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February 28, 2006

Our New Way of War - And It's Working

The Washington Post strikes again.

Post staff writer Thomas E Ricks seems to have figured out that we are on the way to winning the war. Last week they published two articles on how our troops had turned things around through the use of an effective counterinsurgency campaign.

Continuing this theme is an article he published on Sunday called "In the Battle for Baghdad, U.S. Turns War on Insurgents" (hat tip NRO)

Interviews with U.S. soldiers -- from top generals to front-line grunts in Tall Afar, Mosul, Ramadi, Balad and throughout Baghdad -- as well as briefings at the U.S. military headquarters for the Middle East in the Persian Gulf state of Qatar, reveal a markedly different war from that seen in 2003 and 2004, or even last year.

Current U.S. military commanders say they have come to understand that they are fighting within a political context, which means the results must first be judged politically. The pace and shape of the war also have changed, with U.S. forces trying to exercise tactical patience and shift responsibilities to Iraqi forces, even as they worry that the American public's patience may be dwindling.

I remember during the early part of the insurgency, when some in the US took the attitude of "just go in and take 'em out!" No doubt some still think this way. Fortunately our troops have gotten the message that there is a better way.

Don't worry, there is still much fighting. And woe be it to the insurgents who try and challenge an American unit head on. But brute force all the time without regard to local sensibilities does more harm than good.

Not all the troops are happy about this. Ricks found a few who expressed frustration. "It's like trying to track down a bunch of ghosts", said one.

The Three Phases of the War

The war here has gone through three distinct phases, each with its own feel and style of operation.

The first period, from May 2003 to July 2004, was characterized by drift and wishful thinking, military insiders say, with top U.S. officials at first refusing to recognize they were facing an insurgency and then committing a series of policy and tactical blunders that appear to have enflamed opposition to the U.S. occupation.

The second phase began in the summer of 2004, when Army Gen. George W. Casey Jr. replaced Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez as the top U.S. commander in Iraq and developed -- for the first time -- a U.S. campaign plan. That plan, which looked forward from August 2004 to December 2005, gave U.S. operations a new coherence, directing a series of actions intended to clear the way for Iraqi voters to establish a new government.

Now, after parliamentary elections held in December, the U.S. effort has entered a third stage. The current emphasis is on reducing the U.S. role in the war, putting Iraq army and police forces in the forefront as much as possible -- but not so fast that it breaks them, as it did in April 2004, when a battalion ordered to Fallujah mutinied. Eventually, Casey said, the hope is that U.S. forces will be able to focus on foreign fighters, while Iraqi security forces take on the native insurgency. But that hasn't happened yet. The hardest fighting, especially in rural areas, still is being done by U.S. troops.

The key is whether we can produce enough Iraqi forces fast enough, and get the political process stabilized, before the clock runs out in the US. If a Democrat is elected in 2008 all bets are off. But even if the GOP loses one or more houses of congress this year, the Democrats may start to either cut funding for the war or pressure Bush to start a pull out "or else".

Ricks has more, and it's worth quoting at length

Several aspects make this third phase different from the war of a year or two ago:

· The U.S. effort now is characterized by a more careful, purposeful style that extends even to how Humvees are driven in the streets. For years, "the standard was to haul ass," noted Lt. Col. Gian P. Gentile, commander of the 8th Squadron of the 10th Cavalry Regiment, which is based near a bomb-infested highway south of Baghdad. Now his convoy drivers are ordered to move at 15 mph. "I'm a firm believer in slow, deliberate movement," he said. "You can observe better, if there's IEDs [improvised explosive devices] on the road." It also is less disruptive to Iraqis and sends a message of calm control, he noted.

· U.S. commanders spend their time differently. Where they once devoted much of their efforts to Iraqi politics and infrastructure, they now focus more on training and supporting the Iraqi police and army. "I spent the last month talking to ISF [Iraqi security force] commanders," noted Gentile, who holds a doctorate in American history from Stanford. "Two years ago I would have spent all my time talking to sheiks."

· Real progress is being made in training Iraqi forces, especially its army, according to every U.S. officer asked about the issue. One of the surprises, they say, has been that an Iraqi soldier, even one who is overweight and undertrained, is more effective standing on an Iraqi street corner than the most disciplined U.S. Army Ranger. "They get intelligence we would never get," noted Army Gen. John P. Abizaid, the top U.S. commander in the Middle East. "They sense the environment in a way that we never could."

Let's hope the liberals in Washington read these articles by Ricks, and take them to heed.

Spread the word.

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

What is Going on In Europe II

Yesterday I wrote that it seemed to me that Europeans in general, and Britons in particular, didn't have many freedoms that we in the United States take for granted.

None other than Tony Blair himself has proven me correct. In an editorial in Sunday's The Observer, he writes that

...the 'rules' are becoming harder to enforce. Antisocial behaviour isn't susceptible to normal court process.

"Anti-social behaviour"? This sounds like something out of Soviet Russia. If George Bush used this sort of language to justify legislation he'd be rightfully flayed.

He goes on

In theory, traditional court processes and attitudes to civil liberties could work. But the modern world is different from the world for which these court processes were designed.

...
People should be prevented from glorifying terrorism. You can say it is a breach of the right to free speech but in the real world, people get hurt when organisations encourage hatred

By themselves I might justifiably be accused of taking them out of context. But given everything else I documented in my last post (link at top), I think the meaning is all too clear.

Back to the "Cartoon Jihad"

From the Cayman Compass

The European Union regrets that the cartoons of Prophet Muhammad were "considered offensive" by Muslims around the world, EU foreign ministers said Monday in their first joint statement on the issue.

Freedom of expression, however, "is a fundamental right and an essential element of a democratic discourse," the EU ministers said.

So far, so good. Kudos to the EU ministers.

But then this from Tony Blair's Britain

Britain had called for the EU to show regret over the publication of the 12 cartoons, which were first published in a Danish newspaper last year. However, both the Dutch and Czech governments were opposed to apologizing for the cartoons’ publication, saying that would be detrimental to media freedoms.

Thanks for standing up for freedom, Tony.

Where Holland Goes...

The situation is even worse in Holland, if this account by Douglas Murray in The Sunday Times of London is at all accurate.

Murray went to Holland recently to speak at a conference on Islam in Europe. Just to give an idea as to the situation, he said that the threat to speakers was so high that they were asked by hotel staff if they wanted to register under false names. The police provided a personal security detail for everyone. Murray had a guard outside his hotelroom door.

The event itself was orderly and debate was conducted in scholarly fashion. But Murray talks about the situation in Holland and the rest of Europe

But the story of Holland — which I have been charting for some years — should be noted by her allies. Where Holland has gone, Britain and the rest of Europe are following. The silencing happens bit by bit. A student paper in Britain that ran the Danish cartoons got pulped. A London magazine withdrew the cartoons from its website after the British police informed the editor they could not protect him, his staff, or his offices from attack. This happened only days before the police provided 500 officers to protect a “peaceful” Muslim protest in Trafalgar Square.

It seems the British police — who regularly provide protection for mosques (as they did after the 7/7 bombs) — were unable to send even one policeman to protect an organ of free speech. At the notorious London protests, Islamists were allowed to incite murder and bloodshed on the streets, but a passer-by objecting to these displays was threatened with detention for making trouble.

Holland — with its disproportionately high Muslim population — is the canary in the mine. Its once open society is closing, and Europe is closing slowly behind it. It looks, from Holland, like the twilight of liberalism — not the “liberalism” that is actually libertarianism, but the liberalism that is freedom. Not least freedom of expression.

All across Europe, debate on Islam is being stopped. Italy’s greatest living writer, Oriana Fallaci, soon comes up for trial in her home country, and in Britain the government seems intent on pushing through laws that would make truths about Islam and the conduct of its followers impossible to voice.

...
Since the assassinations of Fortuyn and, in 2004, the film maker Theo van Gogh, numerous public figures in Holland have received death threats and routine intimidation. The heroic Somali-born Dutch MP Ayaan Hirsi Ali and her equally outspoken colleague Geert Wilders live under constant police protection, often forced to sleep on army bases. Even university professors are under protection.

Europe is shuffling into darkness.

Indeed it may be.

Posted by Tom at 7:32 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 27, 2006

What Is Going on In Europe?

Consider the following events:

1) Ken Livingstone Suspended from Office

London's mayor (Ken Livingstone) has been suspended from office on full pay for four weeks for comparing a Jewish journalist to a concentration camp guard.

The Adjudication Panel for England ruled Ken Livingstone had brought his office into disrepute when he acted in an "unnecessarily insensitive" manner.

...
The hearing followed a complaint from the Jewish Board of Deputies, which had not called for the mayor to be suspended over the comment he made to the Evening Standard's Oliver Finegold outside a public-funded party.

The chairman of the panel, David Laverick, said it had decided on a ban because Mr Livingstone had failed to realise the seriousness of his outburst.

2)The Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill currently before Parliament

Here's the gist of it

The extraordinary Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill, currently before the House, gives ministers power to amend, repeal or replace any legislation simply by making an order and without having to bring a Bill before Parliament. The House of Lords Constitution Committee says the Bill is “of first-class constitutional significance” and fears that it could “markedly alter the respective and long standing roles of minister and Parliament in the legislative process”.

There are a few restrictions — orders can’t be used to introduce new taxes, for instance — but most of the limitations on their use are fuzzy and subjective. One of the “safeguards” in the Bill is that an order can impose a burden only “proportionate to the benefit expected to be gained”. And who gets to judge whether it is proportionate? Why, the minister of course. The early signs are not good. Having undertaken initially not to use orders for controversial laws, the Government has already started talking about abstaining from their use when the matter at hand is “highly” controversial.

3) Holocaust Denier Convicted

Right-wing British historian David Irving was sentenced to three years in prison Monday after admitting to an Austrian court that he denied the Holocaust — a crime in the country where Hitler was born.

Irving, who pleaded guilty and then insisted during his one-day trial that he now acknowledged the Nazis' World War II slaughter of 6 million Jews, had faced up to 10 years behind bars. Before the verdict, Irving conceded he had erred in contending there were no gas chambers at the Auschwitz concentration camp.

4) Lawsuits over "Racism"

In 2002 in Switzerland the Islamic Center and the Somal Association of Geneva, SOS Racisme of Lausanne and a private citizen sued her for the supposedly racist content of The Rage and The Pride. In November 2002 a Swiss judge issued an arrest warrant for violations of article 261 and 261 bis of the Swiss criminal code and requested the Italian government to either try or extradite her. Roberto Castelli, Italian minister of Justice mentioned this fact in an interview broadcasted by Radio Padania affirming that the Italian Constitution protects the Freedom of Speech and thus the extradition request had to be rejected, the episode is mentioned in her book The Force of Reason

I seem to recall that there have been a few more of these suits in the past several years but cannot recall them.

5) Proposed UK Religious Hatred Bill

Controversial plans to make incitement to religious hatred illegal have been unveiled by the government.

The new offence gives equal protection to all faiths. Jews and Sikhs are already covered by race hate laws.

Critics say the reintroduced plans - which cover words or behaviour intended or likely to stir up religious hatred - will stifle free speech.

Ministers insist the new law would not affect "criticism, commentary or ridicule of faiths".

'Preserve tolerance'

The Racial and Religious Hated Bill would create a new offence of incitement to religious hatred and would apply to comments made in public or in the media, as well as through written material.

The aim is to protect people from incitement to hatred against them because of their faith.

(text of bill here)

6) Double Jeopardy Not Absolute

All members of the Council of Europe (which includes nearly all European countries, and all members of the European Union) have signed the European Convention of Human Rights, which protects against double jeopardy. The Seventh Protocol, Article Four, says:

No one shall be liable to be tried or punished again in criminal proceedings under the jurisdiction of the same State for an offence for which he has already been finally acquitted or convicted in accordance with the law and penal procedure of that State.

This specific optional protocol has been ratified by all EU states except six (namely Belgium, Germany, The Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and the United Kingdom). Those members states may still have the provision in their respective constitutions (if any) providing a prohibition against double jeopardy.

In many European countries the prosecution may appeal an acquittal to a higher court (similar to the provisions of Canadian law) - this is not counted as double jeopardy but as a continuation of the same trial. This is allowed by the European Convention of Human Rights - note the word finally in the above quote.

The Parliament of the United Kingdom passed legislation in the Criminal Justice Act 2003 introduced by then Home Secretary David Blunkett to abolish the previously strict form of prohibition of double jeopardy. Retrials are now allowed if there is 'new and compelling evidence'. All cases must be approved by the Director Of Public Prosecutions and the Court Of Appeal must agree to quash the original acquittal.

7) Gun Rights in Europe

Nonexistent

(not really relevant but I thought I'd throw it in)

Help Me Out

The story about London mayor Ken Livingstone was the genesis for this post and is what got me thinking. I saw it the other day on one of my favorite blogs, and almost could not believe what I was reading. How do you "suspend" an elected official over something he said, no matter how offensive or stupid it was?

In the comments section I asked just this, but haven't received a satisfactory answer.

It is simply inconceivable in the United States for an elected official to be removed by some board. My understanding is that in most all jurisdictions elected officials can only be forced to resign if they are convicted of a crime, and usually a felony at that. Obviously the details will vary from place to place, but I think I have it right as a general rule.

Further, the concept that someone could be charged with a crime for denying the holocaust is also inconceivable. But I understand that this is the case in several European countries. What else is it against the law to say over there? Here freedom of speech is pretty absolute (exceptions of course are libel, slander, shouting "fire" when there is none, but those things are different).

All of the other things listed above simply could not happen in the United States, at least as a matter of federal or local law. Universities have been known to pass "speech codes", but that's not quite the same as Congress passing a law making it illegal to criticize another's religion (which is basically what the British bill would do).

The only exception I can think of is a qualifier to double jeopardy. Here in the US they do have civil rights laws, and in the infamous Rodney King case, some Los Angeles cops were found innocent of using excessive force against him, but were later convicted of violating his civil rights. But even this doesn't really violate double jeopardy.

This got me thinking of other things I've read recently. My general perception is that in general Europeans do not have all the rights that we take for granted here in the United States.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not about to go off and label any part of Europe "not free". They're part of the Free World. We're still allies, still share common values (or should), and are all in this fight against Islamic radicalism together, whether all of us know it or not.

But help me out here. Do I have all this right about Europe? My main question is about freedom of speech, as most of the issues above revolve around that.

Posted by Tom at 9:05 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 24, 2006

Why the Insurgents Bombed the Dome of the Golden Mosque

The correct answer, as you've read a million places, is to create a civil war in Iraq. I'm not disputing this.

But the question is, why do they want to create a civil war? The answer to that is that they're desperate and realize they're losing. I'm going to tell you why.

Victor Davis Hanson just got back from Iraq and sums up the military situation

The insurgency in Iraq has no military capability either to drive the United States military from Iraq or to stop the American training of Iraqi police and security forces — or, for that matter, to derail the formation of a new government. The United States air base at Balad is one of the busiest airports in the world. Camp Victory near Baghdad is impenetrable to serious attack. And even forward smaller bases at Kirkuk, Mosul, and Ramadi are entirely secure.

...
Most would agree that the Americans now know exactly what they are doing. They have a brilliant and savvy ambassador and a top diplomatic team. Their bases are expertly run and secured, where food, accommodations, and troop morale are excellent. Insufficient body armor and unarmored humvees are yesterday’s hysteria. Our generals — Casey, Chiarelli, Dempsey — are astute and understand the fine line between using too much force and not employing enough, and that the war cannot be won by force alone. American colonels are the best this county has produced, and they are proving it in Iraq under the most trying of conditions. Iraqi soldiers are treated with respect and given as much autonomy as their training allows.

Realizing this, he says, they are focusing on three alternative strategies

1) Use IEDs, suicide bombings, and the like to create the appearance that the country is out of control

2) Attack Shiites until they are mad enough to start a civil war

3) Just create enought chaos so that the average Iraqis just wants the Americans to leave

We are at a sort of standoff, he says; they cannot even dent us militarily and we cannot stop their IEDs and suicide attacks. As everyone knows, victory will only be ours if the Iraqis can consolidate their government and get enough viable security forces in the field.

A few additional points are in order

The IEDs are of Limited Usefulness

From StrategyPage

While only 5,607 IEDs were placed in 2004, there were 10,953 encountered in 2005. But American troops responded to the threat. In 2004, about a quarter of IEDs actually went off and hurt someone. In 2005, that rate declined to ten percent, and is still falling. This has been very frustrating for the terrorists and nerve wracking for the American troops on the receiving end. While billions of dollars has been put into developing new devices to counter IEDs, the best defensive tool is still alert troops, who have been briefed on the latest intel about what kind of IEDs are being planted.

There are essentially two reasons why the insurgents use IEDs and suicide bombers; our troops are so good and theirs are so bad. StrategyPage again

IEDs were used in Vietnam, but caused (with mines and booby traps in general) only 13 percent of the casualties, compared to over 60 percent in Iraq. The reason for this is one that few journalists want to discuss openly. But historians can tell you; Arabs are lousy fighters. Hasn't always been this way, but for the last century or so, it has. This has more to do with poor leadership, and a culture that simply does not encourage those traits that are needed to produce a superior soldier. In a word, the North Vietnamese soldiers and Viet Cong guerillas were better, and more deadly, fighters. Contributing factors include better training and equipment for American and Coalition troops. But most of the reason for the historically low casualty rates in Iraq have to do with Iraqis who don't know how to fight effectively.

Anybody who's read the first thing about the Vietnam war knows this to be true. This is also what makes creating a new Iraqi Army so difficult, and yet another reason why we were exactly right not to keep the old one.

Our Troops Have Gotten Very Good

The Washington Post had two articles this past week that could well have been written by CENTCOM. Both essentially tell the same story; that in 2003-2004 many of our tactics and strategies were flawed, but all that has changed.

The first story, titled "The Lessons of Counterinsurgency", tells of the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment. The unit did poorly during it's first tour in 2003-2004, but has performed magnificently this time around.

In the last nine months, the regiment has focused on breaking the insurgents' hold on Tall Afar, a town of 290,000. Their operations here "will serve as a case study in classic counterinsurgency, the way it is supposed to be done," said Terry Daly, a retired intelligence officer specializing in the subject.

U.S. military experts conducting an internal review of the three dozen major U.S. brigades, battalions and similar units operating in Iraq in 2005 privately concluded that of all those units, the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment performed the best at counterinsurgency, according to a source familiar with the review's findings.

The second story, "U.S. Counterinsurgency Academy Giving Officers a New Mind-Set" is about "COIN", the new counterinsurgency school the army has set up in Taji, Iraq.

The purpose of the school north of Baghdad is to try to bring about a different outcome than the U.S. military achieved in 2003-04, when Army commanders committed mistakes typical of a conventional military facing an insurgency. "When the insurgency started, we came in very conventional," said Col. Chris Short, the District native and recent Manassas resident who is the new school's commandant.

Back then, U.S. forces rounded up tens of thousands of Iraqis, mixing innocent people in detention with hard-core Islamic extremists. Commanders permitted troops to shoot at anything mildly threatening. And they failed to give their troops the basic conceptual and cultural tools needed to operate in the complex environment of Iraq, from how to deal with a sheik to understanding why killing insurgents usually is the least desirable outcome in dealing with them. (It is more effective, they are now taught, to persuade them either to desert or to join the political process.)

Last year, an internal study by Army experts of U.S. commanders here found that some understood the principles of counterinsurgency and applied them well, while others faltered. "If the commander had it, the unit had it, but if the commander got it halfway, then the unit got it halfway," Casey said in a recent interview. The new school is designed to ensure that all the commanders get it.

...
"I didn't want to come," concurred Lt. Col. David Furness, commander of the 1st Battalion of the 1st Marine Regiment, now operating between Baghdad and Fallujah. "But I'm glad I came."

Live and Learn

The Way of the World

If you're a leftie Bush-hater reading this I know exactly what you're going to say: "Ah ha! Told you Bushitler didn't know what he was doing! If only Al Gore had been elected WE'D HAVE GOTTEN IT RIGHT THE FIRST TIME!"

Yeah sure.

Tell me then what you would say about a president who led us into war with a military this unprepared:

- 80% of our torpedoes were defective to the point of being duds
- Every single one of our single and twin-engined fighter and bomber aircraft were inferior to those of our enemy. Every single one
- Our navy was allowed to spend precious dollars building and keeping the wrong type of capital ships
- Not only were all of our tanks inferior to those of the enemy at the start of the war, they were inferior at the end too
- The stated purpose of the war was to end dictatorship in _______, yet at the end as many people lived under tyranny as at the beginning.
Most people in ________ simply traded one dictator for another
- Two years after the war, many major US papers were calling the occupation "botched"
- Americans expected all of their troops to quickly return home after the war, and were upset when they learned that many would have to stay there for an indefinate period of time

The president responsible for all this wasn't elected right before the war started. He'd been in office for almost 9 years.

And guess what? We won this war.

Details and background on the above are in a post of mine that can be found here.

Don't Let them Crow

The point, if I need to spell it out, is that this is how wars always work. No matter how prepared you are, things don't work out the way you thought they would. If the administration is guilty of anything, it is believing that combat would end with the defeat of the regular Iraqi Army. It was no doubt a mistake to declare victory on the aircraft carrier in 2003, oh well.

But FDR is seen as one of our greatest wartime presidents for a reason; he was one. Yes there were terrible mistakes, both before and during the war. But victory does not go to the side that gets everything right, but to the side that makes the fewest mistakes.

Some now say that Iraq stands on the brink of civil war. Perhaps so, though I doubt it. Few of the criteria that Bill Roggio laid out seem to be occuring.

Bottom line; if we can get through this current crisis we're on the road to victory.

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

February 23, 2006

Activism in the UK - A Lesson

Yesterday I received an email from a friend in the UK Mary Martini, who detailed what she and some others did that she gave me permission to share with you.

There are many lessons in what follows, so read carefully. The biggest two are 1) That the Saudis are not to be trusted, and are guilty of egregious human rights abuses, and 2) average people can get out and do something about it.

What Mary and some others did was to confront Saudi ambassador to the UK, Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf, during his visit to Manchester a few weeks ago. Their purpose was to force him to confront the reality of torture of innocent victims in Saudi Arabia, and to raise public awareness of an incident that involved several Britons and Canadians a few years ago.

The short version is that in 2001 the Saudi government unjustly arrested several Britons, including her ex husband, and tortured them into making false confessions on Saudi TV. Details are below, but first, let's get on with the confrontation.

Here is Mary's description of what happened:

The Saudi delegation was in Manchester at the town hall, it was trade and investment, Saudi has $676 billion to invest in telecoms petrochemicals ect. I made a banner 6ft high and in big A4 size letter I had on it,

SAUDI ARABIA

ARE GUILTY OF TORTURE

HUMAN RIGHTS

NOT TRADE

At 08 30 the Saudi delegation came walking toward us lead by Nawaf the new ambassador they were all so embarrassed they thought we were greeting them until they read what was written, there was myself James cottle and Bill Sampson and les walker turned up, the TV and radio came, as I live in Manchester I thought it was an insult and an opprtunity to get him. The TV were good and went into the meeting on the pretence of talking about trade but hit the ambassador with the torture, his answer was it is safe in Saudi, the trade minister (UK) was a bubbling mess he didnt know what to say when caught on the hop, we are planning to do one at the saudi embassy but they wont know when. I also made up leaflets (below) to hand out to everyone going in, some of the business men didnt want to know and one pushed me when I confronted them with the human rights issue.

Here is what she had on the leaflets

SAUDI ARABIA TORTURES THE INNOCENT

You may not know what it is like to live in perpetual fear but several British men did when they were framed and tortured into making confessions. Imagine you are working in Saudi and you are arrested for no reason, you may have a family in the UK. you are thrown in prison and made to confess to crimes you know nothing about, you will not have contact with the embassy or anyone civilised you will not see a Lawyer for over a year. You will be deprived of sleep and beaten daily, you are unable to walk as your feet are black and blue and full of lumps from the falanga

(beating of feet) you want to die and think of ways of killing yourself.

You will be taken to a kangaroo court and sentenced, you are not told of your sentence and constantly goaded by the guards, so you wait and wait hoping the UK Government have a plan to get you out, NO they have no plan and left you to rot for over 2 years.

Weakness has set in and your skin becomes dry hangs from your bones,

depression sets in and when you finally see the British consul you are not free to speak.

If you are released, you will have no job no life and suffer from medical problems, Saudi Arabia will keep saying you are guilty and you get no redress for what has been done to you.

The only thing you can do is to warn others of the human rights abuses and advise no Brits to work in the Kingdom.

Lots of lessons here

1) Know where your target will be. Do your homework

2) Have a big sign or signs that no one can miss

4) Use the element of surprise

3) Educate passers by with leaflets so that they get your message

The Background

Mary and I "met" on the Internet through the comments section on a blog. As I recall it she told the story of the tortured Britons in comments on a blog somewhere and I sent her an email asking for details. She sent me many articles, and I wrote several posts about what happened.

Here's a summary of what happened, from my first post on this:

In June of 2001, James Cottle, 51, traveled to Saudia Arabia to work on construction contracts. Within a few short months he found himself falsely imprisoned, regularly beaten, and forced to "confess", live on Saudi television, in the style of the Moscow show trials of the late 1930's.

The Saudis claim that he and seven other Europeans were behind a series of terrorist bombings that occured in the "Magic Kingdom" during November of 2000. The charge was that western bootleggers were engaged in a turf war, and that Cottle and the others were participants. However, in typical Stalinist fashion, they never presented any evidence this claim other than the confessions.

After being arrested in June of 2001 Cottle and the others were subjected to Saudi-style interrogation. The first day they yelled at him and slapped him around. Things got worse very quickly. The second night they started beating his feet. Cottle says that he was beaten six to eigtht hours every night. He spent 11 months in solitary confinement while the interrogations and beatings continued. Eventually he was allowed to share a cell with one of the other Britons accused of the bombings.

British consular officials were able to secure visits to him in jail. Although the questioned the Saudi authorities, the Saudis didn't show them any evidence that he was involved in any bombings.

During all this, his ex-wife, Mary Martini, attempted to secure his freedom through the Foreign Office (the UK equivalent of the U.S. Department of State). She says that she didn't receive much help from them. Initially she followed their request to "stay silent" and not create a public stir. However, after more than a year with no results, she grew impatient.

That James Cottle, William Sampson, Ron Jones, Les Walker and the others are innocent is not disputed by anyone in the West. All of the relevant human rights groups, and I believe even the British government itself, have said flat out that there is no way that these men were responsible for planting bombs in Saudi Arabia (which continued to go off while they were detained).

After a year of confinement, James Cottle and the others realized that their only way out was to confess on Saudi TV, which they did.

Finally, on August 8 2003, Cottle and six others were released. Some were a royal pardon, but their convictions were not overturned. Cottle refused to sign the pardon paper so was granted a clemency, the latter not stating that he was sorry "for what he did." Their treatment at the hands of the Saudis had been so bad that Ms Martini said that "I really couldn't recognise the men at first, obviously because the picture of James they have shown was from when he was about 17 stone,"

Even though James Cottle is now a free man, Martini says that he still bears the scars of his imprisonment. He suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and relies on heavy medication and counselors. As quoted in the Guardian, Martini said that "James has been very affected by what he has been through. He gets tired from even from normal things like just walking. Making decisions also seems hard, even deciding what he wants to eat, simple things like that."

To the suprise of no one, the arrest and torture of Cottle and the others is typical of Saudia Arabia. Said Amnesty International, "Secrecy, torture and unfair trials are the hallmarks of Saudi justice."

You can find all of my articles on this situation and Saudi Arabia here.

The city of Manchster issued this press release on the visit, which Mary forwarded to me:

Manchester shows Saudi delegation why it's a great place to do business

A delegation of leading Saudi Arabian officials will be hearing about opportunities to do business in and with Manchester.

Delegates including Saudi ambassador to the UK Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf and Princess Loulwah Al Faisal are visiting the city on January 26 to highlight trade and investment opportunities in Saudi Arabia in a special forum at Manchester Town Hall.

But they will also be shown how much Manchester has to offer as a major international business and investment location.

The ambassador will host a private lunch on January 25, joined by Lord Mayor of Manchester Mohammed Afzal Khan, Sir Howard Bernstein, City Council chief executive and leading companies and partners. The ambassador will also meet local Muslim leaders and visit a number of key development sites in Manchester.

In the evening a reception will take place at the City of Manchester Stadium for the Saudi delegation, hosted by City Council leader Richard Leese and attended by 50 leading figures from Manchester's business community.

Lord Mayor of Manchester Mohammed Afzal Khan said: "I am delighted our great city has been chosen for this important event. I think it is fitting because Manchester has a long and proud history in world trade and is a major international business and investment location.

And yes you read that right. Apparently the mayor of Manchester is a Muslim from Pakistan. Here's his bio.

When released, Ron Jones filed a lawsuit against the individuals in Saudi Arabia responsible for his arrest and torture. Mr Jones has won the first round, obtaining the right to sue the Saudis. However, the Saudis have appealed, and the case will be heard this April. The British government has been of no help in this entire process, wishing it all to be swept under the rug so as not to interfere with "good relations".

Several of the others also have lawsuits pending.

I havent't seen much in the US press about this, although this article appeared in The Washington Times last June, (it is still available and is an excellent summary and background)

The Victims

Of those arrested, James Cottle, Sandy Mitchell, Bill Sampson, Les Walker, Peter Brandon, and Ron Jones have all been to the Parker Institute in Denmark and have proof of torture.

Glenn Ballard, Jimmy Lee, and Raf Shyvens were also unjustly arrested but they were not tortured.

Jim Cottle has written a long account of his ordeal which you can download here: Download file

Posted by Tom at 10:02 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 22, 2006

Way Too Much Hysteria

...over this port deal.

Nothing but ranting by most talk show hosts, I'm sorry to say. The only one I heard who really examined the facts was Tony Snow. And a lot of what he said made sense.

His bottom lines: The deal really doesn't change anything at the actual ports, and there are no American or even western companies who do this type of port security. A Brit company manages the ports now and they still will. They got bought out by the UAE state-owned company Dubai Ports World. Halliburton does some things, but even if they could do it that wouldn't raise a fuss, would it?

I hate to say it, but the big fear seems to be that "A bunch of Arab -Muslims are going to be running our ports!"

I can't believe I said that but there it is.

Manzoor Ijaz, a very sober pro-America Muslim analyist, says it is all about "Islamophobia" over at NRO. Mark Levin accuses him of "playing the race card". I love Levin, but I agree with Ijaz on this one.

The Wall Street Journal sums up the reaction, and I agree with them

>The notion that the Bush Administration is farming out port "security" to hostile Arab nations is alarmist nonsense. Dubai Ports World would be managing the commercial activities of these U.S. ports, not securing them. There's a difference. Port security falls to Coast Guard and U.S. Customs officials. "Nothing changes with respect to security under the contract," Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said yesterday. "The Coast Guard is in charge of security, not the corporation."

For once I also tend to agree with the Washington Post

At stake -- in theory -- is the question of whether we should "outsource major port security to a foreign-based company," in the words of Mr. Graham. But those words, like that of almost all of the others, sound, well, tone-deaf to us. For one, the deal cannot "outsource major port security," because management companies that run ports do not control security. The U.S. Coast Guard controls the physical security of our ports. The U.S. Customs Service controls container security. That doesn't change, no matter who runs the business operations. Nor is it clear why Mr. Graham or anybody else should be worried about "foreign-based" companies managing U.S. ports, since P&O is a British company. And Britain, as events of the last year have illustrated, is no less likely to harbor radical Islamic terrorists than Dubai.

Exactly. But there's more, as the Post continues

Finally, we're wondering if perhaps American politicians are having trouble understanding some of the most basic goals of contemporary U.S. foreign policy. A goal of "democracy promotion" in the Middle East, after all, is to encourage Arab countries to become economically and politically integrated with the rest of the world. What better way to do so than by encouraging Arab companies to invest in the United States? Clearly, Congress doesn't understand that basic principle, since its members prefer instead to spread prejudice and misinformation.

The Washington Times says "Scotch the Port Deal", but I'm not convinced, mainly because they don't offer any reasons.

It's plainly obvious that a government-owned company from a hostile region should not operate American ports, whatever the assurances about security and however limited its involvement in day-to-day operations.

Not it's not "plainly obvious". Further, if we scotch this deal, then who should do it? They don't say. I am soooo tired of criticism without suggestion, from whatever quarter it comes fron.

Jonah's Two Military Guys publish an email that helps put it in perspective.

Also, the Council on Foreign Relations has a useful FAQ on the deal.

Bottom Line

Maybe Dubai Ports World should get the contract and maybe not. I don't know. Maybe in the days to come viable alternatives will be offered. But most of the criticism I've read so far doesn't contain much factual analysis.

And let's tone down the hysteria, and look at this in a more rational manner. This is not the disaster-in-the-making that some people are making it out to be.

Posted by Tom at 8:40 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

February 21, 2006

"Stand Up for Denmark!"

Wednesday Update at Bottom - Meet this Friday at Noon

Hitch says we ought to stand up for Denmark by joining him at the Danish Embassy in Washington DC

The incredible thing about the ongoing Kristallnacht against Denmark (and in some places, against the embassies and citizens of any Scandinavian or even European Union nation) is that it has resulted in, not opprobrium for the religion that perpetrates and excuses it, but increased respectability! A small democratic country with an open society, a system of confessional pluralism, and a free press has been subjected to a fantastic, incredible, organized campaign of lies and hatred and violence, extending to one of the gravest imaginable breaches of international law and civility: the violation of diplomatic immunity. And nobody in authority can be found to state the obvious and the necessary—that we stand with the Danes against this defamation and blackmail and sabotage. Instead, all compassion and concern is apparently to be expended upon those who lit the powder trail, and who yell and scream for joy as the embassies of democracies are put to the torch in the capital cities of miserable, fly-blown dictatorships. Let's be sure we haven't hurt the vandals' feelings.

Ah yes, feelings.

But words are not enough. Hitchens issues a call to action

Surely here is a case that can be taken up by those who worry that America is too casual and arrogant with its allies. I feel terrible that I have taken so long to get around to this, but I wonder if anyone might feel like joining me in gathering outside the Danish Embassy in Washington, in a quiet and composed manner, to affirm some elementary friendship. Those who like the idea might contact me at christopher.hitchens@yahoo.com, and those who live in other cities with Danish consulates might wish to initiate a stand for decency on their own account.

I sent him an email, and if my schedule allows I'll join him and anyone else who shows. I don't know what day and time he has in mind so this might not work out. But I'm going to try.

If you live anywhere near the Washington DC area I strongly encourage you to consider attending. Freedom must be defended.

Even if you live elsewhere in the country, there may be a Danish Consulate in your town or city.

Stay Tuned

I've got a post planned on the subject of activisim. In the past year or so I've done things I never before thought I'd do, from becoming active in political campaigns to traipsing around holding signs and counter-protesting the left. I am fortunate to live near Washington DC, where there are many opportunities for action.

But I've noticed that on some of my posts, like the one where we chased Code Pink off of their corners outside of Walter Reed, or where we acted as "human shields", symbolically protecting the Danish Embassy in Washington DC, that I get comments like "I wish I lived near you". I've also seen this on FreeRepublic posts.

I understand that I've got more opportunities. But my guess is there's more going on in your area than you realize, and on Wednesday I'm going to post some ideas on how you can get involved, and how to make contacts and all that.

Update, Feb. 22: Thank you all who've written. Please be outside the Embassy of Denmark, 3200 Whitehaven Street (off Massachusetts Avenue) between noon and 1 p.m. this Friday, Feb. 24. Quietness and calm are the necessities, plus cheerful conversation. Danish flags are good, or posters reading "Stand By Denmark" and any variation on this theme (such as "Buy Carlsberg/ Havarti/ Lego") The response has been astonishing and I know that the Danes are appreciative. But they are an embassy and thus do not of course endorse or comment on any demonstration. Let us hope, however, to set a precedent for other cities and countries. Please pass on this message to friends and colleagues.

Unfortunately I can't make it. I was hoping for a Saturday, but obviously it's easier for most people to simply take a long lunch than to drive in on the weekend. But if you do live in the DC area, please consider attending.

Posted by Tom at 11:02 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 20, 2006

What the "Cartoon Jihad" is Really All About

Sky News last week reported on a poll by the Sunday Telegraph in which 20% of Muslims in Great Britain support the July 7 terrorist who set off the bombs in London.

One in five UK Muslims sympathise with the suicide bombers who killed 52 people in London on July 7, a survey suggests.

The ICM poll also reveals four in 10 want hardline Sharia Law introduced in parts of Britain.

A group of 500 UK Muslims aged 18 and above were quizzed for the Sunday Telegraph.

While 20% said they had sympathy for the July 7 killers' "feelings and motives", 99% condemned the attacks.

Another 75% said they did not sympathise with the bombers.

...
Sharia should be introduced in "predominantly Muslim" areas of Britain, according to 40% of the Muslims polled.

That last one is the most scary of all. It's also exactly why I've been concentrating so much on the "Cartoon Jihad" these past few weeks. Anyone not totally mired in the fever swamps of political correctness knows full well that the protests around the world are not about the cartoons. They are about intimidating the West. Radical Muslims do not want to assimilate into our societies. They want nothing of the traditional give-and-take between the natives and new immigrants that is a hallmark of Western Civilization. They want us to change. They want to bring their odious and hateful Sharia law into our societies.

For all the problems in the US today with regard to Hispanic immigrants, we need to keep in mind that they are fundamentally like us. They come from countries with a Christian heritage. They too are children of the Enlightenment. The Reformation affected their society as well. In short, they think like we do. As such, they are participating in our tradition of give-and-take. We can debate how well it is going, and I think that the leftists with their multiculturalism are harming the process, but that is another debate.

Not so with Muslims, at least in Europe, where there are a lot more of them and they are much less assimilated. We don't have that many in the US, and the ones who are here don't create a whole lot of trouble beyond the usual complaints of discrimination that we've come to expect. Local Muslims didn't participate in the Feb 18 protests outside of the Danish Embassy in Washington DC, as instead we saw the New Black Panther party, a group more based on racialist principles than religion.

The Growing Islamization of Britain

Think all this is exagerated? Check out this article in the Sunday Telegraph from yesterday titled "The day is coming when British Muslims form a state within a state". Money quote

That is why they(Muslims) do not believe in integration. In 1980, the Islamic Council of Europe laid out their strategy for the future - and the fundamental rule was never dilute your presence. That is to say, do not integrate.

They're even worried over at the left-wing British paper The Guardian, calling the above poll "a warning that should not be ignored."

USS Neverdock has all the links you'd ever want on the growing he Islamization of Britain. Check it out. A few tidbits

British theater censors play so as not to upset Muslims

Britain adopts Islamic laws

English flag offensive to Muslims

Make his blog a part of your daily reading.

No Assimilation in Belgium

Last week on Downeastblog, one of my Belgium friends wrote about the situation in his country

One could fill books about the behaviour of Moroccan youngsters in Brussels schools e.g., with teachers driven to the brink of insanity, intimidated, ridiculed, sometimes chased out of the classrooms. Theft, robbery, downright murder. Schools in Antwerp forced to scrap pork meat from the school menu. Rampant "youth" criminality everywhere with the often minor perpetrators getting away with it unpunished. "Youth" gangs cruising the streets during the day (when they ought to be on the school banks), and cruising them at night (when they ought to be doing their homework). Of course, when they enter the job market, they have acquired no skills at all, not to mention raucous behaviour is not exactly inducing patrons to hire them either. Result: unemployment figures for young immigrants of 40% in the Brussels Region.

Doesn't sound like give-and-take to me.

The Demographics in France

Remember those riots in France a few months ago? Maybe they were a sign of things to come.

At the time most msm outlets simply referred to the rioters as "youths", or some other similar euphamism desiged to hide their true identity. In reality, of course, they were Muslim immigrants, mainly from Algeria.

Here are some population statistics you might not have seen:

It is one thing to know in theory that France has undergone major ethnic changes over the past 30 years and another thing altogether to confront a mass ethnic insurgency. The figures are inescapable. There are about 60 million inhabitants in continental France, plus 2 million citizens in the overseas territories (essentially the French West Indies and La Reunion island in the Indian Ocean). About 20 million, most of them white and Christian, are over 50

Out of the remaining 40 million or so, 10 million or so belong to the ethnic minorities: Muslim North Africans, Muslim Turks or Near Easterners, Muslim Black Africans, Christian West Indian, African or Reunionese blacks. When one regards to the youngest age brackets, the proportion is even larger. It is estimated that 35% of all French inhabitants under 20, and 50% of all inhabitants in the major urban centers, belong to the ethnic minorities. Islam alone may claim respectively 30% and 45%. Since war is essentially the business of youths, the combatant ratio in any ethnic war may thus be one to one

In the end it's not so much the numbers as the lack of assimilation. I post these demographics simply to illustrate that it's not a small problem. There are enough Muslims in Europe now that the politicians take notice, and are concerned about getting their vote.

As the survey in Britian shows, many Muslims hold anti-western views, and given their numbers, are going to have great influence in Europe in the years ahead. This problem isn't going away.

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

February 18, 2006

At the Danish Embassy in Washington DC

Expanded Post - Monday February 20

I spent the earlier part of today at the Embassy of Denmark in Washington DC.

The New Black Panther Party held a protest in front of the embassy as part of the ongoing Cartoon Jihad. I was part of a group of Freepers and other people who stood in between them and the embassy as part of a "Human Shield". The Embassy of Denmark is in the background

From the New Black Panther Party press release:

Speakers Include: Attorney Malik Zulu Shabazz, Imam Akbar Bilal, Imam Abdul Alim Musa, Imam Mohammed Asi, Hodari Abdul Ali, and other community and Muslim leaders who will speak in solidarity with the worldwide Muslim Ummah (Community) that is fighting against the intentional debased attack by the Danish and western peoples against Islam. The participants recognize this as an escalation in the American-European War against Islam and the Muslims.

Sponsored by a coalition of Muslim groups and the New Black Panther Party.

Michelle Malkin was there, taking pictures and interviewing people. Here's her pre-post on the event. Check it out, because she's got some background on the speakers and their hate-filled agenda. When she puts up her report I'll link to it.

Countering the Panthers - Why We Do It

Organizing the counter to the Panthers was the DC chapter of Free Republic. These are the folks who organize the Walter Reed demonstrations against Code Pink every Friday night.

The reason we do these things is that we're not going to let these people have the streets to themselves anymore. They're not going to be the only ones in the public square. We learned our lesson in the 1960s and are not going to let that happen again.

It was also a show of solidarity with Denmark. That tiny nation has been the victim of many hateful attacks these past few weeks, and all because of some cartoons about Mohammed published in one of their newspapers. This is all part of the War on Terror and clash of civilizations, and when one of our fellow western nations is under attack, we have an obligation to go to their defense.

We've also seen what has happened at other Danish embassies and consulates, like this one in New York City, where yesterday protesting Muslims held signs like "Responsible Editors Must Be Punished".

Freedom needs to be defended.

Getting Started

The Royal Danish Embassy is at the end of Whitehaven street in northwestern Washington DC. Whitehaven is maybe a quarter-mile long and slopes somewhat uphill. The area is surrounded by trees, all of which make it seem somewhat secluded from the rest of the city. Whitehaven is attached to Massachusetts Avenue, which is known as "embassy row", and as you drive up it you see the flags of many nations. I was told that Hillary Clinton lives in the house across the street from the Danish Embasssy but have no way to confirm that.

The New Black Panther Party and their "other community and Muslim leaders" gathered at the Islamic Center, which is on Massachusetts Avenue not far from where it intersects with Whitehaven. As I was driving on Massachussetts to the Danish Embassy I saw them out front. Or rather, I could hear them, as Malik Zulu Shabazz was ranting into a rather loud PA system.

When I got to the embassy at maybe 12:30 the Panthers were still at the bottom of the hill at the Islamic Center. Maybe a dozen of our people were there at that point. We set up our "human shield" and waited.

(NOTE: As you'll notice the dates on the pictures are wrong. Somehow the stupid camera reset the date and I can't figure out how to change it on the photos. If you know please shoot me an email)

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Update: If you enlarge the photo above you'll see that Kristinn is holding a "Durka Durka" sign. At left is one that reads "Bakala, Bakala, Bakalakalaka" I didn't know this, but they are from the movie Team America, which I've never seen. Sorry for my ignorance, readers, but I'm not much of a movie or TV guy. Kristinn says on the FreeRepublic post that "We weren't trying to be antagonistic or incite a riot, but considering the seriousness of the situation and the possibility of violence, we figured we'd get in a few laughs before getting our heads smashed in."

Directly across the street from the Danish Embassy is this house where Hillary Clinton lives. During the event I did not see anyone come or leave it, nor did I see anyone at the windows. I'm sure she was forwarned and wisely stayed away that day.

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After a few minutes Michelle Malkin showed up. She greeted us and took some pictures. However, she did not join our group, as she was there in the role of reporter rather than participant. It was a thrill to have her there, as I am a huge fan. Her blog is a daily must-read.

(note; you should be able to enlarge any of the pictures by simply clicking on them. I'm keeping them a bit smaller in this post so that they load quicker for people without broadband)

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There were also plenty of police and media. The cops didn't look very worried. They had a strong enough presence, and of course being in Washington DC they have plenty of experience with rallies and protests. We asked some of the reporters who they were with and I remember hearing the Washington Post and Associated Press.

Here is a view down the street from the embassy

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Here they come. They brought a pretty decent PA system, with portable generator and all

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The Excitement Begins

As the Muslims organized, one of their member began to speak to us. Or rather, like all of them, he ranted. I'm not quite sure who this guy is, but I'll going to do some research tomorrow, so if you come back Sunday evening I'll have more

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These next two photos are of Malik Zulu Shabazz, their leader and main speaker. He sounded very much like Louis Farrakhan, and watching him reminded me of films of Benito Mussolini.

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I'll have more on him tomorrow. In the meantime, the Anti-Defamation League has a page on the New Black Panther Party that as expected is very good. They also have a page on him, titled "Malik Zulu Shabazz in His Own Words". It's pretty scary stuff. Here's a quick sample

What we have against Jews and others is [sic] simple facts of history: that the Jews have been involved in the African holocaust and that the Zionists are causing problems, you know, for people of color around the world … The State of Israel. The Zionist entity there. It's a problem. It's a problem for our brothers and sisters in that particular area and it's causing problems all over the earth.

Also, here's an interview I found that I found pretty interesting, though not for reasons he'd appreciate.

Meanwhile, Michelle Malkin was doing something I wish I'd been doing; writing down what these guys were saying. In my hurry to leave the house that morning I hadn't thought to bring an notepad. As I'm sure she'll have details on her blog tomorrow, I'll revise this post by including her observations, so be sure and check back.

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The Numbers Grow

For the first hour we had maybe a dozen on our side, and the Panthers/Muslims about twice that number. By the time they left at 3:00 they had about 50 people and I counted about 25 on our side.

Here's a view from the top of the street down along our line. I'm the guy in the green jacket holding the Danish flag and the "S" in our "HUMAN SHIELDS" sign

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Here's another view along our line

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You can see the amusement on many faces. It was hard to take these people seriously. This was not like the protests in European cities, where you had thousands of Muslims of Arabic heritage protest, with their posters threatening violence. While to be sure Malik Zulu Shabazz and his ilk are hateful people preaching racist bile, that they could only attract 50 followers in Washington DC is telling. Most of the time we just laughed at their insanities.

Sometimes Shabazz and the other speakers would try to cajole us into joining them, and at other times they would do all but threaten us with violence (threats on other embassies were a common theme). Sometimes they looked as if they actually expected us to fall on our knees and worship Allah, and looked disappointed when we didn't. They went from speaker to speaker, almost as a baseball team calls in a new pitcher when the old one is no longer effective. It was if they were trying new speakers to find one that would get through to us. Very weird.

At one point one of their speakers was complaining that two Muslims were imprisoned in Europe for questioning whether the holocaust had occured. I and others shouted at him asking if he questioned whether the holocaust had occured. He paused at this, but would never answer us directy.

A few times Shabazz or one of the others mentioned "the Jews". At this we all hooted and hollered and cried "racist!" Sensing that this was a mistake, they changed to railing against the "Zionists".

Michelle pulled several of their speakers aside for interviews. In this next photo she is speaking with Shabazz himself

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During all this two guys came out from the Danish Embassy to observe the goings on. They looked more amused than anything.

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Here are a few more of their speakers. I don't know who they are but will try to get IDs tomorrow, so check back Sunday evening.

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What It all Meant

One of my favorite bloggers, Kat of The Middle Ground, posted this comment on my blog a few months ago

We no longer cede our voice and the public square to only those who "dissent". Something that was necessary at our founding and which we had ceded since the Vietnam days. (see, it's not Vietnam redux...;)

She was responding to one of my posts in which we went to Lafayette Park in Washington DC for a pro-Iraq rally.

I hadn't quite made that connection until she made that comment. And she's right, too, we're not going to let the other side have the streets or the public square to themselves anymore. Freedom must be defended, and it that means standing in front of the Royal Danish Embassy symbolically protecting it from Muslim radicals, then so be it. There are many fronts in the War on Terror, and today I was at one of them.

Update: Media Reaction and other Bloggers

The Washington Post has a short story up on the event. I'm actually in the photo, the guy holding the Danish flag at left.

Kristinn ofFreeRepublic has a great write-up and photos. Check it out. Money quotes:

Shabazz also was quite menacing--in a cartoonish manner. I was reminded of a Twilight Zone episode with a young Dennis Hopper as a Hitler wannabe who is mentored by the ghost of the Fuhrer, himself.

Shabazz gave racist, anti-Semitic, anti-American, Islamofascist diatribes, in between other speakers who gave, well, racist, anti-Semitic, anti-American, Islamofascist diatribes.

...
Two of their speakers started out sounding reasonable, but pretty soon they veered off into cloud cuckooland soon after. For some reason, they kept blaming the Jews for their problems. What wasn't the Jews' fault was white people's fault, and America's fault, and George Bush's fault, and Dick Cheney's fault, and Halliburton's fault, and oh yes, the Danes' fault.

They started out complaining about the cartoons, but more often than not, the cartoons were an afterthought.

Shabazz came very close to losing his temper with us. When we pulled "Kumbaya" from our repertoire, he started ranting about how lucky we were the police were present. He pointed his hand at one of us and cocked his hand like a pistol and dropped his thumb down like he was 'firing'.

He did loosen up later though and cracked a Holocaust joke.

Joking about the holocaust. That about says it all, doesn't it?

Several of the people who author Smashing Left-Wing Scum were there, and they a great write-up and photos too.

B. Preston, author of Junkyard Blog, was at the event with Michelle Malkin. His initial post on the event is here and he's got a good close up photo of whacko-in-chief Malik Zulu Shabazz. I saw him there taking video and pictures, and yesterday he wrote that he "had hoped to have them edited for your entertainment tonight, but technical problems got in the way. Stay tuned to the JYB and Michelle’s blog—we plan to have an edited video of the protest posted soon."

You can count on it.

Posted by Tom at 10:29 PM | Comments (23) | TrackBack

February 17, 2006

Max Boot Gets It

Writing in the LA Times, Max Boot (via NRO) reports on the disturbing, but unfortunately predictable reaction to the cartoons and the riots they have created by Muslims while at a conference at Kuala Lumpur the other day.

Although the conference was not about the cartoons or anything similar, they were apparently issue number one. Here are the most important parts

Even though all of the Muslim delegates were intellectuals, activists, politicians and other movers and shakers, they resonated with the rage of the dispossessed. With considerable justification, they fulminated against the backwardness of the Islamic world compared to the West. With considerably less justification, they blamed their frustrations on the West.

...
IN RECENT years, some Muslims, notably the authors of the 2002 U.N. Arab Human Development Report, have been acknowledging internal problems — a lack of freedom, honest government, gender equality, scientific research and education — that have turned their societies into global also-rans. But in Kuala Lumpur there wasn't much introspection in evidence. Most attendees — and I suspect their views are broadly representative of the Muslim world as a whole — preferred to rant against supposed Western oppression.

The cartoon brouhaha not only confirms this victimization legend, it assuages the shame many Muslims feel over the atrocities committed in their name by Osama bin Laden & Co. To hear many Muslim attendees talk, you would think there is no difference between a cartoonist who injured no one physically and terrorists who kill thousands of innocent people. The trope of the conference seemed to be: "We have our extremists … and you have yours." Former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami took this argument to its logical conclusion by equating American neoconservatives with Al Qaeda. As if Paul Wolfowitz were plotting to crash hijacked aircraft into Tehran office buildings.

The most depressing aspect of the whole cartoon affair is not the intolerance for press freedom exhibited throughout Muslim lands. It is the willingness of so many Muslims — even those who would never burn a consulate or threaten a newspaper editor — to scapegoat the West for their own failures. Muslim nations will never make any progress unless they stop focusing on the offenses, real or imagined, visited upon them by the outside world and start looking within for what ails them.

(emphasis added)

Meanwhile, some Brits Get It Too

If this article in the British newspaper The Times has it right, much of the British public is fed up with the Muslim reaction to the cartoons (I found this one myself thank you):

PEOPLE in Britain take a hard line against Muslims protesting violently against supposed insults to their religion, and are gloomy about future relations between Muslims and the rest of the population.

Muslims protested peacefully in Trafalgar Square yesterday. But a Sunday Times-YouGov poll of more than 1,600 people shows widespread public anger about protests earlier this month in Britain and the worldwide uprising in response to Danish cartoons picturing the prophet Muhammad.

The poll shows that 86% of people think the protests were “a gross overreaction”. By 56% to 29% respondents said it was right to publish the cartoons in Denmark and republish them elsewhere.

Earlier this month Muslim protesters in Britain carried placards urging violence and death against those who insult Islam, and celebrating last year’s July 7 London bombings. Asked about those protests, 58% said it made them angry and 76% said the police should have arrested those carrying offensive or provocative banners.

The police and politicians are criticised more generally for not confronting Islamic extremism, with 80% of respondents saying the authorities show too much tolerance of Muslims who urge extreme acts. Two-thirds, 67%, think this is because senior policemen such as Sir Ian Blair, the Metropolitan police commissioner, are too “politically correct”.

Now let's see if this anger turns into action. Don't hold your breath.

Posted by Tom at 8:47 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

The Danish PM Comes Through

The Danish President stands up to Muslim extremists who have used the cartoon issue in an attempt to intimidate Europeans into clamping down on free speech(hat tip NRO). In an interview with Der Spiegel, a German newspaper, Danish Minister President Anders Fogh Rasmussen explains what is really going on:

SPIEGEL: For the first time, your government is at the center of an unimaginable international crisis that spans from northern Africa to southern Asia.

Fogh Rasmussen:These protests are no longer about the 12 caricatures that were published by a free and independent Danish newspaper. Many groups with a vested interest in the Islamic world are now exploiting the situation for their own purposes.

Read the whole thing.

Meanwhile, Others Continue their Appeasement

The Brussels Journal (hat tip again to NRO) has a story about how some European leaders are kowtowing to the Muslim extremists.

Javier Solana, High Representative of the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) and the Secretary-General of both the Council of the European Union (EU) and the Western European Union (WEU), is one of the worst appeasers, and has come under fire recently. The Brussels Journal provides details:

Mr Solana continues his appeasement visit to the Middle East. On Wednesday he met Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak in Cairo. The EU Foreign Policy Coordinator told the press that they discussed measures to ensure that “religious symbols can be protected.” He said: “Such steps could materialise through various mechanisms, maybe inside the new human rights commission created in the UN.

If he's so concerned with protecting religious symbols, he can start with the Star of David, which is regularly trashed by Muslims. The most vile anti-Jewish cartoons are a staple of Arab Middle East propaganda.

It's not just Solana, either

The Socialist MEP and former Danish Prime Minister Poul Nyrup Rasmussen [not to be confused with Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the present Prime Minister] said that the cartoons “lack respect for and knowledge of Islam.” Daniel Cohn-Bendit, the leader of the European Greens, criticized Denmark and Germany for their lack of respect for Islam. Hans Winkler, the Secretary of State for European Affairs in Austria, the current chairman of the EU Council, said that freedom of the press is not absolute and that “religious feelings should not be offended.” Mr Winkler also said Turkey could play an important role in establishing “a positive dialogue with Islam.” Austria is now defending Turkey's EU admission, while it opposed it in the past.

But the reason why we have freedom of speech is so that we can say anything we want, whether it offends anyone else or not, as long as it is not slanderous or libelous. We do not have a First Amendment in this country so that we can discuss how to fund Social Security. We have it so that we can say whatever we want (above caveats apply).

I warned the other day about a "press code of conduct" that was being floated as a trial balloon in Europe. While some, like the Danish President, understand the threat and how to face it, others clearly do not.

Posted by Tom at 8:13 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 16, 2006

The "Cartoon Intifada" Intimidation Spreads to the UN

The United Nations, believe it or not, is in the midst of overhauling it's Commission on Human Rights. Unfortunately, it's hit a little snag

A drive by a bloc of Islamic nations for a global ban on "defamation of religions and prophets" has thrown a major kink into U.S. hopes for an overhaul of the leading U.N. human rights body.

The proposal by the 57-nation Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), floated last week amid violent protests over the publication in Europe of cartoons mocking the prophet Muhammad, came as U.N. delegates were trying to negotiate the charter for a new Human Rights Council.

"It's a giant monkey wrench in the process, and that is what it was designed to be," said Hillel C. Neuer, executive director of the Geneva-based United Nations Watch, a watchdog group that has closely followed the talks.

"To include this in the charter, just as an appeasement to violence, would taint the body before it even began," he said.

I told you the reaction to the cartoons was all about intimidation here and here.

The entire affair is an attempt to intimidate the West into making concessions to radical Islam, and what's happening in the UN is only the latest example.

FYI if you're not completely familiar with what what I call the "Cartoon Intifada" a great summary can be found at The Foreigner in Formosa, the latest addition to my blogroll.

As for the OIC, go to their website and check them out. Their site doesn't allow for permalinks within it, but if you go to "Press Releases" and then down to the one titled "Speech of H.E. Prof. Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, Secretary-General of the Organization of the Islamic conference, before the sixty-first session of the United Nations commission on human rights" here are some gems you'll find:

Islamophobia, which is a new name to an old phenomenon, has been recently brought to the forth after the criminal, evil and tragic events of 9/11. Although these horrendous atrocities received a swift and unanimous condemnation by the OIC, Muslim leaders and scholars throughout the world, the irrational voices of hatred and bigotry were quick to demonize Islam and Muslims. Some Western media fueled the fear of Islam linking it with terrorism.

I can't imagine why anyone would link Islam with terrorism.

I would like to hasten to admit that a gap exists between Islamic teachings as rooted in the creed, and between the practical application of them in some Muslim countries. But whenever there is a departure from these teachings, the reasons are to be found in wrong application.

Maybe so. But what I'm not seeing is any serious attempt to put an end to the problem within Islam, and that is a problem with violence.

While some Governments in the West and elsewhere have been keen to ascertain that the war on terrorism is not directed against Islam or Muslims, the measures that were taken by them, have almost solely targeted Islam and Muslims who bore the brunt of harassment and the denial of their rights and civil liberties.

I can't take it anymore. Listening to this from someone from an Arab Islamic nation is too much.

The Fundamental Problem at the UN

If you want to know what the problem is with the UN Commission on Human Rights, just go it's website and take a look at their membership. Here are some of the current members:

Cuba
Indonesia
Nepal
Nigeria
Pakistan
Saudi Arabia
Sudan
Zimbabwe

Not exactly a list of winners when it comes to human rights. Many good nations are also on the list, but the fact that the above nations are there also makes a joke out of the entire thing.

The editors of National Review have an excellent editorial on reforming this body. Read it. They identify the problem just as I have

The UNCHR's basic problem — which is, come to think of it, also the basic problem of the U.N. — is that it puts liberal democracies side by side with genocidal despotisms as though they were equally legitimate

Their solution is something along the lines of what I have suggested, create an alternative body

Regardless of whether we participate in the new council, it's time to create an alternative. The United States should lead efforts to found a new institution devoted to the protection of human rights, and involving eligibility requirements that would limit member states to genuine liberal democracies.

I agree 100% Let's make it happen, and not be intimidated by radical Islamists who want to limit press freedom through bogus "defamation of religions and prophets" proposals.

Posted by Tom at 7:29 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

February 15, 2006

"Cartoon Intifada" Insanity

It just goes on and on.

Cartoon Protesters Rampage in Pakistan

Thousands rampaged through two cities Tuesday in Pakistan's worst violence against Prophet Muhammad caricatures, burning buildings housing a hotel, banks and a KFC, vandalizing a Citibank and breaking windows at a Holiday Inn and a Pizza Hut.

...
An Associated Press reporter in Lahore saw crowd members who appeared to be orchestrating the attacks, directing protesters — some of whom were carrying containers of kerosene — toward particular targets. The demonstrators also set the provincial government assembly building on fire.

We get the standard explanation in the AP article that many Muslims "regard any depiction of the prophet as blasphemous", and of course reject "explanations that the cartoons have news value and represent free speech."

Worse, according the the article, the situation is getting worse, not better.

From Michelle Malkin's site, a picture of them buring Ronald McDonald

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Ok, now that's going too far.

Why Europe is a Target

The reason Europe is a target is simple; the protesters know they an intimidate them. In Britian they're considering passage of an "Incitement to Religious Hatred" law. Polly Toynbee, writing in the Guardian, explains:

The bill makes criminal "a person who uses threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour". The Lords amendment took out "abusive or insulting" to make hatred of religion a crime only if it was part of a threat. That catches any attempt by the BNP to use "Muslim" as a proxy for race in stirring up hate. Words as a threat to stir hatred against anyone is already a Public Order Act offence.

Alarmingly the bill not only catches anyone who intends to stir up religious hatred. A person "reckless as to whether religious hatred would be stirred up" can also be prosecuted, a stricter catch-all test than under race laws.

What's at stake here is the right to be insulting and cause offence. Many Muslim groups think it will protect their religious sensitivities - and so it will, by shifting the cultural balance away from free speech towards a sanctimonious right to feel offended.

You can download the text of the bill here.

Fortunately it looks like the whole thing is stalled in Parliament.

Of course the radical Muslims see the Brits and others in Europe as weak when they can't even see the real problem; Muslim extemism within their own borders, not racisim. But of course the left sees all problems through the lens if white racism. Heaven forbid they recognise all this for what it is; an attempt by a bunch of Muslim radicals to intimidate governments into granting them special status.

And of course whenever an aggrieved minority screams, the first thing the government ministers do is try to muzzle free speech.

But lest you think this can't happen here in the US of A, we've got our liberals trying to bring back the so-called "fairness doctrine"

"Religon of Peace"

Back to Michelle Malkin's post

The protesters, mostly religious seminary students, chanted "Death to Tony Blair", "Death to Britain" and Death to America" while throwing hundreds of stones at the embassy buildings, smashing many windows... "Insulting the Prophet disgusts us and nuclear energy gives us dignity," the crowd of about 200 people shouted. The West suspects Iran of trying to build nuclear weapons. Cheers erupted when a petrol bomb was thrown over the high wall surrounding the embassy compound in central Tehran. Several other petrol bombs struck the wall and the embassy's main gate. Scuffles broke out between the protesters and dozens of riot police trying to prevent the crowd from surging towards the embassy gates.

Stones and firecrackers were thrown at the nearby German embassy by a smaller crowd of protesters earlier on Tuesday. "Europe, Europe this is the last warning. Mohammad is the Prophet of compassion, America is the cause of all misery," the crowd of about 50 chanted outside the German embassy.

To be sure, it's only a crowd of 50. But that's 50 too many in a country in which these things don't happen without government approval.

The Real Problem

The problem is not within the West, as Tony Blair seems to think with his "Incitement to Religious Hatred" law. Passing "speech codes" will not solve the problem, because the problem is not incitement to religious hatred.

Christians do not riot when "artists" make fun of us

If Jews were prone to rioting when someone made fun of their religion they'd get nothing else done.

No, the problem is that Islam has never been brought into the modern world. There has never been a Muslim Martin Luther. They've never had an Enlightenment, a Renaissanc,e or a Reformation. The concept of a secular society is alien to them.

Mustafa Kemal Ataturk brought the Ottoman Empire into the modern world kicking and screaming after the First World War, and in the process renamed it Turkey. Unfortunately, that model won't work in the Arab world, where it is my understanding that he is not thought of well.

Gamel Adbul Nasser tried to bring Egypt into the modern world, and with it the other Arab nations, with his pan-Arabism. It didn't work.

Various Ba'athist parties have tried it also, and all have turned their nations into miserable dictatorships.

Perhaps the only method is to do it by force, which is what we are attempting in Iraq. It's not so much a democracy we are building, although voting is certainly part of it. It's all those attitudes that we consider "modern". It's a big goal, and a huge task. The jury is still out on whether we will succeed.

In the meantime, we will face more such challenges. But as General Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson reminded us so long ago

Never take council of your fears

The key word as Jackson would have explained is not "fear", for their is much to fear in this world. The key is "council", for we must not let our fears paralize our thinking, and limit our strategic options.

We can eventually put an end to these sorts of uprisings, or "intifadas", but we will not do so by passing hate crime laws. It will be by changing the face of the Middle East.

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

A New Legacy for the Clinton Administration

It's bad enough that Bill Clinton disgraced the presidency with the Monika Lewinsky affair, and that Al Gore essentially helped him get away with it. Of course, what did we expect from someone like Bill Clinton, who went on MTV in 1992 and entertained a question on what type of underwear he wore.

All this was bad enough. But now he, and his ex-vice-president have given us another legacy, one that harms our country much more.

As everyone knows, once again Al Gore has slandered his country. Worse, he did it overseas, in Saudi Arabia

Former Vice President Al Gore told a mainly Saudi audience on Sunday that the U.S. government committed "terrible abuses" against Arabs after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, and that most Americans did not support such treatment.

Gore said Arabs had been "indiscriminately rounded up" and held in "unforgivable" conditions. The former vice president said the Bush administration was playing into al-Qaida's hands by routinely blocking Saudi visa applications.

and also

Gore told the largely Saudi audience, many of them educated at U.S. universities, that Arabs in the United States had been "indiscriminately rounded up, often on minor charges of overstaying a visa or not having a green card in proper order, and held in conditions that were just unforgivable."

"Unfortunately there have been terrible abuses and it's wrong," Gore said. "I do want you to know that it does not represent the desires or wishes or feelings of the majority of the citizens of my country."

Bill Clinton also keeps himself in the news quite a bit, most recently at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

The Way it Used to Be

It used to be that when someone left the presidency, they did not criticize the person who followed them. They stayed out of politics and went about their personal lives. George HW Bush did not criticize Clinton, Reagan did not critize GHW Bush, Carter did not criticize Reagan (only later did he come unglued), and so on at least through the end of World War II.

To be sure, sometimes ex-vice-presidents wanted to run for the presidency, and they stayed involved. But even then they practiced some restraint.

The New Legacy - for the Worse

Al Gore has gone so far overboard so many times these past few years as to set new records for inflamatory rhetoric. His latest outburst can only help our enemies.

Bill Clinton, ever the narcisstic personality who needs media attention to survive, cannot fade away as he should.

The shame is on them. The legacy is one more harmful one that we'll have to deal with.

Posted by Tom at 8:33 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 12, 2006

Book Review: "Mere Christianity"

It is perhaps fitting that I write about Christianity in the face of the "Cartoon Intifada" that is sweeping much of Europe and the Middle East. Not because is is a religious war, for it isn't, but just because too many in the west are bending over backwards to apologize for our own freedoms.

CS Lewis(1998 - 1963) offers no apologies in Mere Christianity. He lays out a strong defense of Christianity in a calm, logical, step-by-step fashion. In what is perhaps the most widely quoted part of the book, Lewis lays out the question of who Jesus was in a very straightforward fashion:

I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: 'I'm ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don't accept His claim to be God.' That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic - on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg - or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronising nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.

Now that's tough stuff. Lewis pulls no punches.

Mere Christianity was originally a series of radio broadcasts made during the Second World War, and put into book form in 1952. Each chapter was from a separate broadcast, and reads like someone talking. Lewis considered rewriting the transcrips so they read more like a book, but decided to leave them in their original format. For most mortals this might have resulted in an almost unreadable text, because Lewis is so articulate, he pulls it off.

Lewis was an atheist for the early part of his life, converting in 1931. He relates his many arguments against Christianity, and how he eventually realized that they were all illogical. After a long and intense thought process, his reasoning led him to the conclusion that Christianity was the Truth.

Lest anyone be disuaded by all this talk of logical process, be assured that the book is eminently readable. Each chapter is fairly short, and Lewis uses lots of examples from everyday life to make his points.

CS Lewis, is also, of course, the author of the Chronicles of Narnia, one book of which, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, is currently at the movie theaters. I have not seen the movie, but will probably wait for it to come out on DVD.

Interestingly, Lewis was a close friend of J.J.R. Tolkien, author of The Lord of the Rings series. Tolkien helped persuade Lewis of the truth of Christianity, and Lewis encouraged Tolkien to finish The Lord of the Rings at a time when the latter was discouraged by the magnitude of the work he had taken on.

Mere Christianity is recommended for everyone, Christian or not. If already a believer, it will strengthen your faith. If not, it will force you to reconsider your position.

Posted by Tom at 11:35 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

February 11, 2006

Behind the Scenes

Earlier this week President Bush announced that we had stopped a 2002 plot by al Qaeda to fly an airliner into a skyscraper in Los Angeles. CNN reports on the President's speech:

He said that Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the alleged mastermind of the September 11 attacks who was captured in 2003, had already begun planning the West Coast operation in October, just after the September 11, 2001, attacks. One of Mohammed's key planners was Hambali, the alleged operations chief of the al Qaeda related terrorist group Jemaah Islamiyah. Instead of recruiting Arab hijackers, Hambali found Southeast Asian men who would be less likely to arouse suspicion and who were sent to meet with Osama bin Laden, Bush said.

Under the plot, the hijackers were to use shoe bombs to blow open the cockpit door of a commercial jetliner, take control of the plane and crash it into the Library Tower in Los Angeles, since renamed the US Bank Tower, Bush said.

The only details that we learned from the President was when he said that

"subsequent debriefings and other intelligence operations" after the arrest of the unnamed operative led to information about the plot, and to the capture of other ringleaders and operatives involved in it. Hambali, for instance, was captured in Thailand in 2003 and handed over to the United States.

"It took the combined efforts of several countries to break up this plot," the president said. "By working together, we took dangerous terrorists off the streets. By working together, we stopped a catastrophic attack on our homeland."



The only surprise is that anyone would be surprised by this. Of course we're foiling terrorist attacks, and in the process capturing or killing the bad guys. Unfortunately some people in this country seem to need to be reminded of this occasionally, like when they think that the road to political glory is to attack the president over methods of gathering intelligence.

Anyone who wants to learn more about what we've done need only read Richard Miniter's excellent book Shadow War: The Untold Story of How Bush is Winning the War on Terror.

However, my purpose here is not to relate stories of our successes. What I'd like to do is take a peek behind the scenes at some events that occured during the Cold War that are relevant to what is happening today.


The Media Darling

In 1949 the FBI arrested Judith Coplon on charges of espionage, specifically of spying for the Soviet Union. Coplon had been employed at the Foreign Agents Registration section of the Department of Justice, where she had access to classified information. Suspicious agents planted bogus documents for her, which she tried to pass to Valentin Gubitchev, a KGB agent. The FBI arrested her as she met Gubitchev and tried to pass him the documents.

At her trial the government would not say exactly how they first discovered that she was a spy, only that their information came from a "confidential informant". In 1950 she was tried and convicted in two trials, one for espionage and the other for conspiracy. However, both were overturned on technicalities.

She was never retried, althogh no serious person then or how has doubt about her guilt.

The entire affair turned into a something of a circus. Coplon was young and attractive, which no doubt garnered her some sympathy in the press. Her attorney used a number of antics to string out the trial and try and embarass the government. The government was accused of any number of illegalities. In the end, however, the evidence against her was overwhelming. She had, after all, been caught in the act of passing documents to a KGB agent.

What Really Happened?

The reality is that the FBI found out that Coplon was a spy because from 1942 - 1945 we had partially broken the Soviet diplomatic code ahnd were reading parts of some of the messages that they sent from their embassy in Washington DC to the Soviet Union.

It was called the Venona project. During Venona we decripted all of parts of some 3000 messages. In one of them the Soviets identified Coplon as one of their agents. They did not use her name directly, but like with everyone else, used code names. Sometimes we could match a code name with a person ("Agent Cardinal is a one armed man who works at the Department of the Treasury"), and sometimes we could not.

The govenment did not want to reveal at Coplon's trial that they had leared she was a spy because we had broken the Soviet diplomatic code. Had they done so her guilt would have been even more apparent.

Likewise with other Soviet agents. We now know that Julius Rosenberg and Alger Hiss were first identified as Soviet Spies because of Venona intercepts. However, at the time the government kept this secret, not wanting to reveal our code-breaking abilities.

Venona was kept a secret until 1995 when it was made public. The Cold War was over, and the rational for secrecy no longer existed.

Do I Have to Spell it Out?

Most all of you reading this will be know the lesson, but for any leftie trolls who happen along here it is:

There is a heck of a lot going on behind the scenes that you don't know about and shouldn't know about that is helping us win the War on Terror. So stop your carping, whining, moaning and complaining!

Yes we are stopping terrorist plots, and yes we are arresting and killing terrorists. Do you think that just because it doesn't appear in the paper it's not happening?

And other things we are doing behind the scenes, such as intercepting telephone calls between al Qaeda suspects in the United States and people abroad, let's keep the secret, ok? How about not blowing them wide open on the front page of the paper just so you can sell a few books or try and make the president look bad? Is that too much to ask?

Thank you for your attention that is all.

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

February 10, 2006

Munich Redux?

In 1938 the British and French appeased Hitler by giving him the Sudenland, a portion of Czechoslovakia where many Germans lived. As we all know, Hitler soon seized the entire country. The dead was done in the city of Munich, where British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain sacrificed freedom for what he hoped would be "peace in our time".

Two days ago I was hopeful that the "Cartoon Intifada" would wake up Europeans who could not see the danger in their midst. It not appears that I may have spoken too soon.

Today's Belmont Club post
has a series of reports that are very disturbing, because, if representative, they show that far from recognizing the danger of Muslim extremism within their countries, they are perhaps repeating the mistakes of Munich.

(all reports below hat tip Wrechard of Belmont Club)

One blog Wrechard cites, Barcepundit, links to a story in the British newspaper The Telegraph. Although he mentions VDH, he may as well have been speaking about yours truely.

I'M AFRAID the esteemed Victor Davis Hanson was a tad too optimistic when he wrote that the cartoon controversy might mean an European awakening against Islamic fascism. Turns out that the European Union is planning a press code of conduct:

Plans for a European press charter committing the media to "prudence" when reporting on Islam and other religions, were unveiled yesterday.

Franco Frattini, the European Union commissioner for justice, freedom and security, revealed the idea for a code of conduct in an interview with The Daily Telegraph. Mr Frattini, a former Italian foreign minister, said the EU faced the "very real problem" of trying to reconcile "two fundamental freedoms, the freedom of expression and the freedom of religion".

Millions of European Muslims felt "humiliated" by the publication of cartoons of Mohammed, he added, calling on journalists and media chiefs to accept that "the exercising of a right is always the assumption of a responsibility". He appealed to European media to agree to "self-regulate".

Accepting such self-regulation would send an important political message to the Muslim world, Mr Frattini said.

Not convincing? Instupundit reports that Sweden is shutting down websites that show the offending cartoons.

As it turns out, in another article (or post) on the Telegraph's website, the author of the story above says that

In today's print edition I reported on plans by Franco Frattini, the EU Commissioner for Justice, Freedom and Security, to bring together European newspapers and media groups, and draw up a voluntary code of conduct, committing editors to "prudence" when reporting Islam and other religions.

Mr Frattini thinks I misconstrued what he said. He has issued a stern press release, putting his side of the story.

Mr Frattini is quoted at length in the article, and in the interests of space I'm not going to reprint all of it. I encourage readers to follow the links and judge for themselves.

Two quotes, I think, from Mr Frattini will suffice

Since September 2005 I am in close contact with various representatives of the media, including the European federation of journalists, on issues linked to freedom of speech. I have offered to facilitate a dialogue between the media representatives and between them and faith leaders if that would be found useful by both parties

...

There have never been, nor will there be any plans by the European Commission to have some sort of EU regulation, nor is there any legal basis for doing so

But it doesn't end there. The reporter, David Rennie, produces the transcript of his interview with Mr Frattini. Again, I'm not going to quote the entire thing, but urge readers to follow the links. Here are the money quotes

So what I believe is that even in this very difficult moment, our first statement should be, freedom of expression should be granted, to everyone. But, in candour, of course violent reactions should be condemned, but that said, if you want to reconcile those two principles, please help me to find the best way.

That is my political approach, it is not a bureaucratic one. If I have to condemn violence, obviously I condemn violence, but that said, after having condemned violence, what should we do? We should do something more, and we should together, journalists and editors, and European institutions address this together, because it is a matter of fact that this publication inflamed a very difficult situation in the Middle East.

...

The Commission probably has to play a role as a facilitator, as an encouraging body, because freedom of expression is a private matter. Each and every journalist has the right to improve his or her capacity of expressing freedom. I do not see at all a [formal Commission] communication on this. I see a possible political result, for example, a European Deontologic Charter, approved by the press itself, with the facilitating role of the Commission.

...
I would like to see a European project, a European media project concerning exactly the application of exercising the right of expression. The exercising of a right is always the assumption of a responsibility."

Q: would this charter have banned the first publication in the Danish press?
Frattini: "In this very moment, no. But in this very moment, immediately after the victory of Hamas, in the middle of a very difficult negotiation with Iran to persuade Iran to renounce the enrichment of uranium, in this very moment, if you are going to take that very important decision [to republish], please, are you going to reflect on what kind of consequences will follow from offending the Muslim religion

I'll give Frattini this, he speaks carefully. He does everything but come right out and say he wants to limit freedom of the press. He left himself just enough wiggle room that he could deny what he had implied. Bill Clinton was pretty good at this also. Both would do well at the UN.

Wrechard's take on Mr Frattini's comments is not that he is on the verge of imposing government censorship, but that he is sending a message to the press, "we cannot protect you and you will have to look out for yourselves". In other words, play ball or suffer the consequences.

Let's hope we don't have another "Munich 1938" taking place before our eyes.

In the meantime, my new motto is "Buy Danish"!

Posted by Tom at 8:12 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 8, 2006

Will Europe Wake Up?

I'm wondering if much of Western Europe will soon wake up from their current slumber. Consider what's happened these past three years:

1. Theo van Gogh murdered by a Muslim terrorist
2. Dutch politicians such as Ayaan Hirsi Ali, forced to go into hiding or live under police protection after threats by Muslim extremists
3. The Madrid metro bombed by Al Qaeda
4. The London subways bombed by Al Qaeda
5. Riots in France by Muslim immigrants
6. The current "cartoon infidata"

Europeans have reacted in various ways to each of the above. The Spanish reacted by attempting to appease the terrorists. The French pretended they didn't have a problem. But it seems to me that there is a growing recognition on the other side of the pond that they face a real danger. I believe that the current rioting over the cartoons published six months ago in Danish newspapers might prove to be the last straw.

Why not Appease Them?

The reaction to the current rioting hasn't been completely solid. A few newspapers in France and Germany have republished the caroons to show their committment to freedom of the press. In the United States, the only one to do was is the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Tony Blankley, editorial page editor of the Washington Times, says that four reasons are usually provided by those who advise against reprinting the cartoons:

1) just because one has the right to speak doesn't mean one must;

2) restraint is often exercised, particularly when being respectful of other religions or cultures;

3) tensions are particularly high among Muslims now;

4) only a madman, or, if there is a difference, those who want to instigate the "clash of civilizations" would pour gasoline on that already raging fire.

This seems to make sense on the surface, but as he points out "That argument would be not only plausible, but persuasive, if the cause of the violent Muslim reaction to the cartoons was merely a transitory phenomenon -- a brief, spontaneous, bizarre overreaction."

Exactly.

It's not a "Double Standard"

Blankley points to a Muslim who sees exactly what the danger is:

Hirsi Ali, the black, Muslim, female co-producer of assassinated Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh, talked about Western journalists to Der Spiegel this week, while in hiding: "They probably feel numb. On the one hand, a voice in their heads is encouraging them not to sell out their freedom of speech. At the same time, they're experiencing the shocking sensation of what it's like to lose your own personal freedom. One mustn't forget that they're part of the postwar generation, and that all they've experienced is peace and prosperity. And now they suddenly have to fight for their own human rights once again."

"The [Islamists] call Jews and Christians inferior, and we say they're just exercising their freedom of speech... Islamists don't allow their critics the same rights... After the West prostrates itself, the [Islamists] will be more than happy to say that Allah has made the infidels spineless."

The point is that when people say the Muslims "have a double standard", they are missing the point. To the Muslims it isn't a double standad; they believe that sharia law should rule the world. Christianity, Judaism, and all other religions are to be subjugated to Islam. Everyone but Muslims get second-class status. Western democracy is to be subverted and eventually overthrown.

No not all Muslims think this way. Yes I know that many or even most Muslims are good decent people. But if that's where you end you are missing the boat, because it doesn't take a majority to decide matters, just a determined minority. Just ask Lenin.

The Washington Times agrees, and points out that the Muslims who object to the Danish cartoons stirring up riots are not interested in our "tolerance", but rather

They wanted to create a groundswell of discontent among Muslims in Europe, put pressure on Denmark -- and other nations -- to abide by sharia law and to build a sympathetic base for further terrorist attacks. The placards of British Muslims, demanding more "7/7s," a reference to the London subway bombings on July 7, went straight to the point of the clerics' Middle East tour. This was an exercise in agitprop to further the goals of Islamofascism, and it worked

What We Must Do

What we must not do is blather on about "now is the time for restraint by the press", or "with freedom of the press comes responsibility". Yes yes we know all that. But what we must do is react strongly to reassure newspapers that what they need not fear intimidation by murderous fanatics.

We can't do it alone, we need our European friends to help us out. But we are all in this together, and it is my hope, and cautious prediction, that (most of) the Europeans will finally see the light. The Times points out that

An awakened Europe, after all, is exactly what the United States has been waiting for -- reinforcements in the war against the terrorists
.

Of course, it's not really a desire for "more troops" to help us fight, or at least that's not all of it. As much as we've had policy differences with some Europeans over the years, between the lot of us we are still the best the world has to offer, and we'd best preserve our nations and our cultures.

Posted by Tom at 9:50 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Tagged by Landry Fan

I'm it. Landry Fan has tagged me. It's a list of fours, and here are mine (none of the answers are necessarily in order)

1 Jobs I Have Held In My Life

1. Sales
2. Public School Teacheer
3. Corporate Trainer
4. Consumer Electronics data classification

2 Places I Have Lived:

1. Virginia
2. Missouri
3. Virginia again
4. Kansas

3 TV Shows I Love To Watch:

1. Whatever is on the History Channel
2. Whatever is on any of the Discovery Channels
3. Whatever is on Fox News
4. Uh...whatever else looks interesting when I channel scan. My TV watching can be measured in minutes per week, actually.

4 Places I Have Been On Vacation:

1. Orlando
2. Ireland
3. Greece
4. Russia

5 Websites I Visit Daily:

1. Free Republic
2. Strategy Page
3. Belmont Club
4. National Review

6 Favorite Foods:

1. Fruit
2. Vegetables
3. Cheeze and crackers
4. dunno....granola bars?

Ok! OK! I admit it, I'm one of those fitness and health nuts.

7 Places I Would Rather Be Right Now:

1. Home works for me
2. Walter Reed
3. Counter-protesting lefties anywhere
4. Vacation in Europe or some exotic location

Posted by Tom at 8:55 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 6, 2006

McCain Slaps Obama

I'm generally not a fan of John McCain, but sometimes he does come through. When he does, it's usually in a big way.

A friend of mine sent this letter to me, and it was so strong that I had to go check it out to make sure it wasn't a hoax.

But sure enough, there on John McCain's official Senate website, there it was. Read an enjoy:

For Immediate Release
Monday, Feb 06, 2006

Washington D.C. ­– Today, Senator McCain sent the following letter to Senator Obama regarding ongoing Congressional efforts towards bipartisan lobbying reform. The following is the text from that letter:


February 6, 2006

The Honorable Barack Obama

United States Senate

SH-713

Washington, DC 20510


Dear Senator Obama:

I would like to apologize to you for assuming that your private assurances to me regarding your desire to cooperate in our efforts to negotiate bipartisan lobbying reform legislation were sincere. When you approached me and insisted that despite your leadership’s preference to use the issue to gain a political advantage in the 2006 elections, you were personally committed to achieving a result that would reflect credit on the entire Senate and offer the country a better example of political leadership, I concluded your professed concern for the institution and the public interest was genuine and admirable. Thank you for disabusing me of such notions with your letter to me dated February 2, 2006, which explained your decision to withdraw from our bipartisan discussions. I’m embarrassed to admit that after all these years in politics I failed to interpret your previous assurances as typical rhetorical gloss routinely used in politics to make self-interested partisan posturing appear more noble. Again, sorry for the confusion, but please be assured I won’t make the same mistake again.

As you know, the Majority Leader has asked Chairman Collins to hold hearings and mark up a bill for floor consideration in early March. I fully support such timely action and I am confident that, together with Senator Lieberman, the Committee on Governmental Affairs will report out a meaningful, bipartisan bill.

You commented in your letter about my “interest in creating a task force to further study” this issue, as if to suggest I support delaying the consideration of much-needed reforms rather than allowing the committees of jurisdiction to hold hearings on the matter. Nothing could be further from the truth. The timely findings of a bipartisan working group could be very helpful to the committee in formulating legislation that will be reported to the full Senate. Since you are new to the Senate, you may not be aware of the fact that I have always supported fully the regular committee and legislative process in the Senate, and routinely urge Committee Chairmen to hold hearings on important issues. In fact, I urged Senator Collins to schedule a hearing upon the Senate’s return in January.

Furthermore, I have consistently maintained that any lobbying reform proposal be bipartisan. The bill Senators Joe Lieberman and Bill Nelson and I have introduced is evidence of that commitment as is my insistence that members of both parties be included in meetings to develop the legislation that will ultimately be considered on the Senate floor. As I explained in a recent letter to Senator Reid, and have publicly said many times, the American people do not see this as just a Republican problem or just a Democratic problem. They see it as yet another run-of-the-mill Washington scandal, and they expect it will generate just another round of partisan gamesmanship and posturing. Senator Lieberman and I, and many other members of this body, hope to exceed the public’s low expectations. We view this as an opportunity to bring transparency and accountability to the Congress, and, most importantly, to show the public that both parties will work together to address our failings.

As I noted, I initially believed you shared that goal. But I understand how important the opportunity to lead your party’s effort to exploit this issue must seem to a freshman Senator, and I hold no hard feelings over your earlier disingenuousness. Again, I have been around long enough to appreciate that in politics the public interest isn’t always a priority for every one of us. Good luck to you, Senator.

Sincerely,

John McCain

United States Senate

As I said, when McCain is wrong, he's wrong, and often in a big way. His fixation on "soft money" and campaign finance reform is the best example.

But when he's right, he's also often right in a big way. He is right that lobbying reform is an important issue that needs to be addressed, and that politicians that don't come through need to be held accountable. And that means both parties. The Republicans in the house recently elected a new majority leader, and if they don't come through with internal reforms I'll be disappointed in them, too.

Tuesday Morning Update

I've checked Senator Obama's website, but can't find any direct response to McCain's letter. There is a letter on ethics reform dated Feb 2, but posted Feb 6. The title of that section (not the letter) is "Sen. Obama and Sen. McCain Exchange Letters on Ethics Reform" but that's it.

Instapundit says that Obama's letter is a reply, but why then is it dated Feb 2? Perhaps it is a typo.

Update

The Washington Times provides some context:

Mr. Obama, the senator from Arizona said, had pledged privately to support the bipartisan reform plan that Mr. McCain and Sen. Joe Lieberman are trying to push through Congress. But on Thursday, Mr. Obama announced in a letter to Mr. McCain that he will support a Democrat-only lobbying-reform bill after all. In an uncommonly harsh response, Mr. McCain called out the junior senator from Illinois for playing politics (which is, of course, what Congress is all about).

Posted by Tom at 9:52 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

What Republican Theocracy?

This past Friday morning as I was driving to work I saw a pickup that had a sign on the back that said:

Stop The Republican Theocracy!

It was maybe a foot square, perhaps 18", and appeared to be one of those magnetically attached things.

I noticed he also had a personalized licence plate. It said:

NOGODGV

Oh how clever.

I'm not going to rant against the driver, or anyone who would put something like that on their car. It would be pointless and the driver (a man) was obviously in moonbatland, so why bother.

But I've seen this before, that Bush and the Republicans are trying to create a theocracy. And there's one think I've always wondered:

What in the world are they talking about?

"Bush lied!" I get. same with "Stop the illegal war!" the latest, "Bush ordered illegal domestic spying!" I may disagee, but I know what who make these charges are referring to.

But when I hear "Stop the Republican Theocracy!" I don't even know what they're talking about. Because from where I sit, we're moving farther and father away from a theocracy, not towards it.

Half of me says that because the charge that Bush is creating a theocracy is so kooky, I shouldn't even bother with this post. On the other hand, because I don't even know what they're talking about, I'm going to delve into it for a bit.

Defining our Terms

Before we can figure out what these people are talking about when they say they think that George Bush is moving us towards a theocracy, we need to figure out what one is.

Merriam-Webster defines it this way:

1 : government of a state by immediate divine guidance or by officials who are regarded as divinely guided 2 : a state governed by a theocracy


Answers.com
repeats 1 &2 above, and adds under the heading "Politics"

A nation or state in which the clergy exercise political power and in which religious law is dominant over civil law. Iran led by the Ayatollah Khomeini was a theocracy under the Islamic clergy. (See Islam.)

The noun theocracy has 2 meanings:

Meaning #1: a political unit governed by a deity (or by officials thought to be divinely guided)

Meaning #2: the belief in government by divine guidance

Meaning #1:
kinds of theocracy:

* church-state — a state ruled by religious authority

Meaning #2:
theocracy is a kind of:

* political orientation, ideology, political theory — an orientation that characterizes the thinking of a group or nation

Wikipedia weighs in:

The term theocracy is commonly used to describe a form of government in which a religion or faith plays the dominant role. Properly speaking, it refers to a form of government in which the organs of the religious sphere replace or dominate the organs of the political sphere. The word theocracy originates from the Greek words θεος (theos), “god” and κρατειν (kratein), “to rule”. The term means “rule by God”.

In the most common usage of the term theocracy, some civil rulers are leaders of the dominant religion (e.g., the Byzantine emperor as head of the Church); governmental policies are either identical with, or strongly influenced by, the principles of a religion (often the majority religion), and typically; the government claims to rule on behalf of God or a higher power, as specified by the local religion.

...
Theocracy and ecclesiocracy should be distinguished from governments that are influenced by religious concepts, or in which religious believers have positions of power gained by political means. An ecclesiocracy or theocracy is rule by the hierarchy of a specific church or sect, not simply a government influenced by religious concepts.

There's more, of course, but I think you get the point. And while people may wish to quibble over details, I think the definitions above are as good as any. So now that we know what a theocracy is, let's move on.

A Top-Down Imposition?

I think to myself, "What has George Bush done that might convince someone he's trying to create a theocracy?"

He's made it known he's a devout Christian, but that hardly fits in with the definitions above. Further, I see very few expressions of faith from his top advisors. Besides, both Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton engaged in more "God-talk" than George Bush. Clinton had ministers to the White House to pray with him during the Monika Lewinski affair, and made a point to carry a large bible with him everytime he went to church. As for Carter, well, we know about him.

So if you're going to try and tell me that "God talk" is dangerous, a threat to our democracy, and a sign of coming theocracy, get prepared for me to laugh at you. And when I'm done laughing, I'll ask you why such talk coming from the left doesn't count.

How about government programs? Well, there are a few faith based programs. The White House has an Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, and the Department of Labor a Center for Faith-Based & Community Initiatives, which basically allows religious groups to bid on an equal footing with other groups for government contracts and grants. The services to be provided are for things like prisoner re-entry help programs, disaster relief, and the like. I hardly see where this is creating a theocracy.

The State of America

Let's take a look around our nation and see what we find.

I don't see a whole lot of evidence that religion exists in this country in the public square. No crosses or Ten Commandments allowed in government buildings or most business establishments. The ACLU is everywhere successful in having these items removed from all government offices and schools.

If you read any history textbook commonly in use in our public schools you'll find little evidence for religion in this country. You'd hardly guess at the important role it played in shaping the views and politics of many great Americans, from the founders to the present day. I remember back when I was a public school teacher (7th grade) and while the history book devoted almost three pages to Martin Luther King Jr, the only reference to his Christianity was a brief mention that he had been a member of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

I also read that our local Victoria's Secret store in Tyson's Corner Virginia has set up mannequins in highly sexually explicit poses. A few articles were written, a few religious leaders complained, but as usual no one does anything, as everyone knows a boycot would fizzle.

Television? The movies? I watch little of it these days, but have in the past, and I'm sure that what's on the networks during prime time hasn't changed much. The bottom line is that I don't see much evidence to suggest that Christians are trying to take over the country through propaganda being spread through the mass media.

I also see millions of Americans who go to church regularly, and I'm sure pray regularly also. Some are more involved in church affairs than others, but they all believe in God. Some are Republicans, some Democrats. Some are conservative and some liberal. Few, however, want to bring their religion to work in any overt fashion.

I also see people for whom religion and God are nonexistant in their lives. To some religion is invisible, and to others, like our pickup driver above, see it as a hostile force.

Bottom line is that I look around our country and see the militant secularists (or whatever we want to call them) as winning most of the battles. If there's a coming theocracy, it's pretty far underground.

The Clergy in Politics

One way, perhaps, to determine if we're headed towards theocracy is to see whether a high number of clergymen were entering politics with an aim to creating a government based on religion.

The Republicans have...no one. Pat Robertson ran for the GOP nomination in 1988 but didn't get very far. His 700 Club commands a large audience, to be sure, and I've no doubt that several Republcan Congressmen regard him as their friend and perhaps a political confidant.

But anyone who has observed the national political scene over the past 10 - 15 years, and who is not completely blinded by anti-Bush hatred, will have to admit that the religious right lost, not gained, influence. Robertson and Falwell are denounced regluarly by mainstream conservative pundits. Falwell may make an appearance at a GOP National Convention, but he is kept far from the podium.

And what of the Democrats? Well, we have the Rev Jesse Jackson and the Rev Al Sharpton, for starters. I also seem to recall more than a few black ministers who served in Congress, but I don't have time to research that right now. And, of course, the leadership of several mainstream protestant churches, such as the Episcopalians and the Presbyterians (PCUSA) are very left wing.

But I don't want to get into a pissing match over "who has more ministers". The point is that people of faith are found among conservatives and liberals, and a few participate in or comment on politics. This, too, hardly constitutes a theocracy. The bottom line is that there is a religious left, just as their is a religious right. Unfortuantely, the religious left doesn't get talked about enough. But having come from a Presbyterian background, I assure you it's alive and well.

Religion as a Source of Morality

One thing, I think, is that some people just don't like it when Christians say that they get their morality from the Bible. Note that I said "Christian", because it only seems to be applied in force to the dominant religion in this country. In the 2000 presidential election campaign, Joe Lieberman talked about God quite often, and didn't pay any price for it. If a Christian Republican had done that the left would have gone bonkers.

So the standard in this country seems to be this: if you're on the right, you can't say that the source of your morality and political beliefs is from the Bible. But if you're on the left you can say that you get your morality and political beliefs from the Bible, any other religious text, or from a secular source. I just don't see where liberals get upset when left-wing religious leaders issue political pronouncements, as the Presbyterian Church USA does quite often (and here).

So What Do they Mean?

Ok, I give up. Time for some reasearch, because for the life of me I don't see any evidence of a theocracy.

Byron York took this issue up in his 2005 book The Vast Left Wing Conspiracy.

Left-wing authors, York says, have been writing about this for years.

Recently, however, Mark Crispin York has recently become one of the most influential proponents of this view. His monologue/play, A Patriot Act(available on DVD), is apparently influential in far-left circles.

The short version of Miller's thesis seems to be that any reference to religion at all from a conservative (liberals get a free ride) is evidence of a coming theocracy. But don't believe me, go visit his website yourself. It's pretty kooky, in his latest post he claims that the Pentagon is trying to censor the Washington Post for the crime of writing a letter complaining about a recent political cartoon by Tom Toles. Yeah ok.

Otherwise, York says, there's the Chalcedon Foundation which is supposed to be at the center of the Republican theocratic movement. While even a brief visit to their site is enough to convince me that they are indeed theocrats, you'd have to be in moonbatland to think that they have any real influence in conservative circles.

There's also some group called the Ahmansan Foundation who is supposed to be influential, but ditto for them what I said about Chalcedon.

Hmmm. So far, no theocracy.

Let's try Google

Ok, let's play with Google for a bit and see what we can find. maybe we can find evidence of a coming Republican theocracy here. I'll look for organizations, not just individual bloggers.

Here's one: Source Watch. They have a page on "The Bush Theocracy" that bears an uncally resemblance to Wikipedia.

Their biggest piece of "evidence" seems to a quote from Alan M. Dershowitz:

"The very first act of the new Bush administration was to have a Protestant Evangelist minister officially dedicate the inauguration to Jesus Christ, whom he declared to be 'our savior.' Invoking 'the Father, the Son, the Lord Jesus Christ' and 'the Holy Spirit,' Billy Graham's son, the man selected by President George W. Bush to bless his presidency, excluded the tens of millions of Americans who are Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Shintoists, Unitarians, agnostics, and atheists from his blessing by his particularistic and parochial language.

"The plain message conveyed by the new administration is that George W. Bush's America is a Christian nation and that non-Christians are welcome into the tent so long as they agree to accept their status as a tolerated minority rather than as fully equal citizens. In effect, Bush is saying: 'This is our home, and in our home we pray to Jesus as our savior. If you want to be a guest in our home, you must accept the way we pray.'"

Apparently all those times Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter went to church while they were president didn't have the same effect.

Then there's "Theocracy Watch", another group of lovelies convinced that we are following Iran into religious hell.

Among other bits of evidence, Theocracy Watch tells us that "One way to measure the political strength of dominionists is to study voting patterns of members of Congress." According to them, a vote in favor of House bill HR 2123 is a vote in favor of theocracy. The bill itself states as its purpose that this "Amendment exempts religious corporations, associations, educational institutions, or societies from certain nondiscrimination provisions of the bill." In other words, a church that applies for a DOL contract does not have to hire Muslims and Buddists. Normally, government contractors are subject to all manner of rules and regulations. Theocracy Watch, predictably, misrepresents the bill entirely.

Other than that there's all sorts of whack stuff out there. But I'm still no closer to an answer now than I was at the beginning. So when people say that Georeg W Bush and the Republicans are trying to creat a theocracy in the United States, what in the world are they talking about?

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

February 4, 2006

Iraqi War Heroes - Captain Furat Update

Captain Furat, wounded Iraqi war hero in his country's fight against the terrorists, will be treated pro bono at Atlanta's Shepherd Center. Maya Alleruzzo, who was along side him as he fought the terrorist insurgents in Iraq, reports the good news in today's Washington Times.

"Captain Furat", a nom de guerre to protect his real identity, was paralized from the waist down by a bullet in an attack by terrorists as he visited his family this past Christmas Day. The Shepherd Center specializes in treating people with spinal cord injuries.

I reported about Captain Furat a few weeks ago here and here. go back and reread those posts if you didn't do so the first time.

Captain Furat is one of a new generation of Iraqis, trained and supported by our military, that is taking the fight to the enemy, and doing so boldly and without hesitation. Furat, a decorated soldier, won the admiration and respect of Americans and Iraqis alike. My prayers are with him as he continues his fight.

Maya Alleruzzo has been kind enough to send me the front page of today's Washington Times as a pdf file. It's in color an everything, just like the actual paper. You can download it Download file">here.

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

February 3, 2006

Iraq War Fallacies VII

Karl Zinsmeister, editor of the American Enterprise Online, has a must-read piece about Iraq called Facts vs. Fiction: A Report from the Front (hat tip Instapundit)

Your editor has just returned from another month in Iraq—my fourth extended tour in the last two and a half years. During November and December I joined numerous American combat operations, including the largest air assault since the beginning of the war, walked miles of streets and roads, entered scores of homes, listened to hundreds of Iraqis, observed voting at a dozen different polling sites, and endured my third roadside ambush. With this latest firsthand experience, here are answers to some common queries about how the war is faring.

The article is done in the form of a Q & A. Following are some of the questions, some of his answers, and my observations, but be sure and read the whole thing.

Has the Iraq war been too costly?

Zinsmeister's short answer is "no". He points out that compared to other wars it's been pretty inexpensive, both in dollars and lives. This is little consolation to families who have lost loved ones, certainly. In the face of a daily leftist assault about how "costly" the war is, however, it needs repeating. I covered this also in a previous post in which I preprinted a chart from NRO showing the cost of all American wars.

But aren’t our losses mounting?

In the last ten months of 2003, Iraq hostilities claimed 324 U.S. service members. In 2004, 710 were lost. In 2005, total fatalities were 712. Troops wounded in action are down from 7,920 in 2004 to 5,961 in 2005.

Deaths of foreign civilians in Iraq have also tumbled: In 2004, 196 were killed. In 2005 the toll was 104

.

John Kerry recently claimed U.S. soldiers are “terrorizing” Iraqis. The #2 Democrat in the Senate, Richard Durbin, compared American fighters to “Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime—Pol Pot or others—that had no concern for human beings.” Ted Kennedy suggested G.I.s torture like Saddam Hussein. What have you observed?

None of the above. I mostly see soldiers fighting with startling care and commitment. Take, for instance, Staff Sergeant Jamie McIntyre of Queens, New York, who recently had this to say:

“I look at faces and see fellow human beings, and I say, ‘O.K. This is the sacrifice I have to make to bring them freedom.’ That’s why I joined the military. Not for the college money, for doing what’s right. Fighting under our flag. That’s what our flag stands for. I believe in that stuff. Yeah, we might lose American soldiers, but they are going to lose a society, lose a people. You’ve got to look at the bigger picture. I’ve lost friends, and it hurts. It definitely hurts. But that’s even more reason why I say stay. It’s something that has to be done. If we don’t do it, who will?”

The war critics seem determined to ignore this sort of reporting. A few weeks ago author and reporter Robert Kaplan said that he's "only met two kinds of soldiers in the combat arms community: Those who have served in Iraq and/or Afghanistan, and those who are pulling every bureaucratic string to get deployed there."

Yes there are veterans who oppose the war, and some have formed their own organizations, as a quick search on google shows. I've even met one outside of Walter Reed (he was with the Pinkos. He hasn't showed up recently). But anyone who takes a serious look at the situation can only conclude that the vast majority of those who have and are fighting in Iraq believe that we are doing better than the way most of the media portray it.

Progress does seem dreadfully slow.

It is. Defanging the Middle East is a vast undertaking. But again, wars have never been easy or antiseptic. Even after the hostilities of World War II were over, the U.S. occupied Japan for seven years of stabilization and reconstruction, and West Germany for four years (the first year, the Germans nearly starved).

The idea that our occupation of Germany was an instant success seems to be a popular notion. To be sure, we didn't face an insurgency. However, as this cover of a popular news magazine of the time shows, many felt we had "botched" the occupation.

Another problem comes in the nature of fighting any insurgency; a lack of big dramatic victories. In most wars one can track progress with a map and pins. With an insurgency it's more difficult. It also does not lend itself well to TV or radio news, which accounts for the perception by many that we are not making any progress at all.

Morass or not, this war seems to be especially unpopular on the homefront.

Actually, a substantial minority has opposed almost every war prosecuted by our nation. This was true right from the American Revolution—which a large proportion of Tory elites (including most New York City residents) insisted was an ill-considered and quixotic mistake.

The problem in thinking that "other than Vietnam, everyone supported the wars we have fought" is a fixation in World War II as the prototypical conflict. In fact, the Second World War was atypical in a number of ways, among them in that once we got involved, most Americans supported our efforts.

As any history book will tell you, only 1/3 of Americans supported independence from Great Britain. 1/3 were Loyalists, and the rest didn't care.

Although the Civil War was popular on both sides at first, opinion soured, especially in the North, once it was realized that it would be a long and difficult conflict. The North was unable to meet it's recruiting goals, forcing Lincoln to institute a draft in 1863. The draft proved so unpopular that it resulted in riots in New York City that same year that killed scores.

World War I was popular at the time, but by the 1920s opinion had turned to the point where most Americans thought our entry to have been a mistake, and that we should not get involved in European conflicts again. The result is that when WWII started in Europe, up to 80% of the American population wanted nothing to do with it. Even after Pearl Harbor, many asked why our national strategy was "Germany First".

In the end it's all pretty straightforward: Yes we are winning, yes progress is slow but steady, and yes we might still loose Iraq if things turn against us. But we are on the right track, and don't believe anyone who tells you otherwise.

Posted by Tom at 8:40 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 1, 2006

The Washington Post Goes Too Far

Everyone knows that the Washington Post is a left-of-center newspaper, just as we know that the Washington Times is right-of-center.

But there's the loyal opposition, and then there's this:

WaPo Cartoon 01-30-06.gif

I don't know which is worse, the cartoon of the little guy at bottom making his oh-so-clever reference to the issue of how we interrogate terrorist suspects.

But don't think this is just me and other right-wing bloggers upset at the latest stupid cartoon.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff are mad as well. And they've written a letter to the Post expressing their dissatisfaction (Hat tip Michelle Malkin)

Here's their letter:

letter to WaPo from JCS.jpg

JCS signatures.jpg


You can download the letter as a pdf here:
Download file


Thursday Morning Update

The letter from the Joint Chiefs of Staff is in today's Post.

The Post has an article up about the controversy, but it's not really an editorial response. Here's an excerpt:

In an interview, Toles called the letter "an understandable response" but said he did not regret what he drew. In thinking about Rumsfeld's remarks, he said, "what came soon to mind was the catastrophic level of injuries the Army and members of the armed services have sustained . . . I thought my portrayal of it was a fair depiction of the reality of the situation.

"I certainly never intended it to be in any way a personal attack on, or a derogatory comment on, the service or sacrifice of American soldiers."

As for the Joint Chiefs' letter, he said: "I think it's a little bit unfair in their reading of the cartoon to imply that is what it's about."

Oh please.

Amy Ridenour posts on her blog an email from a person who says that no, the cartoon isn't making fun of the soldiers, that "It's very clearly pointing out how disgusting it is that the military neglects soldiers once they're damaged goods"

Amy responds that "it seems that the Post cartoon is criticizing the Administration's Iraq war policy." I think she's right.

Besides, people who say that the military "neglects" the wounded simply do not know what they're talking about. People who make this claim are using wounded troops to advance their political agendas.

Posted by Tom at 9:16 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack