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April 30, 2007

Respect Your Neighbor - Or Else!

In the department of you just can't make this stuff up, I bring you today

The British Respect project. It's an official program of the government of Tony Blair.

From the Respect website

The Respect drive is a cross-Government strategy to tackle bad behaviour and nurture good - and so help create the modern culture of respect.

It is about central government, local agencies, local communities and ultimately every citizen working together to build a society in which we can respect one another – where anti-social behaviour is rare and tackled effectively, and communities can live in peace together.
...

The Respect drive, as laid out in the Respect Action Plan, builds on what has already been achieved in combating anti-social behaviour and goes broader, further and deeper to tackle the causes of anti-social behaviour and prevent the next generation becoming involved. It recognises the importance of early intervention in families, homes and schools to prevent children and young people who are showing signs of problems from getting any worse.

Essentially, it's a "denounce your neighbor" to the authorities program.

What happens to the "unruly neighbors"? They get sent to the "sin bin".

Outcast British families are to be thrown into "sin bins" till they learn how to behave in the community, according to the government.

Fifty-three Family Intervention Projects around the country will provide intensive social care for around 1,500 families a year. Some of them will be removed from their communities and housed in intensive units for round-the-clock-supervision under the government's Respect agenda.

The Communities and Local Government department did not say whether it had plans to tackle the other side of the problem for marginalised families - the communities that marginalise them.

Here's another British government website that explains what they mean by "anti-social behavior". Well, they sort of expain it

Anti-social behaviour has a wide legal definition – to paraphrase the Crime and Disorder Act 1998, it is behaviour which causes or is likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress to one or more people who are not in the same household as the perpetrator. Among the forms it can take are:

* graffiti – which can on its own make even the tidiest urban spaces look squalid

* abusive and intimidating language, too often directed at minorities

* excessive noise, particularly late at night

* fouling the street with litter

* drunken behaviour in the streets, and the mess it creates

* dealing drugs, with all the problems to which it gives rise.

I like that "wide legal definition" part.

The whole thing is littered with acronyms, in typical big-government fashion.

There's ASBOS, which stands for "Anti-Social Behaviour Order". There's even two websites dedicted to it, see here and here.

Then there's ABCs, which stands for "Acceptable Behavioral Contracts". ABCs are helpfully described on the relevant government website as being "voluntary agreements made between people involved in anti-social behaviour and the local police, the housing department, the registered social landlord, or the perpetrator's school."

I heard about the Respect program on the Glenn Beck radio program today and decided to do some poking around. He said today that some 9,000 people have been taken from their homes and put into these "Respect Camps" already. I couldn't find that on any sites today, but I didn't have a whole lot of time. Glenn says he'll have more about it on tomorrow's show. Tune in if you can.

Funny how the more gun laws, hate-crime legislation, and now "respect" laws we have, the more violent and vulgar our societies seem to be getting. Some people just never will understand that big government programs aren't going to solve these problems.

As for the British Respect program; George Orwell, call your office.

Posted by Tom at 10:04 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

April 29, 2007

Iraq War Update - The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Before we get too far, let's remind ourselves of what will happen if we leave with Iraq in it's current state. From StrategyPage

If we stay in Iraq, we delay, perhaps even prevent, the expulsion of the Sunni Arab minority (they used to be ten percent of the population, but are now down to about five percent, and are still the source of most of the terrorism.) Four years ago, the Sunni Arabs were twenty percent of the population. As the Sunni Arab population gets smaller, the terrorists have fewer places to hide.

If we leave, two things happen. First, the Kurds and Shia Arabs take care of the Sunni Arab terrorists the traditional Middle Eastern way. That gets very ugly, with massive civilian casualties and most of the Sunni Arab population turning into refugees. Any criticism is deflected by insisting its all about self-defense and justice for Saddams victims. ...

There's also the risk of a civil war between Shia Arab factions (backed by Iran and the Arab Gulf states, respectively.)...

There's (also) always the threat that Iran would simply invade Iraq, and install an "Islamic Republic" (religious dictatorship similar to the one in Iran). With no American troops there, what's to prevent this?

One would think, therefore, that if we had any chance at all of still winning this war we ought to pursue it no holds barred. The question then is whether we still have that chance.

The bulk of my reading these past few weeks tells me that we do.

What's the Plan?

If you haven't read the actual plan that General Petraeus is implimenting, stop and go do so now. You can find the unclassified version here, please download and go through the whole thing. There's also a brief fact sheet on the White House website that you should read.

The Good

Rep Christopher Shays (R-CT) got back from Iraq earlier this month and briefed his collegues on what he saw. Shays has been a critic of the war these past few years but now sees room for optimism. He goes to Iraq ever few months, so has gained quite a bit of perspective since April of 2003.

Three developments now have Shays more optimistic than he has been in many months. During his April trip, he was able to visit the “red zone” in Baghdad, which he says would have been impossible in the past, even with armed protection. And he saw evidence that routine violence was diminishing when almost every one of the 40 Iraqi soldiers he spoke with reported that they felt safe returning to their homes during their regular monthly leaves. Having once thought that Anbar province was lost, he is also encouraged by the cooperation of Sunni tribal leaders in security operations there. Finally, he highlights an effective Iraqi security operation in the north.

W. Thomas Smith Jr, writing in National Review, gives 5 reasons why he thinks that things are now going our way

First, aside from the complexities of establishing a working, unified government (not necessarily the task of the military), the U.S. military does have a sound plan for victory that is being implemented. The enemy does not.

Second, the enemy — including the Iraqi insurgents and al Qaeda terrorists — is progressively splintering into smaller sub-groups.

Third, an increasing number of Iraqi civilians are providing the U.S. military and Iraqi security forces with information about the enemy that is being processed into solid intelligence.

Fourth, Coalition forces are increasingly “driving a wedge” between the insurgents and the general population. And more and more insurgents are turning against the sectarian violence-instigating terrorists.

And lastly, as I discussed at National Review Online’s military blog, “The Tank,” while I was in Iraq, one of the most effective elements of General David Petraeus’s strategy is his approach to a given area of responsibility (AOR).

Petraeus’s predecessor, General George Casey, would have his subordinate commanders move their forces into an AOR, kill, capture, or run the enemy out; bring in some infrastructure for the community; and then leave. It worked to be sure, but only temporarily. The enemy almost always came back.

Petraeus’s approach is to do those things, but never completely leave. His commanders are responsible for ensuring their AORs are progressing. And U.S. soldiers are staying. In Sadr City for instance — as dangerous as it is — U.S. soldiers are living there, bunking side-by-side with their Iraqi counterparts.

Via NRO, Marine Corps Commandant James T. Conway says that things are improving in Anbar province

"I was guardedly optimistic in December," before Bush ordered an extra 21,500 American combat troops to Iraq, including 4,000 Marines to Anbar province, Conway said. Four months later he said he sees a decisively improved situation in Anbar, adding, "That's not too optimistic or too much `happy talk.'"

Conway's weeklong trip took him from one end of the province to the other, and to Baghdad for meetings with the top U.S. commanders and Iraqi defense officials.

Barry McCaffrey, a retired Army general who has been a critic of the Bush administration's approach to the war, wrote in an assessment for the U.S. Military Academy at West Point after visiting Iraq last month that he found in Anbar a "real and growing groundswell of Sunni tribal opposition" to al-Qaida in Iraq.

"This is a crucial struggle and it is going our way — for now," McCaffrey wrote.

StrategyPage agrees that Sunni tribes are turning against al Qaeda


Even Sunni Arabs in neighboring countries are telling the Iraqi Sunnis that resistance is futile. This has created an even more intense backlash against al Qaeda, for whom surrender is unthinkable. Al Qaeda has made a major commitment to success in Iraq. Failure here will be a major defeat. But failure is what is happening. Iraqi Sunni Arab tribes are actively going after al Qaeda groups, and now these Sunni Arab tribal militias are cooperating with the American and government security forces in tracking down the al Qaeda bomb factories, bomb builder and bomb delivery teams.

The biggest problem in Iraq, says StrategyPage, is corruption. If that problem could be solved the security situation could be easily controlled.

Max Boot also has some good things to say about the situation in Baghdad

Throughout 2006, the war was going very badly, especially in Baghdad. Large chunks of the city were subject to a bloody campaign of ethnic cleansing, murder, and terrorism. Sunni families fled. Markets closed. Normal life ground to a halt. Those perilous trends have been stopped in the past few months and are beginning to be reversed. This is due to an increased deployment of Iraqi and American troops, and especially to the fact that Americans are no longer staying on their giant forward operating bases. They are patrollng more intensively from joint security stations and small combat outposts located in the middle of the city.

Though only three of the five extra brigades scheduled to be deployed have yet arrived in Baghdad, the offensive has already paid big dividends. A semblance of normality is returning in some neighborhoods, markets are reopening, sectarian murders and ethnic cleansings have been dramatically reduced. The situation still isn’t great, but at least the downward trend has been stopped.

The Bad

Bill Roggio, always an astute commenter, believes that al Qaeda is on the offensive and that we're not reacting quickly enough

After a relative lull in major, mass casualty suicide attacks inside Baghdad, al Qaeda in Iraq has gone on a major offensive inside the capital city. Al Qaeda's latest suicide offensive began on April 13; the last major bombing inside Baghdad was in a Shia market on March 29. Since April 13, al Qaeda has struck at 11 high profile targets inside the city limits. The targets have included the Iraqi Parliament, two of Baghdad's 11 bridges and Shia markets. Under the readership of Abu Ayyub al-Masri Al Qaeda in Iraq is proving agile in its ability to switch targets in Baghdad while continuing to strike at sectarian fault lines outside the capital. The latest campaign threats to erode the remaining support in America for the Baghdad Security Plan, which is still ramping up. ...

Al Qaeda in Iraq has clearly discovered a seam in the increased security inside Baghdad, and is directing its bombing campaign for political and sectarian effects. This bombing blitz is projecting an image of failure of the nascent Baghdad Security Plan. Al Qaeda clearly hopes to destroy any remaining political support inside the U.S. government and the American people for the security operation, which is still in mid deployment. Al Qaeda also hopes to reignite the Sunni-Shia sectarian war and the activity of the Shia death squads inside Baghdad, which has decreased significantly since the start of the security operation in mid-February.
...

Coalition and Iraqi forces must react to al Qaeda's bombing offensive, as time may not be on its side. As we've said from the very beginning, “U.S. and Iraqi forces must be flexible, and quickly react to as yet unseen surprises.” Now is the time to be flexible.

Also, the overall size of the US military is too small. During most of the Cold War we speng 8-10% of GDP on our military. Today it's at about 4%. Fully 50% of the Federal budget was devoted to military spending, and today it's less than 20%. The single biggest failure of the Bush Administration has been to fight the war against jihadism on the cheap. The editors of National Review provide a few more figures

From 1974 to 1989, the Army had 770,000 to 780,000 active troops (all of them volunteers). Today, we have around 508,000. The Navy had 568 ships in the late 1980s; today it has 276, and its manpower is so reduced that it often has to helicopter sailors from homebound ships to outbound ones in order to keep them staffed. The Air Force’s number of tactical air wings has shrunk from 37 to 20, and the average age of its aircraft is 24 years (as compared with nine years in 1973).

The Army and Marine Corps are stretched, the other services less so. But if we have to take on Iran or North Korea the Navy and Air Force will be at their limits too. The left thinks that the solution to this problem is to pull back our forces from Iraq, and eventually I am sure from Afghanistan too. They are mistaken. The solution is to cut back on domestic spending (eliminating the Department of Education would be a good start) and increase spending on the military.

The Ugly

Christopher Hitchens reviewed Ali Allawi's new memoir, The Occupation of Iraq: Winning the War, Losing the Peace, last week in Slate. Allwai says that Iraq's collapse was inevitable. Ouch. Hitchens quotes Allawi as saying that

When the Coalition arrived in Baghdad on 9 April, 2003, it found a fractured and brutalized society, presided over by a fearful, heavily armed minority. The post-9/11 jihadi culture that was subsequently to plague Iraq was just beginning to take root. The institutions of the state were moribund; the state exhausted. The ideology that had held Ba'athist rule together had decayed beyond repair.

Hitch adds that "...if what Allawi says is true, then Iraq was headed straight for implosion and failure, both as a state and a society, well before 2003." Not at all good for our pre-war intelligence, but it does contradict those who oh-so-confidently proclaim that with better planning everying would be hunky-dory.

In Michael Yon's latest dispatchDesires of the Human Heart, Part I he shows photo after photo of deserted streets, which were once a thriving Baghdad suburb. Read the whole thing, but pay special attention to the photos and their accompanying captions. Money quote

On these empty streets it becomes clear that the war that began in March 2003 has been lost to rampant crime, civil war and the sundry insurgencies that have shorn the Iraqi fabric. But while our fire brigades pour up from Kuwait into Iraq, and while our allies pull out one by one, we are reinvading Iraq with not a second wave but a “surge” of brigade after brigade barreling up IED-laced highways. Ten thousand more troops, then ten thousand more, then maybe ten thousand more again. And those troops who are already here will stay longer than planned. Then longer than planned, again. (One way to get more troops into Iraq is to stop letting them go home. The announcement to extend current deployments was made after I wrote this dispatch.)

People talk of an Army breaking under the strain, but while there remains a sliver of hope that Iraq might avoid conflagration into full-scale genocide, out here, where bones splinter and flesh really does burn, there is a kind of clarity. And on these empty streets, a practiced eye regards the slivers of hope that are strewn among all the shards of broken glass.

The latest group of professional soldiers I had the honor of accompanying was the 1-4 Cavalry from Fort Riley, Kansas. They opened their doors in Baghdad and wanted me to tell the people at home the good, the bad and the ugly.

And now you know where I got the title to this post.

Posted by Tom at 8:34 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

April 27, 2007

Code Pink Calls Our Troops Terrorists

At last Friday's FReep in front of Walter Reed Army Medical Center, several members of the odious Code Pink walked up to our group because they were jealous of some press attention we were receiving. A a film crew from French-Canadian TV 3 in Quebec was filming an interview they were doing with Free Republic DC Chapter President Kristinn Taylor when the Pinkos arrived. Pinko Gael Murphy was in the lead.

One of their number called our troops terrorists. Watch the video

Hardly a surpise that they'd say something like that, but it does reveal for the unitiated just who they really are.

Go read the full report with photos on what happened that evening at Free Republic.

See my "The Case Against Code Pink" for more information. Discover the Network also has the goods on them.

Posted by Tom at 10:43 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Dick Durbin Hits a New Low

From today's Washington Times

The Senate's No. 2 Democrat says he knew that the American public was being misled into the Iraq war but remained silent because he was sworn to secrecy as a member of the intelligence committee.

"The information we had in the intelligence committee was not the same information being given to the American people. I couldn't believe it," Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin, Illinois Democrat, said Wednesday when talking on the Senate floor about the run-up to the Iraq war in 2002.

"I was angry about it. [But] frankly, I couldn't do much about it because, in the intelligence committee, we are sworn to secrecy. We can't walk outside the door and say the statement made yesterday by the White House is in direct contradiction to classified information that is being given to this Congress."

This is astounding. Taking his statement at face value, the man is a coward. He let us go to war without coming out and saying something, even in private to his fellow Democrats?

On a matter this serious you don't sit back and say "gee, I'd like to do something to keep our president from lying about about the cause for a war, but since I'm sworn to secrecy I'll just do nothing."

The decision to go to war is the most serious one a president can make, period.

Senator Durbin is either a liar or a coward. I think he's a liar

Senate Republican staffers tell Kathryn Jean Lopez that other Democrat Senators thought the intelligence said something different

SEN. CARL LEVIN (D-MI): “[Saddam] has ignored the mandates of the United Nations, is building weapons of mass destruction and the means of delivering them.” (Committee On Armed Services, U.S. Senate, Hearing, 09/19/02)

SEN. JOHN ROCKFELLER (D-WV): “There is unmistakable evidence that Saddam Hussein is working aggressively to develop nuclear weapons. And will likely have nuclear weapons within the next five years.” (Sen. John Rockefeller, Congressional Record, 10/10/02, p.S10306)

SEN. EVAN BAYH (D-IN): “Bill, I support the president's efforts to disarm Saddam Hussein. I think he was right on in his speech tonight. The lessons we learned following September 11 were that we can't wait to be attacked again, particularly when it involves weapons of mass destruction. So regrettably, Saddam has not done the right thing, which is to disarm, and we're left with no alternative but to take action.” (Fox News' "The O'Reilly Factor," 03/17/03)

AND THE CURRENT SENATE MAJORITY LEADER HARRY REID?

SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV): “Saddam Hussein, in effect, has thumbed his nose at the world community. And I think that the President's approaching this in the right fashion.” (CNN's "Inside Politics," 09/18/02)

And Stephen Spruiell points out that

Sen. Durbin’s been saying stuff like this for a few years now. When pressed to name what specifically Durbin saw in classified intel briefings that differed from what the administration was telling the country, a spokesman for Durbin cites one of the key judgments from the Oct. 2002 NIE (declassified on July 18, 2003):

Most agencies believe that Saddam's personal interest in and Iraq's aggressive attempts to obtain high-strength aluminum tubes for centrifuge rotors—as well as Iraq's attempts to acquire magnets, high-speed balancing machines, and machine tools—provide compelling evidence that Saddam is reconstituting a uranium enrichment effort for Baghdad's nuclear weapons program. ([The Department of Energy] agrees that reconstitution of the nuclear program is underway but assesses that the tubes probably are not part of the program.)

Durbin's spokesman argues that the administration, while "factually correct" when it told the press that most agencies believed the tubes were part of a reconstituted nuclear program, was not being totally honest because it omitted the "greater expertise" of the Department of Energy.

Hat tip to Curt at Flopping Aces for the NRO links. Bookmark his blog if you haven't already.

Update

Power Line has links for the above quotes

Posted by Tom at 7:28 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 25, 2007

Choosing Victory: A Plan for Success in Iraq - Phase II Report

American Enterprise Institute scholar Frederick Kagan presented Choosing Victory: A Plan for Success in Iraq - Phase II Report today on the situation in Iraq. As you'll recall, he and retired General Jack Keane (Vice-Chief of Staff of the Army) who developed the plan currently being implimented in Iraq. You can view the unclassified version here.

Here's part of the executive summary of the Phase II report

Victory in Iraq remains both possible and necessary. Since President George W. Bush's announcement in January 2007 of a change in U.S. strategy and the deployment of additional military and civilian resources to support that new strategy, the situation in Iraq has begun to improve in many important ways. U.S. and Iraqi forces together have attacked both Sunni and Shiite terrorists and militia groups, including conducting sweeps of Sadr City and other Shiite areas in Baghdad that the Iraqi government had previously declared off-limits. Militia killings dropped during the first months of increased security operations as U.S. and Iraqi forces established Joint Security Stations and Combat Outposts throughout Baghdad. Iraqi prime minister Nuri Kamal al Maliki has supported the arrest of a number of senior Shiite political figures tied to Moqtada al Sadr and the Jaysh al Mahdi (JAM). Sunni sheiks in Anbar province have turned against al Qaeda in Iraq, filled the police forces of Fallujah and Ramadi with their sons, and reached out to the Shiite-dominated government in Baghdad. In a dramatic gesture, Maliki visited Ramadi and met with some of the sheiks in March. All of these developments preceded the deployment of most of the additional U.S. forces the president promised in January, and came before the major clear-and-hold operations that are to be the centerpiece of the new approach. The continuation of positive developments in Iraq depends upon an ongoing U.S. and Iraqi commitment to establishing and maintaining security, a commitment that has made possible most of the progress to date.

The report itself is 66 pages, and I've only had time to skim through it tonight. In the first part Kagan reviews the history of OIF, and in a much of the rest he discusses the economic situation and how to rebuild the country. Also summarized is the political situation within Iraq and the creation of a viable government, army, and police force. I'll have to save more in-depth comment for this weekend when hopefully I'll have more time.

Here's part of Kagan's conclusion taken from the end of the report

The United States cannot afford to lose the war in Iraq, and victory is still within reach. Mistakes made in the first few years of this conflict have not rendered success impossible any more than did errors in the first years of the U.S. Civil War or World War II. The plan now being executed by General Petraeus is a new approach to this conflict based on time-tested principles of counterinsurgency, suitably adjusted for the conditions of sectarian conflice in Iraq, and it is already yielding promising early results. ...

in 2003 there was no Iraqi government, no Iraqi Army, no Iraqi police, and an insurgency was growing in strength. Today there is an elected Iraqi government that is functioning, albeit imperfectly. There is a large Iraqi Army - significantly larger than that of France of Britain - that has fought many battles for the survival of its young state. Essential services and infrastructure are at or above prewar levels and improving, despite the best efforts of insurgents to destroy them. And there is growing evidence that Iraqi support for both insurgents and militias is waning. The success in Iraq the United States needs is approaching, even if it is not arriving as rapidly as everyone would like. Now is the time to redouble our efforts in the nonmilitary realm, just as we have devoted nmore resources and developed a new strategy to achieve security.

I don't have time to post them all tonight (give me through the weekend) but the majority of the articles I've seen recently show that we have indeed turned the corner and the situation is improving. For now here's just one; Steve Shippert's excellent piece on National Review "This Is Counterterrorism, Senator". Go and read the whole thing.

We should also remember that of 5 Brigades being sent to Iraq (the "surge" part), the third is just now arriving.

Meanwhile, the Democrats show how much they support the man they voted to carry out the new plan by skipping his briefings. As if that's not good enough, they just passed a bill in the House designed to undermine the new plan. They're completely invested in defeat. Michelle Malkin has their number.

Previous

The New Plan for Iraq - AEI Update I
New Plan for Iraq VI
New Play for Iraq V
New Plan for Iraq IV
New Plan for Iraq III
New Plan for Iraq II
Here's the New Plan for Iraq

Posted by Tom at 9:43 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

April 24, 2007

The New Plan for Iraq - AEI Update I

If you don't know what the new plan is, or think that it's simply a matter of sending more troops to do the same thing, stop reading this post and go read the plan. The unclassified version is on the website of the American Enterprise Institute and is called Choosing Victory: A Plan for Success in Iraq.

Tomorrow, one of the author's of the plan, Frederick Kagan, will present a progress report at the Wohlstetter Conference Center in Washington DC. I'm sure that the report, or part of it, will be posted on their website. If it's there tomorrow evening I'll link to it here.

Meanwhile, there's an article by Kagan on the progress made so far with the new plan. Here are some key excerpts

Al Qaeda fighters flow into Iraq because we are there, to be sure. But they do not confine themselves to fighting us. They also work to establish control over the Sunni regions in Iraq, to impose their version of Islam, and to terrorize and punish Iraqis who resist them in any way. When the Soviet Union left Afghanistan in abject defeat, the radical Islamists who had fought them did not lay down their guns. They undermined and destroyed the Afghan government and went on to seize power. Al Qaeda in Iraq aims for no less. They will not stop fighting when we leave; they will redouble their efforts to take control of the country.
We will not be able to resist this development simply by using targeted strikes either with Special Forces troops or long-range missiles. Al Qaeda's approach in Iraq is different from its approach in Afghanistan. Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) does not establish remote training camps; it mixes among the population. It does not remain aloof from the fighting between tribes and sects; it encourages and benefits from that fighting. It uses sectarian violence to drive Shiites out of mixed areas and terrorizes the Sunnis who are left into supporting it. ...

Al Qaeda's atrocities in Anbar have alienated a large and growing segment of the Sunni population there. A tribal confederation including two-thirds of the major tribes has formed to combat al Qaeda. The sheikhs of this confederation are sending their sons to join the local police formations, which six months ago could hardly find a single local recruit.
...

Critics of the war also argue that the Sunni insurgency is no longer the central problem in Iraq, that sectarian violence has become the greatest and most intractable challenge. Sunni-Shiite hatred is centuries old, we are told, and American troops should not be put between hostile factions engaged in primordial violence that will spiral inevitably out of control. Facts on the ground do not support this conclusion. At the beginning of the current Baghdad Security Plan, both Moktada al-Sadr and Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, the leaders of the two dominant Shiite militias, ordered their followers to support the plan and stop conducting attacks against Sunnis. Sectarian attacks, also known as extra-judicial killings, dropped dramatically. In recent weeks they have risen somewhat as Sadr s militia, the Jaysh al-Mahdi, has begun to fragment and rogue elements have resumed their attacks. But even so, the levels remain below what they were before the Baghdad offensive began in February. This pattern is the opposite of the one we saw last year during Operations Together Forward I and II in Baghdad, when sectarian killings reached new peaks a few weeks after the start of those undertakings.
...

Americans have gotten into a bad habit of believing that the outcome of every war is predictable--that wars are either short, decisive, and victorious, like Desert Storm, or long, painful, and futile like Vietnam. The truth is that the outcome of most wars remains in doubt until they are very nearly over. Until late 1864, it looked as though the Union might well lose the Civil War. Within a year, Lincoln had triumphed.

We can triumph in Iraq too. Despite what the disgraceful Senate Majority leader says, the war is not lost.

Posted by Tom at 9:12 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Sudan, China, and One Last Try for Diplomacy

Today's lead editorial in the Washington Times provides a good opportunity to update the situation with regard to Darfur. What is notable is how the Bush Administration is doing what its critics always want it to do; use diplomacy and international institutions to solve problems. Note also that the policy is having no effect

In a speech last week at the Holocaust Memorial Museum, President Bush stepped up pressure on Sudan to work to end the brutal treatment of civilians in Darfur. Rape, torture and killing that amounts to nothing short of genocide by government forces and government-backed militias has become the abominable status quo.

Mr. Bush said that if Sudanese President Omar Bashir did not comply with the conditions set forth by the United Nations, the United States would implement economic sanctions unilaterally. The United States would strengthen current sanctions, adding 29 companies to the list of people and businesses blocked from doing business in the United States, and it would draft a new Security Council resolution. Before taking this step, however, the Bush administration wants to give U.N. diplomacy another shot.

The problem, though, is that the international community has been down this road before with Lt. Gen. Bashir. What looks to be a small but positive step -- in this case, Lt. Gen. Bashir's apparent acquiescence to 3,000 U.N. forces to support the African Union force -- is later rescinded or disavowed. The progress in this case falls well short of the internationally-preferred AU-U.N. "hybrid" force, which would include non-AU soldiers under U.N. command and which Lt. Gen. Bashir has serially rejected. This problem is compounded because Lt. Gen. Bashir knows that China has promised to use its Security Council veto to shield his country from any serious U.N. action.

By way of background, the government of Sudan is controlled by the National Islamist Front, which is a creation of (or certainly inspired by) the Muslim Brotherhood. The Brotherhood is one of the three branches of the jihad. This is important because it tells is that Gen Bashir has no intention of letting up on his murderous campaign. He and his cohorts believe that they are doing God's work.

The next part of the problem is China.

China's role in enabling the Darfur crisis has been shameful. Sudan's oil resources have attracted substantial capital investment from China, estimated at around $10 billion over the last decade, and Sudan, in turn, now exports around 60 percent of its oil to China. Despite ludicrous claims to the contrary -- one Chinese official in March spoke of his country's "friendship from the bottom of our hearts" -- China's view toward Africa is purely mercantilist, and in the most destructive way. Not only does China provide a diplomatic shield, it sells weapons to Lt. Gen. Bashir's government, which transports those same weapons to murderous militias in Darfur using planes painted white to look like U.N. aircraft. Sudan has denied that practice, but, as another reminder of Khartoum's duplicity, an official U.N. report leaked to the New York Times last week confirms that Lt. Gen. Bashir's government camouflages its planes, which it also uses to conduct reconnaissance and bomb villages.

In addition to its economic motivation, China may simply oppose a U.N. response to a particular nation's human-rights violations, including genocide. A country that refuses to guarantee the basic human rights of its own people, China has also this year vetoed a Security Council resolution addressing the repressive situation in Burma.

Bringing pressure to bear on China is difficult. Chinese President Hu Jintao, visiting Sudan in February, was expected to urge Lt. Gen. Bashir to accept a larger U.N. role in Darfur. The message Mr. Hu delivered wasn't as direct as some had hoped. Advocates are calling for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing to be used as a platform to highlight China's disgraceful record in Sudan; for the people of Darfur, that may be too long to wait.

China doesn't want to put pressure on the government in Khartoum because it might lose it's lucrative oil contracts. The Chinese leaders are pretty much thugs themselves, having grown up in the party of Mao Zedong, perhaps the greatest mass murderer of the 20th century. They simply don't care.

Further, we also would like China to put more pressure on North Korea to end it's nuclear program.

So what do we do? We only have so much political capital. Sure, we can pressure China to do more about both North Korea and Sudan, but other than verbally berating them we don't have a whole lot of incentives to offer.

We can threaten trade sanctions, as long as we realize that they'll hurt our economy as much as they will China's, and might not even work. It's silly to think that we can use the 2008 Olympic games in any meaningful way, because the media won't go along. No network or news organization is willing to risk getting kicked out of China. The Chinese authorities will make sure that any protesters are quickly rounded up.

The current diplomatic track seems worthless because Bashir's government won't do anything by itself and China doesn't care enough, no matter how much we pressure them. The only option is unilateral action, whether anyone likes it or not. Sen Biden was on to something the other day when he proposed sending American troops to the region. I don't think we're at that point yet, but we need to start thinking along the lines of unilateral strong-arm tactics.

Of course, even that is not without risk. In the 90s Sudan was a big supporter of terrorism, from what I read now they've largely gotten out of that business because of US pressure. They could easily get back in. China can make things rough for us around the world, both diplomatically and economically.

But as I mentioned in a post last week about moral posturing, nothing worth doing is without risk. I suppose this last diplomatic try is worth doing, but if and when it fails we need to look beyond traditional methods.

Posted by Tom at 7:33 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 23, 2007

As Europe Sinks II

From a post on The Corner by Victor Davis Hanson

Something seems to be going very wrong in parts of the British establishment well before the Iranian piracy/confess to non-crimes/sell your story fiasco.

Palestinian gunmen kidnap a British BBC reporter (now rumors swirl that he may have been executed) and sometime later the British National Union of Journalists vote to boycott Israeli goods. At a time of both increased terrorism and rising anti-Semitic incidents in Britain, some schools question whether studying the Holocaust might offend Muslim students.

Now some members of the British government decry the use of the "American" notion of a "war on terror" not because, as some of us have complained, it is an inexact idea of a struggle against a method rather than the perpetrators themselves of such violence—Islamic jihadists—but because of the very opposite concern: We have no real enemy, or in the words of Hilary Benin, a Labor Deputy Secretary, "This isn't one organized enemy with a clear identity and a coherent set of objectives." What will follow then: the non-war on non-terror?

Previous
As Europe Sinks

Posted by Tom at 10:11 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 22, 2007

The VA Tech Shooting

I haven't weighed in on this before now because it's the type of thing in which first impressions are often the wrong ones, because there was so much else going on, and because it wasn't as if no one else was talking about it.

Why did a Cho Seung-Hui, kill 32 people and himself? Was it something that we "allowed" to happen because "we" didn't do something to stop him? Or was it a random act of violence that simply proves that there is evil in this world?

My inclination is to answer that Cho was a psychotic who was inspired to his deed by negative aspects of our culture. It's easy Monday-morning quarteback signs of violent psychosis, but the signs were there and nobody did or could do anything. Yes there is simply evil in this world and this was one time it reared it's ugly head.

As such, the best single reaction we can have to this incident is to pray for souls of the departed as well as their families. This may seem trite to nonbelievers, but to those of us who know God understand the true power of communication with the almighty.

Not the Issue

Let's just get it out of the way right now; gun control is not the issue. The left will no doubt seek to use this incident, just as they did Columbine or any other gun murder, to agitate for more laws. The good news is that they will not be successful. The bad news is that we'll have to put up with some nonsense for awhile.

We'll hear that the "gun lobby" is what is stopping "sensible gun control". Yet a lobby is nothing more than the sum total of the individuals that contribute to it. In this case, the gun lobby consists of millions of Americans who are members of the NRA or similar organizations and vote for pro-gun candidates. The simple fact is that the anti-gunners have not been able to mobilize voters to a degree anywhere near that of pro-gun organizations.

We'll also hear that those dastardly "high capacity" magazines are to blame. In this case Cho used a Glock 9mm and .22 semi-auto pistols. The capacity of the former is 17 rounds with the standard magazine. It is possible to pass a law that would restrict sales of magazines with greater than say 6 or 7 rounds (the capacity of a 1911A1). But anyone who has fired an automatic pistol knows how easy it is to change magazines; it is an operation that can be completed in a few seconds, much faster than someone could "rush" the shooter.

Some will even tell us that we need to ban handguns altogether. They're living in a fantasy world; it just isn't going to happen.

More seriously is the issue of Cho's derangement and why he didn't show up in any of the databases that are checked as part of any gun purchase. From what I've been able to gather, Cho was never actually institutionalized but only at an outpatient clinic, which is why he didn't show up on the relevant database(more information on Cho's situation here). Whether we want to include outpatient files in gun background checks is, I think, as much of a civil rights issue as it is a gun control one.

Also is the issue of gun sales to non-citizens. Cho held a green card, which doesn't prevent him from getting a gun. I'm not up on the law here, but if as I think it's true that we don't deny green card holders any other part of the Bill of Rights, so don't see how we can deny them their Second Amendment rights. But I might be wrong here, and icertainly it is something we can discuss.

Mostly, though, the "gun control is the problem" argument fails the test of correlation. If lack of gun control is related to crime, then we should have had higher crime prior to the late 1960s than we do today. Yet the opposite is the case. We basically had no gun laws on the books before the late 1960s, yet crime was dramatically lower. The crime rate underwent a dramatic rise in the 1960s, just as the time gun laws were being put on the books. The crime wave of the 1930s was nothing compared to what we experience today. Bonnie and Clyde, John Dillinger, and Pretty Boy Floyd were pikers compared to today's criminals. The Valentine's Day Massacre was huge at the time but today would be a 2 or 3 day story.

The Issue

The issue, I think, is how an obviously disturbed individual was allowed to remain on campus. That Cho was nuts is obvious just from reading his plays. News stories routinely say that he "seethed with rage" . Professors and students alike were afraid of him.

While it's easy to be a Monday-morning quarterback, it is nevertheless disturbing that despite all the signs nothing was done.

But from what I've been able to gather nothing was done because nothing could be done. We as a society made a decision some decades ago that our mental health laws needed serious reform. We decided that too many people had been unjustly incarcerated because they were declared insane, and that it was better to err on the side of letting them go. Liberals saw it as a civil-rights issue, and conservatives saw it as a chance to save money on mental hospitals. So we're all to blame.

Jennifer Roback Morse summed up the problem

Until someone commits a crime, it is usually not possible to take actions that would prevent him from hurting himself or others. We don’t have facilities for people who pose a threat to others, but who haven’t done anything yet. Many mentally ill people cycle between homelessness and the county jail, incarcerated for petty crimes, but receiving no long-term help. The Treatment Advocacy Center, based in Arlington Virginia, estimates that as many as a third of the homeless suffer from either bi-polar disorder or schizophrenia. But we can’t make the mentally ill take their medications, even if those medications can mean the difference between a rational person who can function normally and a delusional person who is a danger to others.

As to what should be done, she has I think some useful suggestions as to how to get started

What would be constructive is an honest discussion about how a free society should face the reality of mental illness. It is not a protection of civil liberties to redefine the mentally ill as if they were rational and able to make informed decisions about their care and treatment, even when they are obviously not. As we can see from the Virginia Tech massacre, it is not consistent with public safety to wait until a mentally ill person has committed a crime. It is not “personal responsibility” to expect the families of mentally ill people to take care of them themselves. This means turning their homes into a 24-hours-a-day mental institution, staffed by relatives who never get training, help, or a day off.

The ever-insightful Peggy Noonan offers a more straightforward analysis; we lack common sense.

There seems to me a sort of broad national diminution of common sense in our country that we don't notice in the day-to-day but that become obvious after a story like this. Common sense says a person like Cho Seung-hui, who was obviously dangerous and unstable, should have been separated from the college population. Common sense says someone should have stepped in like an adult, like a person in authority, and taken him away. It is only common sense that if a person like Cho leaves a self-aggrandizing, self-celebrating, self-pitying video diary of himself to be played by the mass media, the mass media should not play it and not publicize it, not make it famous. Common sense says that won't help.

Surely she is right, but still one cannot help but to have sympathy for the administrators who did nothing. If they had thrown Cho out of school they would have undoubtably faced a lawsuit.

It would seem, therefore, that a reform of our mental health laws are in order.

Also Not The Issue

Note what I did not say was the issue; a lack of money. The problem is not that we don't have enough "services", although we will undoubtably hear this line from what we'll call the mental-health lobby.

The problem was not that Cho didn't have access to a therapist. The problem was that it was legally impossible to separate him from vulnerable students and professors, or, for that matter, from society at large.

Right to Carry

I am a big believer in right-to-carry, although I have never exercised it myself. Virginia, like most states in recent decades, has a law in which any law abiding citizen may obtain a conceiled carry permit after going through a special class and passing a proficiency test. However, the Virginia Tech administrators banned guns from their campus, as was their right. Was this a wise decision?

The answer, I think, is that while it was a dumb decison we cannot say had students and professors been allowed to carry firearms Cho's shooting spree would have been stopped. Yes there have been shooting sprees in other schools that were stopped by armed administrators or teachers. But while allowing teachers and (in college) students to be armed may be a good idea, it isn't really the issue.

What About the Culture?

It is a serious concern that negative aspects of American culture played a role in Cho's decison to go on a shooting rampage. If a combination of mental illness and access to guns led to shooting sprees, we'd have seen this sort of thing every month in the seconed half of the 20th century. As mentioned earlier, there were virtually no restrictions on who could buy guns before the late 1960s. College attendance skyrocketed after World War II in the wake of the GI bill. Yet Columbine-type shootings seem to be a thing of the present. Why?

One can't help be be a bit taken aback by the glorification of violence in so much of our society. From TV and movies to video games, wild senseless violence seems absolutely out-of-control. At least in the old movies when people were killed it seemed to be for a reason, even when it was gangsters doing the shooting. Now it's just "how many people can we kill" in a move or video game.

In the wake of the VA Tech massacre, the Wall Street Journal reprinted "No Guardrails: August 1968 and the death of self-restraint", an editorial that first ran in 1993. Here's the money section

We think it is possible to identify the date when the U.S., or more precisely when many people within it, began to tip off the emotional tracks. A lot of people won't like this date, because it makes their political culture culpable for what has happened. The date is August 1968, when the Democratic National Convention found itself sharing Chicago with the street fighters of the anti-Vietnam War movement.

The real blame here does not lie with the mobs who fought bloody battles with the hysterical Chicago police. The larger responsibility falls on the intellectuals--university professors, politicians and journalistic commentators--who said then that the acts committed by the protesters were justified or explainable. That was the beginning. After Chicago, the justifications never really stopped. America had a new culture, for political action and personal living.

With great rhetorical firepower, books, magazines, opinion columns and editorials defended each succeeding act of defiance--against the war, against university presidents, against corporate practices, against behavior codes, against dress codes, against virtually all agents of established authority.

It was the death of self-restraint. It wasn't so much a situation of rules being violated as it was that basic concepts of acceptable behavior were thrown out the window.

In the End

Changing the culture is something we should and must work for but is necessarily long-term. As such it cannot be our only task.

We must work to change a system in which those-in-charge cannot get rid of obviously idisturbed individuals. A debate over civil rights is a necessity. If we give administrators too much power the potential for abuse is enormous. Yet the current situation cannot be allowed to stand.

Gun control is not the issue or problem. Right to carry is necessary, but won't really solve the problem either. The problems are in our culture and the inability of administrators to make common-sense decisions. We need to change what we must change.

Update I - The Media

I don't know how I forgot to write about this aspect of it but as we all know Cho desperately wanted his act carried on TV. In a highly controversial decision, NBC obliged. Tongue-in-cheek, columnist Jack Kelly asked that if we're going to ignore the Second Amendment in our quest for safety why worry about the First Amendment (I can't find a link to this column, it was in the Sunday Washington Times and they didn't have a link on their site. I also can't find the exact quote on the Volokh Conspiracy)

"A practical, connonsense way of reduciing gun violence - especially in schools - would be a federal law prohibiting, or at least seriously limiting, the interstate reporting of serious gun crimes like Virginia Tech for five working days," suggsted a poster at the Volokh Conspiracy, a blog devoted to legal issues.

No one seriously is proposing to violate the First Amendment in this way. "Person from Porlock" was parodying the enthusiasm of journalists for gun control legislation.

Absolutists on the First Amendment are rarely so absolute on the Second.

Update II: "False Posturing and Real Threats"

Mark Steyn hits it out of the park today. Here's the money section

I think we have a problem in our culture not with "realistic weapons" but with being realistic about reality. After all, we already "fear guns," at least in the hands of NRA members. Otherwise, why would we ban them from so many areas of life? Virginia Tech, remember, was a "gun-free zone," formally and proudly designated as such by the college administration. Yet the killer kept his guns and ammo on the campus. It was a "gun-free zone" except for those belonging to the guy who wanted to kill everybody. Had the Second Amendment not been in effect repealed by VT, someone might have been able to do as two students did five years ago at the Appalachian Law School: When a would-be mass murderer showed up, they rushed for their vehicles, grabbed their guns and pinned him down until the cops arrived.

But you can't do that at Virginia Tech. Instead the administration has created a "Gun-Free School Zone." Or, to be more accurate, they have created a sign that says "Gun-Free School Zone." And, like a loopy medieval sultan, they thought that simply declaring it to be so would make it so.

The "gun-free zone" turned out to be a fraud -- not just because there were at least two guns on the campus last Monday, but in the more important sense that the college was promoting to its students a profoundly deluded view of the world.

Bingo


Posted by Tom at 8:13 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

April 19, 2007

April 19 is Islamo-Fascism Awareness Day

Today, the Terrorism Awareness Project is holding it's first Islamo-Fascism Awareness Day at colleges and universities across the country.

The Terrorism Awareness Project is the brainchild of the indefatigable David Horowitz, who also runs FrontPage Magazine and Discover The Networks.

The main event is the showing of the film Obsession: Radical Islam's War against the West at participating college campuses.

From the Terrorism Awareness Project website

The Terrorism Awareness Project is a new program of the David Horowitz Freedom Center dedicated to waking up Americans—and particularly American college students--to the threat of militant Islam. ...
Obsession is a wake up call. It offers a direct and chilling profile of what is brewing in the world of jihad right now—the plans for the mass murder of Americans and other Westerners and the justification that rationalizes radical Islam’s blueprints for genocide.

We anticipate a great deal of opposition from the radical left that refuses to recognize that the War on Terror was not started by Washington, but has been declared on us by a global confederacy of Islamists dedicated to the subjugation and murder of us and other "infidels".
...

Campuses Participating in Islamo-Fascism Awareness Day

Drew University
Arizona State University
Azusa Pacific
Ball State
Bates University
Bloomsburg
Boise State University
Boston College
Bowdoin College
Bradley University
Bryant University
BYU-Idaho
Clemson University
Colby College
Columbia University
Columbus State Community College
Dartmouth College
Dickinson College
Drexel University
Drury University
Duke
Evangel University
Florida State University
Franciscan University of Steubenville
Furman University
Gardner-Webb University
George Mason University
Georgia Tech
Hanover College
Hillsdale College
Holloman Air Force Base
Huntington University
Indiana State University
Indiana University Southeast
Ithaca College
Johnson and Wales University
Kansas Wesleyan University
Kansas Wesleyan University
Kingwood College
Lawrence University
Liberty
Loras College
Messiah College
Minneapolis Community and Technical College
Minnesota State University, Mankato
Missouri State University
Missouri Western State University
Mountain Home AFB
New Mexico State
North Carolina State
Northeastern University
Northern Arizona University
Pace University
Palisades Charter High School
Purdue University
Regent University
Rhodes State College
Rice University
Roger Williams University
Rollins College
Saint Anselm College
Saint Francis University
Santa Ana College
Santa Barbara City College
Shippensburg University
SUNY New Paltz
Temple University
The College of New Jersey
The Ohio State University
The Ohio State University
The University of Arizona
U of Alabama
U of Maryland, Baltimore County
U of Wisconsin - La Crosse
UC Davis
UC Irvine
UC Riverside
UNC - Chapel Hill
UNC Charlotte
UNC Wilmington
Unity College
University of Alabama
University of Colorado
University of Delaware
University of Florida
University of Iowa
University of Memphis
University of Miami
University of New Haven
University of North Carolina Greensboro
University of Notre Dame
University of Rhode Island
University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee
University of Texas Austin
University of Toledo
University of Washington - Tacoma
University of Wisconsin - Madison
Washington University in St. Louis
Westmont College


Horowitz is an amazing guy and I had the pleasure of meeting him briefly when he signed his latest book (Indoctrination U)for me at CPAC 2007. I've read several of his books over the years, and never cease to be impressed with his energy and dedication. He correctly recognizes that a key to winning the ideological struggle against Islamo-Fascism will be fought at our universities.

Horowitz is fighting the good fight, and deserves our support.

Posted by Tom at 7:00 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 18, 2007

As Europe Sinks

From a Corner post today by Andrew Stuttaford

Never comfortable with free speech, and increasingly comfortable with reviving the old blasphemy laws, the EU, it seems, is up to its old tricks again. The EU Observer has some of the details:

After six years of heated political debate, EU member states are set to agree on a common anti-racism law, under which offenders will face up to three years in jail for stirring-up racial hatred or denying acts of genocide, such as the Holocaust. One diplomat in Brussels confirmed to EU Observer that the controversial piece of law is in its final-tuning phase and is likely to gain EU blessing at a justice and interior ministers meeting in Luxembourg on Thursday (19 April). The latest draft – cited by the Reuters news agency — foresees an EU-wide jail sentence of at least one to three years for "publicly inciting to violence or hatred, directed against a group of persons or a member of such a group defined by reference to race, colour, religion, descent or national or ethnic origin."

Danish cartoonists, beware.

The same rules would also apply to people "publicly condoning, denying, or grossly trivialising crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes" as defined by international crime courts. According to the Financial Times, such wording has been carefully chosen to only include denial of the Holocaust during the second world war, as well as the genocide in Rwanda in 1994, but would not criminalise denying mass killings of Armenians during the Ottoman empire in 1915, something that Turkey strongly opposes labelling as genocide.

Armenians will, doubtless, have to say something about that, and as for the Eastern Europeans, well....

Poland and the Baltic countries...continue to hold on to their demand that "crimes under the Stalin regime in the former Soviet Union" become part of the bill's scope. "We believe Stalinist acts of genocide should be condemned in this document. It would put them on an equal footing with Nazi crimes in an international forum," an Estonian diplomat was cited as saying by the Polish daily Rzeczpospolita.

Holocaust denial is idiotic, it's cruel, and it's malign, but it should not be illegal. If it is to be illegal, however, there can be no possible excuse for banning denial of that slaughter whilst permitting denial of Stalinist genocide (such as that in the Ukraine in the early 1930s, for example), the butchering of the Armenians, or for that matter, some of the other great horrors that litter human history.

Posted by Tom at 10:06 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Irshad Manji - A Type of Muslim We Need

Last week at the end of my last book review I mentioned that I was now reading Robert Spencer's The Truth About Muhammed, and that when I was finished I'd review it here on Redhunter.

Last weekend I heard Irshad Manji interviewed by Monika Crowley on her radio show. I'd heard of Manji before, but didn't know much about her.

Irshad Manji is a Muslim woman who has decided that her religion needs serious reform. The title of her book says it all: The Trouble with Islam Today: A Muslim's Call for Reform in Her Faith . The title of her website is also revealing: "Muslim Refusenik"

What impressed me most about Manji during the interview was when she said that moderates were part of the problem with Islam. Wow, I thought, you won't find that said out loud at any Washington DC dinner parties. But it's true. And we're at the point where the truth needs to be spoken about Islam, and spoken with all the PC restrictions gone.

The reason I'm posting this is that with all that's been said about Islam on the right these days it's important not to demonize the religion. Yes the religion is in serious need of reform. No it's not an "evil religion" or anything like that (Note: As a Christian, I believe Islam is a false religion. I could hardly think otherwise and call myself a Christian. But that does not mean it is evil or should be otherwise demonized).

I haven't read Manji's book yet, and don't know any details about her call for reform. But I will put her book on my "to read" list and at some point will pick it up and post a review.

Btw, here's the difference between a Muslim moderate and a reformer, and why the former are part of the problem:

An act of terror is committed by a group which says it is acting in the name of Islam

- The moderate Muslim condemns the act in no uncertain terms but then says that Islam has nothing do do with it. He says that the terrorist group hijacked Islam or misinterpreted it.

- The reformist Muslim condemns the act in no uncertain terms but then says that Islam as it is interpreted and practiced today is part of the problem. He says that Islam needs to undergo a reform in the same way Christianity was reformed by Martin Luther et all 500 years ago.

Like Manji, I'm not interested in moderate Muslims anymore. I'm only interested in reformers.

Posted by Tom at 10:01 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 17, 2007

Chemtrails

The other day I was reading a long post by Bill Whittle about critical thinking and conspiracy theories when I came across this

X-Chem-Contrails.jpg

You know what these are? They’re Chemtrails.

Wake up, sheeple!!

Chemtrails are one of two things:

A. They are slow-acting toxins dispersed from aerial refueling tankers designed to spread carcinogens and other lethal agents among the general population, with the goal of reducing the world’s population by 85%. They are dispersed in criss-cross patterns or a series of regular lines in order to obtain maximum coverage.

Or

B. They are the product of relatively modern, high-bypass turbofans operating at altitudes where water vapor is condensed and freezes into what is essentially an artificial cirrus cloud, which naturally follow the invisible airways and VOR turning points that make up the US Airspace system. They are Contrails.

Millions of your countrymen are choosing A. Millions.

Is he for real, I thought? I pulled up Google and typed in "Chemtrail" to see what might come up.

What I found is that Bill Whittle is right.

I found dozens, if not hundreds, of websites (including blogs) by people who think that the contrails you see in the sky are part of a government spraying program. While I'm sure his "millions of your countrymen" figure is exaggerated, that there is more than one who believes this nonsense is disturbing itself.

These people believe that the government has installed "sprayers" in commercial jet aircraft engines. These sprayers are connected to secret chemical tanks also installed on the aircraft. The long white contrail you see are the poisonous chemicals being sprayed at high altititues as they fly overhead.

Like all conspiracy theorists, they can't keep straight why the government is doing this. Some suggest population reduction, others climate change. Still others speculate that it's part of a vaccination program. Their websites are full of pseudoscientific claims about chemicals and weather patterns. They're quite convinced that they're on to a massive government conspiracy.

Now a normal person would think that with a program so massive someone in government or the airlines would have spilled the beans by this point. After all, even if only a small percentage of commercial jet airliners have had these sprayers installed, that's still a lot of aircraft.

More than that, this is the type of conspiracy I couldn't have thought of if I'd tried to. Space aliens, the Kennedy assassination, even 9-11 conspiracy theories "make sense" in that I can at least understand how they developed. But "chemtrails"? These people are nuts.

But arguing with a conspiracy theorist is a waste of time. So if you'd like some cheap entertainment head over to google and so a search for "chemtrail" or "chemtrails".

Update

Upon reading the Chemtrail sites a bit more, not all of then are saying that special spraying nozzles have been installed in jet aircraft engines. They seem to think that the chemicals are added to the fuel itself. It's still completely nuts, of course; try adding a quart of pesticide to your gas tank and see what it does to the engine.

Posted by Tom at 6:56 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

April 16, 2007

Moral Posturing

free-tibet.gif


People are engaged in moral posturing when they say they want to "do something" about a problem but then reject all options that involve risk or pain. Their words make them sound concerned, but they are not willing to sacrifice anything to achieve the objective. They don't want to do anything that would actually solve the problem, they just want to sound like they care.

Let's look at three areas in which people posture constantly

Darfur

Everyone wants to save Darfur. Hundreds of thousands are dying there and many more have become refugees. The essence of it is simple enough; the Islamist government of Sudan is trying to put down a rebellion in Darfur, and has adopted the most severe scorched-earth policies to do so. Rather than use the Sudanese Army, the government in Khartoum funds and supplies a militia group known as the Janjaweed, which carries out it's nefarious word. Rape and murder are the favorite intimidation tools of the Janjaweed.

So far the governments of the United States and United Kingdom are just about the only two on the planet interested in "doing something". The something they have been doing has been limited to private economic sanctions, trying to work through the United Nations Security Council, and sending in humanitarian aid to the people of Darfur.

It's not working, of course. The sanctions thus far imposed don't impress Khartoom, the French, Russians, and Chinese all prevent the Security Council from taking serious action, and all the humanitarian aid in the world won't prevent murder and rape.

But we all want to "do something", right?

So let's consider some real options and see if you're still on board.

We could put trade sanctions on China. Why China, you ask? Well, the Chinese have decided that Sudan is going to be their main source of foreign oil for their growing economy. They've got big contracts with Khartoum, and the last time I checked some 5,000 troops in Sudan to help protect the oil fields. This is why China stifles our efforts in the UN; they don't want to make the government mad at them.

So let's force the issue by twisting China's arm. Let's make them feel some pain and maybe they'll put pressure on Khartoum.

Course we know this will mean higher prices at the store for us, and harm to US businesses that trade with China, but we're on board because we want to save Darfur, right?

If you don't like that option we could sail an aircraft carrier off the coast of Sudan and tell the government that we'll put a few JDAMs on key buildings in Khartoum if they don't play ball. Heck we could even do it with a B-2 one night. If you don't like that we could send in special ops forces to supply and train Darfur resistance groups.

Course, Sudan might retaliate by getting back in the game of terror, which is where they were during the 90s. And sooner or later some of our special ops guys will get killed. But hey, we're all for saving Darfur, right?

Or if you don't like those options let's do this; trade sanctions against all countries that trade with Sudan. Course, that would mean sanctions against France, Russia and most of the world, and it would hurt our economy too, but we're all for saving Darfur, right?

Global Warming

We're all supposed to believe that the earth has a fever and that unless we do what Al Gore says civilization as we know it will come to an end. We are told by Gore and those like him that mankind is the main cause of global warming and that we must change our ways.

So in the late 90s they came up with someting called the Kyoto Protocols, which would requite a 5.2% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from what we were emitting in 1990. Calculated up this would mean about a 29% reduction from where we are today. And all this is not really guaranteed to cure our planet but might slow down the process.

Well we all want to care so you hear otherwise intelligent people prattling on about how oh yes they too want to stop global warming. Anyone who doesn't see things their way is not just wrong but probably a holocaust denier too since everybody knows that all real scientists are 100% on board with everything Al Gore says.

But since all good people are on board, let's do something about global warming! On board, everyone?

Good, because here's what you're going to need to do; trade that SUV for a mini-cooper or Prius, shut down that air conditioner in your house unless it gets over 90 degrees, put your big-screen TV out by the curb for the trashmen to pick up, and everyone in the house shares one computer.

And by the way, we don't really need all those streetlights, do we? Just bring a flashlight for parkinglots because it's really such a waste to light them all night long too. Don't mind the workmen at your office, they're just there to bust out the windons and install the type you have at home that you can open up on a hot day. You didn't think you could run the A/C all day at work, did you?

Free Tibet!

We've all seen them; the little bumper stickers on the back of cars like the sort posted above.

Tibet, if you're not sure, is a mountainous region in northwestern China. Existing for centuries, Tibet was most of the time an independent country but in the 1950s was taken over by China, which now rules it as the Tibet Autonomous Region.

For whatever reason a number of Americans have decided that not only is it unjust that China continue to rule Tibet, but it's worth doing something about.

That something is putting a bumper sticker on their car. To show that they care.

But how much do they care? Enough to suffer any pain in the cause of freeing Tibet? Run a few risks?

Start talking about putting trade sanctions on China or funding Tibetan resistance groups and suddenly these people aren't so ardent over the cause anymore. Suggest sailing our carriers into Chinese waters to threaten destruction of their navy unless they free tibet and they'll grasp their chests and fall to the ground.

My Position

Of the three subjects above I think that we ought to take stronger action with regard to Darfur, including some of the things that I suggested. I think that the earth is in a natural warming cycle and that the actions of mankind are not contributing in any meaningful way to it. As such, it would be foolish in the extreme to listen to Al Gore ore any of his fellow alarminsts. I would like to free Tibet, but it would be impossible in practice to achieve. As such, you won't find a Free Tibet bumper sticker on my car.

Moral Posturing

You know someone is posturing when they proclaim themselves oh-so-concerned about a problem but aren't willing to make any sacrifices to see it achieved. Solving any real problem will involve risk and pain, whether it's saving Darfur, reducing man-made emissions, or freeing Tibet. If you really care about solving a problem you've got to be willing pay a price somewhere.

Lots of people today are looking for free solutions. They want to sound caring and concerned. But when presented with options that might involve any risk or sacrifice on their part, they suddenly back down. Suddenly it's not such a vital issue any more.

This is why I think that UN resolutions are so popular. They allow the caring and concerned person to go on record as being caring and concerned. The problem with the UN Security Council, of course, is that it's a lowest-common-denominator affair. Only in the most wildly egregious situations (think the Falklands or Saddam's invasion of Kuwait) will you get all members on board. But most of the world couldn't care less about Darfur or Tibet, and the less-developed countries of the world (think China and Russia) aren't about to make any economic sacrifices to appease Western environmentalists. As a result, the only think that comes out of the UN on most issues are resolutions that have all the strength of a milquetoast sandwich.

But to far too many people it's all about how you sound, not what sacrifices you're willing to make or what risk you're willing to run to achieve the objective. As a result, you have lots of moral posturing.

Posted by Tom at 8:03 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

April 14, 2007

And You Shall Have Peace!

Guess what some of the Democrats in Congress have introduced(hat tip TigerHawk)?

H.R. 808: Department of Peace and Nonviolence Act

SEC. 101. ESTABLISHMENT OF DEPARTMENT OF PEACE AND NONVIOLENCE.

(a) Establishment- There is hereby established a Department of Peace and Nonviolence (hereinafter in this Act referred to as the `Department'), which shall--

(1) be a cabinet-level department in the executive branch of the Federal Government; and

(2) be dedicated to peacemaking and the study of conditions that are conducive to both domestic and international peace.

(b) Secretary of Peace and Nonviolence- There shall be at the head of the Department a Secretary of Peace and Nonviolence (hereinafter in this Act referred to as the `Secretary'), who shall be appointed by the President, with the advice and consent of the Senate.

(c) Mission- The Department shall--

(1) hold peace as an organizing principle, coordinating service to every level of American society;

(2) endeavor to promote justice and democratic principles to expand human rights;

(3) strengthen nonmilitary means of peacemaking;

(4) promote the development of human potential;

(5) work to create peace, prevent violence, divert from armed conflict, use field-tested programs, and develop new structures in nonviolent dispute resolution;

(6) take a proactive, strategic approach in the development of policies that promote national and international conflict prevention, nonviolent intervention, mediation, peaceful resolution of conflict, and structured mediation of conflict;

(7) address matters both domestic and international in scope; and

(8) encourage the development of initiatives from local communities, religious groups, and nongovernmental organizations.

SEC. 102. RESPONSIBILITIES AND POWERS.

(a) In General- The Secretary shall--

(1) work proactively and interactively with each branch of the Federal Government on all policy matters relating to conditions of peace;

(2) serve as a delegate to the National Security Council;

(3) call on the intellectual and spiritual wealth of the people of the United States and seek participation in its administration and in its development of policy from private, public, and nongovernmental organizations; and

(4) monitor and analyze causative principles of conflict and make policy recommendations for developing and maintaining peaceful conduct.

(b) Domestic Responsibilities- The Secretary shall--

(1) develop policies that address domestic violence, including spousal abuse, child abuse, and mistreatment of the elderly;

(2) create new policies and incorporate existing programs that reduce drug and alcohol abuse;

(3) develop new policies and incorporate existing policies regarding crime, punishment, and rehabilitation;

(4) develop policies to address violence against animals;

(5) analyze existing policies, employ successful, field-tested programs, and develop new approaches for dealing with the implements of violence, including gun-related violence and the overwhelming presence of handguns;

(6) develop new programs that relate to the societal challenges of school violence, gangs, racial or ethnic violence, violence against gays and lesbians, and police-community relations disputes;

(7) make policy recommendations to the Attorney General regarding civil rights and labor law;

(8) assist in the establishment and funding of community-based violence prevention programs, including violence prevention counseling and peer mediation in schools;

(9) counsel and advocate on behalf of women victimized by violence;

(10) provide for public education programs and counseling strategies concerning hate crimes;

(11) promote racial, religious, and ethnic tolerance;

(12) finance local community initiatives that can draw on neighborhood resources to create peace projects that facilitate the development of conflict resolution at a national level and thereby inform and inspire national policy; and

(13) provide ethical-based and value-based analyses to the Department of Defense.

(c) International Responsibilities- The Secretary shall--

(1) advise the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of State on all matters relating to national security, including the protection of human rights and the prevention of, amelioration of, and de-escalation of unarmed and armed international conflict;

(2) provide for the training of all United States personnel who administer postconflict reconstruction and demobilization in war-torn societies;

(3) sponsor country and regional conflict prevention and dispute resolution initiatives, create special task forces, and draw on local, regional, and national expertise to develop plans and programs for addressing the root sources of conflict in troubled areas;

(4) provide for exchanges between the United States and other nations of individuals who endeavor to develop domestic and international peace-based initiatives;

(5) encourage the development of international sister city programs, pairing United States cities with cities around the globe for artistic, cultural, economic, educational, and faith-based exchanges;

(6) administer the training of civilian peacekeepers who participate in multinational nonviolent police forces and support civilian police who participate in peacekeeping;

(7) jointly with the Secretary of the Treasury, strengthen peace enforcement through hiring and training monitors and investigators to help with the enforcement of international arms embargoes;

(8) facilitate the development of peace summits at which parties to a conflict may gather under carefully prepared conditions to promote nonviolent communication and mutually beneficial solutions;

(9) submit to the President recommendations for reductions in weapons of mass destruction, and make annual reports to the President on the sale of arms from the United States to other nations, with analysis of the impact of such sales on the defense of the United States and how such sales affect peace;

(10) in consultation with the Secretary of State, develop strategies for sustainability and management of the distribution of international funds; and

(11) advise the United States Ambassador to the United Nations on matters pertaining to the United Nations Security Council.

(d) Human Security Responsibilities- The Secretary shall address and offer nonviolent conflict resolution strategies to all relevant parties on issues of human security if such security is threatened by conflict, whether such conflict is geographic, religious, ethnic, racial, or class-based in its origin, derives from economic concerns (including trade or maldistribution of wealth), or is initiated through disputes concerning scarcity of natural resources (such as water and energy resources), food, trade, or environmental concerns.

(e) Media-Related Responsibilities- Respecting the first amendment of the Constitution of the United States and the requirement for free and independent media, the Secretary shall--

(1) seek assistance in the design and implementation of nonviolent policies from media professionals;

(2) study the role of the media in the escalation and de-escalation of conflict at domestic and international levels and make findings public; and

(3) make recommendations to professional media organizations in order to provide opportunities to increase media awareness of peace-building initiatives.

(f) Educational Responsibilities- The Secretary shall--

(1) develop a peace education curriculum, which shall include studies of--

(A) the civil rights movement in the United States and throughout the world, with special emphasis on how individual endeavor and involvement have contributed to advancements in peace and justice; and

(B) peace agreements and circumstances in which peaceful intervention has worked to stop conflict;

(2) in cooperation with the Secretary of Education--

(A) commission the development of such curricula and make such curricula available to local school districts to enable the utilization of peace education objectives at all elementary and secondary schools in the United States; and

(B) offer incentives in the form of grants and training to encourage the development of State peace curricula and assist schools in applying for such curricula;

(3) work with educators to equip students to become skilled in achieving peace through reflection, and facilitate instruction in the ways of peaceful conflict resolution;

(4) maintain a site on the Internet for the purposes of soliciting and receiving ideas for the development of peace from the wealth of political, social and cultural diversity;

(5) proactively engage the critical thinking capabilities of grade school, high school, and college students and teachers through the Internet and other media and issue periodic reports concerning submissions;

(6) create and establish a Peace Academy, which shall--

(A) be modeled after the military service academies;

(B) provide a 4-year course of instruction in peace education, after which graduates will be required to serve 5 years in public service in programs dedicated to domestic or international nonviolent conflict resolution; and

(7) provide grants for peace studies departments in colleges and universities throughout the United States.

If I wanted to caricature the left I couldn't do better than this.

The bill goes on but I think you get the point. Go and read the whole thing if you can stand to. You can also find it on THOMAS.

As you might expect, presidential hopeful Rep Dennis Kucinich is one of the sponsors. It's prominently displayed on his Kucinich 2008 website. He says he's got 52 cosponsors.

As things stand now it'll never get out of committee. However, if a Democrat wins the White House in 2008 and they expand their hold in Congress, all bets are off. To be sure, it would still be a long shot, but the left would push hard for it and if groups like Moveon.org expand their influence enough in the Democrat party then anything's possible. They'll at least push for it.

Posted by Tom at 5:44 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

April 10, 2007

Walter Reed Freep #103 - April 6, 2007 - The Easter Bunny from Hell

The moon may have been full last week, but I'm thinking there must have been a delayed effect on the Code Pink moonbats from down the street. "The Easter Bunny from Hell" showed up and did a little dance for our intrepid photographer

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Yikes! It doesn't get any scarier than that. Glad we keep the kids away from the moonbats or they'll be scarred for life. Mrs Trooprally appropriately titled the photo "I am a Moron" on her Photobucket site.

Fortunately for the troops the moonbats are relegated to a spot down the street from the main entrance where few can see them. Ever since Janury 2006 Free Republic has occupied all four corners at the main entrance. Troops, their families, and others working at the base going in and out only see us. From having spoken with I suppose hundreds over the past year and a half I can tell you they appreciate the support.

We also get quite a few honks and waves from motorists. Given that we've been doing this for two years, and most people take the same route to and from work, people know they're going to encounter us when driving along Georgia Avenue on Friday nights.

The moonbats get a few honks too, but I have to think that much of this is from people who think they're another group of pro-troops supporters. Code Pink has learned to bring along an American flag (note the singular) which I think is what fools them. Most of the time we put up our "Burma-Shave" signs to educate the public.

At any rate, motorists and passers-by cannot help but to notice our many flags

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Nothing singlular here about the American flag!

We also have several flags of our allies; those of the UK, ROK, and Australia fly proudly beside Old Glory.

The weather took a turn for the worse with near-freezing temperatures. Given that it was almost 80 earlier that week it seemed colder than it was. tgslTakoma has got her parka on and hood all the way up

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The reports were that a front might move in with wind, and possibly snow, so we decided against putting up the MOAB.

Albion Wilde, however, had a new sign she made that she brought with her. Given the political situation, I thought it very appropriate. Thank you, Albion!

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Here's Albion setting up another of her signs

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Speaking of the full-moon-it-should-have-been, we had a "debater" try and engage us. He was shouting all sorts of crazy stuff. Fraxinus, TFroatz, and Tolerance Sucks Rocks were chanting "Swim To Cuba" at him but as this guy seemed really nuts we eventally decided to leave him alone.

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Here's one more shot of the Easter Bunny from Hell with some of his(?) buddies. Cute peace sign, huh? Usually I don't waste so much time with the moonbats but these photos are just too good

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There were only about 8 of them total. What a pathetic showing!

Back to the Patriots

Ok, enough of those fools. Here is myself, Tom the Redhunter, Kristinn, and TFroatz at the main entrance

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Across the street were Tolerance Sucks Rocks, the made debater I mentioned earlier, VA FlagWaver, and Fraxinus.. The guy crossing the street at left is just a pedestrian.

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What It's All About

Probably because of the Easter holiday, they didn't send a bus of troopers and their families out to a restaurant this time. Our experience is that on holiday weekends families tend to take their sons and daughters out on their own, and so there are not as many around for such a trip. They also have special events on base for holiday weekends.

But as with most nights buses with wounded troopers, sometimes with their families too, come and go from the main entrance. Here's one that came by this evening

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Acknowledgements and More

Don't be shy! We'd love to have you with us one evening. Many times people stop by who are in town for business for the weekend, or are on vacation. If you'd like details on location, parking, etc, please send FReepmail to me, Tom the Redhunter, or to PleaDeal; VAFlagwaver; Cindy-True-Supporter; Albion Wilde, Trooprally, or any of the other regular attendees.


* A special Thank You to Mrs Trooprally for taking the photos for this AAR. You can find all of the photos she took for this FReep on her Photobucket site

* Thank you to BufordP for maintaining the BIG LIST of all Walter Reed FReeps.

* Thank you always to Kristinn and tgslTakoma for all the work they do. Kristinn is our chief organizer and gets the permits every week, and tgslTakoma hauls the MOAB, flags, most of the signs, and our "picnic table" back and forth every week.

* Tom the Redhunter blogs at The Redhunter

This post can also be seen at Free Republic.

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

April 9, 2007

Book Review - 182 Days in Iraq

I first met Phil Kiver this past January in Washington DC at the Free Republic counter-protest of United for Peace and Justice. He had on his trademark Seattle Mariners baseball shirt with "Iraq Veteran" on the back. He had a bullhorn and was conversing with the leftists who were marching past us.

The left takes great delight in making the "chickenhawk" charge, and as such the marchers were shouting "Serve! Serve! Serve!" in unison at us.

Through his bullhorn Phil would say back to them "I served in Iraq!"

Without missing a beat, the leftists would holler right back "if you liked it so much GO BACK!"

It was just another example of how you just can't win with these people. If you didn't serve you're a chickenhawk, if you did you're a warmonger who needs to go back to Iraq.

About a month later I saw him at CPAC signing his book, 182 Days in Iraq: Plus a Year of Reaction at Home. I picked up a copy. When he discovered I had a blog, he asked me to review it.

The book is basically a diary-type account of what he did every day in Iraq. It reads like an daily journal, and it looks like he published it without any editing having been done. He writes like people talk, his writing is overly colloquial. It's a series of quick observances, or ramblings, actually. They're mostly about other people, and it doesn't really add up to much. You won't learn what it's like to be in the army, in Iraq, or whether our strategy and tactics are correct from this book. This is odd, since Kiver's role there was as a journalist. This should have granted him a unique opportunity to see the "big picture". The average person in a hierarchy sees the world through a straw. Unfortuantely whatever Kiver reported on doesn't make it into this book.

Here's a typical entry

16 Oct 0700 hrs I'm out at the range again. I love coming out hre to shoot my rifle. There is a soldier sitting across from me whos name is McKeever. He is loud, obnoxious, and funny. It must be all in the name. I'm sitting here, and it is like listening to me talking. It is silly how similar this guy is to me.

Two points; one, you learn nothing about the army, Iraq, much of what it is like to be there, or whether we are winning about entries like this. Two, by comparing himself to the soldier Kiver describes himself as "obnoxious"; not exactly the way most people would want to be described.

I can't really even say that I'm completely sure what his job was in Iraq. I figured out that he was some sort of army journalist, but beyond that it's not clear. Was he a print or video journalist? Where were his stories published? Nowhere in the text that I found does he say. There are several mentions of interviews he did with high-ranking officers, and of videos that he made, but it's never clear what happened to any of the material. There's also little or nothing of substance about the interviews. What did all these high-ranking officers say?

Kiver is an unabashed supporter of the president and our mission in Iraq. Unfortunately one gets little sense of how the war is going from this book, or what we are doing right or wrong. This too is a bit odd, given that as a journalist he surely saw and heard more than the average foot soldiers.

The only section of real substance was his coverage of the trial of Staff Sergeant Ivan Frederick, one of the soldiers eventually convicted in the Abu Ghraib scandal. Kiver was at his trial, and we get a few pages that are worth reading.

The worst aspect of the book is that Kiver constantly criticizes the people around him, especially those in his own unit. Everyone is a dope except for him and a few others. Here are a few quick samples

p. 90-91 Here is what happened when we were outside the fence. I drove out there in a regular Ford Explorer with Specialist Birmingham. She, as usual, did nothing to provide security, just wandered around aimlessly. I however, had my rifle lying across the hood of the vehicle, scanning the highway for any sign of trouble from the passing motorists.

p. 146
I got a serious a**-chewing from my sergeant major today. At least they know I am alive. I really enjoy getting yelled at by people who know I am smarter than them. At least he has a college degree from Texas A & M, I think. My supervisors seemed to be so threatened by anything I proposed. It was as if I was making those suggestings for my own benefit. I wrote some things down on paper about Captain Dunkelberger and his shortcomings and our most recent trip, so the sergeant major got his dander all up.

p.170
Today I had to help officers with very simple tasks, which is funny and sad at the same time. First, I took a DVD over to Brigadier General Pullhman, and had to sit there while they made sure there was sound on it. One of the soldiers appeared to be being a little friendly toward me. She was skinny, with straight lines for a body, except her teeth, which were all crooked. Of course, I blew her off, regardless of what she looked like (Kiver is married - Tom). After that I had to go up to the palace and help a lieutenant colonel play a videotape and record it onto a DVD at the same time. This involved pushing play on the VCR, then pushing record on the DVD player. I know I have a master's degree, but seriously, everywhere I look I see dumb people.

p 189
It seemed that every radio show wanted to interview my commander, Lieutenant General Metz, about what happened in Mozul yesterday. The officers were running around like they were on crazy pills. I was as calm as could be. It just seems that some people need to relax and realize that the war will go on with or without them and their clipboards or notebads. I had just finished a most relaxing lunch hour in Building 25, with my beverage of choice for the afternoon. We got the s&*t ready and put the general in front of the camera. I had to tell him to quit moving around. He has a habit of shifting to this left, because he gets nervous. Afterward, he slapped me on the back and told mne our army is great because anyone can tell a general if he is doing something wrong. Yeah, right!

The italicized portions are what Kiver added after being at home for a year.

I could go on, but I think I've made my point.

Any book will include observances of people that are negative. This is to be expected in any honest portrayal. But in this book it's all rather excessive. Kiver himself is perfect while so many others are dopes. Perhaps Kiver's unit was disfunctional; I am in no position to judge. But after awhile of reading personal criticisms it all gets to be a bit much and one begins to suspect that the situation may be the opposite of what Kiver says it is. It is also telling that there is no serious analysis of the situation, just random personal criticisms.

I recommend that you go read the customer reviews on Amazon of this book. Several are by people who say they served with Kiver in Iraq. They are...interesting.

Kiver does make friends with several soldiers from allied armies, notably Italy, and his experiences with them are vaguely interesting. Again, though, Kiver mostly writes about the small stuff of interpersonal relationships; anyone hoping for information on the difference between the allied armies will have to go elsewhere.

I appreciate that Phil took time to be with us as we countered UPJ.

I cannot recommend this book.

Up Next: The Truth About Mohammed: Founder of the World's Most Intolerant Religion by Robert Spencer

Posted by Tom at 7:24 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

April 7, 2007

The Iranian Hostage Crisis: Khumeinist Victory

It is a very good thing that the 15 British sailors and Royal Marines are safe and back home. Whatever one thinks of the circumstances of their surrender and their behavior while in captivity, good people can only be happy that they have been returned back home without physical injury. Further, I am pleased to have been incorrect in my prediction that they would spend a long time in captivity.

What are the perceptions on each side? What did the Khumeinists hope to get out of this, and why didn't they hold their captives longer? How does this portend for the future?

In the West, opinion is divided between those who think that the way Blair and his government handled the situation proves that quiet diplomacy works best. This attitude is typified in an editorial in The Guardian condescendingly titled "The US can learn from this example of mutual respect"

The unexpectedly early resolution to the dispute between the UK and Iran over the detention of 15 sailors and marines in the Persian Gulf is the direct result of Iran's goodwill and a U-turn by the British government. After initially using threatening language and seeking to add an unnecessary international dimension to the dispute, it eventually opted for direct negotiations with Iran based on mutual respect.

It should be noted that the author of this piece, Abbas Edalat is identified at the bottom of the editorial as the founder of the Campaign Against Sanctions and Military Intervention in Iran.

No better, however, is an opinion piece in The Telegraph in which the author states that "Our Government's tactics were vindicated by the result." His only suggestion for the future is "the need for additional force protection for exposed naval units." We are reassured that in the long run "the episode will come to be seen as relatively minor in the sweep of events of the region." More appalling, perhaps, are the comments at the end by Britons; the majority of them are firmly in the leftist blame-Britain and America first crowd.

On the other side the editors of The Telegraph conclude in their lead piece that " They're free, but Britain has been humiliated". They are critical of the Blail government and the Royal Navy. However, they do not examine the long-term effects of such actions.

The editors of National Review make no bones about their position

By committing an act of war, Iran has simultaneously made itself look peaceful and made the West look impotent. ...

The way the crisis played out will have serious consequences in the Middle East. Iran proved that it is the region’s dominant power. Could any other country have attempted this and gotten away with it? Syria? Saudi Arabia? Egypt? Surely not. Britain, meanwhile, reinforced Iran’s view of the West as a decadent society that does not respond effectively to provocations and need not be feared. Perceptions matter: Recall the conclusions Osama bin Laden drew after the American retreat from Somalia. What we can expect now is greater aggression, from both Iran in particular and Islamists in general.

Kathleen Parker, writing in the Washington Post, made a particularly good point, I thought, when she said that

When a pretender to sanity such as Ahmadinejad gets to lecture the West about how it treats its women, we've effectively handed him a free pass to the end zone and made the world his cheerleaders.

Not only does the Iranian president get to look magnanimous in releasing the hostages, but he gets to look wise. And we in the West get to look humiliated, foolish and weak.

Quid pro Quos ?

In the resolution to the Cuban Missile Crisis the world was not told the full story, only that Khrushchev agreed to remove his missiles from Cuba. It was only years later that we discovered the secret deal whereby President Kennedy agreed to remove our Jupiter missiles from Turkey.

It is probable that there was a secret deal made this time, too. Charles Krauthammer thinks so

"The quid pro quos were not terribly subtle. An Iranian “diplomat” who had been held for two months in Iraq is suddenly released. Equally suddenly, Iran is granted access to the five Iranian “consular officials”—Revolutionary Guards who had been training Shiite militias to kill Americans and others—whom the U.S. had arrested in Irbil in January."

Mario Loyola agrees

As some of us predicted, the quid pro quo included concessions by the United States—we know that Iranian officials will now be allowed to visit the five Iranian "diplomats" detained by the United States in Iraq for supporting the insurgency.

There may be more that we don't know about.

Why The Quick Release?

Walid Phares (author of "Future Jihad"), concludes that

The risky Iranian adventure was smartly designed but poorly executed. There seems to be a gap between the “architects” (both inside and outside Iran) and the Ahmadinejad mediocre execution of the plans. At first, Iran was successful in steering the debate away from the UN sanctions then by executing a grotesque masquerade Tehran was on the verge of causing a disaster to itself. This is when the advisors quickly suggested a remedy that is to move to plan “B” abruptly. This leap salvaged Ahmadinejad from an imminent disaster.

"Plan B" took place when Ahmadinejad issued his pardon and said that he was releasing them as "a gift to the British people." Phares says that Ahmadinejad decided to release them "and invest heavily in their “merciful liberation.” "

Key mistakes, Phares says, were made by Iran when they paraded the British sailors and Royal Marines around on TV, making them put on what was an obviously rehearsed and scripted show. Once this propaganda machine got going, few people around the world believed the Iranian story about where the Brits were when they were captured. Rather, their heavy-handed tactics made it seem obvious that their intent was to create an incident in order to distract the world from Security Council action on their nuclear program. Once the game was up, they felt they had no choice but to change course.

Lastly, Phares makes the point that since the seized British sailors and Royal Marines were carrying out a UN-mandated inspection, any Khumeinist trial would provide the perfect causus belli for U.S. military action against the regime. In other words, they captured the wrong people to suit their goals.

Consequences

The bottom line is that Britain was humiliated and although Ahmadinejad and his fellows mishandled the situation they scored a propaganda victory. While it is impossible to know all that is going on behind the scenes in the Iranian government, it seems likely that this will encourage the Khumeinists that they can provoke us without fear of serious consequences, at least in the short term.

Bashar al Assad, dictator of Syria, also scored a small victory in this affair. His government is trumpeting the news that they played a role in the release of the captured Brits. Coming on the heals of Speaker Pelosi's disgraceful visit to Damascus, this can only shore up the Alawite regime.

One thing that is bound to be examined are the actions of the Britons while in captivity.
It's easy to be critical when you aren't in their shoes, so I won't be. But you'd have to be blind not to notice that they seemed to give in in awfully easy to the desire of their captors to use them in TV propaganda pieces, smiling and shaking hands with Ahmadinejad. You don't have to read very many accounts of U.S. pilots captured in the Vietnam War, or for that matter of any US or British troops captured by the Germans or Japanese during World War II, to know that things simply weren't done this way in days gone by. American troops have a code of conduct for such situations that the British don't have or seem to have forgotten. As I read one British commenter say somewhere, "we've come a long way since Bridge on the River Kwai"

Naysayers will point to the risks in escallating the situation. Threats to blockade Iran's oil exports, or destroy their only refinery capable of producing gasoline, are risky. Total economic embargoes are risky. In the short run, those who say that the result vindicates the strategy of the Blair government have a point.

But it's all so erily similar to the provocations of Hitler's government in the 1930s. The horrors of The Great War (WW I) was something no one in France or Britain wanted to repeat. Much safer, and how painless, to engage in negotiations.

Middle Eastern societies are "honor" societies. Face is all-important. The Khumeinists were determined to humiliate us. They were sending a message to everyone in the region that they have the ability to humiliate the West anytime they want to. Many of us in the West do not understand this. The idea of "turning the other cheek" is I believe pretty much a Christian (and to some extent Jewish) one and something one doesn't find in Islam. In our modern age we want to be magnanimous in victory and humble in defeat. Our better side tells is to avoid responding tit-for-tat to slights and insults. Unfortunately not everyone plays by our rules. We must never fall into the trap of mirror-image thinking.

If anyone really needed it, the incident should also put to final rest the notion that the UN Security Council can be counted on anything. Krauthammer again

The capture and release of the 15 British hostages illustrate once again the fatuousness of the “international community” and its great institutions. You want your people back? Go to the EU and get stiffed. Go to the Security Council and get a statement that refuses even to “deplore” this act of piracy. (You settle for a humiliating expression of “grave concern”). Then turn to the despised Americans. They’ll deal some cards and bail you out.

Unfortunately, the Bush Administration doesn't seem to have leared the proper lesson. Just today we learn that Secretary Rice " is willing to meet one on one with her Iranian counterpart at an international conference on Iraq" But what exacty is she going to say? "Please stop killing our soldiers or we'll get really angry?" As long as Iran doesn't directly provoke the U.S., they have little to fear from us now with Congressional Democrats doing everything they can to protect them from the US military. My own idiot senator, James Webb, even introduced legislation to "prohibit the use of funds for military operations in Iran." I'm sure the Iranians were most appreciative.

All this episode can do, I fear, is encourage Ahmadinejad and his fellows to believe that the West is a paper tiger that they need not fear. They will continue to thumb their nose at the UN and continue work on their bomb. A weakened President Bush may not act unless Iran attacks us directly. If a Democrat gets in the White House in 08, they certainly will not act. When Iran gets the bomb, talk will turn to "long range containment". We'll quickly discover, however, that we're not dealing with athiest communists but with religiously inspired fanatics who don't buy into Western conceptions of Mutually Assured Destruction. And then the consequences of not acting more firmly in what seems at the time a relatively small matter of a few sailors and Royal Marines will be driven home to us in a stark and brutal way.

Previous

The New Iranian Hostage Crisis
The New Iranian Hostage Crisis II
The Iranian Hostage Crisis: The Use and Misuse of "Soft Power"

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April 5, 2007

Book Review - "Future Jihad" - Part 7: Guidelines and Prescriptive Policies

In previous installments we have reviewed the global jihadist network as explained by Walid Phares in his book Future Jihad (scroll to the bottom for links). Today we will outline his recommendations as to how to deal with the problem.

Phares says right up front what the primary problem is and what we must do about it

The U.S. president, the U.S. Congress, and by extrapolation world leaders, including those in the Arab and Muslim world, must without any hesitation designate jihadism, as defined by Islamic fundamentalists (both Salafists and Khumeinists), as an enemy of world peace.

Future Jihad was published in 2004. Here we are three years later and we seem farther from doing this than ever.

A weakened President Bush will not want to incur the wrath of congressional Democrats who would scream bloody murder were he to talk about "jihad" as the enemy. Last September Senator Russ Feingold demanded the president stop using the term "Islamic Fascists", terming it "misleading and offensive". Earlier this week the Military Times reported that Democrats on the House Armed Services Committee "banished" the term "Global War on Terror". With political correctness running rampant through the halls of Congress we can't even properly identify our enemy, much less all agree to fight against them.

We are fighting an ideology, not a tactic. Yet a large segment of our political elites are intent on ignoring this. Fortunately, not all of us have our heads in the sand. The very brave Michelle Malkin recently introduced her "John Doe Manifesto" in response to lawsuits by CAIR in the incident of the "flying Imams". Go read it.

Otherwise, Phares has a number of recommendations. He is favorably disposed to the Patriot Act, and any legislation that "islolate(s) jihadism in the same way as it singles out racism and Nazism." Non-jihadist Muslims need not worry about harassment, as Islam is not targeted, but jihadism.

The establishment of the Department of Homeland Security was a good start, he says. But it should not just react to attacks, but should try to anticipate them and head them off. One way it can combat jihad is to identify the radical sources in the United States and send the equivalent of "social workers" to redirect "at risk" young Muslims.

As for foreign policy, we must adopt a strategy of identifying and supporting "Muslim humanists". Rather than support the Saudis or Mubarak's regime, we should lend our aid to nongovernmental organizations such as human rights groups, educational institutions, and intellectuals in the Muslim world who themselves want to combat jihadism.

Pressure groups in the West seek to confuse the public by screaming about "Islamophobia" at every turn. They use our laudable values of tolerance and sensitivity towards minority groups and religous differences against us. Their goal is to divert attention from the jihad. We must combat them.

What If We Get Bin Laden?

Let's just cut to the chase. We've all heard the taunt from liberals "why hasn't Bush gotten bin Laden?" Phares says that eliminating jihadist leaders won't make much difference, and I agree. While getting bin Laden is certainly desirable, I fear that if we do the liberal elites will declare the war over and won - and that we need to get back to the business of putting us all under the rule of the EPA.

If this series summarizing Future Jihad has done anything, it should have disabused you of the notion that our enemy is any one organization. Jihad is an ideology with may subsections. Further, many jihadists hate each other as much (or almost as much) as they hate infidels. Sometimes it almost reminds me of the scene in Life of Brian where some can't figure out whether the're part of the People's Front of Judea or the Judean People's Front. Or the Popular People's Front.

Conclusion

Phares says that the war will be won when "democracy and human rights improve in the Arab world".

Me: I agree. We can disagree over how to achive this goal, but whatever we do let's not fall into the twin traps of a quasi-racist cynicism ("democracy will never work for those people") or the pursuit of stability uber alles

Fortunately, many of us in the West have come to recognize the danger posed by jihadism. Me: Michelle Malkin's "John Doe Manifesto" linked to above is one of the things we are doing right. It may be that the radicals have overplayed their hand.

Although bombs and bullets are quite necessary at times, Phares reminds us that it is primarily a war of ideas

The war on terrorism ois winnable if the war of ideas is won. In layman's terms, a necessary condition of victory is to see clearly in the war on terror. But the sufficient condition is to be clear in the war of ideas. For if you want to reach out to the iuture generations of jihad, they must hear you, read you, and see an alternative to the jihadi teachings, madrassas, and vision. It boils down to simple propositions. The clearer the campaign, the more it will reachy future youth. The truth will set you free, it has been said, and the truth will set these captive minds free, too.

Ditto that.

Up Next:
Review of Phil Kiver's memoir 182 Days In Iraq

Previous

In Part 1 I introduced Walid Phares' book Future Jihad and explained the logic of jihad.
In Part 2 I mapped out the three branches of the jihad as identified by Phares.
In Part 3 we discussed methods of the jihad as told by Phares.
In Part 4 we covered how the Saudi Wahabists Undermine the West
Part 5 was about the success the Muslim Brotherhood has had in penetrating the government of Egypt, and it's success in establishing an Islamist government in Sudan

Part 6 addressed the history of al Qaeda, why Osama bin Laden attacked America and what he though would happen after September 11

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April 3, 2007

The Iranian Hostage Crisis: The Use and Misuse of "Soft Power"

For some years now elites in places like Europe and Canada have been peddling the idea of "soft power" in international relations.

Harvard Professor Joseph Nye is the architect of the idea of soft power, having laid it all out in his 2004 book Soft Power: The Means to Success in World Politics. In the preface to the book, Nye defines soft power

[Soft power] is the ability to get what you want through attraction rather than coercion or payments. It arises from the attractiveness of a country's culture, political ideals, and policies. When our policies are seen as legitimate in the eyes of others, our soft power is enhanced.

The Publishers Weekly review on Amazon identifies Nye as "assistant secretary of defense in the Clinton administration and is certain to be a key player in a new Democratic administration." So his is not a name to forget.

My brief investigation of Nye and his ideas seems to show that he's not a limp-wrist liberal who eschews hard power. Indeed, the Publishers Weekly review also says that he "gives credit to President Bush and his neoconservative advisers in their projection of "hard" military and economic power." Unfortunately we also get the same old tired "go it alone" criticisms, as if we had only waved the "soft power" magic wand a bit harder the "allies" would have all fallen in line.

But for all the benefits of soft power, they're not doing the captured British sailors and Royal Marines much good right now.

As the invaluable Victor Davis Hanson pointed out today;

Since 9/11 we have been lectured on the advantages of "soft" power, especially in the context of the economic engine of the EU used for moral purposes. But if the Europe Union is still extending trade credits to a belligerent that has committed an act of piracy against a fellow member, then there is neither soft or hard power, but no power at all.

To give Nye credit, he knows that soft power has limits

All power depends on context -- who relates to whom under what circumstances -- but soft power depends more than hard power upon the existence of willing interpreters and receivers. Moreover, attraction often has a diffuse effect, creating general influence rather than producing an easily observable specific action.

So nothing in this post should be construed as criticizing him directly. Indeed, from what I can tell, soft power has a lot to offer as a long-term strategy for dealing with Iran. The regime is hated by most of the people. We should be able to leverage that better than we have. I've offered my own criticisms of our policy in the past.

The Current Problem

But as we said above, soft power has its limits, and one of them is that it is simply inapplicable in the current situation.

Richard Fernandez pointed out the other day that had Prime Minister Blair "gone ugly early" by doing something such as immediately expelling all Iranian diplomats from his country and (hopefully) persuading at least a few European allies to do likewise, the situation today would be completely different. He could have frozen assets and the like. Taking a few simple steps like these would have placed the ball in the mullah's court. They, not Blair, would have had to take the first step towards diplomacy.

As it is, it was Blair who went the diplomatic route first. This took the pressure off of Iran and put the ball in Blair's court. Thus, it is Blair who looks like he is begging for a solution rather than Ahmadinejad.

Of course, there is also absolutely not even a hint of a threat of military power from the British. As VDH says in the article linked to above, Blair is both speaking softly and carrying a small stick.

How Long Will It Last?

A few days ago I tended to think the whole thing would be resolved fairly quickly. Yesterday I wrote that

The diplomats (will) work out some weasel words whereby the British say in effect "we don't think we violated Iran's sovereignty but if we did we're sorry and won't do it again". Immediately upon the release of the hostages Iran will crow that this language means that the UK agreed to never attack it.

I still think this is the way it will end, but now I'm not as sanguine that this will happen quickly. The more I think about it, the way things are going now the mullahs have every reason to string this out as long as possible. Their objectives are 1) to divert attention from their nuclear program, and 2) to show the Sunnis who's really in charge.

David Pryce-Jones pointed out today that the players are now caught in an "honor-shame" conundrum. Each demands an apology from the other, but since an apology means shame, a direct apology is out of the question.

The only ways out of this impasse are the exercise of immense ingenuity to devise a formula that saves the face of all concerned, or unarguable force. Caught in exactly this same predicament over Iran's nuclear program, the powers are equally uncertain how to play their hand. Shame and honour values are conducive to irrational emotion. The 15 now in prison are likely to have to endure a long and agonizing ordeal.

If Blair had moved quickly and decisively all this might have been avoided. Iran might just have said "uh, it really was a mistake, we meant to just turn their boat around" In setting this up, and you better believe they've been planning to seize hostages, the Iranians bet on Western weakness. Nothing I've seen so far has lead me to believe they calculated wrong.

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April 2, 2007

The New Iranian Hostage Crisis II

Mario Loyola nails it today in two articles posted on National Review. Actually only one is a full-fledged article, the other is a long comment on The Corner.

Here are key excerts from the first: "Nuclear Motives: Understanding why Iran took British hostages"

There’s no denying it. Iran’s capture of 15 British hostages was a stroke of cunning — and a brilliant one at that. The mullahs were in a pickle. They had decided to do two things which were going to push Washington closer to military action. They needed a diversion or a smokescreen — some way to make the Bush administration blink. And so far, it has worked. ... Tony Blair has asked Washington to stand back while he negotiates the release of the sailors from a position of weakness and utter humiliation. And what will get the sailors released? An apology is unlikely to be enough.

The hostages are a smokescreen, and the key question is: What does Iran need a smokescreen for? Two things — both of them dangerous escalations of the crisis on Iran’s part.

First, it became clear last week that the Security Council was going to agree on another sanctions resolution. Everyone knew the Iranians would reject it immediately. And Washington has now established a pattern of responding to every Iranian rejection by ratcheting up the tension in the Persian Gulf.

Indeed, as I pointed out yesterday in my first post on this crisis, we have two carrier battle groups in the Gulf, one based around the USS John C Stennis and the other around the USS Dwight D Eisenhower. The French also have one of their carriers, the Clemenceau, in the Gulf. Loyola adds that as we speak our two carriers are engaged in "live-fire" exercises, which were planned many weeks ago but the execution of which was perhaps speeded up.

But lets move on to the second reason Iran seized the hostages

(Iran) decided to announce on Sunday that they would stop making certain disclosures about their nuclear program to the International Atomic Energy Agency. This could have triggered a military response from the United States immediately. Why? Because Iran is due to launch a large-scale centrifuge-enrichment cascade at Natantz in a matter of weeks or months. This means that Iran will finally be able to start enriching enough weapons-grade uranium to manufacture warheads on a time-scale measured in months. Because of technical hurdles, they are probably still years away from producing a viable device. But they have now reached a point where they cannot keep advancing towards the production of nuclear warheads unless they stop cooperating with the IAEA and pull a veil of secrecy over their program.

In other words, they figure that if they have hostages we won't attack. It's kind of like the bank robber holded up with the teller. He figures that as long as he has a gun to her head the cops won't come storming in.

Iran also knows that in addition to the Stennis and Eisenhower battle groups, we can add the USS Ronald Reagan and USS Chester Nimitz in short order as well. Add that to the fact that our B-1bs and B-2s aren't doing much now and you've got a regime that has reason to be worried.

W

ith four aircraft-carrier battle groups, several hundred carrier-based strike fighters, and 20 strategic bombers just minutes or hours from Iran, the United States will have assembled everything it needs to cripple the regime and wipe out the most important elements of its nuclear program. Iran needs to know that this is the only alternative to complying with the Security Council resolutions. Otherwise, in a few years, Iran could be holding all of us hostage.

So Where Are the Brits?

The only British ship in the Gulf right now is the frigate HMS Cornwall, the ship the seized sailors and marines served on. To the best of my knowledge, no other ships, and certainly no Falklands-style fleet, has been ordered to set sail.

In the post on The Corner Loyola sums up the current British attitude

While Iran’s humiliating abuse of the sailors provoked outrage in Britain, the outrage has manifested mostly in a despondent impotence. On the British right, folks lament that years of Labour government have left the Royal Navy in the most decrepit and weakened state of its history; whereas from the left the government is criticized for wasting British power on a needless war in Iraq. Opinion seems unanimous that Britain is helpless.

I can just hear all of the heros of British history turning over in their graves. I've actually been to St Pauls Cathedral in London and saw where Lord Nelson and the Duke of Wellington are interned and I can imagine the stones are quaking right about now.

As for the Prime Minister

Tony Blair appears to be in a daze. Confronted with Iran’s abuse of his countrymen in an act of war, Blair threatens Iran with—of all things—isolation! Isolation—the very word occasions comic relief in Tehran. The latest reports suggest the hostages will be traded for a guarantee that British forces will not violate Iranian territory—at the precise moment we need to start doing precisely that in order to enforce Iran’s nuclear obligations. And London just might agree. How sad and humiliating for the British.

And indeed the stories today are about a "diplomatic solution" that may well entail just such a promise. Here are key excerpts of one from the Jerusalem Post

Iran's chief international negotiator said Monday that Iran wants to resolve the crisis over 15 captured British sailors through diplomacy, and that there was no need to put the crew on trial.

Ali Larijani said Iran's priority "is to solve the problem through proper diplomatic channels."
...

n Britain's part, "a guarantee must be given that such violation will not be repeated," he added.

Get it? The diplomats work out some weasel words whereby the British say in effect "we don't think we violated Iran's sovereignty but if we did we're sorry and won't do it again". Immediately upon the release of the hostages Iran will crow that this language means that the UK agreed to never attack it. True or not, it will have great propaganda value.

The purpose, then, is to remove the UK as a threat to their nuclear program. If the U.S. has to hit them, we may be alone.

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The Third Islamic Invasion of Europe

Islam scholar Bernard Lewis gave the Irving Kristol lecture at the American Enterprise Institute March 7 (via Melaine Phillips). Among other things, Lewis talked about "a return among Muslims to what they perceive as the cosmic struggle for world domination between the two main faiths--Christianity and Islam. " He points out that among religions, Christianity and Islam claim to be universal, unlike Hinduism or Judaism. In other words, Christianity and Islam want to spread the word to all people. This perception, he says, led to the centuries long struggle between the two for world domination. He then points out that Christians no longer wish to conquer in the name of their faith, however, while Muslims do.

The Muslim attack on Christendom, he says, has gone through three phases.

The first took place immediately after the death of Muhammed in 632 A.D. when Islam spread throughout Northern Africa, into Spain, and for a brief time, modern France. It challenged Byzantium but was eventually stopped, whereby a stalemate ensued. Through the Crusades Christians managed to temporarily recapture the Holy Lands, but in the end this was reversed.

In phase 2 the Muslim world attacked in Asia and Eastern Europe. This was largely carried out by the Turks, and they defeated the Byzantine Empire and tried, with varying success, to expand their empire. The Europeans were able to eventually reverse much of the gains made by the Ottoman Turks.

This brings us to phase 3, which is ongoing.

Lewis spends some time on Islamic radicalism, but then comes to the issue of Muslims in Europe who have immigrated there

Let me turn to the question of assimilation, which is much discussed nowadays. How far is it possible for Muslim migrants who have settled in Europe, in North America, and elsewhere, to become part of those countries in which they settle, in the way that so many other waves of immigrants have done? I think there are several points which need to be made. ...

I mentioned earlier the important difference in what one means by religion. For Muslims, it covers a whole range of different things--marriage, divorce, and inheritance are the most obvious examples. Since antiquity in the Western world, the Christian world, these have been secular matters. The distinction of church and state, spiritual and temporal, lay and ecclesiastical is a Christian distinction which has no place in Islamic history and therefore is difficult to explain to Muslims, even in the present day. Until very recently they did not even have a vocabulary to express it. They have one now.

Lewis also points the differences between becoming an American citizen and a British or French one. If you get American citizenship you're an American. Gaining the same in Europe does not make you English or French.

But then we get to the heart of the matter

What are the European responses to this situation? In Europe, as in the United States, a frequent response is what is variously known as multiculturalism and political correctness. In the Muslim world there are no such inhibitions. They are very conscious of their identity. They know who they are and what they are and what they want, a quality which we seem to have lost to a very large extent. This is a source of strength in the one, of weakness in the other.


The Islamic radicals have even been able to find some allies in Europe… They have a left-wing appeal to the anti-U.S. elements in Europe, for whom they have so-to-speak replaced the Soviets. They have a right-wing appeal to the anti-Jewish elements in Europe, replacing the Axis. They have been able to win considerable support under both headings. For some in Europe, their hatreds apparently outweigh their loyalties.


Where do we stand now? Is it third time lucky? It is not impossible. They have certain clear advantages. They have fervor and conviction, which in most Western countries are either weak or lacking. They are self-assured of the rightness of their cause, whereas we spend most of our time in self-denigration and self-abasement. They have loyalty and discipline, and perhaps most important of all, they have demography, the combination of natural increase and migration producing major population changes, which could lead within the foreseeable future to significant majorities in at least some European cities or even countries. But we also have some advantages, the most important of which are knowledge and freedom.

Lewis isn't bombastic, and doesn't make his points in the same style as an editorial writer or TV pundit would do. But that doesn't lessen the impact of his words.

We'll see if our advantages overcome theirs. I'm not optimistic, given the plethora of stories like this one that was repoted in a London newspaper on Sunday

Schools are dropping the Holocaust from history lessons to avoid offending Muslim pupils, a Governmentbacked study has revealed.

It found some teachers are reluctant to cover the atrocity for fear of upsetting students whose beliefs include Holocaust denial.
...

It found some teachers are dropping courses covering the Holocaust at the earliest opportunity over fears Muslim pupils might express anti-Semitic and anti-Israel reactions in class.

Who is assimilating whom?

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April 1, 2007

The New Iranian Hostage Crisis

Iran seized the British sailors because they believe that they can use them to achieve certain foreign policy goals and there is little chance of retaliation by Western powers. Unfortunately, they are probably right.

The main goal of the Khumeinists is to create a regional Imamate, or Shiite "superstate". They want to chase all Western powers from the region and subdue the Sunni powers. Shiites were shut out of the jihad for 13 centuries, and are in now with a vengance. More about the Khumeinists and why I call them that here and here.

Everthing I have read since the hostages were taken tells me that the Khumeinists are going to get away with their act of terror with no repercussions. What is going to happen, I think, is that Ahmadinejad or whoever's in control of this in Iran will hold the Britons for a few weeks, using them for television propaganda, then release them after Tony Blair issues what will amount to an apology. Ahmadinejad will declare that he could have tried the sailors and Royal Marines but in a grand act of mercy he will let them go. Meanwhile, diplomats and liberal editorial writers will issue soothing words about how lives were saved and "see quiet diplomacy does work."

What we will not want to notice is that Ahmadinejad and the Khumeinists mullahs will celebrate themselves, having learned the same lesson about the West that Osama bin Laden learned about the Americans after Beirut, Somalia, and the USS Cole.

It did not always used to be this way. The other day on The Corner Mark Steyn reminded us of how fast Margaret Thatcher responded to a naked act of agression in 1982

On April 2nd, the Argies seized the Falklands, which were all but undefended.

On April 5th a British task force of over 100 ships and 28,000 men sailed from England for the South Atlantic.

In three days! Talk about a rush to war, eh?

Wow. I'd forgotten how fast Maggie's response was.

Yes I know that there's a difference between the seizure of 15 sailors and Royal Marines and a piece of real estate. But on the other hand the military junta ruling Argentina was not really a threat to anyone but it's own citizens. The seizure of the Falklands was as much an attempt to divert public opinion from the failures of the junta as it was an expression of nationalism etc. Iran, or the "Khumeinist" as I think a is more accurate term, are a threat to the region and indeed the world. They are on the fast track to acquiring nuclear weapons, and if they choose to use them Western concepts of deterrance will not deter them.

Further, yes I know that the Royal Navy of today is a shell of what they had during the Cold War, to say nothing of earlier days. As Arthur Herman pointed out earlier this week, not only has the Royal Navy been dramatically cut in size, in the past few years, but "by this time next year, the once-vaunted Royal Navy will be about the size of the Belgian Navy, while its officers face a five-year moratorium on all promotions." If you don't believe me consider this chart (click to enlarge)

450px-RN_Surface_Fleet_Since_1960.JPG

At the time of the Falklands War the Royal Navy consisted of 50 frigates. Today it has 17. You get the point.

But what ultimately separates Thatcher from Blair is that the former knew that agression much be met with force or the credible threat of force immediately. You do not deal with a schoolyard bully by going to the teacher, but by whacking him with your textbook. Likewise, the Argentinians knew that while diplomats like Secretary of State Alexander Haig shuttled back and forth between London and Buenos Aires, the task force was slowly making its way south. And when it arrived, the time for diplomacy would be over. The Argentinian generals knew that the clock was ticking down to zero hour.

This time the clock is ticking upwards. The Khumeinists believe that they can keep the hostages as long as they like and there will be no military consequences. Blair has sent forth no task force and likely never will. The Argentinian generals lost their military gamble, but the truth is that it was a near-run thing that could have gone the other direction. The Khumeinists will likely not even have to risk a military gamble.

The irony is that the military balance is far more lopsided this time than it was in 1982, this despite Tony Blair's near emasculation of the Royal Navy. Although the Royal Navy has shrunk in size from times past, it is still larger and much more capable than anything the Iranians have. In addition, this time the British could most likely count on direct military support from the United States. In the Falklands War the Brits were largely on their own, with only limited logistical support from the US.

Further, there is much more that we could do today to harm the Khumeinists. Their economy is largely dependant on oil shipments, and we have many bases and a large fleet in the Persian Gulf right now. It would be very easy for us to blockade Iran.

The sad thing is that we don't even really need to resort to military force, even of the blockade type. If the European Union meant anything, they'd rally around a "member nation" and stop trade with Iran. As Mark Steyn pointed out in another editorial "the European Union is the Islamic Republic's biggest trading partner, accounting for 40 percent of Iranian exports." The EU could seriously punish Tehran if it wanted to. But it doesn't want to. One suspects that many Europeans secretly think that the British deserve this for their unholy alliance with the hated Bush.

To be sure, retaliation works the other way round too. There was not much the Argentinians could do around the world to make trouble for the British, whereas the Khumeinists can certainly give us a very difficult time.

But at least in the short run there is an awful lot we can do to punish the Iranians. We currently have the John Stennis and Eisenhower battle groups in the gulf. The French carrier Clemenceau is there as well, less capable than ours but could serve very well as a blockade enforcer. It is the British who are lacking in power. It is my understanding that the only ship they have in the region is the frigate HMS Cornwall, the very ship from which the sailors and marines are from.

What about the UN? Wasn't it supposed to resolve all these issues? Here's Steyn again in the article linked to above (hat tip LGF)

The U.N. will do nothing for men seized on a U.N.-sanctioned mission. The European Union will do nothing for its "European citizens." But if liberal transnationalism is a post-modern joke, it's not the only school of transnationalism out there. Iran's Islamic Revolution has been explicitly extraterritorial since the beginning: It has created and funded murderous proxies in Hezbollah, Hamas and both Shia and Sunni factions of the Iraq "insurgency." It has spent a fortune in the stans of Central Asia radicalizing previously somnolent Muslim populations. When Ayatollah Khomeini announced the fatwa against Salman Rushdie, it was not Iranians but British, Indian, Turkish, European, Asian and American Muslims who called for his death, firebombed bookstores, shot his publisher, fatally stabbed his translator and murdered anybody who got in their way.

So we live today in a world of one-way sovereignty: American, British and Iraqi forces in Iraq respect the Syrian and Iranian borders; the Syrians and Iranians do not respect the Iraqi border. Patrolling the Shatt al-Arab at a time of war, the Royal Navy operates under rules of engagement designed by distant fainthearts with an eye to the polite fictions of "international law": If you're in a ''warship,'' you can't wage war. If you're in a ''destroyer,'' don't destroy anything. If you're in a "frigate," you're frigging done for.

All our military power and the jihadists know that they have little to fear from most of it. As long as they refrain from acts as blatant as 9-11, they can pretty much do what they want. I hate to sound so pessimistic, but my guess is that the Khumeinists are going to get away with this with minimal consequnces and that it will lead to more and more agression on their part.

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