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July 30, 2005

A Line in the Sand

What am amazing and busy week I have had. Sorry for the lack of posting but as you read this I think you'll understand.

This past Thursday evening I was honored to host Chris Missick, author of the A Line in the Sand blog, and two of his friends; Kyle Rodgers and Ryan Albaugh. Ryan served with Chris in Iraq, while Kyle is acting as videographer and technical advisor (they're live-blogging the tour, as well as recording much of it).

Chris served in Iraq from March 2004-March 2005 as part of 319th Signal Battalion. While in-theater, he was promoted to the rank of sergeant, and was the "2004 Soldier of the Year". Now in the reserves, he starts law school next month. He is, I believe, 24 years old or thereabouts.

Chris set up a special website, Web of Support, where you can follow the tour day-by-day. From the site:

Returning home in March of 2005, I have set my heart on beginning an extensive road-trip through our country to personally thank the individuals I formed the deepest relationships with through the blog. The supporters I have selected offer a broad regional and demographic sample, and offer unique insight and stories that will prove to be inspiring and insightful. In a drastically new approach to a soldier’s memoir, Web of Support: How A Soldier’s Blog Connected Him With American Patriots opens a window into the life of a deployed American soldier who blogged his experiences. Perhaps even more importantly, it provides an inspiring look at what some individuals around the country are doing to display their patriotism in a time of war. This book will be a link between the experiences of what soldier blogs broadcast on their websites and the personal impacts blogging has on a soldier while they are at war and when they return home. It will blend the elements of a soldier memoir with the emotional impacts of Chicken Soup for the Soul.

Chris is an amazing guy, as you'll soon discover. I felt quite honored to meet him. The Web of Support tour has generated no small amount of media attention as well. Check out the Web of Support site (click on Media info) for the full list, but the latest is a mention by Oliver North in his most recent editorial. Ollie starts out by blasting Jane Fonda for her announcement that she's going on an "anti-war" bus tour of the US, and concludes:

Hopefully at some point during your Jihadist journey, you will bump into Sgt. Christopher Missick of the 319th Signal Battalion. While in Iraq, Missick met hundreds of good Americans through his blog, "A Line in the Sand." Home now, he and a fellow veteran are driving around the country -- fueled by conventional gasoline -- to meet some of the patriots -- his "web of support" -- who sent letters, packages and prayers. He wants to personally thank them and "meet the heart of America."

That's the kind of support the troops appreciate, not your caravan of craven critics.

Exactly right.

Chris was also one of the "Milbloggers" profiled in the most recent edition of Wired Magazine. You can read the story when it appears in their on-line edition August 4 here. Right now you can pick up the hard-copy at a magazine or news stand.

Of all the the people Chris met through the Internet while serving in Iraq, I am honored that I am one of the few dozen that he and his buddies were able to stop by and visit.

As I mentioned, they are taking a cross-country tour, starting in Carson City NV and ending in Sacramento CA. They've already put over 4,500 miles on their vehicle, and my guess is that will be doubled by the time they're done.

But despite the seeming inefficiency, it really is the best way to see America. Certainly when one does business travel, flying is the way to go. When I was a kid, every summer my folks piled everyone into the family station wagon for the annual trek to see the relatives in Kansas and Colorado. From where we live in the Washington DC suburbs to there is a good 2 - 3 day car ride. On one level it seems like a hopeless time waster, and of course at the time I did not appreciate the lengths my mother went to in preventing all-out war between myself, my brother, and sister.

But the fact remains that if you really want to see this great country of ours, you've just got to do it by car, and take your time at that. On each trip we would stop at one or another sites along the way; the great Arch in St Louis to the Truman Library and Museum, to Mark Twain's birthplace are some of the places that I remember. There are so many things to see along the way; the birthplace of an important person, a museum, a natural beauty, whatever you care for, this country has it.

After they arrived I took them out to dinner, as I figured it was the least I could to to treat them at one of Leesburg's finest. Later we ended the evening on my deck in what turned out to be beautiful weather. The Washington DC area can be hot and incredibly humid during the summer, and we've had some pretty bad weather of late (you out west only think you know what humidity is). But providence smiled on us this past Thursday, with a light cloud cover to shield the sun, and relatively low temps and humidity.

At some point after dinner, Chris got a call from one of his friends that the new issue of Wired Magazine was on the stands, and that he was profiled in one of the stories. We hurried out to the local Rite-Aid and picked up several copies.

Over the course of the evening the four of us talked about everything, politices, the war, history, our personal lives, and, of course, blogging, for that is what brought us together in the first place.

As you may imagine there was plenty to discuss. Besides his military experience, Chris has been involved in politics since (and during) his college days. During the 2000 presidential campaign, he was Director for Youth Outreach for Northern California for the Bush-Cheney effort, and in early June of 2000, was promoted to Deputy Director for the Northern California campaign. He even got to go to the Republican National Convention.


Here's Chris and me, I'm the guy on the left. Chris is holding the copy of Wired Magazine opened to the article in which he and other Milbloggers were profiled.


Chris, me, and Kyle in my Townhouse


Ryan, Chris, and Kyle at the restaurant


The travelers are posting photos from each of their stops on the Web of Support website, so be sure and check those out too.

A Line in the Sand

If you've never read any of the Milblogs, start. Estimates are that there are maybe two hundred, but of course nobody really knows. If you're not familiar with any of them, The Mudville Gazette is a good place to start, as it links to many of the milblogs.

Chris posted his experiences in Iraq on the "Old War Blog" section of A Line in the Sand Like me, I think you'll be impressed by the quality of writing and depth of thought.

Helping the Troops: No Effort is Too Small

One point Chris made about helping the troops in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere (let's not forget about the ones in Bosnia) is that you shouldn't let the perfect be the enemy of the good. He said that he'd found that sometimes people thought that if they didn't get involved in some big support program, nothing was worth doing. Or, because not everyone has the time to commit themselves to a full blown pen pal program that involves a committment to writing a letter a week, they didn't think that anything was worth doing, or just never got around to it.

Troops, Chris said, appreciate anything and everything. Many of you probably know this already because you've read it on a web site or another, but I think it a point worth stressing again. On my sidebar are links to a number of organizations the provide opportunities to help troops. Most, such as Adopt-a-Platoon, offer a number of ways, from adopting a full platoon of soldiers or marines, to one-time packages or letters. And, of course, there are dozens of such organizations, as a quick look at other blogs will reveal.

I wish them well on their journey across this great country of ours, and am honored that I was able to meet them.

Posted by Tom at 3:00 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

July 22, 2005

Thousands Protest Terrorism in Baghadad

This is so unbelievable I'm just going to reproduce the entire post. The following appeared on Power Line today:

Haider Ajina sends us this translation of an article in yesterday's Kululiraq, an Iraqi newspaper:

Iraqis stood for three minutes of silence yesterday in commemoration of the lives lost in the two attacks in Baghdad Aljadedah and Almusaiyab, which claimed 105 martyrs, 32 of whom were children, and 128 wounded of whom 31 were children.

Traffic of thousand of cars stopped in the Allawi & Tahrier area (central Baghdad) as children (from “Baghdad Aljadedah” area) entered “Tahrier” square (with some of the wounded children) carrying Iraqi flags and displaying victory signs in defiance of the terrorists. These children also stood silent for three minutes to commemorate their relatives and friends who died in the homicide bombing attack last week.

Iraqi Prime Minister Dr. Ibrahiem Aljaafary said in a speech regarding this incident: “We will not sway from our path and we will not kneel to those who commit these crimes.” He added, ”We are confident that all nations of this world stand beside us, because to day terrorism does not only affect us Iraqis but the whole world. We Iraqis have the honor of being in the front line in the fight against terrorism."

Haider comments:

Tens of thousands of Iraqis stood silent for three minutes in over 130 Fahrenheit heat to commemorate victims of terror and in a sign of unified defiance of terrorism and I have not seen a single report on this. I waited all day Wednesday and all day today and nothing. The news reported the small anti America demonstration by Alsadar and some Baathists in April but some how missed the whole Iraqi nation standing still in defiance of terrorism.

When was the last time you heard an Arab leader say that his nation was honored to be in the front lines fighting terrorism?

Good question. The terrorists know that Iraq is the front line in the battle against terrorism; the Iraqis agree. Now if only we could convince the Democrats.

Unbelievable. I checked Fox, The Washington Post, Reuters, the BBC, and CNN, and I found nada, zip, nothing. There were, however, stories of violence in Iraq.

Posted by Tom at 9:37 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

July 21, 2005

God Bless John Howard

Australian Prime Minister John Howard gave what is possibly the most devastating answer to a stupid question by a moonbat reporter that I have ever seen (hat tip NRO):


To both Prime Ministers, what was your immediate reaction on hearing that some incidents had occurred, was it here we go again? And do incidents like this, coming just 14 days after the horrific attacks, suggest that the war against terror is being lost on the streets? And yesterday an Australian bomb victim of July 7 linked the bombings to Iraq. Does that suggest that the propaganda war against terrorists is also being lost?

Mr Howard:

Could I start by saying the Prime Minister and I were having a discussion when we heard about it, and my first reaction was to get some more information, and I really don't want to add to what the Prime Minister has said. It is a matter for the police and a matter for the British authorities to talk in detail about what has happened here. Could I just say very directly, Paul, on the issue of the policies of my government, and indeed the policies of the British and American government on Iraq, that the first point of reference is that once a country allows its foreign policy to be determined by terrorism, it has given the game away, to use the vernacular. And no Australian government that I lead will ever have policies determined by terrorism or terrorist threats, and no self-respecting government of any political stripe in Australia would allow that to happen.

Can I remind you that the murder of 88 Australians in Bali took place before the operation in Iraq; and could I remind you that the 11 September occurred before the operation in Iraq; can I also remind you that the very first occasion that Bin Laden specifically referred to Australia was in the context of Australia's involvement in liberating the people of East Timor.

Are people, by implication, suggesting that we shouldn't have done that? When a group claimed responsibility on the website for the attacks on 7 July, they talked about British policy, not just in Iraq, but in Afghanistan. Are people suggesting we shouldn't be in Afghanistan?

When Sergio de Melo was murdered in Iraq, a brave man, a distinguished international diplomat, immensely respected for his work in the United Nations, when al Queda gloated about that they referred specifically to the role that de Melo had carried out in East Timor because he was the United Nations administrator in East Timor. Now I don't know the mind of the terrorist, by definition you can't put yourself in the mind of a successful suicide bomber, I can only look at objective facts, and the objective facts are as I have cited. The objective evidence is that Australia was a terrorist target long before the operation in Iraq, and indeed all the evidence, as distinct from the suppositions, suggest to me that this is about hatred of a way of life, this is about the perverted use of the principles of a great world religion that at its root preaches peace and cooperation, and I think we lose sight of the challenge we have if we allow ourselves to see these attacks in the context of particular circumstances, rather than the abuse through a perverted ideology of people and their murder.

Take that, you leftie apologists.

Trey Jackson has the video here. It's a must-see.

Posted by Tom at 10:24 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

July 20, 2005

Tom Tancredo is an Idiot

Representative Tom Tancredo is an idiot. And that's about the nicest thing I can say about him.

Not nice would be to say that he's morally bankrupt. As is anyone who agrees with him that we should "take out" Mecca if the United States is struck by nuclear weapons planted by Islamic terrorists.

Last Friday, Rep Tancredo was interviewed on WFLA-AM in Orlando by talk show host Pat Campbell. Campbell asked him how the US should respond if terrorists struck several U.S. cities with nuclear weapons.

"Well, what if you said something like — if this happens in the United States, and we determine that it is the result of extremist, fundamentalist Muslims, you know, you could take out their holy sites," Tancredo answered.

"You're talking about bombing Mecca," Campbell said.

"Yeah," Tancredo responded.

Later, Tancredo tried to explain himself:

The congressman later said he was "just throwing out some ideas" and that an "ultimate threat" might have to be met with an "ultimate response."

Spokesman Will Adams said Sunday the four-term congressman doesn't support threatening holy Islamic sites but that Tancredo was grappling with the hypothetical situation of a terrorist strike deadlier than the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Pathetic. He needs to make a complete apology immediately. Not a Dick Durban "if you were offended" non-apology, but a straight-out "I was wrong and take it all back" apology.

Please do not make a fool of yourself by asking me why what he said was wrong or why he needs to apologize.

Here are some additional thoughts on the matter and reaction from around the Internet

The good news is that most big-name conservative sites that I've visited agree that Tancredo was totally out of line.

Hugh Hewitt has it exactly right:

I want to be very clear on this. No responsible American can endorse the idea that the U.S. is in a war with Islam. That is repugnant and wrong, and bloggers and writers and would-be bloggers and writers have to chose sides on this, especially if you are a center-right blogger. The idea that all of Islam is the problem is a fringe opinion. It cannot be welcomed into mainstream thought because it is factually wrong. If Tancredo's blunder does not offend you, then you do not understand the GWOT.

The folks over at National Review all agree that Tancaredo is an idiot and needs to apologyze. John Podhoretz, writing on the NR blog, however, says that the reaction by some of his readers is "scary":

Whole lotta folks writing in to defend the idea of bombing Mecca in retaliation for bombing here. Comparisons are being made to mutual assured destruction. Please, please, please, my friends, don't give the Left such easy cause to resurface the old charge that conservatives (Tories) form "the stupid party." And yes, no matter how long your e-mails run, the idea is stupid and Tom Tancredo is an idiot for mentioning it and that's all there is to it.

Unfortunately I've seen this sort of reaction on a few smaller conservative blogs sites (i.e. not a big name site), and I'm fairly disgusted.

Look folks, it's one thing to sit around with your buddies and say such things after a few beers. But even then, you should know in your heart of hearts that it's wrong. But to advocate such an action publically and you've lost me. I know, I know, this is harsh talk, but we've got to act responsibly.

However, for those of you lefties who will tell us that Tancredo's remarks are on a parallel with Durbin, forget it. Michelle Malkin cites too many instances if idiotic statements by liberal polticians for me to buy into that one.

Posted by Tom at 8:22 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

July 19, 2005


I must say that I have been worried for some time that President Bush would appoint another David Souter, Anthony Kennedy, or Sandra Day O'Conner. After all, the track record of Republican Presidents has not been very good over the past fifty years.

Silly me.

Once again President Bush has come through. From what I can see on various internet sites, Judge John G. Roberts is being hailed by conservaties and attacked by liberals.

This is a good thing.

They're pretty happy over at National Review A few sample comments from their blog:

Robert Alt: John Roberts is an excellent choice — one of the best available — for the Supreme Court. He is a lawyer’s lawyer, and has the reputation for being one of the finest appellate advocates to argue before the Supreme Court. He was a fine brief writer, and has garnered a reputation as a D.C. Court of Appeals Judge for being an excellent opinion writer, authoring concise, well-reasoned decisions.

Ed Whelan: President Bush deserves great credit for his outstanding selection of John Roberts. He has fulfilled his promise to nominate someone who has excellent credentials and who understands the role of the judiciary in our constitutional republic.

Kathryn Jean Lopez: do love that the president has not established the O'Connor seat as a Women's Only seat. And, ahem, they said he couldn't do it.

Meanwhile, over at the liberal The Nation:

This is a real in-your-face selection by the president, and the Dems' response remains to be seen. Stalwart senators like Edward Kennedy, Chuck Schumer and Dick Durbin can be expected to respond in kind but the Senate leader Harry Reid sounded an alarmingly cautious note when he told the New York Times, "The president has chosen someone with suitable legal credentials." Fortunately this fight should energize some potentially very large segments of society which would be affected by a Court that will threaten the future of legal abortions, affirmative action for minority groups, and other issues that many Americans have long taken for granted.

Michelle Malkin
has the best summary of reaction from around the internet.

In general, it looks like if confirmed, Roberts will not quite be another Scalia or Thomas, but we shouldn't have to worry that he'll become another Souter, Kennedy, or O'Conner, either.

Posted by Tom at 9:47 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Uselessness of Most Press Conferences

I used to watch or listen to press conferences on C-Span or the radio. Whether a Republican or Democrat was in office, my impression was the same; one got the most information from the spokesperson's original statement, but once the reporters started asking questions it went downhill from there.

A seemingly endless series of questions would revolve one word or phrase, in a game of "gotcha" in which the reporters would try to catch the spokesperson up with something they had said earlier.

Sometimes it takes a foreign reporter to point out how absurd it all is.

As Greg Pierce of the Washington Times reports, it took a reporter from the Asia Today & India Globe to do just that:

Raghubir Goyal is called on at every briefing by White House spokesman Scott McClellan, and yesterday was no exception. He is normally counted on to be the fly in the ointment, asking detailed questions about the intricacies of U.S.-Indian relations and the ongoing conflict between Pakistan and India over the disputed Kashmir region -- issues that are far off the minds of most Americans, let alone politics-obsessed White House reporters.

Yesterday, however, Mr. Goyal had good reason to bring up such topics because President Bush was hosting Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for an official state visit, not exactly an everyday occurrence for the Indian people.

Yet with the leader of 1 billion people standing next to the president in the White House, the American press peppered Mr. Bush with questions only about contemporary politics -- in this case his impending Supreme Court nomination and the kerfuffle surrounding Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove. This follows a pattern of questions no matter which foreign leader Mr. Bush is hosting.

Yesterday, Mr. Goyal decided he'd had enough of this, and he let the White House press corps and viewers of C-SPAN know it.

"Scott first of all, I have a great respect for this White House press corps and they're very nice and kind to me," Mr. Goyal said. "When the leaders visit the White House, and they have press availability in the East Room -- not only the Indian [prime minister] today, but any prime minister or president -- I feel it's kind of insult to that leader; he's standing there, only two questions, but only his own people are asking about his visit or his nation.

"Other questions are always on different topics," he said. "I feel, personally, it's insult to that leader and that if it's the Indian leader visiting here, that press availability should be only on India."

"Your opinion is noted," Mr. McClellan replied, before taking a question from Mr. Goyal about -- what else? -- the Indian prime minister's visit.

And they wonder why we blog.

Posted by Tom at 8:50 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

No US Support for Expanded Security Council

In some good news today, Presdent Bush has decided not to support India's bid for a permanent seat on the UN Security council.

President Bush yesterday acknowledged India as a responsible state with advanced nuclear technology but declined to endorse its bid for a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council.

After a meeting with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at the White House, Mr. Bush said he supports civil nuclear energy cooperation with India as it realizes its goals of promoting nuclear power and achieving energy security.

India's bid for a seat is part of a larger campaign to expand the Security Council. This past March, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan presented a plan for reform that Wretchard at Belmont Club called a "Grand Bargain". Quoting the Financial Times (subscription only):

Mr. Annan's officials say the package basically proposes a bargain whereby rich countries help the poor to develop, by promoting the Millennium Development Goals, while poor countries help alleviate rich countries' security concerns. In both cases, Mr Annan says, action must be underpinned by respect for human rights.

At the time I wrote a more complete analysis, interested readers can read it if they wish (see link above). For now, I'll summarize why I do not support any expansion of the UN

The Root Problem

The problem with all proposals to expand or change the Security Council, or any other aspect of the UN, is that it misses the real problem. The fundamental flaw with the UN is that any nation can be a full-fledged member, regardless of its form of government, or how it treats its citizens. All nations are equal.

The result is that tyrannies spend their time protecting their own. Several times the US and the UK have proposed sanctions against the government of Sudan for their murderous ways in Darfur, and each time such action has been vetoed by China and Russia, with France expressing reservations as well. At least we can talk to the French as democratic equals, with Russia and especially China any "dialogue" is delusional.

This failure to take into account the nature of a state's government is best exemplified by the UN Human Rights Commission in which China, Cuba, Egypt, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Zimbabwe are members.

Hats off to our president for doing the right thing. Too bad the Democrats in congress can't help him out by confirming John Bolton.

Posted by Tom at 8:29 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 15, 2005

What we Don't Hear

Is it just me? Am I the only one who does not see this type of reporting on the TV or in the newspapers?

July 14, 2005: A senior aide to Al Qaeda leader Abu Musab al Zarqawi, Abu Abd al Aziz, was captured. Interestingly, no details of the capture were released. Al Aziz is second in command of al Qaeda forces in Baghdad, and a key organizer of terrorist attacks. For many Iraqi police, shutting down al Qaeda has become something of an obsession. Iraqi television and radio cover this battle with the terrorists intensely. The deaths of Iraqi civilians and security troops are given front page coverage, as are the operations against the terrorists. Much to the dismay of Iraqi Sunni Arabs, the media keeps pointing out that nearly all the Iraqi supporters of the al Qaeda terrorists are Sunni Arabs. The leaders of the Iraqi Sunni Arab community are working hard to prove their loyalty, before popular opinion against Iraqi Sunni Arabs gets out of control, and widespread attacks on Sunni Arabs begins.

Iraqi police obsessed with shutting down Al Qaeda? I thought they all turned and ran. Television and radio covering the battle? "Deaths of Iraqi civilians and security troops ... given front page coverage, as are the operations against the terrorists"? I didn't even know they had newspapers, radio or TV over there (joke...).

I swear I have not seen this stuff in the Washington Post, Washington Times, Fox News, CNN, or any of the other places I look.

Now maybe it's been there and I've missed it. But I doubt it.

I got the above from the daily briefing over at StrategyPage. Without it, Belmont Club, Chrenkoff, and three of four other sites I wouldn't know what was going on at all in Iraq.

Just thought I'd share that with you. Now have a good evening.

Posted by Tom at 9:44 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The War on the Boy Scouts II

Some months ago I wrote about the War on the Boy Scouts over at Conserva-Puppies. It looks like things are heating up again.

A federal judge has ruled the Pentagon can no longer spend millions in government money to ready a Virginia military base for a national Boy Scout event typically held every four years, the American Civil Liberties Union announced Thursday.

U.S. District Judge Blanche Manning's June 22 order stems from a 1999 lawsuit by the ACLU of Illinois that claimed the Defense Department (search) sponsorship violates the First Amendment because the Scouts require members to swear an oath of duty to God.

It's enough to want to make you throw up. What is the matter with these people? What is their problem?

The ACLU claims that it's an "establishment of religion" issue (see link above). One suspects that if the Scouts caved on the gay issue the lawsuits would suddenly cease.

Pentagon lawyers are expected to appeal the case above, so this particular situation is not settled yet. Common sense and decency may yet prevail. Yet that mere fact that such lawsuits are brought, and the Scouts and government much spend vast sums of money fighting them, ought to disturb anyone who cares about the youth of this country.

If you're one of those who thinks that this is a simple matter of separation of church and state, explain this:

During the 2000 Democrat National Convention, when a group of Boy Scouts took the stage, they were booed by a significant number of the delegates. This was widely reported in the press, at least the conservative press, so the left is wasting their time if they want to deny it. Here's one account:

Eagle Scouts have earned the highest rank in scouting. When a group of them took the stage at the Democratic National Convention, delegates booed.

Convention-goers knew in advance the Scouts were coming, and they were ready for them.

"We Support Gay Boy Scouts," read the previously prepared signs they waved as they shouted derision at the uniformed Scouts with all their hard-won merit badges.

The Scouts, who had been invited by organizers of the Democratic convention to make their podium appearance Thursday, appeared shocked.

This issue isn't going away, folks.

DefendScouting.org Bookmark it.

Posted by Tom at 8:35 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 14, 2005

Shocked, Shocked!

So Tony Blair is shocked, shocked! that the London terrorists were indiginous and did not come into the country especially for that purpose, as did the 9/11 hijackers(hat tip NRO)

Tony Blair said it is "shocking" that the four suspected London suicide bombers are believed to be home-grown terrorists.

The Prime Minister told the Commons during PMQs that it was "shocking that they were brought up in this country".

Unbelieveable. Anyone who has followed events in the UK knows that the Islamists are tolerated there, all in the name of "tolerance" and "multiculturalism." The left is so absorbed in the idea the greviances of all minority groups are automatically valid that they can't see hate when it's staring them in the face.

But on the other side of the pond they can't figure it out:

The four suspects in the London suicide bombings were young men who had lived outwardly normal lives in the northern English city of Leeds.

That leaves police, politicians, Britain's 1.7 million Muslims and a nation known for its multicultural tolerance asking the same anguished question -- what turned these young men into killers?

It's pretty simple, actually, and as always Christopher Hitchens summed it up nicely the other day(again, hat tip NRO):

We know very well what the "grievances" of the jihadists are.

The grievance of seeing unveiled women. The grievance of the existence, not of the State of Israel, but of the Jewish people. The grievance of the heresy of democracy, which impedes the imposition of sharia law. The grievance of a work of fiction written by an Indian living in London. The grievance of the existence of black African Muslim farmers, who won't abandon lands in Darfur. The grievance of the existence of homosexuals. The grievance of music, and of most representational art. The grievance of the existence of Hinduism. The grievance of East Timor's liberation from Indonesian rule. All of these have been proclaimed as a licence to kill infidels or apostates, or anyone who just gets in the way.

Dead spot on. But some people seem intent on ignoring the radicals in our midst.

If you really want to follow the PC pandering in the UK, read USS Neverdock. He tracks this stuff daily.

Daniel Pipes is also a great source. Check out this list of PC follies on his blog. Just be warned; keep objects that can be thrown out of reach before you read it.

It's stuff like what Marc of USS Neverdock and Daniel Pipes track that allows terrorism to develop. When you have hate speech coming from even a few mosques, and no one in the major media or a major politician dares to call them on it, then sooner or later some young Muslims are going to become radicalized to the point where they become terrorists. How hard is this to figure out?

Victor Davis Hanson also nails it in a recent column of his (Hat tip USS Neverdock)

The terrorists and their supporters understand that in a strange way the West is not only split, but also increasingly illiberal as well. It has lost confidence in its old commitment to rationalism, free speech and empiricism, and now embraces the deductive near-religious doctrines of moral equivalence and utopian pacifism. Al Qaeda's supporters will say that Thursday's victims were killed because of Afghanistan or Iraq. Westerners will duly repeat the dull refrain that "Bush lied, thousands died" in their guilt-ridden search for something we did to cause this.

And so, rather than focus our attention on the madrassas and the mosques that preach hatred, we will strive to learn more about Islamic culture, as if our own insensitivity were the true culprit. Our grandfathers could despise Bushido — Japan's warrior cult — without worrying whether they were being unfair to Buddhists; we of less conviction and even less courage, cannot do likewise.

In short, we now know what to expect from the London bombings and the others to follow. There will be no effort to punish the states that subsidize al Qaeda. Critics will cling to the myth that the British got what they had coming. The primary obsession of many Westerners will be to extend sensitivity to Islam, not the victims of those who kill in its name. And all will be consoled that just a few dozen were harvested this time.

What a strange way to fight a war.

Strange indeed.

Posted by Tom at 8:16 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

July 12, 2005

Perseverence, Past and Present

Last week I wrote about Osama bin Laden's 1996 Fatwa, which was essentially a declaration of war on the United States. The other day Wretchard discussed it's significance in a way that I somewhat missed.

The fourth SEAL, who survived, evaded superior numbers until he escaped. Sixteen more Special Operations soldiers died in an attempt to reinforce the recon team when their MH-47 was shot down. The US response to the loss of the recon team was not to run but insert hundreds of troops into the area to find the missing men and possibly to complete the unfinished mission. The Al Qaeda might ask themselves what manner of men these are, who fight to the death rather than surrender, and who though injured evade over high and cold mountains until they have outdistanced their unwounded pursuers. It's not an idle question. One of Osama Bin Laden's strategic assumptions when he wrote contemptuously of the US in his 1996 fatwa was that he was facing cowards.
(from bin Laden's Fatwa) But your most disgraceful case was in Somalia; where- after vigorous propaganda about the power of the USA and its post cold war leadership of the new world order- you moved tens of thousands of international force, including twenty eight thousands American solders into Somalia. However, when tens of your solders were killed in minor battles and one American Pilot was dragged in the streets of Mogadishu you left the area carrying disappointment, humiliation, defeat and your dead with you. Clinton appeared in front of the whole world threatening and promising revenge , but these threats were merely a preparation for withdrawal. You have been disgraced by Allah and you withdrew; the extent of your impotence and weaknesses became very clear. It was a pleasure for the "heart" of every Muslim and a remedy to the "chests" of believing nations to see you defeated in the three Islamic cities of Beirut , Aden and Mogadishu.

Bin Laden understood and accepted that American logistics, technology and science would be superior to his own. What he was less prepared to believe was the possibility that their fighting spirit would be equal or greater than his. Sixty two years ago the Imperial Japanese Navy fought the USN for three straight days and nights in the waters surrounding Guadalcanal, from November 12-15, 1942. Both sides fought at point-blank range in some cases. Two USN Admirals, Scott and Callahan, died in a single night. Still the IJN and USN came on. Only after the USS Washington sank the battlecruiser Kirishima on November 15th did the Japanese break off. But it was not the material loss that shocked the Japanese: losses were about even on both sides; it was the realization that USN would not give up.

It is the canonical assumption of those who set out to conquer the world that all men are not created equal: that there are ubermensch and untermensch, men of divine descent and mongrel races, jihadis and infidels; that somehow these differences in quality will allow the chosen few to dominate the many. Yet in each case these beliefs have proven wrong, whether in the snows of Russia, the waters of Ironbottom Sound, or in the mountains of Afghanistan.

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Al Qaeda Attacks" Movie

You have got to go over to Winds of Change and watch this video on Al Qaeda by Marvin and Bill.

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The Most Irrelevant Organization

From today's Washington Times:

The NAACP will target private companies as part of its economic agenda, seeking reparations from corporations with historical ties to slavery and boycotting companies that refuse to participate in its annual business diversity report card.

"Absolutely, we will be pursuing reparations from companies that have historical ties to slavery and engaging all parties to come to the table," Dennis C. Hayes, interim president and chief executive officer of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said yesterday at the group's 96th annual convention here.

"Many of the problems we have now including poverty, disparities in health care and incarcerations can be directly tied to slavery."

What a load of bunk. Unbelieveably, they've been able to blackmail, er convince, several cities into going along.

Such laws exist in Philadelphia and Chicago, which can refuse to grant contracts because of a company's slavery ties although neither city has done this. Detroit and New Orleans are considering similar bills.

Two unnamed banks in Chicago, as well as J.P. Morgan Chase Bank, have already apologiezed and are making payments in the form of scholarships to black children.

There are to many things wrong with this one hardly knows where to start.

Let's just start with these observations;

The people who did wrong and evil things are dead, so there is nobody left to apologize.

The people who suffered are dead, so there is nobody left to apologize too. The idea that blacks today are hurt significantly by slavery over a hundred years ago is ridiculous, given the massive federal and local spending on their behalf since then, to say nothing of quota programs, which now go under the guise of "diversity".

So people who didn't do anything wrong are apologizing to people who weren't hurt. How modern.

Scholarships based on race are racist. They should be based on economic need, not sex or race or some other such artificial factor.

The whole thing is nothing more than a "get rich quick" scheme.

The Real Crime

All of this is bad, but in itself it's not the end of the world. The real crime is that the NAACP has become absolutely irrelevant to the needs of black people in the United States. Rather than concern itself with genuine problems, such as illegimacy, drug use, the infuence of gangster rap, or bad attitudes towards education that plague inner-city youth, they're off on this reparations kick.

Ten Reasons Why Reparations are a Bad Idea

David Horowitz, who fought for civil rights in the 1960s, has published the best and most succinct response to the reparations movement that I've found yet. It's called "Ten Reasons Why Reparations for Blacks is a Bad Idea for Blacks - and Racist Too"

I'm going to reprint the ten reasons here, because I think it important that we be armed against arguments for reparations. This issue isn't going away, folks:


There Is No Single Group Clearly Responsible For The Crime Of Slavery

Black Africans and Arabs were responsible for enslaving the ancestors of African-Americans. There were 3,000 black slave-owners in the ante-bellum United States. Are reparations to be paid by their descendants too?


There Is No One Group That Benefited Exclusively From Its Fruits

The claim for reparations is premised on the false assumption that only whites have benefited from slavery. If slave labor created wealth for Americans, then obviously it has created wealth for black Americans as well, including the descendants of slaves. The GNP of black America is so large that it makes the African-American community the 10th most prosperous "nation" in the world. American blacks on average enjoy per capita incomes in the range of twenty to fifty times that of blacks living in any of the African nations from which they were kidnapped.


Only A Tiny Minority Of White Americans Ever Owned Slaves, And Others Gave Their Lives To Free Them

Only a tiny minority of Americans ever owned slaves. This is true even for those who lived in the ante-bellum South where only one white in five was a slaveholder. Why should their descendants owe a debt? What about the descendants of the 350,000 Union soldiers who died to free the slaves? They gave their lives. What possible moral principle would ask them to pay (through their descendants) again?


