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October 30, 2007

Hate in London Mosques: A Warning to the U.S.

If we don't keep our guard up we're going to have this here in the U.S. From the Times of London

Lessons In Hate Found At Leading Mosques

Books calling for the beheading of lapsed Muslims, ordering women to remain indoors and forbidding interfaith marriage are being sold inside some of Britain’s leading mosques, according to research seen by The Times.

Some of the fundamentalist works were found at the bookshop in the London Central mosque in Regent’s Park, which is funded by the Saudi regime and is regularly visited by government ministers. Its director, Ahmad al-Dubayan, is also a Saudi diplomat and was among those greeting King Abdullah when he arrived in Britain last night for his official state visit.

Extremist literature, including passages supporting the stoning of adulterers and waging violent jihad, was also found on sale at many other mosques regarded as mainstream institutions.

More than 80 books and pamphlets were collected during a year-long project in which researchers visited 100 mosques across Britain.

Read the whole thing but I think you get the point.

Melanie Phillips warned about this sort of thing in her 2006 book Londonistan, so no one should say they're really surprised.

Meanwhile, close to where I live we have an Saudi funded school, and some are worried about what they're teaching. From The Washington Times

Fairfax County officials are reviewing Arabic-language textbooks at a private Islamic school after a federal panel's recommendation that the school be closed.

The county does not expect to find problems with the textbooks at the Islamic Saudi Academy, in McLean, but wants to study the issue "to put the matter to rest," county spokeswoman Merni Fitzgerald said yesterday.

Earlier this month, a federal human rights panel recommended the academy be shut down until a review was conducted to ensure the school is not espousing radical Islam. The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom said in a report issued Oct. 17 that it had no direct evidence of a problem at the academy but is concerned that the school closely mimics a typical Saudi education, which some critics say promotes intolerance of Christians, Jews and Shi'ite Muslims.

The academy, subsidized by the Saudi government, has nearly 1,000 students in grades K-12 at two campuses, in Alexandria and Fairfax. The Alexandria site is leased from Fairfax County.

So the county "does not expect to find problems with the textbooks". Apparently they missed former Director of the CIA James Woolsey's November 16, 2005 testimony before the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, where he said that

On all points except allegiance to the Saudi state Wahhabi and al Qaeda beliefs are essentially the same.

You can't say it any more plainly than that, can you?

Fortunately some people in the U.S. are trying to spread the alarm. One of them is the invaluable David Horowitz. His Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week ran October 22-26, and he's got a complete report on his website FrontPage Magazine.

The week of October 22-26 witnessed the largest, most successful campus demonstrations by students not associated with the anti-American left in the history of campus protests. 114 college and university campuses participated in “Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week, which highlighted the threat from the Islamic jihad, and the oppression of Muslim women. It featured speakers such as former Senator Rick Santorum, Ann Coulter, Robert Spencer, Nonie Darwish, Wafa Sultan, Michael Medved, Dennis Prager and Daniel Pipes, and was organized by the David Horowitz Freedom Center with the help of Young America’s Foundation and the Leadership Institute.

Do I have to tell you to read the whole thing?

We had better listen to people like Horowitz and his list of speakers, or it's going to be Washingtonistan DC before long.

Posted by Tom at 8:57 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

October 28, 2007

Understanding our Strategy in Iraq: Part II

Frederick Kagan, one of the authors of the "surge" stragegy, has a worthwhile article in The Weekly Standard. He explains (once again) why we have been successful in routing al Qaeda in 2007, whereas previous strategies failed.

How did we achieve this success? Before the surge began, American forces in Iraq had attempted to fight al Qaeda primarily with the sort of intelligence-driven, targeted raids that many advocates of immediate withdrawal claim they want to continue. Those efforts failed. Our skilled soldiers captured and killed many al Qaeda leaders, including Abu Musab al Zarqawi, but the terrorists were able to replace them faster than we could kill them. Success came with a new strategy.

Al Qaeda excesses in Anbar Province and elsewhere had already begun to generate local resentment, but those local movements could not advance without our help. The takfiris--as the Iraqis call the sectarian extremists of al Qaeda--brutally murdered and tortured any local Sunni leaders who dared to speak against them, until American troops began to work to clear the terrorist strongholds in Ramadi in late 2006. But there were not enough U.S. forces in Anbar to complete even that task, let alone to protect local populations throughout the province and in the Sunni areas of Iraq. The surge of forces into Anbar and the Baghdad belts allowed American troops to complete the clearing of Ramadi and to clear Falluja and other takfiri strongholds.

The additional troops also allowed American commanders to pursue defeated al Qaeda cells and prevent them from reestablishing safe-havens. The so-called "water balloon effect," in which terrorists were simply squeezed from one area of the country to another, did not occur in 2007 because our commanders finally had the resources to go after the terrorists wherever they fled. After the clearing of the city of Baquba this year, al Qaeda fighters attempted to flee up the Diyala River valley and take refuge in the Hamrin Ridge. Spectacular bombings in small villages in that area, including the massive devastation in the Turkmen village of Amerli, roughly 100 miles north of Baghdad, that killed hundreds, were intended to provide al Qaeda with the terror wedge it needed to gain a foothold in the area. But with American troops in hot pursuit, the terrorists had to stay on the run, breaking their movement into smaller and more disaggregated cells. The addition of more forces, the change in strategy to focus on protecting the population, both Sunni and Shia, and the planning and execution of multiple simultaneous, and sequential operations across the entire theater combined with a shift in attitudes among the Sunni population to revolutionize the situation.

Some now say that, although America's soldiers were successful in this task, the next battle is hopeless. We cannot control the Shia militias, they say. The Iraqis will never "reconcile." The government will not make the decisions it must make to sustain the current progress, and all will collapse. Perhaps. But those who now proclaim the hopelessness of future efforts also ridiculed the possibility of the success we have just achieved. If one predicts failure long enough, one may turn out to be right. But the credibility of the prophets of doom--those who questioned the veracity and integrity of General David Petraeus when he dared to report progress--is at a low ebb.

There is a long struggle ahead in Iraq, in Afghanistan, and elsewhere against al Qaeda and its allies in extremism. We can still lose. American forces and Afghan allies defeated al Qaeda in Afghanistan in 2001 as completely as we are defeating it in Iraq. But mistakes and a lack of commitment by both the United States and the NATO forces to whom we handed off responsibility have allowed a resurgence of terrorism in Afghanistan. We must not repeat that mistake in Iraq where the stakes are so much higher. America must not try to pocket the success we have achieved in Iraq and declare a premature and meaningless victory. Instead, let us be heartened by success. We have avoided for the moment a terrible danger and created a dramatic opportunity. Let's seize it.

If we choose to fail than surely we shall. If those who want us to prematurely declare victory and leave get their way, they may achieve short-term political gain for themselves, but at the cost of long-term disaster for the U.S. and world. If we stick it out we might not win, but given the cost of defeat it's worth it to try. Our current strategy is working, so let's stick with it.


Previous:
Understanding our Strategy in Iraq

The "Surge" Plan

Choosing Victory: A Plan for Success in Iraq

Posted by Tom at 8:30 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

October 26, 2007

Good News from Iraq

Here are some articles that are enough to make a Democrat's head explode

Reuters: Violence in Iraq drops sharply: Ministry

Violence in Iraq has dropped by 70 percent since the end of June, when U.S. forces completed their build-up of 30,000 extra troops to stabilize the war-torn country, the Interior Ministry said on Monday. ... While the leaders have failed to agree on key laws aimed at reconciling the country's warring sects, the troop buildup has succeeded in quelling violence.

Under the plan, U.S. troops left their large bases and set up combat outposts in neighborhoods while launching a series of summer offensives against Sunni Islamist al Qaeda, other Sunni Arab militants and Shi'ite militias in the Baghdad beltway.

Interior Ministry spokesman Major-General Abdul-Karim Khalaf told reporters that there had been a 70 percent decrease in violence countrywide in the three months from July to September over the previous quarter.

For the millionth time, what we did NOT do is send more troops over there to do the same thing. The offensive is working

The Washington Post: Al-Qaeda In Iraq Reported Crippled

The U.S. military believes it has dealt devastating and perhaps irreversible blows to al-Qaeda in Iraq in recent months, leading some generals to advocate a declaration of victory over the group, which the Bush administration has long described as the most lethal U.S. adversary in Iraq.

But as the White House and its military commanders plan the next phase of the war, other officials have cautioned against taking what they see as a premature step that could create strategic and political difficulties for the United States. Such a declaration could fuel criticism that the Iraq conflict has become a civil war in which U.S. combat forces should not be involved. At the same time, the intelligence community, and some in the military itself, worry about underestimating an enemy that has shown great resilience in the past.

"I think it would be premature at this point," a senior intelligence official said of a victory declaration over AQI, as the group is known. Despite recent U.S. gains, he said, AQI retains "the ability for surprise and for catastrophic attacks." Earlier periods of optimism, such as immediately following the June 2006 death of AQI founder Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in a U.S. air raid, not only proved unfounded but were followed by expanded operations by the militant organization.

There is widespread agreement that AQI has suffered major blows over the past three months. Among the indicators cited is a sharp drop in suicide bombings, the group's signature attack, from more than 60 in January to around 30 a month since July. Captures and interrogations of AQI leaders over the summer had what a senior military intelligence official called a "cascade effect," leading to other killings and captures. The flow of foreign fighters through Syria into Iraq has also diminished, although officials are unsure of the reason and are concerned that the broader al-Qaeda network may be diverting new recruits to Afghanistan and elsewhere.

AQI was and is the biggest threat to Iraq. Yes private militias are a danger and will have to be dealt with firmly. Yes there are national political issues that must be resolved. But as I've said a hundred times, you cannot have a political solution before you have a military one.

The New York Post: No 'Nightmare'

... it's not just numbers that make the case that the civil war is ending. Look, too, at what the new strategy lets commanders do in their now-daily discussions with ordinary Iraqis.

Petraeus reports that foreign (non-Iraqi) recruits conduct over 80 percent of al Qaeda's attacks; and therefore, by refocusing local tribal leaders on this fact, American commanders are making a convincing argument to the sheiks: Why launch an indiscriminate reprisal against another sect, ratcheting up the level of violence, when you can simply tell us and Iraqi security forces where the foreign insurgents are and we'll go get them? The numbers say that's exactly what's happening.

A people drowning in sectarian violence and warped by perpetual vengeance aren't going to immediately engage in political reconciliation. Security improvements must first dampen the violence, lower tensions and restore humanity. This is exactly what Petraeus has done, and we have finally begun providing the tangible security improvements necessary for lasting political solutions at the local and national levels.

Although many hope to convince America otherwise, the Iraq war has fundamentally changed in '07. It's not a civil war anymore. It's the people of Iraq vs. al Qaeda and Iranian proxies, with the U.S.-led Coalition helping the Iraqi people swing their sword of sovereignty.

Michael Yon: Achievements of the Human Heart

Yon posts a letter he received from LTC James Crider, who commands the 1-4 CAV:

While the situation is always fragile, we have the initiative and the enemy here spends much more time reacting to us than we do to him. He can hide from us but he cannot hide from his neighbor.

Once abandoned streets are now filled with families and budding entrepreneurs who continue to open new small businesses every week. We have made available grants for small businesses in our area and they have become immensely popular as you can imagine. I cannot walk the streets without children asking me for a soccer ball and “chocolate” (meaning any kind of candy) and adults asking for a micro grant application or for the status of the one they already filled out. They use these grants to open new businesses or improve their existing one and it is working well.

Our area now has a men’s fashion store, fish markets, pharmacies, bakeries, and even two new gyms. We recently helped refurbish a once neglected clinic into a first class location for health care. They have a small lab, dentists, a sonogram machine, x-ray machine, and other new equipment. Our medical platoon recently spent several hours with local doctors and nurses treating patients for every day aches and pains with donated medical supplies from a humanitarian organization. I even watched our physician’s assistant pull a watermelon seed out of a young girl’s ear (sound familiar to any one?).

We also recently completed work on a soccer field that is used nightly by the young people here. Much to our surprise, on the opening night, each team had “1-4 CAV” printed on the back of their soccer jerseys. It is not uncommon for us to see guys with these jerseys on walking down the street. A second soccer field will open shortly.

But if we leave too early....

Jeff Emanuel, writing from inside Iraq, tells us that


I have sat in on meetings – both above-board and clandestine – with sheiks and tribal leaders, who want the coalition to help them help themselves and their people to achieve better and more secure lives, despite the fact that being seen consorting with the Americans immediately puts a price on each of these leaders’ heads. In these meetings (as well as out on the street), I have heard the concern voiced – more times than I can even count – that the coalition, which currently remains the sole source of stability and security in this country, will give in to the cries from home to abandon the Iraqi people to death, and will finally do so.

I have patrolled neighborhoods with coalition and Iraqi forces, attended elite Iraqi Police training courses conducted by U.S. Special Forces, and gone on operations entirely planned and led by Iraqi Security Forces (ISF). Though these organizations cannot yet hold a candle to their American counterparts in proficiency or professionalism (and will not likely be able to do so at any time in the near future), they are improving, and have scored some major (if inadvertent) successes, including the recent breaking up of an al Qaeda rape and terror ring in Samarra.

I have participated in combat operations which were driven solely by intelligence provided by Iraqi citizens who knew of terrorist plots and personnel in the area and called the Americans to let them know; likewise, I, along with the soldiers whom I have covered, have had my life saved several times by tips from the Iraqi citizenry about IEDs and ambushes put into place to kill us.
...


While the ‘Surge’ is inarguably having an effect militarily in many different areas of Iraq, the fact is that this country is still broken beyond the comprehension of most people who are sitting comfortably at home in America. To say that there is a great deal of instability, unrest, and upheaval here would be to make an understatement on a massive scale – and, were the U.S. to leave at any point in the near-term future, the vacuum that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad spoke of in the very recent past (which his imperialistic Iran would love to fill) would most certainly become a reality.

But despite some occasional good work, Michael Yon says that the media generally misinform us


Anyone who has been in Iraq for longer than a few months, visited a handful of provinces, and spoken with a good number of Iraqis, likely would acknowledge that the reality here is complex and dynamic. But in the last six months it also has been increasingly hopeful, despite what the pessimistic dogma dome allows Americans and British to believe.
...

I came to Iraq in December 2004 specifically because friends in the military had been telling me about the disconnect between the situation on the ground and the media coverage about it.

,,,it wasn’t until I spent that week back in the States that I realized how bad things have gotten. I believe we are witnessing a conspiracy of coincidences conflating to exert an incomprehensibly destructive force on the free press system that we largely take for granted. The fact that the week in question also happened to be when General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker were delivering their reports to Congress makes me wonder if things are actually worse than I’ve assessed, and I returned to Iraq sadly convinced that General Petraeus now has to deal from a deck clearly stacked against him in both America and Iraq.

Clearly, a majority of Americans believe the current set of outdated fallacies passed around mainstream media like watered down drinks at happy hour. Why wouldn’t they? The cloned copy they get comes from the same sources that list the specials at the local grocery store, and the hours and locations of polling places for town elections. These same news sources print obituaries and birth announcements, give play-by-play for local high school sports, and chronicle all the painful details of the latest celebrity to fall from grace.

So we're winning, but it's difficult, will take a long time, victory is not assured, and Iraq needs a lot of repair, both physically and spiritually. Trends are definately in our favor.

Posted by Tom at 7:54 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

October 23, 2007

"Britain's Terrible Problem"

The invaluable Melanie Phillips has moved her blog (or "diary", as she calls it) to The Spectator. If you haven't already, bookmark it and make it part of your regular reading.

Phillips is best known for exposing the radical Islam that has so deeply permeated into Great Britain in her 2006 book Londonistan.

Her recent post Britain's Terrible Problem struck me as particularly important. We're all supposed to believe something along the lines of "the vast majority of Muslims are nice peaceful people and only a tiny minority are terrorists." Once again Phillips demonstrates that the pc emperor has no clothes:

More very alarming evidence indeed of the attitudes of ‘mainstream’ British Muslims. As the Telegraph reports, the Conservative Muslim Forum, a body set up by David Cameron to advise the Conservatives on Muslim issues and which is headed by Lord Sheikh, has condemned the government’s support for Israel on the grounds that this displeases Muslims and says that Iran has ‘legitimate’ reasons for wanting nuclear weapons. It also argues that preachers who advocate a rejection of democracy and its institutions should not be denied entry into Britain.

In the document, the group says:

Regardless of the foreign policies of the United States, hostility to Iran is not in Britain’s national interest. A constructive engagement with Iran offers many possibilities for progress.

But of course, this inverts the facts. Britain is not hostile to Iran; Iran has declared war upon Britain and the west. There can be no ‘constructive engagement’ with a country that is currently blowing up our soldiers in Iraq. For British citizens to state that although they oppose Iran getting nuclear weapons, it has legitimate reasons for wanting them when it is committed to the destruction of Israel and war against the west, is appalling.

Indeed, Iran declared war against the west some 38 years ago, it's just that many people have refused to recognize that fact. But then, many on the left don't believe that Iran is supplying weapons to the insurgents in Iraq at all. They think it's all an invention of the Patriarchal-Imperialist-Bush-Cheney-Halliburton-War-Machine, or however that one goes these days.

No, I am not saying we should bomb Iran now. We might need to at some point in the near future, but right now our efforts should be focused towards replacing the current regime with a truely democratic, pluralistic one.

Lest you think that it's all in Phillips' mind, and that we on the right are all making up this bit about Jihadist Islam being a threat, I'll just cut the the end of her post

...the MCB (Muslim Council of Britain) itself subscribes to the philosophy of Maulana Maududi, who along with Syed Qutb was one of the founding fathers of modern jihadi Islamism. Its spokesman, Inayat Bungalwala, has said he is committed to the Islamisation of Britain. Furthermore, it shelters under its umbrella many groups which are even more extreme.

Shocking as all this is, nothing in the document, alas, is surprising. These extremist attitudes are mainstream among British Muslims. The fact that they are regarded as ‘moderate’ — by a British political and educated class that in no small measure actually shares the animus expressed here towards Israel and America —is why Britain has such a terrible problem.

This document follows the recent pronouncement by the 138 Muslim religious leaders reported here which, although hailed as an olive branch to the Christian church, was actually a demonstrable threat. It is only when other Muslims come out and denounce these attitudes loud and clear for the treacherous, bigoted and lethal opinions that they are that we will have any hope that Britain’s Muslims will join the struggle against the jihad instead of fanning the flames of religious war.

Unfortunately, given the attitude of left-wing political correctness and multicularism that is so pervasive in the UK (where it's even worse than here in the U.S.) I wouldn't count on many people demanding these Muslim groups change their attitudes.

Update

Via LGF, Nile Gardiner at NRO has more on this Conservative Muslim Forum group. Apparently they were created by the British Conservative Party. Head over there and read all the gory details, such as the CMF's support of the current Iranian regime.

Maybe it really is the end of the world as we know it.

Posted by Tom at 8:32 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

October 20, 2007

Why We Fight

Via StrategyPage, two instructional videos on why it's ok to beat your wife if you are a Muslim.


Any questions?

Posted by Tom at 9:31 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

October 18, 2007

Coming to a School Near You...Next

This post by Carol Iannone on the Phi Beta Con blog over at NRO is so good it's worth reprinting here in its entirety

A couple of weeks ago, the New York Post reported that the foot washing basins are coming to New York University.

The Muslims also have to wash their arms, ears, nostrils, faces, necks, and heads, so they may still need the sinks.

Here is a description of the washing before prayer from an Islamic website. (I've lost the link but there are numerous websites giving these instructions.) This is done five times a day every day:
— Before Wudu you make your intention. Then start with washing the hands as far as the wrists. You perform this 3 times.
— Rinse out the mouth with water using the right hand. You perform this 3 times.
— Wash the nostrils by sniffing up water and blowing it out. You perform this 3 times.
— Wash the face 3 times .
— Wash each arm up to the elbow. You perform this 3 times.
— Wipe or rub the head with the inside of the fingers. You perform this once.
— Clean the inside of the ears with the index fingers and the back of the ears with the thumbs. You perform this once.
— Wipe the back of the neck. You perform this once.
— Wash the feet up to the ankles. You perform this 3 times

Read on, it gets worse.

The website also says that there are special rules for situations where water is not readily available, but the example offered is the desert.

CAIR has published guides for employers, schools, prisons, hospitals, etc., on the special needs of Muslims that they say must be accommodated in these places. These pamphlets appear to be the source for a lot of what we're hearing of Muslim demands. For example, they insist that no Muslim should be expected to serve or sell alcohol. They do not say that Muslims should avoid taking jobs where alcohol is part of the work. On the washing business, they recommend using the sinks in restrooms for the ritual washing. In hospitals and nursing homes, aides should help Muslims who cannot perform the ritual washing by themselves. Students in public schools should be allowed to perform the ablutions and the prayers. In schools or the workplace, Muslims performing the prayers cannot be approached for any reason but an emergency and no one may walk in front of them. In public schools, they want qualified Islamic experts to be brought into the classrooms to explain Islam, and they call it an error to say that Allah is the Muslim God. He must be seen as the same God as of Judaism and Christianity, even though Islam calls Abraham a Muslim and says he nearly sacrificed Ishmael not Isaac, and the Muslim "Jesus" cannot be called the Son of God, did not die on the cross, and was not resurrected, all of which completely negates the entire Christian faith.

One wonders how this can be going on in public schools when the Supreme Court has ruled that even voluntary prayer is disallowed, when we have people mounting lawsuits to take "under God" out of the pledge and going into paroxysms of protest at the merest hint of God or Christianity in the public sphere. So much fear is focused on Muslims being violent that this kind of thing is being overlooked. People are grateful that they're just washing their feet instead of becoming suicide bombers. But it is proof that Muslims are not assimilating, that they expect America to accommodate them, and not vice versa, and that it is not just jihad but everyday ordinary Muslim practices that will present problems to America.

One recalls how the supporters of mass immigration always insist that new immigrants are assimilating just as immigrants did in the past, and how they call people racists, nativists, and xeonophobes for the mildest demurral. But it is obvious from reading the guides that Muslims are counting on their growing numbers to make more and more demands on society while the rest of us sputter in protest or sheepishly go along. They are not even willing to modify or adapt an intrusive practice that is inconsiderate and discourteous to the majority of people with whom they work and study who must use the resrooms for ordinary purposes. As for the idea of installing special foot basins, it is obviously an unwarranted public accommodation of religion, but because the Muslims' washing their feet in the sinks is so repellant (leading to "wet floors, dirty conditions," and "uncomfortable moments"), and because political correctness and the principle of non-discrimination has gone so far, and because of the practiced nonchalance of today in which everything is supposed to be accepted, no one protests. Not even those who would grow hot with rage at any public display of Christianity.

The CAIR guides also make plentiful use of the concept of "diversity." And Islamic spokesmen have learned to use the language of rights, pluralism, inclusiveness, in their debased multiculturalist meanings, to further their encroachments, such as demanding halal foods in public school lunchrooms. A spokesman on televison seemed to think that this is what America owes Muslims, that this is the promise of inclusiveness, tolerance, pluralism, etc., that there should be this much accommodation of Muslim demands. And of course no one is telling him otherwise. No one is telling him that if they want this level of religious observance, America allows them to create their own religious schools with their own money, not to renovate the public scools to fit their customs. Likewise, when it comes to serving or selling alcohol, no one is telling them that American freedom and prosperity means that Muslims do not have to take jobs that require dealing with alcohol.

But it's not just the Left to blame for this state of affairs. The Right with its claims of America as a "universal nation" is also to blame. Theodore Dalrymple writes about how Scotland and Italy are succumbing to sharia laws. Dalrymple lives in Europe so he doesn't see that it is also happening here, despite all the happy talk about Muslims in America assimilating better than in Europe.

I believe that Muslims would adapt if they met any resistance, but they see all this diffidence and fatuous servility toward them and so their only thought is to proceed with their sense of entitlement and make more demands. (A Muslim student at NYU did feel uncomfortable, which could be the basis for some kind of change in behavior: "Having other students 'just walking in and seeing us have our feet in the sink - it's awkward,' she added.")

The president has unfortunately led the way in this, albeit out of good intentions. He has gone so far into the "universalism" that he has come to believe that America stands for nothing but openness and inclusiveness, has no culture whatsoever, and exists only to accommodate every group that deigns to gift us with their presence in full multicultural fashion. Thus his annual White House iftar dinner celebrating Ramadan.

According to one article:

"President and Mrs. Bush host an iftar dinner every year because they want people around the world to know how much they respect Islam and the many Muslims living in the U.S. who are free to worship as they want, and are an integral part of our society," said Gordon Johndroe, spokesman for the White House National Security Council.

Actually it sends the opposite message. Not that they are part of us, but that they are separate and require separate homage to their religion at the White House. Also, the dinner is meant to prove that Bush is not an enemy of Islam, but those who believe that are not going to be put off by the annual dinner. The dinner just encourages them to expect more servility and to look for other ways in which Muslims are not being specifically served or accommodated.

It is not really called for that an American president host White House dinners in honor of Islam in order to show Muslims that he respects them. The American Constitution respects them and he is supposed to uphold the Constitution. Actually, believe it or not, time was when we would expect the groups to show that they respect America, not that our president would have to make a display of showing his respect toward them. And of course the WH makes no mention of the fact that Muslims' being "free to worship as they want" is presenting a burden to others and is producing behavior that is entirely out of keeping with American standards of public comportment.

Furthermore, the president has accepted the Muslim view of God. Cal Thomas expresses dismay that Bush has professed on Al Arabiya television that the Muslim God is the same as the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Jesus that we know from the Bible. Bush does this explicitly in the name of "universality," indicating that becoming universal means eventually losing what is most dear.

Ditto to everything Iannone says.

What insanity.

Posted by Tom at 8:33 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

October 16, 2007

A Tale of Two Houses

The following is an email that's been making the rounds

Status at Snopes: True

House #1

A 20 room mansion ( not including 8 bathrooms ) heated by natural gas. Add on a pool (and a pool house) and a separate guest house, all heated by gas. In one month this residence consumes more energy than the average American household does in a year. The average bill for electricity and natural gas runs over $2400/mo. In natural gas alone, this property consumes more than 20 times the national average for an American home. This house is not situated in a Northern or Midwestern "snow belt" area. It's in the South.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Now let's look at house #2

House #2

Designed by an architecture professor at a leading national university. This house incorporates every "green" feature current home construction can provide. The house is 4,000 square feet ( 4 bedrooms ) and is nestled on a high prairie in the American southwest. A central closet in the house holds geothermal heat-pumps drawing ground water through pipes sunk 300 feet into the ground. The water (usually 67 degrees F. ) heats the house in the winter and cools it in the summer. The system uses no fossil fuels such as oil or natural gas and it consumes one-quarter electricity required for a conventional heating/cooling system. Rainwater from the roof is collected and funneled into a 25,000 gallon underground cistern. Wastewater from
showers, sinks and toilets goes into underground purifying tanks and then into the cistern. The collected water then irrigates the land surrounding the house. Surrounding flowers and shrubs native to the area enable the property to blend into the surrounding rural landscape.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

HOUSE #1 is outside of Nashville, Tennessee; it is the abode of the "environmentalist" Al Gore.

HOUSE #2 is on a ranch near Crawford, Texas; it is the residence
of the President of the United States, George W. Bush.

An "inconvenient truth".

Yes I am aware that just because Algore is a hypocrite of monumental proportions does not automatically make him wrong on his global warming theories, or that just because President Bush lives in an enviromentally friendly house makes him right, so please don't anyone waste time leaving comments along those lines.

But that said my reaction to the email is

BRAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHA

Posted by Tom at 9:55 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

October 14, 2007

"Phony Democrats"

I don't have much to say about the whole Media Matters/Rush Limbaugh situation, other than that Limbaugh is a giant among lilliputians. That said, I rather liked this post by Scott Johnson over at Power Line last week

In the recent past prominent Democratic officeholders have made remarkably insulting and/or counterfactual statements about our soldiers and their leaders. Among the recurring themes are the proposition that our troops are stupid and their leaders are liars. Has anyone compiled these statements? I think they would provide useful context for the phony "phony soldiers" controversy orchestrated by Hillary Matters and executed by HM's dutiful Democratic poodles. I have a few that come to mind this morning.

Harry Reid (on "the surge"):

Now I believe, myself, that the secretary of state, the secretary of defense and you have to make your own decision as to what the president knows: that this war is lost, that the surge is not accomplishing anything.

Dick Durbin (on Guantanamo):

If I read this to you and did not tell you that it was an FBI agent describing what Americans had done to prisoners in their control, you would most certainly believe this must have been done by Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime -- Pol Pot or others -- that had no concern for human beings. Sadly, that is not the case. This was the action of Americans in the treatment of their prisoners.

Hillary Clinton (to General Petraeus):

[T]oday you are testifying about the current status of our policy in Iraq and the prospects of that policy. It is a policy that you have been ordered to implement by the president. And you have been made the de facto spokesmen for what many of us believe to be a failed policy.

Despite what I view as your rather extraordinary efforts in your testimony both yesterday and today, I think that the reports that you provide to us really require the willing suspension of disbelief.

John Kerry:
Education -- if you make the most of it and you study hard and you do your homework, and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. If you don't, you get stuck in Iraq.

Charles Schumer (on "the surge"):

[L]et me be clear, the violence in Anbar has gone down despite the surge, not because of the surge. The inability of American soldiers to protect these tribes from al Qaeda said to these tribes we have to fight al Qaeda ourselves. It wasn’t that the surge brought peace here. It was that the warlords took peace here, created a temporary peace here.

Charles Rangel:

If there’s anyone who believes that these youngsters want to fight, as the Pentagon and some generals have said, you can just forget about it. No young, bright individual wants to fight just because of a bonus and just because of educational benefits. And most all of them come from communities of very, very high unemployment. If a young fellow has an option of having a decent career or joining the Army to fight in Iraq, you can bet your life that he would not be in Iraq.

John Murtha (on Haditha):

It's much worse than reported in Time magazine. There was no fire fight. There was no IED that killed these innocent people. Our troops overreacted because of the pressure on them and they killed innocent civilians in cold blood. And that's what the report is going to tell.

Now, you can imagine the impact this is going to have on those troops for the rest of their lives and for the United States in our war and our effort in trying to win the hearts and minds.

Do you have any additional nominations for consideration? I'll update this post with additional quotes sent in by readers.

UPDATE: Our readers respond. Robert Dodd gives us Edward Kennedy:

Shamefully, we now learn that Saddam's torture chambers reopened under new management: U.S. management.

Kyle Christensen gives us more John Kerry:

And there is no reason, Bob, that young American soldiers need to be going into the homes of Iraqis in the dead of night, terrorizing kids and children, you know, women, breaking sort of the customs of the -- of -- the historical customs, religious customs.

Steven Ives gives us Barack Obama:

We've got to get the job done there and that requires us to have enough troops so that we're not just air-raiding villages and killing civilians, which is causing enormous pressure over there.

As a bonus, Mr. Ives gives us the Hillary Matters link for the Obama quote.

Michael Costello gives us more Harry Reid:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid confirmed Thursday that he told liberal bloggers last week that he thinks outgoing Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Peter Pace is "incompetent."

Ed Morrissey trenchantly reminds us that those whom I refer to as phony Democrats are of course "Real Democrats, unfortunately."

See also Glenn Beck's collection of Inconventent Quotes. Enjoy!

Posted by Tom at 8:41 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

October 13, 2007

Understanding our Strategy in Iraq

Following are two pieces that help in understanding our strategy in Iraq and what is going on over there. The first is an October 5 interview of Lt Col David Kilcullen by Charlie Rose, and the second an article in the Weekly Standard that appeared last month by Frederick Kagan.

Kilcullen is reserve lieutenant colonel in the Australian army and was until recently the senior counterinsurgency advisor (a term he thinks a misnomer) to General Petraeus. He has a doctorate in political anthropology. Kagan is a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and has a doctorate in Russian and Soviet military history. In December of 2006 Kagan and retired General Jack Keane wrote Choosing Success: A Plan for Victory in Iraq. Their plan was adoped in large part by the White House and became the basis for what is popularly called "the surge". You'll want to read both in their entirety, but here are some of the most important parts.

First up is the Kilcullen interview

DAVID KILCULLEN: ...Conventional warfare is binary. Right? It has two sides. And its enemy- centric. What you're trying to do is figure out what the enemy is trying to do and defeat the enemy by, you know, outmaneuvering them or removing their war-making power, basically.

Counterinsurgency is not like that. It's not enemy-centric. It's actually population-centric. And I think we have found over the last three or four years of evolution of the conflict in Iraq that the more we focus on the population and protecting them, the easier it is to deal with the enemy. The more we focus on the enemy, the harder it is to actually get anything done with the population.
...

DAVID KILCULLEN: So I don't think I need to go over what he said in detail, but the point is, we have 28,500 extra troops in country. That is a tool. That's not the strategy. Once getting them in, the strategy was to start protecting the population and focusing on marginalizing the enemy from the population.

CHARLIE ROSE: Because the population would eject the insurgents, the Islamists?

DAVID KILCULLEN: It's actually -- yes. It's actually a function of the nature of guerrilla warfare, and it's actually rather independent of whether you are talking about Islamists or communists or, you know, it's a functional thing. And the reason is that in counterinsurgency, the enemy is fluid, but the population is fixed, right? So when you fight a conventional enemy, you have to go in there and sort of attack something that he must defend. And then you use that as a fulcrum around which to maneuver. That's how we do conventional warfare, amongst other -- it's a caricature.

But in counterinsurgency, you can't do that, because there's nothing the enemy has to defend. They can just run away if you push them too hard. And if you get there and you're doing things that are just making it too hard for them, they can just go quiet and stay in the environment.

CHARLIE ROSE: You know that's one of the arguments made against the surge.

DAVID KILCULLEN: Absolutely.

CHARLIE ROSE: That's all you were going to do, is push them somewhere else. They'll go somewhere else and they'll wait.

DAVID KILCULLEN: Right. Making that argument against the surge, this speaks a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of what the surge is trying to do. And let me sort of expand on this issue.

The enemy is fluid, but the population is fixed. OK? That's the key point. The enemy can run away. The population can't. They have houses, relatives, businesses. They live there. They can't move. And so you can't defeat an insurgency by fighting the insurgents, because they'll just run away and you chase the guy around. And it's like looking for a needle in a haystack, but you're actually destroying the haystack to find the needle. So you do this damage to the population, which alienates the population, creates a recruitment base for the insurgents, and it just creates a cycle of destruction.

The way to do it -- and you know, we've been doing this for a long time and there's a very solid body of understanding on how to do it -- is, if you like, to comb the flees out of the dog. OK? So you get in there and you work with the population. You drive the enemy off, and then you focus on the population and you try to restructure the environment so that the insurgent can't come back when you leave.

And that involves things like counterintelligence work, where you look for those little sleeper cells that stayed behind when you left. It involves most importantly partnering in a real partnership with the local community, where they feel their needs are being met. They make choices that they then are required to stick to, in terms of driving out extremism, or -- in the case of Iraq particularly -- and in terms of defending themselves. You make the population self-defending, so that the terrorists can't or the insurgents can't intimidate them.

That's the fundamental activity of counterinsurgency. Because the insurgents require the enemy. The insurgents require the population to act in a certain way -- support, sympathy, intimidation, sometimes just reaction to provocation, you know? And if you can take that reaction of the population away from them, it's extremely difficult for them to achieve anything.

That's why the surge is not only a matter of putting extra troops into the country, it's what they do when they get there. And what they're doing is going into areas and not leaving. And they sit with the population, partner with them, help them defend themselves. Keep the enemy away. Prevent them from coming back. And if you like, restructure the environment to hard-wire the insurgent out of it.
...
DAVID KILCULLEN: . there's two issues. One is a territorial issue. The other one is time. Let me talk time. There has never been a successful counterinsurgency that took less than 10 years.

CHARLIE ROSE: Less than 10 years?

DAVID KILCULLEN: Successful.
...
DAVID KILCULLEN: All counterinsurgency solutions are political.
...
DAVID KILCULLEN: The role of the military in counterinsurgency is to hold the ring and create space that allows the political process to take place. Again, people talk about that with regard to the surge.

Politics is alchemy. It's not an engineering project. You can't build it step by step, through benchmarks to a solution. It takes people to feel comfortable and be able to work together and to build confidence. And we all know this from domestic politics.

And so what the military tries to do is to create, if you like, enough calmness and enough population security to allow political leadership to go forward, and that takes a long time.
...
DAVID KILCULLEN: ...I think it's worth pointing out that just because it's going to take 10 years doesn't mean we're going to be there for 10 years.

DAVID KILCULLEN: I know, I am not trying to -- but let me give you an example. If we were to add 50,000 troops, just hypothetically, that would give us an extra 50,000 people to feed, people to move around, people to support. It would probably give us 10,000 extra bayonets on the ground. So, an advantage of 10,000. If we win 50,000 Iraqis from al Qaeda, it gives us an advantage not of 50,000, but of 100,000, because we get 50 and they lose 50.

... So, it is all about partnering with the population and convincing the population to swing away from the enemy and towards us.

There's a lot more, but you get the gist.

Most reports have it that this strategy is working. al Qaeda has suffered tremendous defeats in recent months, and many of the Sunni tribes that were once against is are now with us, or are at least against AQI. The "surge", then, is working.

Further, those who claimed that all we were doing is putting more troops in-country to "do the same thing" didn't know what they were talking about.

It is also clear, though, that Rumsfeld/Abizaid/Sanchez/Casey had it wrong. Their strategies failed, and had we adhered to them we would not be succeeding now. As President, Bush is untimately responsible. But it is also fair to say that if he was responsible for the failures of 2003-06, he should be given credit for recognizing that things weren't working, and for implimenting the Kagan-Keane plan.

Kilcullen makes clear that even if we are successful, it will take a long time. If you read the entire interview (as you should), you'll see that he and Rose spend some time talking about the Malayan insurgency. The British made every mistake in the book from 1948-52, but finally got things right and by 1960 it was largely over. Even so, the final insurgents did not surrender until 1989, and only then because with the fall of the Berlin Wall they realized that communism was at and end.

Kilcullen's comment that "all counterinsurgency solutions are political" should be taken to heart by both the left and right. The simple fact is that in most successful counterinsurgencies some of the insurgents are brought into the government, and a few of their political demands met.

Frederick Kagan

Next up is Frederick Kagan's article. In the first few parts he discusses the relationship of al Qaeda worldwide with al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) and how the two are inexorably tied together. He also discusses their ideology of takfirism, and why it is important to understanding their strategy and why it backfired among the Sunni tribes in Iraq. As with the interview above, I encourage you to read the whole thing. Here, however, are a few key excerpts about AQI's modus operandi and how we are defeating them

AQI uses two primary methods to establish itself in Sunni populations in Iraq. When it finds Sunnis who feel existentially threatened by Shia militias or military forces, or who seek military aid in pursuing an insurgent agenda, it offers help from its zealous and highly trained leaders and fighters. In communities not eager for such help, or that resist AQI's efforts to impose its religious code, AQI uses violence to terrorize Sunnis into participation. Wherever it goes, it seduces the disenchanted young with the promise of participation in a larger movement.

In 2003, the hostility within Iraq's Sunni Arab community to the prospect of a Shia-dominated government sparked an insurgency, of which AQI quickly took advantage. The fanaticism of AQI fighters (who often warn Westerners that they love death more than we love life) recommended itself to Sunni Arabs who faced the daunting task of defeating both American military forces and Iraq's Shia majority.
...

Whereas in Afghanistan al Qaeda remained separate from Afghan society for the most part, interacting with it primarily through the Taliban, AQI directly incorporates Iraqis.
...

As for its local recruits, they undergo extensive training that is designed to brainwash them and prepare them to support and engage in vicious violence. One of the reasons some Iraqi Sunnis have turned against AQI has been this practice of making their sons into monsters. Many Iraqis have come to feel about AQI the way the parents of young gang members tend to feel about gangs.
.,..

One of the first questions Iraqis ask when American forces move into AQI strongholds to fight the takfiris is: Are you going to stay this time? In the past, coalition forces have cleared takfiri centers, often with local help, but have departed soon after, leaving the locals vulnerable to vicious AQI retaliation. This pattern created a legacy of distrust, and a concomitant hesitancy to commit to backing coalition forces.

This cycle was broken first in Anbar, for three reasons: The depth of AQI's control there led the group to commit some of its worst excesses in its attempt to hold on to power; the strength of the tribal structures in the province created the possibility of effective local resistance when the mood swung against the takfiris; and the sustained presence and determination of soldiers and Marines in the province gave the locals hope of assistance once they began to turn against the terrorists.

The movement against the takfiris began as AQI tried to solidify its position in Anbar by marrying some of its senior leaders to the daughters of Anbari tribal leaders, as al Qaeda has done in South Asia. When the sheikhs resisted, AQI began to attack them and their families, assassinating one prominent sheikh, then preventing his relatives from burying him within the 24 hours prescribed by Muslim law. In the tribal society of Anbar, this and related actions led to the rise of numerous blood-feuds between AQI and Anbari families. The viciousness of AQI's retaliation and the relative weakness of the Anbari tribes as a military or police force put the locals in a difficult position, from which they were rescued by the determined work of coalition and Iraqi security forces.
...

The change in U.S. strategy announced in January 2007 and the surge of forces over the ensuing months did not create this shift in Anbar, but accelerated its development. The surge meant that American commanders did not have to shift forces out of Anbar to protect Baghdad, as had happened in previous operations.
...

The increased U.S. presence and the more aggressive operations of American forces--working with Iraqi army units that, although heavily Shia, were able to function effectively with U.S. troops even in Sunni Anbar--allowed the tribal turn against AQI to pick up steam. By late spring 2007, all of the major Anbari tribes had sworn to oppose AQI and had begun sending their sons to volunteer for service in the Iraqi army and the Iraqi police.
...

The battle is by no means over. AQI has made clear its determination to reestablish itself in Anbar or to punish the Anbaris for their betrayal, and AQI cells in rural Anbar and surrounding provinces are still trying to -regenerate. But the takfiri movement that once nearly controlled the province by blending in with its people has lost almost all popular support and has been driven to desperate measures to maintain a precarious foothold. The combination of local disenchantment with takfiri extremism, a -remarkable lack of cultural sensitivity by the takfiris themselves, and effective counterinsurgency operations by coalition forces working to protect the population have turned the tide

Finally, here is Kagan's outlook

AQI--and therefore the larger al Qaeda movement--has suffered a stunning defeat in Iraq over the past six months. It has lost all of its urban strongholds and is engaged in a desperate attempt to reestablish a foothold even in the countryside. The movement is unlikely to accept this defeat tamely. ...

If...coalition forces complete the work they have begun by finishing off the last pockets of takfiris and continuing to build local Iraqi security forces that can sustain the fight against the terrorists after American troops pull back, then success against the terrorists in Iraq is likely.
...

It is too soon to declare victory in this struggle, still less in the larger struggle to stabilize Iraq and win the global war on terror. AQI can again become a serious threat if America chooses to let it get up off the mat.
...

...we must break free of a consensus about how to fight the terrorists that has been growing steadily since 9/11 which emphasizes "small footprints," working exclusively through local partners, and avoiding conventional operations to protect populations. In some cases, traditional counterinsurgency operations using conventional forces are the only way to defeat this 21st--century foe. Muslims can dislike al Qaeda, reject takfirism, and desire peace, yet still be unable to defend themselves alone against the terrorists. In such cases, our assistance, suitably adapted to the realities on the ground, can enable Muslims who hate what the takfiris are doing to their religion and their people--the overwhelming majority of Muslims--to succeed. Helping them is the best way to rid the world of this scourge.

In short, we have finally learned how to defeat AQI and are doing so, but if we let up the pressure we'll lose. Hear that, everyone?

Posted by Tom at 8:37 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

October 11, 2007

"Mission Accomplished" ?

This article in The Prospect (via NRO) will drive the left nuts

Mission Accomplished

With most Sunni factions now seeking a deal, the big questions in Iraq have been resolved positively. The country remains one, it has embraced democracy and avoided all-out civil war. What violence remains is largely local and criminal

The question of what to do in Iraq today must be separated from the decision to topple Saddam Hussein four and a half years ago. That decision is a matter for historians. By any normal ethical standard, the coalition's current project in Iraq is a just one. Britain, America and Iraq's other allies are there as the guests of an elected government given a huge mandate by Iraqi voters under a legitimate constitution. The UN approved the coalition's role in May 2003, and the mandate has been renewed annually since then, most recently this August. Meanwhile, the other side in this war are among the worst people in global politics: Baathists, the Nazis of the middle east; Sunni fundamentalists, the chief opponents of progress in Islam's struggle with modernity; and the government of Iran. Ethically, causes do not come much clearer than this one.

Some just wars, however, are not worth fighting. There are countries that do not matter very much to the rest of the world. Rwanda is one tragic example; and its case illustrates the immorality of a completely pragmatic foreign policy. But Iraq, the world's axial country since the beginning of history and all the more important in the current era for probably possessing the world's largest reserves of oil, is no Rwanda. Nor do two or three improvised explosive devices a day, for all the personal tragedy involved in each casualty, make a Vietnam.

The great question in deciding whether to keep fighting in Iraq is not about the morality and self-interest of supporting a struggling democracy that is also one of the most important countries in the world. The question is whether the war is winnable and whether we can help the winning of it. The answer is made much easier by the fact that three and a half years after the start of the insurgency, most of the big questions in Iraq have been resolved.

Moreover, they have been resolved in ways that are mostly towards the positive end of the range of outcomes imagined at the start of the project.

The author then lists in a paragraph the things that might have happened but didn't. For clarity I'll break them out in bullet form

• The country is whole.

• It has embraced the ballot box.

• It has created a fair and popular constitution.

• It has avoided all-out civil war.

• It has not been taken over by Iran.

• It has put an end to Kurdish and marsh Arab genocide, and anti-Shia apartheid.

• It has rejected mass revenge against the Sunnis.

• As shown in the great national votes of 2005 and the noisy celebrations of the Iraq football team's success in July, Iraq survived the Saddam Hussein era with a sense of national unity; even the Kurds—whose reluctant commitment to autonomy rather than full independence is in no danger of changing—celebrated.

• Iraq's condition has not caused a sectarian apocalypse across the region. The country has ceased to be a threat to the world or its region.

• The only neighbours threatened by its status today are the leaders in Damascus, Riyadh and Tehran.

Read the whole thing.

I think it premature to say that Iraqis have "embraced the ballot box", but at the same time, once given the vote it will be hard to take it away. The rest are pretty accurate.
The point of Bartle Bull, the author of the article, is not whether we should have invaded, but that we are now well on our way towards "Mission Accomplished". Assuming current trends hold, I think he's right.

Posted by Tom at 9:03 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 9, 2007

Book Review - Infidel


Photobucket

Few people on this planet have criticized the way Islam is practiced as harshly as Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and few can speak with her authority. She is a hero to conservatives, hated intensely by mamy or most Muslims, and not embraced by enough on the left.

Infidel is her autobiography, published just earlier this year. In 353 pages she tells her story, and is not at all shy about discussing "intimate" matters. Indeed, these "intimate matters" are some of the most important and revealing parts of her book.

Hirsi Ali does not directly discuss political matters other than those that relate to Islam in her book. She doesn't get into whether we should have invaded Iraq, and does not make clear whether she would be a social liberal or conservative. She never mentions Israel, nor does she give her opinion on economic affairs. She is a single-issue person, and that issue is Islam. She very much belives that Islam must undergo a fundamental reform, and has no patience with those who say that "moderate Muslims" are the answer. Having seen and experienced the brutal way in which women are treated in most of the Muslim world, she has made their plight central to her cause.

Infidel is at once moving and informative. It is an easy yet intense read. It certainly falls into the "you can't put it down" category. Despite all that she has been through, this is not an "angry" book, as Because They Hate arguably was.

Born in Somalia in 1969, she was brought up mostly by her mother and grandmother, he r father having been imprisoned by the dicatator Said Barre when she was five. While her mother tended towards more modern ways of doing things, grandmother was intensely traditional, and intent of maintainly the old ways. As such, she made sure that Hirsi Ali and her sister underwent "excism" (or "female circumcision") when they were young. This procedure is described in just enough detail for the reader to cringe. Essentially, with no anesthesia the inner labia and clitoris are cut off with a pair of scissors. She was then sewn shut, with just enough of an opening left for her to urinate and later for menstrual blood to escape.

To make a long story short, she and her family moved several times around the region to escape Barre's wrath, and the civil war raging against him in Somalia. Her family, lived at times in Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia and Kenya. In these places she learned English and Arabic. She also met and interacted with Christians and agnostics, mostly in Ethiopia and Kenya. As such, she was exposed to other ideas and ways of doing things. Hirsi Ali

Her father was away for much of the time, sometimes in prison but mostly just off on various adventures, all of which designed to overthrow the hated Barre. She was mostly raised by her mother and grandmother. Hirsi Ali's life family life was very hard, although she didn't really know it at the time. . She describes daily beatings by her mother, which continued almost until adulthood.

Although she was a Muslim, she was also a voracious reader, devouring all books that came her way. As it was these were mostly Western romance novels. While young she did not see the contradiction, but this would soon change.

Hirsi Ali experienced the Muslim Brotherhood firsthand while living in Kenya. She describes how they sent money and preachers, took over the local mosques, and made it their mission to change the way Islam was practiced. In large part they succeeded. Their brand of Islam is very harsh, and they convinced a lot of people that their more moderate practices were not in accordance with what the prophet wanted. Brotherhood preachers insisted on ABSOLUTE OBEDIENCE to the various parts of the Quran that justify a husband's dictatorial rule over his wife, wife beating, female circumcision, and the like. No questioning or even discussion was allowed.

The plight of women under Islam is indirectly the subject of much of the book, if only because Hirsi Ali is a woman herself, and saw and experienced many of the horrors that Islamic culture visits upon them.

Despite the presence of groups like the Muslim Brotherhood, she grew up reading western romance novels, and dreamed of falling in love Western-style. She was shocked to learn of the way marriages really worked in Islam. On her marriage night, and apparengly thereafter, if the woman shows any interest in forplay she is by definition a whore. Muslim men have a fixation on female virginity that borders on the pathological. Hirsi Ali goes into some detail on this, and some of it bears repeating herSex is not only joyless but mechanical. Afterwards the man immediately goes into the bathroom afterward to wash and thus "purify" himself (the Muslim fixation on purification is nothing short of bizarre). Also, if the woman bleeds on her wedding night (and she better, or else she's a not a virgin and can be killed by her family), the man takes the stained bedsheets and shows them to his family, friends, sometimes the entire neighborhood, and all the men congratulate him.

Hirsi Ali had female friend after female friend tell her these things while she was growing up (she was ner shy about asking questions), and of course she was horrified. That is was not what she thought marriage should or would be like. Worse, she experienced it herself the night of her first marriage (she subsequently ran away from this marriage, getting it annuled some eyars later).

All marriages are arranged ones. Girls barly past puberty were married off to older men on a regular basis. She describes how girls would disappear from school, and then a few years later she would see them with one or two children in tow. In circumstances where she found beforhand that a girlfrend was about to be married, the girl was always petrified. The wedding was joyless and so was their life. As often as not they ended up hateing their husbands. They went from a carefree childhood straight into a life of misery.

Some will object that things like female circumcision, wife beating, arranged marriages and the like are not part of Islam but are cultural holdovers from old times. Hirsi Ali makes the point that while it is true that these predated Islam, today their proponents use Islam to justify them. So it's a distinction without a difference, the point being that it is Islam that needs to be reformed.

Muslim families may appear tightly nit, but it's all with a condition; that each member absolutely obey the various dictates. If anyone, especially a woman, strays, she is at the very least disowned (even by "loving" parents), or even killed by family members.

Wife beatings were (are) at epidemic levels in the Muslim world. At night it was a regular occurance to hear the husband next door (or farther away) beat his wife. Later, in Holland, Hirsi Ali discovered that it was also widespread among Muslim immigrants.

We only know Ayaan Hirsi Ali because she chose to escape from an arranged marriage. In 1992, while in Somalia, a man approached her father while they were at a local Mosque and asked to marry his eldest daugher, Hirsi Ali. After a brief conversation with him her father immediately agreed, and Hirsi Ali was given no say in the matter. Upon meeting him she took an immediate dislike to him. After a brief ceremony in Somalia, she was supposed to travel to Canada to live with him, but fled during a stopover in Germany. She made her way to Holland, and applied for refugee status.

She admits that she invented a story on her application to gain asylum, which she said was a common practice. She also changed her name somewhat, from Ayaan Hirsi Magan to Ayaan Hirsi Ali. She also changed her age, saying she was born in 1967 instead of 1969. She did this to escape detection by her Somali clan, who were trying to track her down. She has never hidden this fact, and even while running for parliament was open about these things.

While in the refugee camps in Holland she met people of other cultures, particularly Ethiopians and Bosnians. She was also exposed to the openness of Western society. As a Muslim she had been taught that if a woman simply went outside with any part of her body uncovered, men would go wild with sexual lust. She saw that this was completely false, which led her to question the basis for so many Muslim restrictions.

She also saw the Somali refugees develop a "culture of entitlement". They learned that if you cry "racism" you get what you want, Hirs Ali relates how some even bragged about this to her. Most of them sat around the camps complaining about their situation, rather than doing anything about it.

Hirsi Ali was not one to sit around, however. She got a job as translator, and eventually put herself through Leiden University, graduating with a Masters in Political Science. After this she took a position as a researcher with Wiardi Beckman Foundation, a Dutch think tank.

During this time she came to observe the effects of Dutch multiculturalism, and concluded that it's effects were harmful on both the immigrants and to Holland.
As she tells it, theDutch think they're doing good by letting Muslim minorities like the Somalis live in their own communities, maintaining their own way of life, and attend their own schools. In reality this perpetuates the complaining, the culture of entitlement, and the wife beatings. Female circumcision is widely practiced by these Muslims while in Holland. In sum, multiculturalism breads extremism because Muslim immigrants never integrate, and thus never accept Western values.

Unable to reconcile Islam with the brutal way in which it is practiced in much of the world, Hirsi Ali rejected it and became an apostate. She has not adopted any other religion, and describes herself now as an athiest. She also became quite estranged from her family, and although at times her father would warm up to her, in general ties with family and clan have been cut.

It was Dutch response the terrorist attacks of Sept 11, 2001, that shocked her into the realization that most people in the West had no idea of what Islam was about. She heard one politically correct homily after another that Islam was a "religion of peace" and that how "only a small minority were violent". Finally she had to act. She made it her mission to educate the Dutch, and eventually the world, on the realities of Islam; that whatever it was in theory, it was anything but peaceful in practice.

She was approached by the Liberal (VVD (People's Party for Freedom and Democracy, a conservative party) Party to run for parliament. She was elected in 2002, although as it turned out they were not part of the government that was formed. She had three goals as a parlamentarian: to make Holland wake up and stop tolerating the oppression of Muslim women, two, to start a debate among Muslims about reforming their faith, and lastly for Muslim women to stop tolerating their abuse and realize that no, they don't have to accept beatings because "it's the will of Allah".

While in Holland she met Theo van Gogh (a descendent of you-know-who) and in 2004 they made Submission Part I, a 10 minute film about the plight of women under Islam. "Submission" is Arabic for "Islam". The writing on the woman's body are passages from the Quran. Here it is

A part II was never made because in November of 2004 Theo van Gogh was murdered by radical Islamist Mohammed Bouyeri in broad daylight on an Amsterdam street. Bouyere ambushed van Gogh as the latter rode to work on his bicycle, shooting him several times, nearly sawing off his head with a butcher knife, then pinning to his chest a 5 page letter. The letter was addressed to Ayaan Hirsi Ali and was a threat that she would be next.

Hirsi Ali was already under police protection for threats made against her, but at this point it went to an altogether different level. Security details took her out of the country, and for the next several months she was effectively in hiding.

In 2006 she found her Dutch citizenship revoked when the government ruled that she had lied about her age and name on her application in 1997 when coming into Holland. While true, the entire affair was as much a result of political pressure as anything.
The whole thing was very controversial, and she resigned from parliament over the issue. As it turned out, however, the government fell over the issue. In the end the decision was overturned and she was allowed to keep her citizenship. Despite this trauma, she explains in the book that in the end she holds no grudge.

In 2006 she accepted a position with the American Enterprise Institute. Her role there "will be researching the relationship between the West and Islam; women's rights in Islam; violence against women propagated by religious and cultural arguments; and Islam in Europe." She maintains her Dutch citizenship, and the government of Holland still pays for her protection.

There was some recent controversy over this, and October 5 Holland announced that they would't pay for her protection while abroad. This forced her to go back to Holland. However, just yesterday it was revealed that she was back in the US, where her protection is now privately funded. The Dutch parliament is due to take up the issue again this week. As Anne Applebaum points out, given that many of the threats against her are from groups based in Holland, and she is essentially defending Dutch values, the least they could do is protect her from assassination.

Hirsi Ali has little patience with those who talk about "moderate" versus violent Islam. To her, the "moderates" are simply those who keep their heads down. She thinks that Islam must truely be reformed, and that Muslims are going to have to "enter into a conversation with Allah" if they are to be successful. As Islam is practiced now, a "conversation with Allah" is inconceivable. To her, this is the crux of the matter.

She also has no patience with those who insist that 90% (or whatever figure) of Muslims are peaceful and it is only a tiny minority who are a problem. Hirsi Ali is not talking about bombings or hijackings. She is talking about the horrors visited upon women in the name of Islam; beatings, honor killings, circumcision, complete denial of rights and total second class citizenship. She also has no patience for those who try and counter her criticism with attacks on Christianity. There is simply no comparison, for example, between the sex scandals rocking the Catholic Church in the US and what goes on under Islam. The former is a crime not approved of by the Bible or officialy by any Christian. On the other hand, it is quite common throughout the Muslim world for Imams to teach that men should beat their wives and kill their daughters if they do not obey ("honor killings"). In fact, one of Hirsi Ali's accomplishments as parliamentarian was make the police gather data on honor killings. They found it was more widespread than anyone had dared imagine.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali is one of the bravest women on the planet, and deserves the support of all freedom loving men and women. Whether you agree with all that she says is irrelevant. At the very least, Islam must learn to accept criticism without widespread resort to threats and violence. And she is right; there is no comparison between how Islam and other religions are practiced, for the moral equivalence crowd is simply wrong. I wish Hirsi Ali would adopt Christianity, but given all that she has been through can understand why she is an athiest. It is wrong and bad to say that "Islam is evil". It is also wrong to say that there is no problem with Islam except for a few extremists. Hirsi Ali asks Muslims to speak with Allah and ask the hard questions, for their religion needs to be reformed. She asks the rest of us not to ignore a problem in our midst, as we must not be blinded by multiculturalism or political correctness. In the end, everyone should listen to her.

More

There is, of course, much out there about Hirsi Ali, but in recent months these two articles struck me as worth posting:


She's No Fundamentalist: What People Get Wrong About Ayaan Hirsi Ali
by Christopher Hitchens. Here's Hitch on Western intellectuals who essentially say she ought to shut up.

In ACLU circles, we often refer to ourselves as "First Amendment absolutists." By this we mean, ironically enough, that we prefer to interpret the words of the Founders, if you insist, literally. The literal meaning in this case seems (to us) to be that Congress cannot inhibit any speech or establish any state religion. This means that we defend all expressions of opinion including those that revolt us, and that we say that nobody can be forced to practice, or forced to foreswear, any faith. I suppose I would say that this is an inflexible principle, or even a dogma, with me. But who dares to say that's the same as the belief that criticism of religion should be censored or the belief that faith should be imposed? To flirt with this equivalence is to give in to the demagogues and to hear, underneath their yells of triumph, the dismal moan of the trahison des clercs and "the enlightenment driven away." Perhaps, though, if I said that my principles were a matter of unalterable divine revelation and that I was prepared to use random violence in order to get "respect" for them, I could hope for a more sympathetic audience from some of our intellectuals.

Jihadwatch excerpts an interview with her published in Reason magazine (but not available online). Here's a section of the interview

Hirsi Ali: ...There is no moderate Islam. There are Muslims who are passive, who don't all follow the rules of Islam, but there's really only one Islam, defined as submission to the will of God. There's nothing moderate about it.

Reason: So when even a hard-line critic of Islam such as Daniel Pipes says, "Radical Islam is the problem, but moderate Islam is the solution," he's wrong?

Hirsi Ali: He's wrong. Sorry about that.

And most importantly, regarding the current mainstream Western policy of appeasement and multiculturalism

The problem (of Islam) is not going to go away. Confront it, or it's only going to get bigger

Ditto that.



Posted by Tom at 9:04 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

October 7, 2007

How to Cure "Islamophobia"

(hat tip USS Neverdock)

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

October 6, 2007

Can We Question Their Patriotism Now?

According to a new Fox News poll, "nearly one out of every five Democrats thinks the world will be better off if America loses the war in Iraq"

Here are the details; The poll was conducted by telephone on Sept 25 & 26. The total sample was 900 registered voters nationwide, giving it a margin of error of +/-3%.

The relevant question is this one


Do you personally think the world would be better off if the United States loses the war in Iraq?
______________Yes______No_____(Don't Know)
Democrats____19%_____62________20
Republicans____5%_____87_________8
Independents___7%____ 76________17

Don't get me wrong; I'm just as disturbed by the 5% of Republicans and 7% of Independents who would answer such a question in the affirmative as I am the Democrats. For that matter, I cannot imagine how anyone could say they don't know. Of the Republicans, my guess is they're Ron Paul types.

The best I could say for someone who would think that "the world would be better off" is that they buy into the lies that we are wantonly massacaring Iraqis, and that if we left the violence would magically cease. They probably also believe that it is a war fought to steal Iraqi oil, or to benefit "big business" like Halliburton, or some such thing.

The poll question looks pretty straightforward to me. I don't see how someone could complain that it was worded poorly, or that the results have been twisted out of context or something.

The bottom line is that almost 1 in 5 Democrats, and 1 in 20 Republicans want their country to lose a war. This is not a question of why we went in, or should we stay, or whether the war is winnable. By agreeing with question they want us to lose, and as such deserve to have their patriotism questioned.

Posted by Tom at 7:33 PM | Comments (18) | TrackBack

October 3, 2007

Rudy Can't Win

Events this past week have convinced me that Rudy Guiliani cannot win the White House, and I am not talking about his position on the social issues or gun control.

I'm talking about his personal life.

As I think we all know, two weeks ago Rudy Guiliani answered a call on his cell phone during a speech to the NRA. The call was brief, he told his wife that he was speaking with members of the NRA and had to go. "I love you" he said and ended the call.

When I heard about this I didn't know what to make. Maybe it was some kind of planned stunt to make him look like a family guy or something, someone who loves his wife and is not afraid to say so in front of an audience.

Then I read John Fund in the OpinionJournal that this happens all the time. He has a history of taking calls from his wife while in meetings, giving speeches, at all sorts of public appearances. Aides have warned him that no matter what excuse he gives it looks bad and to stop it, but he won't. He's even taken calls during meetings with important GOP donors, who have not been shy about expressing their annoyance.

The problem seems to be with his wife, Judith Giuliani. Lisa Schiffren writes on The Corner that "She is vulgar, uneducated, grasping and insecure — and has failed to keep those attributes hidden. She offends major donors right and left by being rude — especially to their wives, especially the attractive wives." Ouch.

This is weird, but not insurmountably so. That problem is that Rudy's personal history is a class-A disaster. He is not on speaking terms with any of his children. Not only is he on his third marriage, but he apparently began "dating" wives two and three before the official divorce from one and two.

Couple all this with Rudy's own penchant "for making fun of constituents who called him with what he thought were petty problems." (John Fund) and I do not see how he can win the White House.

All this might be forgivable for a Democrat. They are, after all, the party of Bill Clinton and Ted Kennedy, and apparently proud of it. But Republicans are the home of social conservatives, who will forgive one or maybe two things if the person in question is repentant, but not this many things.

Evangelicals have made it clear that they will desert Rudy for his position on social issues alone. All these things about Rudy and people who otherwise wouldn't vote for Hillary will give her a second look, and here's why:

Hillary Clinton will most likely be the Democrat nominee. Sure, Obama might pull a surprise win in a primary and upset things, but Hillary will not implode as Howard Dean did. In all probability she will be their candidate.

She has come this far without the anti-war left. This is important because Democrat candidates typically run left during the primaries, then tack right for the general (GOP candidates doing the mirror opposite). Being this far right (for a Democrat) at this point leaves her plenty of room to move even farther right during the general. This means that she can undercut Rudy on his one real strength; national security.

Couple this with Rudy's problems, and he's got an uphill battle as the GOP candidate.

Dennis Miller says that if it's Rudy vs Hillary it will be a battle of the negatives; who can lose the fewest votes from their party. This sounds pretty accurate to me. A Rudy vs Hillary contest might mean two serious third party candidates, something unprecedented in modern American history.

From where I sit, Rudy will lose far more votes on the right than Hillary will on the left. If it's Rudy vs Hillary, Hillary wins.

Posted by Tom at 8:08 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

October 1, 2007

Chinese Threat Update - The Window of Vulnerability

This story in today's Washington Times says it all; we've been caught flat-footed

While the United States has been tied up in Iraq, China has been modernizing its military and its air defenses are now nearly impenetrable to all but the newest American fighters, the senior U.S. military official in Japan said.

Lt. Gen. Bruce Wright, commander of the roughly 50,000 U.S. forces in Japan, Washington"s biggest ally in Asia, said in an interview last week that the Iraq war is reducing the availability of U.S. troops and equipment to meet other contingencies.

It"s also eating funds that could go toward replacing or upgrading planes that are being pushed to their operational limits, he said.

China, meanwhile, is rapidly filling the skies with newer, Russian-made Sukhoi Su-27 "Flankers" and Su-30s, along with the domestically built J-10, a state-of-the-art fighter that Beijing just rolled out in January.


The proper response is to spend more money on the US military, not to pull out of Iraq. I've gone over a million times why we we need to stay in Iraq.

The bottom line to this article is that until new systems come on line we face a window of vulnerability. Consider:

Right now the most advanced aircraft on our carriers is the F-18 Super Hornet, E and F versions. A larger varient of the F-18 Hornet, it fills the role that the cancelled A-12 was supposed to fill.

To replace the ageing F-18s we're developing the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter, but it won't go into widespread production for a few years. The F-35 will once again give our carriers the punch they need, but until then we're vulnerable.

On the Air Force side, our F-15s and F-16s are getting old. The F-15 first flew in 1972, and the F-16 in 1976, and the F-18 in 1978. Yes they've been upgraded, but you can only do so much with an old airframe. The F-22 Raptor is superb, but we've only got a few. As the article above indicated, it's about the only fighter in our inventory which can reliably penetrate Chinese defenses.

Our submarine force is effective, but also showing it's age. It is mostly composed of Los Angeles-class boats, the first one of which was launched in 1976. We built 3 super-advanced Seawolf-class boats, but canceled the design as too expensive. The new Virginia-class boats will beat anything anyone else can put in the water, but we've only got 3 built so far, and authorization is for only 2 per year.

"War with China: 2008 - 2010?"

In April 2005 I wrote a lengthy post called "War with China: 2008 - 2010?" I based my estimate on two Naval War College papers which talked about a "window of vulnerability" that we face before these new weapon systems come on line.

Be aware that nothing is guaranteed, and Democrats and weak Republicans in Congress can cut funding for any of the above. A President Hillary would certainly find cutting the military attractive to fund her massive health care programs.

War with China is certainly not inevitable. But the best way to ensure it doesn't happen is for us to have overwhelming strength so that they do not become tempted to strike.

Posted by Tom at 9:51 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Sarkozy Rocks

The more I read about the new President of France the more impressed I am. Consider this in today's Washington Times

New hints that France may rejoin NATO's military wing after a 41-year absence underscore a stunning foreign-policy shift under new President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Gone are the Iraq war diatribes, the Palestinian sympathies, the close ties with Moscow and the crumbling ones with Washington — all trademarks of French foreign policy under former President Jacques Chirac.

With his penchant for jogging, American movies and summering in New Hampshire, the 51-year-old Mr. Sarkozy has embraced a decidedly pro-U.S. tone, even as his government scores trans-Atlantic points through sharpened rhetoric against Iran and overtures to Iraq.

I know that American conservatives have had quite a bit of fun bashing France these past few years, but as long as he's in power and keeps up like this, you won't read anything bad about France on this blog.

Not only does Sarkozy seek better ties with the U.S. and has stopped his anti-American bashing, he has even made statements about joining us in bombing Iran if it looks like they might get the bomb.

In case you're wondering, yes France does have a navy that would come in quite handy in any showdown with Iran. Their flagship is the Charles de Gaulle (R 91), which at 40,000 tones displacement is a smaller version of one of our Nimitz-class ships. But unlike the British carriers, which can only carry the Harrier, the Charles de Gaulle carries regular fixed-wing aircraft, including E-2c Hawkeyes. At only 40 aircraft it's hardly the equal of one of our carriers, but then again Iran isn't the Soviet Union.

We should be very happy if France would join us in any attack on Iran, and at least while Sarkozy is President stop needless French-bashing.

Posted by Tom at 9:32 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack