Main

Foreign Policy, IR and Foreign Affairs Archives

June 12, 2006

Re-Establishing the LRB

After being closed the last several months - more like a year - the Little Red Blog is returning shortly. Older archives will be available in a re-sorted manner. And other features will be added.

All archives listed prior to this entry are from the prior versions of the LRB.

July 12, 2005

Afterthoughts

A few hours have passed since Bill and I released the presentation on al-Qaeda and the International Islamic Front's attacks since 1998. The general response has been supportive and understanding of our intent. There have been some, as expected, detractors and others who wondered why this or that terrorist action was left out of the presentation. We purposefully left editorial commentary, methodology and personal ideology out of the presentation and, so, expected that to cause some discussion or disagreement. No problem.

Given the number of attacks, the range of organizations, the inescapable challenge of meeting others expectations or vision for such an effort, it seemed to us that we were better served by providing data on a limited number, an example set perhaps, of what Islamofascist aligned to varying degrees with al-Qaeda had been up to. This also enabled us to make the presentation manageable in terms of length, file size, etc.

Some have questioned our limited use of attacks in Afghanistan and Iraq, and frankly that is a justifiable concern, if it is the focus of ones view of the larger war. Our view remains broader. One critic of the presentation, who described it as a "mess" in a comment on one blog, and then challenged it further on his own blog saying "it is very clear to me that Roggio's and Hutchen[s’] flash animation really doesn't do anything to resolve the debate one way or another." That works for me. It wasn't meant to resolve the debate. It was meant to present a portion of the data and to remind those who, as do we all, have lives to live and aren’t constantly focused on these acts.

For those, like the above linked critic, who believe we've made an argument, and by leaving out data we've misrepresented the truth... I disagree. Each viewer brings with them a set of beliefs about the war (and any of its particular fronts) and in doing so this one has chosen to challenge our presumed takes without evidence of it in the presentation. Maybe it wouldn't be as concerning if a Ph.D wasn't attached to his name.

Specifically regarding Iraq and the oft discussed question of it's role in the war, and specifically whether or not it caused or inflamed current terrorist activities, or as the critic says - "expanded the recruitment pool and the broader base of support for Islamic terrorists" - again I must take issue. The base of al-Qaeda's or any Islamofascist organization's recruiting pool doesn't increase or decrease based on our action or any ability to support or deny the al-Qaeda narrative. The ideological fermentation begins without us and when it’s mature the new terrorist will act within the constraints of his convictions and resources available to him. Many peaceful Muslims stand beside tomorrow's terrorist in daily prayers with little to no knowledge of their ideological take or their proclivity toward terror. Is he a terrorist only when he begins to act on his belief or is he a terrorist when the rot of hatred consumes his heart and faith?

Others have also questioned the inclusion of Beslan in the presentation. While it wasn't the most straightforward of choices, the evidence and the State Department's words "Basayev has links to al-Qaeda" were enough to sway me toward the belief that Riyadh us-Saleheen Martyrs' Brigade and Shamil Basayev (who claimed responsibility for the act) are affiliated, although most likely not in a subordinate relationship, with al-Qaeda and the IIF movement and thus warranted inclusion. Additionally, al-Qaeda’s use of the Beslan attacks as a recruitment tool and rallying cry signified their ideological similarity making the decision easier. To exclude the Basayev led terror we would have to accept his word that he seeks only to defeat Russia, and to ignore his direct words of support for the terrorists in Iraq and elsewhere. In the end, that wasn’t something I could do.

As I noted in my earlier post, it’s your turn to discuss this and provide the commentary. I’ll have more to say later.

July 11, 2005

Presenting al-Qaeda

It wasn’t a work of joy. On occasion, there are things that should, or rather must, be done.

On Friday evening, Bill Roggio and I began discussing a presentation that to the two of us, clearly fit into this category. Our effort was to document, in a visual manner, al-Qaeda’s attacks since 1998 when the International Islamic Front declared war on you, me, and all those who refuse their radical view of Islam.

The result is a presentation available at Winds of Change.NET in the form of a Flash presentation.

It documents 30 attacks by al-Qaeda and its IIF affiliates since February of 1998. It by no means includes all al-Qaeda attacks during that time. Or all acts of terrorism. Instead, it’s a presentation of select acts of violence in 16 different countries and at the cost of thousands of lives. 4895 lives lost. More than 12345 wounded. As Bill notes in the accompanying post at Winds, many of the victims of al-Qaeda’s terrorism are Muslim. Whether they are collateral damage or purposefully targeted, given al-Qaeda’s ideological intolerance, is not as significant as the response of those under attack.

It’s that thought that remains with me at this hour after completing the presentation. When attacked, we have responded and altered the plans of Sheikh bin Laden and his band of falsely righteous cohorts. Soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines have fallen in the battle to defend us, and the world, against an enemy all too comfortable with indiscriminate killing. Like many of you, and our nations leaders, I’m confident that we can (and will) win the war. That being the case, I can’t help but believe that those who sit by and watch while their religion is abducted for pure evil, while their sons and daughters are taught that death is preferred to life, and that it is morally excusable to commit acts of terrorism are the key to ending the war sooner rather than later, and at a lower cost in lives and turmoil. There are many Muslims who stand with us against al-Qaeda and the IIF. More are needed.

While on the subject, I’ll note that the musical accompaniment for the presentation is in Arabic. It’s title is Mohammad al-Mustafa or Mohammad the Chosen One. It wasn’t selected to stir the pot, so to speak, or to enflame the passions of those who will disagree with our editorial perspectives on the war or any other matter. It was simply a moving piece that, from my perspective at least, speaks volumes in Arabic and should reinforce a desire to see Islam no longer held captive by terrorist. To the ear unaccustomed to Arabic it is simple, resonating and perhaps somewhat haunting.

When looking at the data presented, it is minimal and without commentary or editorial opinion, as much as possible. Tell us what you think; provide the editorial commentary on your blog or in the comments section here or at Winds.

And to close, I’d like to thank Bill for the opportunity. As he notes, we shared a vision and the effort. We struggled with the content and its weight in sheer loss and strife. In the end, more importantly, we share a vision for the end of the war, for life without terrorism and for the role, even when insignificant, that we can play in helping to get the message out. That is a joy.

(Originally posted at The Fourth Rail.)

June 7, 2005

Aid and Africa

When British Prime Minister Tony Blair asks President Bush, and other G-8 leaders, to increase the amount of aid provided to Africa, and to eliminate the foreign debt of African nations, he is unlikely to be addressing the continents woes with the mindset of Global War on Terror. President Bush is set to announce that the U.S. will further increase aid to Africa, to the tune of $674 million, while continuing his opposition to the remainder of Blair’s plan. He is right to do so for both humanitarian purposes, as well as for national security.

Addressing the humanitarian aspect, I’ll be brief. Provide fish or teach to fish? Provide economic aid via grants (or the elimination of debt) or provide economic incentives to aid (or require) the development of civil systems capable of supporting foreign investment, the development of educational systems, and the legal rights of the people of Africa. I would applaud Blair for his passionate argument for doing more to help Africa, yet I believe he is mistaken in his plan, discounting both the nature of man and the realities of our world. All aid to Africa, beyond the essentials to prevent malnutrition, should be focused on building the infrastructure needed to get beyond subsistence, both in real terms, as well as in terms of cultural and social essentials. It is largely in this area that we have failed, and in this area that money alone will not change anything.

For years the U.S., and the world at large, ignored the spread of Islamist ideals that lead to terrorism in the name of Islam. Our focus was singular… ensure that the U.S. maintained influence in the region, the Middle East, equal to or greater than that of the Soviet bloc. Post Soviet policy was even narrower. Now we fight a war that is likely to outlast many of us, and our former allies have been exposed as at least partially responsible for the development of the hatred of the west built on the regions bigotry, religious and cultural. Despots have largely governed Africa, like the Middle East, and with the cultural value of ethnicity, bloodlines, religious affiliation and race, Africans have waged war on each other while the outside world fed the victims.

The U.S. must address African nations with higher standards. We must not eliminate debt or make grants with the hope that the economic relief felt by the governments will translate to opportunity for the individual. It would merely extend the life of those in power. In place of donations (by the government – I’m completely supportive of individual donations through charity organizations dealing directly with the needy), the U.S. should ratchet up our requirements. This should include direct investments, binding the governments to support and encourage civil opportunities, development of legal and banking systems, expansion of communications, and most importantly - the inclusion of all citizens in a liberal education program. In addition, it should be clear to Africa's leaders that military aid and support of non-democratic leaders will not be an option. You play poorly in the playground, we don't invite you in and serve you dinner, instead, we cut you off and feed those who will work to make things better. If not, we will again silently wait for the next Somalia, Sudan or Zimbabwe to develop. And we’ll pay the man who leads the transition.

Of course, none of this addresses how to end the suffering under the hands of mad men already in place. That’ll have to wait.

[Originally posted at The Fourth Rail.]

May 27, 2005

Yudhoyono's Challenge

The War on Terror has seen a number of nations in transition from enemy to ally of the United States. In Afghanistan and Iraq, despotic rulers were removed, and following first every free elections new leaders have expressed support for continued U.S. involvement and assistance in their evolution toward democratic success, even if they aren’t pro-American in the fuller sense of the term. Elsewhere, there are states in transition from foe to friend. For some, the War on Terror has provided the necessity for such a change. For others the War on Terror also presents a challenge to making the transition.

Indonesia’s newly elected President Yudhoyono, faces many significant challenges in his efforts to improve relations with the U.S. And while he has found success thus far, some of these challenges are worth review.

Foremost among the challenges facing Yudhoyono, leading the world’s largest Muslim population while allied with the U.S. in the War on Terror. This is in no means an indictment of Indonesia’s Muslim population, in large part one of the more liberal in the world. Rather it is due to the existence of Jemaah Islamiyat (J.I.), an al-Qaeda linked terror organization in Indonesia. The prosecution of the War on Terror will not cease so long as this group remains a threat, and for Yudhoyono it remains both a political challenge and a tactical challenge to eliminate J.I.

A constraint earned prior to Yudhoyono’s election is also found in Indonesia’s history of military abuse of power and influence. While not limited to the post Suharto era, Indonesian military forces have not shown restraint in their efforts to quash unrest and independence movements among the various islands that make up the nation post Suharto. Added to the political might the military has maintained historically, it is no wonder that few are eager to see any aggressive action from Jakarta. In many respects, the history of corruption and abuse of power not only limits Yudhoyono’s ability to confront terrorist, it also limits his ability to move rapidly in other reform initiatives. For that reason, I hold that it will not be during Yudhoyono’s presidency that that foreign viewers consider many of Indonesia’s issues resolved. How’s that? Frankly, it’ll take a few turns at the ballot, and significant reform in the command and control of the armed forces to ensure outsiders that the historical relationship between the military power structure and the civilian government are no longer symbiotic.

Additionally, Yudhoyono must revitalize the economy of Indonesia. The nation faces significant infrastructure, education and banking difficulties that limit investors’ willingness to seek out opportunities in Indonesia. Indonesia has also become a net oil importer rather exporter, and coupled with government pricing controls this has severely limited the positives that many nations have found while oil prices have soared.

Yudhoyono’s economic policy’s, termed "pro-growth, pro-job, pro-poor", are essentially aimed at addressing the need for greater transparency in business and encouraging foreign investment to reduce unemployment and stem corruption. Again, however, time and frankness will be the immediate determinants of progress, more so than the resumption of talks such as the Trade and Investment Council. The one significant positive, although I’m hesitant to call it one, is in the rebuilding efforts following last December’s devastating tsunami. Both from an infrastructure perspective and in broader terms of addressing unemployment, the potential for a lift to the economy exist. If wise, Yudhoyono will work to ensure that the needed accountability is given for all foreign aid received, as this may go help to establish some level of confidence in his programs of reform.

Yudhoyono is an optimist. In that regard, he and President Bush are akin. In his visit with President Bush, Yudhoyono told Bush that the economic reforms are underway and that his military is undergoing the fundamental changes needed to end its history of transgressions. Bush believed him - "[t]he president told me he's in the process of reforming the military, and I believe him."

From an outsiders view, it appears that they have cause for their optimism. Likewise both are moving with relative caution, which I would applaud. Given the significance of the Strait of Malacca to international shipping, and Chinese efforts (link includes map of shipping routes) to extend their influence in the region, the U.S. will need an optimist and a strong batch of allies. More so, we’ll need a free and economically stable Indonesia to thwart the violent tactics, and ideology, of al-Qaeda from taking further root in Indonesia. Along with Australia, India and Japan, the U.S. should be both an economic and military friend to Indonesia.

[Originally posted at The Fourth Rail.]

May 25, 2005

Being Bashar

Bashar Assad is in quite a pickle. Having come to power following the death of his father, the Middle East should have been an ideal place for a young totalitarian just learning the ropes. Unfortunately for Bashar he has neither his father’s Machiavellian mastery of politicking, nor the luxury of coming to power an age void of geopolitical focus on other parts of the world, such as the Cold War provided. With the successful U.S. War on Terror just miles from his home, the Arab street becoming more self critical - desirous of self governance and empowered by support from afar, Bashar has found himself forced to withdraw from Lebanon and now sits isolated and fermenting under the eyes of the world.

This week we learned that Syria has "severed all links" to the U.S. military and CIA in Iraq. Much as I would have responded, the U.S. seems to have given this announcement a collective "yawn." Why? Because Syria was never an ally in the War on Terror and their "minimal and sporadic" assistance was an attempt to quiet the criticism of newly free Iraq and U.S. commanders dealing with Syria's either porous border or direct support for the terrorists crossing it.

Popular, in as much as enough discussion has been made to qualify as popular, theories for why Syria has cut its minimal assistance to U.S. operations range from the conspiratorial – Zarqawi being recently injured and running to Syria needing cover; to the openly outlandish – Syria needs to cut ties before moving their forces into place for an attack. I don't subscribe to either, and will offer alternative reasoning. I'll be the first to admit that sufficient data isn't available to support any theory or to predict the next step - unless we believe that Imad Mustapha, Syria's ambassador to the U.S., was telling the truth and Syria just didn't see the point in helping if they are going to be criticized so harshly, poor things.

The two reasons for cutting off aid are: 1) Given the unrest brewing in Syria, a first for Syria, Assad recognized the need to ensure that Islamists don’t refocus their attention on his government – freshly under attack from moderate and secular Muslims; and 2) Assad just doesn't understand that his government, like that of Mubarak in Egypt, needs to embrace the West for support (many Westerners still preferring stability) rather than breaking ties and waiting on the eventual eye of the storm to hit Damascus.

These two reasons leave out the Kurds in Syria, a large and well organized group certainly displeased with the state of affairs in Syria, emboldened by the success of the Kurds in Iraq, and not satisfied by recent concessions such as the establishment of the a government council to deal with Kurd issues. Daily Star writer Ibrahim Hamidi believes the Kurds hold the key to Syria's future, or perhaps to the future of the Assad regime.

While Hamidi may place an extra significance on the Kurd influence, I would grant that the Kurds are influential and not ignored when Assad looks at his future options. Unfortunately, the real key is Assad's unwillingness to separate from Iran. Until he does, Syria will not be free to explore "slow" advancement in self governance, nor will they be able to address U.S. concerns about Syria’s influence in Lebanon (even without the military presence), or support for terrorists in Iraq (or Israel and the Palestinian Territories).

My advice to Bashar:

Break your ties to Iran and implement the process of moving towards becoming a modern and free nation, or else you will eventually face the rapid end to your significance in Syria.

[Originally posted at The Fourth Rail.]

May 23, 2005

Forsaking Stability

Of our greater virtues one must recognize the end to our acceptance of “the soft bigotry of low expectations” as most significant in the world today. After decades of preferring the stability of the autocrats in the Arab world, the terrible attacks of 9/11 and the President’s unwillingness to count all Muslims among the enemies to the U.S., we are in the midst of a spring of possibilities. Fouad Ajami, writing in the Opinion Journal, describes his meeting with Arab men and women filled with hope, a press opening up for the first time to a critical review of Arab culture and politics, and clearly recognizing that the removal of Saddam Hussein in Iraq led the way to their new hope.

"As I made my way on this Arab journey, I picked up a meditation that Massimo d'Azeglio, a Piedmontese aristocrat who embraced that "springtime" in Europe, offered about his time, which speaks so directly to this Arab time: "The gift of liberty is like that of a horse, handsome, strong, and high-spirited. In some it arouses a wish to ride; in many others, on the contrary, it increases the desire to walk." It would be fair to say that there are many Arabs today keen to walk--frightened as they are by the prospect of the Islamists coming to power and curtailing personal liberties, snuffing out freedoms gained at such great effort and pain. But more Arabs, I hazard to guess, now have the wish to ride. It is a powerful temptation that George W. Bush has brought to their doorstep."

Ajami’s conclusion that while some will accept their new found hope with reserve and a willingness to progress slowly, more will seek the path of haste in their desire to bring the gift of liberty to their children sooner rather than later. Likewise, in our tossing aside the value of stability, we are called to forsake the inclination to judge all Arabs or Muslims as terrorists, enemies of the U.S. or villains waiting on their opportunity to rule with an iron hand.

In this effort, as exemplified by recent comments on this blog, many are thus far incapable of finding a proper balance. One of my personal interests in the War on Terror is in the effort to find metrics for measuring our progress toward victory. As Strategy Page notes in their efforts to do the same, it cannot be done in isolation as events around the world have a significant impact as well, whether in direct conflicts, wars or purely in the realm of diplomacy. As such, we should be prepared to recognize the implications of policy decisions around the world. When we compromise our beliefs to permit WTO membership for a non-democratic state, ignore human rights abuses to avoid potential economic hardship, or acknowledge and accept terrorists as politicians, the Arab people who are now so enthused by the possibility of liberty will recognize the inconsistency. Even if justified by pragmatism, we should recognize that for those with only a hint of liberty knocking at their door, such play is less likely to be understood.

Whether by our valuing liberty above tyranny or the expansion of our own economic interests, we must be willing to forsake stability, risk the turmoil of transition and embrace the potential of others to achieve. In doing so, we tell the Arab hopeful that we will stand by them, should things turn awry, and moreover, we tell the non-Arab that it isn’t by terror alone we are prompted to action… it is by our values.

[Originally posted at The Fourth Rail.]

May 11, 2005

Immigration Reform

Tougher immigration legislation is in the works. Unfortunately it isn’t the U.S.; it’s France that’s addressing illegal immigration. The BBC reports that France has announced new measures to address the issue. Some highlights:

Visas with biometric data;
Tougher deportation regulations;
Increased border controls;
Improved constraints on illegal workers;
Tighter regulations on marriages by French nationals;
And the creation of an immigration police force.

All this and the French only have between 200 and 400 thousand illegals. The French also admitted that their previous amnesty efforts, in 1981 and 1997, where failures and resulted in further illegal immigration. Washington on the other hand remains asleep at the wheel.

More on the Summit

The fine folks at the NY Times (don’t laugh) have published their take on the events in Brasilia. And while the column is largely a regurgitation of the two linked in yesterday's post, its still worth a look. More worthy is Austin Bay’s take on the summit.

As Austin catches, and sorely missing from the previous AP and FT columns, the participants in the summit also expressed their view on terrorism, which the UN hasn’t yet defined.

The Brasilia conference also:

...called for an international conference to define what terrorism is, and endorsed the right of peoples to "resist foreign occupation in accordance with the principle of international legality and in compliance with international humanitarian law."

What will come of the meeting is clear - little of any value aside from a bit more clarity on the scope and scale of anti-American sentiment and moral confusion in both regions.

May 10, 2005

What's A Friendly Little Get Together?

When leaders from the Arab and South American worlds get together to improve relations, economic and otherwise, it’s just a little something to keep an eye on. On Monday, in Brasilia, Brazil, just such a meeting began and thus far it’s produced several noteworthy events. While the stated purpose of the summit, dubbed the Summit of South American-Arab Countries, is to usher in improved political and economic ties between the regions, thus far the group has managed to challenge U.S. sanctions on Syria, question the UK’s claims to the Falkland Islands, and to press the Israeli’s to withdraw from the occupied territories. A few details for the summit that includes 7 Arab heads of state and 8 of their South American counterparts --

The largest ovations by the esteemed leaders and businessmen taking part in the convention have been for Hugo Chavez, there’s a friendly fellow for you, and Mahmoud Abbas. The event's host, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, the first elected leftist leader of Brazil, went on to praise the Palestinian people for their patience. Patience. Palestinian patience. Yup.

In a document to be signed on Thursday, the group asserts that the U.S. violates international law by placing sanctions on Syria, which the U.S. did in response to Syria’s ties to terrorism. The document request that the UK and Argentina return to negotiations over the Falkland Islands, most likely prompted by the EU Constitutional referendum that includes the islands as British overseas territories.

To me it is clear that while efforts to establish "free-trade" between the two regions, as would apply to any or all regions, is an admirable goal. Unfortunately, just as in the hallows of the UN, when the participants only pay lip service to the ideals of freedom, it is unlikely that any positives will be achieved. Of course, in the diplomatic manner appropriate for our age, the U.S. congratulated the participants for their efforts.

May 9, 2005

Over There

Looking the other way is a dangerous move when standing before an enemy. The U.S. has several enemies who require our attention today, and our government seems significantly challenged to keep them all in view. North Korea remains staunchly defiant while toying with nuclear weapons, Iran appears prepared to trash the EU-3 negotiations in favor of a return to uranium enrichment activities, Russia and the EU are moving closer to an agreement which will provide further basis for the former Soviet Union to become a WTO member, and China sits with disdain for Japan, an independent Taiwan and a world unwilling to do without cheap goods built on the back of Chinese laborers.

A friend once said to me that the trouble with the news is there is never anything really happening. After deciding that I might have to rethink whom my friends are, it occurred to me that, at least in the case of this one individual, for some the only news is when the worst has actually occurs. I’m loath to wait for war, the launch of a missile, or the ratification of agreements that are certain to aid the destruction of freedom and liberty before becoming engaged in the debate.

For many, it is enough to pass their time without concern for the larger issues at play, and then to respond with vitriol and misunderstanding when things go in a direction contrary to their benefit. Blogging provides those who choose a different course to have a voice ahead of the event.

All that being said... what’s going on:

In Iran - just a little over a month before their presidential elections, they've officially announced that they’ve converted uranium ore concentrate into uranium tetraflouride gas (UF-4), a step closer to the target uranium hexafloride (UF-6), a key step in the production of highly enriched uranium (HEU) which could be used to develop nuclear weapons. Given how the U.S., among others, have believed that Iran had done so for quite sometime, it is not news, the news is the admission, which is typical of the Iranian practice of admitting critical steps or progress only after significant corollary events have occurred. In this case, one might ask, how much UF-6 or HEU does Iran have if they are now admitting UF-4 production?

Additionally, Iran has once again suggested that their temporary cessation of enrichment activities is likely to end within the next few days. This, of course, would violate the terms of their negotiations with the EU-3, and place the onus on the U.S. and EU to take the issue before the UN Security Council, a step long ago overdue.

With regard to the DPRK – both the U.S. and Japan have responded to the shutdown of the DPRK’s Yongbyon nuclear power plant, and subsequent missile testing with concern. There has been speculation that the DPRK plans to test a nuclear weapon, and as recently as today, the Chosun Ilbo has editorialized that the North may do so as early as June. This while China sits idly by, allowing our interest to focus on North Korea or Iran, and they portray themselves as aghast at Japan’s history books and interested in Taiwan’s opposition parties desire for a united China.

The EU, in their typical fashion, appears to believe that Russia under Putin is ready for WTO membership and is encouraging the Russian’s to sign an agreement with the EU to solidify their credentials for inclusion early next year. The U.S. is apparently not opposed to Russian membership, and why would we be, we supported China’s membership.

Speaking of China, and not of their faux anger over Japan’s history books or their panda bear offering to Taiwan, today China and Pakistan announced they’d co-develop a new fighter jet to replace Pakistan’s aging fleet. Never mind the U.S. offer to sell fighters to Pakistan.

Rant over...

May 2, 2005

Sharansky's Exit

One of the foremost minds, hearts and consciences in the world today, Natan Sharansky, author of The Case for Democracy, has resigned from the Israeli government of Ariel Sharon. His letter of resignation, available at Winds of Change, is a must read for those seeking to understand why he would step down at this time. In his own words:

"As you know, I have opposed the disengagement plan from the beginning on the grounds that I believe any concessions in the peace process must be linked to democratic reforms within Palestinian society. Not only does the disengagement plan ignore such reforms, it will in fact weaken the prospects for building a free Palestinian society and at the same time strengthen the forces of terror.

Will our departure from Gaza encourage building a society where freedom of speech is protected, where independent courts protect individual rights, and where free markets enable Palestinians to build an independent economic life beyond government control? Will our departure from Gaza end incitement in the Palestinian media or hate- filled indoctrination in Palestinian schools? Will our departure from Gaza result in the dismantling of terror groups or the dismantling of the refugee camps in which four generations of Palestinians have lived in miserable conditions?

Clearly, the answer to all these questions is no."

There is little that can be said to challenge his assertions here. The withdrawal from the Gaza is a political move. As such, it is not based on principle or character – attributes that Sharansky, his thoughts and actions are bound to. Prime Minister Sharon is acting as a leader, and in this case, his leadership isn’t intended to impact the Israeli people.

From my take, Sharon’s move is aimed at leading the Palestinian people and world opinion. In the absence of positive Arab or Palestinian leadership, particularly in the autocratic nations backing the Palestinian Authority for years under Yassir Arafat and holding the reigns of power with a perverted blend of false piety and ethnic nationalism, the Palestinian people have failed to establish an sense of democratic normalcy or basic systems of supporting life in a free and open society. Their lack of trust in Israel, as well as moderate Palestinian leaders, cannot be modified from within in short order. To hasten the transition, Sharon takes an unpopular course at home.

Sharansky should be applauded for his principles, while the pragmatically minded will also recognize that his stepping down in no way aids his overall objective. Would I have had it that Sharansky stay despite his disagreement with the policy? Probably not, for a man of his character would be hard pressed to be most effective in that role, and yet, I can’t help but believe that had he been willing to accept the political boldness of the plan, and recognize that while nothing is guaranteed, it is leadership by example for a people who’ve known only negative leaders – the Palestinians.

April 19, 2005

News and Notes After Much Delay

For want of sleep, the news of "Habemus Papam", and other more mundane tasks that we all must on occasion fulfill, the News and Notes were delayed. Here is a short bit of what I hope will be just a first for today.

Habemus Papam! Pope Benedict XVI is the new pope of the Holy Roman Catholic Church. Congratulations to the faithful and, of course, to Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger for his selection. Being a theologian, and 78 years old, it strikes me that his role is one of caretaker and reinforcement of the doctrines of the late John Paul II. May he be a benefit and blessing to all the world.

Today we note that it has been 10 years since the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. 168 lives were lost on that morning. The bombing had a significant impact on me. On that I hope to share more later today.

While working on the new site, I'm constantly reminded of the vast number of potential hot spots around the world. Whether it be the dispute between China and Japan, North Korea's nuclear play, Iran's ethnic clashes or nuclear ambitions, the Sunni attacks on the Shi'a of Iraq or the many, many, more that I could list, I am left feeling a bit like John Adams must have when he wrote "[w]e have not men fit for the times. We are deficient in genius, education, travel, fortune - everything." Yet, as I've noted many times, I am bound in optimism and much of it is due to the many who while visibly offering words (including through blogs), behind the scenes go about the necessary actions to fortify and defend our land.

Back later.

UPDATE: The Watcher's Council has an opening for those so inclined to apply. Its a good thing and the worst that can happen is you'll be rejected, humiliated and laughed out of the blogosphere. Go ahead, apply.

To help feed my appetite for books I've signed up to do reviews for Mind & Media. Some of you are aware of the service Stacy offers, as that's how I was directed to her, but for those who aren't I'll post more in the near future (including her logo) and then when the first book arrives I'll begin the review process.

Yesterday I mentioned how I was using del.icio.us and how pleased I was with it. Well, it was down for a while today, which in conjunction with the need to have more frequent updates led me to an nifty bit of code called MySQLicious. It mirrors the del.icio.us links in your local MySQL database, and then via PHP, Perl or whatever you like, and you can query as often as you like, no throttling from del.icio.us. Of course, the updating of the mirror should still be moderated, so that you don't abuse the service.

John Bolton's vote was delayed. There is no good news in this save the clarity it provides on the character (and lack) of the Senate.

North Korea shuts down a reactor, most likely to permit further weapons development, and still - still - South Korea opposes sanctions on the North. The last 7, or more, years of South Korean leadership (reflective of the culture today) has been more pro-DPRK than it has been supportive of the U.S. As with Germany and Japan, lessons learned can either be forgotten, played for all their worth, or simple become a part of your character. You know which is which.

April 14, 2005

Variety Packed News and Notes

There's been a lot going on of late, and unfortunately for this space, and the few who still return to it, there has been little added. I would ask that you continue your patience and patronage, and know that soon I will return with the same ferocity and delight that I once had for filling the ever wide channels of the blogosphere with the ringing sound of my thoughts. Or is that some sort of tinnitus. Anyway, here's a bit of catching up that's over due.

The Watcher of Weasels has selected two fine additions to join the Watcher's Council. I must admit that both are better bloggers than I am, and like the other members probably only tolerate my presence as an odd means of blogger charity. I'll have to check into the tax law to see if it benefits either of us. So without further delay, more on Tom later, the two newest members are The Glittering Eye and Carpe Bonum. If you aren't familiar with them, please go and get acquainted.

It's April 15th. You know what that means - it means the 2005 EO Symposium (2nd Quarter) - Judeo-Christian Morality in an Ethically Pluralistic Society is due tonight. Thankfully, my entry will be ready with time to spare. If you plan to submit an entry, you've got until 11:59 P.M. CST. Joe runs a great blog and the responses to this symposium, while perhaps not as numerous, will be just as thoughtful and engaging as the first installment this past January.

Another of the side issues that I've been working on was mentioned today. And by a co-conspirator at that. Along with Bill Rice, Dawn's Early Light, and Tom, the Redhunter, I'm working to build a new site to focus on open source assessments of the various threats against the United States and her allies. I'm confident we'll launch shortly and that it'll be a plus for those interested in the topic.

Now to close the evening out with a flourish I’ll offer a couple of quick items of News and Notes for Thursday and early Friday morning.

Senator John McCain signaled his lack of desire to make a serious run for the White House in 2008 today when he announced that he'd side with the Democrats should the Republican leadership decide to lead and break the Democratic filibuster of judicial nominees. Like many of you I'm fed up with GOP Senators dressed like asses, polling for direction and dancing about on every issue. The principled elephant doesn't bray, hem or haw, it stands firm, does not forget and most importantly - never backs down. Senator McCain has long been heralded, and rightly so, for being a hero. And that he was and always will be, but as a Senator, I'd rather see him go.

Thankfully Senate Majority Leader Frist seems prepared to bring the issue to bear. Should enough salamander skinned Senators side with the obstructionist weasels, like Bird, at least we will know who to leave off the list for our support in '06 and '08. And if I could I'd add another animal to keep this up.

Robert Zoellick goes to the Sudan to press for action. Vice chief murdering thug, Ali Uthman Muhammad Taha, repeated his consistent message of denial saying his government was "working diligently to stop the violence" and "get Darfur back to normalcy." We have to watch out, if Kofi leaves the UN - this is just the guy to take over.

In Central Asia, Hamid Karzai wants to keep the Americans around, and so does Kurmanbek Bakiyev, acting prime minister of Kyrgyzstan, so long as we don't bring our AWACS along.

And while China stages protest against Japan, the EU Parliament affirms a measure to support the binding of the Arms Embargo to China's human rights and cross strait relations with Taiwan. The measure means nothing officially, and in China certainly means less. Just think how little it would mean to someone in... say - North Korea.

DPRK leaders have determined that they'll have to increase their nuclear weapons cache, or as Kim Yong Nam would say - "[w]e will continue increasing our self-defensive nuclear deterrent" - and to think, just a few years back the U.S. was building them a light water nuclear reactor. Ah... the good 'ole Clinton years.

Okay, that's it for tonight. Tomorrow we'll have the EO Symposium, the winners of this week's Watcher's Council, and more news, notes, quips, rants, rambles and the like. And thereafter....

April 13, 2005

News and Notes

This morning I'm busy with another prospective project and in lieu of more detailed posts on an array of topics, I'll leave you with these news and notes until I'm able to add more.

Israel's Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is flying home today after visiting with President Bush and Vice President Cheney over the last couple of days. Sharon and Brigadier General Galant apparently stressed the significance of the dealing with Iran's nuclear development efforts, shared recent intel and satellite photos and called for the U.S. to press for UN Security Council involvement.

On a related note, given the significance the press has made of Bush and Sharon not seeing eye to eye on the issue of settlements, you may find Tom’s post on the subject of interest. And this piece at the always worthy American Thinker is highly recommended.

Lebanon's Prime Minister has stepped down. Again.

Afghanistan is hosting Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld and will seek a permanent strategic security relationship with the U.S. according to President Hamid Karzai. This is big, and while it was expected, it remains significant to have Karzai stating that the request will be formally submitted.

Russia's President Putin has ruled out any attempts to create a legal means for him to run again in 2008. Some doubt that this story is nearing its end or the truth. Count me among them.

South Korea's President Roh, the leader of the morally vapid and ungrateful nation, has announced his support of Germany getting a permanent seat on the UN Security Council. His comments came while Roh visited Germany to woo investors.

al-Qaeda's new strategy is to lie. Okay, perhaps not, perhaps that part has always been there. Bill Roggio has the story of how their new direct approach, attacking the U.S. military head-on, has failed and the resulting lies they've told.

That's it for now.

April 12, 2005

Asian Century

James Pinkerton, of Newsday, writes of three events that combined show the possibility of an "Asian Century" whereas the past century is referred to as the "American Century." As Pinkerton notes, the movement is now peaceful. As others and I have noted on more than one occasion, we are fools to believe that it will remain such. Pinkerton’s three fuses that are burning to create the Asian Century are the formation of a new Sino-Indian movement for a New Asian Order, the renewal of tension, even violence, between China and Japan, and China’s support for nuclear North Korea.

There is little comfort to be found in the current status quo or peaceful tension between China and the United States. China has renewed its political interests and ties with its giant neighbors Russia and India, it continues to pursue arms from an economically, rather than strategically, driven Europe, and as Pinkerton notes it stands at the ready to prevent any U.S. pre-emptive efforts to force change in North Korea. While yesterday I noted that I support Japan in their dispute with China, primarily for the moral lessons learned by the Japanese post WWII, it should also be clear that for purely strategic reasons the U.S. must support Japan as a counter-balance to the growing influence of China in the region.

Pinkerton’s column also notes an alarming bit of news from North Korea.

Japan's Kyodo news service says a top North Korean official declared that his country could strike America not only directly, but also indirectly: "The United States should consider the danger that we could transfer nuclear weapons to terrorists."
While I’ve long stressed just such a possibility, that a DPRK official would state it as a possibility is surprising. We are clearly warranted in our attention to the Middle East and the Islamic world in general given the attacks on the Western world that have been spurred by hatred from that portion of the world, yet, as Pinkerton notes, the U.S. must not forget that there are others at work.

The U.S. cannot afford to see the world in a single Global War on Terror view nor can our support for our allies in Asia and the South Pacific be forgotten or left untended. Australia, Taiwan, Japan, Pakistan and the Philippines, in particular, are vital to our security, economic well being and potentially to our ability to balance what is clearly a growing threat in China.

April 11, 2005

India and China Become Friendly

India and China have signed an agreement establishing a framework for settling a set of long-standing border disputes and for increasing the volume of trade between the two nations. Some will no doubt believe that this is simply a matter of China and India attempting to smooth out the tension and little more. My first thought was that this is more of China attempting to rest control of the region, and India, feeling a bit like the forgotten stepchild, unfortunately playing along.

So why am I not optimistic about the deal?

First, Pakistan has traditionally been armed by China. Along comes the decision to supply Pakistan with F-16’s, along with some debt restructuring, as a means of thanks for Pakistan’s support in the Global War on Terror. India, not at all pleased by the deal, and currently going through an extensive beefing up of its military, as well as its military industrial complex, then signs a non-military deal with China. Does anyone doubt that China, as well, was displeased by the U.S. decision to supply Pakistan with F-16’s or more directly, Pakistan’s cozying up to the U.S. in the GWOT? China, while striving to create an increased role in the economic outlook and military security of Southeast Asia determines that it’ll cease to lay claims to disputed lands and work to end other land disputes with India. India, at the same time has aims on becoming a primary military components supplier to European arms manufacturers, the same manufacturers so desperately seeking an end to the EU arms embargo on China.

On more than one occasion I’ve considered, and discussed, the "perfect storm" of Europe, Russia and China aligning against the U.S. Each time an event such as this occurs I’m renewed in my confidence that there are those who seek to displace the U.S. as the leader of the free world, without realization or concern for the consequences of their actions.

Of course, the terms of the current agreement do not affirm any military cooperation or trade related to arms, yet it stands to reason that within the next few months, when India announces its selection, that the Europeans are now more likely than before to be at the forefront. Just two weeks ago India agreed to purchase 12 used Mirage 2005 from Qatar. The Mirage is a French built fighter.

China Watching

The prospect of war with China is not something that draws lots of attention, at least not for this blog (despite the numerous posts on the subject). That being said, it is something that requires the attention of the various strategists responsible for planning for the defense of the United States and our interests. Today I came across two post on the subject of Chinese power and the potential for war worth sharing (not that others aren’t out there, just haven’t seen them yet).

First, in a post that reminds me of the excellent debate at Bill Roggio’s The Fourth Rail just a couple of weeks ago, Tom, the Redhunter, revises his estimate of the timetable for a potential Chinese attack on Taiwan.

Second, Bill Rice, at Dawn’s Early Light, takes a look at the shifting sphere of influence and power in the South China Sea and Taiwan Strait. Bill put this up on Friday, but I missed it then and didn’t visit over the weekend.

As I’ve noted in previous post, the prospect for war with China is real and growing at this time. Our defense appropriations for the upcoming year, along with the efforts to transform the military, aren’t entirely in sync with the potential for war with China, particularly the reduction in naval capacity, which Bill notes.

Today, like the last three weeks, I’ll not be presenting any lengthy additions to the debate, I’ll just recommend the above mentioned to you.

Japan's Absent Apology

The Japanese government selects new textbooks that aren’t sufficiently contrite when addressing Japan’s historic aggression and mistreatment of civilians and POW’s during the first half of the 20th century. In response, the governments and citizens of South Korea and China are incensed. For many, the matter ends there. Japan acted horribly wrong and has failed to act in a conciliatory manner extensively enough to satiate their former victims, or their heirs. Thusly, China and South Korea are right to be upset. I have a different view.

Like Germany, Japan clearly acted in a manner that not only was unacceptable to even the most marginally decent of the world. And like Germany, Japan was remade or rebuilt. Many believe that Germany has made sufficient, or attempted to, recompense for its transgressions. Japan, on the other hand, is given little credit for the nearly sixty years of constitutional required limitations on its defensive or offensive military capabilities. And even less credit for its acceptance of the value of civil liberties, social and religious freedoms, open markets, and charitable giving. Now a movement to place Japan on the UN Security Council, Japan’s alliance with the U.S. in the War on Terror and specifically the war in Iraq, and Japan’s broadening of its strategic defense capabilities, including its ties again to the U.S. and support of a free and independent Taiwan, and out of the wood work comes the fury over Japan’s failure to make apologies ad infinitum for their past.

Being morally inept to a degree that denies their capacity to reform their own nation, China stands as a hypocrite in their uproar over Japans textbooks. As well, so does South Korea, who like Germany, was safely guarded by American forces and finds no ability to support U.S. efforts to spread and defend liberty around the world. Indeed, South Korea’s government has instead taken a path of appeasement with the North, and like China is more willing to subordinate human virtue in favor of their own power and standing in Asia. I haven’t read the textbooks in question, yet I remain confident that Japan has indeed learned more lessons from its past than Germany or than the current Chinese government binding its citizens, Tibet, and aiming at Taiwan, has learned, and for that and the moral clarity associated with those lessons, I support Japan.

UPDATE: 4/18/05 - A reader takes issue with my position, - "If you want to be a moral crusader, at least *pretend* that you actually know whats going on." And then points to a BBC column by William Horsley. Well, I had already read the Horsley column on Saturday, and didn't find any cause to change my position, so I posted nothing further. By paying their respect to the dead, are we to believe that Japan wants to return to a Shinto based age. No, it is much simpler, Japan paid an enormous price and having learned from it, remembers through their heritage - both good and bad. If you want to comment, you have to leave "your" email address.

April 8, 2005

Building Free Iraq

With each passing day the people of Iraq are closer still to that which few Arabs, living in the Middle East, have ever known – a free and democratic nation governed by and for the people. The man charged with the task of selecting the head of the next interim government is a Kurd, Jalal al-Talabani, he is aided on the president’s council by two vice presidents, a Sunni and a Shi’a (Ghazi al-Yawar and Adel Abdul Mahdi). The three, as expected have named Ibrahim al-Jaafari, a devout Shi’a doctor and member/leader of the Islamic Dawa Party, as the next Prime Minister of Iraq.

The incoming Prime Minister has 30 days to select a cabinet or Council of Ministers and then have the parliament approve it by a majority vote of confidence. In the interim, Prime Minister Ayad Allawi and his cabinet will maintain responsibility for the day-to-day operation of the government, this, even though Allawi has already tendered his resignation.

The process afterwards shifts to the drafting of a new constitution for Iraq and then the ratification of it by the people of Iraq in a vote to be held no later than October 15. The people of Iraq are building a nation in their image and to reflect their will. For this we should all be supportive and remain enthusiastic. Many Arab or Middle Eastern states remain, well, troubling and somewhat worrisome but the example being set in Iraq will continue to pressure Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Iran to enact a more democratic form of governance. That being the case, the battle to defeat islamo-fascism in the Arab and Muslim world will find new allies on the proverbial Arab street. As I’ve long been, I am optimistic and hopeful. And with that, I offer my congratulations and support to the Iraqi people and the Muslim and Arab men and women of good will through out the world.

April 6, 2005

Iran's Nuclear Gamesmanship

On a visit to Paris, Iranian President Mohammad Khatamei expressed his belief that Iran and the EU-3 are closer to an agreement that would permit Iran to maintain its nuclear technology development efforts without further review by the UN Security Council. Khatamei believes that Iran’s latest counter-proposal presented to negotiators last month has been more openly received by the EU-3, particularly France. What was significant about this proposal?

Iran requested that they be permitted to maintain a “pilot” enrichment facility incapable producing enough highly enriched uranium (HEU) for bomb making purposes, and yet, a face saving measure that would maintain Iran’s efforts to understand and master the technology. Why would we oppose such a move, or more specifically, why would I?

The answers are many, so for brevity, I’ll limit my response to a few more on point issues. First up, Iran has not abided by the conditions of the NPT or IAEA inspections as it is obligated to do. That alone gives me much reason to doubt that Iran would abide by any new agreement to limit the scale of its efforts. Additionally, Iran has a contractual obligation to return spent fuel to its initial provider, in this case Russia. The idea that a complete fuel cycle is required for the “understanding” of the technology is a misnomer at best. In the worst case, it is that Iran seeks to understand the cycle so that it may develop nuclear weapons based on the HEU it could ostensibly gain through the use of centrifuges. And then there is the Iranian heavy water reactor near Arak.

Unlike the light water reactors that gain most of the attention, such as the one in Bushehr, the spent fuel from the heavy water reactors is much more readily used for weapons development. The residual spent fuel from light water reactors require the extensive use of centrifuges to collect or create the HEU. Heavy water reactors produce plutonium. The Iranian resistance organization, National Council of Resistance, believes that Arak will be fully operational within two years and will produce 22 pounds of plutonium per year. Iran says the facility is set for completion by 2014 and will be used to develop radio isotopes for medical purposes.

What we know is that Iran has 40 tons of spent fuel that has been processed, prior to their cessation of such activities per their agreement with the EU-3, and that they processed that spent fuel without the approval or supervision of the IAEA or its inspectors. Believing that they’ve done so only to gain the knowledge of how to do it, or to reuse the fuel is not only naïve but potentially deadly.

The Bush administration has my support in its efforts to end the standoff, including the willingness to back the EU-3’s negotiations. That being said, there are many issues that prevent me from being optimistic and there are many conditions that are not, and should not be on the table. Iran must end their enrichment efforts permanently, cease their heavy water reactor efforts, and once and for all open their facilities to full and permanent IAEA oversight. Not likely, and therefore once again I say its time to take the issue to the UN Security Council.

March 29, 2005

Kofi, Kojo and Cotecna

The Volcker Committee, or rightly the Independent Inquiry Committee, investigating the UN's Oil for Food program, has released a second interim report.

Would you be surprised to find that it claims no significant evidence exist to suggest that Kofi knew of Cotecna's bid for a UN contract, even while Kojo, his son worked for Cotecna? Neither would I. How about finding out that Kofi met with Cotecna three times yet previously failed to disclose the meetings? Still not surprised. How about finding out that Kojo was employed, then contracted, and then simply on the payroll even while he and Cotecna denied a continuing relationship between them? What's that, no surprise.

Well there is one. The report concludes that Kofi Annan didn't know of Cotecna's bid for the contract and had no influence in their selection. What... you don't think that's surprising either. Right, neither do I.

The report in pdf format is available here or should the IIC block external origination here. And here's the AP coverage of the story.

March 22, 2005

Arms Embargo On Hold

Hold onto those bullets, bombs, tanks and, okay... well you get the picture. The EU is holding off on its lifting of the embargo of arms sales to China. Aside from the obvious moral propriety of not selling arms to China, there are many positives to be seen in this decision and how the EU arrived at it. I first mentioned the potential for a delay on Friday, in my News and Notes post, and am pleased to present further data here.

Secretary Rice on Sunday, while in China, let the Europeans in on a little secret. "It is the US, not Europe, that has defended the Pacific." You’ve just got to respect a woman who says it like it is. The Times of London also reports that last week, while European delegates were attending briefings on Capital Hill, that they were given more subtle advice. The anti-secession law, passed recently in China, gives the EU an out – "a “fig leaf” that would enable it to retreat with honour intact." Very subtle compared to the 411 to 3 vote in the House to urge the EU to maintain the embargo.

The NY Times reports that European diplomats have admitted that the timeline has slipped due to pressure from the U.S. and the concerns of some of the 25 member states. No "official" statement has been given, and we shouldn’t expect one. In diplomatic parlance we’ll hear that the timeline has slipped or is taking the "slow-track" and that the EU remains committed to the end of the embargo. Reality is slow to arrive at the gare de diplomatique. [Sorry if my French is, well, poor.]

The issue isn’t over, its broadened, and that has to be seen as a good thing. The EU has for some time now been determined to treat their economic and trade issues as separate from issues of security and human rights. This time, at least, the larger issues at hand have had an impact.

March 18, 2005

News and Notes

A brief round up of some of the news from Asia, Europe and the Elsewhere.

Japan will cease to provide aid, in the form of loans, to China in 2008. This is said to be recognition by Japan that China will have reached a level of economic maturity in 2008, while hosting the Olympic games. China has not reached the normal cut-off of $5k per capita earnings and will not have done so by 2008. My take is that Japan is recognizing the potential threat in China, and along with China's expanded economic and military capability simply understands that aid dollars sent to China are not in their best interest. Additionally the aid was seen as a form of reparations for Japan’s prior aggressions, an argument for it that I would never have supported.

EU plans to end the embargo on arm sales to China may be delayed. Javier Solana, the EU’s foreign policy chief, says that the "political will [to lift the embargo] remains... but I cannot guarantee [the timing]." The primary force behind the delay appears to be U.S. pressure against the effort and the Chinese passing of the anti-secession law.

Ukraine prosecutor-general Svyatoslav Piskun confirms that 18 cruise missiles were sold to China (6) and Iran (12) between 1999 and 2001. The Kh-55 missiles, also known as AS-15 Kent missiles, are mid-range (1860 miles), air launched, terrain hugging missiles used for attacks on preprogrammed targets. They were not armed with nuclear warheads and the defense attorney representing the chief executive of the company responsible for the sale claims they will not function due to their age and poor storage conditions.

Jordan may present an alternative strategy for ending the Arab-Israeli conflict at an upcoming meeting of the Arab League. The AP reportedly has seen a proposal by King Abdullah II of Jordan that does not require Israel to return to pre-1967 boundaries and calls for Arab states to declare their "preparedness to end the Arab-Israeli conflict and establish normal relations between the Arab countries and Israel through just, comprehensive and lasting peace." As the AP notes, the proposal is unlikely to adopted but is a sign of improving sentiments toward Israel, even if only from Jordan, which has signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1994. The idea that Arab states would "normalize" relations with Israel, ahead of and as an encouragement for the ending of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is somewhat far fetched but another sign of the ever changing winds in the Middle East.

U.S. Secretary of State Rice will press for a permanent membership on the UN Security Council for Japan. This is the first public statement of support for Japan's membership by the U.S. I'll have to come back to this one, after further research, thought and your comments.

Venezuela is concerned that the U.S. is plotting an attack or assassination. Okay, maybe it’s just Chavez and his lunatic supporters. Given his support for Iran and Cuba it only seems reasonable that Chavez would feel the heat of some scrutiny at home and abroad.

More later, and as always, your thoughts and comments are welcome.

March 17, 2005

DPRK Executes Dissidents

North Korea isn't friendly with those who disagree with the Dear Leader Lunatic. Via North Korea Zone comes the story by the Daily NK of public executions in the Huiryeoung.

The photographs that accompany the story, really tell the story. While graphic they are not far enough from the scene to remove any detail.

I'm not surprised, nor should you be, yet it is surprising that photographs of the incidents are getting out.

China and War Gaming

The inestimable Bill Roggio offers an excellent analysis of the potential for a Chinese invasion of Taiwan. In general, I believe that Bill is correct in his analysis and conclusion:

China's near term problems of insufficient military strength to conduct and sustain an amphibious assault, the superior firepower of the opposing American military, the potential economic strangulation from its source of oil and the political implications make it highly unlikely that a full scale invasion is on the horizon. The key factor to consider in this equation is the fortitude of American leadership. President Bush's commitment to freedom and democracy, and his demonstrated willingness to back up his words with actions makes it unlikely any invasion would occur before 2008. Future American leaders must clearly and consistently state the forcible reunification of Taiwan with China is unacceptable, and must show a willingness to back up its words and defend Taiwan from Communist aggression. Strength, support and vigilance are the best deterrents.
Bill is absolutely correct that future American leaders must "clearly and consistently state the forcible reunification of Taiwan" is unacceptable. They must also demonstrably provide evidence of U.S. resolve and capability to defend Taiwan both from a conventional and nuclear perspective. On that footing we are in good shape today.

In his analysis Bill did not discuss China’s efforts to develop a strategic oil reserve (evidenced by their higher than consumption purchases over the past year), non-traditional delivery means (see my post on the "string of pearls"), or China’s efforts to expand their naval reach or capability (as Bill says - "it's the logistics stupid"). All of which point to the realization that China’s leaders are aware of the limitations, as would be expected, of their current capability and are simply acting to reduce those shortcomings. Taken into consideration with their efforts to co-opt their recently announced military exercises with Russia, which they are attempting to reorient as a practice exercise mimicking an invasion of Taiwan, it is clear that China is at a minimum signaling their willingness to address their shortcomings and at worst they are delusional enough to believe that they could succeed in doing retaking Taiwan.

I’m confident that our economic strength, military capacity and diplomatic resources are sufficient to defeat any Chinese aggression, but as regular readers of the Little Red Blog know, I do not believe that we can ignore this or any potential threat based on our assumption (even if proper) that we would defeat the enemy.

Bill’s piece is excellent and worth reading, as are many of the comments that follow.

March 14, 2005

Calling For A Free Lebanon

The latest rally in Beirut calling for Syria to withdraw. Estimates of between 800k and 1 million participants make this the largest rally thus far. Perhaps the best news for is the inclusion of Sunni Muslims in this rally. The Shi'a supporters of Hezbullah are increasingly being isolated, as are Syria and Iran. The possibility of violence remains but thus far it has been largely avoided to the credit of all those involved. They have my respect and support.

AP Photo
Be sure and visit the Corner for other great photos of the demonstrations. I'm sure there are other great sets, if I run across them I'll add links accordingly.

In Iraq, where protests have continued since the bombing in Hilla, Shi'a took to the street, and the Jordanian embassy, demanding that all foreign Arabs leave Iraq. The latest protest followed word of the Jordanian hometown of the murderer hailing him as a martyr after he killed 125 in Hilla. If only the Shi'a in Lebanon could divorce themselves of their allegiance to Hezbullah and their hatred of Israel. It is amazing to see Iraqi Shi'a leading the charge toward peace in the Middle East. Amazing.

Negotiating in Good Faith

Europe’s team of negotiators, the EU-3, are most likely negotiating in good faith. It is reasonable to believe that their offers, concessions, incentives or bribes are presented with full backing of their respective governments and that their full intent is to bring about improved relations with Iran and to secure the cessation of uranium enrichment efforts in Iran. The Bush administrations decision to support those negotiations can also be seen as one of ‘good faith.’ That is, even if the administration has little or no confidence in the negotiations, their intent would be to support the negotiated agreement between the EU-3 and Iran should an agreement be reached.

And then there are the mullahs and their spokesmen. Are they negotiating in good faith? Can we afford to assume that their intent is an agreement to end Iranian nuclear weapons development?

Iran has stated clearly that their intent was not to end their uranium enrichment efforts, only to temporarily suspend their efforts while negotiating. They have stated that they have no obligation to end the program. Despite the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and the IAEA’s finding that Iran has failed to be forthcoming and transparent in its nuclear development efforts Iran maintains that they have a right to continued enrichment efforts.

Iran has no history of being a willing and trustworthy ally of freedom or peace. Have we forgotten that Hezbullah, the Lebanese terrorist organization, has been and remains an instrument for Iranian influence in the Levant and as such continues to call for the end of Israel. Iran’s support of terrorism, through Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, evident from the outset of the regime in 1979, has not ceased nor waned. If anything, it has increased given their role in supporting the terrorist now attacking Iraq’s people on a daily basis.

Iran’s initial response to word of the U.S. support for the EU-3 negotiations was predictably lacking in value. Sirus Naseri, the chief negotiator, or perhaps chief stalwart for the mullahs, called the U.S. offer "too insignificant to comment about." [See previous post.] Now comes word of Iran’s newest set of conditions. The mullahs believe the U.S. should unblock frozen assets, lift sanctions and cease hostile actions.

Why were the assets frozen and what has changed since that action?

Why were sanctions put in place and what has changed since that action?

Iran is counting on the world to have forgotten the cause of their isolation and to stand against the U.S. when the negotiations fail and it becomes an issue for the UN Security Council. Of course, our media has done little to remind the people of the West of Iran’s history under the mullahs.

March 11, 2005

Iran Doesn't Want to Play

Iran just isn’t going to play nice. Rather than drawing a line in the sand..., or taking Iran’s nuclear weapons programs and violations of the NPT to the UN Security Council, the U.S. decided to give a little. Just a little, but to openly admit a willingness to support the EU3’s negotiations and bribery of the mullahs. WTO membership is even on the table. Not something I'd favor.

Sirus Naseri responded to Secretary Rice’s comments. Sort of.

"What is being suggested is very much insignificant," Sirus Naseri, a senior Iranian negotiator in nuclear talks with the European Union, told Reuters in an interview. "In fact, it (the U.S. offer) is too insignificant to comment about."
As I’ve said before of the potential for U.S. support of the EU3 plan. It’s a no win, no lose situation for the President. Iran will not give up its program and will not come clean on its existing efforts. By going along with the EU3, the President shows a willingness to find a solution, diplomatically, and knows full well that it will never happen. The EU3 will then have to support taking the issue to the UN Security Council.

The only truly negative aspect of this arrangement is the additional time it provides Iran. Here's the AP report for those inclined, it only covers the U.S. position at this point.

News and Notes this Morning

Wednesday I had planned on attending a gathering of bloggers and political folks at a local grill/bar. Put together by the Independence Institute, the plan was to watch Rather's final edition of the CBS Evening News. Life interrupted, the Mrs. was called away on business to Calgary and I drove her to the airport. And this thought occurred to me:

Tickets to Calgary: $1200.00
Hotel Room: $300.00
Missing Rather's goodbye: Priceless.

Although I was looking forward to meeting some of the local bloggers, I wasn't all that interested in sitting through another segment with Rather.

Here are a few of the items in the news worth a comment.

Taiwan has delegates in the Chinese parliament. Most interesting, given that some have never been to Taiwan and none are elected by the people of Taiwan.

"I may not have been born in Taiwan, but my parents raised me to love Taiwan, and I care deeply about Taiwan's future," said delegation member Cai Guobin, the mainland-born son of Taiwanese parents.
The future of China, Taiwan, the Middle East, Europe, Africa and just about every other place are concerns for me, but that doesn't make me representative of the people. There is still much to be gained through self-representation. A future of ones choosing over a brighter (or darker) future at the hand of another should be a clear objective, unless it is your hand that’s doing the controlling.

India loves its cricket. So does Pakistan. India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has invited Pakistan’s Pervez Musharraf to a visit in India to watch their respective teams play. Musharraf has accepted, now let's hope that their negotiations continue to progress.

UN chief bureaucrat for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief says that far more than 70,000 have died in Darfur. Genius. Still not genocide apparently, just as homicide/suicide bombings by Palestinian's isn't terrorism.

UN chief bureaucrat Kofi Annan wants a treaty making terrorism illegal. Hang on, I have to go outside and yell... Okay, I'm back. Read it here. While discussing terrorism, let's remember that good 'ol Kofi announced just a few days ago that the UN must accept Hezbollah as a force in Lebanon.

Spain has the first Muslim organization, that I'm aware of, to issue at fatwa against Usama bin Laden. Given that today is the anniversary of the 3/11 attacks, I'll have more say about Spain later. And as Charles at LGF notes, the organization behind this fatwa is committed to defeating terror, so long as it doesn't mean "taking 'disproportionate' measures similar to those which the Sept 11 attacks sparked in the US." How exactly are we supposed to fight terror?

There are many more items to discuss, but not until Carolina finishes off Clemson. One other note, Dr. George Friedman, of Stratfor, is on Dennis Prager's show this hour, very interesting discussion. Back in a bit.

March 9, 2005

News and Notes of a Mixed Sort

A few items for your consideration, or maybe just mine.

Anne Applebaum offers a defense of John Bolton's nomination to become the U.S. Ambassador to the UN. As I’ve posted before, I like the selection and see it as a positive for the U.S. and potentially for the UN.

Amir Taheri has an excellent, must read, column in the Gulf News. While we can in no way interpret the quotes of pilgrims in Mecca as representative of all Muslims, I do believe we should help them spread their views. Taheri's column is one way to do so. Here are a couple of excerpts.

Just outside the Grand Mosque we fall into conversation with a group of Sri Lankan pilgrims, coming to "pray for all our peoples, including Buddhists and Tamils", in the wake of the tsunami that has ravaged parts of their country. The subject of terrorism creeps into our conversation.

"We are the only community in Sri Lanka that has not only stayed out of terrorism but has opposed it," says a toothless pilgrim with a defiant face. "I think Muslims everywhere should lead the fight against terrorism, the scourge of mankind."

Other Lankans nod in approval. They have suffered for decades what the Saudis are experiencing today.

Taheri had opened his column with a description of Saudi Arabia's progressing through the stages that follow terror attacks. He closes with this.
At the Riyadh Conference, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al Faisal almost lost his temper during a press conference. He demanded: "Why do we need to fight over a definition of terrorism. Don’t we all know what a terrorist does?"

On that balmy day in Makkah many pilgrims seemed to agree. They believed that the world should name terrorists after what they do and not after what they claim to represent.

Now if only the Saudi's would insist on the UN defining terrorism as what we all know it is.

American Society of Civil Engineers report that the nations infrastructure is failing. I am somewhat skeptical but will reserve commenting further until I can read the report.

Tanalee Smith gives some perspective on the ties between Syria and Lebanon. There was much more that could have been said, but having the AP say any of it is progress. This one we'll revisit shortly.

Omar Karami has been renominated to become Prime Minister of Lebanon and form the new government. 69 of the 128 members of the parliament nominated pro-Syrian Karami for the post. Not the solution that I would have hoped for. Like you, I'll have to wait to see what the reaction in Lebanon is.

March 8, 2005

The Rally to Rally

Answering the call of Hezbollah, a very large rally took place in Beirut today. Here are some opening paragraphs of the media coverage.

Nearly 500,000 pro-Syrian protesters waved flags and chanted anti-American slogans in a central Beirut square Tuesday, answering a nationwide call by the militant Shiite Muslim Hezbollah group for a demonstration to counter weeks of massive rallies demanding Syrian forces leave Lebanon. – AP, Beirut

Chanting "Beirut is free, America out," tens of thousands of people swarmed into the Lebanese capital Tuesday for a mass rally led by Hizbullah to counter global demands for an end to Syria's domination. – Naharnet, Beirut

Hundreds of thousands of pro-Syrian protesters poured into a central Beirut square this afternoon in a demonstration called for by the militant group Hezbollah that vastly outnumbered recent rallies demanding that Syrian forces leave Lebanon. – NYTimes

Syria flexed its Lebanese political muscle Tuesday as hundreds of thousands of people, responding to a call from the Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah, took to the streets of Beirut in a show of support for Damascus. Several eyewitnesses, however, told United Press International that large numbers of demonstrators were brought in from Syria to swell the numbers.UPI via Washington Times

Of course. Those who oppose foreign intervention, see the U.S. as the great Satan, and seek to destroy Israel couldn't count on huge crowds without strong-arm tactics and other shenanigans. Caveman has a personal account of his barber defying orders to attend the rally and accounts from Future TV that the intelligence services are bussing in people from remote villages for the rally. [HT: Across the Bay]

Hezbollah has put itself in a tenuous position. While seeking to become a more legitimate political party, it has taken a position that will eventually fail. And afterwards, without the support of Syria and Iran, the party will have little left but its hatred of Israel and the U.S. to stand for. The question may be whether or not the Shi’a in Lebanon will continue to support them in such a climate. Tony, at Across the Bay, has more including a look at the not so good day for Hezbollah.

March 7, 2005

The PRC's One China Policy

Whether we acknowledge it or not, the world became a little more dangerous today. The People’s Republic of China took another step, a mostly ceremonial step, toward the passage of its anti-secession law. The law, which will soon be approved by the NPC after having been unanimously being approved by the NPC Standing Committee, establishes Beijing’s policy and expectations with regard to Taiwan in very direct terms.

In Wang Zhaoguo’s introduction of the anti-secession law to the parliament he reaffirmed China’s position that "There is but one China in the world, and both the mainland and Taiwan belong to one China. China's sovereignty and territorial integrity brook no division." He asserted multiple times that the issue of China and Taiwan being reunified is an internal affair, adding "we will not submit to any interference by outside forces." In his words, reunifying China and Taiwan is the "sacred duty of all Chinese people, the Taiwan compatriots included."

One of my favorite portions of his speech is his description of the potential for a reunified mainland and Taiwan where Taiwan would maintain a "high degree of autonomy" followed by a description of the measures the state would take to encourage reunification. If Beijing had shown any of those traits with its own people, it would be a stirring argument. Clearly knowing that Taipei isn’t going to jump to the chance to negotiate reunification under Beijing’s authority, the next portion of the speech concerns "non-peaceful" means to stop Taiwan’s independence.

"We have never forsworn the use of force. No sovereign state can tolerate secession and every sovereign state has the right to use necessary means to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity. ...The draft legislation provides that in the event that the "Taiwan independence" forces should act under any name or by any means to cause the fact of Taiwan's secession from China, or that major incidents entailing Taiwan's secession from China should occur, or that possibilities for a peaceful reunification should be completely exhausted, the state shall employ non-peaceful means and other necessary measures to protect China's sovereignty and territorial integrity. The draft legislation also provides that the State Council and the Central Military Commission are authorized to decide on and execute non-peaceful means and other necessary measures, and promptly report to the Standing Committee of the NPC."

The NPC, after approving the law, will have given the military commanders the go ahead to act in the defense of the one-China policy based on the actions or words of the "Taiwan independence" forces.

This weekend protestors in Kaohsiung took to the streets to express their concern over the pending legislation. Vice President Annette Lu said "Taiwan will face a serious military threat from China as the new law will provide Beijing with a legal basis for using force against the country." She noted that is China who is changing the status quo, not Taiwan. Lai I-Chung has a similar take.

I couldn't agree more. China is setting the chess pieces up just as they want them, and we'll all have to play catch up at some point.

Zoom Out

Bashar Assad said that if the cameras zoomed out they find that few protestors. Between 150k and 200k responded today.

Pro-Syrian groups, including Hezbullah, intend to hold rallies Tuesday. For those accutely aware of the possible tension and risk of violence, it is worrisome. I would like to think that those opposed to Syria's occupation will remain away and avoid any possible conflict, though I'm not entirely confident of that. And then there is the chance that few supporters of Syria will show up.

Saturday Assad disappointed Lebanon's newly confident populace, and today along with Lebanon's President he announced details of Syria's pullback. Not a withdrawal plan but the pullback of Syria troops to the Bekaa valley. Perhaps a nice place to dig up some stored weapons. Both agreed that at a later date they would announce plans for a complete withdrawal.

Demick Without Rancor

After North Korea, Without Rancor and N. Korea Lists Conditions for Negotiations, in the LA Times, the journalist behind both pieces has responded to Hugh Hewitt’s questions. Barbara Demick doesn’t expect to be on his show however. Hugh has posted her response and has sent three additional questions to her. Here are the questions and her responses, along with my commentary.

"Hello. I still need to get permission from my keepers to appear on the program, but I suspect it will not be forthcoming. Sorry about that. Here, though, are my answers to your questions.

Best, Barbara Demick

Do you think Kim Jong Il is an evil man?
- We reported last summer that Kim Jong Il spent millions importing gourmet foods, cookbooks and chefs for himself while his countrymen were starving. One can judge from there.

Indeed we can judge from "there" that you have reported a portion of his evil actions, but we cannot see that you believe him to be evil. Your latest coverage effectively ignored his actions and intent, choosing instead to report only his agents view of North Korea.
Do you think Kim Jong Il and his government are responsible for the famine of the '90s.
- Yes

How many people does your research tell you died in the famine?
- Up to 2 million, about 10 percent of the population

Did Kim Jong Il and his government obstruct international relief efforts during the famine?
- Yes

Good, good and good. Why then wasn’t it offered as a portion of the “Without Rancor” column? It would have been very simple to have reported the travesties suffered under the regime, and to have done so without unwarranted rancor. It is simply reporting the truth in conjunction with the propaganda offered by your businessman agent. Choosing not to showed a willingness to espouse the lies of the regime without the well justified inclusion of counter evidence. It was wrong to do so.
Do you believe Kim Jong Il and his government breached the 1994 Agreement with the United States by secretly pursuing nuclear weapons via uranium enrichment?
- technically, no, but in spirit, yes. The original agreement had several loopholes, which is why the administration now is insisting on CVID (Complete, Verifiable, Irreversible Dismantlement)
Technically no. You’ve got to be kidding. The agreement called for the DPRK to live up to its 1992 agreement with the ROK to a denuclearized Korean peninsula and it called for the freezing of the graphite moderated nuclear plants and related facilities and for the IAEA monitoring of those facilities. The DPRK failed to act in good faith with the agreement by continuing its efforts to enrich uranium and by restarting the pre-existing nuclear plants without IAEA supervision or monitoring. Their assertion that they were building a deterrent and then eventually that they have nuclear weapons is not a spirit only violation of the agreement. It is a direct technical violation of the agreement and its requirement that they act to ensure a denuclearization of the peninsula.
How many Japanese and Koreans do your researches suggest the Kim Jong Il regime and his father's regime had kidnapped over the past forty years?
- Around 20 Japanese. South Korean intelligence says 486 of their people.

Has North Korea been forthcoming about these kidnap victims?
- Only about some of the Japanese

Is Japan correct to insist on an accounting of these kidnap victims?
- Yes

You have reported on the allegations of chemicals being tested on prisoners in the North. Do you believe these accounts?
- I believe the guy I interviewed for a story that ran March 2004. Can't vouch for the others.

Do you believe the accounts that pregnant North Korean women, caught attempting to escape from North Korea, are subjected to abortions as punishment? Do you believe the accounts that North Korean women, caught attempting to escape from North Korea, are forced to watch their children executed?
- Yes to the first. Not sure if it's a direct punishment for trying to escape the country, but NK women prisoners who are pregnant are required to abort. I'm not sure about the latter.

If North Korea were to open its borders and pursue an economy with the same policies as South Korea, do you expect it would be as successful as the South has been in building an industrial base and economic growth?
- No

Is Kim Jong Il capable of launching an attack on the South or on Japan without warning?
- Conventional, no. Assymetrical, yes.

This is amazing. You recognize that the regime aborts the children of pregnant women trying to leave the DPRK, recognize that the DPRK has used prisoners as subjects for chemical testing, recognize that the DPRK has kidnapped Japanese and South Korean citizens, and recognize that they possess the means to asymmetrical attack Japan or the South without warning, yet they aren’t evil and none of this was included in your "Without Rancor" column.
How many people do you estimate are kept in the prison camps of North Korea and how would you describe conditions there.
- The State Department says 150,000 to 200,0000 are held in extremely harsh conditions.

Do you believe the man you met with in Bejing and interviewed for Thursday's story was an intelligence operative of the North Korean government?
- His job is to bring foreign investment and development aid into North Korea. As all North Korean business is owned by the Workers' Party, government or military, he is a government official -- or agent, as it were. He spoke in ways that other people would get imprisoned for, which means, not necessarily that he was a spook, but definitely that he is elite with some kind of tie to the top that is his source of protection."

This form of moral ambivalence is astonishing. I would applaud a journalist for the effort, and risk, taken to meet with and interview foreign nationals and agents such as "Mr. Anonymous" who was interviewed for "Without Rancor." But only on the condition that the journalist was acting in the interest of reporting the truth. The truth would include the perverted view of the DPRK and the highly relevant facts that do not jive with the DPRK version. I can’t say more now. Maybe later.

March 4, 2005

News and Notes the Extended Version

Having been unavailable yesterday, this list is a bit more extensive than normal. Some of the notes will be expanded in future posts.

China is the subject of Newsweek’s latest issue's Soft Power, Hard Choices. It’s a look at China’s use of diplomacy, backed by economic incentives and largely executed by China’s businesses, to expand China’s power and reach around the world. The story doesn’t exactly gloss over the potential for war over Taiwan, but fails to discuss the anti-succession legislation about to be passed, the EU arms embargo about to be lifted, China’s expansion of its naval reach, or China's human rights abuses. The issue also includes an interview with Chen Shui-bian, President of Taiwan.

China's response to the aforementioned U.S. human rights report. And their actions leading up to the parliament meeting.

Also, China has announced an increase in military spending. Of course.

Russia also expressed their displeasure with the U.S. report on human rights abuses. Here is the reports analysis of Russia.

North Korea, where human rights are essentially non-existent, may begin testing missiles again. Now there is a way to reassure the region of your desire for peace, trustworthiness, and cooperation. Perhaps they had forgotten their agreement to end testing the missiles, and now that they've remembered it, must break it. Consistency matters to them apparently. Treaties, like parliament meetings, aren't binding in the DPRK.

After yesterday's propaganda piece, one might have thought the LA Times would think twice about such reports. Instead, today we get the DPRK's list of conditions for a return to the negotiation table. UPDATE: Hugh has more on today's Demick column, and a list of those posting on yesterday's propoganda piece.

Syria, also a human rights hell hole, is under additional pressure to remove its troops from Lebanon. Assad may tell his parliament that he'll do so shortly. Yet, President Bush rightly reminds us again that it is more than the troops, its the intel operatives.

Iran, are we noticing a human rights trend here, has stepped up the rhetoric given this weeks IAEA meetings on their lack of transparency (Iran says the IAEA has too much transparency) with regard to their nuclear programs. The U.S. may finally, press for the IAEA to take the issue to the UN Security Council. Given their deception, tunnel building, new efforts, etc. it is an over due step. Reports of the President moving toward support for the European effort are frankly misguided. He has supported the negotiations throughout and appropriately not committed the U.S. to direct communications, eased up on the IAEA, or removed any alternative options from the table. The EU-3 plan will fail, whether adopted or in negotiation.

Libya, a future friend. So says Gadhafi. Here's the human rights report on Libya.

Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama are building a "rapid-response force to combat drug trafficking, terrorism and other regional threats." Good news.

How to Write Compelling Blog Posts, via SmartChristian. I should have known. None, other than the linking, would be a fitting description of my post. Darn.

And finally, thanks for the purchases via Amazon. Added two weeks ago, the links have generated $9.20 thus far, and it is appreciated. All funds from the links, tip jars, etc. will go to expanding the resources available for coverage or analysis at the Little Red Blog. Thanks.

March 2, 2005

Watching the Perfect Storm Develop

In his Washington Times column, Arnaud de Borchgrave begins by asking us to "Imagine a world where Russia and the European Union of 25 nations, and Russia and China, and the EU and China, all find more in common with each other than with the United States." Frequent readers of this space will recognize that I do that indeed. The trouble being that it isn't entirely an effort of the imagination, and while de Borchgrave says, "Unimaginable, you correctly say," he goes on to provide a portion of the evidence of the potential anti-U.S. entente.

In the opinion of this blogger, de Borchgrave only nipped at the possibility, intimating rather than announcing the potential threat. I’ve blogged on many occasions my concerns regarding Russia’s support of Iran’s nuclear technology development efforts, the potential (almost certain) lifting of the EU’s arms embargo on China, on Russia’s cozying up to China militarily and economically, and the view of China, Russia and the EU that they are the counter balance to the U.S. in the world today. Here, I’ll expand, hopefully, on de Borchgrave’s column.

Russia and the EU

De Borchgrave notes that in Brussels the President made it clear to the EU-3 that it was their responsibility to "quash Iran's nuclear ambitions and the United States would not negotiate directly" with Iran. To the European’s it was absurd "before Mr. Bush arrived. And it was still deemed absurd after he left." This comes with the recognition that Europe is not equipped with the ability to change Iran’s view, through sanctions as a potential penalty or through improved trade as a benefit. Russia, even farther removed from the American position, remains satisfied that the Iranian’s have no intention of developing nuclear weapons, just signed the agreement to supply fuel for the Bushehr nuclear power plant which has recently been completed with Russian guidance and has sold missile technology to Iran.

Effectively this is Russia and the EU having more in common, even if only on this one issue, with each other than with the U.S. There are, of course, other issues.

China and the EU

The EU, as de Borchgrave notes, has effectively done all they could to supply China under the terms of the embargo. It is hard to imagine a course of events that will prevent the end of the embargo for the EU believes "China is headed for superpowerdom in the foreseeable future." Whether it is in 2080 or 2010 doesn’t matter to Europe for they see in China, what they don’t see in the U.S., an expanding market for their products. Cha-ching.

The EU believes that U.S. civilian and military technology transfers to China (thank you Mr. Clinton) have aided the Chinese military and, of course, the U.S. economy. Can’t have that. And despite the warning volley from the House in its 411 – 3 vote to end technology transfers to Europe if the embargo is lifted, it remains all but done.

Russia and China

De Borchgrave notes that the majority of China’s defense imports come from Russia, he doesn’t note the increased military cooperation, the improving economic ties or China’s offer to purchase or finance the theft of Yukos’ assets under the hand of Putin. The most striking similarities between China and Russia have come in recent months when Putin has stepped back from the idea of liberal democracy and more toward the central authority one would expect from Russia’s history.

The Perfect Storm Today?

No. But the potential remains, and despite de Borchgrave’s unwillingness to pointedly admit it, the likelihood is growing. Driven by Europe’s continued consolidation under the EU, their greed and abject moral abyss when presented with threats China and Russia are emboldened by the prospect of dethroning the U.S. as the world’s sole superpower. Additionally, the UN serves to enable the potential triumvirate through obfuscation and delay in addressing critical security threats to the United States while giving additional unearned or deserved authority and voice to those who see international sovereignty and will as more significant than that of the United States.

While the storm will not complete its development tomorrow, it should be clear to those concerned for the future of our nation that we must continue to support the advance of democracies in parts of the world that have not historically led the fight against any of the three great evils we faced over the previous century. It may be that our newly developing allies and supporters in the war on terror will serve as a counter balance against the new wave of socialist grabbing at any and all tethers in hopes of being important, powerful and most significantly, not following the lead of the U.S.

This post has been thrown into the traffic jam, where technical difficulties are the current Perfect Storm.

UPDATE: Arthur Chrenkoff and Richard North offer a look at the EU's efforts to become a military superpower. They agree that it is unlikely, despite the big talk and the ambitions of those in Brussels. It strikes me that the effort also serves the purpose of enhancing the image of Europe as an arms provider, which may succeed. But as both recognize, the infusion of former Soviet states into the EU makes not only foreign policy difficult, it makes military policy and defense nearly impossible. Unless it is truly defense. The real threat in Europe isn't a weapon, its the values or lack thereof.

China - Land of the Free

The World Tribune reports that China believes the U.S. monopolizes the Internet.

Chinese Ambassador Sha Zukang told a UN conference that controls should be multilateral, transparent and democratic, with the full involvement of governments, the private sector, civil society and international organizations.

"It should ensure an equitable distribution of resources, facilitate access for all and ensure a stable and secure functioning," he said at the conference on Internet governance.

Sha said China opposes the "monopolization" of the Internet by one state, a reference to the Untied States, which ultimately controls the digital medium.

Certainly China is a model of "multilateral, transparent and democratic" society.

Pot meet kettle.

March 1, 2005

News and Notes before Rest

A few small bits on not so small items in the news.

ANWR in the works... Perhaps. Senate Republicans are signaling that they'll include opening ANWR to drilling in the budget reconciliation process, where a filibuster is not permitted, just as the President requested. It's also good to see Senator Thune among those heading to Alaska this weekend to show their support for the measure.

Senator Salazar, D-CO, has requested that President Bush withdraw the 12 judicial nominees that the President resubmitted to the Senate. Republican Senators, and I, had hoped that Salazar would support an up or down vote on the nominees and help end the Democratic practice of filibustering nominees. His letter says the "decision to renominate these individuals will undoubtedly create the animosity and divisiveness ... that is not helpful to our nation and will sidetrack our collective efforts to work on other crucial matters." Salazar has not stated how he will vote on any nominee or on efforts to prevent a vote.

Senator Ted Stevens is wrong to want to apply the FCC's decency standards to cable and satelite communications, as is Congressman Barton. More later.

Syria should be aware that the ducks are being aligned. "We do have firm evidence that the bombing in Tel Aviv was not only authorized by Palestinian Islamic Jihad leaders in Damascus, but that Islamic Jihad leaders in Damascus participated in the planning," White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan.

Russia boasts of a new missile - "there is not and will not be any defense against these missiles." Sergei Ivanov, Russian Defense Minister, added that "Russia is stretched across 10 times zones, we have many neighbors, and not all of them are as predictable as European states" and that the weapons would be based on the Russian Topol-M ICBM and Bulava, a sea based missile. Of course, he didn't mention U.S. efforts to develop anti-ballistic missile defense systems specifically.

Iran has denied a request by the IAEA to revisit Parchin. In January when the IAEA inspection team visited Parchin, after a seven month wait, they requested to return to visit areas of Parchin not inspected during their initial visit. The denial was announced at a briefing by Pierre Goldschmidt to the IAEA's Board of Governors. Mr. Goldschmidt's report will be covered in a post tomorrow and is available here.

More tomorrow...

Hussein Tribunal Judge - Raid Juhi Killed

The initial report that it was Raid Juhi has been corrected. It still reflects the significant risk those engaged in building a new Iraq face.

Via Drudge:

"BRIAN WILLIAMS INTRO:

Good evening. We're going to begin here with an NBC News

We've learned tonight the violence in Iraq has claimed another victim, and this time, it is a high-profile target: a man who knew he had a dangerous job. There is word from Baghdad this evening -- confirmed by NBC News -- that the presiding judge in the trial of Saddam Hussein has been assassinated. American television viewers at the time remember him as the brave man on the bench but at the time only the back of his head was visible on television because the risk to his life was that obvious. He lived amid heavy security. Tonight his death is a graphic reminder of the everyday danger still in Iraq. NBC's Jim Miklaszewski is with us from the Pentagon tonight. Jim good evening.

JIM MIKLASZEWSKI REPORTING:

Good evening Brian. NBC News has learned that the judge, 35 year old Raid Juhi was apparently gunned down today as he left his home in Baghdad. Now Juhi was seen on video but just barely last July during the initial court appearances of Saddam Hussein.

The young judge at the time gained widespread respect and admiration when he stood his ground against the belligerent former dictator who launched into a lecture during the proceedings.

Juhi had already been the target of several assassination attempts, and was forced to move into a walled compound with his wife and three small boys behind concrete walls that could withstand bombs.

He normally traveled with armed escorts, but the details around his assassination today remain unclear.

He was a former prosecutor under the former Saddam Hussein regime -- and as an investigative judge was handling 12 high profile cases, including Saddam Hussein and the infamous Chemical Ali.

U.S. officials see the assassination today as an attack not only on the judge, but the entire Iraqi judicial system. Nevertheless, they predict despite today's assassination, the legal proceedings against Saddam Hussein will remain on course. A date for Saddam's next court appearance has yet to be scheduled."

And from MSNBC.
The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the person killed by unidentified gunman was not Ra’id Juhi, the 35-year-old chief investigative judge of the special tribunal set up to try Saddam and senior officials, but was another judge working for the tribunal.

The officials did not immediately identify the victim.

The killing came a day after the tribunal announced that five former members of Saddam's regime — including one of his half-brothers — will go on trial for crimes against humanity allegedly committed in retaliation for a failed attempt to kill the former dictator.

The NEW Arab Street

The terrorist bombing in Hilla was a terrible act of murder. The Iraqi people know this and 2000 of them took to the streets to say so.

Iran Policy Options Revisited

After reading the comments on the previous post, Dan Darling’s post at Winds of Change, and the columns referenced in it, I think more discussion of Iran is warranted. Particularly, I’d like to look at the options on the table and a search for alternative courses. Once again I’ll state, I’m not a professional foreign policy analyst nor do I suspect that those who read this site are, however, I, like all Americans, have a vested interest in the resolution of the issues between the US and Iran.

First off, the objectives must be clear. I say "objectives" not objective because we have multiple objectives with regard to Iran. As I see them they are:

Preventing nuclear weapons development,
Promoting liberal democratic reform or eventual self-governance,
Ending Iran’s support of international terrorism, and
Re-establishing normal relations with Iran.
There are others I’m sure. But with those objectives we are able to look at the actions, diplomatic, economic and military, that are most likely to secure our objectives. Additionally, we must make clear, as I believe the President has done, what our objectives are. This must be done here at home, for our allies and the international community and, of course, for the benefit of the current Iranian government (official and unofficial).

Option A is the course that has thus far been followed. Negotiation between the EU3 and Iran for Iran’s agreement to abstain from nuclear weapons development in exchange for significant economic and trade incentives from the Europeans. The U.S. supporting the effort from afar, yet holding firm to the idea that Iran must move toward removing doubts about its nuclear program or face possible referral of the issue to the UN Security Council. The latest round of discussions in the press have centered on the potential for the U.S. joining the effort. Examples being Robin Wright’s Washington Post column or Steven Weisman’s NY Times column. A counter argument that the European course has failed is available in Jeffrey Bergner’s Weekly Standard column.

Option B would be the extension of the EU3 to include the US, as espoused in the columns mentioned above. Essentially this option works if one believes that the prevailing word from Iran is both truthful and economically guided. The evidence required for such a belief is unclear to me. It, like the first option, does nothing to address any objective beyond the nuclear issue.

Option C is the ever-present expectation of impending military action. It appears that this is the end of the punditries ability to address the issue. To read much of the discussion on the topic one would think that either we follow the EU3 or we go to immediate and full scale war against Iran. The advantage of such a course of action would be an end to Iran’s nuclear program, an end to their support for terrorism (though the terrorism in Iran would likely rise), and the end to the human rights violations of the current regime. Effectively all the objectives would be met, but at significant cost both diplomatically, financially and most importantly in human lives.

Option D, and again I’m just making this up, would be requiring the IAEA to refer the issue to the UN Security Council. Therein the international community would be forced to address the crisis and potentially support the levying of sanctions and the further ratcheting up the pressure on the regime. The internal pressure, a young and liberal minded reform movement, might then be squashed or as we’ve seen most recently in Lebanon, it may resolve the issue itself. The significant drawbacks I see to this are getting the support of Russia, China and France at the UN, and time. The more time we take before acting, the closer Iran comes to nuclear weapons.

Option D+ is essentially the same as D with the added support of a blockade on Iran and international support for the reform movement on the streets of Iran.

Option E is Israel. More than any nation Israel is threatened by Iran’s progress on nuclear weapons, and more than any nation, Israel is apt to act unilaterally to remove the threat. The consequences, likelihood of success, and effect on other objectives remain unclear. This could be yet another argument for the U.S. taking a more immediate course of action, so as to avoid Israel becoming the lone party forced to act against Iran.

I’m sure other options can and have been developed. Yet I’m also certain that action, backed by force (economic and potentially military) is more likely to create the incentives for change in Iran. Our current course offers no reason to change. Thus far Iran has won the chess match and the Mullahs have rightly counted on dissension between the U.S. and the world’s alternative leaders (EU3, Russia, China). The President has a huge decision to make, and soon, and then he’ll have to apply all of his diplomatic might to bring others on board.

I remain convinced that a solution, other than war, will avail itself to us. Likewise, I’m willing to support effort, whatever form it takes. What I can’t support is more of the same.

UPDATE: As if more reading is needed, sorry Tom, I'm adding a link to the EU Referendum which has an excellent post entitled the Wages of Appeasement. He points out a column by Reuel Marc Gerecht in the Financial Times. I found it at the AEI site but not at FT. The WSJ column he mentions requires a painless subscription.

And then Revolution by Michael Ledeen at NRO.

February 28, 2005

Iran and Policy Talk

In his comments on the challenge before the Bush foreign policy team, Gregory Djerejian, questions whether the administration will follow the course of action represented by Pollack-Takeyh framework or that of what he terms the interventionist, such as Michael Ledeen. Ledeen responded in the comments and rightly so.

By way of background, the Pollack-Takeyh framework can be found in Foreign Affairs and describes their model for dealing with Iran’s defiance. The summary of their essay:

Summary: If Washington wants to derail Iran's nuclear program, it must take advantage of a split in Tehran between hard-liners, who care mostly about security, and pragmatists, who want to fix Iran's ailing economy. By promising strong rewards for compliance and severe penalties for defiance, Washington can strengthen the pragmatists' case that Tehran should choose butter over bombs.
Prompting Mr. Djerejian’s comments was the news of the Bush administration’s consideration of the EU3’s proposal for dealing with Iran by means of economic and trade incentives in exchange for an end to the Iranian nuclear weapons program. I do not have the diplomatic expertise that Mr. Djerejian has, nor that of Ledeen, for I am but an amateur commentator on this issue basing my opinions my reading of the foreign policy journals and commentary of those who are educated in the field. Yet it strikes me that on this point, Djerejian is wrong, and by a long shot. Having linked to him and agreed with his commentary more than once, this isn’t a tirade against him.

First, the term interventionist is, as Ledeen notes, a term used for those advocating military action. Ledeen defends himself well enough on that issue. It strikes me that Djerejian has determined that any effort to hold Iran responsible for its actions or inaction is interventionist. The real trouble with the P-T framework is the requirement that our weak allies join us in a stand against Iran. As I’ve noted before all (the IAEA, the UN, the EU, Russia) have all failed to stand firm against Iran primarily due to their own economic ties to Iran or desire for greater economic ties.

I’m not opposed to the U.S. taking a look at all options. I would loudly oppose any policy that rewards Iran for obeying the law without clear and longstanding evidence of cooperation and compliance. The EU3’s plan, if reworked to significantly punish the Iranian economy, effectively ending trade through UN sanctions with additional significant sticks attached to any nation that violates the sanctions, would be the first step. If agreed to, thereby avoiding sanctions, and after sufficient openness and reassurance that no nuclear weapons program is being developed, then and only then would I favor more open trade with Iran. Of course this ignores the human rights abuses and support of terrorism by the hard-line mullahs.

We are not in a position to permit the carrots first approach for reasons that should be clear to all. Iran’s missile technology, terrorist ties, and advocacy for the destruction of Israel prevents any policy that permits them to either usurp the system or delay intervention until they’ve developed nuclear weapons. Does that make me an interventionist? If that means that we should act in support of the reformist in Iran, that we should act to prevent further delay, and that we should stand by our realization that Iran’s Mullahs must never possess nuclear weapons, then yes, I suppose it does. The alternatives are to do nothing or to feed the camel that bites you.

IAEA Chiding Iran?

The reports of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s chief Mohammed El-Baradei chiding Iran for the "confidence deficit" created by Iran’s previous failures to disclose clandestine aspects of its nuclear program aren’t entirely accurate.

The words of the Chief:

Last November, the Secretariat provided to the Board a comprehensive report on the Agency’s verification of Iran’s compliance with its NPT safeguards obligations and its voluntary suspension of enrichment and reprocessing related activities. Since that report, Iran has facilitated Agency access under its safeguards agreement and additional protocol to nuclear material and facilities, and has also provided access to other locations in the country, including a transparency visit to a military site. We have continued to implement the measures of the additional protocol by reviewing declarations made by Iran and conducting complementary access and other verification activities. The Agency has also continued its verification of Iran’s voluntary suspension of enrichment and reprocessing related activities. The Agency has been making progress in two important issues, regarding the origin of the contamination on equipment at various locations in Iran in cooperation with the country concerned, and regarding follow-up on information provided by Iran on its centrifuge programmes. The Deputy Director General for Safeguards will provide more details on our verification activities in Iran. As the Agency continues to work towards completing its assessment of all outstanding issues related to Iran’s nuclear programme, I would encourage Iran to provide full transparency with respect to all of its nuclear activities, by providing in full detail and in a prompt manner all information that could shed light on some of the outstanding issues. In some cases, the receipt of information is still pending, which in turn delays our work. As I mentioned at the last Board meeting, in view of the past undeclared nature of significant aspects of Iran’s nuclear programme, a confidence deficit has been created, and it is therefore essential that Iran works closely with the Agency in a proactive manner in order for us to build the necessary confidence and achieve the required degree of assurance.
Without altering a word of it, does it strike anyone, even using the soft-edged wording associated with the world of diplomacy that this is chiding?

The IAEA serves a significant purpose in monitoring and reporting on the development and use of various nuclear technologies. What it does not do is hold nations accountable for violating the terms of their agreements or abuse. As I see it, this report simply states in the most diplomatic or tactful terms possible that Iran isn't cooperating. The IAEA will give them more time and it is likely will give them enough time to create nuclear weapons.

Here's what the IAEA has to say about the DPRK or North Korea.

The nuclear activities of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), which continue to be outside international verification, remain a serious challenge to the nuclear non-proliferation regime. Since 31 December 2002, when at the request of the DPRK the Agency’s verification activities were terminated, the Agency has been unable to draw any conclusions regarding the DPRK’s nuclear activities. The recent declaration by the DPRK that it possesses nuclear weapons is a matter of the utmost concern and has serious security implications, and highlights yet again the importance and the urgency of finding a diplomatic solution through dialogue. The Agency stands ready to work with the DPRK — and with all others — towards a solution that addresses both the security needs of the DPRK and the needs of the international community to ensure that all nuclear activities in the DPRK are exclusively for peaceful purposes.
The IAEA wants to work with the DPRK to address security needs of the DPRK. Really. Huh...

Anyone feel secure having Mr. El-Baradei on the job?

Back to Iran. In September 2003, yep, 2003 the following statement was made:

Indeed, we urge Iran to take this final opportunity and cooperate fully with the IAEA and to demonstrate a genuine commitment to nuclear non-proliferation. Continued failure to do so must result in the IAEA taking this matter promptly to the UN Security Council. [emphasis mine.]
Was it the war mongering neo-con dominated United States representative to the IAEA? No. That was Canada. And yet, no report push by the IAEA to take the matter to the UN Security Council and no compliance from Iran. In the 400+ days since that statement Iran has continued to work toward nuclear weapons. What has the IAEA done but ever so gently chide them?

Sensational

Just walked by the television where Fox News decided to interrupt their coverage of the trial, you know which one don’t you, with live coverage of the rally in Beirut. Like many of you, I believe that they, and their kindred "news" sources, are wrong to cover the trial so much.

The unfolding of events in Lebanon should have our attention and our support. More lives are touched by those events than any celebrity trial, despite its sensationalist coverage, will ever touch. The world at large, all its inhabitants, is impacted by the spread of liberty and self-determination. Yet, a people demanding that the son of a tyrant, a tyrant himself, leave and that a government that has supported his presence ceases to, receives only secondary coverage.

Sissy Willis, Capt. Ed, Publius Pundit, and many other bloggers have stepped up to delivering news that serves the truth, spreads the message of support for those involved in the struggle and sheds appropriate meaning to the events of our lives. When experts debate who and what a journalist is, they would be well served to consider more than the professional attributes of journalism. As we’ve seen almost daily, sensationalism supplants significance in our 24-hour news culture.

Previous coverage here, here and throughout the Little Red Blog.

New Government for Lebanon

No links yet, but it appears that Lebanese Prime Minister Omar Karami has announced his governments resignation. He apparently did so before parliament while protestors demanding a new government not beholdened to Syria called for change from outside the building.

A most promising development.

Publius Pundit and Caveman in Beirut report it first.

UPDATE 10:15 MST: - FoxNews now has the story posted.

"I am keen that the government will not be a hurdle in front of those who want the good for this country. I declare the resignation of the government that I had the honor to head. May God preserve Lebanon," Karami said.

The announcement prompted cheers from more than 25,000 flag-waving demonstrators protesting against the government and its Syrian backers outside the parliament building.

I'm with them. Cheering that is. Still much to do, but a great bit of progress it is.

Via Publius Pundit links from Reuters and the Boston Herald add to the story.

This from Reuters.

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Lebanon's Syrian-backed Prime Minister Omar Karami, under popular pressure after the assassination of an ex-prime minister, says his government is resigning.

"Out of concern that the government does not become an obstacle to the good of the country, I announce the resignation of the government I had the honour to lead," Karami told parliament in Beirut on Monday.

And more from the Boston Herald.
Karami made the announcement during a parliamentary debate called to discuss Hariri's Feb. 14 assassination in a bomb blast that killed 16 others. The announcement prompted cheers from more than 25,000 flag-waving demonstrators protesting against the government and its Syrian backers outside.

The resignation was the most dramatic moment yet in the series of protests and political maneuvers that have shaken Lebanon since Hariri's killing.

Many in Lebanon blame Syria for being behind Hariri's slaying and have pressed hard since then for the resignation of the pro-Syrian Lebanese government and for Syria to withdraw its 15,000 troops positioned in Lebanon.

Both governments have denied involvement in Hariri's assassination.

Earlier Monday, Karami asked the legislature to renew its confidence in his Cabinet, which took power in October after Hariri's resignation in a dispute with Syria, the main power broker in Lebanon.

More as it arrives. Congratulations to all those in Lebanon who are working toward freedom.

UPDATE 10:45 MST: The story is out. BBC and others now posting coverage.

UPDATE 11:25 MST: LEbanon's The Daily Star has the story up now.

Elsewhere in the Middle East

As noted in the previous post, Publius Pundit has coverage of events in Lebanon.

Elsewhere in the Middle East, there are stories I've yet to mention specifically, although yesterday's rambling on hope was driven by some of these events. Others, more recent, and just as terrible are the acts of monsters attempting to destroy hope. They will fail.

Iraq - in Hilla, south of Baghdad, a terrorist armed with an explosives laiden car, blew himself up and killed over 100. The initial reports look as if this was a huge blast, not quite on the scale of the blast that killed Rafik Hariri, but larger than what we've seen as a general rule in Iraq.

Also, Sabawi Ibrahim al-Hassan, Saddam's half-brother and others were captured yesterday. Amazingly, the AP report doesn't mention Syria, while the initial reports pointed to Syria as playing a role in the capture of al-Hassan.

Iran and Russia completed their agreement on the supply of fuel for the Bushehr nuclear power plant. Well... so much for holding out hope that Vladimir would share our concern regarding Iran.

Egypt's tyrant Hosni Mubarak says he wants multiparty elections. Cool... if he means it.

And Israel was attacked Friday night and they believe Syria was behind it.

More on that and other stories after the sun rises.

Lebanon Today

It was difficult to rest last night knowing that the people of Lebanon would be awake and once again challenging tyrants.

Publius Pundit had set the stage well, and now has the details on today's demonstrations.

The best news thus far is the pro-Syrian counter protestors have called off their rally. A wise move and one likely to reduce the possibility of violence. Also worth noting is the arrival of David Satterfield in Beirut. He is the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern affairs and has already made clear the U.S. position in support of a free and independent Lebanon.

"Rhetoric that threatens violence and instability as a consequence of Lebanon achieving its own sovereignty or independence ought to be unacceptable. They are insulting to the people of Lebanon."
The AP report for is here, although the Daily Star and Publius Pundit have better coverage.

Publius points out that Syrian forces "may", as predicted by Thomas Friedman and Joseph Farah, act at any cost to protect their interest in Lebanon. It would be a huge mistake for Assad to believe that it is possible, should the people of Lebanon, supported by the free world, want freedom. If he is as bad a strategist as many have stated, he may just do it. I for one hope he's wiser and pulls out. Then Syria can eventually join the growing revolution peacefully or Assad can throw them into it as a molotov cocktail.

February 27, 2005

Ever Hopeful

So many Arabs, and nearly all Arab governments, despise - no loath - no hate Israel. That hatred and only one other thing guide their every move. Power. They act on their hatred of Israel and thirst for power to such a degree as to make even the simplest gesture of cooperation seem significant. Hence we herald the reforming of the Palestinian cabinet as a breakthrough, or the election of Mahmoud Abbas as a step toward peace. Neither accurately, for the true pressure on Israel stems not from the Palestinian’s. It is the Arab neighbors that reflect the great threat, fuel the Palestinian’s arms with hatred, and, most certainly, possess the power to end the war against Israel.

The most meaningful and impressive aspect of the Iraqi election was the willingness of people to vote, despite threats against their lives, to form a democratic government. Their resolve has been met by continued violence and attacks on the Shi’a during a sacred time of remembrance. The enemy, fed and fueled by the powers in Syria, Iran, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, has not diminished in their battle for a return of what never was. That idyllic state whereby Islam ruled the hearts of men and governed the government accordingly has never existed. Yet, their romanticized view of the days of the companions, whether Abu Bakr, Umar, ‘Uthman or Ali, serves their thirst for power, and under the banner of Islam gives them righteous authority to attack their brother, neighbor, and friend for choosing instead to believe in the rights of man, to choose his faith, his government, his life’s work, and to live on the merits of his deeds.

While undertaking a study of the Qur’an (as well as the Hadith) some years ago, I was never left with the belief that Islam afforded its believers with the rightful hatred of any man. Like the Torah, and the Bible, it instead called to our higher, and significantly more challenging, character. Perhaps I was mistaken. For the unrelenting hatred espoused in the Middle East leaves little room for doubt. And no room for interpretation. While the Qur’an may state that there is no compulsion in religion, its adherents clearly compel Palestinian violence, terrorism in Iraq and the most immoral governments on this most un-heavenly earth.

Is it possible that peace may someday come to the Middle East? I’m left doubting my optimism, for it has little basis in reason, little supporting historic evidence, and moreover, little support from those whose efforts it will be built upon. Even so, I do remain an optimist.

Ungrounded optimism is foolish. Despite the email or comments of those who assert that that is indeed what I am, I believe that there are grounds for optimism. None are wishful platitudes of humanities goodness. For humanity is not predisposed to goodness, indeed the opposite is true. It is the goodness that men will bring forth, even against their nature that guides my optimism. Having seen the unprecedented voting in Iraq, I believe that there are men of good will, men who identify themselves as Muslim, that are at this very moment bound by their government, hindered by their clergy, and restrained by years of suppression, readying their plans to support freedom in the Middle East.

What prevents them from being heard, from establishing their freedom, is the governments teetering on the thin margin of power that suppresses the free. This, even if in order to hold power over even worse potential tyrants, must change. The challenge being to make such changes in a manner that prevents ideological tyrants from becoming rulers, and ensures that their governments secure their freedom rather than contain it. Is there reason to believe that the governments of the Middle East support such change? Limited evidence at best. Yet even that, is new and inspiring, for if it has reached the level of the leader, the people are most surely readying for their day.

Our nation, without significant aid from Europe’s old allies, our northern neighbor, or multi-national governing bodies has taken the lead in guiding the Middle East toward freedom. In many ways, this is due to the high price we have paid and continue to pay to prevent terrorism. It also stems from the realization that in today’s world, the light of freedom, more than ever before, is both needed and missing. Why others fail to share in the effort can, and will, be argued until the mission is accomplished. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that someone stands against terror, stand for freedom, and acts accordingly. That is our role, and that we do so should breed optimism in us all.

February 25, 2005

Pennywit's Idea

Pennywit's idea for discussion: [HT: The Moderate Voice]

President Bush should appoint a prominent American Muslim as a quasi-official ambassador to the Muslim world.

Why?

  • Such an appointment could highlight the diversity of American religious faith.
  • It could nullify the idea that fighting America is a "holy war" and further highlight that attacking America hurts fellow Muslims.
  • Discussion of doctrine, religious law, and other religious issues is a large part of Islam.
  • Such an "ambassador" could publicly contribute to such discussions, if selected from a moderate strain of Islam, could do so with credibility.
  • The "ambassador" could meet with prominent Muslim cleric's on the United States' behalf. Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, for example, refuses to meet with non-Muslims.
  • The "ambassador" and individuals like him could bridge the gap between Christian American officials and religious Muslims.
Democratic candidates Kerry and Edwards supported just such an idea:
"Appoint a Presidential Envoy to the Arab and Muslim World. John Kerry and John Edwards will appoint a presidential envoy to the Arab and Muslim world. The envoy’s task will be to promote dialogue and understanding by building social, cultural, and economic relations in key nations."
During the campaign, and now, I don’t have a strong argument against doing so. There are diplomatic opportunities behind the appointment of an "ambassador" or envoy and in the context of the global war on terror, relations with the Middle East or Southeast Asia, and the general advocacy of American policy and religious freedom generally only positive opportunities would be presented by such an appointment. Of course, no guarantee of any of those opportunities being realized can be had, but the cost would be low and the potential benefit significant.

Ambassador Dr. Zalmay Khalilzad, currently U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan and Special Presidential Envoy to Afghanistan, and previously Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Islamic Outreach and Southwest Asia Initiatives for the NSC, has largely served in such a capacity.

The real challenge before us, with regard to building relationships with the Muslim population, here and abroad, stems from their unwillingness to hear (and in the Middle East lack of opportunity to hear) the real message of America's foreign policy. Groups such as MAS and others in the U.S. ignore the existence of Dr. Khalilzad and others because of his support for the U.S. and the war against terror.

Perhaps more can be done, but it strikes me that we've made a great deal of effort to "reach out." It takes two hands to shake hands.

Two More Locked-Up

My first thought was - two more terrorist leaders caught, sweet! Almost as good as two more terrorist leaders killed. But really it's better, because they'll help us get to Zarkawi.

"Iraqi forces captured the leader of an al-Qaida-affiliated terrorist cell allegedly responsible for carrying out a string of beheadings in Iraq, the government said, and 30 people were killed in a string of bloody attacks, among them three American soldiers.

Also Monday, the Iraqi government said that Iraqi forces had captured a key aide to Jordanian-born terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who leads an insurgency affiliated with Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida network."

The two terrorist, er... alleged terrorist, no I'll stick with terrorist, are: Mohamed Najam Ibrahim and Talib Mikhlif Arsan Walman al-Dulaymi, also known as Abu Qutaybah.

February 24, 2005

Global It Is

The war on terror is indeed global. The initial engagement with the Taliban was a success. Witness al-Qaeda no longer has the security of operating in Afghanistan and the initial tactical effect of the war is therefore a success. In Iraq, the removal of Saddam’s regime was significant if for no other reason than ending the likelihood of further collaboration between Saddam and al-Qaeda or likeminded groups. But there were, of course, other effects associated with that victory. Primary among those was the light shined on Iraq’s neighbors as supporters of Islamic terror and the growing tide of confidence from Middle Easterners to stand against terror and the tyrants that support it.

Syria, having hugely miscalculated its ability to support terror and squelch the Lebanese autonomy movement by taking part in or supporting the murder of Rafik Hariri, may now finally be forced to withdraw from Lebanon. And it’ll do so with Lebanon’s citizens calling for it at a much higher pitch than when it was the U.S. and UN demanding change. Assad’s regime is weakened and is more likely to fall or fall in line without conflict than the Mullahs of Iran are. Still continued pressure is needed to ensure follow through on the troop withdrawal, and moreover should be increased to demand the end to support for terrorist targeting Iraq.

Iran’s isolation has been less successful thus far primarily due to the EU3 and Russia. Both have shown an inability to take the necessary stand against Iranian support for terror and nuclear development efforts. While the movement for reform grows on the streets of Iran, the Mullahs continue to tighten their grip and reinforce their fist. This will likely be the single largest battle of the war on terror; whether diplomatic resolved or resolved on the battlefield, it will require more of our resources and resolve than either Iraq or Afghanistan.

Yet the war has other fronts, as the Belmont Club’s Wretchard the Cat notes in recent posts regarding the war in Southeast Asia (Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore). Like you, I’m looking forward to future post regarding Jemaah Islamiyah, Abu Sayyaf, Moro Islamic Liberation Front, or any of the indigenous groups supportive of al-Qaeda’s ideology. The latest version of Congressional Research Services report on Terrorism in Southeast Asia, offers significant detail on the spread of the movement through the region, and the ties between al-Qaeda and the region, as well as the as yet unmentioned core of islamofascism, Saudi Arabia.

As many Saudi citizens will tell you, the rulers are significantly not Muslim in their living, yet they use the religion as a means of control and suppression within the Kingdom. They’ve also permitted, and supported, its spread around the globe. This, significantly more Arab than Muslim version of Islam is the prime ideological vain of islamofascism that we fight today, the other being that of the Mullahs in Iran. Whether it be in Virginia, Europe or Southeast Asia, the Saudi financed masjids, mosques and madrassas have not ceased their indoctrination nor have they acknowledged the tie between their teachings and terrorism (the latest CRS report states that no data exist pertaining to the amount of funding from Saudi sources). Last July, I noted the significance of Muslims in non-Arab states becoming more Arab in their view. Given the recent developments in the Middle East, one might think that Arab Muslims are beginning to see the light. And yet, they are only beginning.

Only when Arabs more fully express a willingness to address the terrible strain of Islam behind islamofascism, then, and only then, will we have the real means to address the enemy in Southeast Asia and around the world ideologically. Until then, cutting their financial support out from under them, displacing and disrupting their cells and plans, and killing them on the battlefields of our choice, not theirs, has to be the primary means to achieve victory.

Nuclear Japan?

Bryan Preston, of Junkyardblog, writing for TCS, believes that Japan would develop nuclear weapons, if... well read his column for that.

I don’t agree with him. I agree that Japan could rather quickly become a nuclear power, yet I believe that Japan’s constitution, and now cultural, prohibition against offensive force would prohibit it. They know, with all certainty, that the U.S. would protect their interest and our nuclear force would do the job for them. Is it possible that public sentiment could change and that the threat could cause Japan to alter its legal prohibitions and become a nuclear state? Sure. But highly unlikely.

It’s one thing to take a more "hawkish" stance and move toward a more pro-active defense capability and posture, and an entirely different thing to add nuclear weapons to your arsenal. [HT: Mark at Conserva-Puppies]

February 23, 2005

Troubled Ramblings of Europe Lost

There are times when the incalculably talented Mark Steyn’s words are too difficult to read. His latest offering, Atlanticist small talk is all that's left, is a masterpiece and at the same time terribly saddening. Steyn shows the nature of the cleaving of U.S. European relations, and moreover, the future of a bureaucratically inclined Europe in an age when values matter more than men are willing to admit.

After reading Steyn, I moved on to read Janet Daley’s Freedom? Why Europe's not bothered, also in the Telegraph. I’m not familiar with Daley’s works, but the truth of her words, particularly her closing comments regarding Europe’s substitution of values shipped to the colonies and fundamental to not only the founding of the United States, but central to the character of our nation still, is simply, dead on.

The United States nearly stands alone in the world today. And as both Steyn and Daley point out, Europe isn’t an enemy; it just isn't much of a friend.

Today, President Bush continued his diplomatic visit and along with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder affirmed that Iran must end its nuclear weapons development efforts. This, like yesterdays NATO discussions, is a continuation of putting the best face on what is clearly a decrepit alliance. And as the EU grows in significance, the NATO alliance will creep further into disrepair until it is no more. The EU, like the UN, is at its best when perpetuating the status quo. And accordingly, both are more likely to benefit our enemies than they are to aid our battle against terror and tyranny.

Tomorrow, President Bush will meet with Vladimir Putin in Bratislava. There will be the same type of glad-handing. President Bush will publicly support Putin’s efforts to fight terror and he will restate, both privately and potentially publicly, our concerns that Putin’s Russia is, as Putin has suggested he prefers, like Russia’s past. Russia, like the EU, has determined that success is measured by economic terms rather than by the values of the nation and the freedom of its people. Hence the ease with which Putin supports aiding Iran in its development of the Bushehr nuclear power plant.

When President Bush comes home, Europe will continue its push to sell arms to China, it’ll continue to lodge complaints at enemies rather than taking up arms or ending trade relations, and it’ll continue to slide into a morass of immoral living, blind to the threat that grows within and across the Mediterranean. Syria, Iran, China, Zimbabwe, Togo, Sudan, Egypt and others are not going to be hindered by Europe. Each nation has but one freedom, they are free of European willingness to stand against them. A less gracious people than Americans might move to free themselves of the responsibility of defending Europe.

Now troubled in the always welcoming traffic jam.

UPDATE: Austin Bay's take is less dire. I like the general thesis of his post, just don't share the optimism about change in Europe or the remainder of Europe's ability to sing a different tune than France. Read it.

al-Jaafari An Islamist?

The New York Times says that Dr. Ibrahim al-Jaafari is an Islamist.

The headline for Wednesday’s story on his becoming the candidate of choice for the United Iraqi Alliance is more fear mongering than it is truth - "Shiite Alliance in Iraq Wants Islamist as the Prime Minister." The article is just as false as the authors paint the picture of disunity and contentions bickering, as if any nation, including our own, was ever formed without debate, negotiation and compromise. Burns and Filkins knew what they were writing, and they knew that it portrayed the situation in a negative light. Exactly the color if light they desired.

The truths - the United Iraqi Alliance is a majority Shi’a body and it won a majority of seats in the new government. Also the UIA has apparently chosen Dr. al-Jaafari as its candidate for Prime Minister. Dr. Ibrahim al-Jaafari is the leader of Iraq’s Dawa Party and lived outside Iraq for 20+ years (London and Iran).

But where does the idea that al-Jaafari is an Islamist come from, and why would the New York Times want to make you believe he is an Islamist?

First, a bit of background on the term Islamist. Some rather simple minded folks would say that any Muslim is an Islamist. If so, it would seem rather odd that the headline of a New York Times column would be "Shiite Alliance in Iraq Wants a Muslim as the Prime Minister." That is clearly not what Burns and Filkins meant.

By Islamist, did they mean a Muslim who believes that the state and religion should be one, as in Shari’a Law should rule the land? Or did they mean, Islamist as the less pejorative form of islamofascist? Neither one being a choice that would make American or European readers of the NYTimes comfortable with the selection of Dr. al-Jaafari. And neither one an accurate description of Dr. al-Jaafari’s view.

Dr. al-Jaafari is a pragmatic and realistic politician who clearly values his faith and the traditional faith(s) of his fellow countrymen. He also values freedom. We’ll hear how he’s lived in Iran and how his party is associated with the spreading of the Islamic message, yet what is more important is his words and actions.

While he initially balked at signing the interim constitution, Dr. al-Jaafari did eventually agree, and has since been both an advocate of a federalist styled government, and an advocate of inclusion, ethnic and religious, far beyond what Iraq has known for the last 50+ years. He makes statements regarding the Islamic identity and tradition of Iraq, just as an American president might make remarks about a Judeo-Christian ethos of the U.S., and likewise he insists that the people of Iraq will not have a theocracy, i.e. Iran, instead they will have a government that supports their faith while securing their freedom.

Perhaps once again I am just an optimist. The NYTimes could be right and any non-secular Muslim would be an Islamist and therefore a threat. I just don’t believe that to be the case. Read the column and see for yourself. The photo, included in the column, has the following caption: "Ibrahim al-Jaafari, right, the Shiite faction's choice for prime minister, at a news conference in Baghdad Tuesday. He won only after Ahmad Chalabi, left, withdrew and promised to support Dr. Jaafari, an Islamist." [emphasis mine.]

February 22, 2005

Chirac and NATO's Future

In a predictable statement French President Jacques Chirac endorsed German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder’s call for reforming NATO to reflect Europe’s growing bureaucracy, the EU. Schroeder advocates the EU take a larger role in transatlantic defense and foreign relations. This, of course, is due to NATO’s stubborn tie to individual European nations, none of which hold the political or economic weight of the United States.

Chirac noted that the U.S. and Europe are "real partners." Adding, "so we need to dialogue and listen to each other more." Not yet satisfied, Chirac added "We must also, as the German chancellor has underlined, continue to take account of the changes that have occurred on the European continent."

Chirac, in a Kerry like moment, alludes to the global test: "Wherever we share the same objectives and where NATO is mandated by the United Nations, France will fulfill its obligations."

While the individually sovereign nations of Europe vote on the EU Constitution, Chirac and Schroeder are already moving to limit the smaller voices in favor of a larger unified voice of Europe. Chirac attempts to be respectful of NATO, and thereby the U.S., and the role NATO has played in Europe’s defense. Yet even there, he wholly fails by offering up the virtue of the alliance as "first and foremost a military alliance." This after saying "“European defence is progressing. This development is an opportunity for our alliance, because a stronger, more united Europe, obviously means a stronger, more efficient Atlantic alliance." [Here is the full text of Chirac's comments.]

It is no surprise to those who visit this blog on a regular basis (thank you) that I’m no fan of the EU. What strikes me here is the brazen trumpeting of this message by Chirac while the President is in town. It would be a huge mistake to replace the individual nation members of NATO with an EU body which is clearly not driven by increasing the strength or effectiveness of the alliance. Chirac and Schroeder are interested in being a counter force to the U.S. and as they’ve shown with their nearsighted push to end the EU arms embargo, they’ll do whatever is politically expedient to achieve their aims (not to mention their prior ties to Saddam or current efforts to buy peace with Iran).

President Bush has a better understanding of NATO's role: "Because of Nato, Europe is whole, united and at peace."

NATO to Help?

Last July, NATO agreed to help with the training of Iraq's fledgling defense forces.

Today, we are told that they've done so again. This time all 26 members agree to support the effort in Iraq either with personnel, financial support or equipment. President Bush remains diplomatic and gracious. I'm not. NATO isn't what it used to be. Not because we've changed but because old Europe, the folks we liberated nearly 60 years ago, and protected for the next 4 plus decades, has changed. They, like the current and previous South Korean leadership, are ungrateful and have failed to learn the nature of tyranny.

Also, the EU is opening its first offices in Baghdad. The EU is training judges for Iraq, and thus far has done so only from the safety of Europe. The opening of the office does not indicate that training will move to Baghdad, it only indicates the future possibility of moving the training to Iraq.

February 21, 2005

North Korea and China News

From the man who signed the "Agreed Framework" and now possesses nuclear weapons comes the word that North Korea will resume the six party talks if the United States will show "trustworthy sincerity." Kim also added that North Korea would "as ever stand for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and its position to seek a peaceful solution to the issue through dialogue remains unchanged."

Clearly the loon of the north was impressed by the Chinese envoy, Wang Jiarui, as he added "we will go to the negotiating table anytime if there are mature conditions for the six-party talks thanks to the concerted efforts of the parties concerned in the future."

The state department’s initial response is appropriately reserved. Spokesman Lou Finter says "the United States remains ready to resume the six party talks at an early date without preconditions."

Also today, the DPRK denounced Japan's new defense posture as a plot to reinvade the DPRK. Did you laugh when reading that? I did.

"The 'military threat' touted by the Japanese militarists is a far-fetched allegation fabricated by themselves. They have joined in the US hostile policy toward the DPRK and its moves to stifle the DPRK and, therefore, the situation in the Korean Peninsula has reached the worst phase."
Earlier DPRK post are here, here and throughout the Little Red Blog.

On a related note, China expressed concerns today that the U.S. threatens their security on three fronts – east, west and south.

"The weekly [the source for this Dong-A report] says that the U.S. considers Japan and Taiwan as the first encircling net in the east and accordingly tries to strengthen its military alliance with Japan, sell advanced weapons to Taiwan, and push forward the establishment of an air base in Shadidiao.

Also, the U.S. is nurturing Guam as it core military base in Asia, setting the island as the second encircling net. To that end, the country augmented B-52 and B-2 strategic bombing planes, and deployed 64 air-launched cruise missiles to regions other than the U.S. mainland for the first time ever. It also decided to station three attack nuclear submarines at all times and deploy a Carrier Battle Group.

Meanwhile, the U.S. completed the western encircling net against China by setting up its military base in central Asia, while carrying out wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The country currently has 13 military bases in nine central Asian countries, including Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tadzhikistan. Against this backdrop, China faces a direct military threat from the U.S. also on land for the first time ever."

Recent coverage of China is available here, here and elsewhere.

Moment of Consequence and Opportunity

As you know, the President is visiting Europe this week. Here are several worthwhile columns discussing the President’s visit.

Sebastion Mallaby, in the Washington Post, has an excellent opening paragraph. Unfortunately, from there Mallaby dives headlong into a pit of junk science, bad ideas and bad politics as he calls for the President to make nice with Europe on global warming, debt relief for Africa and the international criminal court. The great issues of our time are covered in the first paragraph, and if Europe is on the wrong side of them, why should the President compromise on his, and our, values.

Niall Ferguson, in the Guardian, explains the three issues that will prevent Europe and the US from "making nice" during the President’s visit. The first is Iraq, or more aptly, Europe’s (specifically France and Germany) refusal to take part in the liberation and securing of Iraq. Next up, Iran, or specifically Iran’s nuclear weapons program, human rights abuses and continued support of terrorism and Europe’s (the EU Three) attempts to bribe the Iranian’s into agreeing to greater transparency in its nuclear program. Add to that Russia’s role in developing Iran’s nuclear power facilities and continued confidence in the Mullah’s assertion that they have no nuclear weapons program or the Kremlin's tightened grip on the Russian political and economic system. And finally, the EU’s move to end its arms embargo on China, in place since 1989. We may like to think, as does no less than Ralph Peters, that China isn't on a war path, but the reality is that China isn't on a path of reform, and the embargo was laid as a result of their actions in Tiananmen Square.

Elaine Sciolino, in the New York Times, describes the difference between Europe and the U.S. from a values perspective, even if that may not have been the purpose of the article. Is it poverty that causes terrorism, or the lack of freedom and democracy? Europe thinks it is poverty. Just as they recognize Hezbollah as a political party in Lebanon but not as a terrorist organization, the Europeans are wrong.

Financial Times editors note that the significance of the effort, the historical precedent from Ronald Reagan, and the inevitable challenge in an effort to mend fences on issues that aren’t political.

Gerald Baker, an editor at the Times of London, and contributor to the Weekly Standard, has an excellent column on the President's visit. Read it alone, if you can't read the rest of these.

The President's initial speech in Brussels has been made. The transcript is available here. Or at the White House website where no registration is required. The title of this post comes from the speech.

I will have more as the week passes.

February 20, 2005

News and Notes from Sunday

Mark Steyn does it again. His must read commentary on the President's visit to Europe is both hilarious and spot on.

Cox and Forkum sum up the irony of the USS Jimmy Carter.

Ruud Lubbers has resigned in an effort to escape the scandle of his inappropriate behavior.

Doug Wead tapes the future president and then allows the NYTimes to hear a dozen or so of the tapes. Next comes the story in the Times.

Spain has agreed to the EU constititution. The voting was light and pro-EU. Too bad the remainder couldn't get out of bed to vote for their nation and against the EU.

Sergey Lavrov, Russia's Foreign Minister, admits that the Ukraine and Georgia are "absolutely sovereign, absolutely equal states in the new geopolitical architecture." Long time coming and certainly timed to ease tensions for this Friday's meetings between Bush and Emperor Putin. Lavrov also added some advice for Western leaders seeking to help former Soviet states:

"Russia wants to respect the interests of different countries - those neighboring us as well as those that would like to be more active in this region," he said. "But ... their interests here and their purposes should be understood and should not contradict the norms of relations between civilized countries."

February 18, 2005

Waiting

Today, the eve of Ashoura, has seen a marked increase in the number and scale of attacks by terrorist on the people of Iraq, and particularly on Shi’a Muslims. This is Muslim on Muslim violence and yet, the worldwide Sunni population has not stepped forward to demand it stop, to stand between the terrorist and their intended victims or to support the brave American, Iraqi and allied troops who are doing so.

How long must we wait?

Before I go on, I am aware that there are small groups of Muslims, in the U.S. and abroad, who have spoken out against the terrorists and their tactics. Yet they’ve not taken to the streets, the governments (none democratically elected and representative of their citizenry) have remained silent and absent in Iraq, and no cry or call to admonish their behavior has been made. Is it because they fear being next? Perhaps some do, Faud and company for example, but clearly that isn’t the totality of the reason.

For far to many years the Muslim people have silently and not so silently supported the Palestinian terrorist attacks against Israel. Having made the arguments that the murder of Israeli people, attacks on the military, government and civilian targets are warranted and even called for by their faith and its demand for struggle against those who oppose the will of God. This jihad has now been turned against fellow Muslims and the voice of the majority is absent.

So I ask again: How long must we wait?

I believe that we’ll have to wait a very long time. Imams, mullahs and sheikhs around the world have abandoned reason, moral and ethical teachings within the Qur’an, and the real and terrible consequences of sitting in silent support of evil. And in response, that evil now strikes at their own. The streets of the world have been filled with men and women who believed they had been wronged, that injustice was being done, and that their voices must be heard. Whether in protest of war, electoral shenanigans, or political corruption the memories are clear. Yet the last time we recall the Muslims taking to the streets it was in celebration of the worst attack ever on this nation. How many Muslims will die at the hand of terrorist before they see the terrible error of their past and present and take to the streets to demand an end to such acts. How long will Muslim children have to wait before their parents and grandparents demand an end to terror in their names or in the name of their god?

I’m waiting, but not holding my breath.

Curtailing China

The Washington Post reports that Japan will sign an agreement with the U.S. marking Taiwan as mutual security concern. The agreement to be signed on Saturday aligns Japan with the U.S. and Taiwan with regard to the "common strategic objectives" found in the Taiwan Strait. This along with Japan’s continued move toward modifying their post-WWII developed constitution to permit military actions beyond defense against direct aggression is a welcome move.

Unfortunately Australia, a great ally in the GWOT, has decided not to support the U.S. in our demands that the EU not end its arms embargo against China. Given China’s desire and capability to extend the reach of their military forces, one would think that Australia would take a more cautious stand. Unfortunately, economics are probably driving the deal as trade with China, and the highly valuable sale of uranium to China are taking the drivers seat in this decision. China has thanked Australia for their decision. [HT: Mad Minerva] I'm sure that makes it all worthwhile.

Previous post regarding China's military and economic expansion, the arms embargo, etc. are here, here and elsewhere.

UPDATE: I thought China's response to Porter Goss' comments before the Senate deserved inclusion here. The official response from spokesman Kong Quan.

"The U.S. warning has severely violated the conventions of international relations," Kong said. "The United States has severely interfered with Chinese internal affairs and sent a false signal to the advocates of Taiwan independence."
Kong is incorrect. The U.S. has not interferred with internal affairs, sent false signals or otherwise been misleading. China is a threat to Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, and the world. The Bush administration has been quietly reflecting on and responding to China's advances and are only beginning to strengthen the security of the world by bringing their actions to the attention of Congress and our allies.

February 17, 2005

Annan's "Hell on Earth"

Kofi Annan called Darfur "Hell on Earth." The killing, starvation, and destruction of villages continues in Darfur. Talks to end the non-genocidal movement to exterminate the non-Arab, non-Muslim persons residing in the Darfur region are going to resume. Someday. Not sure when, but they are going to. Really they are. The AP says so. I mean it. Well, they don’t give out a source or anything but they say it. Really.

The AP also says that the trouble in Darfur started when African tribes in the region took up arms. Only then did the Arab's respond in kind. They never mentioned the "janjaweed” by name, or described the conditions that brought the non-Muslim, non-Arab people to the point of defending themselves. Nor does it mention that they are largely Christian and largely black.

The AP has apparently learned much from the UN.

As always, Sudan Watch has all the latest on what has to be one of our most shameful hours.

The Electromagnetic Pulse Threat

From the Center for Security Policy comes word of another nuclear threat. This one being electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack by means of nuclear detonation high above the U.S.

The Center for Security Policy points out a congressional mandated commission to determine the nature of the threat and U.S. vulnerability. The executive summary from the commissions report to congress is available as .pdf file.

Its clear that a return research, development and testing of nuclear weapons and their potential use (and means to protect against them in any form of use) is necessary. Within the last week I heard in testimony on Capital Hill, trying to remember where and get the source (I believe it was on FoxNews, Shepard Smith), that the U.S. cannot currently manufacture a nuclear weapon (legally and technically). The legal aspect allows for the modification of the current arsenal, hence work on "bunker busters" may be permitted. The inability to manufacter them, test them, and additionally recognize the affect they have on other military and civilian systems is more troubling.

Demolish No More

Israel has ended its practice of demolishing the homes of Palestinian terrorist. This is a good move. There are times when the hand of vengeance and retribution must be held in check. And Israel’s defense minister has determined that the program did nothing to deter further violence and may have contributed to greater hatred of Israel.

It’s good to see Israel take this step, yet reading the full AP report, by Karin Laub, I was surprised to see quotes from an al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Bridgade leader in Balata. Ala Sanakra states that the demolitions "motivated me to send more people on missions and gave more motivation to our fighters" in a phone interview with the writer. Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised that reporters can reach terrorist on the phone.

Iran, Syria and Russia Today

Two items to discuss.

  • Iran and Syria call for other Islamic states to be "vigilant" against the "U.S. and Israeli plots" to destabilize the region. [source: IRNA and the AP story now available.]

  • Russia and Iran are to sign a deal for Russia to provide nuclear fuel for Iran's Bushehr nuclear power plant. [source: Reuters via IranPressNews]
First up:

Iran's former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, now head of the Expediency Council, says that Arab states remain vigilant against “U.S. and Israeli plots” to create division among the Islamic states in the region. His comments come a day after asserting the “united front” of Syria and Iran to oppose on “all grounds to confront threats.”

Syria’s Prime Minister Naji al-Otari met with Rafsanjani after arriving in Tehran for a joint Iran – Syria meeting on economic cooperation between the two states. al-Otari also met with current Iranian President Mohammad Khatami.

al-Otari stated that Israel was the “source of instability” in the region and confirmed that Syria would continue its “struggle,” along with Lebanon and the Palestinians, to vindicate its “lost rights.”

Original text of IRNA report. [Originally included due to lack of this link.]

Tehran, Feb 17, IRNA -- Visiting Prime Minister of Syria Naji al-Otari in a meeting with Head of Expediency Council Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani here on Thursday stressed that Damascus was determined to upgrade its economic ties with Tehran to keep pace with bilateral political ties.
Al-Otari arrived here on Wednesday at the head of an economic-political delegation to attend the meeting of Iran-Syria High Committee on Economic Cooperation.
Referring to Tehran-Damascus strong relations, the head of Iran's Expediency Council expressed satisfaction with expansion of political, cultural and economic ties between the two countries.
He said that in light of the current circumstances, further cementing of relations between Iran, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and other Islamic states of the region was of great importance.
Rafsanjani noted that those countries could create a powerful alliance through their close cooperation so that it would benefit the interests of their people.
The EC chairman added that division among regional states was the wish of the US and the Zionist regime of Israel and for the same reason, he argued, countries of the region should "stay completely vigilant vis-a-vis the US and Israeli plots in this
regard."
Rafsanjani also said that Tehran and Damascus could play a key role in Iraq's reconstruction.
Al-Otari, for his part, said that Iraq's occupation only benefitted [sic] the big powers. He added that efforts should be made to restore the country's sovereignty and wealth to their real owners (people of Iraq).
The Syrian prime minister stated that the Zionist regime of Israel was "the source of instability" in the Middle East region and that Damascus would continue its struggle along with Palestinian and Lebanese nations, to vindicate its lost rights. 1394 / 1412
And now:

Russia and Iran are set to sign a long awaited, and U.S. opposed, deal for Russia to provide nuclear fuel for the Bushehr nuclear power plant. Assadollah Sabouri, deputy head of the Iranian Atomic Energy Organization says the deal will be signed on February 26th, while Russian Atomic Energy Agency chief Alexander Rumyantsev is in Iran. The assumption is that Russia and Iran have agreed on terms for spent fuel to be returned to Russia after 10 years of use. This, of course, is an unsettling development.
---
It should be clear (and is to those who are willing to see) that Iran and Syria are enemies of the U.S. and after the success in the Iraqi elections, are stepping up their rhetoric against the U.S. This is no doubt an effort to draw additional support from islamofascist, ba'athist and anti-American or anti-Israel groups.

Add to that, Russia's inability to recognize the threat Iran poses to world peace, most likely due to their greed. And the window is closing quickly on the U.S., EU, UN and world to take a stand against Iran. While much attention is pointed to Syria, it must be clear that should the Mullah's fall, Syria would most likely quickly come to order (save what now has to be expected in any Arab or Islamic state reforming or being liberated, an "insurgency" of islamofascist).

Friedman's Suggestion

Thomas Friedman's response to the murder of Rafik Hariri.

Lebanon must give Syria the "purple finger." I couldn't agree more. If only the French, and the UN would stand as resolute as a purple finger.

February 16, 2005

Arms Embargo Logic

How can anyone be so dim? French Defense Minister Michèle Alliot-Marie is urging the end of the EU embargo of arms sales to China. The reasoning… well I’ll let Ms. Alliot-Marie’s words do the talking.

"The lifting of the embargo could be a better protection for us than maintaining it," she said.

"China is rapidly developing its industry, and today our experts say that in five years China could make exactly the same arms that we have today. And they will do it if they cannot import. So maybe if we can sell them the arms, they will not make them. And in five years' time, they will not have the technology to make them."

And - "The embargo was made about 15 years ago, and the evolution of China and of its international relations have been very significant since then," she said. "We cannot have relationships with China in all these fields - economic, medical, research and so on - and conserve the embargo as it is today." [source: FT]

This strikes me as similar to the faulty logic used throughout the American left. We don’t want kids to ... so we provide them with ... in case they do. Or we don’t approve of illegal drug usage, but giving paraphernalia (implements) prevents misuse and disease.

China is developing the technology, manufacturing capabilities and stores of arms on their own. The idea that by selling arms to China, the Chinese will no longer pursue such arms or the means to produce them is ludicrous. It stems from the EU’s greed and nothing more. China wants the arms and the EU wants China’s money (or anyone’s for that matter). The U.K. may be the exception, while they support the removal of the embargo, their contention is that it is ineffective and greater oversight can be achieved through a lifting of the embargo and the creation of an organ for monitoring trade with China.

The Financial Times notes that the U.S. has been quietly opposed to the removal of the embargo, in an attempt to prevent further tension between the U.S. and our European allies. Here, again, the official U.S. policy believes that the EU is somehow friend of the U.S. (See my previous look at China and the EU.)

UPDATE: Porter Goss changed the tone with regard to China, compared to previous years, in his statements regarding Red China's efforts to counter the U.S. before the Senate Intelligence Committee today. It's about time.

Middle East News

There have been some interesting developments in the Middle East today.

Iran may be six months from having the knowledge to construct a nuclear weapon. Or so says, Israel’s Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom. Iran, of course, continues to deny assertions that they have a nuclear weapons program.

Iran’s Intelligence Minister Ali Yunesi stated that Iran would shoot down unknown flying objects, which he had stated were primarily American spying equipment, i.e. unmanned aerial vehicles. Thus, reaffirming Iran’s position since December, 2004.

Additionally, Iran’s Vice President Mohammad Reza Aref has agreed to support Syria on "all grounds to confront threats." This, like the others, is not a "new" development, as much as it is a new statement of what has been the de facto position for some time. It is also telling given Syria’s renewed significance under the microscope given the death of Rafik Hariri. U.S. policy with regard to Syria may now be less likely to achieve a "balanced" resolution of tensions, with Syria foolishly believing Iran levels the playing field. Again the EU and UN must be willing to address the issues with something other than bribes and platitudes.

And then, this morning, Iran startled the world and many Iranians when they announced that a missile fired by an unknown aircraft had caused an explosion near the Bushehr nuclear reactor. They later clarified and stated that the explosion was caused by construction work for a dam.

Here in the U.S., Porter Goss and Vice Adm. Lowell Jacoby, in a refreshingly direct tone, updated Congress on the threat of al-Qaeda, Iran and islamofascist terror groups aligned with al-Qaeda.

Tensions have definitely increased. I’ll say it again; the EU and UN need to step forward. Similar to the tension with North Korea, the voices most likely to be heard remain either silent or a distant whisper at best.

February 15, 2005

More News and Notes

Ralph Cossa, of Pacific Forum CSIS, points to Roh and South Korea, who haven't stepped up to the plate with the North, and says that it's their lead we'll have to follow. As a matter of practicing their "sunshine policy" and later the "Policy of Peace and Prosperity", Seoul has told the North that they can either have nuclear weapons or have economic and political cooperation. As Cossa notes, it's time to see if the South was bluffing.

Ibrahim al-Jaafari, interim vice president of Iraq, former London based physician and leader of Hezb ad-Daawa Islamiyya, looks to be the choice for Prime Minister. He has thus far, at least of late, seemed rational, supportive of U.S. forces being present and focused on the right things (i.e. establishing a secure Iraq and including all Iraqi's).

Journey and Course

A national journey is underway. And like any journey, a national journey requires the knowledge of not only where one wants to end up, but also, from what point one begins the journey. Who among us would question that the Iraqi people more than any foreign observer or policy maker knows both the starting point of their journey, and where they would like to be?

Our character at the outset of our nation was set and firm. It had been forged by years of economic repression, religious persecution, and various ignoble attacks on the very nature of those who made the colonies their home. No matter what course of action the crown had taken, the character that had developed within the hearts and minds of the colonial leaders was such that their course could be set not just against the crown, but rather toward their own objective. They knew were they wanted to be and where they were.

The setting of the course within, as seen in the founders of the United States, took place prior to the first efforts at creating a nation. Over the years that have come and gone, many within our borders have lost sight of the necessity for such an internal course setting. They represent a hodgepodge of special interest groups lost but for their singular vision for the issue de jour and as such are bound together wandering toward no particular destination. Thankfully, there are those whose course remains firmly set nearly the same as our founders. They defend the true principles held in the founding documents. And in a similar vane, the people of Iraq are soon to set their course and pass on to their progeny the values for which their course should use as guideposts.

We know little of what the course will hold for Iraq. Its guiding values will most certainly be the creation and extension of their various ethnic and religious heritages into a national heritage. Like our founding fathers, the Iraqi people have known repression in any and all areas of their lives. This too will have an impact on their choice of guiding principles and on their aspirations for untangling the biases that have previously caused dissension between them. And with newfound bearing, the Iraqi’s will set out to become that which they’ve never been.

Of course, there are those who are not yet adjusted to the new reality, or who hold no course settings for which to guide them toward something new, seeking rather to return to the old. They too will be heard. The point is that Iraq’s course is to be determined by the hearts and minds of Iraq’s people, putting their values into action, and setting sail on a course of their choice. And to guide them, the course within. We may not know, or ever understand the destination they chose, who around the world understands the American ideal so well as Americans, but our guiding principles should assure us that it is right and honorable that they are at the helm. Finally.

News and Notes for the Morning

Roh Moo-hyun, President of South Korea, is facing opposition to his policies of appeasement with North Korea. Finally! As noted before, I believe Roh’s policies have aided and strengthened the DPRK rather than "bridging the divide" or creating a mutual softening of relations from the North. Also, Roh's military has recently suggested they will participate in high-level military discussions with the North, as a means to avoid accidental clashes.

Japan continues to redefine its defense posture, now permitting the military to utilize its missile-defense system, currently being developed with the U.S., should Japan be under attack. Rather than a pacifist posture, the new defensive posture is well suited for the realities of the world.

U.S. missile-defense systems during testing failed to launch an interceptor rocket early Monday morning. Despite the nay-sayers outspoken opposition, it isn't that bad a thing. Just remember the number of failures during our initial attempts to develope rockets for orbital flight. Time is still on our side, and the effort, so long as we continue it, will be worthwhile.

Bashar al-Assad, Syrian President, condemned the killing of Rafik al-Hariri, yet the government press shifts the blame for the death of Rafik al-Hariri to Israel in a detestable, yet predictable, response.

"What happened was an attempt to shatter national unity in Lebanon, to sow anarchy and divisions which lead to a climate of civil war," said government newspaper Tishrin.

While the opposition to the pro-Syrian government in Beirut openly blamed Syria for the assassination, the official Damascus media in turn pointed a finger at Israel without even reporting the accusations against Syria.

Israel "continues to work to sabotage Lebanon's achievements to try to bring anarchy to the country and to be able to continue its occupation of the Shebaa Farms", a disputed strip of land along the Israeli border, said Tishrin.

This while the UN struggles to make a statement regarding the murder or the terrorist claim of responsibility. And in Lebanon, the people take to the streets to blame Syria.

Margaret Scobey, U.S. Ambassador to Syria, is being recalled to Washington in response to the terrorist killing of Rafik al-Hariri. Clearly there are those in the Bush administration who remain unconvinced that Syria wasn't involved. Added to the tensions between the U.S. and Syria over Syrian troops in Lebanon and influence in the government, and the concern over the Syrian border being used as a point of entry into Iraq, and well, perhaps the Ambassador should have been recalled previously.

February 14, 2005

On The Joyous Occasion

The results of Iraq’s election were released yesterday, and as expected the MSM has joined the likes of Juan Cole in their analysis of the results as somehow unsatisfactory and problematic. The reality is that for the first time in their history, the Iraqi people, no matter their tribal, religious, ethnic or other affiliations had an opportunity to vote, and, in most cases, did. Yes, many Sunni’s didn’t vote. In fact, a vast majority of Sunni’s didn’t vote, but that was to be expected. The Sunni are either supporting the terrorist, or held by fear of the terrorist.

The headlines offered by the Washington Post - Iraq Winners Allied With Iran Are the Opposite of U.S. Vision - or the NY Times - Split Verdict in Iraqi Vote Sets Stage for Weak Government. Like the press, Cole’s view, that the U.S. lost, in his case because Allawi’s party didn’t win, is wrong. Each of these enlightened expert views would have us believe that ill winds dominate the Iraqi landscape and it would behoove the U.S. to accept our failure and go. Nothing could be further from the truth.

What truth is that? Neither the U.S. nor the existence of U.S. forces in Iraq was the primary point of the vote. It was the beginning of the establishment of a free Iraqi nation. Not a pro-America Iraq or an anti-Iranian Iraq. Neither was the point of this election. Iraq’s election, and the forming of the new government, no matter its make-up is an opportunity. For Iraqi people, not the U.S.

The tired and gloomy response of the media and the expert analyst they call upon is just that tired and gloomy. A more fitting response and analysis would have headlined the opportunity found in the vote. The story would have focused on the self-determination, possibility and freedom it affords Iraq.

The institutions, education, and moral foundations needed to maintain a free and democratic Iraq may not exist to the degree necessary. Yet without them, they will have to forge ahead and construct a nation from a diverse group of peoples. Our response should be applause and encouragement. We should continue to aid in the reconstruction of Iraq, and provide security, until they’ve determined a course for our withdrawal. Instead, our press would have us believe that the only aim of our government in Iraq was to secure our needs in Iraq. It was never the case. Our invasion ended the threat of Saddam Hussein reinvigorating his means of making war and of his colluding with terrorist to attack the U.S. or our allies. After having done so, the purpose has been the establishment of what is now taking form, a free elected Iraqi government.

For once, it would be a marvel of marvels to see the press look at an occasion such as this with the eyes of children. Children, naïve and innocent, see the opportunity, the great expanse of possibility and the joy of building that which had only been a dream. For those nay-sayers who will no doubt ask, but what if it Iraq becomes pro-Iranian or anti-American, my response is simple. They will have chosen that course, and our response to this day, no matter the following course, should remain the same – joy filled and optimistic.

Whether Geo-Green or Not

When looking through the technorati listing of references to Thomas Friedman’s Sunday NY Times column, No Mullah’s Left Behind, I was disappointed to see little refutation of Friedman’s column. And more disappointed to see Glenn Reynolds agreeing with this Friedman statement:

As a geo-green, I believe that combining environmentalism and geopolitics is the most moral and realistic strategy the U.S. could pursue today. Imagine if President Bush used his bully pulpit and political capital to focus the nation on sharply lowering energy consumption and embracing a gasoline tax.
Thankfully, Glenn goes on to suggest that nuclear power plants as a solution. Still, however, he appeared to focus on energy for our cars, he describes the nuclear power plants as a means to producing hydrogen as a replacement fuel for autos. All fine by me, except that the majority of our energy needs aren’t our cars or transportation (35% to 40% of our energy consumption is for transportation, of which almost all is petroleum based). [For stats on U.S. Energy consumption see the Energy Information Administration. - ed.]

Is the objective to reduce our dependence on foreign (read Middle Eastern) oil, or to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels? Or both.

The primary issue I take with Friedman’s suggestion is the gasoline tax as a means to alter behavior. The idea of changing our behavior through taxing the consumption of gasoline is abhorrent to me. The proper means to accomplish the objective of reducing fossil fuel dependence, and the attached relationship to despotic leaders in the Middle East, is through altering our own production capabilities and sources.

We have untapped resources in petroleum and we’ve nearly completely abandoned the use of nuclear energy. If we moved toward greater use of nuclear energy for non-transportation sector supply, the cut in fossil fuel usage would be significant, although, clearly 35 percent or more would remain due to transportation requirements. That component could be reduced through means such as Reynolds’ suggestion of hydrogen-fueled vehicles, but the time, and cost, between that solution and now is significant. The first step has to be opening up ANWR and other domestic sources for petroleum based exploration and production.

Whether geo-green or not, the administration needs to act to cut off U.S. backing of repressive regimes in the Middle East, and further, to create a more independent and viable long term solution to our energy needs. Our fear of nuclear technology, the cost associated with alternative fuels, and the lefts environmentalist ideals all serve as constraints to change rather as proponents of change. Another constraint is the attachment to stability. For years our economic policy has been propped up by the idea that through our continued use of Middle Eastern oil we foster stability in the region. This has to go. Maintaining the stability of despots neither advances the liberty of people around the world, nor does it enhance our security.

Living And Dying With Saudi Ties

The Saud family may have come to power via Islamist ideology, or at least with the aid of it. And may have and still use it to maintain control over their people. But, as I've noted before, the islamofascist are no friends of the Saud's.

Today's killing of Rafik al-Hariri is yet another example of the islamofascists hatred of all things Saud. A group calling itself, the Group for Victory and Holy War in the Levant, has claimed responsibility for the killing. Their statement "For the sake of our Mujahideen brothers in Saudi Arabia ... we decided to implement the just execution of those who support this regime."

al-Hariri had earned a fortune, estimated at over $1 billion, in construction.

UPDATE: It has become clear to most, that Hariri's death was not "for" Saudi Mujahideen. No matter the claim.

February 12, 2005

News and Notes for Saturday Evening

China has both permitted some negative commentary on North Korea’s nuclear admission and withdrawal from the six-party talks, as well as asserted that they will remain in contact with all six-parties while working to restart the now year dead discussions. [HT: Powerpundit]

As I'v mentioned before, I don't believe that South Korea has followed the right course with the North for the past few years, and it appears they are going to continue providing aid to the North. Is it greed, after all the North's per capita GDP is 1/16th that of the South, compassion, being more wealthy and providing charity to distant family, or just an ill advised belief that Kim and Co' aren't that bad a bunch of guys?

Hamas on its best behavior. Good news for all, especially Chairman Abbas.

"Hamas's position regarding calm will continue unchanged and Israel will bear responsibility for any new violation or aggression," Ismail Haniyah
Effectively meaning that Hamas will not act unless "incursions and assasinations" provoke them. And then, according to Mahmoud al-Zahar, they'll consult with the PA prior to acting. Hasn't that always been the case?

Michael Barone believes that the left leaning blogs have done what many of us have suspected for some time. Helped those they oppose. [HT: Instapundit, who is right that it didn't have to be that way.] Dean, Kerry, Carter, Pelosi, Gore, Moore - after all Bill did to make the Democrats seem not so lefty (post '94, with a Republican House and Senate), the Dems have gone out and become more leftist, more radical and more likely to lose. Save Hillary, Lieberman, and the wonderkund Obama. There is always Koch and Miller, but they've had enough.

Iran is being watched by U.S. drones launched from Iraq. The Sunday Washington Post delivers the story Drudge headlined late Saturday.

As usual, unnamed sources, but easily believable storyline. I for one hope that we have as many eyes on Iran as possible. As for the cat and mouse game of getting them to turn on radar, if that's what they want to call it, okay by me. There are many other advantages to the fly-overs beyond radar recognition.

February 11, 2005

Abu Mazen Stepping Up

I've been reluctantly, or perhaps, cautiously optimistic, with regard to Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. Years of watching the Palestinian terrorist, reading the works of Islamic apologist for their terror, and witnessing the UN's duplicitous support for Palestinians and unwillingness to define terrorism due to the realization that it would have to include Palestinian terror as such. Yesterday, in response to the latest rounds of terror, Abbas fired the heads of security responsible for preventing such attacks.

Today, we learn that he has gone to the Gaza Strip to confront the terrorist leaders, demanding that they stop their attacks on the Israeli people. Whether or not he is successful, it is good news that he is attempting to do so. The steps that might follow should his request not be heeded are difficult to imagine, yet due to his forthright and immediate response thus far, one can remain hopeful.

UPDATE: Krauthammer says more and says it better. [HT: Betsy's Page]

Rafsanjani's Sky

Here's an interesting account of Akbar Rafsanjani, former President of Iran, speaking on the nuclear ambitions of Iran and the adventures of the U.S.

"The Persian Gulf is not a region where they can have fireworks and Iran is not a country where they can come for an adventure," cleric and former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani told worshippers at Friday prayers.

"It is not acceptable that developed countries generate 70 or 80 percent of their electricity from nuclear energy and tell Iran, a great and powerful nation, that it cannot have nuclear electricity. Iran does not accept this," he added.

Although France produces close to 80 percent of its electricity from nuclear power stations, most major industrialized nations derive under 30 percent, U.S. Energy Information Administration data says.

Rafsanjani is often hailed by analysts as a pragmatist who wants to restore diplomatic relations with the United States.

And then just before the end of the article...
Rafsanjani reiterated Iran could not give up uranium enrichment, a key process in making nuclear fuel, but could work out a diplomatic solution by offering further assurances the fuel was not being diverted to bombs.

"This confidence has to be built in the next few months. When this period this is over, we will, God willing, continue enrichment and nuclear technology," he added, stressing Iran's co-operation with the U.N. atomic watchdog.

A red dawn sky in Iran doesn't symbolize spilt blood, it is just a red dawn. Rafsanjani, the Mullahs and the current "moderate" government have made clear that they aren't giving up their "right" to enrich uranium. When will we give up our belief that they don't mean it.

A Day After - DPRK Watch

Yesterday, Dear Leader, and his comrades announced they possess nuclear weapons and that they are no longer participating in multi-lateral talks. Today they announced that to defuse the tension they want to meet with the U.S. That has been their aim all along.

For years, North Korea's leaders, and everyone else's, could count on the U.S. to buy their support, or to bribe them for their support, in many cases that being exactly what the supposed enemy wanted. It is here. The DPRK officials are starving their nation. And the U.S., among others, are key to reversing the economic starvation that the 'Il' leaders have put on the North Korean people.

Should the U.S. participate in bilateral talks? I don't think so. The DPRK having nuclear weapons threatens all the people of the world, even if its the U.S. that recognizes the point of the barrel.

UPDATE: As expected, and appropriately, the Bush administration has refused bilateral talks with North Korea.

"It's not an issue between North Korea and the United States. It's a regional issue," White House press secretary Scott McClellan said. "And it's an issue that impacts all of its neighbors."

Rumsfeld In Iraq

Secretary Rumsfeld is in Iraq. Very good, there should be a nearly constant flow of senior level administration officials touring Iraq, speaking with the troops, and meeting with the soon to be announced new government of Iraq.

This line, or something similar, will be repeated often in Iraq. "It is the Iraqis who have to over time defeat the insurgency." And rightfully so.

February 10, 2005

Iran, North Korea and Clinton - Gore

In dealing with North Korea, see previous post, the U.S. under President Clinton and the diplomatic expertise (cough!) of former President Jimmy Carter, the U.S. failed. We now face a real crisis.

And then there is Iran.

As with North Korea, DPRK, the Clinton administratin plays a large role in where we are today. With Clinton's authority, Vice President Gore negotiated with Victor Chernomyrdin, in what was known as the 'GCC', or Gore Chernomyrdin Commision, and the result was that Russia was to sign no further agreements with Iran. President Yeltsin, whom President Clinton had stated had agreed to scuttle the Bushehr light-water reactor deal, never did so. It, along with the centrifuge technology now at the center of the current issues between Iran and the U.S., could have been stopped in 1995. The plant’s construction is now complete, the centrifuges are being used in the process of creating enriched uranium.

Essentially, Clinton and Gore, assured the Russians that the U.S. would look the other way on their existing arms sales to Iran, and as well, we would permit certain defense and satelite corporations to do business with Russian firms, permit the Russians to participate in the Wassenaar Arrangement, and finally, we would only require that Russia not continue arms trade with Iran, i.e. no new deals. For the remaining years of the Clinton administration, the focus became preventing missile technology transfer to Iran.

And just as with North Korea, where Clinton also focused on missile technology development and transfer, Iran has advanced missile technologies now capable of reaching their perceived enemies, and are moving toward ICBM and nuclear warhead additions. (The U.S., nor any other nation has confirmed DPRK or Iranian delivery capabilities for nuclear weapons - ed.).

In essence, both North Korea, and Iran are crises that the Clinton administration turned a blind eye to, and as a result, both are much more capable of terrorizing their neighbors and holding the world to the point of a nuclear gun.

How could we possibly consider any Democratic nominee for the White House, Senate or House as serious on defense and national security issues in the wake of their support for Clinton? Perhaps some will step forward, but as of yet, the only stepping forward that’s been done is by the Bush administration. The President and Secretary Rice are trying to clean up the mess of the Clinton Gore debacle.

Nuclear North Korea

North Korea has nuclear weapons. Of course this isn’t news, it’s just an admission of the truth. The history of North Korea’s dealings on this issue does not bode well for those who believe that diplomacy will resolve the issue. Diplomacy requires a level of participation and trustworthiness on the part of all involved that North Korea cannot supply.

Here’s a look at the history that leads me to that conclusion, although this is by no means comprehensive in that it does not address the human rights issues or missile technology sales issues relating to North Korea’s trustworthiness, or South Korea’s questionable moves, since 1998, and negative impact associated with them.

  • 1985: North Korea Signs the NPT (nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty) but fails to sign an agreement with the IAEA, as required, to permit inspections of nuclear facilities, claiming it will not do so until the U.S. removes nuclear weapons from South Korea.

  • 1991: After the U.S. unilaterally removes tactical nuclear weapons from South Korea; the two Korea’s sign an agreement to ensure the Korean peninsula remains a nuclear weapons free area.

  • 1992: Initial inspections by the IAEA discover disparities in North Korea’s required declaration of nuclear activities.

  • 1993: North Korea withdraws and then reaccepts the NPT, with the assurance of the U.S. against aggression by the U.S. and interference in internal North Korean politics.

  • 1994: The CIA concludes that North Korea may have as many as 2 nuclear weapons. The IAEA begins inspections again; discovering that North Korea is wrongfully removing spent fuel from a nuclear research facility.

    After North Korea claims to no longer participate in the IAEA, former President Jimmy Carter negotiates North Korea’s "freeze" on its nuclear weapons program. The "Agreed Framework" between the U.S. and North Korea is signed, negotiated by Robert Gallucci. Under the "Agreed Framework" the U.S. will move to normalized economic relations, provide aid, and agree to the development of light-water nuclear power facilities in North Korea; the North Korean’s agree to eliminating their existing facilities and the weapons program, and to special inspections by the IAEA.

    The focus of U.S./North Korea diplomacy shifts to missile technology proliferation.


  • 2000: The U.S. removes sanctions on North Korea, excepting missile technology sanctions and terrorism. This followed the North-South agreement to resolve the issue of reunification. Secretary of State Albright visits Pyongyang, and there are hints that President Clinton will before the end of his term. He does not, and later, March 2001, the NYTimes relates that it was due to Sandy the Burglar, National Security Advisor at the time, not wanting the President to go during a potential "constitutional crisis."

  • 2001: President Bush and Secretary Powell readiness for further discussions with North Korea. North Korea claims readiness for "dialogue and war."

  • 2002: President Bush’s "axis of evil" includes North Korea, primarily based upon internal suppression of human rights, missile technology proliferation, and support of terrorism. Despite this assertion, construction begins on the first of the light-water reactors (LWR) agreed to in 1994. The U.S. reports North Korea’s admission of possessing an illegal nuclear weapons program, to be followed by an end to oil shipments in support of the first LWR under construction. North Korea restarts its previously closed nuclear reactor, opens closed facilities and expels IAEA employees.

  • 2003: North Korea withdraws from the NPT. The date of their withdrawal is hilariously debated as the IAEA says they have to wait three months, North Korea say they original stated their intent in 1993, so its official now. During trilateral (China, North Korea, U.S.) talks, North Korea admits having nuclear weapons. North Korea launches two missiles, their first test since ’98 and their first since agreeing to a moratorium in ’99. North Korea breaks contact with U.N. Command responsible for monitoring the Korean Armistice. North Korean officials tell the Chinese they may test, export or use their nuclear weapons depending on U.S. action. The U.S., North Korea, China, Russia, Japan and South Korea meet for the first time to discuss the issue.

  • 2004: The six nations talks occur once more, and agree to further meetings. No further meetings occur, as North Korea demands bilateral meetings with the U.S. and attempt to tie the issue to economic aid.

  • 2005: North Korea issues statement that it possesses nuclear weapons and withdraws from further multilateral discussions. [sources: Financial Times, FoxNews, CNN, ACA]

The initial U.S. response has been to warn North Korea of the further isolation they will meet following the withdrawal from further discussions. The greater question, so far as I am concerned, is why on earth has the U.N. Security Council not taken action against North Korea.

The U.S., along with Japan, South Korea, China and Russia, should move immediately to have the U.N. Security Council demand, with a Chapter 7 resolution, compliance from North Korea. It is unlikely that it will happen, and less likely that if it does, that the sanctions would create a real change in North Korean policy. It would, however, show a global resolve for the economic and diplomatic isolation of North Korea. This too is a dangerous maneuver, as no one can know how Kim Jong Il will respond.

Similar to Iran, the people of North Korea would be the proper means to ending the situation, and the regime. Unfortunately there is apparently even less likelihood that the citizens of North Korea are prepared, inclined or capable of such a move. Isolation will, in this case, lead to further suffering.

Should China truly seek to have the Korean peninsula remain nuclear free, their response will most likely be the key. Thus far, they’ve not yielded a significantly strong enough voice against North Korea, and in all likelihood, they will not. Cutting off aid, in particular oil supplies, and supporting the complete economic and diplomatic isolation of North Korea, even if it never happens, would go along way to show that China is serious in its desire to see an end to the crisis.

A quick and proper Chinese response would go a long way toward relieving concerns I have about their efforts to weaken the U.S. I don’t expect it.

(Other coverage: FT, Xinhua, WaPo, Times of London, Scotsmen)

February 8, 2005

Cease-fire For You... Not Me

Why would anyone be skeptical of Abbas or the Palestinian Authority's recent cease-fire with Israel? Hamas.

During Arafat’s reign it was clear that he could stoke the fires of Hamas and increase the terror brought upon the Israeli people. It was never clear if he could stop it. [Primarily because he never sought to. – ed.] The challenge today is for Abbas to end Hamas’ terror while Hamas openly asserts that the PA alone has agreed to a cease-fire.

Will Abbas take steps to root out and break Hamas’ hold on the Palestinian view, or will he simply wait for Hamas to once again strike at innocents? The answer will greatly influence his ability to negotiate a settlement with Sharon.

February 7, 2005

Notes on the News

A few items of news, while I continue reading the voluminous budget proposal.

Togo has a new president and the hollow voice of the UN is screeching in protest to the military backed succession of Faure Gnassingbe, son of the late President Gnassingbe Eyadema. While I can'’t rightly say I'’m pleased, it just strikes me as a clear example of the UN'’s ineptitude. Even Togo stands defiant before the UN.
---
Dollar hits a 3-month high against the Euro. China'’s leaders can’'t be pleased.
---
Israel and the Palestinian Authority are to declare a cease-fire formally tomorrow. Secretary of State Rice has certainly not been the failure the left was hoping for. That being said, it'’s still a long way from cease-fire to peaceful coexistence. Hopeful, yet, I remain.
---
China is going ahead with its first, the world’s first, "pebble-bed" nuclear reactor. Treading where none since the Titanic have gone, it's being called "melt-down proof." It may be that it is safer than the old technology, seems plausible with the few details provided, the claim isn’t one I’d make. Would love to hear from Steven Den Beste on this, but don't expect it.
---
Hassan Rohani after stating that Iran would retaliate if attacked by the U.S., stated that Iran would "definitely accelerate our activities to complete our [nuclear] fuel cycle." Does this sound like the words of a nation with a peaceful nuclear technology program, or one hell bent on developing nuclear weapons?

February 2, 2005

Nukes for Everyone!!!

If true...

KIEV, Ukraine -- A senior lawmaker on Wednesday called for Ukraine's prosecutor-general to investigate alleged sales of nuclear-capable cruise missiles to Iran and China in violation of international nonproliferation treaties.

The appeal, by Hrihory Omelchenko, follows allegations he made in a letter to new President Viktor Yushchenko. Omelchenko is a parliament member allied with Prime Minister-designate Yulia Tymoshenko and is a reserve colonel in Ukraine's intelligence service.

Yushchenko, who succeeded Leonid Kuchma, has promised a thorough investigation of corruption and misdeeds that allegedly flourished during his predecessor's 10 years as president. Kuchma allegedly sanctioned the sale of sophisticated radar systems to Iraq in 2002, contravening U.N. sanctions.

"I want him to begin his mandate with a clean record," Omelchenko said of Yushchenko.

In his letter to Yushchenko, Omelchenko said an investigation launched last summer "proved that some 20 air-launched Kh-55 and Kh-55M cruise missiles with nuclear capability were exported to third countries" in contravention of international treaties.

"Six missiles destined for Russia ended up in Iran ... six missiles destined for Russia ended up in China" the letter said. It said the sales occurred in 2000-01.

Vyacheslav Astapov, a spokesman for Ukraine's prosecutor-general, said the office began an investigation into the alleged sales last summer and "this year, we received new information."

Astapov also said a top-ranking Iranian diplomat in Ukraine met with Prosecutor-General Svyatoslav Piskun, but he did not elaborate. [source: Seatle Post-Intelligencer, HT: TBTN]

And taken in consideration with Ali Agha Mohammadi’s comments regarding Iran’s nuclear program and their unwillingness to give it up.

Not good news.

UPDATE: Financial Times - Europe has coverage as well.

Electoral Vindication?

The notion is far too common in our nation today. First, it was does President Bush’s reelection vindicate his efforts in the war on terror, specifically with regard to Iraq. And now, does this past weekends election in Iraq vindicate the war effort. Neither does. In response to this weeks Homespun Symposium question:

Do you think that the elections in Iraq vindicated President Bush's decision to invade Iraq?
The war was a just war. It needs no further vindication. While reporters and commentators are more than willing to question the decisions that led to the war, to point to the lack of having found WMD’s in Iraq after the war, and to the violent actions of the terrorist following the President’s announcement that major military action had ceased, few are availed to report on the truths behind the conflict or the positives that may arise from it (including the many that have thus far, such as the election this past weekend).

The case for the war was based on several points, and the lack of an existing surplus of WMD’s, or active manufacturing of them, does not invalidate any of those points.

From the President’s case for the war, as delivered in his State of the Union address in January of 2003 and elsewhere (HT: OTB):

The threat of a rogue nation with WMD’s for their own use or transference to terrorists is the gravest threat to the U.S. [Something both the President and Senator Kerry generally agreed with during last year’s debates. – ed.]

Saddam Hussein agreed, as a component of the cease-fire to end the 1991 Gulf War, where I served as a Marine, admitted possession of and agreed to destroy his WMD’s. Further, the UNSC endorsed the cease-fire in Resolution 687, requiring Hussein to disclose the locations and manner in which his WMD’s were destroyed, and to verification by the U.N.’s weapons inspectors, which was supposed to last four months.

Saddam Hussein failed to account for his WMD’s, and through intimidation, coercion and various forms of manipulation he attempted to prevent U.N. inspectors from determining the nature and capabilities of his weapons programs and the existing (or destroyed) weapons caches, despite 12 years of U.N. resolutions and the threat of war.

As late as 1998, inspectors found evidence of vast amounts of various WMD’s or the capabilities to produce them, and after Saddam's eviction of UN inspectors in 1998, the U.S. launched Operation Desert Fox against Hussein. If Saddam destroyed the weapons and programs, he did so in continuing violation of international law and the cease-fire agreement, which did not allow for unilateral disarmament but required verification of the destruction of the stockpiles, programs and research associated with WMD’s.

As evidenced by the attacks of September 11th, 2001, we cannot wait until the threat is “imminent” and must ensure that it does not become so. The previous year’s State of the Union address noted that Iraq, along with other Axis of Evil nations, was a “grave and growing danger.” Hence the effort to have U.N. support for the war, as no one would expect or require U.N. support to repel an imminent threat.

Saddam Hussein has murdered, tortured, and oppressed the people of Iraq and started two wars.

No connection between 9/11 and Saddam is evident or suggested, however, it is clear that Saddam Hussein has hosted, supported and protected terrorist and al-Qaeda members prior to 9/11 and afterwards.

Our liberation of Iraq, and by extension relieving the threat of further aggression from Saddam Hussein and the potential for terrorists to partner with Hussein, should be hailed on its on merits. That afterwards, we have remained an active participant in the reconstruction of the nation, aligned against terrorist who seek to destroy Iraq’s fledgling government and prevent its further development, should also be praised. The voting of Iraqi’s doesn’t vindicate our actions. It is yet another sign of the truth of our objective, we did not go to conquer, but to free. In defense of our freedom, we have lain the foundation to another’s, and while their future remains untold, it is most certainly one of their own, rather than the one of Saddam Hussein.

Other Homespun Responses:
Nixon's Memoirs
Secure Liberty
Ruah
The Redhunter
Ogre's Politics and Views
Major Dad 1984
Dagney's Rant

February 1, 2005

Our Place

In a previous blog entry, I noted three columns worthy of some attention. The three deal with to varying degrees America’s place in the world, our use of power, in particular soft-power, and the move by much of the world to non-American spawned means of economic, social or political governance. By way of introduction, a brief review of each column, and then my thoughts.

Europe Is the Next Rival Superpower.
But Then, So Was Japan.
by Jonathan Rauch, National Journal

The premise, gained by no more than the title, is that many are proclaiming Europe to be the next superpower, or moreover, that Europe is a superpower. Rauch, to his credit, shows a bit of restraint or skepticism, yet he like, Rifkin, Reid and Leonard, who he quotes, portrays the sense that America isn’t what she used to be or never was. At least not in the use her influence or soft power, and he dutifully derides American culture as "cowboy individualism" while the Europeans are seen as having a communitarian ethos that "better suits the times."

The Bushies’ New Groove
by David Brooks, NYTimes

In a nutshell, Brooks details his impression that the Bush administration has a renewed vigor for building during the second term, as opposed to tearing down, i.e. war, in the first. He notes that the administration has even shown a strong appreciation of soft power for this term and is looking beyond the Middle East. Perhaps because he writes for the Times, he has the obligatory, not sure where they’ll use it (soft power) comment but all else aside, a fine column.

Dream On America
The U.S. Model: For years, much of the world did aspire to the American way of life. But today countries are finding more appealing systems in their own backyards.
by Andrew Moravcsik, Newsweek International

The central thesis: Anti-American sentiment isn’t an aberration and U.S. soft power isn’t as influential as it once was in the face of alternatives from Europe or Asia. There are dubious statements that weaken his argument, and the glossing over, or outright ignoring, of factors that are antithetical to his view. And still, it’s a good read and at a minimum may lead some to ask, what is America’s place in the world.

America’s Place

The reward of guiding men or nations to freedom is seldom, if ever, their eternal gratitude. The effervescent feeling of "free at last" is quickly replaced by the needs and desires of day-to-day life and governance. While many nations, and peoples, are fondly pro-American in their stance in the days following their deliverance from war, enemies at arms, or economic peril, it is wrong to believe that it will last indefinitely. We should neither expect, nor feel shorted, when time passes and those who had been concerned with survival turn a cold shoulder to the U.S. after shifting to the higher challenges of self-governance, foreign policy, or creating economic opportunity.

Whether it is the European nations who survived with American intervention and continued presence, or Japan, whose world view was so thoroughly reconstructed and improved, the evidence of American might was unquestionably clear in the 20th century. Both, however, experienced more than the military capability of the U.S. The American spirit guided our actions as the U.S. strove not to remake them into American satellites, but instead to free them to a course of their own selection. Just as we’ve begun to do in Iraq and Afghanistan.

It is common, even here, to discuss the anti-American sentiment of much of the world. In doing so, I, like many others, often fail to distinguish between those who culturally express disagreement with the U.S. and those who express through economic or foreign policy anti-U.S. objectives. With the advent of the European Union, this is far too easy to do, as much of the EU can be seen as anti-U.S. while the nations that make up the EU are more apt to simply be hands stretching for greater opportunity. France excluded. ;)

We have taken a leading role in the development of freedom and opportunity throughout the world not by our drive, but rather out of the absence of such leadership from older nations or soft powers such as the UN. Of course, national security has led the way in determining where and when we would exert overt force, and diplomatic and economic force have long been the standard elsewhere. As such, how is it that others see our influence waning?

It is simply a matter of the shrinking world. As Drezner notes, there are fewer poor dictators around and therefore fewer people living under the circumstances that most glaringly differ from the life of Americans. This is a sign of success. That those who’ve recently been freed may choose to become more European, Indian, or Japanese in their economic or political being, reflects only on our past success and as a reminder that where we have stepped in, it has lead to much gain.

Should the President’s administration increase its reliance on soft power? Yes and no. Build alliances, strengthen bonds, and compromise when the parties involved are aligned with the interest of those who are at greatest risk. Otherwise, if necessary, stand alone as a light unto others.

January 31, 2005

Downing

Ansar al-Islam has claimed responsibility for the downing of a British C-130 Hercules that killed 10 British service men. al-Jazeera showed video of the missile launch and subsequent crash. The video is now available from Fox News.

Morning Reading

Just a few items well worth consideration...

Arthur Chrenkoff has the 20th edition of underreported good news from Iraq. The list is long, and I for one am happy to see it.

Dan Darling, at Winds of Change, offers an excellent review of the gamble, and loss, of Zarqawi.

Reuters is reporting from the Sudan that the U.N.’s long awaited report on Darfur, will NOT conclude that it is genocide. Given that they can’t call suicide bombings, or rockets from the Palestinian territories terrorism, should we be surprised? And to think, last week they were playing to the crowds with affirmations to never again permit genocide.

Undersecretary of State John Bolden is talking with Middle Eastern nations about Iran’s nuclear aspirations.

From Time, an article describing the increased number of Russian spies in the U.S. They claim it is as significant a number as during the Cold War. It’s good to be allies. Right?

The Times Online offers a hopeful picture of a declining kingdom. Of course, if true, this too could make the risk of aggresive action greater.

An interesting discussion on the ethics of blogging for money: John, Hugh, LeShawn and Karol.

And finally, the Watcher extends his weekly offer of linkage.

January 30, 2005

Voting Underway

Nearly four and a half hours into the elections in Iraq. There have been few incidents of violence thus far, and despite them, the crowds are growing at most polling stations. Fox News is broadcasting live throughout the night (day in Iraq) and thus far it has been good coverage from Mosul and inside the Green Zone. Blue fingers rule!

January 29, 2005

To Iraq and Her Friends

The vote in Iraq is nearly 3 hours from beginning. In 14 countries it has begun. There are few things I’d like to offer prior to the elections. To the coalition forces in Iraq, to the men and women who are working to build a free nation, to the citizens voting for a free and democratic nation, to the morally confused media, and finally, to the terrorist who are threatening those who vote, I have a short number of things to share with you.

No matter the nation that sent you, no matter your service, religion, race, or political ideology, I want to thank those who serve in the coalition of the willing. Your efforts are not forgotten. Your sacrifice, and the lives of those who’ve been injured or died beside you, will not be forgotten. What was once a despotic regime of terror is no more. And in its place, the people of Iraq will build a more free and hopeful nation. Thank you.

To the American military who serves in Iraq, or elsewhere, a special thanks, for you are leading the effort to do that which is right and just in defense of your nation, and for those who may not recognize your sacrifice. Thank you.

To the employees and aid workers of all sorts who have taken to the streets of Iraq, your hours of toil, your personal risk, and your desire to be a part of something greater than yourself will not be in vain. You too, have lost friends and coworkers to the hands of villains of the worst kind, and they too are not to be forgotten. I will not, nor will those who stand with me, forget your diligence and perseverance. Thank you.

To the Iraqi voters, I don’t know where to start. You, like the brave men who liberated your nation, are heroes. Vote! Hold your blue tipped index fingers in the sky in defiance and yell to the heavens that you’ve voted. While night envelopes my home and you will be in my prayers; morning on your streets will be a new beginning for you and your nation. And here at home, far from the danger you will face, I will be thankful to those of you who will brave the streets and take what is yours. Take Iraq and make her anew.

To the media… I will not read your headlines, no matter what violence may or may not occur; I will not fall for your condemnations or your dour predictions. I understand that you are supposed to be free and objective. I await evidence of your ability to be.

And finally, to the filth of man, the most abhorrent of all, the supposed holy warriors fighting against the occupiers or the new government, to you I offer but one thing. Be warned. You had the gall to threaten those who vote not out of vice or avarice, but out of duty to build, where there was nothing, something great. You have attacked and killed men, women and children who serve the same god that you claim to serve, but we know better. You serve yourself and none other. Be warned! Our brave Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines are looking for you. They’ll bring you to justice. And long after they’ve gone, the good people of Iraq will recall your warnings, your bombs and your murder, it is you who will perish. The eternal desert of hell will be your home. For Iraq will again rise to be an oasis, a blooming flower for all to see that hope is never to be lost. Not while we remember.

January 26, 2005

Davos

Confounded. That’s the word that sums up the way I felt after reading that Prime Minister Tony Blair believes that in order for the world to join the U.S. in our agenda, we must join in theirs. The U.S. agenda is summed up by the spread of liberty, in all its many facets of life, whether economic, civil or religious. The world’s agenda that Prime Minister Blair was speaking of is the Kyoto Protocol and the International Finance Facility, both of which can, and should, be seen as directly counter to the agenda of the United States.

It is admirable that the Prime Minister is so eager to assist the poorer nations of the world, and further to seek a balance between economic prosperity and environmental responsibilities, as he stated. Unfortunately, neither the Kyoto Protocol nor the IFF would accomplish his aims. What both would do is to further burden the economy of the United States while creating additional world debt to provide aid rather than providing systems whereby those in crisis are able to establish the tools necessary to self-sustain.

Somehow though, the Prime Minister’s comments where the least odd among those reported from Davos. Take Jacques Chirac’s reaffirmation of his desire for international taxation to be used to fight AIDS. His ideas – tax international financial transactions, tax airline tickets, tax maritime and airline fuel, or taxing capital movement in nations which permit banking secrecy. While the old taxer is correct that the size of the tax, particularly on financial transactions, could be very small, he is well aware that once the seal is broken, the likelihood of future, and larger, international taxation will increase.

And then we have the Chinese blustering about the weakness, or rather, the "instability" of the U.S. dollar, this from a nation whose currency is pegged, for now. Did the dollar become unstable when it climbed over the last two months, or during the nearly 3 yearlong decline? My guess is it happened when China realized that its climb represents a greater level of confidence in the U.S., and our policies, following the election and preceding the Iraqi election. So take a shot at it while you can, and before the G7 gets together again. Which leads to the question of the G7 and whether or not more pressure will be placed on China to loosen the yuan. Asian gamblers are betting on the yuan having its reigns removed, wishfully, and the real money seems to be on little being done by the G7 just yet, and therefore, little being done by Beijing. What’s this got to do with the price of tea in China?

Generally I’ve come to believe that the Chinese are actively moving to weaken the U.S., even if only in the eyes of those the Chinese are wooing, while increasing the diplomatic, economic and military reach of China’s sphere of influence. If we ignore the slight diplomatic gestures such as their blustering today, we will find an increase in the number of nations that are confident in their ability to stand against the U.S. in a variety of manners. Where many once walked with trepidation, others will skip and dance before us. My take thus far is that the agenda in Davos has been to challenge the U.S. rather than to determine the means for other nations to increase their economic opportunities. Looks like all is just as it has been.

Dark Becomes Light

On days like this, it is useful to remember that darkness precedes light. And along comes Arthur Chrenkoff to provide some good news from the Middle East. He also has a post showing that while the media trumpets the "escalation" of violence leading up the election in Iraq, the liberators have seen a 50% drop in violence. Even if only a temporary lull before the election, it is welcome and potentially a sign of the weakness of the terrorist, being incapable of keeping up the pace of violence.

Guerillas

An Italian judge, Clementina Forleo, ruled that three men, who were accused of recruiting suicide bombers to be sent to Iraq, are "guerillas" rather than terrorist. Clearly the judge has fallen victim to the media’s version of the violence in Iraq being an insurgency rather than a continuation of islamofascist violence against the civilians, government, and U.S. forces securing the nation while it is rebuilt. Rightly, the ruling has caused a great deal of anger around the world and in Italy. In three years, we can look forward to the release of the three who were convicted of assisting in illegal immigration and dealing in false documents.

One other alternative view might be that the judge was following the U.N.’s lead. The world body has not as of yet determined what an acceptable definition of terrorism is.

And then in France, 11 were arrested for recruiting "insurgents" to go Iraq. Eurabia anyone...

A Collection on Just War

In a previous post, I’ve mentioned Tom’s on going series on Just War Theory. Joe Carter, of the Evangelical Outpost, points to two other discussions of Just War Theory. One, by Mark Olson, is a worthy, if mis-numbered, review of the Theory with a conclusion that reviews many wars and their applicability as either Just or Unjust. The second, by Jon Trainer, offers a brief statement of the principles of Just War Theory, and a look out how Biblical passages can be viewed to support Just War.

All are interesting takes on the subject, and recommended.

The Redhunter

Introduction to Just War Theory
I. Recourse to War - jus ad bellum

  1. Just Cause
  2. Competent Authority
  3. Comparative Justice
  4. Right Intention
  5. Last Resort
  6. Probability of Success
  7. Proportionality

II. Conduct in War - jus in bello

  1. Discrimination
  2. Proportionality

Pseudo-Polymath

On Just War (Part 1)
On Just War (Part 2) Who?
On Just War (Part 2) Why?
On Just War (Part 3) How?
On Just War: Conclusion

Personal Trainer

A Just War?

Enjoy.


January 25, 2005

Pogrom

Yesterday the United Nations marked the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz with a special commemoration ceremony. Over the last 30 years the U.N. has been seen a progressively becoming more anti-Semitic and the commemoration was an effort to deflect some of that criticism. The same U.N. which still has not determined if genocide is taking place in the Sudan, or defined terrorism due to the unwillingness of Arab and Muslim nations to come to terms with Islamist and Palestinian terror. And then there is the news that a group of Russian lawmakers are attempting to outlaw Jewish religious and ethnic organizations as extremist.

The pogroms of years gone by are quickly forgotten in much of the world where men attribute their woes to those who, for no other reason than being Jewish, are seen as the cause of all ills. Putin, and the Duma, should act immediately to secure the religious freedom of Jews in Russia, or else, the sentiments of a minority, given the inaction of men of good will, will once again have a foothold in a nation known for its history of persecuting Jews. In just the last 130 years, the Russian’s under the Czar, guided by Constantine Pobedonostev, or the Soviet Union, and it’s state sponsored anti-Semitism, the Jews of Russia, and allied states, have been under nearly constant attack.

Pobedonostev advocated that one third of all Jews be converted to Christianity, one third be expelled from Russia, and one third be put to death. Being a Jew in Russia was to be illegal. In the Soviet Union, from its outset, being Jewish was a high risk, even among the non-practicing Jews, three of the five leaders of the Revolution where non-practicing Jews, the Jewish people and Judaism where seen as a threat to the state.

---

Today, we fight an islamofascist movement hell-bent on destroying Western civilization, both from within, and from afar. One of the primary characteristics of this movement is its anti-Semitism. And at a time when many of us are concerned that Vladimir Putin has taken steps that limit freedom and public participation in government in Russia, we witness a reminder of the fickle nature of man and his ability to forget the lessons of history. Our silence on the murders in Darfur, the moral ambiguity of the United Nations, and our inability to recognize the nature of islamofascism, whether in the Palestinian territories or Iraq, are not signs that bode well for our ability to recognize the warning signs of a renewal of anti-Semitic movements around the world. Our eyes and ears must remain attuned to the threats within us, just as we are watchful to the threats from abroad. Link via Sherry.

January 19, 2005

Oil, Yukos and Sino-Russian Relations

It appears that Vladimir Putin gets what he wants. He wanted to renationalize the oil industry in Russia, and he has effectively done so. And with the help of China no less.

A U.S. bankruptcy court blocked the sell of Yukos to Gazprom, the largest oil producer in Russia, of which the Kremlin owns 36%. So what does the Kremlin do, it auctions off Yugansk, the core component of Yukos to an unheard of company, Baikal Group, which is then sold to the state owned Rosneft. Rosneft, a 100% Kremlin owned business, is now to be merged with Gazprom, and viola, Putin gets what Putin wants. Gazprom will be majority owned by the Kremlin and be the largest oil producer, or nearly, in the world.

To fund Rosneft’s purchase of Yugansk, the Chinese National Petroleum Corporation (CNCP) may loan $6 billion to Rosneft (the Kremlin).

So that leaves the Russian oil industry effectively renationalized (over 50% Kremlin owned) and backed by nationalized Chinese oil. Taken with todays earlier post, it becomes even more concerning.

U.S., China, and EU Issues

Gertz’s column from the Washington Times, briefly noted here, needs further attention. It is surprising that it has received so little analysis from the blogosphere thus far, or perhaps we are all just focused on other issues. And speaking of other issues, it seems we are rather quite on yet another significant China related issue, the EU and arms sales to China.

First thoughts.

It is clear, as Gertz covers the contents of the Energy Futures in Asia report, that China has taken significant steps to ensure their supply of oil from the Middle East. Earlier this year there was speculation that China’s increased oil purchases were perhaps hoarding, as it outpaced the expected demand, and Chinese demand has continued to beat expectations. As Gertz points out, China has taken steps to create a “string of pearls” between the Arabian Gulf and the South China Sea, to ensure that their supply is not interrupted. From the Chinese perspective, we are to believe that it is due to U.S. pre-emptive action in Iraq, and China’s concern over our unpredictable government that seeks to encircle China. The map belies their validity of their version of the story.

Gwadar, Pakistan, is the home of a new naval base and listening post for the Chinese navy. This, the most western of ports discussed in the report, gives China the reach to monitor naval traffic through the shipping lane from the Arabian, or if the Mullahs insist, Persian, Gulf to the southern tip of the Indian subcontinent.

To monitor the Bay of Bengal and down through the Strait of Malaaca, China has bases in Burma. They’ve also given extensive military aid to the military regime holding reign over Burma.

To lessen the necessity of the Strait of Malaaca, China is said to be considering a canal through the Isthmus of Kra in Thailand. Given the enormous amount of traffic through the Strait, and the waters bordering Malaysia, Indonesia, and Singapore, this would at a best be a measure to reduce risk in the narrow shipping lane or more likely, to provide an alternative path more direct to Chinese controlled waters.

In the southern portions of the South China Sea, China has increased its military establishment on the island of Hainan and improved its military airstrip on Woody Island. Woody Island is interesting due to its location in the Paracel Islands and the extension of China’s eyes and ears farther out into the South China Sea.

Here’s a map, from David Rosenberg of Middlebury College, of the shipping lanes through the region.

In conjunction with the Chinese efforts to develop greater military projection capabilities, the report also points to the concern China has for a military response from the U.S. should China invade Taiwan. We don’t say it often enough. The U.S. would respond and defend Taiwan. Are they right to be concerned about such a response? Yes. Will it keep them from making the mistake of invading? Who knows? We do know that without the clear language that we would respond, we will be more likely to see such an invasion.

This all comes at a time when our naval forces are considered stretched and others are considering cutting weapons systems from the defense budget. Let’s be clear. It is, or would be, a great thing to see the military increase its ability to fight in a more netcentric and small unit manner. I believe the idea of eliminating heavier capabilities or programs that replace the heavy weight systems without adequate specialized replacements would be harmful, should we ever come face to face with the sheer girth of the Red Army.

EU Arms Sales

China wants the EU to end an arms embargo. Many European leaders agree that it is time to end the embargo. Their reasoning appears to be that it is a remnant of the Cold War. The U.S. has thus far stood resolute against it.

We should all be boisterous in our support for the administration as it goes toe to toe with the EU on the issue. The administration has expressed "fury” over the possibility, yet many in Europe, including in the U.K. continue to promote the idea that it is time. This despite the EU’s vaunted claims to be advocates of human rights, of which China is among the most egregious violators, or the clear ramifications that such a move would have a significant chilling effect on U.S. – EU relations. Why then would the EU take up the issue at this time, aside from the fact that China is seeking such a move?

Money. As we know, Europe is aging, its economic outlook is not shining bright, and to maintain the incredible cost of failed social programs, new markets must be found. China is just such a market, as was Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. What the Europeans have shown, as recently as today when they demanded Thailand purchase six A380 aircraft at a cost that is in the range of all the aid the Europeans have sent to Southeast Asian tsunami victims or face a fishing tariff, is that money is their primary motive. Not good policy. Not freedom. Not liberty. And not charity.

This, and other topics, will continue later. And now linked into the Beltway Traffic Jam.

January 18, 2005

Evening Notes

Despite the valiant efforts of Arthur Chrenkoff, and others, good news from Iraq is not given extensive coverage in the mainstream. In less than two weeks, the people of Iraq WILL VOTE. This is good news, even if there is violence and cries of illegitimacy. This weeks Homespun Symposium takes up the question of the elections in Iraq. While my answer will have to wait... others issues will not.

Candidates Killed

Three candidates for office in Iraq have been killed. It is my sincere hope that the Iraqi people recognize these men as patriots for free Iraq. It is unclear what their political views may or may not have been, other than party affiliation or being of the Sunni (2) and Shi’a faith, but these men have chosen to participate despite the obvious threats and intimidation, and have given their lives for Iraq. For that, they should be remembered.

Additionally, a homicide bomber blew up his vehicle at a security gate outside the SCIRI offices in Baghdad. SCIRI is a Shi'a party, seen by many as close to Iran, and a party likely to have some success in the upcoming elections. Two guards were reportedly killed.

D.C. Standoff

A man in a red van has threatened to blow it up. Some reports claim that this a domestic issue, he wants his daughter back, and the authorities are apparently still in talks with him.

China and the Big Blue

A must read article from Bill Gertz at the Washington Times. The Chinese are strengthening and lengthening their sea power. We'll discuss this more later tonight, hopefully with the aid of the blogosphere's better analysts.

January 17, 2005

No Way

Well, I haven't read the report, and may not, but the initial response I have to this story is NO.

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - More than 500 million people can escape abject poverty, 250 million people will no longer go to bed hungry and 30 million children can be saved if rich countries double development aid over the next 10 years to $195 billion, a new U.N.-sponsored report said on Monday.
Perhaps a few more words than no, like hell no, or no way, or under no circumstances. It is implausible. Only the UN could be so full of themselves as to report that they could practically wipe out hunger if only rich countries (read U.S., Australia, Japan, UK) would throw away twice the current amounts. That isn't to say that we shouldn't do more to aid the poor nations of the world, but not through the money grabbing/grubbing hands of the UN.

The report is available online here.

UPDATE: Looking through the report, the U.S. and Japan are the primary targets. In 2006 the difference for the U.S. would be $32.2 billion, of the $48 billion extra needed, over current expectations, and in 2015 it would be $51.5 billion of the $74 billion extra needed.

It doesn't appear that the entire amount flows through the UN, which is good news. More after reading the remainder of the report, and necessary background data.

Zhao Dies, China Shuts Off Discussion

Comrade Zhao Ziyang has died. The former general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party was by no means an agent of righteousness, yet he was a reform minded leader who was removed from office and placed under house arrest after the Tiananmen Square massacre in June 1989. His advocacy of the people, and of economic incentives for growth, and at least one large misstep when he said all decisions flow through Deng, even in retirement, led to failure.

It is striking how the Western media will praise him for being ahead of his time, and for his efforts to spur economic progress in China, and China, has closed the door to discussing him or his legacy. Little real progress has been made with regard to the Communist Parties control in China, and despite our rose colored glasses looking back, Zhao at best exemplified the socialist economic view, and at worst, played the fool in encouraging the people to stand before a party willing and able to crush them.

An extensive obituary from the Times.

Next

Last week it was Richard Sale, of UPI via the Washington Times, and the U.S. was mulling strikes on Syria, today, it’s Seymour Hersh, of the New Yorker, who quotes unnamed sources claiming commandos are already in Iran and Iran is next. Neither reporter has a clue, which will be next. Nor do I. Why, because both nations remain capable of turning the corner, however unlikely, and preventing any escalation of tensions or a possible invasion (or targeted strikes).

In his column, Hersh shows a continued contempt for the Bush administration, as he attempts to paint the “neocons” as subverting the law and congressional oversight while providing not a single source document showing the White House has shifted authority from traditional intelligence efforts to “black reconnaissance.” Nor does he address the realities of Iran and the absolute necessity for the U.S. to take a strong line with the Mullahs regarding nuclear weapons development or attempts to influence the Iraqi elections.

While he derides the administration for not participating in the EU Three’s attempt to bribe the Mullahs into NPT compliance, he relates that, yet another unnamed source, wonders how the White House can maintain its stance regarding Iran, without taking into context the weapons issue. Are we have to believe that Iran’s record of conduct, and the reason for previous sanctions, are no longer valid, while at the same time we are legitimately concerned that they are producing nuclear weapons and extending the reach of their delivery systems? So we should drop sanctions, rightfully imposed, in order to prevent additional wrongs. No.

Next is yet to be determined. And both Syria and Iran continue to present reasons for concern and possible action. Had the U.S. gone to war in Iraq with a resolute UN behind us, and with the full participation of the EU Three, Iran and Syria would have received a much stronger message and perhaps, terrorist would have killed fewer Iraqi patriots. The UN, and two thirds of the EU Three failed, so Iran and Syria continue to toy with the world, and it is up to the U.S. at this point to maintain some sense of control, and restraint, in the sandlot.

UPDATE: The Pentagon has responded - "His assertion is outrageous, and constitutionally specious." via Drudge.

January 13, 2005

Iran and the IAEA

On the 9th of January, we were informed that Iran, which had previously agreed to permit IAEA inspections of Parchin, would only permit green space environmental samples to be taken. No military facilities or gear would be inspected. Given that Parchin is a military complex, a rather significant stipulation, although it is possible that green spaces could prove that nuclear activities are conducted at Parchin, it will not be possible to prove they’ve not taken place there. As the AP reports today, Iran is “watchful” to ensure no espionage or intelligence theft.

And while the inspectors are on the ground, Hassan Rowhani, Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, told Japan’s deputy foreign minister that Iran will resume its enrichment activities shortly, under IAEA supervision.

President Khatami says Iran is an advocate of peace and cooperation for the world. While in Nigeria, on a state visit to seven African nations, he said “that given Islam's call on its followers to seek independence, justice and progress, Muslims will not give in to pressure and colonialism which account for the global arrogant powers' fear of Muslims.” Not exactly a message of peace.

As we’ve seen over the last several months, and throughout Khatami’s time in office, he isn’t the real power in Iran. While his words can on occasion be used to reflect moderate views, but the acts of the Mullah’s behind him are far from moderate.

January 11, 2005

The UN and The Barrier

Finally. After months of doing nothing, it appears the UN is finally going to take actions to create a register for claims against Israel for damages associated with the Israeli Defense Barrier.

Isn’t it shocking that months ago, October 7, 2004, the UN took up the study of genocide in the Sudan, and as of yet can’t make the simple word take form in either word or deed? And they’ve found yet another means to attack Israel in the name of the ever peace loving people of the Palestinian territories. We jest and share much banter about the insipid nature of the UN, and more often than not go right back to our conversations about how long Britney will be married (or not) and who will be the next winner of a horrendously boring far from reality television series.

The Israeli people on the other hand witness the barbaric nature of the Palestinian terrorist attacking them, take up arms in defense and are accused of being the aggressor. The UN spends its days and nights criticizing their every move, and lauding the plight of the Palestinian while Israel almost alone in the world stands firm and resolute in building a barrier to prevent the suicide homicide bombers from striking the heart of their cities. The UN, however, wants to aid those who’ve been damaged by the barriers being built.

If the Israeli’s build a system to prevent the firing of rockets from Gaza or the West Bank into Israeli homes, the UN is likely to support the terrorist claim that it prevents their rightful defense against Israeli oppression. And we still find time to discuss the merit of the UN as an agent of justice, peace and hope. Hard to fathom.

Here's a couple of links regarding the "Barrier". Israeli Security Fence and Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs - Saving Lives.

Headline Watch

Here's a well written headline for you to consider.

Iran Judiciary Denounces Alleged Torture
It comes from the AP and is followed by a report from Ali Akbar Dareini. Unfortunately the report shows that the Iranian judiciary did not denounce torture but denounced the journalist who are accusing the government of torturing them to force confessions for inciting people against the government.
Iran's hard-line judiciary on Tuesday denounced journalists who claimed they were tortured into making confessions, saying the newsmen were inciting people against the government.
Perhaps I missed something in the article. Let me know if you think I did.

January 10, 2005

A Gesture of Peace

Palestinian Authority President-elect Mahmoud Abbas has made a peace gesture to Israel. Or so says the AP.

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas extended his hand in peace Monday, his first gesture toward Israel since his landslide victory in presidential elections.

His remarks added to the sense of optimism felt in the region since Abbas' election Sunday. The victory, which capped a peaceful transition of power after the Nov. 11 death of Yasser Arafat, has raised hopes around the world that peace talks could soon resume.

"We extend our hands to our neighbors," Abbas declared late Monday after a meeting with international observers who monitored the election. "We are ready for peace, peace based on justice. We hope that their response will be positive."

Israel has welcomed Abbas' election, and even Palestinian militants expressed a willingness to work with him.

Once again we are led to believe that Abbas is a man of peace reaching out to Israel. This after his previous statements, see the preceding post, and his unwillingness to restrain, contain or imprison the terrorist within his party or territories.

Abbas has done nothing to warrant optimism. This isn’t to say that optimism is unfounded, it’s just unwarranted if based on the life or deeds of Mahmoud Abbas.

Abbas Elected Chief Terrorist President

The trend of the media to dilute truth through reporting with a purported objectivity continues today. And governments around the world, including our own, are lending a helping and welcoming hand.

Mahmoud Abbas has been elected president of the Palestinian Authority. World leaders from Germany, Russia, Great Britain and the United States have quickly congratulated Abbas and are speaking of him as an advocate of peace between Israel and the Palestinian people. Evidence to the contrary is rarely reported. It may be that in the interests of peace, we are quick to welcome him in hopes of making strides in the long stalled peace process. It may be that when compared to his mentor, the man he dedicated his victory to, Yassir Arafat, he is a peace loving man.

Doubt it, yep. And so does Charles Krauthammer who reminds us how Abbas campaigned.

Dec. 30: Abbas, appearing in Jenin, is hoisted on the shoulders of Zakaria Zbeida, a notorious and wanted al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades terrorist. Abbas declares that he will protect all terrorists from Israel.

Dec. 31: Abbas reiterates his undying loyalty to Arafat's maximalist demands: complete Israeli withdrawal to the 1949 armistice lines, Jerusalem as the Palestinian capital and -- the red-flag deal-breaker -- the "right of return," which would send the millions of Palestinians abroad not to their own country of Palestine but to Israel in order to destroy it demographically.

Jan. 1: Abbas declares that he will never crack down on Palestinian terrorism.

Jan. 4: Abbas calls Israel "the Zionist enemy." That phrase is so odious that only Hezbollah and Iran and others openly dedicated to the extermination of Israel use it.

What of Abbas's vaunted opposition to violence? On Jan. 2 he tells Hamas terrorists firing rockets that maim and kill Jewish villagers within Israel, "This is not the time for this kind of act." This is an interesting "renunciation" of terrorism: Not today, boys; perhaps later, when the time is right. Which was exactly Arafat's utilitarian approach to terrorism throughout the Oslo decade.

Clearly the majority of Palestinian's preferred Abbas. Do they support the english speaking man of peace and opportunity, or the terrorist?

January 6, 2005

From the Ministry of Truth

Yes, the Saudi Ministry of Truth.

Cairo, Jan. 6, SPA -- The Arab Media Standing Committee has urged the Arab media to continue focusing on denunciating Israeli measures, arrangements, legislations aiming at changing the legal status of the holy city of al Quds and confirming that they are null and void and contrary to legitimate resolutions and international norms and charters.

The committee, to which Dr. Abdullah Aljaser, Undersecretary of the Saudi Ministry of Culture and Information for Information Affairs, led his country's delegation, also drew the attention of the international public opinion to the threats endangering Aqsa mosque.

I'm sure we are all concerned for the highly endangered Masjid al-Aqsa. My greatest concern for it is that the rotting terrorist remains of Yassir Arafat never make it into the compound. It is unlikely that the Israeli's are a threat to the Masjid.

Hellfire and Ammo

So we’ll sell Hellfire missiles to Taiwan, and they’ll supply the U.S. with ammunition.

The Hellfire missile deal –

US defense contractor Lockheed Martin says the US army has signed a letter of agreement with Taiwan to sell more than 400 Hellfire missiles in a deal worth US$50 million.

The Ministry of National Defense did not respond to the Lock-heed Martin announcement, citing its standard procedure of not commenting on arms purchases.
The Lockheed statement said the deal would involve the sale of more than 400 AGM-114M blast-fragmentation Hellfire rounds. Hellfire is an air-to-ground, laser-guided, subsonic missile with significant antitank capacity.

It can also be used as an air-to-air weapon against helicopters or slow-moving fixed-wing aircraft.

"The Taiwanese Hellfire purchase comprises the largest part of the US government's Hellfire missile ... contract award to Lockheed Martin. The new contract equates to approximately six months of activity on the Hellfire production line at Lockheed Martin's manufacturing plant in Troy, [Alabama]," the statement said.

The report goes on to say that 70% of the capacity of the plant will go to Taiwan, 5 to 10 percent to Israel and the remainder to the U.S. Armed Forces.

The ammunition deal –

Citing local military sources, the United Evening News said Washington had made the request to acquire some 300 million 5.56-millimeter bullets for rifles at unit prices ranging from NT$5 to NT$7 per piece depending on varying models.

The total transaction may amount to an estimated NT$2 billion (US$62.5 million) when including shipment and insurance costs.

Am I the only one who wouldn’t mind seeing a U.S. firm capable of providing ammunition to U.S. forces? Its great that there are nations willing and able to supply the ammo, and probably at a good price, yet it would be beneficial if we had the capacity to with the U.S.

Leading in Darfur

There is a worthwhile call for greater U.S. leadership in resolving the genocide in the Darfur region of the Sudan in today’s Daily Standard. Its author is Petty Officer Third Class Eddie Beaver who is stationed on the USS Kitty Hawk.

Aside from being a well-written incrimination of the UN’s efforts to resolve the Darfur crisis, Petty Officer Beaver has offered a method for stepped up leadership.

It's short and worth the read.

Chirac's Tax for Aid

French President Jacques Chirac has apparently called for an international tax to aid for aiding poor countries in times of crisis (source: Haaretz news flash).

19:14 French President Chirac calls for a new international tax for aiding poor countries at times of crisis
It should be clear that the nations of the world are capable and willing of responding when natural calamities and disasters occur, yet, for the tax happy internationalist such as Chirac, it will never be enough. The answer for Chirac, and others, who will undoubtedly follow his lead, is to further increase the scope of international law, and the UN’s reach, so that nations pay in advance and the UN and other bureaucrats get their share.

It isn’t going to happen, but it shows that despite the billions in aid available now, that the tax monkeys aren’t satisfied until it rests in their hands.

January 5, 2005

Sudan Details Released

For those hopeful for an end to Muslim - Christian violence in the Sudan, however, not the Darfur region, the details of the UN negotiated agreement were released today. Some may find them promising. Others, such as I, do not.

The forces must pull out within 2 1/2 years, while a proposed government for the autonomous southern Sudan will field a separate army using its share of oil and tax revenues as well as international aid, rebel spokesman Samson Kwaje said.

"It will be a legitimate department of the government of southern Sudan," Kwaje told The Associated Press, detailing the peace accord signed Friday to resolve a conflict that has contributed to the deaths of 2 million people in the past two decades.

The rebels, meanwhile, have eight months to withdraw their forces from northern Sudan. They must pull out 30 percent of their fighters within four months of a signing ceremony scheduled for Jan. 9 in Kenya, said Ad'Dirdeiry Hamed, deputy Sudanese ambassador to Kenya.

The rebel pullout will cover the Nuba Mountains, land along the southern Blue Nile and Abyei, areas now held by the insurgents but which the government considers to be a traditional part of northern Sudan, Hamed said.

The rebel Sudan People's Liberation Army and government forces also agreed in a cease-fire deal signed in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, on Friday that their allied paramilitary groups in southern Sudan must either be disarmed or join rebel and government forces in the next year, Kwaje said.

Rebels wanted this to happen in six months, "but we wanted more time because this is a sensitive issue," government spokesman Sayed El-Khatib told the AP.
Also, government and rebel forces each will contribute 20,000 troops to new, integrated army units. Rebels and the government also agreed to demobilize an unspecified number of troops, Kwaje said.

Sudanese government and rebel officials wrapped up two years of peace talks Friday by signing the cease-fire and endorsing a detailed plan to resolve the two decades of conflict in southern Sudan that killed an estimated 2 million people, mostly from war-induced famine and disease. The war pitted the Arab-dominated north against southern rebels consisting mainly of Christians and animists.

Under the accord, Sudan will rewrite the constitution to ensure that Islamic law, or Sharia, is not applied to non-Muslims anywhere in the country, Kwaje said.
U.N. and U.S. officials hope a solution to the civil war will spur a resolution to a separate conflict between government-backed forces and rebels in the western Darfur region, where disease and hunger have killed 70,000 people since March. Nearly 2 million people are believed to have fled their homes since the start of the Darfur crisis.

Perhaps I've become somewhat jaded.

It seems that after two decades of war, 2 million or more dead, and another region of the Sudan now engulfed in a genocide, that any deal that permits the government of the Sudan to maintain control of the nation, even if it outlines such safeguards as prohibiting the implementation of Shari’a law on non-Muslims, only guarantees the perpetuation of violence. Now we’ll have a better armed south, the existing northern forces and a new force made up of both but loyal to whom?

UPDATE: SPLM Leader John Garang will be first vice president in the new Sudanese government following this weekend's signing of the agreement.

Just Another IAEA Member

It appears that the Mullahs are shrewdly and adeptly manipulating the IAEA, and the world, and have once again set the stage to weaken U.S. attempts at bringing their suspected NPT violations before the UN Security Council.

VIENNA, Austria (AP) - Iran has agreed to grant access to a military site the United States links to a secret nuclear weapons program and the first U.N. inspectors could arrive "within days," the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency said Wednesday.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Mohamed ElBaradei also criticized reported U.S. bugging of his phone conversations, saying such actions cripple his agency's ability to act independently of national agendas.

And in comments sure to annoy the United States, which insists Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons, ElBaradei suggested the time was approaching to wind down 2 1/2 years of intense focus on Iran's activities and treat Tehran as just another IAEA member.

The U.N. nuclear watchdog agency has been pressing Tehran for months to be allowed to inspect the Parchin military complex, used by the Iranians to research, develop and produce ammunition, missiles and high explosives. On Wednesday, he said IAEA experts could be in Parchin "within days or weeks."

So El Baradei believes that the Iran should be treated as “just another IAEA member.” Under the IAEA’s watch Pakistan, India, Libya, South Korea, Egypt, Brazil, Iran and others have either experimented with or completed development of nuclear weapons. Only North Korea, of all nations, had the decency to withdraw their membership before developing nuclear weapons.

Parchin has most likely been cleaned up to the degree necessary to satisfy the IAEA. After all, the IAEA clearly prefers to believe that no nation is developing weapons. Should we be so naïve?

January 4, 2005

Paulie and the UN

One of my favorite blogs is The Commons at Paulie World. Each of the bloggers who post to The Commons makes for a good read and generally makes an argument that I would be loath to dispute. Yet there are occasions, even among generally likeminded men, such as today, when we disagree. Paulie has written a piece on the United Nations where he argues that we should not pull out of the UN and that Kofi Annan should not be forced to resign.

Much of Paulie’s argument is based on the United Nations role in preventing war in the 20th Century and with giving a voice to the many small and otherwise unheard nations of the world. My take is different.

The United Nations did not prevent or limit the wars of the latter 20th Century. Nuclear weapons in the hands of both the United States and the Soviet Union did. The idea that diplomats are able to be diplomatic due to the UN and therefore war is averted is false. The reason for the avoidance of war for 40 plus years, particular the catastrophic war between the US and USSR, was the recognition of the totality of destruction that would inevitably have come with such a battle. Europe’s peace over the last 59 years can be attributed more to the NATO alliance, backed primarily by the US, standing before the Soviet than by the UN’s diplomatic round table.

There are, of course, benefits to having a body, such as the UN, for countries to address grievances, to seek aid, and to monitor their neighbors and mutual agreements, yet the UN has failed to prevent the specific type of war that spawned its creation in the first place. Whether in the Balkans, the Levant or in Africa, wars continue to rage fueled by bigotry of one form or another, and the UN has consistently been either late to intercede or failed to do so completely.

There are valid arguments to be made concerning the US funding of the UN, the attacks on sovereignty of nations via UN agencies and treaties, and the various forms of corruption associated with the UN. But in the end, the UN is a failure not due to those issues, but due to the membership door being open to so many who do not ascribe to the basic tenants of civil society, human rights and free enterprise. By allowing such nations to act as full members, some even with a veto at the Security Council, the UN is shown to be morally ambivalent at best and in many cases to be immorally aligned with enemies of life and liberty.

In the end, little will come of the quest to withdraw the US from the UN, or with the demands for Annan to go. Yet one small thing does come from such a position, we stand on principle against that which does not represent our values, and in doing so, share a bit more of the nature of our people which has led not only to our success, but to our ability to recognize the failure of our own creation. Like Paulie, I agree that there are times when foreign aid, even as a means to buy support, is an acceptable alternative to war, however, the middle man, the UN, does not serve the interest of either the US or the smaller nation receiving aid, he simply increases the cost of doing business.

Should we withdraw our support from the UN? Yes. Will we? Not any time soon. And as the UN’s weakness was seen in its inability to stand behind, with force, its agreements with Saddam Hussein, our unwillingness to close the doors on the UN shows our weakness and perpetuates the cycle that has developed largely over the last 15 years.

The Quiet War

As a Marine, I was instructed, on many occasions, on the impact of the fog of war, and the means to either combat it or utilize it, both personally and within the unit, be it fire team, squad or platoon. The mention of war today generally brings to mind either Iraq or the greater global war on terror. Neither reflects the extent of the war, the quiet war, we are struggling to win.

When discussing Iraq, supporters and detractors of the decision to liberate the nation express concern that the unyielding, seemingly inexhaustible supply of men willing to commit horrible acts of terror, subterfuge, murder and suicide are so resolute in their efforts to prevent elections, force the Allied forces to withdraw, and generally disrupt any objective of either the Allies or the interim government. Without hard data, it seems that the terrorist have killed more Iraqi, and Muslim, people than the invasion and subsequent battles did. Just as Saddam Hussein’s regime did the same. And still Muslim volunteers arrive from Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia and farther away in order to offer their life, or death, to the cause.

The greatest success of the global war on terror is undoubtedly the removal of the U.S. as the primary battleground (although our soil, and that of our allies, are not safe). This, in addition to the elimination of Afghanistan as a training ground, and the removal of Saddam Hussein’s regime as a potential client and supporter of the terrorist, is a significant victory and should the islamo-fascist forces of al-Qaeda be the only enemy actively at war with the U.S., we would feel some level of satisfaction, although incomplete. But there are more, many more, and many of them are adept at using the fog of war to move, unnoticed, closer to their objectives.

Prior to the United States joining, better late than never, World War I, and being taken into the second World War after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the U.S. had maintained a degree, although by no means complete, of separation from the war, as our government’s policy remained significantly isolationist, and the world’s great wars raged far from American soil. Communism, and the advent of nuclear weapons, changed much about how we regarded threats and our willingness to advocate unalienable rights for Americans while ignoring the rights of men not born on American soil or of American parents. Our leaders, misplacing their belief in the good of man, as the good in mankind, worked to establish and support the United Nations. And then of course, there was the rebirth of Israel.

While the world was clearly divided by two nations powerful enough to destroy the earth and great enough to not do so, the United Nations, and its dictators, despots and tyrants with membership cards were held in check. This is clearly no longer the case.

The UN is incapacitated by its corrupt members and finds no greater purpose than to aid the likes of Hussein and to condemn Israel for its defense against terrorist. The IAEA has been found gutless and incompetent in its efforts to confront nations violating the NPT, as was our own government when the Clinton Administration looked the other way while North Korean armed itself to the point that hope no longer exist for the reunification of Korea without the fall of one or both capitals. The EU3 do a song and dance before the Iranian negotiators only to be deceived and in hopes we will follow them into the “see no evil” blind mice performing arts center of Paris.

Thusly, enemies of the United States have found greater means to trade amongst themselves, and with our supposed allies. China hordes resources, continues to expand the worlds largest military, and befriends the Russian military, and we are busy looking the other way. Just as Sandy Berger accidentally walked away with confidential documents stuffed in his skivvies, the Chinese, North Koreans, Iranians and others are mounting an accidental campaign to weaken and isolate the U.S. The only accident is being caught. And we must prosecute those who cross the boundaries to make war with the U.S. whether it is the shot of a gun or the economic vice grip resulting from horded natural resources. The quiet war is upon us, and while Sandy sips champagne apparently unfettered with consequences from his paper panties, we must not be so blinded by the fog that other nations creep upon us.

January 3, 2005

Elections Fore and Aft

The Palestinian Authority, Iraq, Iran, Egypt, Yemen, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia will hold elections in 2005 (as will the UK). While the year past saw elections in the United States, Australia, Afghanistan, Georgia and the Ukraine, the coming year's elections are less likely to represent or establish democratic tradition or governance. Not that the elections of 2004 didn’t have their weak spots.

In Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai was elected President in the first elections for newly liberated Afghanistan. The U.S. and allied nations celebrated the election and remain hopeful that Karzai will lead Afghanistan during the initial years of what may be a decades long journey toward effective self-governance, political stability and economic revitalization. In addition to leading a nation with little or no experience in democratic self-governance, Karzai’s Afghanistan has few of the institutions and systems in place to support rule of law, faces continued attacks from remnants of the Taliban and islamo-fascist supporters of al-Qaeda, and now must tackle the economic weakness of the nation while killing off the greatest cash crop in Afghanistan. It was a wonderful thing to see and hear of the elections in Afghanistan, but the battle is long from over and our support, patience and tutelage will be needed for another generation, at least.

Georgia’s elections were largely seen as a populist coup after the forced resignation of President Shevardnadze and the aligning of the National Movement with the Democratic Party, which led to President Saakashvili’s election. Saakashvili represents the classic dilemma for Western election watchers. While a pro-Western candidate, he vowed to fight corruption in his native land, and to establish greater economic opportunity for the impoverished nation, he has also taken steps that are strikingly non-democratic and smack of a new dictator at the door, such as the adoption of his party’s banner as the flag of Georgia, his first official act as President.

Then, of course, we have the election, and the second election, of Viktor Yushchenko in the Ukraine. Few would match the drama that played out in the streets and courts as Ukrainian citizens took a stand against the corruption of candidate Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych. We are hopeful that Yushchenko is of better character than his predecessor, President Leonid Kuchma, and sincerely interested in reform and progress for his nation, yet the election drama and the protest in the streets, including the blocking of Yanukovych from cabinet offices this past week are not confidence builders.

So what should we expect this year. Elections in the Middle East have, in general, meant little. This year’s should broadly be the same, except in the Palestinian Authority and Iraq, in large part because both have the potential to set a new course. The PA is not likely to do so, and Iraq will set a new course unless the people demand Saddam's release from jail and elect him.

It should be said that a democracy is of no greater value than the voters who make up the electorate and the laws that define it. In Egypt, we’ll see that the system is democratic in name only given that the voters have only a yes or no say in the re-election of President Mubarak, to a fifth six-year term. In years past the opposition has boycotted the election, further weakening the voice of the voter. In Iran, as in Yemen, a president is elected again this year. Yet it is unlikely that the real power in Iran will change as the Parliament was cleansed of reform minded members in 2004, and few, if any, reform oriented candidates will be on the ballots this year. There is speculation, given his comments, that former President Rafsanjani may again run for the office he once held. Given our inability to make progress with a so-called moderate president in office, 2005 looks to be a year of little peaceful reform in Iran. Oh yeah, in Saudi Arabia the men will vote in municipal elections. Whoop de…

It’ll be an interesting year for election monitors, but the real change in the Middle East will come in Iraq, and from force, as it came to Iraq or from within should the Arab ever decide that he too would choose life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness over King, Emir, Mullah, Sheikh, Imam and virgin baited hate monger. More later...

December 29, 2004

Riyadh

More details are coming forth from Riyadh.

It appears that the terrorist set off two car bombs, one near the Interior Ministry and the other at a recruitment center (not a Special Forces HQ as previously reported). Following the explosions, the terrorist were engaged by police. 9 terrorist and one bystander are reported dead.

It is simple to point back to Osama bin Laden's call, two weeks ago, for additional attacks in Saudi Arabia. The real issue is that the Saudi's waited until late last year to take on the al-Qaeda supporters in the Kingdom. Not being of fan, by any means, of the regime, it still stikes me that it serves U.S. interest and security to support them in their efforts to combat the terrorist, and of course, to exact some support in return, perhaps a touch of democratic reform, increased willingness to support Free Iraq, and less support for anti-Israeli Palestinians. Of course, there is also the matter of oil...

Mid East News...

A couple of notes on news from the Middle East.

First, Arab League chief Amr Musa's comments regarding the creation of a Palestinian state. Musa, speaking to an Egyptian newspaper, and reported on the web by al-Jazeera, describes the Road Map and attempts to move toward a Palestinian state as status quo and laying time bomb. He claims there is not a "glimmer of hope" for resolution to the issue. For a end to the troubles, Musa offers:

"If there is a true desire to establish a Palestinian state in line with the road map, then Israel must give the Palestinians 90% of the occupied territories as well as east Jerusalem and it must stop settlements."
Musa claims that the political views of the U.S. and Israel have not changed and thus, no peace. He is apparently unaware of the monumental changes in American and Israel policy over the last 30 years, and maintains the view the Palestinians have held for even longer.

The Arab League would do well to consider the danger with which they dance. Nearly all of the 22 member states have used radical Islamist views to control their populations. Their overwhelming authority is challenged by the liberation of Afghanistan and Iraq and now that Arafat has passed, a moderate Palestinian leadership could further loosen their grip on their people, both the Islamo-fascist among them, unsatisfied with their rule, and the more liberal minded Arab seeking economic opportunity and a role in their governance. The Sunni Muslims like to say that a believer should not dance near the fence between good and evil, its barbs allow easy entry into evil and prevent a return to good. The Arab League has danced along the fence and are again to be found on the wrong side.

Riyadh has apparently been hit by a couple of explosions this evening. One near the Interior Ministry and another near the Special Forces Headquarters. Perhaps the dance in Saudi Arabia has again resulted in an attack aimed at the al-Saud family. U.S. policy wonks and junkies, particular on the conservative side of things, may continue to debate the neo/paleo views of American engagement and policy abroad yet what is certain is that our interest rest soundly on preventing the fall of Arab governments, the Saud family in particular, at the hands of Islamo-fascist, and at the same time encouraging their liberalization and democratic reform.

December 21, 2004

Mosul

There is much that can be done to aid the development of a peaceful self-governed Iraq. Foremost among the options available is the continued pursuit and destruction of those who would perpetrate acts such as this.

We must not waiver in either our support for those acting on our behalf or in our optimism for others to find and embrace liberty.

This image, and many others, will serve as a reminder of the constant vigilance required in the fight against terror and the enslavement of men and woman.

Stay or Go

As Ken, of Esoteric * Diatribe, notes by asking this week’s Homespun Symposium question, Secretary Rumsfeld is the point of much discussion, finger pointing and speculation. And few will state that there is little or no basis for a public discourse on the issue. This week’s question, and a little background from Ken:

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld now finds himself in the midst of the bitter and often cruel politics which have become a hallmark of the D.C. political landscape. In the past few weeks Rumsfeld has weathered criticism over his handling of the ambush-like question planted by a reporter during a question and answer session with the troops, the defense secretary has received harsh indictments from the likes of John McCain and Trent Lott, and Rumsfeld has endured embarassing exposés fueled by Pentagon leaks.

Is all the controversy surrounding Rumsfeld justified? In your opinion, are these attacks on the defense secretary fair? And finally - borrowing a slightly modified line from The Clash - should he (Rumsfield) stay or should he go now?


The first question, is the controversy justified? Yes. Not because Secretary Rumsfeld has err’d specifically, or due to his responses, often foreign to the muted and benign form of speech employed in Washington, but due to the significance of the responsibilities of his office and the right of Americans to question the practices and policy of those in the arena of public service. Secretary Rumsfeld has served honorably and with the full confidence of the President and for the majority of the nearly 4 years he has had the support of the Republican base. Yet he has shown his limitations and given the nature of the active threat, found in Islamo-fascism, and the passive, threats as seen in Sino-Russian, Iranian and North Korean alliances, it is evident that he has the necessary capabilities to continue the effort to focus our military toward more mobile and technologically advanced war fighting.

Therein lies the trouble. While we fight in a more reactionary and mobile manner, as seen in Afghanistan and Iraq, we know that the size, scope and capabilities of our forces are not at the level required for defense against a more traditional military backed by an economically viable nation such as China or Iran. In invading Iraq or Afghanistan we faced the ravaged and weakened military forces both out armed and out numbered by American and allied forces. Our immediate control of the air over both nations gave us yet another significant advantage. Does anyone believe that our aging fighters would find similar success when engaged by an enemy equal in number of fighters and with significant air defense capabilities on the ground beneath. Yet Secretary Rumsfeld has not shown a willingness to demand additional newer fighters such as the F/A-22 or to seek increased heavy weapons, armor and an increase in force readiness capacity beyond the current practice of using the National Guard as a supplemental force.

Should the Secretary stay or should he go now? He’s welcome to stay as far as I’m concerned. But only so long as he and his deputies act toward national defense as a whole and not with the isolated and failed view that we face only one enemy or that we are incapable of doing better in all facets of our development and deployment of military capability. The President has made his choice. So our role at this time should be to add volume to the debate and ensure that the President and the Secretary understand that there is more to being SecDef than winning the battles at hand, he must prepare our forces for future threats, lead the effort to win current battles and ensure that our forces are of the size, nature and capability to successfully wage war or more optimistically prevent war in the first place.

As for a recommendation, support the Secretary and demand a larger active force, including additional divisions, to include Marine and naval forces, additional air power, reach and technical superiority, and finally through aligning the forces to the roles associated with their character, i.e. the National Guard is not meant for active duty service abroad over an extended time. The President has more than enough voices, both positive and negative, and the media is not in short supply of willing Republican detractors of Secretary Rumsfeld. What both are missing is the voice of Americans demanding defense capabilities ahead of entitlements, regulations, and false internal security mechanisms.

Other Homespun Responses

Being Thomas Luongo
The Redhunter
Major Dad 1984
Esoteric * Diatribe
Ogre's Politics and Views
The Commons at Paulie World

Iranian Bakers Continue

Iran continues to work on its uranium enrichment activities. No surprise. The surprise is that we know about it. Reality check – they told us that they’d stop for so long as the negotiations lasted, so long as the negotiations were short. And they haven’t even done that. Who are we fooling when we espouse the EU-Three as representatives capable of ending the Iranian efforts through diplomacy or bribery? No one.

Iran knows that it’ll have no impact on their efforts.

The EU Three know that they aren’t negotiating to stop the nuclear plans of Iran, but rather to prevent the US from forcing the IAEA to forward the issue to the UN Security Council and thereby forcing them to recognize the issue on a larger and more demonstrably significant scale.

And finally, we know that no negotiation will be effective. So why do it?

It’s better to negotiation while we formulate alternatives than to be seen as short tempered when we finally are forced to act out of self-defense. The day will come and the Mullah’s are racing to be nuclear armed before we are ready to act against them. They’ve seen North Clinton Korea do it, and they’ve seen Saddam manipulate the UN, so they are clearly well versed in the manner. Unlike Libya, which had little ability to defend itself had the US determined to cause regime change, hence the quick change in direction by Gadhafi, the Iranians know they present a military and political challenge that buys them significant time. Israel, on the other hand, should know the clock ticks against them so long as the Mullahs continue to bake cakes.

December 13, 2004

Bayefsky on the UN

Most of those who frequent this blog know that the UN is an abysmal failure as evidenced by the fraud and corruption of the Oil for Food program. Additionally we’ve noted the failure of the UN to bring peace, prosperity or liberty to people in Africa, the Middle East, Europe, Asia, or in the Americas on several occasions. Via Pawigoview, we found and read the latest from Anne Bayefsky for National Review Online.

Bayefsky rightly details how the Arab and Islamic states, predominately anti-semitic, anti-democratic and anti-Israel, have held the UN in a "chokehold" which not only limits the UN’s effectiveness in aiding the pre-dominant conflict of our age, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, it has effectively prevented the UN from becoming a true advocate of or even recognition of the true unalienable rights of man around the world. It’s an excellent read for those seeking more information on the symptoms and the disease that is the United Nations.

Antagonist abound.

The Chinese and Russian militaries have agreed to their first joint military exercises as a means to promote "the development of the two countries' strategic collaborative relationship in order to safeguard and promote regional and world peace" or so says Hu Jintau.

What a delightful event it must be.

While we address the United Nations impotence in stemming the tide of dictatorial and unjust governance around the world, we are presented with old enemies aligning themselves to "safeguard and promote regional and world peace." The threat posed by other nations in Asia must be enormous. The reality, unstated of course, as few are, is that a Sino-Russian alliance is directly meant to counter U.S. and allied forces in Asia and elsewhere.

So while faux democratic Russia develops new weapons, despite their economic weakness, and China, possessors of the largest armed forces in the world and a growing economic force of significance to the U.S. and the world, we are aligned with a Pakistani government which aside from its nuclear capabilities is weak at best, with Japan, Taiwan and South Korea, who combined offer little more than an inadequate military defense of their own nations.

Lest we peer through rose-colored glasses, no one should be fooled by the current efforts of the Chinese to expand their economic and military reach, from Russia’s movement toward their Soviet heritage in both governance and military tactics, and from the rest of world’s silence in the face of a growing threat, the United States, and it's allies are considered a threat and are besieged accordingly.

December 7, 2004

More on a federalist model for Iraq

Arthur Chrenkoff offers an excellent post on the question of the Shi'a in Iraq and the idea of a federalist approach to Iraq.

As we’ve discussed previously, the federalist model for Iraq may be significant not only in the short term resolution of concerns by religious and ethnic leaders in Iraq, but may also serve to establish for Muslims and Middle Easterners a model for ensuring social, ethnic and religious autonomy while creating a national unity necessary for stability in foreign relations, defense and economic development.

Glad to see the discussion spreading, and from a blog that isn’t rarely read.

December 6, 2004

Iraq

Given that we are less than two months from the Iraqi elections, it may be time to look at a federalist approach to rebuilding Iraq. Why and what would this entail?

History tells us that over the last 80 or so years; Iraq has had only limited success in existing with a central government responsible for the Kurd, Sunni Arab, and Shi’a populations. In preparing for the upcoming elections, the Iraqi government has attempted to formulate a means by which all the primary ethnic or religious groups are both represented and secure in their confidence that Baghdad will represent the interest of them all. This is particular difficult to accomplish given the Sunni resistance to the elections, and the distrust all living Iraqi’s have for central authority, after Saddam Hussein’s reign that distrust is easy to understand.

The Kurds have effectively been self-governing for some number of years post the 1991 Gulf War and the limitations placed on Saddam’s governments reach into the Kurd areas of Iraq. The Shi’a majority, primarily in the southern areas of Iraq, has shown increasing effectiveness in managing their more anti-American political dissidents and their terrorist elements. Additionally, they have acted to distance themselves from the Iranian Mullahs for a number of months and present an alternative to not only Iraqi Shi’a but to Shi’a Muslims throughout the world who oppose the Mullah's Islamo-fascist hold over Iran and the Shi’a brethren worldwide.

This presents the current government of Iyad Allawi with a challenge in the Sunni minority, which has expressed both contempt for the new Free Iraq and a continued racial, ethnic and religious bigotry more generally associated with islamo-fascism. The Sunni seem most opposed to a minority position in government, a given due to their views and population, and the generally expected ethnic and religious party line voting expected in Iraq.

Should Iraq formally establish states representing the historical and ethnic separation found in their population, and permit Kurd and Shi’a Iraq states to continue their advance from the conditions left by Saddam and the war to end his regime, and in doing so isolate the third state, primarily Sunni Arab central/western Iraq, to limited self-governance until political parties, participation, and security are more fully established. Additionally, this would curtail the central government’s role to national security and securing civil liberties (both economic, property, and religious) where it is likely to be most effective.

The original concern that prevented such a plan appears to have been the increased likelihood of a divided Iraq, civil war and interventions by neighboring nations, each concern being addressed through the strong central governments military and economic oversight and guidance, and the support of the world as needed for any Iraqi government seeking to rebuild from decades of abuse and turmoil.

Is it worth a shot or would it only stiffen Sunni dissidence? (More details and data to support or oppose the idea will be posted as time and computing resources permit.)

December 2, 2004

Iran Continues Cooperation

Iran continues cooperation with the IAEA. Right.

"The diplomats told The Associated Press that Iran has yet to respond to a request by the International Atomic Energy Agency - the U.N. nuclear watchdog - for a full list of the components used at the suspected military site of Lavizan-Shian after handing over a partial inventory in October.

The incomplete inventories are particularly worrying because they reflect purchases by Iran's Physics Research Center, an organization run by the military, they said. Iran has insisted its nuclear program is strictly for peaceful purposes, and the agency has said it has found no direct evidence to challenge that statement.

A linked issue is concern that nuclear equipment that has disappeared from that complex might be now at a nearby site, said the diplomats, who are accredited to the agency and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Additionally, Tehran has ignored a months-old request to grant IAEA inspectors access to Parchin, a military testing ground linked to possible experiments with high explosives that can be used with nuclear weapons, the diplomats said."

November 30, 2004

Hold please, we're cooking.

The difficulty in showing any excitement or optimism with Iran is that the Iranian's seem hell bent on ensuring we know that they are untrustworthy and simply playing the system to their advantage.

"TEHRAN, NOVEMBER 30: Iran reiterated today it was only prepared to freeze its uranium enrichment activities for a few months and would not, as the EU and Washington want, permanently mothball facilities which could make atomic bombs.

The comments, made by Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator, were a further blow to European Union efforts to persuade Tehran to scrap enrichment for good and were likely to fuel US concerns that Iran secretly plans to produce nuclear weapons.

"The length of the suspension will only be for the length of the negotiations with the Europeans and... must be rational and not too long," Hassan Rohani told reporters.

"We’re talking about months, not years," said the cleric, who is Secretary-General of Iran’s top security body, the Supreme National Security Council. The US has expressed scepticism that Iran will stick to the freeze. —Reuters

How quant? The length of the suspension will be as long as the negotiations last....

Whether in Quiet (which never mentioned Iran) or the Fiddler posts, the story has been and remains the same, Iran is an untrustworthy negotiator and must be dealt with as if hostile prior to the development of a nuclear arsenal, not after.

UPDATE: Ali Akbar Dareini offers an interesting summation for the AP.

The Threat

Before attempting to respond to this week’s symposium question, one that strikes a particularly strong cord with those on the right apparently more than those on the left, it is incumbent upon us to review what is at stake. The question this week:

What, in your mind, represents the single greatest long-term threat to the United States of America, and what should be done about it?

The author of the question, limits our discussion to the single greatest threat to the United States of America, and challenges us to offer a solution. Threats to the US come in many forms, from within and without, from direct attack, unintended consequences and subversive undermining, and from the governed and the government. When discussing the threats, current or long-term, our view of what is at stake is reflected by our assessment of the threats. Should we look at the threat from the view of ending our nations existence, there are relatively few threats. Should we instead look at the nature and character of our nation, there are many threats and more significantly, these threats weaken our ability and willingness to recognize and defend ourselves against threats to our very existence.

So the answer was apparent. The threat of single greatest significance must be a threat to the character of the nation and its ideals. If you are so patient, let me add that I’ve included the list of current and possible long-term threats here, should you be interested in it.

Islamo-fascism – the perversion of Islamic thought and doctrine in support of a bigoted, intolerant, arabesque world-view. Primary concerns are the current militant Islamo-fascist of al-Qaeda and associated terrorist organizations, secondary concern is the enormous support of and adherence to the Islamo-fascist view of Islam held throughout the world, and dominant in the Middle East (whether Sunni or Shi’a in inclination). Affiliated issues include the propagation of anti-Semitism or anti-Israeli thought and action, an enormous amount of propaganda and a willingness to accept lies and conspiracies as truth, an inability or unwillingness to permit cultural assimilation, and a birth rate far exceeding European and North American non-Hispanic growth rates.

Nuclear Proliferation and Terrorism – the spread of nuclear weapons and technology to unstable, rogue and hostile nations possibly willing to aid terrorist in acquiring them or incapable of adequately securing them.

China – the increased economic and military reach of China and their attempt to construct a Chinese hegemony in Asia and beyond as a counter-American force in the world.

Indo-Pakistani belligerence – two nuclear capable nations with a breadth of immoral and unjust hatred and bigotry for the other. Socialist/Communist ties and the general inability of each state to extend liberty to their citizens creates the greater incentive for public dissatisfaction and instability.

Iran – essentially a theocratic oligarchy of Shi’a Islamo-fascist. The gravest threat here is the development of nuclear weapons and technology, the support for terrorist outside Iran and the open hostility towards Israel and the US.

Middle Eastern Kings and Emirs – the kingdoms and emirates of the Middle East have used islamo-fascist thought as a means to control their populations and are limited in their ability to reform out of fear of a true islamo-fascist take over as in Iran.

European Socialism – primarily in Western Europe, unlike the firm opposition to Communism, their Socialism has gained support over the years and influences all aspect their lifestyles, thought and culture.

Russia – Vladimir Putin and other remnants of the former Soviet Union continue to show a return to Soviet styled governance rather than encouraging Liberty and fighting the corruption that followed the fall of the USSR through rule of law and vigilant economic and intellectual openness.

Of course, there are other risks and areas of concern.

The single greatest threat to the United States comes from within. Not just within the nation, but within each of its citizens. As noted in a previous post, the course within is the most significant and it is measured by our understanding, acceptance and acting on a moral basis. Some respondents to the question will make the issue a religious issue, a possible cause for the reactionary steps of those attacking the foundation of our nation today; others will find a particular symptom of our weakened moral state and attribute the danger to it. We might instead seek to prevent the disease itself from further spread to future generations and to cure it among the many (millions) currently afflicted.

In a post on the danger of moral ambivalence, and others, we’ve noted that one must recognize that while religion is often a precursor to our understanding of moral or ethical issues, as a nation we must resist the religious argument as a means for establishing rules of governance. We have the moral truths of our unalienable rights, Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness, and upon these we should be able to debate and determine the proper course of governance for a strong and moral people. The trouble, of course, is when we are no longer a moral people, capable of living up to the responsibilities associated with Liberty. The danger lies therein.

The larger the role our government, the federal government in particular, plays in our lives, the less we as a people are responsible to each other and to our progeny for our decisions and actions. Federal activism in education, health, social character and what should be state or local issues remains not only a symptom of our failing moral compass but a cause for its further decay. The solution is to aim for a return to the federalist approach of our founders and to re-establish the sovereignty of the state, the community and the family. The good news is that while we are falling toward complete moral irrelevance and the loss of the most basic of truths, we have far to fall before hitting ground, and the parachute, our Constitution, remains as a means to recover.

Other Homespun Symposium Responses

A Physicist's Perspective
Bunker Mulligan
Bill's Big Bloviating Blog
Ogre's Politics and Views
Mud and Phud
The Commons at Paulie World
The Terriorists
The Redhunter
Never Sway
Mad Poets Anonymous
Considerettes
In Search of Utopia
Mark Rauterkus & Running Mates

Addendum: We are, whether perilously or not may be debated, divided in our understanding of the nature of being American, of being a free people, and of the nature of our government’s responsibilities to us as citizens. We may, or rather will, debate, on many occasions, the extent and nature of the divide in our nation. Those who see a divide may lament its existence, while others likewise seeing it, will see it as a sign of our health and prosperity. Partisan we are, some by reason and principle, others for reasons neither they nor their counterparts can discern. In the end, the truth of the divide may be seen not by our debate or acknowledgement of its existence, but by our vocal and active support for altering the direction of the nation, whether our party, or the closest in similarity, is in power or not.

November 29, 2004

News Briefs

The Holiday weekend has passed. Here are some quick thoughts on a few of the news items of the day.

Ayman al-Zawahri has restated his, and therefore, al-Qaeda’s intent to continue to attack the U.S. until we acquiesce and modify our foreign policy to meet their requirements. No surprise here, as the limited reporting of the statement may show. As has been the case, al-Zawahri argues that the U.S. should withdraw from the Middle East and cease our support for Israel. Perhaps the most novel portion of the statement was his call for Americans to deal with Muslims in a manner of his choice or face his alternative. "Either you choose to treat us with respect and based on an exchange of interests ... or we will continue to fight you until you change your policies."

Iran has continued to show their diplomatic strength in negotiations with the EU Three (Great Britain, France and Germany) or perhaps to show the weakness of the three. It has become more clear that the U.S. will once again have to led the way, and if necessary, stand alone in defiance against a manipulative theocracy seeking to hold more than its own people captive.

The standoff in the Ukraine continues. The outgoing President has, finally, shown support for another election. The Ukraine Supreme Court has given the Prime Minister's office until Tuesday to review allegations of fraud. As the evidence becomes clearer to the rest of the world, it is difficult to see a path whereby Yanukovych can continue to deny wrongdoing in the previous election. This issue remains of the utmost importance for the world, as a divided, or non-representative and free Ukraine, will significantly weaken the sphere of influence of Europe and the U.S. in the region and with Moscow.

There is much more to discuss. As time, energy and, most importantly, blogger permits, other post will follow.

November 24, 2004

Gratitude and Qadhafi

The ever opportunistic Muammar al-Qadhafi has set about whining of how the West has failed to show appropriate gratitude to his nation for its highly trumpeted end to illegal weapons development programs.

It isn't enough that sanctions have been lifted, foreign leaders have visited, and the doors of economic opportunity have been opened. Qadhafi wants us to carry him in, not just open the door.

"To tell you the truth, we have been a little disappointed by the reaction of Europe, the United States and Japan. They haven't really rewarded Libya for its contribution to international peace," he said.

"And we're still waiting. If we are not recompensed, other countries will not follow our example and dismantle their own programmes."

Here Qadhafi was referring to the Iranian and North Korean response to his decision to live within the law. What's in it for them, he's gained nothing. He says that at a minimum his nation should "at least obtain guarantees from the international community on its national security."

We can translate languages but we cannot easily translate values.

Just a Wee Bit

As you've no doubt heard, the negotiations with Iran, friend of all people, and the EU contingent of Britain, France and Germany have gone swimmingly well.

Just three days after their sacrifice of purely peaceful efforts to develop weapons grade uranium, or at least the technology necessary to do so, the mindful Mullahs have asked for an exemption from their agreement. And if that’s not enough, there are already rumblings that they’ll have to withdraw from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, should the EU not acquiesce.

It was particularly enjoyable to read that much of their shift in direction, what fools we are to think that it was a shift, came about after Jack Straw’s words in the press. This after Straw announced a new mood of peace following the Sharm el-Sheikh meetings.

If you ask me, Condi can’t get into Colin’s office fast enough. There be trouble a brewin’ and Colin’s heart just isn’t in it to address it.

Quiet

As often as she would permit the children ran wildly about yelling with the abandon of those who far too rarely felt free to express such joy yet with the expertise of those who had clearly done so before. On other occasions, as her mood would dictate, their grand dream of disappearing into an oblivion unnoticeable and imperceptible to her wary eyes was stoked by the fire that she’d lashed before them with uncompromising harshness. Thus their youth was stained by the excesses of infrequent joy and the frequent longing for banishment from her very realm. Was it really her moodiness that stained their youth with the excesses of romp and rage? Or were there other influences at hand, as there almost always are?

She came to be, as most have, in an instant of shear elation and seemingly insurmountable trepidation. She wasted no time asserting herself. Hailing her beauty suitors came from near and far offering the finest of wares for her favor. There were few who failed to understand her allure; surely they are blinded by their veiled egos and self-interest. What price would she exact on them for their failed allegiance?

In her youth she had dealt with rift and ravine of her own creation. And as she matured, mindful of her willfulness, her suitors became less stricken by her charms. Taken aback by the imperfections of her kin and neighbor, distraught at the mere mention of more successful friends or foes, she secludes herself to self-examination and exploration. All to well this serves, as few suitors adored her still, and of those still pursuing her wares, it was not as it had seemed.

Returning to the current hour she is found ill mannered at best, intemperate with her own, isolated and clearly at ill ease with her neighbor, her children, and in her own skin. So the children strike out in the hour she looks away. The few suitors who remain are as apt to see the spoilage in her wares, as they are to smell their own. And those who have felt the sting of her fiery lash, no doubt stand on the ready to free her children, defend her foes and squash the smoldering flame of her hatred.

Are we prepared to quell the fiery whip and chain, to dampen her self-flagellation, and to welcome her children with open arms, damaged as they may be? Or shall we join the ranks of the foul smelling suitors blind to her ails as they are to the sparkle in her children’s eyes? She will sing a sultry song, a lullaby, and a ballad of bliss and balm. Her children know, and know so well, the quiet before the storm, and here again we consider the whisper of fair tidings, to quiet us all once again for her fury to be renewed. Will her renewed fury quiet us forever, or will we refuse her temptations and shout aloud against her will and aims?

November 23, 2004

Fools and Folly

Has Iran suddenly become a peaceful ally in the Global War on Terror? No. Yet the EU, the UN, the IAEA and the media are so quick to herald their temporary cessation of a highly suspect enriched uranium development program as progress. Skeptics will note that the Iranians have again stated it is a temporary solution, going so far as to announce their intent was to avoid a U.S. push for the IAEA to refer their program to the U.N. Security Council. Buying time, selling fraud and we willingly comply.

The Ukraine is erupting tonight. We should keep a close eye on the turn of events in the Ukraine as their ties to Russia, a bedfellow of both enemy and friend alike, are challenged by the masses. Makes one thankful for the peaceful elections here in the good old U.S. of A. It is also odd that Yushchenko takes an oath of office, unofficial, after the parliament was unable to achieve a quorum. Highly symbolic yet not the act of a man seeking to unite the nation.

Kuwait and Saudi Arabia wisely have refused to forgive the Iraqi debt until after the Iraqi elections. Wisely? Yes, why should they or we forgive the debt until we know the direction Iraq will take after the elections? But we have agreed to do so already, contingent on Saudi and Kuwaiti agreement.

The Palestinians have shown that Arafat’s death is not the death of his ideals or methods. In the upcoming elections for PA leadership, the young Palestinians are pressing for jailed Marwan Barghouti over Mahmoud Abbas. This despite Abbas’ call for ‘right of return’ and attempts to hold to the hard line drawn by Arafat.

The Sudan continues to skirt UN action, as they celebrate the end of a civil war, and the continuation of genocide in the western region of Darfur.

Of course, why would we expect the UN to act responsibly given their utter failure on all fronts. It is rapidly approaching the day when we should retract our membership and put an end to the charade of a united nations.

Dan Rather has resigned, effective in March, 2005. This is a sham and an attempt to once again deflect the attention of the people from the direct responsibility Rather, and associates, had in the airing of the false documents now referred to as Rathergate. CBS hasn’t announced the results of their inquiry into the issue, and to permit Rather to step aside but remain an integral part of 60 Minutes and the news division shows their willingness to seek appeasement rather than a just response. Or maybe they've still not come to a conclusion on Rathergate. Sure.

The Tar Heels won last night. Still not the type of play we would like to see. Tonight they'll face tougher opposition, Tennessee, let's see how that works out.

November 11, 2004

Iran's Fiddler Tells More

Yesterday's post regarding Sirus Naseri's comments to Iranian's living in Europe was based on the Tehran Times report. Here is the Reuters report of Naseri's comments. It was headlined "Iran Official Warns of NPT Pull-Out if West Presses." If we follow the EU's lead we will face a better armed, nuclear capable Iran.

"TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran will pull out of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and develop its atomic program in secret if Western nations threaten or put pressure on Tehran, a senior Iran diplomat was quoted as saying on Wednesday.

Iranian government officials have in the past repeatedly said Tehran had no intention of following North Korea's example of withdrawing from the NPT.

Diplomats expect Iran to announce shortly that it has agreed to suspend nuclear fuel cycle activities which could be used to make bomb material as part of a deal with the European Union to avoid referral to the U.N. Security Council.

But Sirus Naseri, a member of the Iranian negotiating team in the talks with the EU, warned Iran -- which says its atomic program is strictly for civilian use -- could take drastic steps if the talks did not proceed as Tehran wants.

"If they start to pressure or threaten us, then we will put aside the treaty and go underground," the semi-official Mehr news agency quoted him as saying.

"In that case, after one or two years, America and the EU will send mediators to talk to us and find a solution," he said.

Iran says it has the right as an NPT signatory to develop an atomic program to generate electricity to meet booming demand.

But Washington and Israel say Tehran's real ambition is to make nuclear weapons and want it to scrap activities that could be used to make bomb-grade material, such as uranium enrichment.

The EU says that if Iran scraps its enrichment facilities it will guarantee a supply of fuel for its reactors.

SUPENSION YES, CESSATION NO

But Naseri said Iran "will never rely on other countries to supply us with the nuclear fuel, which means we will definitely keep our enrichment program."

"We will never accept cessation (of enrichment). This issue has been removed from the talks' agenda," he added.

He said a preliminary deal reached during talks with the EU last weekend would ease international pressure on Iran, which faces possible U.N. Security Council sanctions should it fail to suspend uranium enrichment and fuel reprocessing activities.

"This agreement will provide us with a peaceful period, which we needed," he said.

"Acting properly and reaching an understanding with the EU ... will strengthen Iran's international status. Otherwise we would be put in a difficult situation," he said.

But he said Iran would resume enrichment if it felt the EU was dragging its feet on a final settlement. And he said Iran could use the suspension time to review and perfect its nuclear technology.

"Normally when you resume an activity it will be of a higher quality than before," he said.

His comments are likely to fuel concerns in Washington that Iran is using its negotiations with the EU to buy time and ease international pressure while continuing to develop its atomic program in secret.

But Naseri said Washington had the final say on the EU deal.

"We know that the main party, absent in the talks, is America ... we know that the EU must coordinate with America and they themselves are not the decision-makers," he said.

He said Iran was prepared to talk to Washington directly if it treated Tehran as an equal.

"If one day America understands that we are at the same level, then we can hold direct talks with America. But right now, we do not see America having such an attitude," he said."

We are not now, nor have we ever been a nation hell bent on war. Yet we are again faced with the choice of fighting a war we can win, or waiting and fighting a war no one can win.

November 10, 2004

Free at Last - Arafat is Dead

The Palestinian people are finally free from the grips of terrorist leader Yassir Arafat. Arafat died Thursday in Paris. It remains unclear if the Palestinian people will step away from the ideological hatred and vitriol Arafat led for the nearly 40 years.

Peace between Israel and the Palestinian people will not come because of Arafat’s death. Yet it is certain that prior to his death, peace was more than improbable. While the Palestinian people may initial respond to his death as a tragedy, it is my sincere hope that they will move beyond his narrow view of Israel and legitimately embrace the olive branch he carried only in mockery.

Tehran playing the EU like a fiddle

From the Tehran Times. In a conversation with the Jam-E-Jam television network for Iranian’s living in Europe, Sirus Naseri, a member of the Iranian delegation, said that the current agreement was tentative, and that it’s purpose was to provide for a period of respite between the parties while the Iranians continue to seek to have the EU members prevent the IAEA from reporting any perceived non-compliance to the UN Security Council. The objective is to have the issue dropped from international concern.

Naseri went on to state that the Iranian’s would not follow the course of Libya or North Korea. The Iranians are patient he says.

"We are patient enough and will continue negotiations logically, and whenever we see that our partners don’t want to compromise due to intransigence, we will continue our legitimate path without any quarrelling."
In his view, should talks break down due to western threats, then Iran will continue its programs until a year or two later the west returns offering more negotiations. He also noted that while the suspension of processing lasts, that Iran will review its earlier work and improve its results, believing that suspensions result in an improved capability upon the return to production.

The message is clear. Iran is playing the system and the EU is either enabling them or playing along with them. They will have the weapons before we know they do unless we are prepared to stop them.

And on a side note, the Tehran Times also reported on Sunday, that Alexander Rumyantsev, head of Russia's Federal Nuclear Energy Agency may return to Iran in December to complete an agreement for the Russians to provide nuclear fuel for Iran's facilities and for Iran to return spent fuel to Russia. This deal would not prevent Iran from enriching fuel acquired through other means.

News of the Day - thus far

It appears that President Bush will nominate Alberto Gonzales to the post of Attorney General. This is a good thing for the nation as Gonzales has shown to be both temperate and a genuine patriot. Having been White House Counsel will of course set many off as if the President should have selected someone from across the aisle, but the truth is the post is a better fit for him than the often rumored Supreme Court appointment would have been.

---

Coalition forces, spearheaded by the U.S. Army and Marine Corps have now captured an estimated 70% of Fallujah. On this the eve of Veterans Day, don't let them fade from your thoughts and prayers.

---

Prime Minister Ayad Allawi’s family has come under attack by terrorist. Three members of his family have been taken hostage, his cousin Ghazi, Ghazi’s wife, and their daughter-in-law.

Prime Minister Allawi has been a faithful and just leader to the people of Iraq in the face of immense pressure from around the world and at home. Now more than ever he is in need of our support and prayers.

November 9, 2004

Arafat's Illness Explained

During the past week, or thereabouts, of watching the Palestinian response to Yassir Arafat’s illness and his decline into a coma, there have been several rumors and innuendo batted about as to the cause of his illness. Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Nabil Shaath has attempted to quell some of them in a press conference just minutes ago, watched live on Fox News Channel.

He begins by announcing that there is no malignancy or cancer in Arafat and that doctors have ruled out poisoning. He then offers this explanation:

"Doctors want, by and large, favor the explanation that his age, the last 75 years old, difficult life; the last 3 and ½ years incarcerated in a very small office, and which had very little oxygen, and very bad sanitary situation, insieged by the Israeli Army, have contributed to the situation."
Of course, the Israeli’s are responsible. He went on to rule out euthanasia.

The man is sick. We don’t know nor are we likely to ever know the real cause of his ailment nor the symptoms for that matter as his entire organization and the French medical team supporting him are incapable of speaking the truth. Then again I could be wrong, after all, Foreign Minister Shaath said:

"We are a people who believe in God."

November 8, 2004

Short bits

Here is a review of an assortment the news and opinion of the day and the weekend.

Operation Phantom Fury has been green lighted by Prime Minister Allawi and U.S. forces and Iraqi forces have at this time taken portions of Fallujah. This despite Kofi Annan's warning against such an attack. Here’s to their safe and well-executed victory.

The negotiations between three EU nations (Great Britain, France and Germany) and Iran seem to have made some progress in discussions over Iran's nuclear development program. The Tehran Times reports that negotiators in Paris have accepted 8 of the 10 clauses of Iran’s proposal. At this juncture it is too early to tell whether or not the progress is real, as none of the governments have approved the negotiated deal at this point. What is certain is that the EU will believe that they have new found strength associated with any success, as well as increased economic ties to Iran, and Tehran's leaders will have succeeded in evading the American led call for the IAEA to turn their uranium enrichment efforts over to the UN Security Council for review and possible action. It is most likely that the re-election of President Bush has softened the enthusiasm of the Mullah's to hold the hard-line position, and just as Saddam Hussein did for more than a decade, they will now manipulate the system as a means of self-preservation.

More reports of terrorists moving supplies and personnel from Iran into Iraq.

Hezbullah flew a drone over Israel. Here we have a terrorist organization operating out of Lebanon, Syria and Iran using military technology against Israel.

The NYTimes (registration required) published a piece (of garbage) on Sunday offering that the assassinations of Presidents Lincoln and McKinley were acts of God and that the Democrats may be saved yet another such act of God. Via A Western Mind. Not only is it a repugnant and fallacious argument presented by Dean E. Murphy, it is, whether the Times admits it or not, a call for such an act today.

For a review of the troubling voter patterns that led to a Democratic majority in Colorado's legislature read Mount Virtus. While many things remain unclear from the results, what is clear is that the Republican efforts nationally where not as well executed for the local candidates. The next challenge for those seeking responsible governance will be to apply the same level of organization and enthusiasm to the local races as we've done on the national level.

November 6, 2004

Fatwa be damned.

In a show of support for the islamo-fascist occupiers of Fallujah, 26 Saudi imams have issued a fatwa calling on Iraqi’s to fight against the American forces in Iraq as a legitimate jihad. al-Jazeera and the AP report on the letter.

It’s time the State Department stop dancing around the issue with the Saudis. The Saudi government does not support freedom of religion, while claiming that the views offered by imams in Saudi Arabia are neither official nor sanctioned. Both positions are on the wrong side of liberty and must be addressed. Our stand against islamo-fascism will not be successful until we destroy the foundation of islamo-fascist religious doctrine, and since we cannot, or rather will not, do this, the Saudi royals must do so. The consequences of failing to do so are seen in the loss of American lives in combat in Iraq, and around the world in continued acts of terror based on the fermented evil espoused by Saudi clerics.

Many on the conservative or Republican side of the aisle are hesitant to criticize President Bush or Secretary Powell, and while I am most grateful for the efforts of both thus far, neither has adequately addressed the weaknesses within the bureaucracy of the State Department or the absence of the basic tenants of Liberty in oil producing Muslim nations, particularly Saudi Arabia.

November 5, 2004

Masjid al-Aqsa and Yassir Arafat

Now that the world has come to realize that Yassir Arafat is near death and may soon be dead (if not already as you can’t really trust the French on this issue), the question of where he should be buried is asked. The answer isn’t straightforward. What is straightforward is that is should not be in the Haram al-Sharif in Jerusalem or any part of the Masjid al-Aqsa.

Never. No way. It shouldn’t be considered, negotiated or discussed by the Israeli government and moreover it shouldn’t be suggested or offered by the PA or any portion of the Muslim or Palestinian leadership.

Arafat may or may not be a Muslim in that he has submitted to the will of God or Allah. No man can know the inside of his heart. What we do know is that his life has been devoted to the destruction of Israel and the killing of Israeli people. He has stolen from the Palestinian people and in the name of his professed faith he has killed and led others to kill innocent people. The cost of his life to the Palestinian cause is far greater than the negligence of the other Arab states or blind eye of the religious leaders who’ve allowed terrorist to usurp their faith. Whether it is in Egypt, Gaza, the West Bank or France doesn’t matter, perhaps even in a portion of Jerusalem, but under no circumstances should the worst of men be buried on the ground revered by people of Jewish, Christian and Islamic faith.

If the Palestinian people wish to separate themselves from islamo-fascist bigotry and terror, they should express their respect for their Holy sites and send Arafat's remains to a grave in the remote deserts of Gaza or Egypt.

October 27, 2004

In the Lowly Cesspool.

In recent weeks we’ve seen a call for the assassination of President Bush by a major news source in the U.K. (Charlie Brooker in the Guardian, which has since pulled the story and apologized):

"The world will endure four more years of idiocy, arrogance and unwarranted bloodshed, with no benevolent deity to watch over and save us, John Wilkes Booth, Lee Harvey Oswald, John Hinckley Jr. -- where are you now that we need you?"
Not to be outdone, there is one for Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.
"As for short-term, medium-term, and even long-term policies, it remains the same old thing: relying on fate and destiny, the emergence of another Israeli radical who might assassinate Sharon, like the case of Yitzhak Rabin. Despite the fact that we would like to uphold civilized mottos in a savage and brutal age to say that we do not believe in assassinations, we wish that Sharon's end, if the Israeli Prime Minister deserves such an end for all his violations and committed atrocities, be brought forth by a Palestinian and not an Israeli.

The Arab policies and wishes will remain mummified waiting indefinitely."

This was published in Dar al-Hayat and written by Adel Malek. It is the closing of a rambling analysis of our President election and the impact or lack thereof on the plight of the Middle East.

It is worth noting that his analysis offers no Arab policies or dreams, unless of course it is the murder of the leader of Israel.

The Future in France

The French, not willing to defend religious freedom as shown in their banning of religious clothing in schools, may soon seek to fund the development of mosques in France. The Finance Minister and potential Presidential candidate, Nicolas Sarkozy, has a new book coming out entitled The Republic, Religions, Hope. The AP offers a sample:

"In light of our past experiences and our errors, let us prove our modesty and tolerance," Sarkozy writes. "Have we already forgotten our crusades?"
While there are many arguments for the integration of France’s Muslims into French society, the responsibility for that integration must rest on the Muslims and not on the French government or the other people of France. Ladies and gentlemen, we offer you multi-culturalism at its pinnacle in France, intolerant while seeking tolerance, immodest while seeking modesty, and opposed to civil liberties while promoting special interests.

October 26, 2004

The "Right" to Nuclear Technology

For those who’ve long doubted that Hans Blix was little more than another advocate of moral ambivalence. His latest comments regarding Iran’s "right" to enriched uranium (see Note at end of post) should make it clear. Iran has professed such a right, and should they prevail, Brazil and others will do the same. It is important that we look at the issue from their perspective, not so that we might agree, but that we might see the reason such a case is made and how it is/was our moral ambivalence that has permitted it. And then, we must strongly deny the so-called right and demand that Iran earn the respect and trust of the world before it aspires to such technology.

In the end the technology or the amount of enrichment involved (low as in Brazil’s case and unknown in Iran) is not the issue, the issue is the potential misuse of the technology and the repercussions of such misuse. The Iranians have been led to believe that the U.N. and by extension the U.S. is unwilling or incapable of enforcing the treaties and resolutions it makes with regard to nuclear technology. They have had good reason to believe this as Saddam Hussein managed for 12 years to toy with the U.N. and face little to no consequences. Like Hussein, the Iranians are willing and able to usurp the system and in claiming a rights violation have done a brilliant job of transferring the argument away from the real issue while creating a diversionary discussion based on their perceived unjust treatment by the west. The Clinton administrations failure with regard to North Korea and the U.N.'s failure to stop Pakistan and India does not relieve us of the responsibility to stop additional nations nor does it confer on others the right to develop the weapons or the means to develop them.

We cannot afford a mistake on this issue. There is no, nor can there be, a right to possess, develop or research the tools required to develop nuclear weapons. Should a nation wish to exclude itself from the NPT or to tread the fringes of the agreement by stating its intentions and willingness to enrich uranium, then it must be subjected to rigorous scrutiny and if necessary be stopped by force. When that nation is the foremost breeding ground for Shi’a Islamo-fascism it must be stopped without hesitation.

The real difficulty on this issue may not be the political willingness of the U.S. to stand before a menace, but rather the European and Russia willingness to side with the menace in search of greatly desired financial and political power. What we can be certain of is the U.N. is not going to be the final arbiter of justice nor is it likely to agree until it is too late that just action is needed.

Prompted by the Tehran Times.

Note: Per Joe's comments I've clarified my initial comment which was "nuclear weapons" rather than enriched uranium. It is clear, as I note in the comments, that Blix was stating a right to enrich uranium, which points the debate to weapons production capabilities. The error was mine and as always, I'm glad to have it pointed out and to correct it.

Peace isn't the objective for some.

Re-affirming my suspicion that every where there are Muslims there are anti-semites, the Islamic Action Front, a political opposition party in Jordan is calling for their government to break the 10 year old peace treaty with Israel.

"The solution will only arrive when the foreign invaders [Israelis] leave the area and allow the return of those they forced to leave".
Ignoring the responsibility of the government of Jordan for the plight of its citizens and the refugees within its borders, the IAF claims that the peace between Israel and Jordan has led to further separation between the haves and have-nots. Their solution, remove Israel from the picture and permit the refugees to return to the their rightful home.

It remains terribly troubling for me to think that so many espouse such bigotry and the world continues to be influenced by them. In this day would any man be taken seriously if he advocated returning all people of the world to their historical (by ethnicity only) land of origin. Of course not, yet the Arab/Muslim agenda with regard to Israel amounts to so much as this (excepting the Semitic heritage of the Jewish people). Perhaps they would choose a date and return all people to their origins as of that date, say pre-1948 and post-1890. It is ludicrous and sad.

October 25, 2004

Late night reading.

A few pieces, as happens occasionally, that I'd like to spend some time on but as of yet have not been able to. If possible, I'll do so in the morning.

First, The Believer: Paul Wolfowitz defends his war, a story by Peter J. Boyer in the New Yorker. Boyer needless to say isn't offering a rave review. But there are many points of contention and perspective worth discussing.

Second, from Sunday's the New York Post, Ralph Peters piece The Faces of Denial. Another excellent piece from Peters, the focus is the European denial of the new terrorism as found in Islamo-fascism. Not a happy read, but well worth the time.

Third, Amir Omen in the Haaretz Daily on the Israeli need for an Abraham Lincoln. There are many points which I will dispute and I believe some general mischaracterizations are present, so this one will warrant further discussion. What we can agree on is the significance of peace between the Arab or Palestinian and Israel.

And finally, Secretary of State Powell makes his case, and the case for the U.S., in Dar al-Hayat. An interesting read, particularly when compared to the rants of Jihad al-Khazen (who blames all things left and right on either the neocons or the Jews who support the neocons).

As always, the many blogs on the sidebar are well worth any time you have to give them. Off till morning.

Arab/Muslim support for Kerry

It doesn’t strike me as odd in the least bit that Arab/Muslim voters would want Senator Pander rather than President Bush. Experts and most Arabs and Muslims point to the global war on terror as the primary cause for their unwillingness to support the President. Frankly, I don’t believe them. Just as I don’t believe Jewish voters supporting Pander do so out of his “support” for Israel.

William Safire points out the strange bedfellows support for Senator Pander and notes how Pander has me-tooed the positions of President Bush with regard to American policy regarding Israel and Ariel Sharon’s plans for removing settlers from the Gaza. There are unmentioned truths to discuss behind the alliance of Muslim-Jewish voters for Pander (even if they will not reach the numbers that are commonly touted). For this post, I’ll focus on the Arab/Muslim beliefs or ideologies that make Senator Pander the candidate of choice.

The majority of Arab/Muslim voters backing Senator Pander find their incentive from one, or more, of four ideological views, all of which are an anathema to American values.

Foremost among the ideologies driving Arab/Muslim voters is their bigotry and hatred of Israel and Jews. Many will question how this will transpire into votes for Pander. Those driven by this bigotry know that President Bush is the greatest ally of Israel since the formation of the nation. Senator Pander has claimed to support the same positions as the President towards Israel, all while he continues to support the clearly anti-Israel forces behind the U.N. and the E.U. Only the most naïve voters would take him for his word on his support of Israel, unfortunately, and the Arab/Muslim voters backing him no the U.N. will stand against Israel at every turn.

The second category of Arab/Muslim ideological views creating voters for Pander is that of Arab Socialist. Many Muslims, of a variety of degrees of religiosity, believe and aspire to a socialist society in the Middle East. One of the most significant factors often cited by those who lead this ideology, both imams and non-religious persons, is the poverty of the average Arab and the enormous oil based wealth of the few in power. In this area in particular, the right has been significantly absent in offering opposition until recently. In the end, the alternative argument will go unheeded due to the previously mentioned bigotry and the resounding beat of the anti-American drum in the Mosque.

The third category is most common among the religiously observant Arab/Muslim. It is the abhorrence of what they see as the debauchery of American culture. While these believers carry a significant understanding of their faith’s admonitions against many of our more common vices, they are offered no moral guidance towards individual liberty. In addition, these political novices are often unaware of the bedfellows they make in supporting the morally ambiguous left.

The final category is one built upon the previous three to a large part and the most significant in the form of a danger to American lives and our system of governance. It is that of the Arab/Muslim support for Islamic Nationalism or Islamo-fascism. Many Muslims during the late 90’s supported to a high degree the ideals of the Taliban in Afghanistan and al-Qaeda. While often suppressed in public, I believe their views to be the predominant ideological view of many organizations of Muslims in the U.S. including ICNA, ISNA, MAS, CAIR and others.

It isn’t my position that Senator Pander or the Democratic Party supports the view of any of these Arab/Muslim ideologies, I do believe that he has failed to stand firmly on a position of U.S. strength and sovereignty before the U.N. or on the Global War on Terror, this feeds their belief that he is a candidate much more likely to aid their cause. For those supporting the Senator, the war is an easy target to point to, just as is the Patriot Act or their perceived injustices in the southern Levant.

Hello. Earth calling... anyone home?

What do the reactions of these Iraqi's to the slaughter of 48 (or more) Iraqi military men this weekend tell us about the challenge before us in Iraq and at home?

Iraqis reacted to the massacre with expressions of sympathy for the recruits, offering a variety of explanations.

“Those people are serving their country, why are they killed?” asked Salman Mohammed, 42, as he waited for a friend in a Baghdad restaurant where they planned to break their Ramadan fast at sunset. “I think that there are foreign countries that want to destroy these forces. I think the Zionists are behind that. They want to make this country collapse … to extend their state from the Nile to the Euphrates.

Sabah Hussein, a baker, noted many people had come away from encounters with the Iraqi troops feeling abused.

“Of course I am against what happened,” said Hussein, 51. “It is terrible. But sometimes I think they don’t behave well with the people. A few days ago they came and raided the nearby Husseiniya,” he said, referring to a Shiite mosque. “They were really impolite with the people. So maybe there are some people who lost their son, friend, brother or any relative because of them, so they ambushed and killed them.

“Or maybe there are some gangs who were paid to kill them for the sake of some other side which we don’t know.”

al-Zarqawi and his troop of al-Qaeda in Iraq have claimed responsibility for the attack. And yet these Iraqi's are willing to pass the blame on to 'Zionist' or gangs.

October 21, 2004

From Russia we offer....

Human Rights Watch, based here in the good ol' U.S. of A., has called for the Russian government to put an end to hazing in the military. They report that one of the biggest human rights issues in Russia today is the hazing of conscripts new to the Russian military. The hazing reportedly results in the death of "hundreds" each year, including the death of those who commit suicide.

"This is a very big human rights problem - one of the biggest that Russia has," said Diederik Lohman, a senior researcher for Human Rights Watch.
In no way do I mean to minimize the grossly inappropriate behavior that the 86 page report from HRW covers, however, it strikes me that the underlying failures of the Russian government to continue to expand civil liberties and economic opportunity are so much more significant and in fact play a large role in the hazing, the need for conscripted servants, and the cultural bias toward violence seen in much of Russia. Surely they could have done better.

Here's an interesting story, or a frightening one, from Russia. The Australian reports that security forces have "seized two containers full of highly radioactive uranium-238 after a group of homeless people tried to sell them to a scrap dealer." As a supposed human rights advocate, should we be more concerned about the likelihood that the homeless received radiation poisoning or of the danger in not having found and seized the uranium. The story ends with these encouraging words....

"Meanwhile, a truck carrying radioactive materials was seized on Tuesday at the far eastern port of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, the Ria-Novosti news agency reported.

And several lead containers holding uranium, plutonium and strontium were last week found on a train on its way from Moscow to the southern town of Mineralniye Vody, not far from Chechnya."

Hat tip to Weapons of Mass Distraction.

Bombs over Butter in North Korea

The U.N.'s World Food Program wants more food for North Korea. They've requested South Korea provide more aid to the North. As they note, North Korea has largely been dependent on South Korea, Japan and the United States for food since the mid-90's.

Meanwhile, the North Koreans have claimed that they will boost their "war deterrent force" as the multi-lateral talks regarding their nuclear weapons program look "gloomy" after stalling when the North Koreans didn't attend the scheduled talks in September. Their reasoning, the "hostile policy" of the United States. As reported by the AP, KCNA, their official news agency, had this to say:

"The DPRK will bolster its war deterrent force both in quality and quantity to be strong enough to defeat any aggressor at a single stroke, given that the U.S. is foolishly attempting to contain the DPRK by force, while seeking a 'regime change'".
This follows the President's signing of the North Korean Human Rights Act earlier this week.

How is it that we've fed the multitudes in a nation that is impoverished not by our actions but by their governments, and yet they continue to claim our "hostile policy" toward them? Is it because we've made efforts to limit or prevent their development of WMD's and the technology to deliver them to South Korea, Japan and our western shores? The three nations who've prevented a more tragic famine on the peninsula are the ones most threatened by the North's paranoia and self-defeating policies. Yet, it gets little coverage here or elsewhere and there are still those in South Korea who protest against the U.S. and our battle against the very real threat of terror.

October 20, 2004

A Divided World | A Divided Nation

It appears the entire world has an opinion, or a candidate, in the race for the White House. This is not by chance. A straightforward analysis of the world today reflects that the world is divided sharply, just as this nation is, hence the willingness of political leaders from around the world to state their beliefs about the proper man for the Oval Office. We are apt to pin the divide both at home and abroad on one issue. When we do so, we are wrong.

Foremost among the commonlly recognized divides is the Global War on Terror or the Iraqi campaign in particular. However, the greater divides have led to the GWOT divide, just as they’ve led to the divide of Israel and the Palestinians. The greater divides are more esoteric to some, and unmentionable to others. They include issues such as virtue or vice, excellence or mediocrity, man or mankind and individual liberty or societal equity. Do all people or nations who fall on one side or the other of any particular divide see things alike? Of course not, yet those who follow the general path of opposition to the war also tend to be of the opposition in each of the other areas.

The divided world arises from several issues. The most commonly discussed is, as noted above, the Global War on Terror or the removal of Saddam Hussein from Iraq and the ensuing effort to build a free and democratic Iraq. In addition we are divided by our very nature as a society from much of the world, this divide is between virtue and vice. Indeed, the U.S., a nation where most any vice can be found, stands as the beacon of virtue, while the defenders of the most terrible of vices stand against us. The world is also divided by its expectations for its people and their fulfillment. Here we see excellence against mediocrity. And of course, fueling each of these great divides, the churning battle between liberty and socialism.

While we might enjoy an exploration of how we came to this divide, our current attention must be the battle at hand. The fronts in the undeclared war of liberty and socialism are many, so many that we are each involved in not just one, the personal battle to elevate ourselves to the most noble of human characteristics, rather we are involved, knowingly or not, in a majority of them. Thankfully so, as our votes are a testament to our stand in this war.

In the United States, the most significant of the battles is taking place. It isn’t the most significant because the writer of this blog lives in the U.S., but rather because the U.S. is the spearhead of the defense of liberty, even while the war wages on within the U.S. President Bush, his supporters, and like-minded people around the world, are the leading proponents for the liberty of man over the limitations of societal whimsy. The President represents a belief that the individual determines his success or failure not the government or the collective view its citizens. He espouses entrepreneurial effort, a disciplined work ethic, self-reliance and a value system that honors rather than limits man’s capacity to succeed. The Senator from Massachusetts offers the more globally prevalent, socialist inspired view which has led to the decline of Western European influence, economic stagnation, moral ambivalence and stirred the more base nature of man to prominence and broad acceptance.

In Europe and the U.N., the war also has many fronts as the French, German and new Spanish governments represent the Islamophobic Socialist for Appeasement, while the recently liberated, and those holding any remnants of moral clarity remain staunchly supportive of the U.S. and of liberty. The much-maligned Coalition of the Willing is comprised not of traditional Allies of the U.S. rather it is comprised of the few who remain true to the cause of liberty, as many former allies were not so much advocates of liberty as they were self-serving tag-a-longs while the threat of the Soviet Union stood at their doorstep. What we’ve seen in recent months is that the much larger Coalition of the Coerced, Corrupt and Condemned will do or say anything to prevent the recognition of their money trial to terrorist, while at home they take measures to deny religious freedoms, constrain individual rights and maintain power within their governments. The French, builders of the Statue of Liberty, are expelling children who wear religious garments to school, and are unwilling to come to the defense of the people of Iraq fighting terrorist in their nation. The fear of Islamic terror has blinded them to their own hypocrisy, just as their greed blinded them to the moral injustices of their support for Saddam Hussein, Yasser Arafat, Syria, and the Sudan. They have become default leaders of the Axis of Ambiguity, soon to be the Axis of the Irrelevant.

When we re-elect President Bush, we are sending a signal to the world that the U.S. is not about to cede our rightful place as leaders of the free world. The task afterwards will be to continue to develop new allies in the lands once occupied by our enemies, to stand resolute, when the U.N. will not, and to work to defend liberty at home and in our enemy’s backyard. The U.S. has a noble calling, let us answer it well.

October 19, 2004

New name, same stuff.....

So I take a break to watch some baseball, our former national pastime, and what happens, news of Tawhid and Jihad (or al-Tawheed wa al-Jihad) changing their name to ‘al-Qaeda of Jihad in the Land of Two Rivers’ or thereabouts.

Well, given the hard time I gave Juan Cole for his insisting to use the simplistic “Monotheism and Holy War” translation as the name of the group, perhaps I should have expected this. Certainly Dr. Cole will not refer to them as ‘the Base of Islamic Holy War in Iraq’ although it is an accurate title.

Bravo. The terrorist have named themselves accurately. The next time they change want to change their name, I'd really like to make some suggestions.

As to the report of Marine HMMWV’s being attacked, no corroboration exist at this time. Back to the game… and a gracious hat tip to In the Bullpen.

Syria, the U.N. and the E.U.

Foreign Minister Farouq al-Shara states that Syria will not comply with the U.N. Security Council resolution calling for their withdrawal from Lebanon.

"Our position remains as it was. We think 1559 is illegal intervention in Syrian-Lebanese bilateral relations,"
He goes on to state that the U.N. did not understand the depth of the ties between the two nations. The issue has arisen from Syria's involvement in Lebanon's ability to be self-governed, which sparked U.S. calls for U.N. action. In addition, Syria desires the economic benefit of an Association Agreement with the E.U., and although the agreement was completed in December it has not been signed due to Syria's refusal to accept a clause regarding the proliferation of WMD's.

Europe believes that engagement rather than sanctions will lead to Syrian progress, after seven years of discussions, we can readily see the progress. Or not.


Answering Neu

Just in case you don’t know I will let you in on a not so well kept secret, we are at war. Not a single day since September 11, 2001 have I doubted it or forgotten it. It sorrows me that I didn’t know prior to that horrible day. I had reason to know, but I did not permit myself to see it as such. In a way, I was much like Senator Pander; I convinced myself that terror and terrorists were a nuisance. With the knowledge that our political, intelligence, military and law enforcement communities were on the case, I slept well and believed the matter to be under control. As we know now, it wasn’t.

The single greatest factor to our winning the global war on terror will not be our destruction of their ability to commit acts of terror, but the removal of their desire, will and belief that terror is an alternative, or more properly said, that terror is necessary. There are voices on occasion in the Arab world that cry out against terrorist and terrorism. Our military forces in Iraq have met many who understand and appreciate our role in Iraq as that of liberator rather than occupier. Yet I believe that too many retain the inability to see it.

The most popular story emailed from the al-Jazeera website is described as a look into the political roots of American insecurity. This is not by chance. It is a symptom of the plague of amoral at best or immoral ideological views held by Arab and Muslim men. While some attribute the problem to Arab identity, legitimacy and authority, or lack thereof, the majority continue to attribute the problem to the policies of the U.S. and primary among those our policies with regard to Israel.

The reporter points to Richard Neu’s words in a report from the RAND Corporation. Neu says "Understanding the root causes of Islamic anti-Americanism and crafting policies to discourage its violent manifestations will require consideration of at least seven fundamental questions".

As some may say is always the case, I have an opinion and here are my thoughts regarding each question (the questions are quoted for your easy reference).

"1. How extensive is anti-American sentiment in the Muslim world? Is a proclivity toward anti-American violence characteristic of only isolated rogue groups that might, at least in theory, be hunted down and destroyed? Or are such sentiments widespread in the Muslim world, requiring a broad campaign of action and public diplomacy to win over hearts and minds?"
1. The extent of anti-American sentiment in the Muslim world is greater than represented by terrorist and should not be seen as a direct indicator of the size or scope of terror organizations, just as in the U.S., or Europe, anti-American sentiment does not equate to terrorist. In addition, it should not be the determining factor in the tactics used to combat terror, nor in the strategy employed to defeat the ideology that spews forth terrorists.
"2. Too much modernity, or not enough? Some writers have focused attention on the disappointments and humiliations suffered by Muslims—and especially Arabs—in recent years. Many Muslims recognize that something has gone wrong with their once-proud and once-successful culture. And an increasingly strident debate has sprung up about the causes of recent impotence and dysfunction. Often, this debate pits Western-oriented modernizers against Islamic fundamentalists who seek closer adherence to traditional Muslim principles. How much of what is manifested as rage against America grows out of a desire to recapture past Arabic and Islamic glory? Can Americans help to reconcile Western modernity with Muslim tradition and achievement?"
2. While we look to tomorrow, to a brighter future, to opportunity and the fulfillment of dreams, the Arab and Muslim world looks to the past and seeks a return of their romanticized glory days. We may play a significant role in the reversal by bringing liberty to the Arab world, while respecting the traditional social morays of the religion. The greater task will be for the Muslim cleric to alter the methods of both education with regard to their faith and the means by which men are valued in their society. Our churches and synagogues teach the moral lessons of Judeo-Christian heritage, while in the mosque, the Khutbah states without equivocation the expected behavior of a Muslim. If you have submitted to God, Allah in this case, are you seeking the moral lessons of Islam, or rather the direct law (as seen in Fiqh or Jurisprudence) and guidance of personal, business and state behavior.
"3. Are American values a threat? In many eyes—and not just in the Muslim world—America represents an aggressive manifestation of a particular set of political values: democracy, economic liberalism, individual rights and responsibilities, strict separation of religion and governance, and a willingness to question established beliefs and practices. More invasive may be American popular culture with its secularism, consumerism, promiscuity, freedom for women, and suspicion of authority. America's dominance in the modern world makes American values impossible to ignore. Can modernist American values and traditional Muslim values coexist? Or are Muslim fundamentalists correct that the dominance of American values poses an existential threat to Muslim societies? We cannot, of course, change our values. Can we convince Muslims that our values pose no threat?"
3. American values and the traditional Muslim values can coexist, with one very significant caveat. The traditional Muslim must broaden their values to include liberty, remembering that their can be no compulsion in religion, seeing the broader value of individuals choosing to live righteously in a world of unrighteousness. Are we capable of convincing Muslims of the value of liberty? No. However, that will come from within as those who experience liberty, and the freedom to misbehave, chooses instead to live a life within the framework of traditional Islam.
"4. Does poverty breed terrorism? Not all those who wish to harm Americans come from the ranks of the poor, the unemployed, or the uneducated. Yet it is hard to dismiss the hypothesis that forced idleness, little or no hope for a materially better future, and the sense of impotence that comes from deprivation will breed at least sympathy for those who attack the richest and most powerful country in the world, a country whose wealth and power depend crucially on energy resources derived from the Muslim world. Can economic development and poverty reduction decrease support for terrorists?"
4. I do not believe that poverty creates terrorism, however, I do believe that economic opportunity and a political voice will impact the ability to recruit and develop terrorist removing the barriers that create the current captive audience.
"5. Is it the company we keep? Some Muslims find themselves estranged from their own governments, which they see as corrupt, oppressing their own peoples, and selling out to false Western ideals. U.S. support for these regimes is sometimes seen as a cynical exchange for access to energy resources and military basing rights. To what extent does anti-American sentiment in the Muslim world reflect not a rejection of American values and policies but outrage at American support for regimes of dubious competence or legitimacy? Can we—should we—push these governments toward effective reform?"
5. We not only should but we must push for reform in the governments of the Middle East. It would be hypocritical and immoral for us to state the failings of those governments and the impact they have on repressing liberty within the Muslim world, and do nothing to change the situation. In Saudi Arabia for instance, the Wahabi, and for that matter many who do not consider themselves Wahabi or Salafi, regularly ridicule the Royal family’s hypocrisy as they proclaim to be keeper of the two holies and practice the most repugnant of behaviors usually associated with American liberal excess. This is by no means a call for overthrow, but rather a statement that we should press for a greater liberalization across the society and an increase in both individual liberty and participation within the government. Some of which has begun.
"6. Can Americans be secure if Israelis and Palestinians are not? Certainly, the continuing conflict between Palestinians and Israelis complicates relations between America and the Muslim world. If the Israeli-Palestinian conflict persists, must America remain a target for terror? And if this conflict were somehow resolved, how much Muslim antipathy toward America would still remain?"
6. The use of the Israeli and Palestinian conflict by Muslims, and yes it is use, abuse, and outright untruth, will remain a point of contention and inflame anti-American sentiment. The change necessary, toward truth, acceptance and liberty, among the Arab and Muslim states and their citizens will not occur overnight. The political forces of each Arab nation play a significant role in fanning the fires of resentment. Only when they accept Israel, will the citizens begin to erase the now state and religious sponsored bigotry prevalent in the Middle East.
"7. How can we fight terrorists and still win friends? Military action against terrorists, pressure on foreign governments to round up suspected terrorists and their sympathizers, and more aggressive efforts to defend Americans against terrorism will inevitably harden some hearts against America and create propaganda opportunities for those who portray America as unjust, biased, or evil. Indeed, suspicion of—if not hatred for—the United States in the Muslim world may well have increased in the past year. How can we pursue the necessary war against terrorists without losing the broader struggle against anti-American sentiment?"
7. The question presumes that the cause of terrorism is our action. No matter the propaganda efforts, our pursuit of a just cause must not waiver. Only our strident pursuit of terror, while preserving the lives of the innocent and providing liberty where none had been will close the doors to those who recruit new terrorist. As to the anti-American sentiment, it is a self-imposed prison and one that each Arab or Muslim possesses the key to.

As always, it is possible that I am completely off the mark, and while I’d like to write much further on each of the seven questions, I’ll refrain for now. Instead, I offer a summary of the theme of my opinion on the issue in general. It is the Arab and Muslim world that has failed to fight terrorism, so now we are. It is the Arab and Muslim governments and clergy that must wash away the ideology behind the terrorist. It will happen through their efforts or after we’ve removed their authority through our efforts.

Our Bloody Hands

There are far too many examples of the size and scope of the depravity of the humanity. The worst, absolutely the worst, of all is to kill in the name of religion. And yet the U.N., the self-proclaimed hope of the voiceless, the hungry, the poor and the defenseless, is incapable of calling those who kill in the name of religion what they are. There is no end to the moral ambivalence of the United Nations.

Joshua Muravchik, in his column ‘Terrorism’s silent partner at the U.N.’, explores the vast gap between those capable of moral clarity and those unwilling to call terrorism by its rightful name.

”This month, the United Nations Security Council voted to condemn terrorism. The resolution was introduced by Russia, still grieving over the terrorist attack on a school in Beslan, and perhaps the unanimous vote will give it a measure of solace.

But the convoluted text and the dealings behind the scenes that were necessary to secure agreement on it offer cold comfort to anyone who cares about winning the war against terrorism. For what they reveal is that even after Beslan and after Madrid and after 9/11, the U.N. still cannot bring itself to oppose terrorism unequivocally.

The reason for this failure is that the Organization of the Islamic Conference, which comprises 56 of the U.N.'s 191 members, defends terrorism as a right.”

While Muravchik points to the 56 members of the OIC, the problem extends beyond the OIC, it extends to those who do not stand in defiance of the OIC and demand that the U.N., if acting at all, to act with clarity and purpose rather than ambiguity and pretense.
”After the Security Council vote, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John C. Danforth tried to put the best face on the resolution. He said it "states very simply that the deliberate massacre of innocents is never justifiable in any cause. Never."

But in fact it does not state this. Nor has any U.N. resolution ever stated it. The U.S. delegation tried to get such language into the resolution, but it was rebuffed by Algeria and Pakistan, the two OIC members currently sitting on the Security Council. (They have no veto, but the resolution's sponsors were willing to water down the text in return for a unanimous vote.)

True, the final resolution condemns "all acts of terrorism irrespective of their motivation." This sounds clear, but in the Alice-in-Wonderland lexicon of the U.N., the term "acts of terrorism" does not mean what it seems. “

And herein the problem lies, the U.S., our Allies, and the entire body of the U.N. Security Council seeks more to attain a unanimous vote than to pass a resolution with the clarity of stating that terrorism is wrong, whether it is in the guise of ‘national liberation’ or otherwise.
”For eight years now, a U.N. committee has labored to draft a "comprehensive convention on international terrorism." It has been stalled since Day 1 on the issue of "defining" terrorism. But what is the mystery? At bottom everyone understands what terrorism is: the deliberate targeting of civilians. The Islamic Conference, however, has insisted that terrorism must be defined not by the nature of the act but by its purpose. In this view, any act done in the cause of "national liberation," no matter how bestial or how random or defenseless the victims, cannot be considered terrorism.

This boils down to saying that terrorism on behalf of bad causes is bad, but terrorism on behalf of good causes is good. Obviously, anyone who takes such a position is not against terrorism at all — but only against bad causes. “

No, it means that they are not capable of seeing right and wrong, no cause is worth committing acts of terror. Just as those who fought for the birth of this nation noted, there are bounds of acceptable behavior in warfare, terrorism is not just the crossing of those bounds but the admonition to cross them or to deny their very existence.
”The U.S. is not alone in failing to get the Islamic states to reconsider their pro-terror stance. Following 9/11, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan pushed to break the deadlock on the terrorism convention. He endorsed compromise language proscribing terrorism unambiguously while reaffirming the right of self-determination. But the Islamic Conference would not budge.

Far from giving ground on terrorism, the Islamic states have often gotten their way on the issue, with others giving in to them. As early as 1970, for instance, the U.N. General Assembly adopted a resolution "reaffirm[ing] … the legitimacy of the struggle of the colonial peoples and peoples under alien domination to exercise their right to self-determination and independence by all the necessary means at their disposal."

Everyone understood that this final phrase was code for terrorism. Similar formulas have been adopted repeatedly in the years since. Originally, the Western European states joined the U.S. in voting against such motions. But in each of the last few years the U.N. Commission on Human Rights has adopted such a resolution with regard to the Palestinian struggle against Israel, with almost all the European members voting in favor.

Danforth may feel that the U.S. position was vindicated in the new Security Council resolution, but that is not what OIC representatives think. As Pakistan's envoy to the U.N., Munir Akram, put it: "We ought not, in our desire to confront terrorism, erode the principle of the legitimacy of national resistance that we have upheld for 50 years." Accordingly, he expressed satisfaction with the resolution: "It doesn't open any new doors."

Who is right? Hours of parsing the resolution won't resolve that question. But in the end it does not matter. As long as the Islamic states resist any blanket condemnation of terrorism, we will remain a long way from ridding the Earth of its scourge. And the U.N., in which they account for nearly one-third of the votes, will be helpless to bring us any closer.”

The world, including the U.S., has ignored to our peril the OIC’s support of terror, and by doing so, in the name of diplomacy, has permitted them to control the discussion of the U.N. with regard to terror. This must stop if we are to do more than contain the terrorist.

Our aim is victory. Defeating the terrorist, and destroying the ideology behind them will require standing firm against such moral ambivalence, else we only postpone till another day a renewed birth of terror and the death of more innocent lives. The U.N. and all the member states are bloodied by their diplomacy. It is time to put an end to it.

October 18, 2004

Why Juan Cole ticks me off?

Juan Cole has done it again. It's not that he insists on calling Tawhid wa Jihad by the simplistic English translation Monotheism and Holy War, although I would take issue with that as well. While discussing al-Zarqawi’s recent statement of allegiance to al-Qaeda, he notes that the Tawhid and Jihad group have a

"violent interpretation of Salafism, rather as the the leaders of the so-called German Peasant Rebellion among early Protestants did."
Why would it surprise me that Dr. Cole would once again tie modern Islamo-fascism to Christian history? I for the life of me cannot explain why I wouldn’t expect this from him at every opportunity. In addition, the always willing to see the "green" side of the story, notes that al-Zarqawi’s view is a "violent interpretaion of Salafism". You think so.

How about what the professor will not tell you, that modern Salafism is essentially another sweetened name for the Wahabi movement. The difference of course is that the Salafi are able to point to their adherence to Islam as practiced by the original companions, the Salafi, while the Wahabi use the name of a revivalist advocating essentially the same view of Islam.

There is a reason why men like David Horowitz believe the left is aligned with the Islamo-fascist. Tender footing around the issue, and showing moral ignorance by comparing modern terrorist with the history of Christian rebelion, both from the Church and the European rulers of 500 years ago is disrespectful to us all.

Duluiya

U.S. and Iraqi forces have engaged terrorist in the town of Duluiya south of Samarra according to the Saudi Press Agency.

"BAGHDAD, Oct 19, SPA-- U.S. and Iraqi forces surrounded the town of Duluiya north of the capital, Baghdad, overnight, raiding homes and arresting dozens of suspected insurgents, Iraqi National Guards said on Tuesday.

U.S. helicopters struck surrounding orchards where suspected insurgents were believed to be hiding out, witnesses said. There was no immediate word on casualties or comment from U.S. forces.

Duluiya lies about 20 kilometres (12 miles) south of Samarra, where U.S. forces carried out an offensive earlier this month to root out rebels ahead of elections planned for January.

No word yet from Western sources.


Those Who Oppose Us

When I am moved to note news, opinion or my own thoughts on the events of our age, it is more often astonishment and disbelief that moves me to do so. After a weekend away from the news, a self-imposed reprieve that I am prone to from time to time, I am so moved this morning. What has moved me so?

During this the first week of Ramadhan, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi has released a statement of his, and his organization’s, allegiance to al-Qaeda. While U.S. forces, and Iraqi Prime Minister Allawi have called for the people of Fallujah to stand up against the terrorist in their midst, al-Zarqawi has fought back and the city is most certainly going to pay a huge price for his decision. It is not the U.S. or Iraq that is causing the death of peaceful people within Iraq. It is not the war in Iraq that has created the belief that we live in an unsafe world today. Sure, Kofi Annan, may say otherwise. He is simply wrong. He like the left in this nation, Europe and throughout the world is incapable of recognizing the moral separation between the just defense of liberty and life, and the attacking of innocent non-combatants as practiced by Islamo-fascist around the world.

With restraint, our forces continue to take the battle to the enemies of a Free Iraq. With no regard for life, they commit unspeakable horrors and kill innocent people.

With compassion, we offer a choice for Iraqi’s and Afghan’s to choose their own path, to govern themselves in a manner of their own construction. Terrorists offer them a government controlled by the unholy adherents of a distorted and perverse faith.

The judgment of the Muslim man on the street, like that of the American, is in question. The U.N., France, Germany and others, believe that safety will come through our capitulation to this terror. I do not believe that after our election is over, that we will have made a decision to follow their lead. Instead, we will choose as we have for the majority of the last 228 years, to pursue the challenge before us. We will reaffirm that America is not a place or a geographic location. America is an idea.

We do not fight terror for the sake of the billions who do not live in the United States. Yet our fight, presents the opportunity for the people of the world to share in the idea of America, to seek Life over death, Liberty over subjugation, and Happiness over misery. This, I believe, is why so many around the world oppose our efforts. A more American world, not in our cultural identity, but in our stubborn refusal to give up the individual in favor of the group, our steadfast refusal to follow their false ideal of equality in results rather than equality in opportunity, and our devotion to the Judeo-Christian moral foundation from which this nation was founded, threatens all that the Islamo-fascist and the leftist represent. Hence, a more American world is worth fighting for, and for those who oppose it, it is worth fighting against.

October 15, 2004

The Unread Message to Muslims and Arabs

In writing an editorial for Dar al Hayat, Jamil al-Ziabi, shines a light on how complicit the Muslim and Arab people are in the death of victims of terror.

”We the Muslims, especially the Arabs, are really quite surprising. We participate in the crimes, and then we justify them by our solidarity with the oppressed people and call these justifications humanitarian positions. But when we find out that these crimes actually killed people, we do not even apologize.

We, the Arabs and Muslims, donated money with good intentions; nevertheless, we never knew that our financial donations would provoke doubts and we never knew that we would be accused of being partners in killing innocent lives. We glorified the suicide missions in the name of religion and the nation's pride, yet this Arab individual forgot the he is a "weak" creation, and the strongest human feature is a sharp tongue that slanders the preponderant aptitudes. In the past we used to trust and praise those who collected financial donations, and we never thought that our money would one day turn into fireballs that burned the bodies of innocent children.

I wish we could learn from the lessons of the past and discontinue the language of glorification and commendations for those who stole the Muslim mind and turned us without our awareness into partners in murder and killings.”

If you, like me, have longed to see more Muslims take a stand, this isn’t enough, but like the few who’ve preceded him, it is a welcome commentary.

al-Ziabi goes on to describe the extent of Muslim and Arab responsibility for terror.

”These groups took our money while we were shopping, while we were dining at restaurants. They even took it in Mosques and at the gates of schools and universities. We paid those people in the name of Chechnya, Iraq, Bosnia, and Palestine, so how could we not be partners in their crimes? We are a 100 percent partners with these groups, especially now that we know; and the allegation that "we don't know" is renounced.”
It’s a short read, take the time and acknowledge at least one more voice of reason in the Middle East. If it remains an unread, unheard message, not just in the Muslim world, the light it shines will fade.

Saddam and the PFLP and PLF

No friend of the global war on terror, and in particular of the U.S. led liberation of Iraq, even the Scotsman, is now reporting Saddam Hussein's ties to terror and abuse of the U.N. Oil for Food program.

"US investigators discovered that Saddam Hussein, pictured in court, bankrolled the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine through the UN oil-for-food programme with the help of a Syrian company acting as a front."
The story relates to how Saddam supported the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), one of the orignal arms or founding elements of the PLO. The Scotsman reports that the PFLP is devoted to thwarting the "Road-map" for peace and primarily strikes using car bombs.
It is rare that I'd point you to the Scotsman, but this one is noteworthy.

"Interviews from Iraqi officials captured by US troops confirm that Saddam saw himself as the potential "liberator" of Palestine. Taped conversations have been uncovered from 1991 saying he wanted to deploy biological warfare on "the Israeli cities - all of them".

Debriefings from Iraqi regime members have also disclosed that "Saddam was conscious of Israel’s WMD arsenal and saw Israel as a formidable challenge".

Three years ago, Saddam gave a speech on Iraqi television saying "there can never be stability, security of peace in the Middle East so long as there are immigrant Jews in the land of Palestine".

His financial support also extended to Abu Al-Abbas, leader of the Palestinian Liberation Front - another terrorist group - who was allocated 11.5 million barrels of oil.

The PLO is also named as a main beneficiary from Saddam’s scheme - receiving four million barrels under its own name and five million barrels for its "political bureau". The cash was again passed through Syria, a known conduit for Palestinian terror organisations."


More Fallujah News

Additional reporting out of Iraq shows that the limited offensive in and around Fallujah is specifically aimed at the Tawhid and Jihad Organization headed by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. The "cleric" who led the negotiation efforts with the Iraqi government, as the representative of Fallujah, has been arrested after leading Jum'aa prayers on Friday near Fallujah.

The cleric has called the effort a "lie" just like the "weapons of mass destruction lie." He has said that he will call for Jihad against the multinational forces should efforts to capture al-Zarqawi include an attack on Fallujah and his proposed "civil disobedience" not result in capitulation by the Iraqi government.

"In case the interim government and occupation troops make no response following the civil disobedience campaign, Muslim scholars and representatives of all Islamic and national groups will declare jihad all over Iraq and declare a mobilization against the occupation troops as well as those collaborating with them".
Additionally, Tawhid and Jihad has claimed responsibility for the Green Zone murders yesterday.

al-Jazeera reports the following attributed to U.S. military spokesmen.

"Since approximately 1:00pm (1000 GMT) Thursday, multi-national forces have destroyed a key planning centre, a weapons transload and storage facility, two safe-houses, a terrorist meeting site and several illegal checkpoints used by the Zarqawi network," the US military said in a statement.
And this comment from one of the cities negotiators.
"We were taken aback by Allawi's comments ... since there was no mention of Zarqawi during the talks," one delegate, who gave his name as Abu Ahmad, said.

"Allawi and his government will bear the responsibility of the spilling of Muslim blood in Falluja."

Kasim Dawud, an Iraqi national security advisor offers an incentive for the people of Fallujah to evict al-Zarqawi and his allies.
"I hope they kick them out, otherwise we are preparing to crush them".
More as it becomes available.

October 14, 2004

News from Iran

We’ve seen the Iranian parliament send a clear message that Iran should not cease it’s production of enriched uranium, in addition, the Russian government has now stated that they’ve completed the construction of the Bushehr nuclear power plant without an agreement on the return of spent fuel. The Tehran Times offers the following three articles.

First, by none other than Dr. Juan Cole, an essay on “The Hidden War” in Iraq, his thesis being that U.S. bombing of Iraqi cities may work against the U.S. when the Iraqi elections take place in January. The basis for Dr. Cole’s beliefs are the words of Iraqi President Ghazi al-Yawir, who apparently has questioned the tactic of using precision bombing to fight the terror cells in urban areas of Iraq. al-Yawir compared the bombing to Israeli efforts in the Gaza, and like Cole he is notes only the civilian casualties attributed to the attacks by the Arab press. Cole has consistently proven to be anti-U.S. and anti-Israeli in his coverage, and here he doesn’t fail. Writing from the comfort of Michigan, he asserts that the bombings and each “innocent” who is killed creates another “clan feud with the U.S.”

I couldn’t disagree more. There are, of course, “innocent” men, women and children killed on occasion by the precision bombing efforts of our military. And if their families and the survivors wish to make the U.S. the scapegoat, they may. I’m sure some will. But the real culprit remains the terrorist hiding among them. That is why Prime Minister Allawi requested, or demanded, the people of Fallujah to turn over al-Zarqawi, and the other Tawhid and Jihad members holding the city captive. On the eve of Ramadhan, the U.S. and Iraq forces are moving into Fallujah or at a minimum, engaging the forces who hold the city captive. These terrorist are responsible for the loss of innocent lives, Muslim or otherwise, not the U.S. forces. Dr. Cole continues to pitch the pro-Islamist view and to write in a manner to encourage their belief that the U.S. occupation is unjust. He should be ashamed.

Next, the story of how Javid Mansuri, a political analyst for the Iranian Foreign Ministry, suggest that it is illegal for the EU to require Iran to comply with the IAEA and cease it’s efforts towards uranium enrichment. His theory is that if Iran has to comply, Israel should have also. Believing that the requirement runs counter to international law, he states that Iran can “never comply.”

It is odd to me, maybe not, that he uses Israel as the basis for his argument. Surely if Iran simply wanted to have peaceful nuclear capabilities, power, Israel wouldn’t be the cause of concern or the example used. Israel is used because it is widely accepted that Israel has nuclear weapons. Weapons... and Iran, despite the blustering and posturing about seeking only to have peaceful uses for it’s nuclear program, seeks to have them also.

And the final disturbing piece from Tehran, the leader of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei offered these uplifting words to new graduates of the Iranian Army’s Military Academy:

”In the Islamic culture, a serviceman enters the battlefield enthusiastically, so he is a fighter for the sake of God and his service will never be forgotten," the Supreme Leader noted.

"The Islamic army is always well-prepared for sacrifice for the sake of God. At the same time, the army should equip itself with the latest science and technology and take a lesson from the experience of eight years of Sacred Defense (1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war).

"Over the past 25 years, the Islamic Republic of Iran has stood against the hegemony of foreign powers and resisted efforts to impose foreign domination. Thank God, Iran has become stronger than before due to national resolve, bravery, and the initiative and innovation of the country’s younger generation."

So the gist of the message – You fight for Allah when you fight for Iran, and thankfully we are better prepared to fight today than in the past. How nice.

There are many Americans who are unwilling to accept that Iran and Syria are enemies of the U.S. and Israel, and now, they are enemies of Free Iraq. The question is not if but when we will confront them in defense of Liberty.

Fallujah

It may be that the effort to remove terrorist from Fallujah has begun. Maybe not.

Earlier today, the cease fire talks between the Iraqi government and a delagation from Fallujah broke off. al-Jazeera reported on the halt in negotiations and air strikes Thursday afternoon in Fallujah.

Now the AP reports Marine artillery fire joining in, and two Marine battalions attacking "rebel" positions.

"Warplanes and artillery pounded the city as two U.S. Marine battalions attacked rebel positions to "restore security and stability," 1st Lt. Lyle Gilbert, a spokesman for the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, told CNN.

"It is going to be a long night," he said.

Maj. Francis Piccoli, spokesman for the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, told The Associated Press that two Marine battalions were engaged in the fight backed up by aircraft.

He would not say the attack was the start of a major campaign to recapture the city, saying he did not want to jeopardize any future operations.

Piccoli said the goal of the operation was to "disrupt the capabilities of the anti-Iraqi forces."

"Ultimately, the intent is to help the Iraqi government bring in democracy," he added. "As you bring in sustained security and stability, the Iraqi government can build on as they go into elections" in January."

Semper Fi. Here's to their success and safety.

UPDATE: The Command Post has the story from CNN. It includes this quote from 1st Lt. Lyle Gilbert of the 1st MEF:

"We’ve been looking forward to this for a long time."
And the comment from "Jim in Chicago":
"Bbbbbbut. the LA Times said this week that there’d be no US offensive til after the election.

The LA Times couldn’t be wrong they couldn’t they couldn’t.

And man, this is really gonna harsh Sully’s buzz too."

Indeed. The media believes that every decision is a political decision.

UPDATE 2: The latest from Fallujah is here.

Mortar fire from Syria

It appears that someone in Syria is firing 82mm Mortar shells at U.S. forces along the border.

"The 82 mm mortar rounds have been fired at U.S. and Iraqi positions in and around Husaybah in the far west of Iraq's Anbar province, said Lt. Col. Chris Woodbridge, commander of the 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment.

"Who exactly is firing these mortars, we do not know. But what we do know is that the point of origin of these rounds is on the Syrian side of the border," said Woodbridge, 39, of Brooklyn.

There has been no evidence linking the Syrian military to the attacks, he said. However, the Syrian military has the capability to determine who is launching the mortars and act against them, Woodbridge said.

"Syrian authorities should be the ones to go after them, no question about it," he said.

The mortar attacks come at a time of increased U.S. pressure on Syria to stem cross-border infiltration and movement of militants into Iraq."

So we don't know who's firing them, and the Syrian government has, as of yet, not stopped them.
"Following those talks, U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld called the Syrians "unhelpful" and accused them of "facilitating terrorists moving back and forth, money moving back and forth" to Iraq. Rumsfeld made the remarks during a speech at Council on Foreign Relations in New York.

While Syria has posted hundreds of extra troops along the frontier, its officials have said it is impossible to seal off such a large area.

Woodbridge maintains that the official Syrian presence at the border is scarce, consisting of a few patrols at the border crossing.

The U.S. Marines, who patrol a 250-mile stretch of mostly desert terrain between the two countries, say the Syrians have not been helpful in securing their side of the border.

"They should be more active in patrolling their side of the border, in searching vehicles, in detaining suspicious characters," Woodbridge said."

How do you like that. They've been "unhelpful" along the border.

"We're Done" - Iran has a Nuclear Power Plant

Russian spokesmen claim they've completed the construction of Iran's first Nuclear power plant. What they don't have is an agreement to return spent fuel to Russia.

Lovely news....

""We're done," said a spokesman for Russia's Atomic Energy Agency (RosAtom). "All we need to do now is work out an agreement on sending spent fuel back to Russia."

Such an agreement with Iran is designed to allay US concerns. Iran would guarantee it would return to Russia all spent nuclear fuel, which can be used to make weapons. But the signing, due last year, has been repeatedly delayed."

This doesn't make me feel more comfortable with Iran. Their previous statements that they will proceed with the enrichment process, coupled with a supply of spent fuel and no agreement as to how it is to be handled. Not the news I had hoped for from Iran or Russia.

Struck by the Germans

The complexity of operating a security mission, while at the same time operating combat missions seems to be more than the German Defense Minister Peter Struck cares to tackle. Perhaps he could explain to Senator Pander the significance of trying to do both.

The U.S. has requested NATO consider taking over responsibility for military operations, combat, in Afghanistan. Struck was quick to state that Germany isn’t for it.

"We are against a merger of the two mandates," Struck told German radio. "The German government sees its engagement primarily with the ... stabilization mandate."
It strikes me that combating the remaining terrorist elements in Afghanistan is a component of stabilizing Afghanistan. The reality remains that Germany is not interested in fighting the war on terror, they are interested in protecting Germany from Islamist within their nation, and their veiled efforts at maintaining some sort of participation reflect poorly on them. NATO is not the force for defense of liberty it once was, it is now subject to French and German weakness and their lack of moral purpose.

October 13, 2004

Estonia and the EU Giants

If you enjoy reading about taxation, sorry even I had to laugh at that, and want to see who it is in Europe that is leading the fight against higher taxation, in fact against pan-Europe tax policy, read Hans Labohm’s report at TCS.

Labohm sets the scene by describing how the larger, and currently struggling, EU nations are seeking not only to create corporate tax reporting policy across all of the EU, but wants to set the levels across all nations of the EU. Their concern, that lower tax rates in Eastern European nations, Great Britain and Ireland, are a threat not only to investments but also to the welfare state, a staple of the European identity.

Even if you aren’t all that into the economics of tax policy, it is an interesting read, particularly when you note the progress seen in Ireland and Estonia following their lowering of taxes. Watching the former Soviet bloc nations rise from the ashes of communism and attempting to lead Europe from the cinders of its socialism brings a smile to my Ronald Reagan loving soul, and makes me want to send a note of thanks to Arthur Laffer.

A little more news of note.

Here’s a brief, or maybe not, run through some of the things I’d like to share with you today but may not get back to.

Seif al-Islam Gadhafi, the son of Moammar Gadhafi says: “Libya has decided to separate from the so-called Middle East” and “There is no need anymore to continue spending on the military field," he said. "Instead, we will direct such spending to development.” Anyone here Liberty calling...

They’ve got a list. So now we’ve got a list also. In this case a list, really a letter, of criticism of Senator Pander’s economic policies. Well worth the read in preparation for tonight’s debate. And of course Edward Prescott, the current Nobel Laureate for Economics, is one of them.

Here’s a hearty welcome to America. NOT! 25 Chechen terrorists crossing the border from Mexico into Arizona. If it’s true, we had better track them down before they act out on any intentions. Someday, maybe, it is possible, we’ll treat the border as a real threat to national security.

And here's a little news on the "tolerant" Europeans. The MEP’s have their britches in a bunch over, surprise, a Catholic believing that homosexuality is a sin. Mr. Buttiglione has stated that it is not a crime, but of course, that doesn’t matter, can’t have a man of real faith holding the reigns of power. Here’s a fun quote by Mirko Tremaglia: "Unfortunately, Buttiglione has lost. Poor Europe: the queers are in the majority."

Two more - First, the discussion of Senator Pander's discharge is well worth a read. Try PoliPundit or Beldar for starters. Or as always, Hugh. Second, N.E. Republican, has a story of the Senator's willingness to lie to get your vote. Shameless, he is indeed shameless.

Iraqi SWAT - Coming to a terrorist's neighborhood soon.

Backcountry Conservative offers an exclusive poster of the Iraqi SWAT team.

It's a wonderful picture, and when taken in conjunction with the NRO piece, by W. Thomas Smith, Jr., on the emergence of the Iraqi Special Forces, and their recent efforts to confront the terrorist binding Iraqi's to fear and repression, it becomes even more powerful.

Read the NRO piece. And share the picture, but be sure to give Backcountry Conservative a hat tip.


Cowardly Kawasme

While quite comfortable sending men, women and children off to become martyrs commit murder, Imad Kawasme, the head of the militant wing of Hamas (Iz a Din al-Kassam) in Hebron showed his true character when he surrendered to IDF forces surrounding his "safe house".

Too cowardly perhaps to take his own life as he has sent others to do. Via - The Command Post

"We will not be lenient."

The rightly honored interim Prime Minister of Iraq, Iyad Allawi, has sent a message to the people of Fallujah. Turn over Abu Musab al-Zarqawi or the government will carry out military operations in Fallujah. It's about time.

The AP reports:

"If they do not turn in al-Zarqawi and his group, we will carry out operations in Fallujah," Prime Minister Ayad Allawi told a meeting of the interim National Council on Wednesday. "We will not be lenient."

Allawi urged anxious council members, who expressed concern about a wave of bombings, kidnappings and other attacks, to "have faith in yourself and in Iraq."

Of course the AP took this statement as a concession.
"The more we crack down on terrorist havens, the more these strikes are going to increase."
I don't believe it is a concession, it is a statement of the inability of the terrorist to form any sort of military strike or even use non-terror guerilla warfare tactics to combat the Iraqi or allied forces in Iraq. They are not insurgents, they are terrorist. Unlike al-Sadr and company, who are now being paid to turn in medium and heavy weapons, al-Zarqawi cannot be given any freedom to escape from prosecution as a terrorist. I still have doubts about al-Sadr's compliance, but a similar deal with al-Zarqawi has to be out of the question.

October 12, 2004

Missing components of Nuclear program (updated)

While the left continues the "no WMD's" theme. The IAEA noted yesterday that satelite imagery and investigations of nuclear sites in Iraq show:

"the widespread and apparently systematic dismantlement that has taken place at sites previously relevant to Iraq's nuclear programme and sites previously subject to ongoing monitoring and verification by the agency".
Iraq's current Science and Technology Minister, Rashad Omar, responds that facilities in question are "secure and under our control".

I'm not sure if it the IAEA's political leanings that makes me suspect of the claims, or the potential for Minister Omar to be playing both sides. Either way, we should definitely have some verification underway. And pronto.

And how about al-Baredai's optimistic comment:

"As the disappearance of such equipment and materials may be of proliferation significance, any state that has information about the location of such items should provide IAEA with that information".

UPDATE: 10/14/04 - A new AP report on the situation provides more details from the IAEA and "diplomate" who are aware of the issue. The U.S. and Iraqi's are investigating. IAEA is concerned it was a professional removal of the materials.

A Contrast in Europe

The Spanish have made their decision. So has Romania. Their answers are vastly different. The question of being with us or against us in the war against Islamo-fascism is answered again in recent news.

Spain held a parade in honor of their "National Day" which has recently included the participation of U.S. Marines. While the Marines weren't involved this year, the Fascist remnants of Spain's Civil War were included, as were the French.

Romanian President Ion Iliescu has a different view. Having not forgotten the nearly fifty years under Communist rule, the Romanian President supports the war, has 700 troops in Iraq and had this to say after meeting with Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

"Being a country that for half a century was under a totalitarian regime (we consider) the intervention in Iraq was moral and legitimate"
What is clear is that Europe, much like the U.S., has a split between those who understand and remember the lessons of history and those who long for a utopian world. Spain is especially disappointing, although it probably shouldn't be, after all, the Fascist rulers of Spain avoided involvement in WWII. Why would this one be any different for them? After all, the enemy is killing Jews and supporters of liberty and capitalism.

October 11, 2004

Have a Coke and a Smile

Will the army of Islamo-fascist defeat the army of peace nicks? Only if those of us who are armed not just with intelligence, but also with moral conviction, intellectual honesty and courage allow it. The war today is not between the peace nicks and the radical Muslim forces of al-Qaeda or the Mahdi Army. It is between those who believe in the inalienable rights of man, as typified by George Bush and his allies, and the Islamo-fascist who seek to control or kill all men who do not subscribe to their beliefs. This battle stands as the only barrier between those who worship peace, such as Senator Pander, the EU, the UN and their supporters, and the threat of radical Islam. Should the Senator become President, the war will take a different turn.

The left, led by the worshipers of peace, will seek to negotiate with Islamo-fascist, buying into the non-sense that it is economic injustice that has led to the attacks on Israel, the United States, and the many other nations who’ve been attacked over the last few years alone. Nowhere in the Islamo-fascist creed are there statements of support for the ideals of the left, multiculturalism, tolerance, and order attained by law. Yet the left believes that they, more than the men of moral courage will be able to broker peace with those seeking an idealist utopian world of Islam. What do they have in common?

Both the left and the Islamist believe in a utopian ideal of what the world should be, if only everyone followed their ideals. How is this a superior intellectual dream, as they would have us believe?

The reality of the world escapes them. I have been hesitant somewhat to see Senator Pander as a pacifist. Primarily because I have some respect for those who are pacifist out of a moral, albeit faulty, argument or out of an understanding of their faith, i.e. Tolstoy. While in the Marine Corps, I met several new pacifists, right at the time of the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. Needless to say, most of them were not conscientious objectors, and they weren’t missed while those of us who volunteered where in Saudi Arabia or Kuwait. Senator Pander is not a pacifist by moral or religious argument. He is a pacifist from lack of courage, having served, and been scarred in the process, he now possesses no will or strength to stand for justice in times of war, as is shown by his failure to support the first Gulf War and his current track of appeasement towards Iran, North Korea and the nuisance of global terror.

The dream world does not exist. Only their continued lies and blind faith in the potential for man to exist in such a way extends their arguments at a time when the truth is that neither dream world, Islamic or liberal, would co-exist with the other, and that the Islamic militant forces, fueled by a greater fervor, higher birth rate, and lack of scruples would inevitably defeat the left and in doing set upon making the world into a model of their ideals.

No man who embraces liberty as a moral truth can submit to this course of action. Yet Senator Pander wants us to believe that he will defend our liberty, while he clearly does not understand what he would be defending it against, nor the threat that he posses to that very liberty.

North Korean threats continue

More evidence of Senator Pander's amazingly dangerous positions for the U.S.

""If the U.S. applies more sanctions to the DPRK by putting the U.N. in motion, the DPRK will promptly and resolutely react to it with self-defensive war deterrent force," the North's official news agency, KCNA, said.

"Sanctions mean a war and war does not know any mercy," KCNA said.

DPRK stands for Democratic People's Republic of Korea, North Korea's official name.

"The DPRK is not in a position to come out to the talks because the U.S. has deliberately laid a stumbling block in the way of the dialogue," KCNA added."

The Senator believes that the U.S. should engage in bilateral discussions with North Korea. After all, they are a trust worthy nation seeking no more than peace and economic prosperity.

The North Korean's failed to participate in the last round of multi-lateral talks, and of course, claim it was the U.S. road blocks which prevented them from participating. The Senator, who on all other issues seeks multi-national support, believes the U.S. should act alone with regard to North Korea, in essence meeting the North Korean demand for that, and making it an opportunity for the North Koreans to be brided into compliance, while they never intend to comply in the first place.

If it requires war, it requires war not because we have failed or taken an approach that is unjust or wrong, it is because a brutal despot has decided that war is the path he must seek to extract power from a world which no longer ignores the little bully and the threat he poses.

Involuntary Human Reactions - Not!!!

Prince Talal bin Abdul-Aziz has described terrorism as an involuntary human reaction to the conditions of poverty and unemployment. The Prince could not be more wrong.

As is the standard of the lefts criticism of the U.S. and Israel the Prince echo's the blame for terror is not the religious dogma, the centuries old bigotry, nor the rampant jealousy and envy found in the Middle East, it is in effect not there fault he says.

"Unemployment creates one of the cornerstones of terrorism, and the poor who cannot get food on his table resorts to other means, which are involuntary human reactions".
The Prince, who has never gone without, cannot argue the true cause for terror, even though some in Saudi Arabia have previously stated it. His words are an insult to our cause and show the Saudi royal family still unwilling to address the core of the issue. Islamo-fascism. It is the Islamic beliefs, even if wrongly interpreted, that drive the terror found in Iraq and anywhere in the world where Muslims are found. Prince Abdul-Aziz should be more forthright and admit it as such. His nation, more than any other has spread the beliefs that enable such inhumane behavior in adherrants of Islam. Call a spada a spade, even if it means admitting your role in the painting of such hearts devoid of light.

Russian concern is Financial

In his latest efforts to convince Iran to cease it's uranium enrichment efforts, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, admits the real cause for concern in Russia.

Of course, it is financial.

The Bushehr power plant is worth $800 million dollars to the Russians. Knowing that if the Iranian's do not comply with the IAEA, the nations non-compliance will be turned over to the U.N. Security Council and that could be the end of Russia's deal with Iran.

Money lost. That's their concern.

October 9, 2004

Just a bit o' news.

As is the norm for this blog, the weekend gets less frequent updates and more "summary" style posting, if any.

Here we go.

Mass murdering terrorist who support Muqtada al-Sadr are again given a reprieve from death as P.M. Allawi has permitted a cease-fire and they are turning in their weapons. We'll see.

The most under-reported story on this blog, for which I must apologize, and in general has been the murderous bombings in Taba. I will have much more to say on it shortly. I also did not cover the blast in Paris at the Indonesian embassy. It too needs to be discussed, and in the context of the war, so does this empty resolution by the U.N.

Howard wins in Australia. Karzai in Afghanistan, but not without the cry of foul play. Well that happens even in Australia. Okay not really in Australia. But it is funny.

More later.

October 8, 2004

In the service of whom?

While the left warns that George W. Bush and the religious right are destroying America, it is the left's usurption of the Church, as it usurps all of America that presents a grave danger to us all. After the Presbyterian Church's decision to divest itself from companies doing business with Israel, it like others, are now discussed in al-Jazeera as examples of the moral piling on of pressure against Israel.

In 1901 Vladimir Lenin said:

"Our task is to utilize every manifestatoin of discontent, and to gather and turn to the best account every protest, however small...Concentrate all droplets of popular resentment. Combine these streamlets into a single gigantic torrent."
The left in America and throughout the world are effectively following Lenin's directive. Unfortunately, many who believe in the message of Christ, are supporting this effort without searching for the moral conclusion that follows such a course of action. My prayer is that before it is too late, that each of them will ask not only whom it is they serve, but how?

October 6, 2004

More Unfortunate News

A few interesting points, of which I would like to comment more but am limited in time as of this moment.

---

What do you think of two U.N. agencies requesting that Kofi Annan pull U.N. resources from Iraq due to “unprecedented” risk to their safety? I think it shows two things.

First, the U.N. is not fulfilling its self-described mission to aid countries in crisis. And second, the U.N. and its affiliates are participating in the process of spreading the belief that Iraq is in terrible decline and by doing so influencing the election in the U.S.

---

Iran announces that they’ve processed or enriched several tons of uranium, into a form that has no peaceful use in energy production. Add that to yesterday’s news of the increased range of the Shahab 3, Rafsanjani’s remarks and the Iranian parliaments vote to force the government to enrich uranium. Yet the U.N. sits and waits on the IAEA to report back in November.

---

Muqtada al-Sadr and his band of thugs are once again being given a cease-fire. How many times will we displace them only to have them resurface? Allawi deserves much credit for his handling of the rebuilding of Iraq, and for his patients in dealing with volatile issues such as al-Sadr, but at some point he too will have to clear the swamp.

But they want us here....

While on the topic of the U.N. again…. getting tired of it.

The all-powerful U.N. Security Council demanded urged that Syria withdraw their troops from Lebanon and cease their interference in Lebanese self-governance. It hasn’t happened. Wonder why?

Why would Syria want to leave Lebanon when they’ve buried so much of Saddam’s weapons in the Bekaa Valley. Oh, no I can’t say that. Perhaps they don’t want to leave because the good people of Hezbullah and Hamas don’t want them to. No…. no, that’s not it. It must be because the people of Lebanon want them to stay. Yeah, that’s the ticket.

Frankly, I didn’t think the U.N. or the U.S. had a right to tell them to leave until the Lebanese elections were interfered with. Don't take that to mean that they were "right" to be there either. So the terrorist supporters continue to piddle about and taunt the U.N. to do something about their disregard for U.N. resolutions. Wasn’t it nice when everybody lived in harmony and the world was filled with peace and tranquility? You don’t remember when that was, neither do I.

October 5, 2004

Iran

While some want to supply nuclear fuel to Iran, their former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani had this to say today:

"If the Americans attack Iran, the world will change ... they will not dare to make such a mistake".
This comment to a convention on "Space and National Security" held today in Tehran. Also covered by the AP here.

Rafsanjani also announced the Shahab 3 missile now has a range of 2000km. 1250 miles makes some portions of Europe within range. In the hands of Hamas or Hezbullah in Lebanon, a great deal of Europe would be in range. Portions of Pakistan and India are in range. And of course, Israel is within range.

Add to this the latest vote of the Iranian parliament as reported by Jang.

" TEHRAN: Parliament members in Iran's hard line-dominated parliament Tuesday
gave preliminary approval of a bill aimed at forcing the reformist government
to resume uranium enrichment in defiance of the UN nuclear watchdog, said sources."
While we debate and argue, the one single war rages on. It is the Global War on Terror.

From the Serpent's Mouthpiece

The serpent's mouthpiece on the Israeli movement into the northern Gaza region following last weeks rocket attacks on settlers:

"nothing but a Nazi-like rampage of murder and terror against a defenceless civilian population".

"Israel is simply slaughtering innocent civilians under the pretext of fighting terror. I don't know how much Palestinian blood would satiate Israel's thirst. I don't how many Palestinian children would have to be killed in order to make up for two Jewish kids who died last week," said PA Deputy Foreign Minister Abd Allah Abd Allah.

Or how about this for enlightenment.
""He knows quite well that the only thing that makes him popular among Israelis is (shedding) Palestinian blood. This explains it all."
Or this one.
"They want to exterminate the Palestinian people but they don't to see any witnesses around."
The Palestinian Authority supports and incites terror in Israel, and in doing so encourages additional terror against those who support Israel. Most notably, almost singularly, the U.S.

Via al-Jazeera, voted #1 network by terrorist worldwide.

Enemies Abound

The President knows we are at war with terrorist, a global network of terrorist, often only loosely associated out of their hatred for the U.S, Israel, and the rights of free men. Senator Kerry believes we are at war with al-Qaeda and Usama bin Laden only. He doesn't know who our enemies are nor does he know why they are our enemies. He believes the U.N., France and Germany are more capable of determining the proper course for combating terror. In her column for the National Review, Anne Bayefsky reports on the following statements from the opening session of the U.N. over the last two weeks:

On terrorism:
President of Algeria, Abdelaziz Bouteflika: "[T]errorism...excludes the legitimate struggle of peoples against foreign occupation."
Deputy Prime Minister of Lebanon, Issam Fares: " National liberation is legitimate, terrorism is reprehensible."
Ditto numerous other Arab ministers.
On nuclear non-proliferation:
Prime Minister of Malaysia, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi (Chairman of the 100+ members of the Non-Aligned Movement): "We also note with great concern the increasing tendencies to link the fight against terrorism with the campaign against proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Developing countries suffer as a result of restrictions imposed on access to peaceful uses of technology...."
Foreign Minister of Iran, Kamal Kharrazi: "[P]revent[ing] the proliferation of nuclear weapons...must be done...in a comprehensive and non-discriminatory manner.... We insist on our right to technology for peaceful purposes...."
Ambassador of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Choe Su Hon: "[O]ur army and people...are...pushing ahead with their struggle to build a...powerful state with...devotion to the socialist cause....The nuclear deterrent of the DPRK constitutes a legitimate self-defensive measure...."
On the genocide in Sudan:
Minister of Foreign Affairs of Syria, Farouk Al-Shara: "We view with satisfaction the positions and measures adopted by the government of the Sudan to address the humanitarian crisis in Darfur."
Minister of Foreign Affairs of Yemen, Abubakr Al-Qirbi: "[T]here was no hard evidence of massacres [in Sudan].... [A]ll external parties must...refrain from interference in the domestic affairs of the Sudan."
On advancing human rights protection and democracy:
Foreign Minister of China, Li Zhaoxing: "[I]t is imperative to...promote greater democracy in international relations...China will...safeguard its sovereignty and territorial integrity, brook no interference in its internal affairs...."
Prime Minister of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe: "Zimbabwe will...welcome to [its sixth parliamentary] elections those observers whose sole and undivided purpose will be to observe the process and not to meddle in the politics of the country.... [T]he West should spare us their lessons on human rights."
Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs of Saudi Arabia, Nizar Obaid Madani: "[W]e believe that the process of helping developing nations to initiate political and economic reforms should not be imposed or dictated from without.... Of course there is much that the advanced countries can provide in this process, especially in the areas of investments...."
On identifying the villains:
Foreign Minister of Cuba, Felipe Pérez Roque: "We, as non-aligned countries, will have to entrench ourselves in defending the United Nations Charter.... The powerful collude to divide us."
Foreign Minister of Iran, Kamal Kharrazi: " Israel...[is] the single greatest threat to regional and global peace and security."
On the role of the U.N.:
Prime Minister of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe: "[T]he UN Charter remains the only most sacred document and proponent of the relations of our Nations....
Foreign Minister of France, Michel Barnier: "[T]he U.N. remains the one irreplaceable, legitimate framework for harnessing...mobilization and translating it into collective action.... The Organization...has a natural vocation to be at the center of counter-terrorism measures.... The U.N., through its legitimacy and ever-increasing effectiveness, must be the instrument of the universal conscience of which it remains the crucible."
Her summary of the U.N. position:
“(1) Democracy is the governing principle between countries (read outvoting the United States), regardless of the rights of actual inhabitants.
(2) International measures to insist on democracy within states constitute unacceptable interference in a state's internal affairs.
(3) Nuclear non-proliferation is O.K. in theory provided it won't be put into practice until Israel and the United States are weapons-free, and any pressure in the meantime is oppression of developing countries.
(4) The only acceptable contributions of developed countries to the affairs of developing countries are cash donations.
(5) Terrorism is defined as harming one's friends, so Israelis are fair game.
(6) Israel is the greatest threat to world peace.
(7) Sudan should be commended for its role in reducing the spontaneous humanitarian crisis within its borders and anything but minute numbers of friendly neighboring forces would be an illegitimate interference in Sudanese sovereignty.
(8) The U.N. is the centerpiece of all legitimate international action concerning peace, security, self-defense, and the war against terrorism.”
Bayefsky notes how Kofi Annan fits so well on "top of this heap" quoting comments we've discussed before.

Many Americans are hesitant to state arguments based on moral understandings or to compare the danger within to the dangers we face abroad. The threat is great and we need to be willing to state it as such.

Should the Senator win on November 2nd, the opinions expressed above will hold more power in the White House than the moral convictions of our founders or the rights of Americans who wish not to be a part of the global community as it is, instead wishing to lead the global community toward greater liberty, justice, democracy and peace. The left has usurped these words to such a degree that I am hesitant to use them. Kerry in the White House will use their definition of these words and put the U.S. at greater risk in doing so.

We cannot win the peace. We must instead focus on and win the war. Peace is not won, it comes as a result, a well earned result, of winning war, or avoiding war through strength and diplomatic efforts by all involved parties. Our enemies do not respect diplomacy, do not seek negotiated peace and have declared war on us. Our only enemy is not UbL or al-Qaeda, our enemies include all those who support the ideology of terror, all those who support Islamist regimes, and all those who ignore the moral void in the halls of the U.N. The question which remains, and which we are too careful not to discuss, is whether or not the enemies within our nation are going to ensure the enemies abroad win.

More on Krane's "Flailing"

Yesterday I commented on Jim Krane's reporting of U.S. forces "flailing" against so-called insurgents in Iraq.

This morning, wretchard of Belmont Club, takes on the Krane reporting. It is, as almost always, must reading.

October 4, 2004

More Kofi news.

As reported earlier today, Kofi Annan and the U.N. are talking about the genocide in the Sudan, although their study or investigation isn't complete so it isn't called genocide yet. Annan's previous failure in Rwanda, 10 years ago, isn't much on his mind apparently either, as he continues to point fingers rather than leading the U.N. to act in the defense of the people of Darfur.

Tomorrow, while the Security Council meets to discuss the Israeli incursion into the northern portion of the Gaza Strip, the Sudan and the Janjaweed will continue to kill black Africans in the Darfur region.

Where's Kofi?

The latest story, from Reuters, has this quote from Annan:

"Today, still increasing numbers of the population of Darfur are exposed, without any protection from the government, to hunger, fear and violence... It goes without saying that implementing Security Council resolutions is obligatory."
If you are wondering why does this matter to me? Think "Global Test", and think about having to wait on the U.N. to agree that military intervention or peacekeepers are required the next time the U.S. government needs to eliminate an axis of evil member.

And finally, think about how the Arabs control Kofi, the E.U. and the U.N. with their oil, and their tactics of terror. Only we don't want to admit it.

U.N. talks... Sudanese die.

Keeping with the trend of today's post.

The U.N. has as of yet not classified the actions in the Sudan as Genocide. Just as they did in Rwanda, they will have to study the issue. In the mean time, the Sudanese die.

Kofi Annan, once again showing how astute he is, has called for an end to the war in the southern portions of the Sudan, so that peace may come to Darfur, the western region of the Sudan. Brilliant. No. But typical of the U.N. approach.

Maybe the Secretary General should reflect on his own admissions regarding Rwanda in 1994.

"I believed at the time that I was doing my best. But I realised after the genocide that there was more that I could and should have done to sound the alarm and rally support". or how about this one - "Of all my aims as Secretary-General, there is none to which I feel more deeply committed than that of enabling the United Nations never again to fail in protecting a civilian population from genocide or mass slaughter."
Read the full story here.


Arab call for U.N. action

Only the U.N. would consider a request from Arab states to call for Israeli withdrawal from the northern Gaza Strip. The Israeli move into the area, according to no less than Kofi Annan, has

"led to the death of scores of Palestinians, among them children."
You've got to be kidding me. The esteemed despicable Kofi Annan believes the Israeli action has caused the death of scores of Palestinians, including children, but said nothing, nor has he ever, to condemn the Palestinian terrorist who caused Israel to take this action by killing two Israeli children last week.

So the U.N. employs Hamas members, condemns Israeli actions against terrorist in the Gaza strip and continues to be seen as a relevant force for peace in the world. Go figure.

Of course, this would sit well with Senator Kerry, and Usama bin Laden.

Flailing against Insurgents?

AP reporter, Jim Krane reports that U.S. forces in Iraq are

"flailing against a thicket of insurgent groups with competing aims and no supreme leader".
When we hear how many Americans believe we are losing ground in Iraq, is there any wonder why? Reporters who claim such lofty ideals as objectivity and balance in their reporting continue to portray efforts of the U.S. as an unwanted agreessor while the so-called insurgents are heralded for their success and their objectives "we want every U.S. dog to leave the country". Krane calls the attacks of the Sunni terrorist "daring"

I'm not in Iraq, I'm not a reporter, but I know that blowing up Iraqi non-combatants and volunteers for government service, which is what the insurgents terrorist are doing, is not a noble action nor is it going to deter our drive to bring the remainder of the Iraqi's that which they seek. Liberty.

Krane notes that U.S. forces have no record of success in guerilla warfare:

"The U.S. military has few homegrown models for counterinsurgency success. Its last two major campaigns - in Somalia in 1993 and in Vietnam in the 1960s and 1970s - failed."
What he doesn't note, is that both Somalia and Vietnam were political failures not indicative of the capabilities of the U.S. Military.

The forces in Iraq, American, allies and Iraqi have earned more respect than the AP gives them.

UN employs Hamas members

Peter Hansen, head of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), told Canadian television (CBC) that UNRWA employs members of Hamas. And goes on to add:

"I am sure that there are Hamas members on the UNRWA payroll and I don't see that as a crime"
As is so prevalent in the world today, the legal supercedes the moral. Hansen goes on:
"Hamas as a political organization does not mean that every member is a militant and we do not do political vetting and exclude people from one persuasion as against another"
To follow his theme, to be a member of a terrorist organization, does not make you a terrorist. In one way he is correct, the living members of Hamas who work for UNRWA aren't yet so committed as to die for their cause. But the time will come when they are, and in the mean time, the UN employs them.

Hansen's remarks follow the release of a video, taken by the IDF, which the Israeli's believe shows an UNRWA worker placing a Kassam rocket into a UN ambulance in the Gaza.

Via the JPost.

October 1, 2004

One War

If only our friends and neighbors would stop long enough to hear the truth when it is spoken. And no, I’m not the one to speak the truth in question. Who is? Ayman al-Zawahri. This isn’t a Republican announcement or one of the fabled right-wing lies we spread throughout the blogosphere. This is truth from the horses arse enemy's second in command.

In his statement, via al-Jazeera, al-Zawahri tells us whom we are fighting. And where?

"In Palestine, we are not only facing the Jews but also the anti-Islam international alliance headed by the US crusaders. So, fighting Jews and leaving America without being attacked will not make the Americans or the crusaders lessen their aggression against us."
Sidepoint – did anyone notice that even al-Zawahri describes our efforts as an "international alliance".

Back to his words of encouragement

"not to wait any longer, otherwise, we will be devoured, one country after the other".

"The youth must not wait for anyone and must begin resisting from now and learn a lesson from Iraq and Afghanistan and Chechnya…"

al-Jazeera also reports that the taped statement included the U.S., Great Britain, Australia, France, Poland, South Korea and Japan as party to the war saying
"they had all participated in the occupation of Afghanistan, Iraq and Chechnya and gave Israel its "means of survival".
al-Zawahri knows, as does President Bush, that Iraq, is just one part of a Global War on Terror. And yet Senator Kerry, having been a member, albeit rarely present, of the Intelligence Committee, still can’t see it.

September 30, 2004

Cordesman on U.S. and Arab Relations

"Man is the enemy of that of which he is ignorant" or so goes an Arab proverb.

We are inundated with reports of continued violence in the Middle East. Many masters of Middle East Studies or Orientalist, present theory after theory of how the U.S. has created a quagmire in Iraq and provided a new breeding ground for terrorist. Others offer that it is time for a new, Judeo-Christian-Islamic ethic, including at least one prominent Saudi Prince. Anthony Cordesman, of CSIS, may be stuck between the two views.

After paraphrasing Abu al-‘Ala al-Ma‘arri to open his remarks before the 13th Annual Arab-US Policymakers Conference in Washington D.C. earlier this month:

"Nearly one thousand years ago, at the time of the Crusades, a Syrian Arab poet warned that most people thought that the world was divided into three parts: Christian, Jew, and Muslim. He stated that the truth was very different; the world was divided into two parts--those who believe and those who think." (emphasis added)
He adds:
"It is time for governments to take the side of those who think. In practice, this means we need a new approach to grand strategy; and one that openly addresses the need to create common bonds between what the Koran calls the "peoples of the book." We need action to create what Prince Turki Al Faisal Al Sa'ud of Saudi Arabia has called a Judeo-Christian-Islamic ethic."
Cordesman’s speech is both broad and deep as its title would suggest – "Beyond Anger and Counterterrorism: A New Grand Strategy for U.S. and Arab Relations". Yet he fails to state the most obvious as such, and therefore fails to bring home the point.

How?

The initial paraphrasing of al-Ma‘arri sheds great light on Cordesman’s view. "The world is divided into two parts – those who believe and those who think." The translation might better read as "The world holds two classes of men—intelligent men without religion, and religious men without intelligence." This may explain Cordesman’s ease at accepting the idea of a Judeo-Christian-Islamic ethic.

He goes on to state:

"The actions of Osama Bin Laden and other Islamic extremists have exposed a fundamental failure to bridge the ideological and cultural gaps between Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

The end result is a common threat in forms of Islamic extremism that cannot tolerate other interpretations of Islam, much less Judaism and Christianity.

It is a threat in forms of Christianity that see all non-Christians as damned, and Jews simply as a convenient mechanism to trigger the second coming.

It is a threat in Israeli extremist statements that effectively dehumanize Palestinians and reject the legitimacy of Islam. It is a threat in the form of statements in the Arab world that go from anger against Israel's political and military actions to attacks on all Jews and Judaism.

Most tangibly and dangerously, the practical result is growing terrorism and violence; endless conspiracy theories, vicious stereotypes; and growing barriers to travel and immigration."

Clear in these remarks is an inability to accept the real cause behind the terrorism and violence, and the innumerable lies believed by Arab and Muslim peoples. While he compares Christian and Jewish beliefs to Islamic terror, and describes Israeli defense against Islamic and Palestinian terror as dehumanizing the Palestinians and a rejection of the legitimacy of Islam, he fails to note that is Islamic terror, Islamic lies and a failure of on the part of Arab and Islamic peoples to seek a moral and just rational rather than blindly accept the fatwa’s of a bigoted clergy.

Does he note that neither Christians nor Jews are killing Muslims as non-believers, or for that matter killing people of their own faith for varying from the most retarded literalist view of their faith? No. Instead, all men of faith are impugned and guilty just as the terrorists are.

The Arab proverb I used to open this discussion with shines a great light on the terrorist and those who so willingly drop others to the level of terrorist. It is ignorance of moral truths. The solution is to educate men of faith, Muslim men, not solely on the dogma and strictures of their faith, but on the moral foundations for their faith.

Cordesman’s speech is much longer and details demographic and economic factors that can either alarm us, should the population boom follow the path of current Islamist, or strengthen our resolve to defeat not just the terrorist but the ideas behind him. This piece may seem as if I’m not fond of Cordesman’s speech. The truth is that he offers a healthy dose of pragmatic advice to those seeking to end Islamic terror, in particular his statements of educational reform within the Middle East, yet he fails on one point. And for me, that point is the core of the issue. A rediscovery of a moral understanding and base in Islam, and a desire for intellectual honesty will eliminate the ability of an Imam to frame bigoted and false arguments for violence based on the teachings of the Prophet or the words of the Qur’an. If I’ve erred in my understanding, or in my characterization of Cordesman, I’d like to know.

September 29, 2004

Disturbing and Shameful

Now we know that Sheikh Saleh thinks the Arab and Muslim minds need to be awakened. If we needed more proof of the perversity of the "man on the street" in Saudi Arabia, all we would need to do is look to Saudi Arabia's IQRA TV Channel. MEMRI has the video and the text of the comments. Here is a sampling:

Asked "Would You, as a Human Being, be Willing to Shake Hands with a Jew?"

"Of course I wouldn't be willing to shake hands with a Jew"
"No, the Jew is an enemy. How can I shake my enemy's hand?"
Or rephrased "Would you refuse to shake hands with a Jew?"
"Of course, so I wouldn't have to consider amputating my hand afterwards."
And asked "If a Child Asks You Who 'Who are the Jews,' What Would You Answer?"
"They are the filthiest people on the face of this earth"
There is little that I can say here. These "Muslims" have said it all.

Hat tip to Pacetown and Allah.

Georgian Troops

The US will pay for Georgian troops to be trained and deployed to Iraq. This is in addition to the previous expenditures and training. Via the Russian Journal.

"TBILISI - The USA will increase its military assistance to Georgia by three times, Georgian Defense Minister Georgy Baramidze told journalists after he returned from the USA where he had met with US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Assistant Secretary of State Elizabeth Jones.

Baramidze did not specify the sum noting that an additional 4,000 servicemen would be trained using the US resources. As reported earlier, since 2003 the USA has allocated $64m on training 2,750 Georgian military men.

The USA will also pay salaries to Georgian peacekeepers in Iraq, which is about $600 per month. The Georgian Defense Minister said that the Georgian military contingent in Iraq would be enlarged considerably."


Surprise!Russian support of Iran's Nuke Program

The Russian's oppose referring Iran's nuclear activities to the U.N. Security Council. In a statement by Igor Ivanov, Russia's Security Council Secretary

"We believe that the question is located now in the realm
of the IAEA's responsibilities," Ivanov said at a news
conference in Moscow. "Sending it to the Security Council,
which is a political organ, would hardly meet the interests
of the matter."
Via the Saudi Ministry of Truth, no really.

Could it be that the Russian, just as they did before the liberation of Iraq, are trying to prevent the West from discovering their business relations with Iran, maybe even their collusion with the French to assist in the development and supply of Iran's nuclear development programs.

UPDATE: Here's what Igor had to say just two months ago.

"Russia is ready to assist the Islamic Republic in creating favorable and successful conditions for peaceful use of nuclear energy"
So of course he wants it to be an IAEA issue.

Freedom of Religion in Saudi Arabia

While the State Department took great pains to state that they were not pressuring Saudi Arabia when announcing that the Kingdom is one of the most intolerant with regard to religious freedom (perhaps long overdue?) within a two weeks of the announcement, the Saudi Minister of Islamic Affairs and Endowments, Sheikh Saleh, states that the Muslims and Arabs of Saudi Arabia need to review the spirit and intentions of the Shari'a.

Maybe it is coincidence.

September 28, 2004

Sheikh Saleh on the Arab and Muslim mind

Via the International Islamic News Agency.

"Riyadh, Sha'aban 14/Sep 28/IINA – Sheikh Saleh Aal-Alsheikh, Saudi Arabia's Minister of Islamic Affairs and Endowments, has said that the Muslims are going through a crises of the mind and thought, adding that the Arab and Muslim minds need to undergo a change, because they do not use logic. He said: "We still live in the era of sermons, the era of when a person invariably wanted to prove that he is more daring than the other, but few people work hard toward the right path."

He affirmed that the crisis of the intellect needs to be highlighted, and a look at our history shows that that is unconvincing, adding that even a look "at our present situation there is a lot of frustration or there is meaningless boldness."

Sheikh Saleh was speaking at a seminar that was organized by the Saudi publication OKAZ, and said: "The intellect is need of new design in several aspects, among them its understanding of what religion is all about, because the Shari'a is not dormant." He said it is transnational, and one of the prerequisites of being transnational is that it must be subject to renewal and should contain elements that are suitable for all the peoples of the earth, and therefore we cannot apply one style to all."

The Islamic Affairs Minister said that among the prerequisites of the Islamic is that there should be a window for striving, and this striving differs from country to country, according to the circumstances of each country. He said the strivings of scholars at any particular point in time could not be applied to this day and age, because "times have changed and so have the people.

Sheikh Saleh said the Shari'a is not for those who lived a thousand or so years ago, but is applicable even to the people who live today, and it is therefore necessary to look at what the spirit and the intention of the Shari'a is.

He said that some of the extremists look at today's international relations on the basis of what the scholars of hundreds of years ago had scripted, though those scripts do not apply to this day and age.

Sheikh Saleh said the financial rules and regulations during the Prophet's era differed from place to place, such as from Makkah and Madina, and such rules and regulations have changed a lot since then, he added.

HI/OB/IINA"

This blog has discussed the need for Islamic reform, in effect a search for moral and principled understanding of Islam, and away from the dogma or doctrinal teaching of Islam that is pervasive today. This statement highlights the gap between Islamist and the U.S., and shows that in order to resolve the issue, the ideological change has to happen, and the only source, other than from within the individual Muslim, that can make this happen is Saudi Arabian Imams.

September 27, 2004

Creating Terrorist

Last week, Liberating Iraq sums up an entry entitled "al Qaeda and the "Mother of all Battles" in Iraq" with this bit of truth.

"We are not creating terrorists, those who are already terrorists are bringing themselves to this "Mother of All Battles"."
The entire entry is well worth reading, as is the blog.

The idea that it is the Arab world that is the root of the problem has been expressed here before. I've gone so far as to say that it is the "Arab" view and dominance of the teaching of Islam that has led to the creation of Wahabi or Salafi understanding of it throughout the world. In my time with Islam, both in the study of it and as an adherent, I found that the end result of how it was taught was to create not a believer in the one God, but rather an Arab likeness in those who accepted the religion. The terrible truth behind this is to accept that the disease is spread far beyond those who are currently acting as terrorist reminds us once again that we must wage and win the ideological war against Islamist while simultaneously fighting their most devoted on the battle fields of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Our challenge is to express both in our actions and our ideals the value of life filled with liberty and a pursuit of happiness. To do this, our people, a generation now unable or unwilling to label, unwilling to state unequivocal truth, unwilling to argue based on the moral supposition rather than the emotional, and afraid to be removed from the discussion based on the statement of moral truths, will have to be willing to defend both morally as an idea, and in practice as law and policy, the truths that separate us from the enemy.

Our war is a just war. A much larger body of believers feeds those who fight against us than we are ready to accept, and in defeating them we will have to increase not just the size of our forces, but also the strength of our moral argument. I have no doubt that we have the truth and moral certainty needed to defeat the Islamist. I do however question whether or not we are willing to state it as such, just as I am concerned that we lack the willingness to do so in daily or political life.

Another dead peace terror advocate

From the NY Times (subscription required), comes news of a peaceful Muslim wrongfully terrorist imprisoned at Gitmo, probably abused by the Marines who held him, returned to Afghanistan to become an advocate for peace terror in the name of Islam.

"KABUL, Afghanistan, Sept. 26 - A senior Taliban commander who had been released from the American detention center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, was killed Saturday in Uruzgan Province, Afghan officials reported Sunday.

The commander, Maulavi Ghaffar, had spent eight months in the Guantanamo prison, said the Interior Minister, Ali Jalali. He had been captured after fighting for the Taliban in northern Afghanistan, Mr. Jalali said.

After his release over a year ago he was appointed the Taliban’s regional commander in Uruzgan and Helmand Provinces, said Jan Mohammad Khan, the governor of Uruzgan Province. The governor said Mr. Ghaffar had carried out attacks against American Special Forces soldiers and an attack on a district chief in Helmand in which three Afghan soldiers were killed.

The governor said officials had learned Friday that Mr. Ghaffar planned to attack the police in Chachani district, and instead the Afghan forces killed him and two of his men."


Terrorist Killed and then...

In Syria and Pakistan terrorist leaders were killed over the weekend, in both cases, the governments most responsible or believed to be, are bracing for retaliation from Islamo fascist supporters.

In Syria - Izz al-Din al-Sheikh Khalil was killed when his car exploded.

In Pakistan - Police killed Amjad Farooqi in a raid.

In both cases, the ends are good and just as terrorist have met their end and are martyr's for their perverted beliefs. Unfortunately, the means to accomplish the ends are not as just.

There is no question that Pakistani forces acted appropriately in their battle with Farooqi and supporters, which resulted in a number of arrest, as well as Farooqi's death.

Israel is believed to have been responsible for the death of Khalil. Had Syria been an ally in the war on terror, rather than a state supporter of terror, Khalil could have been arrested or engaged by police forces. Instead, his car was rigged to explode and he was killed in an act not unlike those of the terrorist, in means not result.

So the Palestinian terrorist leadership, such as Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei, are calling for retaliation, or at a minimum, inciting the same.

The U.S., Israel and our allies are now faced with the reality that Syria, Iran and other nations that offer support to terrorist are ignoring terrorist within their borders and as such enabling their continued attacks on us. This realization highlights the significant steps that President Musharraf has taken in the war, and with glaring reality the danger we face if we fail to act openly against terror. We can become unjust in our means, despite being just in our goal.

September 24, 2004

Getting closer with Syria?

An al-Jazerra headline - "Syria hails improved ties with US". The story goes on to report that Syrian state radio is reporting improved relations based on

"a meeting the day before in New York between US Secretary of State Colin Powell and his Syrian counterpart Faruq al-Shara, which the radio said took place in a "positive atmosphere".

That meeting, on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, was the first between the two men since May 2003 and followed talks in Syria earlier this month between US Middle East envoy William Burns and Syrian President Bashar al-Asad.

The opening of the dialogue has "led to a marked improvement in Syrian-American relations".

This in light of U.S. sanctions on Syria implemented in May, and the subsequent issues regarding Syrian influence in Lebanon, which has caused the Syrian's to begin a muted pull back of their forces.

The report also has this, with quotes attributed to Secretary of State Powell.

"Powell said after his meeting with al-Shara on Wednesday that he saw a new attitude emerging from Syria, but was waiting for action as well as words, regarding neighbouring Iraq.

"I hope that the Syrians now understand the need for all of us to do as much we can in a tripartite manner - Syria, the Iraqi interim government and the coalition - to stop illicit, improper traffic across that border," he said.

"It's a tough military mission and a tough political mission,
but I sense a new attitude from the Syrians, but of course, it all depends on actions, not just attitudes," Powell said.

He said his conversation with al-Shara was "a good, open, candid" and "rather positive discussion" that focused on a range of US concerns about Syrian policy on Iraq, Lebanon and its support for alleged "terrorist groups".

Powell described as "positive" Syria's recent redeployment of
troops from bases south of Beirut but said the move did not go far enough in meeting UN Security Council demands for foreign interference in Lebanon to end."

If relations with Syria are improving, it is not because of a dialogue between Powerll and al-Shara, it is because Syrian President al-Asad has seen the force behind U.S. intentions, and understands that he must comply, or appear to, or become a target for greater U.S. focus in the War. For my two cents worth, I think they are only attempting to appear to comply, no significant change in their support of terror or totalitarian rule in the Middle East has occured.

September 23, 2004

Handshake equals Scorn

Hizb Allah spokesmen had the following response to interim Iraqi Prime Minister Allawi's shaking hands with Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom at the U.N. General Assembly meeting.

"(It) is a sign of one of the most dangerous goals of the American war on Iraq, yanking Iraq from its place in the Arab and Muslim worlds and sticking it in the US-Zionist political cosmos," Hizb Allah said in a statement on Thursday.

"This unacceptable handshake is at once a true insult to the Iraqi people, their history, culture and Islamic and national commitment; and flagrant scorn for the suffering of Palestinian people and the sentiments of Arabs and Muslims," it said.

The handshake occured because Iraq and Israel are seated beside each other at the General Assembly meeting, where all nations sit in alphabetical order. al-Jazeera, of course, had the story.

Thank you Mr. Prime Minister

Thank you, Mr. Prime Minister, standing for the what is right and doing an excellent job of it.

The text of the Prime Minster's speech is here. The AP report on it is here.

Faith before Truth?

The threat that faces the United States, in fact the entire world is not terror. Those who have written about the war on terror and issues related to Islam have gone out of their way to state that the U.S. is not at war with Islam. In many ways, some unfortunate, this is true. We have focused our efforts on the physical, financial and geographic battle against the Islamic organizations and nations, which have openly engaged the U.S. in war through the tactics of terror or the support thereof. As I’ve noted, our enemies are not at war with the United States they are at war with our inalienable rights. What has concerned me to a degree that I am severely struggling to articulate is the threat of Islam, as it is practiced by many Muslims, and their confluence with the Left is this country, Europe and the United Nations is far greater than the likelihood of terror attacks, military defeat or eventual nuclear confrontation. The ideological threat, found in modern Islam, is the greatest threat to us all. Why have I struggled to say this? I was a convert to Islam.

Earlier this week, the Chicago Tribune published an article by Noreen S. Ahmed-Ullah, Sam Roe, and Laurie Cohen about the Ikhwan al-Muslimeen (Muslim Brotherhood) and their existence and aims within the U.S. This article and a recent column by Daniel Pipes have made it clear to me that while there are those who understand the threat of Islam in America and to America; many others continue to pursue relations with organizations, including the Ikhwan al-Muslimeen. Both Pipes and the Tribune article note the real aim of the Brotherhood is not to destroy the U.S. or for that matter any nation in battle, rather it is to make the United States an Islamic state. On first reading the Tribune article, my intent was to respond, as I am now, by describing the threat as I see it. The difficulty with doing so came from my personal experience and my desire to discuss the reality without making it personal. So I delayed and was prompted again today by Pipes excellent column.

In teaching Islam, the Imam, Sheikh, or others who take the mantle of leadership provide the believer not with a moral foundation for decision-making and actions, instead they offer a guidance through the actions and words of the Prophet Muhammad, and the words of the Qur’an. No guiding principles are offered to believers with which they are able, if not required, to study, contemplate and determine appropriate actions on their part. Curiosity is not a character trait of the adherent who follows the teachings of the modern Imamate. Instead, he believes what he is told to believe, no questions asked. This destruction of an innate characteristic of man, to question and seek truth for himself, leaves him incredibly susceptible to the lies, falsehood and propaganda of those who lead him. In addition, the leader, also not able or willing to question the morality of his actions, becomes more rigid and stubborn in his interpretation and implementation of Islam, just as the Taliban did in Afghanistan. Perhaps, giving them the benefit of the doubt, they did so to avoid the displeasure of God, fearing that they would be judged for allowing an action that is forbidden in the Sunnah or Qur’an. Either way, their failure becomes immoral as they fail to recognize or seek greater truth or understanding.

The results are evident throughout the Muslim world. A dearth of education beyond the fundamentals of Islam, no tolerance for opinion or individuality, and no incentive to neither seek nor achieve any success other than the highest honor of their brethren and their God; martyrdom.

It is my concern that many in the United States are being guided, often out of good intentions, toward an ideology that is similar not in its religious dogma but rather in its tactic of limiting man from seeking higher understanding and truth. The left, globally, describes themselves as tolerant and caring, while classical liberals, modern conservatives and neo-cons are described as dispassionate, racist, intolerant and greedy. Experience shows this to be false. It is in fact the left that recognizes and categorizes men by race, creed, religion, gender and orientation. The policies and ideals of the left have given us schools which do not seek to educate instead choosing to inculcate the doctrines and philosophies of the left into their students. And unmistakably, the left seeks not to free men from the binds of government or external authority, as their words and policies religate generations of men to a belief that societal obligations are greater than your individual obligation to seek truth, to live free, and to achieve the utmost with your ability and efforts.

Now as we recognize that the left seeks to coddle the Islamist, to appease Europe and the U.N. and to continue to expand government influence in the lives of Americans, it becomes even more apparent that the ideological war for our rights, given by God not man, requires our attention. For no matter how many victories we find on the battlefield, should we fail to defend our values and rights, fail to address the ideological infestation, and to seek real understanding of the task at hand, we may fail from within. Just as I have done on too many occasions.

Truth in Imam's Words

In a recent article for the San Francisco Chronicle, Borzou Daragahi reports on the call to Jihad by Sunni Imam’s and their followers in Iraq. The reporter failed to grasp several truths revealed in the words of those he quotes.

”There is no discussion," says Imam Mahdi al-Sumaydai, a high-ranking Sunni cleric who was jailed for six months by the Americans for his inflammatory teachings. "Jihad is a must in the religion to defend your property, your honor or your religion. How can anyone deny our right to jihad?
----
Jihad is a necessity for each Muslim," said Ziad Farhan, a student at Islamic University in the Khadimiya section of Baghdad. "The prophet gave up everything for elevating the religion. In Islam there is either death or jihad. There is no other way.”
The truth in these words. Those who believe the lies and misrepresentations of Islam and the West as typified by al-Qaeda, the Wahabi or Salafi, and Shi’a Islamo Fascist, have no option other than death or jihad.

The Imam has offered the U.S. forces and the Iraqi interim government council on the effort in Iraq. We are not fighting an insurgency, we are fighting a war to eliminate the ideology and practice of Islamo Fascism.

While many will argue that by liberating Iraq we have created more adherents to these ideals, they could not be more wrong. The reality is as Daragzhi reported it “bleaker”. Those who believe in this form of Islam are rampant and are being called to war throughout the world. It is our responsibility to defeat them both in the battle of ideas and on the battlefields throughout the world, including in our own backyards.

To do this, we must accept that which they have already. The faithful have no choice but death, to die in battle, as a martyr for their perverted faith, or to be killed by those who believe more strongly when their faith breaks and they choose to support us.

Link via the Wandering Mind.

September 22, 2004

George Bush and Kofi Annan Part II.

In an earlier post regarding the speeches of President Bush and U.N. General Secretary Kofi Annan, I made the point of noting that Kofi Annan was not offering leadership to the U.N., while President Bush was stepping up and doing so, even before a hostile crowd. I was mistaken.

In spending more time on the text of Annan's speech, rather than the press clippings, it becomes apparent that Annan is offering leadership, council and aid to the enemies of the United States and of all free men.

It is simple, surprisingly so. Annan hails the U.N. as the ‘indispensable common house of the entire human family’, the body that will ‘seek common solutions to common problems’ while noting that if they ‘fail’ they should not imagine a ‘more effective instrument’.

The reality of the speech is that it was prompted by the U.N.’s failure and Annan knows it. The U.N. failed to act on the demands it has placed on member states, in this case, Iraq under Saddam Hussein, and a more ‘effective instrument’ was found to act.

Annan knows that President Bush and the U.S. are just that. And why, because of the moral difference between them. Annan offers, as an example of the ‘rule of law’, Hammurabi’s code. His focus is

“Legal protection for the poor.

Restraints on the strong, so that they cannot oppress the weak.

Laws publicly enacted, and known to all.”

While ignoring the fact that the U.N. has failed to make good use of the resources, good will, and authority granted it (not the other way around) by it’s members.

The worldview of Annan is clear in his statement of examples of violations of the rule of law

"In Iraq, we see civilians massacred in cold blood, while relief workers, journalists and other non-combatants are taken hostage and put to death in the most barbarous fashion. At the same time, we have seen Iraqi prisoners disgracefully abused.

In Darfur, we see whole populations displaced, and their homes destroyed, while rape is used as a deliberate strategy.

In northern Uganda, we have seen children mutilated, and forced to take part in acts of unspeakable cruelty.

In Beslan, we have seen children taken hostage and brutally massacred.

In Israel we see civilians, including children, deliberately targeted by Palestinian suicide bombers. And in Palestine we see homes destroyed, lands seized, and needless civilian casualties caused by Israel's excessive use of force.

And all over the world we see people being prepared for further such acts, through hate propaganda directed at Jews, Muslims, against anyone who can be identified as different from one's own group. "

Is it not damning that the Israeli defense against terrorist is lumped in with these atrocities and that the despicable acts of Abu Ghuraib are lumped in with the actions of terrorist in Iraq? Or am I mistaken?

Annan goes on to laud the U.N.’s action to form a committee to determine if genocide is being committed in the Sudan, after admitting the displacement, destruction and rape in Darfur. What is he thinking?

Annan does not seek U.S. sovereignty, he seeks U.N. authority, and that authority is driven by despots and dictators who know that it weakens and restrains the law abiding U.S., while having no impact on their already criminal regimes.

Iran's Right to 'Enrichment'

Khatami says that Iran has a right to enrich uranium.

"We clearly demand that our right to enrichment be recognized by the international community because it is our legal right and in accordance with the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty,"
It remains unclear to me, perhaps one of the astounding lawyers of the blogosphere can clarify... but where is there a right to enrichment, as Khatami put it.

His comments show his disdain for the war on terror, the IAEA and in truth the U.S. If we aren't prepared to stop him, Iran will be prepared to stop us.

September 21, 2004

George Bush and Kofi Annan

The President of the United States, has once again shown the world what leadership looks like. And in doing so, he has shown that Kofi Annan, like U.N. chief administrators before him, is lacking in leadership.

Take a look at this quote:

"Again and again, we see fundamental laws shamelessly disregarded - those that ordain respect for innocent life, for civilians, for the vulnerable - especially children"
Not a bad statement in and of itself without context. But wait, this statement is from Kofi Annan and he is speaking about the U.S. and our "illegal" war in Iraq.

Had he made the same statement regarding terrorist, had he enthusiastically sided against terror and for the right, no the requirement for U.S. action in Iraq, Annan would be showing leadership and character. Instead, he shows that his words of advice or criticism, are as imputent as the organization he heads.

President Bush had this to say:

"The U.N. and its member nations must respond to Prime Minister Allawi's request and do more to help build an Iraq that is secure, democratic, federal and free".
He also noted that a "democratic Iraq" has many enemies, and that terror attacks are likely to increase leading up to elections in Iraq and Afghanistan.

How can the U.N. and Kofi Annan not act to aid the U.S. in our efforts? It is simple, to do so, they would have to admit that what they've called "illegal" and "wrong" is instead a war for human rights and justice.

The full text of the President's speech is available here.

UPDATE: After reading the text of Annan's speech, I no longer believe that his comments were directed solely at the U.S. for our "illegal" war on Iraq. That perception was a result of my reading of the AP report cited above. More in the morning though, as I am in no way pleased by the text of Annan's speech. 9/22/2004 00:14

A Muslim Ally

The headline "Fighter against al-Qaida set to win Indonesian election" tells us more about the people of United States, Spain, France, and Germany than it does about Indonesia, the worlds most populace Muslim nation.

How so…

In the Western Europe and the United States, support for the war against Islamo Fascism is waning. Not in the worlds largest Muslim nation. Why is that?

The Muslims of Indonesia know first hand, and recently, the dangers of theocratic rule by the clerics of Islam. In fact, a much greater percentage of the Indonesian population than that of any western nation, hears each Friday a Juma’a Khutba. And in response, they vote for a man aligned against Islamo Fascism.

The story, here, states that it is not official as of yet, but that Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is leading 60% to 40% over his opposition, President Megawati Sukarnoputri.

Of course, the majority of coverage in the west, which will be limited, will attempt to redirect the public approval of Yudhoyono as a response to corruption charges against Sukamoputri.

Either way, it will be good to have another ally in the Muslim world.

September 20, 2004

No end to Jewish Influence

Jews are corrupting the Qur’an. Dr Mohammad Abdulrazek al-Tabtabaei claims that Jews

“have been damaging the holy book by changing and deleting verses with the aim of hiding the truth”.
While apparently forgetting the claims that “Allah” has revealed it and no man may alter it...

لاَ يَأْتِيهِ الْبَاطِلُ مِن يَدَيْهِ وَلاَ مِنْ خَلْفِه ِِ تَنزِيل مِنْ حَكِيمٍ حَمِيد
Of course, Sūrat Fuşşilat, Ayat 42 isn't the only reference to the Qur'an's protection by Allah.

Via Sherry and on to The Man Blog who has a nicely compiled list of Jewish influences.

One More American Murdered

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's terrorist cohorts militants have murdered "beheaded" the first of three hostages held in Iraq. The other American and a British citizen are to be murdered "beheaded" also, if the U.S. does not capitulate release non-existent female prisoners in Iraq.

This story continues the lie that hostages are being "beheaded" while they are being murdered in a grotesque and despicable manner. Islamic tradition describes the manner in which beheading take place, as well as when the punishment is to be performed. It does not at any point advocate the slow and torturous murder by sawing away at the neck until the victim is dead.

The West, and our media in particular, remain incapable of calling the terrorist by name and describing with appropriate language the innumerable atrocities they commit in the name of Islam.

The AP report is here.

UPDATE: The video has apparently been posted to a web site. It contains the voice of a murderous thug saying

"Now, you have people who love death just like you love life. Killing for the sake of God is their best wish, getting to your soldiers and allies are their happiest moments, and cutting the heads of the criminal infidels is implementing the orders of our lord."
There can never be a peace with this monster.

UPDATE: A second American has been murdered as a hostage in Iraq. Sept. 21 2004. See Blogs of War for more.

On Early Withdrawal

Robert Novak reports that the winner of the upcoming Presidential election, either President Bush or Senator Kerry, is likely to pull troops from Iraq next year. As Novak states it, the president elect will sit down with the Joint Chiefs of Staff and hear that, insufficient forces are available in Iraq, and one of three options must be taken:

” Increase overall U.S. military strength to reinforce Iraq, stay with the present strength to continue the war, or get out. “
Citing “well placed sources” Novak states that President Bush, after being re-elected, and having a retooled national security team for his second term
”Condoleezza Rice as secretary of state, Paul Wolfowitz as defense secretary and Stephen Hadley as national security adviser”
which would opt for pulling out of Iraq next year.

As has been noted before, this would be a travesty and a failure of the politicians, a failure of the American citizen to defend their ideals, and an invitation for further acts of terror by the Islamo Fascist who seek no less than to destroy the U.S.

The U.S., should we do so, would cede our place as the defender of Liberty in the world. Once again appearing incapable as a people of fighting for that which we profess, and once again stirring a pot of boiling stew, yet unwilling to stay to see that it is served to the hungry.

Unlike the trembling voice of Andrew Sullivan, asking “Who is ultimately responsible for the security of Iraqis?” the United States should stand firm and resolute and answer the questions of how long we will stay, who is responsible for Iraqi insecurity, and how we will persevere in their defense as a statement not only of our moral state but as a statement of our faith that the Iraqi people will come to their own defense in time.

How long will we stay? Until the Iraqi government has the ability to ensure the safety and security of Iraqi’s, to defend itself from threats internal and external.

Who is responsible for the insecurity in Iraq? The Islamo Fascist terrorist who are killing Iraqi people at a much greater rate than they are killing Americans.

How will we persevere? Just as our founders did, just as the “greatest generation” did, and just as is necessary to defeat an evil that WILL feed off our premature withdrawal and see the weakness that it reflects, not in our armed forces, but in our character. We win by having the character to win.

But then again, I am only one American.

UPDATE: With continued reading, it occurs to me that the driver behind Mr. Novak's so called reporting is to weaken the effort of the Right to get out the vote. Roger Simon, Tagorda, Ipse Dixit and Vodkapundit, all show the disaffection apparent from the theory offered by Novak. While it can be seen as a trial balloon or of a restructuring of forces after an Iraqi election, Novak did not report it as such.

September 19, 2004

America at War

The founders of the United States understood, and considered, the dangers of democratic rule. Men, given their innumerable flaws, self-interests, and prejudices are generally incapable of self-governance unless constrained by an outside force, education, a moral foundation, or government devised for a slow gate toward the fickle wishes of its citizens. These United States of America have proven to be of incalculable benefit to the people of the world in both economic and political terms. We've led the efforts of people around the world to find self-governance, to create political systems to encourage economic development and to feed man that which he should cherish most, his liberty.

The wars of the last century, like the current war, were against an enemy not of the United States, but of mankind’s inalienable rights. In combating those wars, the United States took a moral high ground, and suffered through a significant and long course of actions, which at any given date would leave one to believe success was impossible. Yet we pursued the cause with the aplomb that we must fight on, or the battle would end up on the streets of New York City, Washington, or rural Pennsylvania. Today, a portion of our government, and our populace fights on with the same assurance of both justice and inevitable victory, while remembering that the war has already come to our shores, yet it is only a portion of our nation, which does so.

In the wars of the previous century, the American character, that of independence, self-determination, loyalty, optimism and perseverance was evident in the majority of Americans and led the call for men to act responsibly and if necessary lay down their lives for Freedom. At some point, after World War II, and apparent by the late 1960’s that American character began to change and the ramifications of the change helped to instill the confidence that our enemies have today for their cause. Prior to 9/11, and for indeed most of the last quarter of the 20th century, American’s were driven toward a form of group think that weakened our individuality while claiming that the free spirited, make love not war, policies of the left where those of progress and liberalization in the U.S.  Instead, those efforts have led to an epidemic of boys, who are not capable of behaving as men, asking for more and more restrictions on our economic engine, more restrictions to our civil liberties, and an ever increasing intrusion into our lives by the government on all levels. Their pandering of entitlements, pseudo science, and class or gender based policies have created an education system which is focused not on creating the next generation of thinkers but on growing its economic and ideological impact on the United States. This has led to men such as John Kerry being the choice of a the party that once offered JFK and FDR, while the once conservative Republican party hawks the pre-1964 democratic agenda. The shift to the left reflects on our character and the character of our children, and the emasculated remains of the U.S. are seen as ill prepared to take on the hyper masculine ideals and will of an enemy which values nothing more than death in the struggle for their values.

Of course, the United States has every means needed to defeat this enemy. There are still men of strength and character who carry arms for the U.S. and our President has shown some understanding of the fortitude required for the task, yet we have not shown a willingness to put the enemy away, seeking first to begin to “win the peace”, a concept that should be removed from the discussion when fighting an enemy who does not value peace, liberty or truth.

Our politicians have failed us by their desire to secure votes and elections, rather than defending our values and our heritage. Republicans and Democrats alike have sat idly by while judges attack the constitution, state referendums seek to weaken the power of the voter, and men of good character are made criminal by the overly vocal few wielding power. Politicians seek the “issues” that the voters will respond to, rather than seeking to educate the voter as to the issues before our nation, they seek to resolve what we believe are our problems, rather than offering us the freedom to resolve them ourselves. Our nation is in jeopardy not because of our enemies great power, but because we have shown our weakness in the defense of liberty at home.

With this in mind, our enemies are fueled by an ideology that we make no moral argument against. The voice of the American, once found in the P