America Today Is A Multi-Ethnic Nation and Most Americans Have No Connection (Direct Or Indirect) To Slavery

The two great waves of American immigration occurred after 1880 and then after 1960. What rationale would require Vietnamese boat people, Russian refuseniks, Iranian refugees, and Armenian victims of the Turkish persecution, Jews, Mexicans Greeks, or Polish, Hungarian, Cambodian and Korean victims of Communism, to pay reparations to American blacks?


The Historical Precedents Used To Justify The Reparations Claim Do Not Apply, And The Claim Itself Is Based On Race Not Injury

The historical precedents generally invoked to justify the reparations claim are payments to Jewish survivors of the Holocaust, Japanese-Americans and African- American victims of racial experiments in Tuskegee, or racial outrages in Rosewood and Oklahoma City. But in each case, the recipients of reparations were the direct victims of the injustice or their immediate families. This would be the only case of reparations to people who were not immediately affected and whose sole qualification to receive reparations would be racial. As has already been pointed out, during the slavery era, many blacks were free men or slave-owners themselves, yet the reparations claimants make no distinction between the roles blacks actually played in the injustice itself. Randall Robinson's book on reparations, The Debt, which is the manifesto of the reparations movement is pointedly sub-titled "What America Owes To Blacks." If this is not racism, what is?


The Reparations Argument Is Based On The Unfounded Claim That All African-American Descendants of Slaves Suffer From The Economic Consequences Of Slavery And Discrimination

No evidence-based attempt has been made to prove that living individuals have been adversely affected by a slave system that was ended over 150 years ago. But there is plenty of evidence the hardships that occurred were hardships that individuals could and did overcome. The black middle-class in America is a prosperous community that is now larger in absolute terms than the black underclass. Does its existence not suggest that economic adversity is the result of failures of individual character rather than the lingering after-effects of racial discrimination and a slave system that ceased to exist well over a century ago? West Indian blacks in America are also descended from slaves but their average incomes are equivalent to the average incomes of whites ( and nearly 25% higher than the average incomes of American born blacks). How is it that slavery adversely affected one large group of descendants but not the other? How can government be expected to decide an issue that is so subjective - and yet so critical - to the case?


The Reparations Claim Is One More Attempt To Turn African-Americans Into Victims. It Sends A Damaging Message To The African-American Community.

The renewed sense of grievance -- which is what the claim for reparations will inevitably create -- is neither a constructive nor a helpful message for black leaders to be sending to their communities and to others. To focus the social passions of African-Americans on what some Americans may have done to their ancestors fifty or a hundred and fifty years ago is to burden them with a crippling sense of victim-hood. How are the millions of refugees from tyranny and genocide who are now living in America going to receive these claims, moreover, except as demands for special treatment, an extravagant new handout that is only necessary because some blacks can't seem to locate the ladder of opportunity within reach of others -- many less privileged than themselves?


Reparations To African Americans Have Already Been Paid

Since the passage of the Civil Rights Acts and the advent of the Great Society in 1965, trillions of dollars in transfer payments have been made to African-Americans in the form of welfare benefits and racial preferences (in contracts, job placements and educational admissions) - all under the rationale of redressing historic racial grievances. It is said that reparations are necessary to achieve a healing between African-Americans and other Americans. If trillion dollar restitutions and a wholesale rewriting of American law (in order to accommodate racial preferences) for African-Americans is not enough to achieve a "healing," what will?


What About The Debt Blacks Owe To America?

Slavery existed for thousands of years before the Atlantic slave trade was born, and in all societies. But in the thousand years of its existence, there never was an anti-slavery movement until white Christians - Englishmen and Americans -- created one. If not for the anti-slavery attitudes and military power of white Englishmen and Americans, the slave trade would not have been brought to an end. If not for the sacrifices of white soldiers and a white American president who gave his life to sign the Emancipation Proclamation, blacks in America would still be slaves. If not for the dedication of Americans of all ethnicities and colors to a society based on the principle that all men are created equal, blacks in America would not enjoy the highest standard of living of blacks anywhere in the world, and indeed one of the highest standards of living of any people in the world. They would not enjoy the greatest freedoms and the most thoroughly protected individual rights anywhere. Where is the gratitude of black America and its leaders for those gifts?


The Reparations Claim Is A Separatist Idea That Sets African-Americans Against The Nation That Gave Them Freedom

Blacks were here before the Mayflower. Who is more American than the descendants of African slaves? For the African-American community to isolate itself even further from America is to embark on a course whose implications are troubling. Yet the African-American community has had a long-running flirtation with separatists, nationalists and the political left, who want African-Americans to be no part of America's social contract. African Americans should reject this temptation.

For all America's faults, African-Americans have an enormous stake in their country and its heritage. It is this heritage that is really under attack by the reparations movement. The reparations claim is one more assault on America, conducted by racial separatists and the political left. It is an attack not only on white Americans, but on all Americans -- especially African-Americans.

America's African-American citizens are the richest and most privileged black people alive -- a bounty that is a direct result of the heritage that is under assault. The American idea needs the support of its African-American citizens. But African-Americans also need the support of the American idea. For it is this idea that led to the principles and institutions that have set African-Americans - and all of us -- free.

Posted by Tom at 8:38 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 11, 2005

Do We "Cause" Terrorism?

Does the United States and our allies bring terrorism on ourselves? More specifically, is it our foreign policy that "causes" certain people to become terrorists? Do we bring it on ourselves?

To the left the answer seems to be an unequivocal "yes!" This is also the case with some conservatives of the Pat Buchanan school, who since the end of the Cold War have advocated a withdrawal from the world and a "seal the borders" policy at home.

While I am certainly in favor of enhanced border security, readers of this blog will know that I have no patience with the isolationists, whether from the right or left.

There are several ways in which it is said that we bring terrorism on ourselves. I'll try and hit on a few of them this morning:

1) Our failure to alleviate poverty drives people to extremist groups which in turn see terrorist actions as their only means of bringing attention to their cause. DagneyT has an excellent post on this very subject.

2) Our aggressive foreign policy, and stationing of troops in foreign lands sparks resentment and brings humiliation to the people of the affected countries. This in turn drives people to extremist movements and thus terrorism.

3) Our support of Israel, and failure to force a peace settlement on the region engenders hatred of the United States.

My answer to whether these things cause terrorism is...yes and no.

I suspect you were expecting me to say "heck no!" but the truth is a bit more complicated.

The fact is if we did completely withdraw from the world a la Canada or Sweden, the terrorists probably would leave us alone.

The reality is that we cannot withdraw, no matter how much people like Pat Buchanan would like us to. We have little choice but to be involved in the world. This is so for several reasons; our economy demands it, the world requires our presence, and it fits us temperamentally.

Avoiding World War II

The Japanese believed that they had no choice but to attack us at Pearl Harbor in 1941. Our foreign policy, they said, coupled with our stationing of troops so close to their empire, posed an unacceptable threat.

Japanese expansionism, especially their invasions of Manchuria and China in 1931 and 1937 respectively, led to U.S. condemnation. Roosevelt ordered that trade sanctions be placed on Japanese goods.

The Japanese saw our bases in the Philippines and Hawaii as threats. The United States had been active in seeking territory and bases in the Pacific since at least the Spanish-American War of 1898, when we seized control of the Philippines. Since then, U.S. Naval stragegists had developed contingency plans for war with Japan, which was called War Plan Orange.

So in a sense one could say that we brought the Pacific War on ourselves, in that we could have drawn down our forces in that region, and ignored Japanese atrocities in China and Manchuria. We could have held a "peace" conference, of the sort that Tony Benn urges for the Middle East today.

But of course none of this was possible.

Likewise, we could have avoided war with Hitler. It was our support of Great Britain in 1940 and 1941 that led us into the conflict. The Axis treaty between Germany, Italy, and Japan, was strictly defensive in nature. Because Japan initiated hostilities, German and Italian obligations to come to her aid were rendered null and void.

We could have stayed out of the European war. Presdent Roosevelt didn't have to send those forty destroyers to Britain, or push the lend-lease act through congress, and he certainly didn't have to fight a virtual secret war against German U-boats in 1941 well before our entrance into the conflict.

Honest Abe

For that matter, Abraham Lincoln could have ignored slavery. He could well have soothed Southern fears before taking office. He did not.

And although he fought the war "to preserve the Union", and the Southerners fought it "for states rights", everyone knew that the root cause of the problem was slavery.

Not Inevitable but Unavoidable

Wars are not inevitable. Before any conflict, there are things that could have been done to prevent them. American presidents of the 1850s could have at least tried to keep the old compromises of Clay, Calhoun, and Webster alive. One might argue that we should have "engaged" Japan in dialogue and negotiations earlier. Certainly the opportunities to stop Hitler that were missed have been well discussed.

But Northerners of strong moral foundation could not avoid the issue of slavery as the Whigs had. The United States could not ignore Japanese atrocities in China, nor abandon our Pacific territories. The Britons and French who appeased Hitler had public opinion on their side.

And as I argued in "History Backwards", our support of Saddam in the 1980s during the Iran-Iraq war was the right thing to do, even knowing what we know today.

Back to Terrorism

The bottom line is that yes, in a way, we "cause" terrorism in that we could totally withdraw from the world and let it go it's own way. They use terrorism as their tactic because we are too strong for direct military confrontation, and because it suits their fanatical philosoply of life.

But the fact is that most of our actions in the Middle East and elsewhere have been necessary. We needed to keep troops in Saudi Arabia (OBLs big complaint in his 1996 Fatwa) to keep an eye on Saddam Hussein. We support Israel because it is the morally correct thing to do.

If we are in the wrong, it is because as Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice recently said in her speech at Cairo University, "For 60 years, my country, the United States, pursued stability at the expense of democracy in this region here in the Middle East, and we achieved neither."

In the final analysis, then, of course we do not "cause" terrorism, or "bring it on ourselves". To say so at minimum excuses those who are guilty of such deeds. It also ignores the reality of our world, and how we have little choice but to be engaged. We can, and have, set a new foreign policy goal of encouraging democracy and pluralism, of "no more excuses."

It will take much time, but in the end we will prevail.

Posted by Tom at 8:00 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 10, 2005

Love America First

"Love America First"

A lovely name for a blog, don't you think? It seems entirely appropriate, given our current war.

It's also the name of my latest blog site, where I'll be contributing articles from time to time. I just posted my first, and it seemed only appropriate to reprint "A Cold Warrior", which you can find here under "If You're Curious" on the sidebar. My addition will make fourteen contributors to Love America First.

So take a look. You'll find excellent writing and sharp analysis.

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Wretchard's Revelation

As most of you probably know by now, "Wretchard", author of the Belmont Club blog, has revealed who he is, and where "Wretchard" and "Belmont Club" come from.

I won't give it away, so if you haven't seen go there and read it. All I'll say is that he has the personality of house cats nailed. I've got two of them, so I should know.

Wretchard, whose specialty is the War on Terror and all related aspects, is one of the best and most influential writers around. His blog puts the major media to shame. If it's not on your "must read" list, put it there.

Posted by Tom at 8:39 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 9, 2005

"Annoy a Dictator Today"

Yemen may not be one of the most important countries in the Middle East, and I don't think it condescending to say that most people would have trouble finding it on a map. So the idea of fighting for press freedom in that country may seem a bit odd. After all, aren't there bigger, more important countries in the Middle East that we should be concerned with?

The spark to revolution occurs in the most odd places. Who would have guessed that events in Romania or Czechoslovakia would free Eastern Europe? If it is true that injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere, it is also surely accurate to say that democracy anywhere is a threat to tyranny everywhere.

Tyrants around the world are frightened of what is happening in Iraq, which explains much of the opposition to our efforts there. The flame of pluralism spreads unevenly, one country at a time. We are at a unique point in history, where a "reverse dominoe effect" may be occuring, or able to occur.

Yemen is that battleground. What follows was brought to my attention by Jane Novak, a very courageous journalist who has done much work in bringing to light human rights abuses in Yemen. fyi,Jane is a real journalist, she has links on her site to articles of hers on Yemen and the Middle East that have been published.

This is the situation as Jane tells it on her blog, and how you can "annoy a dictator today":

My *cousin* and our good friend Abdulkarim al-Khaiwanii, editor of al-Shoura newspaper in Yemen, Yemen's main reformist voice, democracy advocate, was imprisoned from last September to March when he recieved an anmesty. The charges were insulting the president, actually he wrote some very hot articles about Saleh planning on giving the presidency to his son. This is the guy who wrote the letter about democracy and we made the petition. OK? (Also he hates the jihaddis as much as me. And they hate him back.)

Once he was released, of course he continued writing the truth, like about nine year old children in prison becasue they're Shites, how in Saada soldiers were throwing women and children from the windows and then shooting them on the ground, and just recently about the massive corruption of President Saleh who is stealing the millions from a generation of dreadfully poor children. Some reports say Saleh is worth 20 billion at this point.

Also after al-Khaiwanii started republishing the newspaper, he published my last six articles on Yemen in Arabic in al-Shoura.

Also he's getting serious death threats and wrote about in al-Wasat newspaper. He'a a very couragous guy.

OK, following so far? Good, that was the easy part. They are very tricky.

al-Shoura is the paper of the Popular Forces Union (PFU) political party. The party is very moderate and democracy oriented. It has been calling for political reform and criticizing the brutal ethnic cleansing of the Shiites in Saada.

The security guard of the PFU party headquarters (who is not a member of the party) recently went into the PFU headquarters with some other thugs, took control of the building, and held the party leader at gunpoint for several days. (Do we all remember the kidnapped guy? He is also with this party and was another seperate target. ) At that time, the security gurad also went to al-Shoura and stole all the computers and equiptment.

After a few weeks, there was an arrest warrent for the security guard issued by the prosecutor. The police go to arrest him. He shoots at them. THE POLICE LEAVE AND DO NOT RETURN.

So a few days ago, the security guard goes to the building of al-Shoura newspaper, with guns and takes it over. And publishes the paper. With bogus content. So the security guard now is in control of two buildings: the PFU party headqarters and the al-Shoura newspaper building.

Oh BTW the story from the sleezy brutal immoral Salafist Yemeni government is that its an internal party dispute and the gunman wants to reform the party.

Also al-Shoura is normally published by the independent printing press (of the recently murdered Mohammed Salem Al-Sagheer) that serves the majority of opposition parties. This issue of al-Shoura (the one produced by the gunman) was printed by the Yemeni government's printing press.

al-Khaiwani goes to publish his paper with some brutal articles on corruption in it, and the government shuts down the printing press.

The Socialist Party, which has a fatwa on it for advocating a secular government (one of their leaders was assasinated), calls the government attacks on the PFU "political terrorism."

You can go to her site for the full story, but I think you get the picture. Here's an article with good information about what's going on in Yemen, hat tip Winds of Change.

This post is to ask you, dear reader, to take a moment and send an email to the relevant authorities on the subject of "In support of al-Khaiwanii and al-Shoura" or "in support of a Free Press in Yemen"
or "in support of a Free Press in Yemen"

So if you'd like to annoy a dictator, take a minute and send an email of protest to the following addresses. Or you can go to Jane's blog where she has an email link already set up.

nic@y.net.ye (National Yemeni Informatin Center)

You can also write to our government to let them know that we are following this closely. A good place to start is with your two Senators and congressman. You can find your senator here and your congressman here.

Before posting I sent all the Yemeni's, and I also contacted my senators and congressman.

It only takes a minute. Let's see if we can make a difference.

Posted by Tom at 11:46 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

July 7, 2005

The London Attacks

I'm finally back home and able to write something on these terrible attacks. I actually first heard about them from a fellow blogger in an email this morning. Unfortunately, it was just as I had to run off to work so I only found out the details on the radio.

Here is a quick survey from around the Internet

Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld's statement says it perfectly:

Though it is not yet known with certainty precisely who is responsible, we do know terrorists’ intentions. They strike without warning and without regard for human life in the hope that they can frighten and intimidate free people -- to change our way of life. And they won't stop until their side or our side has prevailed.

But if these terrorists thought they could intimidate the people of a great nation, they picked the wrong people and the wrong nation. For generations, tyrants, fascists, and terrorists have sought to carry out their violent designs upon the British people only to founder upon its unrelenting shores.

Before long, I suspect that those responsible for these acts will encounter British steel. Their kind of steel has an uncommon strength. It does not bend or break.

Indeed. Although the left will howl and moan that "we brought it on ourselves by going to Iraq", the Brits will not be cowed.

nails it as always:

The Al Qaeda have characterized the attack on London as 'punishment' for Britain's temerity to resist the inevitability of Islam. It is the kind of punishment these self-ordained masters of the universe are accustomed to meting out against harem women and insolent slaves. A few administered licks, and no doubt the cowardly kuffar will crawl back to his place. The tragedy is that Al Qaeda's perception is perfectly correct when applied to the Left, for whom no position is too supine, no degradation too shameful to endure; but incorrect for the vast majority of humans, in whom the instinct for self-preservation has not yet been extinguished. It will result in history's greatest case of mistaken identity; the mismatch that should never have happened. The enemy is even now dying at our feet, where we should kick him and kick him again.

Exactly. Don't let the naysayers tell you that we're losing.

Christopher Hitchens explains why Iraq was not the original motivating force behind the Al-Qaeda attacks, and taht Britain had better face up to their internal problems with a certain immigrant group:

...there are two considerations here. The first is Britain's role as a leading member of the "Coalition" in Iraq and Afghanistan. The second is its role as a host to a large and growing Muslim minority. The first British citizens to be killed in Afghanistan were fighting for the Taliban, which is proof in itself that the Iraq war is not the original motivating force. Last year, two British Muslims pulled off a suicide attack at an Israeli beach resort. In many British cities, there are now demands for sexual segregation in schools and for separate sharia courts to try Muslim defendants. The electoral strength of Muslims is great enough to encourage pandering from all three parties: The most egregious pandering of all has come from Blair himself, who has promised legislation that would outlaw any speech that could be construed as offensive to Islam. Since most British Muslims are of Asian descent, a faint sense exists that criticism of their religion is somehow racist: In practice this weak-mindedness leads to the extension of an antiquated law on blasphemy that ought long ago to have been repealed but is now to cover the wounded feelings of Muslims as well as Christians.

Yep. They've got a big problem, and so far have largely refused to deal with it.

Take a look at National Review. They've got the British flag on their mast.

Chris Muir's Day by Day is all British today.

For yes, we are all Londonders today.

My thoughts and prayers are with the Brits.

Posted by Tom at 10:30 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 6, 2005

How We're going to Win

Don't tell James Dunnigan of StrategyPage that killing terrorists isn't the road to victory. Dunnigan talks about the true-believers of the twentieth century, from the followers of Hitler, Stalin and Pol Pot, to the Jihadists of today:

How do you deal with fanaticism like this? There’s plenty of historical evidence that the only cure is to keep killing the crazies until they stop coming after you. After a while, the fanatics lose their following, more from disillusionment than from death. This is not the first time there’s been a bout of Islamic fanaticism and mass murder. The Islamic community will have to figure out how to purge themselves of this nasty habit. In the meantime, it is Moslems who suffer most from it.

It’s fashionable in the West, especially Europe, to let the Islamic radicals off as victims of Western imperialism and colonialism. This was similar to the European attempts to appease Hitler in the 1930s and Stalin into the 1950s (and the Soviets right up until the communist collapse.) In the 1980s, Europeans were up in arms at Ronald Reagan’s efforts to bring down the Soviet Union. The latest victims are Islamic terrorists. Misunderstood, and not really at fault for their atrocities, these thugs are a real challenge for the appeasers. Islamic radicals want nothing less than total surrender, and a return to the 8th century. The victims here don’t see a pattern, only another opportunity to seek an easy, and dangerous, way out.


As I've said before, we can only lose this if we want to. We stuck it out during the Cold War despite a growing "peace" movement, and in the end we won. It's the same now; the naysayers will tell us that all is gloom and doom, but if we stick it out victory will be ours.

A few weeks ago, Wretchard wrote that we and the Iraqis are in a race against the insurgent terrorists. He cautiously predicted that we'll come out ahead:

What we are witnessing is a race between the force-generation capabilities of two sides. Materially speaking, the enemy is bound to lose. Al Qaeda is openly rushing every available fighter into Iraq. But millions of Iraqis Sunnis, Kurds and Shi'ites who have no intention of being resubjugated, fueled by the oil wealth of Iraq can be counted on to resist them, supported by the most deadly military force in the world. On the face of it the enemy cause would be lost. But in the matter of the will to win the outcome becomes more doubtful. Iraq has become the recruiting focus of a generation of Islamists and Leftists while the United States public has won itself enough temporary safety to forget the dangers of September 11. The enemy's hunger -- almost desperation for victory -- stands in symbolic contrast to the desire among many Americans to close Gitmo. The war in Iraq has bought American homeland security in the most unexpected of ways. The enemy has learned to refrain from awakening the US giant, the better to defeat him in his sleep.

Yup, it's about willpower. We're in a race, and unfortunately some in our country are not running with us. That may be ok, we won the Cold War without them, and we can win this one, too.

Beyond the Headlines

And in case you're sick of the "bomb of the day" coverage that we get from the msm, here's a bit of news about what's going on in Iraq that was sent to me by a reader:

Military officials in Baghdad, Iraq, today said U.S. and Iraqi forces will remain in the Iraqi city of Hit indefinitely to provide a security presence by manning outposts and conducting joint patrols and stabilization operations.

Hit has a population of about 120,000 and is about 100 miles northwest of Baghdad.

Iraqi security forces and U.S. Marines and soldiers from Regimental Combat Team 2, 2nd Marine Division, are there destroying weapons caches and clearing terrorists from the city as part of the final stages of Operation Saif (Sword), which began June 28.

Military commanders called resistance during the operation "light" and "sporadic." They added that there were no major battles or air strikes, no fatalities among Iraqi or American forces, and no disruption of basic utilities or medical treatment for Hit citizens.

Though U.S. Marines and Iraqi soldiers have operated from Camp Hit, a small base on the outskirts of the city, this is the first time combined forces will live and work continuously within the city, officials said. Hit joins the major cities of Ramadi, Habbaniyah and Fallujah in having a persistent presence of Iraqi security forces. Elsewhere, Task Force Baghdad soldiers detained four terror suspects south of Baghdad for questioning and seized 1 million Iraqi dinar and $6,000 in U.S. currency during a house raid July 4. The four suspects are believed to have planned or taken part in a number of kidnappings in the area.

Why is it that I don't hear this on the TV more often? Two weeks ago Ollie North had a whole series on American-Iraqi military cooperation on his "War Stories" show on Fox News. And they wonder why radio talks show hosts are traveling to Iraq to get the straight scoop.

Posted by Tom at 9:46 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Live Aid II

I cannot believe it.

When I wrote "Live Aid" below, it was in the usual morning hurry. I'd heard about Geldorf's comments on the radio yesterday, made a few notes, and then did some quick research this morning and wrote the post before hurrying off to work.

Then today I found out the details.

Live Aid, you see, does not raise one penny for people in Africa.

That's right. It's sole purpose is to "raise awareness" Jonah Goldberg has the scoop:

You may be wondering how much money this intercontinental jam session raised for the sick and dying of Africa. Alas, not a farthing. Sir Bob Geldof was very explicit about this point. Live8 was intended to raise consciousness and exert political pressure on the G8 summiteers. No one was allowed to actually raise money for the masses of starving people in Africa.

This morning I was willing to give Geldorf and his pals the benefit of the doubt. Now I'm disgusted.

What annoys me is when people like Geldorf tell, no, demand, that other people cough up vast sums of money because...he cares.

And let's just revisit what Geldorf demands that we do: fork over 25 billion dollars, and forgive billions in debt. This is money that you and I will pay for, friends. Will it do any good? We're not supposed to ask. For Geldorf further instructs us that

Something must be done, even if it doesn't work.

As Jonah points out, does anybody really think that all, or even many, of the people who watched or went to the concert (the number is disputed) care about the people in Africa? In other words, would they have watched or gone if it had just been a plain old concert? I think we know the answers.

If Geldorf and his entertainment pals feel guilty, which seems to be the case, then they can take personal action. If they personally go to Africa to help out, or at least give personal money, then God bless them.

But when rich hollywood types demand that governments spend tons of money and that "we will not applaud half measures, or politics as usual" well, he can go jump in a lake.

In brief, then what are the problems facing Africa that stand in the way of progress?

1) Lack of pluralism and democracy. Our administration has rejected the status quo foreign policy of the past with regard to the Middle East. Let's expand this to other parts of the world.

2) Lack of free market capitalism. Central planning has for too long been the way that African governments ran their economies. The Heritage Foundation has an Index of Economic Freedom that rates countries by their level of economic freedom. Sadly, most countries in Africa rank low.

3) Property Rights are not enforced and respected. Business will not go where contract law is not guaranteed.

4) Rule of Law is not ensured. By this we mean that the courts will rule on matters of law in a non-partisan manner.

5) Their is a culture of corruption that is beyond what most westerners believe. I've heard the stories from friends from that part of the world, and have read, and the corruption is so all-encompasing as to be almost unbelieveable.

6) Most importantly, we in the west have accepted these failures for far too long. We've done so for many and varied reasons; guilt over colonialism etc, foreign policy "realism", the dominance of the Cold War, and just plain old not caring. This is what must end for progress to be made.

Posted by Tom at 9:13 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Live Aid

Bob Geldorf has a view of aid that unfortunately is all too common

Something must be done, even if it doesn't work.

Geldorf, of course, is the driving force behind Live Aid (and here), the group that holds massive concerts to raise money in order to help people in Africa.

Geldorf doesn't simply organize concerts, he makes policy recommendations also. From his website

On Aid: Deliver an extra $25bn aid for Africa and make plans to ensure this aid really will be effective at eradicating poverty. This must stand beside a further $25bn for the other poorest countries of the world. This is the absolute minimum required to begin to win the battle against extreme poverty.

On Debt: Confirm the 100 per cent debt cancellation from the G8 finance ministers' meeting and commit to 100 per cent debt cancellation for ALL the countries that need it and remove damaging economic policies that are imposed as a condition.

On Trade: Make decisive steps to end the unjust rules of trade, and allow poor countries to build their own economies, at their own pace. It is only through trade that Africa will eventually beat poverty on its own.

Let it be equally clear that, at the same time, African governments must be free from corruption and thuggery and put in place recognised practices of good governance, accountability and transparency towards their own people and to the world. Twenty years ago at Live Aid we asked for charity. Today at Live8 we want justice for the poor. The G8 meeting next week can take the first real step towards eradicating the extremes of poverty once and for all.

We will not applaud half measures, or politics as usual. This must be a historic breakthrough.

So what of it?

It's easy to criticize Geldorf for his "something must be done" statement, and I'm going to do that.

Before we do that, however, let's take a look at his policy recommendations

On trade, his recommdations seem fairly reasonable. While the devil is in the details, free trade usually works in favor of poor nations. As long as wealthy environmentalists and "labor rights" types do not put onerous burdens on these countries, free trade will have some benefit.

On aid, money is fine and good, and can help, but only under certain conditions. And here is where we run into trouble. For simply sending money can do more harm than good unless it is properly used, and only if other, more root causes, are dealt with.

And it is his prescription for debt cancellation that gives one pause. Forgiving debt will only do any good if African governments undertake serious reforms, and if cultural habits change. I am not at all sure that I see enough action in this area.

A Contradiction

Geldorf says that "African governments must be free from corruption and thuggery and put in place recognised practices of good governance..." but this will only occur if the money sent is made contingent on the reforms. Unfortunately, from what I can tell, this is the exact opposite of what Geldorf and those like him will do. They somehow believe that you can both send vast amounts of money and demand reform simulatneously. I am not as sanguine.

And here we go back to the quote that started this post:

Something must be done, even if it doesn't work.

The purpose of aid is all too often simply to make the giver feel good. I've seen this at churches, where we are told that we must undertake x and such a project and no one is supposed to ask whether it does any good in the long run.

It is all-too easy to criticize people like Geldorf that make what one hopes was an intemperate statement. But it has to be recognized that sometimes well-meaning aid may actually make the situation worse.

Geldorf thus misses the point when he talks about not applauding "half measures". We don't need some huge Marshall Plan for Africa, we need something that works. What I will not applaud is throwing money at a problem and making nice-sounding statements about reform that one will not back up with action.

Our duty, then, is to work out means of which aid can be given, and policy recommendations made, that will have a positive effect. One should not criticize without having any prescriptions of one's own.

But it is time to run off for work, and so the rest will have to wait for another post.

Posted by Tom at 8:41 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

July 5, 2005

Problem with Comments

Comments don't always seem to appear, and I'm not sure why. I'll try and fix it. In the meantime, if you leave a comment, please also send me your comment by email so that I can track the situation.


Thank You
The Redhunter

Posted by Tom at 9:00 PM | TrackBack

If you're not Making them Mad....

There comes a certain point where if you're not driving the liberals nuts you're not doing your job.

For example, if President Bush's nominee to the Supreme Court does not generate howls of rage from NOW, the People for the American Way, and all the other assorted leftie groups, we'll know it was a bad choice.

Likewise with the media. If the guardians of the traditional media aren't mad at us, we're doing something wrong.

For the fact is that the reporting on the War on Terror in general and Iraq in particular is abysmal. You are simply not going to find out what is going on if you limit yourself to the TV news channels (Fox News included, the newspapers, and especially newsmagazines. What passes for analysis there is pathetic.

I set up a sidebar link with some sites that I think are particularly useful in understanding what is going on. They're not all neoconservative, btw. But I'm getting off topic.

You see, several of the dreaded radio talk show hosts are making a trip to Iraq to find out what is going on. They are calling it a "truth tour" and will be live-blogging it at VoicesOfSoldiers.com You'll want to bookmark it.

The talk-show hosts will be broadcasting their shows from Baghdad, and will be traveling with the troops daily. In addition, two writers from David Horowitz' FrontPage Magazine are going, which is guaranteed to drive the left to fits of apoplexy.

I heard about this will scanning the Fox News website, and then while listening to Michael Graham, a local talk show host (Washington DC area) will is going on the trip.

So how have the liberals in the press reacted? Predictably, that's how.

Let's just observe a sampling of their reaction:

"This is the most pathetic thing I've heard in a long time. They should be ashamed of themselves," Peter Beinart, editor of left-leaning The New Republic magazine, said.

"They have no idea what journalism is, and to pretend they are journalists is laughable," Beinart said. "You do not achieve victory by not facing reality. I think these are the kinds of people that will lead us to lose there."

"I think they are going to discover very quickly that Iraq is an extremely dangerous place," Joe Conason, editor for American Prospect magazine and author of "Big Lies: The Right-Wing Propaganda Machine and How It Distorts the Truth," said. "The realities of the war zone are likely to intrude on whatever ideological disposition they have going in there."

one of them even pulled out the "Arstrong Williams" canard:

Steve Rendall, senior analyst for Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting and author of "The Way Things Aren't: Rush Limbaugh's Reign of Error," said with an attitude like that, the trip will probably be useless in terms of real news-making.

Rendall noted it "bears comparison to the Armstrong Williams and the other instances" of government payment for good news, referring to conservative talk show host Williams, who was paid by the Department of Education to pump up school choice on his radio show in 2004.

(Just for the record, the talk-show hosts are paying their own way)

But we know the drill: "How dare these, these radio talk show hosts attempt to report on their own! Why, they didn't go to the right school! They don't have the right degrees! They didn't worship er, sit, at the feet of Bob Woodward!"

The parody is too easy. And I'll leave the humor to sites that are a lot better at it.

So much is wrong with what Beinart and Rendall say that it's hard to know where to start. I'll just point out what has become obvious, and that is to the liberals who make up most of the mainstream press, if you're not anti-Bush and against the war in Iraq you're not "objective"

And the reason for this is simple. People like Beinart and Rendall want to bring back the glory days of Vietnam.

Melanie Morgain, a talk-show host who is going on the trip, countered the liberal criticism:

Morgan, a former television reporter, said she and the others are tired of "hotel journalists" from "the mainstream media" who "sit around in a hotel bar" cribbing other writers' quotes and clips "so they don’t have to go out and cover the war."

"We are not going to engage in hotel journalism," she said.

Oh, and if you want the scoop on Beinart (and more info on the trip), Michelle Malkin has it all.

Stay tuned. I've added Voices of Soldiers my blogroll and will try and follow their reports as best I can.

Posted by Tom at 8:38 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 3, 2005

Independence Day 2005

What better than to simply post the Declaration of Independence:

Declaration of Independence of the Thirteen Colonies
In CONGRESS, July 4, 1776

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. --That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. —Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government.

Wow. You're not an American if these words don't strike an emotional chord with you. Flat out.

What eloquence. What resolve. No hesitation here about confessing an abiding faith in the Almightly. And how true.

Let's just read the rest of it:

The history of the present King of Great Britain [George III] is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us, in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by the Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.
The signers of the Declaration represented the new states as follows:
New Hampshire

Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton

John Hancock, Samual Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry
Rhode Island

Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery

Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott
New York

William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris
New Jersey

Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark

Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross

Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean

Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton

George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton
North Carolina

William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn
South Carolina

Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton

Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton

It's just something you have to read ever year. And mo matter how many times I've read it the words hit home.

Because the Declaration really is our primary document. Yes, we're governed by the Constitution. But our emotional heart is in the Declaration. It is what makes us unique as a nation. Other nations have tried, and failed. The French Declaration of the Rights of Man" (1789) just isn't the same. And France sadly degeneratated in the Robespierre's terror and Napoleon's military dictatorship. America, on the other hand, has only gotten better.

I know that I'm not saying anything that hasn't been said before by writers more informed and eloquent than me. But some things just need saying again and again.

As always, today's lead editorial in The Washington Times is a must-read:

Independence Day begins early every year with the whistles of errant bottle rockets and the sharp cracks of firecrackers. Perhaps it's the sunny summer weather that follows the soggy spring, but July Fourth is a happy holiday.

Instead of the sonorous tones of "Taps," or the even more moving moments of silence that resonateon Memorial Day, Independence Day explodes with sharp, celebratory sounds -- blares from bugles and trills from fifes, peals from bells, and blasts--the snap,crackle, boomoffireworks, accompanied by breathless ooohs and ahhs.

Yet, we must not forget that the freedom we celebrate today with barbecues and fireworks was paid for -- and is still being bought -- with the blood of our finest. The rockets' red glare and the bombs bursting in the air, which have become an integral part of the celebration, were essential to its foundation.

In fact, Francis Scott Key was inspired to write our national anthemafter watchinga British attack on Fort McHenry, not far from Baltimore."The Star-Spangled Banner"resonated, not simply because of its poetry, but becauseofthe proud parable of theAmerican spirit that it tells.
Yet, as we celebrate, let us not forget those who are far from home preserving our independence through the RPGs of regime loyalists in Iraq and the bullets of the shadowy remnants of al Qaeda in Afghanistan. We must remember our soldiers who are fighting and dying -- to pass on that spirit of independence, a faint echo from the Liberty Bell, to former prisoners and slaves.

As Mr. Bush concluded in his 2003address aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln, "All of you -- all this generation in our military -- haev takenupthe highest calling of history. You're defending your country and protecting theinnocent from harm. And wherever you go, you carry a message of hope -- a message that is ancient and ever new. In the words of the prophet Isaiah, 'To the captives, 'come out,' -- and to those in darkness, 'be free.' "


Thanks to the soldiers of the Revolution we have our freedom. Thanks to all of the troops since then we have kept it. And thanks to those around the world today, it'll stay kept.

Have a happy Independence Day

Posted by Tom at 9:35 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Inconvenient Quotes III

Oliver North nails it in his editorial today:

Sadly, the so-called "Loyal Opposition" and much of our mainstream media seem not to have heard. In their efforts to disparage the commander in chief, they denigrate those who serve in harm's way and dishonor the fallen.

The applause at the "Home of the Airborne and Special Operations Forces" had barely stopped before the left-leaning leadership of the Democrat Party launched a vicious partisan riposte aimed at gaining political advantage at the expense of our troops. The remarkable similarities of their hollow critiques offer evidence of their desperation.

Read the Democrat's latest, if you dare. It's about as bad as you think it will be.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said, "The president's frequent references to the terrorist attacks of September 11 show the weakness of his arguments. He is willing to exploit the sacred ground of September 11, knowing that there is no connection between September 11 and the war in Iraq."

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, apparently forgetting he voted for Operation Iraqi Freedom, offered a parallel response: "The president's numerous references to September 11 did not provide a way forward in Iraq, they only served to remind the American people that our most dangerous enemy, namely Osama bin Laden, is still on the loose and al Qaeda remains capable of doing this nation great harm."

He then added, " 'Staying the course,' as the president advocates, is neither sustainable nor likely to lead to the success we all seek."

Sen. Jack Reed, Rhode Island Democrat, rushed to the microphones and listed the various countries from which the September 11, 2001, attackers had originated. He then observed breathlessly, "There were no Iraqis."

Former Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Forbes Kerry, Massachusetts Democrat, accused Mr. Bush of creating a "third rationale" for the war: "The first, of course, was weapons of mass destruction. The second was democracy. And now tonight, it's to combat the hotbed of terrorism."

"No connection between September 11 and the war in Iraq." "No way forward." "A third rationale." All these statements -- from leaders of the radical political left were not only echoed throughout the Islamic world by Al Jazeera -- they also deny what Mr. Bush has been saying since this war began.

Nine days after the September 11, 2001, attack that murdered nearly 3,000 innocent men, women and children on American soil, President Bush said: "Our war on terror begins with al Qaeda, but it does not end there. ... Our enemy is a radical network of terrorists, and every government that supports them. ... Americans should not expect one battle, but a lengthy campaign, unlike any other we have ever seen. ... The only way to defeat terrorism as a threat to our way of life is to stop it, eliminate it, and destroy it where it grows."

Four months later, in his 2002 State of the Union Address, Mr. Bush told the world: "Our discoveries in Afghanistan confirmed our worst fears, and showed us the true scope of the task ahead. ... Our war on terror is well begun, but it is only begun. This campaign may not be finished on our watch -- yet it must be and it will be waged on our watch."

On Tuesday evening, President Bush once again enumerated the threats we face, articulated a strategy for victory so our troops can come home, and reaffirmed his resolve: "After September 11, I made a commitment to the American people: This nation will not wait to be attacked again. We will defend our freedom. We will take the fight to the enemy. Iraq is the latest battlefield in that war. ... Our mission in Iraq is clear. We're hunting down terrorists. We're helping Iraqis build a free nation that is an ally in the war on terror. ... We are removing a source of violence and instability and laying the foundation of peace for our children and our grandchildren."

"Loyal opposition", my foot. This has gotten ridiculous. If this party wants to go anywhere they need to get rid of their current batch of losers and start electing people who will help us win this war, not spend their time providing Al-Jazeera with anti-American footage for their broadcasts.

More to the point, these quotes prove that the anti-war crowd is so captured by anti-Bush hatred that they never even listened to him. They had their minds made up from the beginning. And to think they have the gall to try and say that Bush decided from the first day of his presidency to take out Saddam.

But wait, we're not done; next Ollie throws down the gauntlet

The Democratic Party leaders disagree with the president's assessment. It would have been interesting had any of the "reporters" covering these critics asked the question of Mrs. Pelosi or Messrs Reid, Reed and Kerry: "If you don't want to hunt down terrorists in Mosul, Ramadi or Al Qa'im, Iraq -- would you rather we hunted for them in San Francisco, Las Vegas, Providence or Boston?"

The president has consistently presented facts the liberal leaders of the Democratic Party don't like -- but that doesn't change the facts. Though they offer no alternative, they say we cannot "stay the course." Such rhetoric not only encourages our adversaries, it dishonors those who have fallen.

Don't hold your breath for Pelosi, Reed, Kennedy, Durbin, or any of the others to pick it up.

Posted by Tom at 9:07 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 2, 2005

Static vs Dynamic Analysis: Why the Critics don't Get It

Once again we’re hearing all the things that we “should” have done in Iraq. Over the last two days I listened to General Barry McCaffrey and Senator Joe Biden on the radio and both of them excoriated the administration for not having followed their oh-so-wise advice.

At least these two have our best interests at heart. I do truly believe that they want us to succeed in Iraq. Others, like Moveon.org, and, well, the entire leadership of the Democratic Party, seem only to be concerned with scoring political points.

Some of the things that McCaffrey, Biden, and others tell us that the administration should have done in the early days of the Iraqi War are:

1) We should have used more troops

2) We should not have disbanded the Iraqi Army

Biden even went so far as to state ad nauseum that "everyone knows" that we need and needed more troops. Biden considers himself a genius, you see. If you don't believe me, just ask him.

Movinge beyond that, let’s take them on. But before we get to specifics, let’s go over some important concepts:

If you change one factor in an equation, everything else changes too. The first problem I have with Biden and McCaffrey is that they are engaged in static thinking.

Dynamic vs Static Analysis

Their mistake is in thinking along static lines. They assume that if you change one factor in an equation, nothing else will change. This is such a basic error that I am amazed that it happens so often, and by people who should know better.

For example, if you raise taxes by 10% on an item, it is invalid to automatically assume that the government will get 10% more money. It is true that on some items, such as cigarettes, the increase in revinue will be about 10%, because the demand curve for such items is inelastic. But on other items, such as candy bars, people will simply adjust their spending habits, buy less of the product, and the government may not end up with any appreciable increase in revinue at all.

People who blithely say that we “need(ed) more troops” or that we should have “kept the Iraqi Army together” assume that only positive results would come from such a decision. They seem not to realize that there were potential negative consequences from taking a decision other than what we did.

More specifically, they seem not to realize that if you change one factor in the equation of history, everything else changes too.

So people who say that we "need(ed) more troops" or "should have kept the Iraqi army" may be right, or they may be wrong, but I have yet to hear aargument from any of them yet that takes any of this into account.

Now that we've laid the groundwork, let's go though each one in more detail.

"We Need(ed) More Troops"

As Rich Lowry of National Review pointed out last year in "What Went Wrong" (subscription required), there were significant disadvantages to having put more troops in the field of battle:

If more troops would have enhanced security in the aftermath of thw war (a debateable proposition, as we shall see), the lighter and more mobile force had significant advantages in the prosecution of it. "The decision was made to collapse the regime as quickly and violently as possible," says a senior administration official. the most kimportant advantage of this approach, he sways, was simple: "A quick collapse saves American lives and Iraqi lives."

It served other objectives as well. It made it possible to take the oilfields - crucial to Iraq's rebuilding - mostly intact before Saddam had time to destroy them. And there was the political consideration. It was thought important to avoid a drawn-out war, and the destabilizing effect it might have on the region. "You don't want an American army slogging it's way to an Arab capital," is how one official puts it.

I can hear it now from the lefties: "But we have lost a lot of American and Iraqi lives!" To which the only logical response is; "not by historical standards, and remember, the situation could be much worse. Remember the "battle of Baghdad" we were assured would happen?"

The problem I have with the "more troops" crowd is not that they're necessarily wrong, but that they don't even think it necessary to consider that the presence of more troops might have made the situation worse.

For example, we are told that with more troops we could have "stopped the looting." Really? How exactly? It is not clear that the mere presence of our soldiers would have stopped anything. By shooting the looters? Oh that would go over well in the rest of the world. By "detaining" them? And put them where, and for how long? What about trials, which our "human rights" groups would not be long in demanding? They never say.

And how would we get all of these troops into Kuwait? They forget that during the Gulf War we had access to huge Saudi ports. In this war we only had access to smaller, less numerous ports in Kuwait. It is not clear that we could have even gotten a significantly larger force into Kuwait and kept it supplied. More troops would also have presented Saddam with an even more inviting pre-invasion target.

In addition, we need to recall that our military was significantly smaller in 2003 than it was in 1991, by a factor of about 40% overall. True it was much more capable on a unit-by-unit basis, but a ship or soldier can still only be in one place at a time. Bottom line; we would have had to drain troops from other theaters.

This would have presented the world's troublemakers with a perhaps rresistible opportunity.

Suppose Kim Il Sung had taken the opportunity to invade the south, or China decided to make trouble over Taiwan. What would the critics be saying them? That it was "obvious" that by depleting troops from other theaters we were inviting trouble.

We should not have disbanded the Iraqi Army

The first thing to say is that we did not disband the Iraqi army; it disbanded itself. It literally disintegrated in the closing days of major combat operations. We would have had to recall it. People who advocated this need to think carefully about the consequences.

Once again, those who say we should have kept or recalled the Iraqi army only see the potiential positives. They fail to even consider that doing this may have made the situation worse.

Armies in many third-world countries are used as much to oppress the population as they are to defend the borders, sometimes more so. In the case of Iraq Saddam had long used some units to carry out his murderous atrocities. Many Iraqis didn't have much respect for much of the army, and saw it as an oppressive institution. To have kept it in place might have made the population even more angry at us. Remember, things can always be worse.

Further, Iraqi units were organized along sectarian lines. Shi'is, tired of Sunni oppression, might have taken this opportunity to seek revenge. Shi'ite units might well have moved into Sunni neighborhoods and wrecked havoc. Same with the Kurds. Indeed, it is not hard to imagine Iraqi units fighting each other. And who is to say that they would not have turned on us is an opportunity presented itself?

Imagine the consequences of any perceived atrocity; "human-rights" groups would immediately protest that it was all the fault of the United States, that because we invaded and kept the Iraqi units together, we were responsible for their actions. The western media would have a field day.

Back to Analysis

Again, what bothers me so much about the sort of 20/20 hindsight analysis that we hear so often is not that it is wrong, but that it is not even stated correctly. The critics do not even think it necessary to consider that had we done things their way, things might be worse. They only see the positives. As Lowry makes clear in his article, the idea that there was "no plan for after the invasion" is utter nonsense.

Prior to the invasion, our government spent a lot of time planning, it's just that many of the things they planned for; mass starvation, a major refugee crisis, destruction of the oil wells, use of WMD, civil war, SCUD missile attacks on Israel, didn't happen.

And, of course, these are many of the things the critics assured us would happen.

Posted by Tom at 2:32 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 1, 2005

Primary Documents: Osama bin Laden's 1996 Fatwa

Speaking of basics in our War on Terror, let's go back to Osama bin Laden's initial fatwa, or declaration of war, against the west in general and United States in particular. It was issued in 1996 and was published in a London newspaper. It is, appropriately enough, titled "Declaration of War against the Americans Occupying the Land of the Two Holy Places" (hat tip NRO for the link)

It makes for instructive reading. Of course, everything is "obvious" in retrospect. It is "obvious" that he was a huge danger, that we should have taken him more seriously, blah blah. If that was it this would only be an academic exercise.

Unfortunately, some people still don't get it. They still don't get that

- bin Laden sees the world with a long historical perspective. His basis, or baseline, was the Crusades. To him this is not ancient history, but an event (or series of events) with close relevance to the world today.

- bin Laden and his sort cannot be satisfied with policy changes. "Settling" the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will not dissuade them from attacking us.

- bin Laden was quite willing to make an alliance with anyone to achieve his goals, whether that person or entity was "righteous" or not. Thus he would have no problem in cooperating with Saddam Hussein's Iraq.

- bin Laden wants to impost Sharia (strict Islamic law), apparently with a corresponding return to the ancient Caliphate.

Let's then go through his 1996 Fatwa and see exactly what it says:

First, there's a lot of "praise be to Allah", and exortations to the faithful:

O you who believe! be careful of -your duty to- Allah with the proper care which is due to Him, and do not die unless you are Muslim} (Imraan; 3:102), {O people be careful of -your duty to- your Lord, Who created you from a single being and created its mate of the same -kind- and spread from these two, many men and women; and be careful of -your duty to- Allah , by whom you demand one of another -your rights-, and (be careful) to the ties of kinship; surely Allah ever watches over you} (An-Nisa; 4:1), {O you who believe! be careful- of your duty- to Allah and speak the right word; He will put your deeds into a right state for you, and forgive you your faults; and who ever obeys Allah and his Apostle, he indeed achieve a mighty success} (Al-Ahzab; 33:70-71).

The entire document is filled stuff like this. One tends to skim through it, trying to find the "good parts" where he talks about something concrete. On the one hand there is nothing wrong with doing this. On the other one can miss the essence of bin Laden; religious fanaticism. This may sound obvious, but consider history.

Adolf Hitler was underestimated because the "smart set" couldn't believe that he really meant what he said in Mein Kampf. When Hitler and his henchmen in the 1930s spun their outlandish racial theories, they were dismissed as cranks. What people failed to understand is that Hitler wanted to act on those beliefs. He also had the talent and political acumen to tell each audience just what it wanted to hear. We have no such excuse with bin Laden.

My point is that those who say that bin Laden and his sort can be satisfied by changing this or that American policy are just as mistaken as Chamberlain and Lord Halifax were sixty-odd years ago about Hitler. Hitler wanted racial purity throughout all of Europe and would kill to achieve it, bin Laden wants a rise of the ancient Caliphate and will kill to get it also.

It is, nevertheless, instructive to find out what bin Laden's complaints are. Let's go through some of them:

It should not be hidden from you that the people of Islam had suffered from aggression, iniquity and injustice imposed on them by the Zionist-Crusaders alliance and their collaborators; to the extent that the Muslims blood became the cheapest and their wealth as loot in the hands of the enemies. Their blood was spilled in Palestine and Iraq. The horrifying pictures of the massacre of Qana, in Lebanon are still fresh in our memory. Massacres in Tajakestan, Burma, Cashmere, Assam, Philippine, Fatani, Ogadin, Somalia, Erithria, Chechnia and in Bosnia-Herzegovina took place, massacres that send shivers in the body and shake the conscience. All of this and the world watch and hear, and not only didn't respond to these atrocities, but also with a clear conspiracy between the USA and its' allies and under the cover of the iniquitous United Nations, the dispossessed people were even prevented from obtaining arms to defend themselves.

The people of Islam awakened and realised that they are the main target for the aggression of the Zionist-Crusaders alliance. All false claims and propaganda about "Human Rights" were hammered down and exposed by the massacres that took place against the Muslims in every part of the world.

There is much of this talk about western "massacres". What is interesting is that "Palestine" is listed as only one of many. The idea that the "Arab-Israeli" conflict is at the heart of his complaint does not stand up to scrutiny. He does, however, mention "Zionist-Crusader" alliance several times. This tells me that 1) the existance of Israel is the problem to him, so no "solution" short of it's dismanteling will satisfy him. 2) He believes that the problems of the Arab world are all caused by the West, and again the solution is a return to the glory days of Saladin.

Injustice had affected the people of the industry and agriculture. It affected the people of the rural and urban areas. And almost every body complain about something. The situation at the land of the two Holy places became like a huge volcano at the verge of eruption that would destroy the Kufr and the corruption and its' sources. The explosion at Riyadh and Al-Khobar is a warning of this volcanic eruption emerging as a result of the sever oppression, suffering, excessive iniquity, humiliation and poverty.

By "two Holy places" he means Mecca and Medina, Islams to most holy sites, both of which are in Saudi Arabia. At the time we had a lot of troops stationed in the KSA (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia), and it was the presence of the "infidels" that upset him so. He goes on to complain about the KSA at some length.

His complaints against the KSA can be broken down into

1) The rulers of the KSA have violated the tenants of Islam.

2) The economic/public works situations have deteriorated

3) The rulers of the KSA are corrupt.

4) The rulers of the KSA have allowed the "infidels" to occupy parts of the country.

In summary,

If there are more than one duty to be carried out, then the most important one should receive priority. Clearly after Belief (Imaan) there is no more important duty than pushing the American enemy out of the holy land. No other priority, except Belief, could be considered before it...

bin Laden is willing to use anyone to help him.

It was the tradition of the people of the Sunnah (Ahlul-Sunnah) to join and invade- fight- with the righteous and non righteous men. Allah may support this religion by righteous and non righteous people as told by the prophet...

In other words, he has no problem in making an alliance with "non-righteous" people. Saddam Hussein was a Muslim in name only. Therefore... that blank is easy to fill in. Those who say that bin Laden would never have allied himself with Saddam haven't read what the man said.

Israel, or as he calls it, "the Zionist state in Palestine" is a problem, and it must be destroyed. To him, Israel is not an entity in itself, as much as it is part of "the Zionist-Crusader alliance"

The "infidel" forces in the KSA are a problem for this reason:

It is out of date and no longer acceptable to claim that the presence of the crusaders is necessity and only a temporary measures to protect the land of the two Holy Places. Especially when the civil and the military infrastructures of Iraq were savagely destroyed showing the depth of the Zionist-Crusaders hatred to the Muslims and their children, and the rejection of the idea of replacing the crusaders forces by an Islamic force composed of the sons of the country and other Muslim people.

Osama bin Laden's Solution

Jihad, of course.

Interestingly, he also calls for an economic boycott against us. This is to be coupled with military action. Any Muslim who does not cooperate is to be considered an enemy.

If economical boycotting is intertwined with the military operations of the Mujahideen, then defeating the enemy will be even nearer, by the Permission of Allah. However if Muslims don't co-operate and support their Mujahideen brothers then , in effect, they are supplying the army of the enemy with financial help and extending the war and increasing the suffering of the Muslims.

bin Laden then goes on a long ramble about "this difficult period in the history of our Ummah", with many historical references, going back several centuries and concluding with the Russians in Afghanistan and the United States in Somalia (he saw that we pulled out after taking casualties. A lesson, there).

After this there are many exortations to young Muslims, and how they must join him in the battle ahead. These calls are intersperced with liberal references to the Koran, as is throughout the Fatwa.

He does not mince words about how he will go after Americans. He says that he will be

Terrorising you, while you are carrying arms on our land, is a legitimate and morally demanded duty

Like the Japanese and Germans of World War II, he takes it for granted that his soldiers ("youths")are brave, but that Americans are weak and cowardly:

Those youths are different from your soldiers. Your problem will be how to convince your troops to fight, while our problem will be how to restrain our youths to wait for their turn in fighting and in operations.

Lastly he asks for God's help. Here is one of many such passages

Our Lord, You are the Revealer of the book, Director of the clouds, You defeated the allies (Ahzab); defeat them and make us victorious over them.

So What of It?

He's a religious fanatic, of course.

One is also struck at how long the document is. Today it is obvious that it was written by someone who has dedicated his life to destroying the KSA and the "infidels".

He believes strongly in what he says, and as I said at the beginning cannot be compromised with.

Their are two ways to deal with him and his followers:

The first is to utterly destroy them though all military means at our disposal. This means war, not a law-enforcement model of conflict.

Second,we must reform the Arab/Muslim countries of the Middle East. bin Laden was right, the rulers of the KSA are corrupt.

It also means something else; that we were right in taking out Saddam. He was a cancer in the region, and Osama bin Laden had no problem in making alliances with the "non-righteous". Given Saddam's hatred of the US and UK, he no doubt joined Al Qaeda in a de facto alliance. Anyone who says otherwise just doesn't know what they're talking about.

Posted by Tom at 8:35 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack