Defending the virtues of liberty, free markets, and civilization... plus some commentary on the passing scene.
Wednesday, June 30, 2004
The Leftist Mind
I suppose I should at least give Hillary credit for her honesty
"Many of you are well enough off that ... the tax cuts may have helped you," Sen. Clinton said. "We're saying that for America to get back on track, we're probably going to cut that short and not give it to you. We're going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good." Right, even if the tax cuts may have appeared to help you, they really didn't, because, you know, only a bleeding heart liberal truly understands the common good. And damnit, you will finance it!
Notice in particular the rhetorical sleight of hand of, 'we are not going to give it to you' sentiments. As though the government in taking less of a what a person earns is actaully bestowing gifts upon them.
Monday, June 28, 2004
The Birth of a Nation
Happy birthday to Iraq! May you find peace, prosperity and freedom in your new country.
And if these rumors turn out to be true what a fantastic present it would be.
Friday, June 25, 2004
Handover in the Making
As the Zarqawi strategy promised the days leading up to the June 30th transfer of sovereignty would be full of carnage. Coming to Iraq under the counterfeit cause of expelling the foreign 'occupiers' it was actually the foreign jihadis themselves that yesterday were responsible for coldly killing over 100 Iraqi citizens.
It is their last desperate attempt to derail the Iraqi train to democracy but is too late for that, the jihadis have lost.
A large majority of Iraqis say they have confidence in the new interim government of Prime Minister Ayad Allawi that is set to assume political power on Wednesday, according to a poll commissioned by U.S. officials in Iraq.
Fortunately, and also as the Zarqawi letter predicted, when the terrorists are killing almost exclusively Iraqi citizens they will lose what little support they had. So take heart, amongst all this slaughter, it seems that the Iraqi populous is standing strong, rejecting the status quo of the Middle East and taking hold of the reigns that guide their future.
...The first survey since the new government was announced by U.N. envoy Lakhdar Brahimi about three weeks ago showed that 68 percent of Iraqis have confidence in their new leaders. The numbers are in stark contrast to widespread disillusionment with the previous Iraqi Governing Council, which was made up of 25 members picked by the United States and which served as the Iraqi partner to the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority. Only 28 percent of Iraqis backed the council when it was dissolved last month, according to a similar poll in May.
...But 73 percent of Iraqis polled approved of Allawi to lead the new government, 84 percent approved of President Ghazi Yawar and almost two-thirds backed the new Cabinet. These impressive showings indicate that the new leaders have support spanning ethnic and religious groups, U.S. officials said.
"What comes across in the poll and what we've sensed for a while is that Iraqis remain open-minded about the new government," a senior coalition official in Baghdad said in an interview.
Four out of every five Iraqis expected that the new government will "make things better" for Iraq after the handover, with 10 percent expecting the situation to remain the same and 7 percent anticipating a decline, the poll shows.
My heart goes out to them.
So, the 9/11 commission essentially found that there were ties between Al-Qaeda and Iraq but no credible evidence that Iraq participated in 9/11. Which is exactly what the Bush administration has been saying, alleging ties/contact between the two going back to the mid to late 90's.
This 1998 U.S. indictment of Osama bin-Laden certainly supports those allegations:
According to the indictment, bin Laden and al Qaeda forged alliances with the National Islamic Front in Sudan and with representatives of the Government of Iran and its associated terrorist group Hezbollah with the goal of working together against their common enemies in the West, particularly the United States.
It was in fact that kind of intelligence that in 1998 led Clinton to strike a chemical weapons factory (or pharmaceuticals depending on who you believe) in Sudan.
"In addition, al Qaeda reached an understanding with the Government of Iraq that al Qaeda would not work against that government and that on particular projects, specifically including weapons development, al Qaeda would work cooperatively with the Government of Iraq," the indictment said.
(via InstaPundit) Then there is this report from CNN from February 1999
Iraqi President Saddam Hussein has offered asylum to bin Laden, who openly supports Iraq against the Western powers.
And this report from The Guardian, also from February 1999
Despite repeated demands from Washington, the Taliban refused to hand over bin Laden after the August 7 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, demanding proof of his involvement in terrorist activities.
However, in recent weeks, both the United States and Britain have renewed their pressure on the Taliban to expel bin Laden.
Saddam Hussein's regime has opened talks with Osama bin Laden, bringing closer the threat of a terrorist attack using chemical, biological or nuclear weapons, according to US intelligence sources and Iraqi opposition officials.
You could argue that this does not prove a Hussein/Osama connection and you would be correct. It does prove, however that the Bush administration did not conjure up the connection out of thin air, indeed when Clinton was in office it was conventional wisdom.
The key meeting took place in the Afghan mountains near Kandahar in late December. The Iraqi delegation was led by Farouk Hijazi, Baghdad's ambassador in Turkey and one of Saddam's most powerful secret policemen, who is thought to have offered Bin Laden asylum in Iraq.
The Saudi-born fundamentalist's response is unknown. He is thought to have rejected earlier Iraqi advances, disapproving of the Saddam Hussein's secular Baathist regime. But analysts believe that Bin Laden's bolthole in Afghanistan, where he has lived for the past three years, is now in doubt as a result of increasing US and Saudi government pressure.
News of the negotiations emerged in a week when the US attorney general, Janet Reno, warned the Senate that a terrorist attack involving weapons of mass destruction was a growing concern. "There's a threat, and it's real," Ms Reno said, adding that such weapons "are being considered for use."
The Bush administration has always chosen its words very carefully on this issue. They never asserted that Saddam Hussein had any involvement in carrying out the 9/11 attacks. Only that he supports terrorism and had more than enough incentives and means to enable it further. The danger was not so much that Al-Qaeda had Iraqi support, but that they may get it. Given Husseins open support of terrorism and his obstruction of weapons inspectors, this was an intolerable risk.
If that isn't enough today comes this report from the New York Times:
Contacts between Iraqi intelligence agents and Osama bin Laden when he was in Sudan in the mid-1990's were part of a broad effort by Baghdad to work with organizations opposing the Saudi ruling family, according to a newly disclosed document obtained by the Americans in Iraq.
It's a pretty detailed article, and it supports the above linked media reports from that time. Read the whole thing.
American officials described the document as an internal report by the Iraqi intelligence service detailing efforts to seek cooperation with several Saudi opposition groups, including Mr. bin Laden's organization, before Al Qaeda had become a full-fledged terrorist organization. He was based in Sudan from 1992 to 1996, when that country forced him to leave and he took refuge in Afghanistan.
Overall I tend to think of this as all pretty trivial. Both Hussein and bin-Laden unabashedly declared their hostilities towards the U.S. and both of course have attacked U.S. interests, and we are going to split hairs over the relative strength of their ties? Even if Saddam Hussein never had any contact with Al-Qaeda he still gave sanctuary to other terror organizations. One's with the same ideology as Al-Qaeda, does it matter that they do not share the name? If Al-Qaeda officially changed its name would the war on terror be over because they no longer exist? Would the threat be gone?
Monday, June 21, 2004
Torture in Context
The first time I tried watching the Nick Berg video I ended up closing the window as soon as the knife was pulled out. My hands were shaking, I didn't need to see this. Later that night, after a few cocktails had made it past my throat, I decided I would give it another chance.
It was without a doubt one of the most disturbing things I have ever seen. A helpless man, hog tied and at the mercy of evil having his head sawed off by a knife as his shouts of agony drowned out by those of elation "Allah Akbar!" In short, there is no fast way to cut off a head with a knife, it was horrific.
So on Friday, I saw that Stephen Green of VodkaPundit linked to a video of Saddam-era prison torture, I thought I needed to watch it. I was at work and didn't want to view something that long with that kind of content. But I did want to see it, I felt the need to remind myself just how evil and depraved a culture could be, I would wait until I got home. Dan Rather likes to remind us that it is the duty of the media to show us all the "costs of war" while CNN's Aaron Brown reminds us that he must continually show footage of the horrid Iraqi prisoner abuse by U.S. soldiers noting that "you don't appreciate what happened in that prison until you see it." Neither Brown nor Rather, appear interested in reminding us of the costs of not going to war though, or of what is now not happening in that prison because of what we did. Every time I start to wonder if going to war was the right decision I come across something like this and any seedlings of doubt of are immediately stamped out.
Saddam's atrocities have been well documented, and I have read about more than my fair share of them. Seeing this video would provide a sobering reminder of why and who we are fighting. But I cannot watch it. I was going to, but that was before I came across this Nick Shulz description of what is on the tape. In reading about it, I realized that, somehow, this footage is much much worse than I could have ever imagined. Care to read about it?
"You don't appreciate what happened in that prison until you see it."
Keep in mind, in Saddam's Iraq thousands of men each day, got up for work, put on their black hoods and went to work punishing human beings in a most inhumane way. Then they did it again the next day. And they were rewarded. And so on. A daisy chain of snakes all biting their tales.....
The first film clip opens with the camera showing a man standing in a bland, mostly empty room. The camera pans down to show his right hand. Folded rugs are visible in the background. The clip jumps to footage of scrub-clad "surgeons" with rubber surgical gloves severing the man's hand at the wrist. First the skin is peeled away with surgical knives and tweezers; ligaments, tendons, muscle, and bone underneath are exposed. Then the gloved hands wielding the knives begin to slice, shredding through the sinews, slashing muscle, breaking bone, until the hand is ultimately detached and plopped onto a green cloth, as yellow, pulpy tissue spills forth.
"You don't appreciate what happened in that prison until you see it."
The next clip opens amid Saddam Fedayeen - Fedayeen means "those willing to die for Saddam" - chanting loudly: "With blood and spirit we will redeem you Saddam." The Fedayeen stand barking and clapping in a courtyard. A blindfolded prisoner, forced to his knees and held in position has his arm outstretched before him along a low concrete wall.
A masked member of the Fedayeen raises high a three-foot-long blade and ferociously slams down on the man's hand, slicing through his fingertips. The victim is wailing, howling, screaming in agony.
The swordsman-torturer, not sufficiently satisfied with his first effort, raises the sword again and drives down once more on the man's immobile hand. This time he severs the fingers closer to the knuckles as blood spurts cartoonishly from his hand spilling over and down the concrete slab. The victim emits a wail I have never heard - could never imagine hearing - from a grown man, this time louder, harder than the first.
The camera then turns to the assembled Fedayeen as they continue rhythmically chanting.
"You don't appreciate what happened in that prison until you see it."
In the third clip, a prisoner sits on the ground, his arm tied with white cloth, strips to a wooden board resting on a gray concrete slab. A man stands before him with a sword, this blade is wider than the last. He, too, strikes down on the man's hand, severing it from his right arm as the prisoner recoils in pain. The camera then quickly darts to the man's hand resting on the dusty ground several feet away as it was launched a considerable distance from the prisoner due to the force of the torturer's chop.
"You don't appreciate what happened in that prison until you see it."
When Mel Gibson's movie The Passion was released, several critics harped on the scenes where Jesus is flogged mercilessly by Roman soldiers. The brutality was so extreme, critics charged, the depiction bordered on parody - it was not a credible rendering of what could have happened to Jesus.
In the fourth clip in the Saddam torture film, it's clear Gibson's cinematic vision of just how depraved men can be was not divorced from reality.
A tall prisoner, stripped to the waist and blindfolded has his arms tied before him to a white pole, his bare back exposed. Black-clad Saddam Fedayeen surround him, jackal-like, as one begins to pound on his back with a black rubber whip. With the man screaming, his scourged back arching backward, shoulders and arms frantically struggling to block the blows, one of the Fedayeen torturers is heard to say "no situation more honorable than truth over falsehood." Thwack! Thwack! Thwack! The prisoner's knees buckle as he crumbles into a hump on the ground from the blows, crying out in pain. Another Fedayeen grabs his hands and pulls him up the pole to receive further lashes.
"You don't appreciate what happened in that prison until you see it."
"In the name of Allah the merciful," intones the beret-topped loyalist to Saddam's "secular" regime in the next segment. He introduces to the viewer and the assembled butcher squad to another prisoner. The loyalist-narrator reads from Koran, Sura 2:179: "And there is a saving of life for you in the Law of Equality in punishment. O men of understanding, that you may become the pious."
"The Fedayeen, Saddin Ezzedin al-Arousi," he goes on, "was charged with a special mission in which he betrayed his duty in the mission. The head of the Fedayeen has ordered the following: He is expelled from Fedayeen work and his arms are to be broken in front of his unit. Tarik Juman will personally undertake the breaking of his arms. Thank you."
The camera jumps to al-Arousi sitting with one arm tied behind him as his right arm is extended out to his side. His right elbow rests on a cinderblock and his right fist is supported by another cinderblock. Nothing supports his forearm in between. While a Fedayeen holds the prisoner's elbow in place, Tarik Juman crashes a three-inch-thick pipe down on his old compatriot's forearm, bending the forearm in a 'V' shape and shattering the bones within. This procedure is repeated for his left arm as well.
"You don't appreciate what happened in that prison until you see it."
In another clip a hooded and blindfolded prisoner is led to a room where he is forced to kneel, hands tied behind his back. Another man sits before the prisoner with thick metal tweezers and a scalpel. With his left hand he grabs the tip of the prisoner's tongue with the tweezers and pulls it forward from his head. With the scalpel in his other hand he slices through the prisoner's tongue, cutting it out of his mouth and then dropping it on the floor.
This ritual is repeated for more prisoners who are lined up, squatting in a row like parts on an assembly line waiting for processing, sitting ducks surrounded by dozens of men bearing witness to a Baathist tongue lashing.
"You don't appreciate what happened in that prison until you see it."
In the final clip we see a blindfolded prisoner being led to his fate as the assembled men around him sing "Happy Birthday, long live the leader, eternal gift to the people." Again with arms tied behind his back he is shoved to the ground, bent over stuffed burlap sacks. A black-clad Fedayeen loosens the prisoner's shirt exposing his back and neck, while another stands two feet from him holding a long silver blade at its curved handle. He raises his arms and strikes, hacking the prisoner's head from his body, tumbling it to the ground. He picks up the severed head by the hair and places it ceremoniously on the dead man's back as the camera pans in closer and closer and you can make out the victim's now lifeless and bloodied face.
Those who opposed the liberation of Iraq could do themselves a service by examining the arguments of those who opposed the abolition of slavery. For what is the difference, except on scale?
Wednesday, June 16, 2004
Nuclear Proliferation and Its Consequences
For an aircraft to crash, it usually takes what's referred to as a "cascading of events." That is, a lot of little things have to go wrong all at once, against very long odds. It rarely happens. My personal support for invading Iraq and toppling Saddam Hussein rested on not one, but rather a cascading of reasons. Some of these reasons are more compelling than others but I don't know if any one of them, by itself, would have convinced me that now (last year) was the time to topple Hussein, but all of them taken together do.
Free, tolerant, and prosperous societies is really the only long-term solution to the problem of terrorism and liberal democracy is the only means to get there. Saddam Hussein was in clear violation of countless U.N. resolutions so the legal mandate was there. Combined with the fact that Iraq's populous is composed of an educated, cosmopolitan people most ready for democracy (relative to the rest of the Middle East) made it an opportune place to start. Top that off with the objective fact that 25 million would be liberated from a madman (who was annually murdering them by the thousands) sealed the deal for me.
That's the short of it, but there is more. 9/11 was a cruel reminder of how dangerous (and small) the world really is. The oceans between us and the rest of the world became suddenly irrelevant and the tolerable risk level of WMD's a nuclear proliferation shrunk quite drastically. A few weeks ago, I wrote,
"If and when a nuclear or biological attack happens on U.S. soil we'll wonder why ideas such as those expressed by Ross bothered us at all. The only questions that will remain then, is not who will win, but which parts of the earth will be scorched and how many human beings will be incinerated in the process."
That's a disturbing thought, and Steven Den Beste got me thinking more about this today as he parses through the possibility/implications of just that scenario.
In other words, if you want to be free, you have to be tolerant. For some people, tolerance is very difficult. For others, it's heresy. And that's a problem, especially if their intolerance knows no borders or limits.
Such is the world we live in, but I think that toppling Saddam reduced the chances of this coming to fruition. Once rogue nations become nuclear or even posses biological/chemical weapons they are much more difficult to deal with (see North Korea). This means that there is a strong incentive for despots to acquire such weapons. And what's the cost? The U.N. will sign a piece of paper saying "you can't do that"? That amounts to near nothing for the despot. (The population though suffers great costs at the hands of sanctions.) The U.S., by demonstrating the will to actually enforce international law, and impose great costs on the despot themselves, finally is creating a legitimate disincentive to acquire these weapons (see Libya). To some extent this should reduce the aggregate demand for these weapons and thus prevent some stockpiles from ever coming to be and eventually proliferated. Perhaps this is one reason that, by itself, is compelling enough.
That's actually one of the big reasons why we're at war. The Islamic extremists consider tolerance to be heresy. They cannot accept us as we are, even though we're quite willing to accept them as they are. They demand that we conform to their view of how we should behave, and we won't do it.
So either they'll force us to conform, or they'll kill us all, or we'll force them to be tolerant, or we'll kill them all. Or maybe everybody will end up dead.
The first of those won't happen. My nation is not going to surrender, and they are not going to convert this nation into an Islamic Republic without exterminating the vast majority of us first. (If they try, they'll discover the true reason for our Second Amendment.) Each of the others is a distinct possibility, but the third one (us forcing them to be tolerant) is by far the least bloody of those outcomes. That's the basis of the US strategy in the war (though there's much more to it than that).
If it fails, the body count is going to get extremely high. Islamic extremists may eventually gain the means to slaughter large numbers of us, but they won't ever have the ability to wipe us out completely.
On the other hand, we have the ability to wipe them out now, if we're ruthless enough to kill 10,000 innocent civilians for every militant we kill. Burning down the house to kill the roaches is pretty extreme, but there's no doubt it actually would kill almost all the roaches.
If it comes to that, it would be nearly as much of a disaster for us to do that as it would be for them to have that done to them. But if we face the stark choice of surrendering or committing nuclear genocide, then the body count is going to become very large in a very short time.
I'm willing to do almost anything to avoid that. But I am not willing to surrender in order to avoid that.
Tuesday, June 15, 2004
A New Zarqawi Memo?
Several news organizations are reporting a new Zarqawi letter today, but as I read their accounts this morning I was struck by a sense of deja vu. So I went back and re-read my post from early March on this. The words are a bit different but the sentiments are nearly indentical. I was going to do a comparison but L.T. Smash beat me to it, and it is better than what I would have come up with so I will use his:
In the "new" memo, Zarqawi complains that the Coalition and Iraqi police are making movement difficult:
The space of movement is starting to get smaller. The grip is starting to be tightened on the holy warriors' necks and, with the spread of soldiers and police, the future is becoming frightening.
And in the February Zarqawi memo:
There is no doubt that our field of movement is shrinking and the grip around the throat of the Mujahidin has begun to tighten. With the spread of the army and police, our future is becoming frightening.
The "new" memo mentions a mysterious four-month timeline, before the formation of a "promised Iraqi government."
The statement says the militant movement in Iraq is racing against time to form battalions that can take control of the country "four months before the formation of the promised Iraqi government, hoping to spoil their plan."
From the Zarqawi memo, captured four months ago:
And that's just some of it, follow the above link for more, it's pretty thorough. There really can be no doubt that it is the same letter, only a different person translated it. How could so much of the media miss this? Why was this given so little coverage when the memo was originally discovered by the CPA in February? Because the February letter came from U.S. sources and today's came from an Islamic website? Nahhhhh, couldn't be, right?
The zero-hour needs to be at least four months before the new government gets in place. As we see we are racing time, and if we succeed, which we are hoping, we will turn the tables on them and thwart their plan.
In any case, this is a good time to revisit the contents of that letter, and how it laid out the plan for creating chaos in Iraq by fomenting civil war, in hopes of driving out the United States and any chance for a liberal democracy to gain traction. As the letter noted then, the terrorists are failing. That is still the case, but times are increasingly desperate for those that seek prevent a peaceful and prosperours Iraq. Re-read the whole thing.
Endless Frustration (Israel, Gays, and France)
Victor Davis Hanson is growing tired of rampant hypocrisy:
Israel? Most of us are tired of reading daily that Israel is making problems for us. It is a liberal democracy and currently in the throes of a national debate about whether to withdraw from a territory, Gaza, from which it was attacked in three wars. Its uniformed military targets terrorists; its main opponent's terrorists seek to kill civilians. We should have more confidence in its free press, elected officials, and voting citizenry to craft a humane policy - under threat of suicide murdering, no less - than in all the corrupt and fascistic regimes that surround it. It once took out - at great risk to itself - Iraq's nuclear reactor; it did not sell the reactor at great profit or take control of that country's oil.
There are certain hypocrisies that seem to endlessly frustrate me. The Pope was last week's example. The multi-culturalists are another never ending source. The Arab world continues to treat women as second class citizens, a notable (but probably not the worst) incident happened about 2 years ago in Saudi Arabia. A school caught fire and the religious police stopped school girls from escaping the blaze because they were not wearing the correct Islamic dress. They were sent back inside, and the firemen that tried to help them were stopped by the police. As a result 15 girls died, but to the cultural relativist it is just as good to lose 15 young lives as not. Hey respect the culture damnit! Please. And if you think they treat women badly over there you should see how they treat homosexuals:
If this caring world is worried about the injustice of a fence or Islamaphobia, then start slurring nuclear India for its $1 billion fence, which shuts off the entire (impoverished Muslim) country of Bangladesh - a far harsher blow to far more millions than Israel's so-called "Wall" aimed at stopping suicide killing.
If we hate the principle of "occupied lands," then let Europe cease trade with China and hector that dictatorial government about the cultural obliteration of occupied Tibet.
If we are truly worried about violence, then let the U.N. and the EU turn their attention to Nigeria, where thousands are murdered yearly.
If the death of tens of thousands of Muslims and the desecration of mosques bother the Arab League, then let them blast the Arabs of the Sudan, who are systematically and in the most racist fashion butchering black Muslims.
But if after all that we have still not gotten our bearings, then let us rail about Sharon and the "occupation," and thus enable the Arab world to forget its self-induced misery and find psychic reassurance, as Europe too often has, by blaming Jews.
The contrasting treatment of gay men in neighboring Arab countries such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt is well known: Gays are beheaded or sentenced to long prison terms.
Inexplicably it is considered a "progressive" cause to support Palestinian statehood. Perhaps it's just my simplism, but what is so progressive about a state that tolerates terrorism but not homosexuality?
What seems less well known, however, is the appalling treatment of gays under Yassir Arafat's Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and Gaza. At least it was less known until Yossi Klein Halevi wrote about it in the August 19th New Republic. Palestine makes rural Texas look like San Francisco.
According to Halevi, one young man discovered to be gay was forced by Palestinian Authority police "to stand in sewage water up to his neck, his head covered by a sack filled with feces, and then he was thrown into a dark cell infested with insects." During one interrogation Palestinian police stripped him and forced him to sit on a Coke bottle.
When he was released he fled to Israel. If he were forced to return to Gaza, he said, "The police would kill me."
An American who foolishly moved into the West Bank to live with his Palestinian lover said they told everyone they were just friends, but one day they "found a letter under our door from the Islamic court. It listed the five forms of death prescribed by Islam for homosexuality, including stoning and burning. We fled to Israel that same day," he said.
The head of a Tel Aviv gay organization told Halevi, "The persecution of gays in the Palestinian Authority doesn't just come from the families or the Islamic groups, but from the P.A. itself."
Palestinian police have increasingly enforced Islamic religion law, he said: "It's now impossible to be an open gay in the P.A." He recalled that one gay man in the Palestinian police went to Israel for a short time. When he returned to the West Bank, Palestinian Authority police confined him to a pit without food or water until he died.
A 17-year-old gay youth recalled that he spent months in a Palestinian Authority prison "where interrogators cut him with glass and poured toilet cleaner into his wounds."
(via VodkaPundit)And of course, it wouldn't be real frustration without mention of Chirac and the 60th anniversary of D-Day.
This being Chirac's home turf, he got to set the stage, using $54 million of his taxpayers' money to make certain that the backdrop showed him to advantage. And an ahistorical stage it was. The flags of nations that had nothing to do with the landings were represented, to the surprise of those of us who do not remember Sweden as supporting the Allied cause during World War II. Even the E.U. flag was on parade, although it did not exist on June 6, 1944.
Of course we came across the ocean sacrificing thousands of American lives to free strangers from a brutal fascist, and today the Franco-Germany alliance opposes doing for the Iraqis what was done for them.
Then, too, watching the weight accorded in the ceremonies to the French contribution on that historic and bloody day, one could easily get the impression that the French self-liberated. Never mind that de Gaulle was not told about the invasion until June 4, or that only 500 of the 156,000 troops involved in the invasion were Free French fighters (who fought very well), far fewer than were then in the service of the Nazis in Vichy France.
...By way of reciprocation, Schroder thanked "France and its allies" and "Russia" for - in the words of CNN's Christiane Amanpour - "liberating" Germany from the Nazis. No mention of America. The implication that some foreign body had imposed Hitler on an unwilling German populace, and that France had "liberated" Germany probably came as no surprise to experienced CNN and Amanpour fans.
And they have the gall to claim the moral high ground. Using their most effective rhetorical device, Tu Quoque, they have the gall to shout "no blood for oil" at the United States when it was actually them trading Iraqi blood to secure their own oil.
I'm not sure how much more of this I can take.
Monday, June 14, 2004
Iraq - The Unsexy Tales
Here are some heartening stories out of Iraq that deserve more attention. The first is a story of a Chicago man who decided his services could be better used in Mesopotamia. Some of our alderman in Chicago would have you believe that it is only poor, uneducated minorities with no other alternatives that are sent to Iraq to die at the orders of the rich white folks, this case goes against their stereotypes:
Not long before he boarded this lurching gun truck, Joel Hardin enjoyed the good life.
Read the rest and then hit your back button and finish reading here.
Plum job as a leading pediatric cardiologist in Chicago. Far-flung vacations with his wife. Downtown condo and dinners at the finest restaurants--a life as sunny and smooth as the putting greens where he whiled away weekend afternoons.
These days, the 42-year-old--salt-and-pepper hair cropped close and a handgun strapped to his thigh--lives in a plywood cubicle, snapshots of his other world propped outside the mosquito netting slung over his cot. He is a surgeon with a Marine infantry battalion west of Fallujah, the latest stop in an unfinished odyssey that has carried him and thousands of other reservists to the front lines of a war they were not initially expected to fight.
...For most of his life, Hardin never gave much thought to the military. But in 1998, the St. Louis native met a Navy surgeon who served in the 1991 Persian Gulf war, and something about the man's tales and confidence intrigued Hardin.
Hardin's father told him he was crazy. The Navy told him he would probably never earn a pension because he was too old to serve 20 years. Hardin signed up anyway, becoming a commander in the U.S. Naval Reserve.
"I just had this nagging thought that it might be a good thing to reflect on someday," he said.
Two years ago he and his wife, Maridith, moved to Chicago, where he began work as head of the cardiac intensive care program at the University of Chicago Children's Hospital. Then, in April 2003, he received a call from the 3rd Battalion, 24th Marine Regiment, a reserve unit out of Bridgeton, Mo., that was going to Iraq and asked him to come along. He eagerly accepted, although the unit didn't ship out until March 2004.
"My wife said, `You did what?'" Hardin recalled. "`You are leaving a medical practice where you can drive to your reserve duty on the weekends and come back and be here with me in order to go out to a war in Iraq?'"
But Hardin couldn't bear the idea of missing the war that he believed could define his generation's place in history. His role nearly ended before it began.
Back now? Good. Here is an incredible story of an Iraqi teenager who risked it all to turn in his father, a former Hussein army officer.
HUSAYBAH, Iraq -- One day in December, a smooth-chinned 14-year-old approached American soldiers at a checkpoint here and asked surreptitiously to be arrested. He told the soldiers that his father, an Iraqi Army officer under Saddam Hussein, led a 40-man cell of insurgents, and he agreed to show the troops where to find the men and their weapons.
This is harrowing tale, as this kid at 14 was forced to participate in ambushes of U.S. troops. He never fired on them though, instead hiding where he could, once in a dumpster full of soiled syringes and another time and hiding under a bridge overnight. What kind of society creates these types of conditions for a 14 year old? One that needs to go that's what. I don't know where this kid, hardened as he must have been, found the courage to say "enough!" The information he provided to US troops proved incredibly accurate and valuable, as they were getting very little cooperation from the locals who were initimidated by the insurgents. This boy changed that, as one intelligence officer noted, "My jaw almost hit the floor," First Sgt. Hendrex says. "Here was a kid who knew the inner workings of basically all the people we were fighting against there in Husaybah."
The soldiers put a sack over the teen's head, loosely cuffed his hands and led him away to a new life as an informant. U.S. officials say he has provided a wealth of military intelligence, allowing them to capture numerous insurgents in Iraq over the past six months.
But the teenager's decision to turn on his father, who he says beat him, has cost him his family and his freedom. Since he began cooperating with the Americans, he has lived among U.S. troops, knowing that losing their protection would mean almost certain death at the hands of those he betrayed.
...Some of his family memories are warm. He remembers his father happily cooking rice and dolma, grape leaves stuffed with mutton, tomatoes, peas and spices. But he also recalls the time his father brought home photos that pictured him beating a bound man with inch-thick cables. He thinks his father was trying to impress his mother with a show of force. (Multi-Culturalists, and especially you women's lib types, take notice of the culture you wish was still in tact - Freedom's Fidelity)
His father appeared to snap, the teen says, after Mr. Hussein's regime fell in April 2003. He says his father spent time and money to build a network of insurgents to fight the Americans, and succumbed to frequent rages, beating his children more severely than ever before. Once, he says, his father tied his left hand to his left foot, and right hand to his right foot, and beat him "with anything that came into his hands."
His body bears witness to the violence around him. His scalp is a roadmap of scars from beatings and an accident. The skin on the back of his left hand is disfigured from the time he says his father accused him of stealing money and used a red-hot spoon to punish him. The teen recalls crying for days, in part because his mother didn't come to his rescue.
Who knows how many lives his actions have saved, but he has forged a very close relationship with some U.S. troops, but his future is still very uncertain. Again, read it all.
And finally some Iraqi Soldiers are honored for saving a U.S. Marine
On the evening of May 30, 2004, Jassim and his fellow members of 4th Platoon, India Company, Iraqi Civil Defense Corps (ICDC) were jointly patrolling the streets of Al Karmah, near Fallujah, with leathernecks from 1st Battalion, 5th Marines. All at once, the patrol was ambushed from the rear by enemy insurgents. A U.S. Marine was instantly struck down with a gunshot wound to the leg.
Yes, not every Iraqi is out throwing stones at coalition soldiers while they have time between planting roadside bombs and ambush planning sessions. Quite the opposite is true. As has been the case there is a lot more going on in Iraq than is being reported, but all we hear is the bad news. That is a disservice, we need all of the news if we are to get a reasonable picture of what is going on and what areas are in need of attention/improvement. Stories about improved schools, new soccer fields, and functioning local governments are rarely mentioned, though their occurrences are anything but. There are over 8,000 towns and municipalities in Iraq and all we ever seem hear about is Baghdad, Fallujah, and Najaf. Why is that? Because the rest of the country is functioning surprisingly well. Sadly and perhaps tragically, the media rule appears to be if it doesn't bleed, it doesn't lead. So western media, set down your drink, get out of the Palestine Hotel once in a while and DO YOUR JOB!
Reacting as they had been trained to do by their U.S. counterparts, the Iraqis swung into action.
Jassim, who was standing closest to the Marine when the latter was hit, immediately returned fire.
Sergeant Abdullah Sadoon Isa, Corporal Eiub Muhamad Hussane, and Private Ahmad Lazim Garib raced toward-and-beyond the downed American. Constantly under fire and simultaneously returning fire, Sgt. Isa quickly positioned other members of his platoon between the wounded man and the enemy.
Jassim and another private, Kather Nazar Abbas, stopped shooting long enough to begin dragging the American to a position of relative safety. Bullets and at least one rocket-propelled grenade zinged past their heads as they managed to pull the Marine behind a wall. A U.S. Navy medical corpsman rushed forward to render first aid. The Iraqis and the Americans continued battling the enemy force.
...Private Jassim added that the firefight created an even stronger bond between Iraqi (ICDC) soldiers and American Marines. Speaking through an interpreter, he said, "I feel very, very bad the Marine was shot because they are like my brothers now, but I'm ready to go out again. I'm always ready."
The ICDC soldiers not only saved the life of an American, but their actions served as an example of the ongoing coordination and positive developing-relations between the U.S. and Iraq. This was good news. It was not an isolated event. Unfortunately, so little of this kind of news ever gets any ink.
Thursday, June 10, 2004
Paul Wolfowitz and Iraqi Bloggers
The evil leader and former Ku Klux Klan member.... oh wait no, that's Senator Robert Byrd (D), my bad. I meant to say Paul Wolfowitz (pronounce it Vol-vo-vitz so it sounds more Jewish) the evil ringleader of the neocons and puppet master of the Bush administration has a thoughtful piece in the WSJ Opinion Page, outlining the Roadmap to a Sovereign Iraq. He mentions two Iraqi bloggers - Zeyad and Omar - both are linked on the sidebar to the right. This is the second time that I am aware of that Wolfowitz has mentioned Iraqi blogs. Wow, you never know who is reading.
After a suicide car bombing killed Iraqi Interim Governing Council President Izzedine Salim and eight others on May 17, one Iraqi put that act of terror into a larger perspective for those who wonder if democracy can work in Iraq. His name is Omar, one of the new Iraqi "bloggers," and he wrote on his Web log: "We cannot . . . protect every single person, including our leaders and the higher officials who make favorite targets for the terrorists--but we can make their attempts go in vain by making our leadership 'replaceable.' "
Interesting point, the stability of democracies rests in its institutions, not its citizens per se. It's so obvious and simple that most of us never even bother to consider it, that's just the way things are done here in US of A. But it is worth noting what a unique phenomenon it is that here in the United States, regardless if we are in the middle of a war - even a world war - presidential elections are held every four years like clockwork. No suspensions, no delays, period.
Exercising his newfound freedom of speech via the Internet, Omar addressed what he sees as the terrorists' fundamental misunderstanding about where Iraq is going. Terrorists--whether Saddamists or foreigners--"think in the same way their dictator-masters do," failing to grasp that the idea of leadership by an indispensable strongman applies to totalitarian regimes--not democracies.
That understanding of the stability of representative government was confirmed when council member Ghazi Mashal Ajil al-Yawar assumed the Governing Council presidency. This orderly transfer of leadership showed that the rudiments of a democratic process are already at work in Iraq. The hope for a new Iraq, in which freedom is protected by democracy and the rule of law, rests in such processes.
The rest of the piece outlines the five phases Iraq will travel to arrive at functioning, peaceful and prosperous democracy. He also discusses the challenges that will be faced on the way. Go read the rest already.
Monday, June 07, 2004
This Angers Me
I read this Saturday morning and I am still seething. I would really, really like to punch the pope in the face. Right now. I don't care that he's the pope, I would knock the Parkinsons disease right out of him with a right cross to his shaking head.
Speaking slowly and softly to an attentive President Bush, Pope John Paul II on Friday reaffirmed his opposition to the war in Iraq and decried "deplorable events" related to it, an apparent reference to the abuse of Iraqi detainees by U.S. forces.
I am not sure how a holy man, one that supposedly harbors compassion for all people could be against the liberation of 25 million people from a sadistic tyrant, it's not like he's bearing any of the cost. Then again, the Middle East is fond of torturing gay people, perhaps that is what has the pope so smitten. I don't really know. What I do know is that when the prison abuse scandal came to light, steps were already underway to investigate, prosecute, and punish. Contrast that with the Catholic Church's scandal. For decades they molested an untold number of children, and then systematically covered it up. The punishment for these twisted freaks was to get transferred to a church with a whole new set of children to abuse, but in another city. Catholics everywhere ought to be embarrased, if they are capable. Me, I'm a former Catholic that has a fist he'd like to introduce to the pope.
In their third meeting since Bush became president, the pope called for a quick return of sovereignty in Iraq with an active role to be played by the international community, particularly the United Nations.
Thursday, June 03, 2004
Of Reality, Ruthlesness, and Unintended Consequences
There are those that wishfully believe we are not at war, but despite this cognitive dissonance that plagues the far left, Al-Qaeda, Hamas, et al see no difference between a war protester and President Bush or between Karl Rove and Noam Chomsky. Osama bin-Laden would just as quickly send someone (besides himself) to detonate a crude explosives vest packed with nails at the headquarters of Moveon.org as he would at the office of John Ashcroft. It is a cold, disturbing reality, but reality is never dependant on one's acceptance of it. You are either for 12th century theocracy or you are an infidel to be slaughtered, for this is the enemy, do not look away:
Nick Berg, an American from Philadelphia, was kidnapped and tortuously beheaded by Arabs in Iraq sometime in May. The murderers filmed the deed and proudly displayed the victim's severed head.
A kindergarten graduation ceremony.
After killing six Israeli soldiers in an attack on an armored vehicle in Gaza on May 11, the Arabs near the scene of the carnage gleefully held aloft human body parts in front of rolling cameras. One of the Arab terrorists was later interviewed on film with what appeared to be a human head in front of him.
The week before, after shooting at Tali Hatuel's car, causing it to skid and stop, Arab terrorists walked over to the vehicle to finish the occupants off. They looked at the heavily pregnant mother and her four no-doubt frightened girls; the youngest was two years old. And then shot them all. At point-blank range. With sadistic satisfaction, they systematically murdered Tali Hatuel and her unborn son, as well as all of Tali's daughters - Hila, age 11, Hadar, 9, Roni, 7, and two-year-old Meirav.
In Fallujah in March, crowds of townspeople dragged four American civilians out of their vehicles, shot or beat them to death, mutilated their bodies, dragged them through the streets, suspended them from a bridge and burned them.
And they danced and cheered.
With their children.
In Ramallah in 2000, two Israeli soldiers were kidnapped, beaten, stabbed countless times, had their eyes gouged out, and were literally disemboweled and dismembered by an Arab lynch mob.
The people - and I use the term loosely - who carried out the initial beatings threw one of the victims down to the waiting mob, where his face was further crushed with stones, feet, fists and even a heavy metal window frame. One Jew was set on fire and dragged along the street as Arab onlookers danced and cheered. Some of the butchers celebrated their crimes with the victims' internal organs. One of the killers, famously captured on film, proudly displayed his blood-soaked hands to the cheering Ramallah crowd.
And it gets worse. In 2003, nearly two years later, Arab parents in Gaza cheered again when their little children dressed up as members of the Ramallah lynch mob complete with hands painted blood red, for a kindergarten graduation ceremony.
That is the reality that caused me not to blink at the following reality. John Ross is the author of a fiction book called unintended consequences, in a very interesting piece, he discusses the unintended consequences of Abu Ghraib prison photos:
Let's get something straight here: For all the talk about the "religion of peace," or "respecting different cultures," or whatever other platitudes you want to spout, a cornerstone of Islamic faith as practiced in the Arab world is the absolute subjugation of women and the total repression of women's sexual pleasure. Understand this: There is no living creature in this country that Americans treat on an ongoing basis the way Arabs treat women.
Boy, when I first read that it sounded harsh, but against the background of the above column, the pyramid of butt crack and underpants on the head seems suddenly benign. Of course, as a society we do not have the chutzpah to admit this, but the lack of political correctness in Ross's acknowledgement renders it no less true. As bin Laden himself has asserted, it is a weak America, always retreating, that provides for better recruiting fodder. Trying to understand why they hate us is a strategy of suicide, this, as described above, is a new kind of enemy. During the cold war MAD (mutually assured destruction) was our policy of deterrence, and indeed it was the credible threat that we would use nuclear weapons against the Soviets that kept the cold war cold.
...Arab culture is all about male power. Our Intelligence people in Iraq obviously understand that. That's why they took pictures of Lynndie England (probably the smallest female soldier at Abu Ghraib prison) making fun of naked prisoners, cheerfully climbing on top of them after putting them in a naked dogpile, and nonchalantly keeping one of them naked at her feet on a leash. A few days later it comes out that the Americans did an even more heinous thing: They had sex with each other and made the prisoners watch. The horror!
....Those pictures said volumes. They said "We're your worst fucking nightmare: We're Americans. Our women are stronger than your men. Our littlest women will strip naked the strongest men you can muster, and make fun of their puny cocks while enjoying a cigarette. Our women love to get naked, love sex, and revel in the sexual prowess of their American male partners. They'll put impotent "men" like you naked on leashes whenever they want. America is the most powerful country in the world, and guess what? Women control 70% of its money and 100% of its pussy. What are you going to do about it? Behead some Jewish "contractor"? Fat lot of good that's going to do. We'll put on some hearings for show, but you know the truth: we'll do whatever we want whenever we want, and we'll have our women do it. Just for fun. Think we're kidding? Wait 'til you see our beer ads."
But how do you deter a suicide bomber who has already assured his own destruction? Several months ago I remember reading about an Israeli idea to load buses with slaughtered pig carcasses (sorry no link). Islamic belief holds that a body contaminated with any sort of pork is denied entry to heaven and its 72 virgin glory, even if they died as martyrs. Ross floats a similar idea in his column.
I suggested that we show on the news all our ammunition factories such as Lake City Arsenal cranking out tens of millions of rounds of ammunition for M16s, with all the bullets lubricated with... pig fat. Show Claymore mines, grenades, bayonets, and every other weapon where some piece of metal pierces the enemy's flesh, being covered with lard before assembly. Terrorists use our freedoms and tolerance to attack us, they use our love for living in this world to inspire fear. Why not use their hocus pocus beliefs against them? Surely the idea has already been discussed and dismissed, but why? My hunch is that because this war is still being fought on a relatively small scale with relatively few casualties there is no urgency to resort to such tactics. History tells us though that the longer a conflict drags on the more ruthless each side becomes. How long before the cost of dying Americans starts to chip away at the benefit of holding on to our morality? If and when a nuclear or biological attack happens on U.S. soil we'll wonder why ideas such as those expressed by Ross bothered us at all. The only questions that will remain then, is not who will win, but which parts of the earth will be scorched and how many human beings will be incinerated in the process. As the Belmont Club notes "the only effective way to stop the corrupting influences of war is to achieve victory."
Let us hope we find victory before ruthlessness finds us.