

Some are even more creative, they lie outright and fabricate stories about how we are targeting journalists.

Another big-name newspaper was so eager to smear the military that it fell for fake gang-rape photos.

And don't even make me bring up that windbag from CBS.

Posted by Tom at 9:25 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

They Shoot Reporters, don't They?

Check out The Fourth Rail for the link they posted to a Powerpoint presentation that the insurgent terrorists in Iraq made for their snipers.

They, uh, target reporters. Get that, Eason Jordan and Linda Foley?

Posted by Tom at 9:11 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

A Headline You'll Never See

From Dr Sanity's blog:

Here's a headline from the NY Times (I don't really care about the story, the thoroughly obnoxious headline says it all for me):

"Guantánamo Comes to Define U.S. to Muslims"

Here is a headline I would like to see:

"Beheadings and Insanely Violent Behavior Define Islam to Americans"

Do you think we will ever see that? No, I don't either.

Posted by Tom at 9:06 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 21, 2005

Saudi Arabia Torture update

From the Guardian;

Lawyers win right to seize Saudi assets

Mark Honigsbaum and Paul Kelso
Tuesday May 17, 2005
The Guardian

The court of appeal yesterday granted lawyers acting for three men who were tortured and detained in Saudi jails for more than two years permission to seize the kingdom's assets in this country, including Saudi commercial airliners.

The ruling follows a decision by the court of appeal last October giving the men the right to sue Saudi officials responsible for their torture in the British courts.

In October, the Saudi government decided it would not contest an order to pay the men's costs, yet has failed to do so. It has promised to take the case to the House of Lords.

Bindman and partners, lawyers for William Sampson, Sandy Mitchell and Les Walker, will now apply to the high court sheriff to seize sufficient commercial property to meet the costs, believed to be more than £100,000.

Bindman and partners have made clear they will send the sheriff in to seize Saudi property as soon as possible. They are not entitled to enter the Saudi embassy, as it is covered by diplomatic immunity and regarded as foreign territory.

However, any commercial property owned by the Saudi state in Britain is regarded fair game. That includes Saudi Arabian airlines, as well as houses and cars used for commercial purposes by Saudi officials or employees.

The Saudi embassy could not be reached for comment yesterday, but lawyers for the kingdom indicated in court that they would seek to overturn the order to pay costs by asserting immunity, setting the stage for further legal arguments.


I'll bet they didn't want to comment.

The article in the Guardian was sent to me by Mary Martini, ex-wife of one of James Cottle, one of the Britons who was unjustly imprisoned and tortured, and Ron Jones, who himself was unjustly imprisoned and tortured.

Kat over at the Middle Ground has been following this story also. Check out her blog posts here and here for additional details.

Let's keep up the pressure, folks.

For a timeline see the BBC story here.

My earlier posts:

A horror story of Saudi Arabia
Keep Quiet? Never!

Posted by Tom at 2:24 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 19, 2005

Press Irresponsibility

It's bad enough that Newsweek Magazine printed an inflamatory story using shoddy research, and does either not realize the damage they have done or do not care. Their sort-of apology isn't much.

But predictably many other pressies do not get it either. Take this exchange between White House reporters and presidential spokesman Scott McClellan (Drudge report, originally, hat tip Wretchard).

Q With respect, who made you the editor of Newsweek? Do you think it's appropriate for you, at that podium, speaking with the authority of the President of the United States, to tell an American magazine what they should print?

MR. McCLELLAN: I'm not telling them. I'm saying that we would encourage them to help --

Q You're pressuring them.

MR. McCLELLAN: No, I'm saying that we would encourage them --

Q It's not pressure?

MR. McCLELLAN: Look, this report caused serious damage to the image of the United States abroad. And Newsweek has said that they got it wrong. I think Newsweek recognizes the responsibility they have. We appreciate the step that they took by retracting the story. Now we would encourage them to move forward and do all that they can to help repair the damage that has been done by this report. And that's all I'm saying. But, no, you're absolutely right, it's not my position to get into telling people what they can and cannot report....

Q Are you asking them to write a story about how great the American military is; is that what you're saying here?

MR. McCLELLAN: Elisabeth, let me finish my sentence. Our military --

Q You've already said what you're -- I know what -- how it ends.

MR. McCLELLAN: No, I'm coming to your question, and you're not letting me have a chance to respond. But our military goes out of their way to handle the Koran with care and respect. There are policies and practices that are in place. This report was wrong. Newsweek, itself, stated that it was wrong. And so now I think it's incumbent and -- incumbent upon Newsweek to do their part to help repair the damage. And they can do that through ways that they see best, but one way that would be good would be to point out what the policies and practices are in that part of the world, because it's in that region where this report has been exploited and used to cause lasting damage to the image of the United States of America. It has had serious consequences. And so that's all I'm saying, is that we would encourage them to take steps to help repair the damage. And I think that they recognize the importance of doing that. That's all I'm saying.

Q As far as the Newsweek article is concerned, first, how and where the story came from? And do you think somebody can investigate if it really happened at the base, and who told Newsweek? Because somebody wrote a story.

These reporters know no shame. They don't get it. They think that the only two options are to report "how great the U.S. military is", or completely trash it. How about the truth, guys?

That one of their own is responsible for undermining the United States in one of the most vital regions of the world through shoddy reporting concerns them not at all. And they wonder why newspaper circulation is dropping off (except with the Washington Times, where it is going up!).

Then we have this in this morning's Washington Times:

(well I was going to copy the whole thing but their links are all screwed up)

Essentially the story in the Times (look under "Inside Politics" and maybe the link is fixed) is that "...Linda Foley, international president of the Newspaper Guild, has accused the U.S. military of targeting journalists for death 'in places like Iraq'"

"Journalists, by the way, are not just being targeted verbally or politically," Miss Foley said Friday in St. Louis. "They are also being targeted for real, in places like Iraq. What outrages me as a representatrive of journalists is that their is not more outrage about the number, and the brutality, and the cavalier nature of the U.S. military toward the killing of journalists in Iraq."
Yeah well what outrages me, Miss Foley, is that we have to put up with whackos like you who make wildly irresponsible charges. I don't have time this morning to research this Newspaper Guild group, and if anyone has any info please send it to me.

Don't you think that this war would be a bit easier if we had more of the press on our side? One cause, I think, is moral confusion caused by a misunderstanding of "neutrality" versus "objectivity" in reporting. I did a post on this subject on my other blog site, take a look if you have time.

Evening Update

Sometime today the Times fixed the link, so you can get to the entire story here.

Friday Update

LaShawn Barber has details on Linda Foley (hat tip Michelle Malkin). She's even nuttier than I thought. How do people like this get to be president of anything?

Worldnet Daily has the text of Foley's remarks:

According to a tape of her remarks, Foley said: “Journalists, by the way, are not just being targeted verbally or … ah, or … ah, politically. They are also being targeted for real, um … in places like Iraq. What outrages me as a representative of journalists is that there’s not more outrage about the number, and the brutality, and the cavalier nature of the U.S. military toward the killing of journalists in Iraq.”

Foley continued, “They target and kill journalists … uh, from other countries, particularly Arab countries like Al -, like Arab news services like al-Jazeera, for example. They actually target them and blow up their studios with impunity. …”

Posted by Tom at 7:46 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 18, 2005

Fun Facts

Readers of this blog will not normally be under any illusions as to just how terrible the United Nations has become. Nevertheless, it does bare reminding every now and then as to just why we need someone like John Bolton as our ambassador.

Ambassador Rudy Boschwitz is currently head of the delegation to the 61st session of the UN Commission on Human Rights. He was formerly a GOP Senator from Minessota from 1978 - 91. Yesterday he wrote an editorial that appeared in the Washington Times. He relayed just how antithetical at body has become to concepts of democracy and freedom around the world:

Americans must understand that the United Nations is not a very friendly forum for our country. The State Department puts out a study of voting patterns of the 191 nations that constitute the U.N. General Assembly. Only 10 of those 191 voted with the United States more than 50 percent of the time last year.
Wonderful. So that's what all of our foreign aid money is getting us.
At the six-week session of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) this spring — a commission made up of 53 countries, including some of the worst human rights abusers — we could only come up with a consensus resolution — albeit a fairly strong one — about Darfur that did not mention the government of Sudan by name as an abuser, though the implication was pretty clear. Last year, when we insisted on a strong Darfur resolution condemning Sudan, the vote against it was 50-1 (the one being the United States) with two abstentions. The CHR membership has too many arsonists and too few firemen.
This year, Ambassador Boschwitz says, the situation on the commission was so bad that they did not even try to get any resolutions condemning Iran, Zimbabwe, China or "even Turkmenistan, where the dictator has renamed the months and days of the week after family members."

So what did the commission busy itself with?

But the commission had no difficulty this spring (or any other spring) in condemning Israel — not once but in four separate resolutions. In the last session of the 191-nation-member General Assembly, 26 human rights resolutions aimed at member states were passed. Amazingly, 22 of those 26 condemned the State of Israel.
That's nice. The one democracy in the Middle East gets all the blame. Nothing new there, unfortunately.

We're all familiar with the excreable 1975 "Zionism is Racism" resolution. What the Democrats do not seem to remember is that it was John Bolton who, in 1991, was instrumental in getting that overturned.

More reasons not only to send John Bolton to the UN, but to look for alternatives to that outfit.

Posted by Tom at 8:01 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 17, 2005

About what I think, too

Are you familiar with the Bratz series of dolls? If not, good for you.

Normally I don't write about this type of thing but yesterday I saw an article in my morning paper that struck me. It was originally in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and it's about the increasing sexualization of children


With their made-up eyes, pouty lips and short skirts, these girls look like real party dolls.

In fact, they are dolls. They're the Bratz, the 10-inch "girls with a passion for fashion" whose skyrocketing popularity among young girls has ignited a marketing war with Barbie, the long-reigning queen of the fashion doll world. Compared with the flirtatious-looking Bratz, Barbie looks like the scrub-cheeked -- albeit curvaceous -- girl-next-door.

As thousands of girls dump Barbie for the Bratz, child development experts worry. They see the Bratz as the cutting edge of a worrisome trend: the increasing use of sexual imagery in products marketed to young children.

They call it the "sexualization of childhood" and point to other examples: thong underwear emblazoned with sexually suggestive phrases for 6-year-old girls; "pimp" Halloween costumes for little boys; the increasingly sexually explicit content of TV shows, movies, and music CDs.

About what I've been thinking, too. And it is most decidedly not a good thing.

Posted by Tom at 8:02 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 16, 2005

See, I Told You So

No, I'm not doing a book review of Rush Limbaugh's second book.

I'm simply repeating what I said last month: We're winning the war in Iraq.

Last year at this time it was not so obvious. We'd stumbled the first time in Fallujah, and failed to take down mullah Sadr decisively. We seemed to be having a hard time getting our hands around the insurgency.

We turned the tide some time ago, although it was not easy to see it at the time. We rooted out the terrorists in Fallujah, and neutralized Sadr. Two elections played a decisive role; the one for the presidency here in the U.S. and the ones in Iraq to form a new government. It may sound partisan to say so, but the fact is that had Kerry won we may have lost in Iraq.

But my purpose is not to rehash our election. The second event, of course, was the election in Iraq. The Sunnis quickly realized that they made a grave mistake by boycotting it. To their credit, the Shi'is and Kurds were magnamimous in victory, inviting Sunnis into the government.

Some, of course, will claim that the current increase in terrorist bombings "prove" that it is the insurgent terrorists who are winning. Theirs, however, is a simplistic view, borne of the idea that wars somehow follow a linear trend. enI dealt with that nonsense last month.

Rich Lowry spelled out the course of events very well in an article in National Review last month, which I excerpted here.

Today, Jack Kelly has a must-read editorial that says just about everything I've been thinking recently (No I did not say that to sound like a know-it-all!). I won't bore you any more with my thoughts, but am going to reprint his editorial in full so you won't even have to click to go read it (aren't I nice):


More than 400 people have been killed in Iraq in the last two weeks, including at least five U.S. Marines taking part in Operation Matador in western Iraq.

A reader wants to know if, in light of this upsurge in violence, I still believe, as I wrote in a column Feb. 27th, that "the war in Iraq is all but won."

My answer is emphatically yes.

The body count is up because two offensives are under way. The insurgents have launched a suicide bombing campaign in an effort to destabilize the new Iraqi government. The Marines are clearing out the rats' nests in western Iraq to which insurgents fled after they were expelled from their stronghold in Fallujah last November.

The suicide attacks gather ominous headlines, but are failing in their strategic purpose. They have not diminished the willingness of Iraqis to enlist in the army and the police. Between 1,500 and 3,000 more sign up each week. And the Shia and the Kurds have not been goaded into bloody confrontations with the Sunnis.

The insurgents have to be discouraged by the headline which appeared in the Arabic newspaper al Sharq al Awsat Monday: "Iraqi Arab Sunnis head toward army enlisting posts in spite of explosions."

Until recently, Sunni religious leaders discouraged support for the government. But now that a Sunni has been appointed minister of defense, they're encouraging Sunnis to enlist.

"The Sunni involvement in the new government ...is a nightmare scenario for (the insurgents) — it means the loss of their only constituency," said the Australian web logger Arthur Chrenkoff, from whose blog I found I al Sharq al Awsat story.

"When the terrorist bombings began to kill large numbers of civilians back in late 2003, many Iraqis believed the Americans were behind the attacks," noted Jim Dunnigan of StrategyPage. "Iraqis didn't believe al Qaida and the Baath Party terrorists could be so stupid. Now, Iraqis consider al Qaida and the Baath Party terrorists to be depraved and rather clueless butchers."

The insurgency is now dominated by al Qaida. The news media describes this as ominous, as they describe every development in Iraq as ominous. But the opposite is true.

Al Qaida is coming to the fore through subtraction. Many of the"former regime elements" who dominated the insurgency are giving up. "The Baathists are secular-oriented socialists with little truck for the strict religious fundamentalism of al Qaida," noted web logger Donald Sensing, a former Army artillery officer. "They have been working together only because they each hate America and democracy, but at bottom, they hate each other, too."

Because they are Iraqis, all but the most blood-drenched Baathists have the option of quitting. Al Qaida does not.

"If they fail in Iraq, Osama and his whole crew are finished," retired Air Force LtGen. Tom McInerny told the Washington Times in a story published Wednesday.

The Marines say the insurgents they're fighting in Operation Matador are almost all foreigners, and that they're well trained, well armed, and fighting like cornered rats.

That's because they are. One has to go to blogs like Chrenkoff's, Dunnigan's, and Sensing's (One Hand Clapping) to get the information and analysis journalists ought to be providing, but aren't. Bill Roggio (Fourth Rail), Chester (Adventures of Chester), Wretchard (Belmont Club) and Scott Koenig (Indepundit), have done a superb job of describing the goals and progress of Operation Matador, complete with maps.

The Marines have established blocking positions on the escape routes into Syria, and are systematically reducing the pockets of resistance. The terrorists are fighting fiercely, because they've nowhere to run. They're dying in big bunches. The Marines are not.

The mere fact that a major offensive is being mounted in the mostly empty western desert indicates the situation in the cities is well enough in hand to spare the troops.

We don't know for how much longer the fighting will go on, or how many casualties there will be. The bloodiest battle of the Pacific war was Okinawa, the last.

But the insurgency's grave was dug militarily in Fallujah last November, and politically when Iraq went to the polls in January. The appointment of a Sunni defense minister and the success of Operation Matador are nails in the coffin.

See, I told you so.

Posted by Tom at 9:01 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 15, 2005

Kidnapping in Yemen

Jane of Armies of Liberation has done a fantastic job at keeping an eye on Yemen. This is yet another Arab/Muslim country where reforms are needed. They'd been making some headway, and then came the mysterious kidnapping of a Yemeni journalist, Nabil al-Wazer:

Nabil al-Wazer was kidnapped in Yemen on Tuesday. Everyone knows where he is and who’s got him. Lets see if the Yemeni government can get him back safely, and act like a normal government with the first priority of securing the wellbeing of its citizens. Or are they in on it and going to say “Woops.” (You know, like woops we bombed the civilians in Saada.)
...
Nabil al-Wazer is a civil engineer but also the treasurer of the Popular Forces Union, a Zaidi party with a secular basis. He’s also related to the party’s leader. Just like they bombed the Zaidi region (Saada), now its the turn of the Zaidi party to be attacked. Its part of the jihad against the Yemeni Zaidis (shia). Otherwise the government would go get him and return him safely to his family. Nabil al-Wazer is being held against his will by Houssain Abo Dunya in Hajja (no not Hajja) since Tuesday, kidnapped.
...
He’s kidnapped. His location is known. Since Tuesday. Not a police in sight. Nothing. The kidnapper is asking for approximately $50,000 US dollars.

So the Yemeni government can do mass arrests and arbitrary arrests, but not legitimate arrests. It can target its citizens but not protect them. It can arrest women, and boys, and old men, but not criminals.

Jane, as followers of her blog know, was on top of it. She started a campaign to find out the truth and put pressure on the Yemeni government. The msm picked up on it (she mentions MSNBC on her blog, but I can't find a story. If someone finds it please send it to me), which shows the power of a concerted effort. Many bloggers joined in her campaign. Due to other obligations, I did not pick up on this until just now.

Fortunately the situation has been resolved. However, the details remain murky. Nabil was "released", but we don't know what happened to the kidnapper(s). Were they arrested? Let's see if the government there does the right thing.

Visit her blog for the latest.


Posted by Tom at 8:25 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 14, 2005

Redhunter update

Note: This update post will stay at the top until my new site is completed. New posts on this blog will continue to be posted below

I'm working on two projects, so blogging will be light for a short bit.

One is moving to a new hosting provider. I'm working on the template and when it's done and I'm comfortable with the software I'll make the switch. Thank you to Marvin Hutchins for his invaluable technical help with this project.

The second is called Threats Watch. This is a collaborative project between Marvin, Bill Rice, and myself. It is not completely done yet but the basic outline is up. If you have a minute take a look and let us know what you think.

May 11 Update
(Original post May 4)

Not to worry, I'm still here, just working hard on Threats Watch and the new Redhunter sites. Take a look over at Conserva-puppies for my post on "Neutrality vs Objectivity in News Reporting" and let me know what you think.

Posted by Tom at 11:00 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Islamization of Europe?

"Either Islam gets Europeanized or Europe gets Islamized"

Is the choice really that stark? Perhaps so, if David Pryce-Jones has it right.

Pryce-Jones, also a senior editor for National Review, wrote an article that was published in the Decemmber edition of Commentary provocatively titled "The Islamization of Europe?" (online at another site) While some may find the idea alarmist, from what I've read recently he's hit the nail on the head.


Contemporary Islamism might be summed up as the effort to redress and reverse the long-ago defeat of Muslim power by European (i.e., Christian) civilization. Toward that end, it has followed two separate courses of action: adopting the forms of nationalism that have appeared to many Muslims to contain the secret of Western supremacy, or promoting Islam itself as the one force capable of uniting Muslims everywhere and hence ensuring their renewed power and dominance. In the hands of today's Islamists, and with the complicity of Europe itself, these two approaches have proved mutually reinforcing.
...
In its global reach and in its aggressive intentions, Islamist ideology bears some resemblance to another transnational belief system: namely, Communism. Like today's Islamists, Communists of an earlier age saw themselves as engaged in an apocalyptic struggle in which every member of a Communist party anywhere was expected to comport himself as a frontline soldier, and in which terror was seen as a wholly permissible means toward victory in a war to the finish.
...
Another has been the attempt in Britain to set up a Muslim "parliament" that will recognize only Islamic law (shari'a) as binding, and not the law of the land. Still another has been the insistence, in France, on the wearing of the hijab by girls in public schools, a practice that clearly contradicts the ideals of French republicanism and is in any case not an Islamic requirement. The tactical thinking behind such incitements was well articulated by an al-Qaeda leader who, calling upon British Muslims to "bring the West to its knees," added that they, "the locals, and not foreigners," have the advantage since they understand "the language, culture, area, and common practices of the enemy whom they coexist among."
...
The institutions that have been affected by Islamophile correctness run the gamut. In Britain, a judge has agreed to prohibit Hindus and Jews from sitting on a jury in the trial of a Muslim. The British Commission for Racial Equality has ordained that businesses must provide prayer rooms for Muslims and pay them for their absences on religious holidays.

Read the whole thing.

Posted by Tom at 10:34 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Pictures worth a Thousand Words





Posted by Tom at 10:33 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 13, 2005

On Casualties and War

Just a few thoughts this morning as I'm off to work on another threat assessment for our new Threats Watch site. Then it's off to work (oh yeah, that).

Anyone who's followed the news recently knows that casualties from bombings in Iraq are up. The number of dead and wounded are almost double what they were not too many months ago.

I have no doubt that this will prompt the usual suspects to declare that all is lost and that we have failed.

Need we point out to them that casualty rates is a very poor way of determining who is winning and who is losing? Apparently so.

The most bloody battles we fought in World War II were near the end of the war. Iwo Jima and Okinawa were fought in the closing months of the war, the former in February and March, and the latter in April of 1945.

Iwo Jima cost some 7,000 Americans their lives, and Okinawa 12,000. The battle for Okinawa was a marked by mistake after mistake on our side, starting with a gross underestimation of the number of Japanese troops on the island (we estimated 65,000, it turned out the number was more like 130,000). We had no real counter to the kamikaze, which devastated our navy and support vessels.

The situation was no better in Europe. We were totally taken by surprise by a German offensive in December of 1944, in what became known as the Battle of the Bulge. Many American units were completely overrun, and we only turned the tide when the Wehrmacht ran out of gas and the weather improved to where we could use our air power. As it was, we lost some 19,000 lives.

No Neat Lines

Today we have no neat maps where we can draw the "front line". The enemy does not make it easy be organizing in neat identifiable western-style military units that we can mark with pins.

No, this time we have to actually think. That's right, use our heads and try to analyze exactly what is going on. I don't have the time or expertise to do that right now, so if you want the best go to these sites, where I assure you you'll be amply rewarded:

Belmont Club
Bill Roggio
Strategy Page

Al-Qaeda Organization Chart

As promised, Bill Roggio has posted a link to an organization chart to Al-Qaeda in Iraq (link to download here)

Posted by Tom at 9:26 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Saudi Arabia Torture Update

Some good news in the case of the Britons and other westerners falsely imprisoned by the Saudi Arabian government in 2001. I have received the following press release from Ron Jones, who was one of those falsely imprisoned and tortured;

Press Release

Ronald Grant Jones

V

Ministry of Interior Saudi Arabia & Anr

The above case has been listed for hearing before their Lordships in the House of Lords on 25th, 26th and 27th April 2006.

Best wishes for Mr. Jones in his case against Saudi Arabia. Those not familiar with the case should read my posts here and here on their ordeal. There's is the perfect example of what we get when we coddle dictators for the sake of short-term objectives, namely a secure supply of oil.

Victor Davis Hanson wrote an excellent piece that discussed very subject just last month.

I will report more on this story as updates arrive.

May 14 Update

Ron sent me a a story in the Daily Telegraph that helps to explain the situation:

A former City tax adviser who was tortured in Saudi Arabia has been told the Government will side with the Saudis against him in his fight for justice.

Ron Jones said he had a reassuring meeting with Foreign Office minister Lady Symons earlier this year at which she promised she would raise the issue at a top level meeting with Saudi ministers in February.

Lady Symons said the case would be raised again in March and wrote to Mr Jones to say she was hopeful that they could make "real progress".

But the 52-year-old has now received a letter telling him that the Government will intervene on behalf of the Saudis when the case is heard in the House of Lords.

Mr Jones, from West Sussex, is pursuing a £2.5 million claim for damages for wrongful arrest, torture, personal injury and loss of earnings.

His claim, which is seen as a test case for others, seeks to argue that the 1978 State Immunity Act is incompatible with the Human Rights Act and gives foreign states the right to shelter torturers.

His torture claims were bolstered by physical evidence found by doctors after his release following two months captivity in Saudi Arabia.

<>The Foreign Office consular division confirmed at the time: "[Mr Jones's] story was substantiated by evidence. Officials were in no doubt he was telling the truth."
...
He had been in Saudi Arabia for four months working for a petro-chemical company when he was injured by shrapnel in a bomb blast and taken to hospital where security forces dragged him from his bed and arrested him on suspicion of causing the explosion.
...
The men, who lived in constant fear of execution, spent two and a half years in Saudi jails - a year of which was in solitary confinement. They were released in August 2003.

Read the whole thing.

Posted by Tom at 8:52 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 11, 2005

Stand up for Israel

Maia Lazar has organized a "Jewish Blogburst". Stop over at the blogburst site where she has a list of those who participated and an excerpt from their post.

I will use this opportunity to discuss once more a topic that I believe to be vitally important; moral clarity and the Middle East.

In all of the areas of the world, of all the issues that we discuss, none is more clouded by moral confusion as that of Israel and the Middle East. It is a subject that to me seems so obvious, yet to so many others at home and abroad it is so clouded. It almost pains me to say it, but their moral confusion on this issue is evidence of problems with the entire concept of democracy, freedom, and the concept of "right versus wrong". Big stuff, but there it is.

The Confused

Here is what we hear from the confused on an almost daily basis:

  • Israel stole land that belongs to the Palestinians
  • Israel is one of the most repressive states on the planet
  • Zionists are racists
  • Israeli troops deliberately kill civilians
  • "The Jews" control the banks, Hollywood, U.S. foreign policy, (fill in the blank with your favorite)
On and on it goes. Of all of the repressive regimes on our planet, tiny Israel receives more venom and hatred directed towards it than all of the others put together. It is regularly attacked in the UN General Assembly. It is despised in Europe.

The fact is, of course, that those who attack Israel so venemously know perfectly well what they are doing. They are not really confused at all.

A Perfect Example

The best example of moral confusion is in regard to Israeli military actions versus terrorist actions by Palestinian and other Muslim extremists.

Israel directs it's attacks at military targets, by which we mean people who are either armed themselves or directly part of a military-type structure aimed at doing harm. Sometimes civilians are killed during the fighting. However, they civilians are not only the ones not targeted, but the evidence is overwhelming that Israel, like the United States, goes out of its way to avoid civilian casualties.

Palestinian and other Muslim extemists, however, directly target Israeli civilians.

Why this difference is hard for some people to understand is utterly beyond me. My only conclusion is that they are so enraptured by leftist ideologies that they are beyond reason.


The Settlements

We're forever hearing that the settlements are standing in the way of peace.

To which I ask; if the settlements are the problem today, what was the problem before 1967?

The usual response; silence. Of course. They have no answer.

I wrote about this at some length in a previous post. My conclusion:


The main issues preventing peace are the following
  1. Lack of Moral Clarity. I've written on this before here. Here are two of the essential elements of moral clarity lacking in some people:
    1. Israel is an imperfect democracy, but it is a democracy. No Arab state is a democracy. This does not mean that Israel may do anything it wishes, but it does mean that we should give them the benefit of the doubt.
    2. Israeli forces practice discrimination in warfare. That is, they only attack military targets. Civilians are sometimes killed as a byproduct, but the civilians are not the target themselves. Arab/Muslim terrorists deliberately target civilians. Why this is hard for some people to understand is beyond me.
  2. Lack of Democracy among the Arab States. Natan Scharansky wrote about this in his excellent book "The Case for Democracy". Simply put, democracies do not fight each other. We in the west are partly responsible for the current state of affairs, since in the past we did not pressure Arab governments to reform.
  3. Palestinian terrorism - until the Arab states and/or the PA put and end to terrorism by organizations such as Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and the others there will be no peace.
  4. The expansion of the settlements should stop. Ok, I know I said earlier that "the settlements per se" are not the problem. And that is true. But it is also true that in my opinion Israel does not need new settlements, and by expanding them they give Palestinian extremists a propaganda message that is useful in recruiting terrorists.


Onwards to Democracy

There will not be a permanent peace in the Middle East until the Arab states start to embrace pluralistic forms of government. This includes the Palestinian Authority.

Natan Sharansky wrote about this in his book "The Case for Democracy". Sharansky said that agreements such as the one at Oslo were a mistake because they did not require that the Palestinians reform themselves, and I believe that history has shown him to be correct.

While some doubt that democracy is possible among Muslims, Sharansky (and I) disagree. Many once thought that democracy was not possible for people in the former Soviet Republics and Eastern Europe. History has proven them wrong.

Stand up for Israel

So in the meantime we must stand up for Israel, for to do so is to stand for democracy. We do this not because of some misguided notion of "Israel right or wrong", for Israel is not always in the right. But it is more right more often that it's enemies, far more, in fact. And we also stand up for Israel because, strange as it may sound, to do so is to stand up for democratic change in the Arab world, for they deserve to live as we do also.

Posted by Tom at 3:59 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 2, 2005

Brilliant

If you're not reading Belmont Club you're missing out. Wretchard says he has the flu yet still writes so brilliantly I am in awe. The comments are well worth reading also.

Posted by Tom at 10:22 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Join Us...

...over at Conserva-Puppies where we've got a lively discussion going about Sudan, the United Nations, and China.

Posted by Tom at 3:45 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Casualties of War

Yesterday I caught Liz Trotta for a few minutes on Fox News during their 10-12am show. The issue being discussed was war casualties. (I can't find a link to the show on the Fox site so if someone can send it to me I'd be obliged)

The question was whether the war was being "sanitized" by the mainstream media. The charge is that by not showing "enough" U.S. casualties Americans are developing a "video game" mentality towards war.

Liz thought the charge to be utter nonsense and so do I, for two reasons.

First, I think that if anything, American's have a more realistic view of war than ever before. There are several trends in our culture that I believe support this view.

Movies and Television are more violent and realistic. Movies such as Saving Private Ryan went to lengths never before imagined in showing war. Not just the "blood and guts" aspect, but the general view that from a soldier's perspective fighting is not all about patriotism and glory. It is a terrible, dirty, frightening business. Soldiers fight for their buddies.

The culture in general has "accepted" a higher level of violence. This is a bad thing, and one can argue that we have been "desensitized", and perhaps so. However the fact remains that violence per se is not unknown to Americans.

There is also my own general anecdotal experience. I just do not get the impression that Americans in general "don't know what really goes on in war." I think higher of us. I think they do.

So what about the "video game" mentality? It certainly exists. One problem with movies and TV is that they are a step or two ahead of what real show weaponry and technology can actually do. And of course it rarely shows "collateral damage". One of the most egregious examples is when people fire multiple rounds in closed environments (in a house for example) with no apparent effect on their hearing. Anyone who has actually fired a gun knows how incredibly loud they really are.

Of course, when I speak of "Americans" I generalize. Yes there are always exceptions.

Problems of the Past

I've read many times of guys who joined the military in the 50's or 60's who admitted that they had a "John Wayne" view of warfare. Then came Vietnam.

A quick perusal of the war movies of the time quickly demonstrates how such views came into being. While a few showed the horrors of war most, as I recall, really did not. Titles do not quickly come to mind, and I don't have time right now to research, but I think my statement stands up.

The Real Motive

Some who complain that our media does not show "enough" American body bags have good intentions. I'm not going to tar everyone.

There are some, however, with more sinister motives.

They want to demoralize us. They want us to call it quits in Iraq and pull the troops out. They are part of the Fifth Column that I have written about and we need to call them what they are.

These people claim that we are "hiding" our casualties. This commentary, by one Gail Vida Hamburg, linked to on antiwar.com is typical. The author claims that Italy properly honors its war dead while American "pays little attention to its war dead":

America, on the other hand, with 1,516 U.S. fatalities in Iraq as of March 16, 2005, pays little public attention to its war dead. Indeed, aside from the printed obituaries in metro sections of dailies, there is little acknowledgment by the government or substantial reporting in the media of the soldiers who perish in Iraq and the families they leave behind. We do not see or hear them. They die alone on the hot sands of Iraq and their survivors grieve privately on American soil.
The Pentagon does not allow photographs of coffins, something that bothers the author. She also condems the President for not attending the funerals of soldiers killed in action:
If he believes our military is fighting for noble ideals, if he admires, as he says, their valor and sacrifice, why must he absent himself from their funerals or prevent our witness of their final return? Why must our war dead come home like thieves in the night?
Besides the fact that she is utterly wrong in her assertion that we "pay little attention to (our) war dead", there is the question of motivation.

They couldn't care less about the sacrifices made by our military. Too many photos and reports of anti-war protestors have dispelled that notion.

No, they want to demoralize us and change public opinion. They want us to call it quits in Iraq and bring the troops home (or better yet, disband the whole military). As shown by the inaction during the mass murders committed by the communists in south-east Asia after their take-over in 1975, they also couldn't care less about the people involved. Whether the Iraqis live in freedom and prosperity or under the heal of a dictator of whatever stripe concerns them not at all.

So What Should We do?

Continue current policies.

The left wants to make a spectacle of solumn funeral services, as they do with arrivals of caskets from Iraq. They will not be allowed to succeed.

The reality is that innumerable weblogs and news reports (I see these on Fox and other msm outlets) honor our troops who have fought bravely and made the ultimate sacrifice. The idea that all this is somehow "hidden" is B.S. of the first degree.

The idea that the president should attend all funerals is also nonsense. Besides the fact that he does not have time, it would really accomplish nothing. No one in their right mind believes that President Bush (or any past president, for that matter) does not care. Of course, leftists who make these charges are not in their right mind, but we knew that already.

Posted by Tom at 10:03 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Resign, Kofi, Resign!

So Kofi Annan has threatened to resign:

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan has claimed that a "lynch mob" is out to "destroy" him in the wake of the Iraq oil-for-food debacle and other U.N. scandals.

In his first major interview since he was criticized in a report into the discredited oil-for-food scheme, which the United Nations administered, Mr. Annan refused to rule out stepping down in the fall, a year before his second term is due to end.
Don't let the door hit you on the way out.

Maybe this new report of sexual abuse by UN peacekeepers, this time in Liberia, have something to do with it (hat tip Captain Ed):

UN peacekeepers sexually abused and exploited local women and girls in Liberia and more accusations are expected, a UN spokesman said Friday.

Stephane Dujarric said a preliminary investigation by the UN mission in Liberia indicated that some allegations against its personnel could be substantiated, while others could not.

"The allegations range from the exchange of goods, money or services for sex to the sexual exploitation of minors. The peacekeeping department here in New York as well as the mission on the ground are taking appropriate follow-up action," he said.

A UN official speaking on condition of anonymity said the number of allegations could eventually total 20.

The head of the mission in Liberia, Jacques Paul Klein, is to step down when his contract expires at the end of the month, a UN spokesman announced Thursday. His deputy Abou Moussa will temporarily take over.

The allegations of sex abuse in Liberia are just the latest to be leveled against UN peacekeepers who have been accused of exploiting the very people they were sent to protect in missions from Bosnia and Kosovo to Cambodia, East Timor and Congo.
It just keeps getting worse and worse.

Posted by Tom at 9:52 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack