Saturday, February 24, 2007

The Islamic Democracy Conundrum And Nightmare's Handmaiden

"I'll discuss this more when I get some time tonight...but the conundrum presented here is a serious one. If we believe we can avoid conflict by doing the right thing, and doing the right thing means handing power to people who are determined to have a conflict with us...there's a good chance we've got issues with the way we're formulating the problem." [ You betcha. Reading assignment: Kurtz here and here. Gagdad here and here and here. There are prerequisites for democracy; some pretty whopping ones in fact that we take so completely for granted that we can't even see them any more. The problem is that we have violated the Prime Directive and have stumbled into the Golden Hour whether we like it or not. Given this situation, the only responsible thing to do is to suck it up and attempt a democracy transplant even given the low odds we have of success. And it's made all the more maddening given that Kurdistan right next door from the hellish nightmare we struggle with today could nearly be the 51st state. All the more amazing given the level of British intervention it took to get India anywhere close to 51st state stature next door to the hellish nightmare of Pakistan. You can run -- but the hellish nightmare will kill you where you live. If we learned anything from 9/11 that should have been it. But denial is nightmare's handmaiden... -ed. ]

Eurabia: Dependency And Hypocrisy

"Britain and the US have received years of criticism for the foray into Iraq to resolve the 12-year standoff there rather than commit more troops to fight the terrorists of the Taliban. However, when the subject of that fight comes up, the defense ministers of the NATO alliance suddenly find a lot of excuses as to why they cannot contribute troops for the mission. Liam Fox, the shadow Defence Secretary, puts it rather bluntly: “Too many of our European partners are now pocketing the Nato security guarantee but leaving UK taxpayers and the UK military to carry the cost."

NATO currently has 35,000 troops in Afghanistan. The US provides 27,000 of them, followed by the existing British contingent of 5,500. That leaves around 2,500 troops contributed by the rest of our partners in the war on terror, many of which have placed restrictions on their deployment in combat areas. That's less participation than we had during the invasion of Iraq.

Perhaps we should end our NATO alliance and look for more suitable partners for security. The Eastern European nations appear more rational about the threat to freedom coming from Southwest Asia these days. The traditional NATO nations, save the UK, appear to have decided that the doctrine of unity among members has little to do with them. The US should pull itself out of Western Europe altogether and let them provide for their own security, paying their own bills and organizing their own policies rather than continue subsidizing ennui
." [ More proof that dependency is a very bad thing. Look up at the F. Scott Fitzgerald quote topping this blog about the ability to hold two opposed ideas simultaneously in mind. If we didn't "save" what has now become Eurabia during WWII and the Cold War, there is no doubt that we would be in a world of hurt. On the other hand, we clearly let them become far too dependent on us during the Cold War -- they basically eliminated their militaries and used the funds to prop up their welfare nanny states. I have supported getting our troops out of Europe for a long time. But we may be wrapping around now that they will be needed to evacuate the "natives" from the Islamic colonization invasion of Europe. In any case, as I have said before we will need to raise U.S. immigration quotas substantially to accomodate those who want to flee for their lives as Sharia gains hold. -ed. ]

Welcome To Pakistan Waziristan

"This failure comes at the expense of security in Afghanistan, to the West, as al-Qaeda is plotting strikes and training terrorists from the tribal areas, and within Pakistan itself. The Taliban are openly pushing their agenda in the Northwest Frontier Territory, and are conducting a nationwide terror campaign to cower the government. The peace deals in North and south Waziristan, the upcoming deal in Bajaur and others soon to follow, and the inability to take action against the terrorists inside their own borders poses a direct threat to the existence of the Pakistani state." [ The question is now evolving toward whether we get to face off with one nuclear power or two. You'd never know it watching the MSM of course... -ed. ]

Digg Deeper

"It’s a leftist totalitarian dreamworld. They simply exclude any and all points of view that violate the groupthink—and call it “democracy.”

The most ridiculous example is in the first LGF post that broke through the Digg hivemind, in which the first two dozen comments are hidden: Digg - Iran Uses Photoshop: Fake Pic ‘Reveals’ US Terror Arms.

Here’s a Digg post by someone else who sees how bad the problem has become: Digg - Dear Kevin Rose, Please Create a ‘Who Buried This’ Tab.

And that post was immediately buried

Facilitating Jihadists? Really?

"If I thought, as Pat does, that there was a useful analogy in the Cold War experience, I might nevertheless agree with the “let’s negotiate” partisans. I don’t agree, for the reasons that Ken has so effectively marshalled. But I’d like to get beyond that for a second and bring this back to some of the points stressed by Steve and Michael – the points about the problem being the regime, not the nukes. If I agreed, for argument’s sake, that negotiations were the way to go, the next problem I would confront is that “negotiations” is a hopelessly promiscuous term. Who knows what’s on the table when we’re told: not to worry, we’ll be tough.

Let’s get down to cases. Americans were told very little this past summer about the State Department’s gambit of negotiating directly with the Iranians (in the context for the multi-party talks) over the nuclear program. Nonetheless, when the fine-print emerged (in the foreign press), it became clear that this was a shameful offer. We did not stay tough and play hardball over the nukes. We offered them everything including the kitchen sink if they would just please, please agree to look like they were suspending activity – not actually stopping, but making a verbal commitment to stop which would be “verified” by the IAEA, in whose demonstrated ineffectiveness and slavish deference to the regime lies much of the current problem.

For this nigh-useless commitment, we offered, among other things, security assurances; economic aid; high-technology; and aviation, energy, telecommunications and agriculture assistance. When they, predictably, laughed at us, we unilaterally pressed ahead with the aviation assistance anyway. More to the point, we were dealing with the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism – the nation that has targeted Hezbollah against us for three decades, kills Americans in Iraq, harbors al Qaeda, and gave safe passage to the 9/11 hijackers – and yet our offer in connection with nukes made no demands about facilitating jihadists

Intelligent Leadership

Israel can be safely said not to have it right now. And needless to say, this is not a very good time for that to be the case. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that this is one leftist who makes W look like Albert Einstein... (HT The Corner)

Crichton Finale: The End Of The World?

"Is this really the end of the world? Earthquakes, hurricanes, floods?

No, we simply live on an active planet. Earthquakes are continuous, a million and a half of them every year, or three every minute. A Richter 5 quake every six hours, a major quake every 3 weeks. A quake as destructive as the one in Pakistan every 8 months. It’s nothing new, it’s right on schedule.

At any moment there are 1,500 electrical storms on the planet. A tornado touches down every six hours. We have ninety hurricanes a year, or one every four days. Again, right on schedule. Violent, disruptive, chaotic activity is a constant feature of our globe.

Is this the end of the world? No: this is the world.

It’s time we knew it

Thank you very much

Bacillus Today

"Adolf Hitler said in 1939:"Only when this Jewish bacillus infecting the life of peoples has been removed can one hope to establish a co-operation amongst the nations which shall be built up on a lasting understanding."

Or, was it the UN's Duggard saying it today? Hard to tell.

Only those who would dearly love to erase all Jewish history (and the associated Christian history) of that part of the world would accuse Israel of "Judaizing" Jerusalem."

Plus Ca Change

"Can you guess which President the London Examiner was referring to when it wrote that the man had “murdered the Constitution of the United States” and “overthrown all for which Washington fought and Patrick Henry spoke?""

Friday, February 23, 2007

You Do Understand ...

... that music is banned under Sharia law ... Don't you? ... Is everything really relative? You really wouldn't lift a finger to defend Kazuhito Yamashita from brutalization much less spritual suffocation by 7th century primitives? Really? Has it truly come to that? (HT Hucbald)

Crichton On "Information Casualties"

"But thousands of Ukrainians who didn’t die were made invalids out of fear. They were told to be afraid. They were told they were going to die when they weren’t. They were told their children would be deformed when they weren’t. They were told they couldn’t have children when they could. They were authoritatively promised a future of cancer, deformities, pain and decay. It’s no wonder they responded as they did.

In fact, we need to recognize that this kind of human response is well-documented. Authoritatively telling people they are going to die can in itself be fatal.

You may know that Australian aborigines fear a curse called “pointing the bone.” A shaman shakes a bone at a person, and sings a song, and soon after, the person dies. This is a specific example of a phenomenon generally referred to as “hex death”—a person is cursed by an authority figure, and then dies. According to medical studies, the person generally dies of dehydration, implying they just give up. But the progression is very erratic, and shock symptoms may play a part, suggesting adrenal effects of fright and hopelessness.

Yet this deadly curse is nothing but information. And it can be undone with information.

A friend of mine was an intern at Bellvue Hospital in New York. A 28-year old man from Aruba said he was going to die, because he had been cursed. He was admitted for psychiatric evaluation and found to be normal, but his health steadily declined. My friend was able to rehydrate him, balance his electrolytes, and give him nutrients, but nevertheless the man worsened, insisting that he was cursed and there was nothing that could prevent his death. My friend realized that the patient would, in fact, soon die. The situation was desperate. Finally he told the patient that he, the doctor, was going to invoke his own powerful medicine to undo the curse, and his medicine was more powerful than any other. He got together with the house staff, bought some headdresses and rattles, and danced around the patient in the middle of the night, chanting what they hoped would be effective-sounding phrases. The patient showed no reaction, but next day he began to improve. The man went home a few days later. My friend literally saved his life.

This suggests that the Ukranian invalids are not unique in their response, but by the large numbers of what we might call “information casualties” they represent a particularly egregious example of what can happen from false fears

At Home

"As Diana puts it, "the Muslim council isn't asking the the British to create the perfect Shiriah state exactly, but rather the perfect shariah state school system," one in which the fanatics seeking to reimpose rigid Islamic law in Afghanistan, for example, would feel very much at home."

Bringing Them Home

"Under increased pressure to announce an exit strategy from Iraq, President George W. Bush revealed plans today to bring U.S. troops home on the budget airlines JetBlue.

Mr. Bush received praise for his decision to withdraw American troops, but his choice of JetBlue to transport them raised more than a few eyebrows.

According to most official estimates, with its recent spate of scheduling problems and flight delays, JetBlue could take up to seven years to bring U.S. troops home, and possibly ten years in the event of inclement weather

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Phase 1 Sacrifice

"There are many good books on mankind's practice of human sacrifice -- again, it is our "default" religion -- but perhaps the best one is Violence Unveiled by Gil Bailie, because he places it in the context of the overall arc of salvation. I cannot possibly do justice to his full argument here, but in his view, human beings were actually in desperate need of a cure for religion, and Christianity turned out to be this cure. "Ironically," Jesus was a victim -- and as a result, a permanent reminder -- of that which he came to cure -- the ritual scapegoating of victims in order to create social solidarity. For nothing creates social solidarity and temporarily eases the war of each against all so much as when everyone's aggression is hypnotically focussed on a sacrificial victim.

Once you understand the sacrificial mechanism, you only see it everywhere. It is a sort of "master key" that explains the inexplicable, especially in regions outside Judeo-Christendom untouched by the "arc of salvation." To cite one obvious example, what do you think it is that maintains any semblance of solidarity in the entire Muslim world (or the U.N., come to think of it) -- including, sad to say, the majority of Muslims blessed to be living in the Judeo-Christian world? What unifies this disparate group that would otherwise mindlessly be killing each other, as they are doing in Iraq?

Obviously, it is ritual scapegoating of the Jews. I have no opinion as to whether there may actually be some obscure light of vertical revelation contained somewhere in Islam -- the existence of certain Sufi sects argues that there might be, but they represent far, far less than 1% of all Muslims, and nowhere are they considered remotely normative. No, sorry to say that what unifes the Islamic world -- including wretched Muslim spokesholes such as CAIR -- is human sacrifice. But this irrational obsession with hatred of scapegoats is not an "aberration" if we consider the entire arc of salvation, including the period of time before the old covenant, i.e., Phase I


"Great stuff. It was like catching a glimpse behind the curtain at a Kumbaya concert and finding the entire cast not only out of character, but making fun of their lines. Here's Geffen on the subject of the Clinton Royal Family from Arkansas. "Obama is inspirational, and he’s not from the Bush royal family or the Clinton royal family. Americans are dying every day in Iraq. And I’m tired of hearing James Carville on television. ... It’s not a very big thing to say, ‘I made a mistake’ on the war, and typical of Hillary Clinton that she can’t." There in fact was the key problem in the whole Geffen-Obama-Hillary mess. It raised the question of which was the play and which was reality on the liberal political platform. Just as churchgoers who, after reading in the papers that their pastor was a involved in some sordid drug and sex scandal might wonder whether every Sunday service was a lie, Geffen's outtakes raise doubts about whether politicians (not just Democrats) believing in anything at all."

Mask Slippage In Italy

"This exposed the hypocrisy of the European Left when it insisted its anti-war activism only applied to Iraq, and that the Afghanistan effort had its support. The basis for this breakdown came from an American request to expand its facilities in Vicenza, which conducts support operations for the Afghanistan mission. This would normally have received a fairly straightforward approval, but in this case the Left wanted to use it as a wedge to end Italy's deployment with the NATO forces in Afghanistan."

Vietnam The Paragon?

"Now, "If you talk to these sheiks, they’ll tell you that they’re in no hurry to see the Americans leave al-Anbar," he said.

"One thing Sheikh Sattar keeps saying is he wants al-Anbar to be like Germany and Japan and South Korea were after their respective wars, with a long-term American presence helping ... put them back together," MacFarland said. "The negative example he cites is Vietnam. He says, yeah, so, Vietnam beat the Americans, and what did it get them? You know, 30 years later, they’re still living in poverty.""

Why Indeed?

"Why would you make war on Americans, a people with whom you had no previous contact? Jefferson asked the pirate-king’s ambassador in London. When the ambassador replied that the koran justified the attacks, Jefferson’s curiosity was naturally aroused."

Nice Pigs, Sir

"A joke has spiraling around in military circles for the past few weeks that makes you wonder just how much congressional action against the troop surge is affecting the military’s (or the country’s) approval of the Democrats.

Okay, here’s the joke:

Last Tuesday, as President Bush got off the Marine One helicopter on the White House’s south lawn, he was carrying a piglet under each arm.

The squared-away Marine guard snaps to attention, salutes, and says: “Nice pigs, sir.”

The President replies “These are not pigs. These are authentic Arkansas Razorback Hogs. I got one for Senator Hillary Clinton and I got one for Speaker Nancy Pelosi.”

The squared-away Marine again snaps to attention, salutes, and says,

“Excellent trade, sir

Facilitating The Non-Worms

"Hey, maybe he just changed his mind. Two possibilities are more likely, however. One is that some anonymous Iranian functionary bamboozled Amanpour as part of a disinformation campaign designed to weaken support for the Bush administration's effort to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power. The other is that events since 2003 have convinced Khamenei that his policy of confrontation with the U.S. is unwise, and he would be better advised to seek an accommodation.

In either event, CNN seems to have missed the real story by serving as a conduit for Iranian propaganda."

Pic Of The Year

PJM via Swac Girl.

What WMD?

"Not even the use of banned chemical weapons against civilians is enough to get al-Reuters to use the word “terrorist:” Second chlorine bomb may show new militant tactic. ***

Notice: Reuters doesn’t even mention that these weapons have been banned under numerous international treaties for nearly a century."

Today's "If Only..."

"The national disgrace of gerrymandering has created a system in which the vast majority of House seats are safe for one of the two parties. As a result, the real action is in the primaries, which tend to be dominated by activists. As a result, we see the polarization of Congress, as GOP candidates tend hard right to win their primaries and vice-versa for the Democrats. Now the netroots plan to exacerbate the problem.

The solution seems obvious. A national system of nonpartisan redistricting designed to maximize the number of truly competitive seats. In such a system, candidates would succeed by appealing to the center rather than the extremes, which in turn would reduce the destructive influence of the rabid partisans on both sides of the net." [ I have pointed the need for this out for a long time also. I seriously doubt it has a chance until it becomes an option for recovering from catastrophe for two reasons: 1) The very congressional plutarchs it would target fully understand its danger and won't let it happen until their dying breaths. 2) The media culture has so mentally pulverized and cynicized the population that they not only don't appreciate the value (cynicism) but don't have the attention span to pay attention to the concept. Back to the Britney rehab news now... -ed. ]

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Shiva Rising

"Passive acceptance of Iran's program would lead to a highly unstable three-sided arms race in the region. Unlike the Cold War, this arms race would lead to a real war. Internationally-supervised sanctions could in theory be effective (especially in light of the recent experience with North Korea) but won't happen due to cheating. Ironically, an American air strike on Iran's nuclear industry would be the most humane treatment for the problem." [ Oppenheimer understood the level of danger that he created and his recollection of the Bagavad Gita and Shiva at Trinity was entirely appropriate ("I am become death, destroyer of worlds"). But he and his fellow scientist's "solution" of spreading A-Bomb technology didn't forsee the consequences of eventual arrival at second and third tier powers with short missile throws and no boomers for insurance. That alone will almost certainly lead to real war just based on "mistakes" even if they were "sane". Never mind in the hands of the Islamists who were insane enough to invade Israel in 73 even knowing that they likely had nukes at the time ... and who now are making that lunacy into the very epitome of rationality by comparison. -ed. ]

VDH Has A Worms Reprise

"The most famous example was the 1974 Foreign Relations Act. Passed in the wake of Watergate scandal, the congressional resolution cut off all military assistance to the South Vietnamese government. But that pubic stand-down only encouraged the North Vietnamese communists to violate the Paris peace accords and renew the war—without any more worries of U.S arms shipments or air strikes.

The Neutrality Acts of the 1930s, passed by an isolationist Congress, forbade U.S. military assistance to, or trade in war material with, any belligerent, regardless of whether they were aggressors or victims. Such actions of “conscious” only emboldened Nazi Germany, Italy, and Japan to attack democracies and other neutral states. Hitler, Mussolini and Tojo were convinced that whatever their provocations, the United States had no stomach to stand up to any of them, or even to join Britain and France in a united front of resistance. World War II with its 50 million dead followed.

Often even mere assurances of restraint by American officials, that suggest either inaction or weariness, have had the same effect as congressional resolutions in assuring interested observers that the United States would either not act in the face of aggression—or tire more quickly of ongoing fighting than their our enemies.

In a routine policy address Cold War warrior and Secretary of States Dean Acheson once warned the communist bloc that the American defensive perimeter in the Pacific went from Aleutians to Japan to the Ryukyus and onto the Philippine Islands. But Acheson, perhaps inadvertently, left out the Korean Peninsula. Many argued at the time that this omission gave the green light for the communists to invade South Korea in 1950 on their erroneous assumption that the United States would not intervene in an area outside its sphere of influence. Three years and hundreds of thousands of war dead followed.

Jimmy Carter had a far worse habit of telegraphing his intention to enemies. In 1977 he declared that America had outgrown its “inordinate fear of communism”. But by that time, global communism from Stalin to Mao had killed nearly 100 million of its own and invaded dozens of natural countries. Nothing “inordinate” about that.

So next when Carter made it clear that he would not retaliate immediately against Iran for storming of the US embassy in November 1979, it was not much of a surprise that the Soviet Union quickly invaded Afghanistan—unafraid of an America that wouldn’t use force to free its own diplomats or punish those who took them.

In a July 1990 in a meeting with Saddam Hussein, then American ambassador Arpil Glaspie purportedly assured the Iraqi government that “ we have no opinion on the Arab-Arab conflicts, like your border disagreement with Kuwait.” Saddam attacked Kuwait a little more than a week later

The Real Warren's Ash Wednesday Sermon

"Sometimes it seems even our own bishops have forgotten, that “the catholic truth” is entirely incompatible with the “happyface” of pop doctrines. Even what we mean by the words “life” and “death” is incomprehensible, without heaven and hell. Baudelaire once said, “Everyone believes in God, but nobody loves Him; nobody believes in the devil, and yet his smell is everywhere.” Except that belief in God has declined, this strikes me as a fair description of Western man in late modernity.

Lent, in its penitential spirit, can make no sense except in terms wherein the reality of evil has been acknowledged -- not as some ancient myth, but as a present force working to our destruction. This was what was faced down in the garden of Gethsemane, where Christ began to lift upon himself the full weight of the sins of this world, the full horror not only of the evil that was done, in times past, but would be done, in times future. For the last time in his earthly ministry, he was tempted by the devil, and offered the “happyface” of a life without suffering, of a mission that might not involve the Cross; offered the intensely attractive lie of an easy way out -- the lie that every human being is offered. It is the side of the devil we find hardest to type-cast: the side that is offering that happyface grin.

For it is an offer that we, collectively, have bought -- hook, line, and sinker. It is an offer that we could only accept, on the assumption that someone else will take care of it, that someone else can pay, since the yoke is thus lifted off our shoulders

Hillary The Racist?

"So: Barack Obama is playing the race card against Hillary Clinton!


It's interesting how quickly the two campaigns came to blows, figuratively speaking. After all, it was David Geffen, not Obama, who attacked Hillary. Her campaign didn't have to respond by pinning the attack on Obama, but it did. Likewise, Obama didn't have to ratchet up the hostility by playing the race card. But he did.

2008 is a long way off, of course, and there's plenty of time for the candidates to make up. Still, it's striking how little it took for the first fur to fly; much worse aggravations will occur before the primary season is over. Whether the candidates are ultimately able to unite on a ticket may ultimately depend on whether the Clintons are forgiving people or vindictive people.

." [ Of course they'll be able to unite if they think it's advantageous. Vindictive will only happen if she feels she doesn't need Barack on the ticket. In the mean time I predict Barack will be painted as a serial murdering racist who moonlights as a child molester Uncle Tom who was raised on the lap of Clarence Thomas. The MSM will simply flush this little incident along with Barack's "Uncle Tom"ness down the memory hole when it's required to do so with 24/7 coverage of adoring minorities fawning over her every word and Barack calling her "Mom". Why she's married to our first "black president" after all. How could she possibly be racist? She's going to be our second black president! You racist! -ed. ]

The Righteous View From The Comfy Couch

"Viewing the violence from a comfy couch, it is easy to conclude that "these people are animals. We can't help them." But imagine what would have happened in Los Angeles if the 1992 riots had gone on for weeks, with no police or military intervention. L.A. could have come to resemble Baghdad or Sarajevo, with Anglo, African American, Latino and Asian gangs rampaging out of control.

To extend the analogy, violence could have spread throughout Southern California. That's what happened in the Balkans when fighting spread from Slovenia, the first province to secede, to Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo. A wider spillover was averted thanks to American-led intervention."

Murtha's Howling Pixies

"Arguably, his maneuver will be the most blatant congressional intrusion on the president’s war-making powers in the nation’s history. Congress choked off the Vietnam War in the 1970s, but only after U.S. ground troops were mostly already out of the country and chiefly as a matter of cutting off aid to South Vietnam.

Just as disturbing is Murtha’s cynical reliance on failure in Iraq as a political strategy. The plan aptly has been described by as a “slow-bleed” antiwar strategy. The surge is the best chance of turning the war around. By hampering it, Democrats will ensure that the war continues to fail, and thus that domestic political support for it plummets to the point where Democrats feel safe in defunding it.

The subconscious logic of their position on the war has thus taken a subtle turn. It used to be that the war had to end because it was a failure; now it must fail so that it can end.

Democrats don’t see this distinction, since they simply believe the war is irretrievably lost. But they still pay laughably unserious lip service to the notion of success
. Murtha says there’s no military solution in Iraq, that we can win in Iraq only through the political process — as if it has no effect on the political process whether Shia militias are murdering Sunnis unchecked or laying low to avoid the surge. In a howler, he maintains that if we leave, “al Qaeda’s going to disappear.” Maybe if we spread pixie dust and close our eyes?

President Bush will have no choice but to reject the Murtha restrictions should they reach his desk. But a veto is problematic. As Murtha points out, a veto means that Bush doesn’t get the continued funding for the war. He might have to sign the bill, take the funding and ignore the restrictions as an unconstitutional trespass on his powers. In that event, a cry to impeach him will go up from the increasingly powerful antiwar Left.

The result of the Democrats’ clever gambit could be a constitutional implosion from which no one — certainly not the country — will emerge a winner

UPDATED WITH A REPRISE: "As I recall, Marshal Petain managed to prostrate himself right quickly before the Nazis despite his status as a WWI hero, too. Besides, where exactly will Murtha draw that line -- New York City? Logan Airport?"

The State Of State

"I recently de-mobilized after spending a total of three years at CENTCOM HQ beginning in Feb 2003. I didn't work on the OIF plan but I do know something about it. Phase IV was the least planned (by CENTCOM) part of OIF since nobody knew what would happen after the end of major combat activities and the Organization for Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance (ORHA) was supposed to do the planning and carry out many of the activities. In the end, there was little humanitarian assistance to be carried out and little reconstruction due to combat. Declaration of Phase IV has many legal implications in regard to the Geneva Conventions, the Law of Land Warfare, etc... I also believe that it is the demarcation of when the Department of State takes the lead. In any case, the slides, if they show anything, show that the enemy has a vote in how things turn out.

As I see it, things are turning out better than we expected from a GWOT point of view. Al Qaeda's decision to make a stand in Iraq has provided us with an opportunity to deal them a significant blow. They have invested many resources - there aren't that many suicide bombers out there - and much of their reputation counts on defeating us in Iraq. All we have to do is stay and we win. Iran is over-playing its hand and will see just as much trouble on their side of the border as they instigate in Iraq. All we have to do is stay and we win.

On the down side, of course, is our inability to play in the information war. I think this is part of the reason that the terrorists and the Democrats are natural allies - they are willing to say the most outrageous things and no one holds them to account. The truth may be on our side but it is not enough - it needs to be marketed. Unfortunately that is easier said than done and we, as a government, are not set up to do it. In fact, we are not set up to win wars efficiently. The very structure of our government prevents us from prosecuting wars efficiently and I doubt a change would be politically feasible. Aside from DoD, no one prepares for their part of the war fight and they don't train for or fund any activities that contribute to war time success. For now we will have to settle for less efficient war fighting.

When the history of the Iraq conflict is finally written, I think it will be interesting to see what role the State Department played, and how that department's performance is assessed

Raymond Redux: Suicidalism

"These ideas travel under many labels: postmodernism, nihilism, multiculturalism, Third-World-ism, pacifism, “political correctness” to name just a few. It is time to recognize them for what they are, and call them by their right name: suicidalism.

Trace any of these back far enough (e.g. to the period between 1930 and 1950 when Department V was at its most effective) and you’ll find a Stalinist at the bottom. Among the more notorious examples ware: Paul de Man — racist and Nazi propagandist turned Stalinist, and fonder of postmodernism; Jean-Paul Sarte, who described the effects of Stalinism as “humane terror” and helped invent existentialism; and Paul Baran, who developed the thesis that capitalism depended on the immiseration of the Third World after Marx’s immiseration of the proletariat failed to materialize.

Al-Qaeda didn’t launch any of these memes into the noosphere, but it relies on them for political cover. They have another effect as well: when Islamists characterize the West as “decadent”, and aver that it is waiting to collapse in on itself at the touch of jihad, they are describing quite correctly and accurately the effects of Western suicidalism."

Hitch Redux: Against Rationalization

"Now is as good a time as ever to revisit the history of the Crusades, or the sorry history of partition in Kashmir, or the woes of the Chechens and Kosovars. But the bombers of Manhattan represent fascism with an Islamic face, and there's no point in any euphemism about it. What they abominate about "the West," to put it in a phrase, is not what Western liberals don't like and can't defend about their own system, but what they do like about it and must defend: its emancipated women, its scientific inquiry, its separation of religion from the state. Loose talk about chickens coming home to roost is the moral equivalent of the hateful garbage emitted by Falwell and Robertson, and exhibits about the same intellectual content. Indiscriminate murder is not a judgment, even obliquely, on the victims or their way of life, or ours. Any decent and concerned reader of this magazine could have been on one of those planes, or in one of those buildings--yes, even in the Pentagon."

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Why U.S. Immigration Quotas Will Need To Be Massively Raised...

"Daniel Johnson, writing in the Weekly Standard from London, notes with sadness and alarm that the European elite have now admitted their failure to negotiate an end to the Iranian nuclear program. Not only that, but they let out of the diplomatic bag the dirty little secret that it’s always been about nuclear weapons.

So the Europeans know—in all likelihood they’ve always known—that the Iranians are building atomic bombs, and intend to use them against Israel. Against the Jews. Johnson says that if that happens, he’ll pack up and leave Europe, as well he might. I’m tempted to ask him why he needs to wait. British Jews now constitute the largest single group of immigrants to Israel, having seen the graffiti on the walls and in the newspapers of their finlandized country." [ There are a lot of good folks in Europe that will finally snap to their senses when horror like this can no longer be denied. And they'll be screaming for us to take them in. And we'll need to take them in for our sake as well as theirs. North America will need all the help we can get in the (currently to most) unimaginable battle for survival that will ensue... -ed. ]

What East Timor?

"First there was East Timor
Then there was the Bali bombing
And then there was the war in Iraq

Why do the blowback believers keep ignoring East Timor? It's as though the liberation of that country never happened."
"Gore in 2008!"

Monday, February 19, 2007

The Two Faces Of Fundamentalism (Less Is More Edition)

"But Judaism and Christianity are temporal revelations which cannot be understood outside their historical manifestations. It is the difference between a painting -- which depicts everything at once within the frames -- and a symphony, which can only unfold through time, which will in turn illuminate the meaning of what has gone before. As such, it is also the difference between the eye and the ear, which is why it is no coincidence that the West regards God fundamentally as word rather than vision. In fact, is it not written that no one sees the face of God and lives? Curiously, one can hear the voice but not see the face. (Of course, it is a matter of emphasis, for any theology limits things at the front door which it allows entry at the back door; thus, for example, the three who were privileged to witness the transfiguration atop mount Tabor.)

One of the main reasons the West leapt ahead of the East so dramatically is that the former regarded time -- and therefore history -- as fundamentally real, whereas the latter considered it a part of maya, and therefore unworthy of our attention. The Jews adopted a "middle position," in the sense that they lived and toiled within time for six days but returned to the timeless on the seventh (which is the ultimate purpose of the other six). Each week represents in miniature the full cycle of creation repeated endlessly. As such, it combined the temporal with the atemporal, as history awaits the ingression of the messiah.

Christianity obviously widened out that cycle to include all of history, past, present, and future. Instead of repeating the cycle endlessly, it sees us in the middle of one big cycle -- somewhat like a cosmic symphony -- with a beginning, middle, and end -- or the ages of the Father (the Jews), Son (Christ), and Holy Spirit (apocalypse and revelation, as history is brought to its denoument, or the eschaton).

Van correctly noted that scripture is traditionally understood to have four levels, the literal (or historical), the allegorical or symbolic, the moral, and the mystical or esoteric. The latter mode also has to do with the vertical -- with “leading upward” and with “final things," both on an individual and historical basis. And in fact, this is where the pure metaphysics of the Upanishads converges with Western scripture, as we ascend from the logos as deployed in historical time to the pure logos at the tip-toppermost of the vertical, as in Dante's vision of the paradiso.

Thus, as also noted by Van, "To stop at the literal level of the text as a Rev. Jerry Falwell or Sam Harris would, is to leave most of the meaning out, and [to] deify the Bible itself for their purposes (either pro or con) and to miss out completely on the doing of its meaning being actively threaded through the reader's soul." Exactly, for the modern deviation of "fundamentalism" is no less a form of debased materialism than materialism proper. In fact, it represents the reaction of a weak soul to the abnormal conditions of modernity -- an attempt to combat materialism by fully conceding its assumptions


By the way, people sure are disinterested in this stuff. As I've begun focussing more on spirituality and less on politics, my readership has plummeted, as has interest in the book. Oh well. I must keep our motto in mind: the few, the humble, the Raccoons, "an army of the One." But sometimes I do appreciate a little encouragement, because there are times I can't help feeling that I am essentially speaking into a rapidly shrinking void, as we stand surrounded by coonibalistic Swedes who have the disgusting taste for coon pie." [ Careful, I resemble that remark. I'm not a Swede, I'm a Norwegian Norwegian-American American. (My dear departed Dad insisted that there were two things I needn't be exposed to: eating lutefisk and washing dishes. The former kept me from being totally unmarriageable and the latter nearly gets me divorced on a daily basis. But I digress.) Anyway, I nearly ended up a Swede until the miracle of becoming a father made me look "up". Don't be swayed by the "polls" -- that's about the only thing that could make me stop reading you ;) -ed. ]


"The Iranians arrest, investigate and execute an alleged terrorist in under four days flat. I, for one, eagerly await the howls of outrage from Human Rights Watch, and the reproduction thereof by every major media organization in the world."

Loose Screws And Flying Pigs

"But on this rare occasion, I salute the BBC’s effort to expose the Truther creeps for what they are." [ And by the way, not only must this be the world's biggest and most airtight conspiracy, but Clinton was behind the 1993 WTC attack too I suspect. Didn't you know that most Texas oil is secretly pumped out from underneath Arkansas? Why, Clinton is the biggest oil baron of all! Yeah, that's the ticket! It's been going on for years. Why, almost everyone in the country must be in on it by now! Everyone except me. Yeah, that's the ticket! -ed. ]

Fake But (How I Wish It Were) Accurate

Did I forget to mention that they're fakes? Not that I don't wish they were real ...


"And I'll offer a rather simple definition of the word "undermine": it's the opposite of "support.""

The Stink Is Back

"The immediate question should be this: how many other paid consultants are higher-profile politicians who have endorsed Hillary? How many other politicans has Hillary bought in this stage of the primaries? And perhaps the Democratic Party can explain to us once again how they represent clean government and political reform -- because from the grandstands, it looks like Democrats have put themselves up for the highest bidder, and that they're willing to bid rather high themselves." [ And it smells just the same as it did the last time. Only perhaps more so. And we're barely out of the starting gates... -ed. ]

Expanding The Walnut Brain?

"If so then the US has truly achieved a subtlety and lethality beyond anything available in the days when firing hundreds of cruise missiles at a target was the only available response; back when it had a walnut-sized brain full of options. But then the recent destruction of a Qods bus in Iran by 'representatives of al-Qaeda' may be another example of the changed "rules of engagement" made possible by new capabilities. Although this is speculative, various commentators like Bill Roggio have expressed the opinion that just maybe the US was behind the carbomb attack on the Iranian special forces. [ And don't miss the fauxtography in response. -ed. ] All of this raises the tantalizing possibility that a qualitative change in US warfighting has arrived in theater, much like the arrival of Hellcats, VT fuzes, computing sights and radar silently transformed the Pacific in 1944. To a casual observer the ships looked the same as they did in 1942 but they were radically different. Who knows?

But returning to the subject of "degrees of freedom" and walnut-sized brain responses, one wonders at how useful it is to keep seeing the world through the prism of the Vietnam War. Clearly for many of the Democrats in Congress who have just supported a nonbinding resolution aimed at "bringing the boys home", 2007 is 1967. One wonders whether for certain people every year will be always be 1967. However that may be, as much time has elapsed from 1967 till today as between the time Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album was released and the end of the Silent Movie era. Rep. Sam Johnson. (R-Texas) responded to Murtha's "slow bleed" strategy with an argument taken from the same era but with this difference: Johnson understood the price of having his fate, as a young man, decided by old men living in their past. Now, astounded to find himself in Congress, Johnson wonders whether it isn't the job of the old to let the men in the field shape their world
. "

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Wretchard Darkly Again

"Perhaps the idea of War and Peace as a binary state has passed. It would be interesting to see whether an equivalent concept exists among rival tribes in parts of the Middle East or whether they are accustomed to living in a twilight state of neither war nor peace, the condition depending on the time of day.

If, as now seems, the Tribes have imposed their way of war upon the West, then we will long for a definite peace the way Redcoats in North America hankered after the clash of orderly ranks in the open field. Long will we seek it, but seek it in vain.

Then Israel will have proved not the exception, but rather the new rule. And the landscape though apparently open, may little by little come to be divided into besieged demesnes; a new Dark Age arising on the foundation of the new tribalism. And the wonder of it all is that it will have been built in our faces. Perhaps this is the way civilizations finish; when the consensus to go on ends. If the West does not have the inner desire to continue then perhaps it has taken the subconscious decision to wind it all up."

The Mysterious Exemption

"One might, for instance, contrast how the Christian Messiah and the Prophet of Islam are said to have dealt with unflattering comments. To the best of my knowledge, the New Testament does not inform believers that Jesus sanctioned the assassination of his critics or mocked their dead bodies. While Muhammad did occasionally forgive those who ridiculed him, this forgiveness was by no means a typical response, particularly in his later career. Al-Nadr bin al-Harith, Kab bin al-Ashraf and Uqbah bin Abu Muayt were killed at Muhammad’s instruction in 624 AD, and the poetess Asma bint Marwan was killed the same year for writing a disrespectful verse. Given there are those who are gripped by literalist passions and view Muhammad as exemplary in all regards and for all time, perhaps these events shouldn’t be dismissed quite so lightly.

By way of further illustration, Rosie O’Donnell was happy to assert that, "radical Christianity is just as threatening as radical Islam in a country like America." But while red-faced evangelists may say, for instance, that gay people are wicked, damned to hellfire, etc, I don’t know of any internationally renowned Christian leaders who are calling for the imprisonment and killing of gay people. Unlike the supposedly “moderate” Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, who insists that gay men and lesbians should be “killed in the worst manner possible.” Not condemned, ‘corrected’, prayed for, or pitied, or any of the usual nonsense spouted by Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson et al; but murdered - as brutally as possible.

However studiously such distinctions are overlooked, this one in particular strikes me as significant. Especially considering the readiness with which some will enact Sistani’s wisdom - as illustrated by Rexhep Idrizi, a chairman of Australia’s Board of Imams who thinks beheading gay people is in order, and whose son is currently serving a four-year jail sentence for attacking a cyclist with a machete. Given the number of believers who listen very carefully to Sistani, both in Iraq and beyond, it would be unwise for gay Iraqis to treat the cleric’s fatwas as irrelevant nonsense. And while mad Methodists or Creationists can be laughed at with relative impunity, sadistic bigots like Sistani are mysteriously exempt from comparable scorn in the “progressive” left-leaning media
." [ Wow again. Thompson just got added to my blogroll. -ed. ]

The Perils Of...

"American officials and analysts said a variety of factors in Pakistan had come together to allow “core Al Qaeda” — a reference to Mr. bin Laden and his immediate circle — to regain some of its strength. The emergence of a relative haven in North Waziristan and the surrounding area has helped senior operatives communicate more effectively with the outside world via courier and the Internet.

The investigation into last summer’s failed plot to bomb airliners in London has led counterterrorism officials to what they say are “clear linkages” between the plotters and core Qaeda operatives in Pakistan. American analysts point out that the trials of terrorism suspects in Britain revealed that some of the defendants had been trained in Pakistan.

In a videotaped statement last year, Mr. Zawahri claimed responsibility for the July 2005 London suicide bombings
[ I suspect you might have ignored it? Or were perhaps just averting your eyes? -ed. ] Included in the same tape was a statement by one of the London suicide bombers, pledging allegiance to Al Qaeda. Two of the four bombers traveled to Pakistan prior to the attack." [ ... apocalyptic terrorists sheltered by a nuclear power. Next door to another soon to be nuclear power -- if not already one -- ruled by apocalyptic terrorist rulers. You hadn't noticed? Another indicator that in spite of that little voice smothered inside you might be a Septenthian perhaps? Or just very, very deep in the ostrich position? If the left were actually a loyal opposition they would have been busy for months trying to bring down W and Tony for failed leadership on the war. And I might even join them if so! But of course this would ruin their "terrorism isn't really a threat and W made it all up" meme -- so down the memory hole it prospectively goes... P.S. To cheer you up, many of Pakistan's nuclear tests were "fizzles" much like what recently happened to the NorKorComs. Pray *hard* that they don't have the formula down for either construction or maintenance. -ed. ]

UPDATE: And then there was the the "Friendship Express". And then there wasn't... [ Are you dizzy yet? -ed. ]

Rudy 1997: No Suspected Political Linkage?

"NEW YORK -- The Palestinian teacher who went on a fatal shooting rampage atop the Empire State Building carried a note blaming the United States for using Israel as "an instrument" against his people. The note found in Ali Hassan Abu Kamal's pocket contains "rambling, angry stuff," and appears to contradict claims by the man's family that the shooting had nothing to do with politics, a high-ranking police source said last night.

At City Hall, Mayor Giuliani attempted to shift the focus toward gun control. He was accompanied by Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, D-N.Y., whose husband was killed and son wounded in the 1993 shootings on a Long Island Rail Road commuter train that killed six people and wounded 17." (HT Glenn)

The Progressive Gambit

"Regular pw readers know by now just exactly how this gambit works: sub sects within individual identity groups vie for control over the group narrative, which, once it is has been decided upon, becomes an orthodoxy, capable of acting as an arbiter of “authenticity”; from there, the cultural relativism many find in the wake of “contingency” allows only those deemed authentic to level “legitimate” criticism against the group—which is itself a cynical ploy, as those whose criticisms might challenge the kernel assumptions of the group narrative have already been bracketed, and so lack the requisite authenticity necessary to give their criticisms force.

This embrace of authenticity as a determining factor for legitimate criticism—the Orientalist critique of Edward Said stripped of all its academic pretense—then sets the stage for the kind of “tolerance” that is, from the perspective of individualism, Orwellian in its application. Which is to say, “tolerance” becomes the enforcement of adherence to the cult of authenticity, and those who don’t accept the premise and who criticize identity groups from without are labeled bigots, misogynists, racists, haters, and cultural imperialists.

And it is precisely the fear of being labeled such that gives the new “tolerance” its force—in effect, constraining individualism by turning it into a pathology and a heresy insofar as the individual either sways from his prescribed identity group, or presumes to speak to issues or concerns that “belong” to Others.

I’ve noted on many occasions that I believe the animating principal that allows this maneuvering to work occurs on the linguistic level—particularly, with the decades long movement to decouple meaning from intent. This attempt to “democratize” meaning—a populist euphemism that blinds us to what is essentially a shift in the agency priviliged in hermeneutic engagements—is what (in my opinion, at least) prepares the ground for the social revolution cultural materialism hopes to bring about from within the structures of western liberalism. That is, once we accept that meaning is a product of cultural consensus rather than of individual intent, we have accepted the very premise that allows cultural materialism to take root in social policy and then to fossilize itself in law.

Each time we cede ground in the linguistic wars, we surrender a bit more ground to those who wish to subvert individual agency to the consensus of “interpretive communities,” themselves answerable only to their own interests. Epistemology becomes an exercise in relativism and will to power disguised as critical thinking. And politically, the individual—the primary locus of agency in a constitutional democracy—is forced by social circumstance either to find power in group identity, or else accept his social and political marginalition
." (HT Coyote, Glenn)

UPDATE: And more here -- spelled with a W-O-W:

"Last week, during a conversation about the ‘cartoon jihad’ uproar, I used the phrase “emotional incontinence.” This did not go down well. I was promptly told, in no uncertain terms, that I mustn’t “impose” my own cultural values. Apparently, to do so would be a form of “cultural imperialism”, an archaic colonial hangover, and therefore unspeakably evil. I was, apparently, being “arrogantly ethnocentric” in considering Western secular society broadly preferable to a culture in which rioting, murder and genocidal threats can be prompted by the publication of a cartoon.

As the conversation continued, I was emphatically informed that to regard one set of cultural values as preferable to another was “racist” and “oppressive.” Indeed, even the attempt to make any such determination was itself a heinous act. I was further assailed with a list of examples of “Western arrogance, decadence, irreverence, and downright nastiness.” And I was reminded that, above all, I “must respect deeply held beliefs.” When I asked if this respect for deeply held beliefs extended to white supremacists, cannibals and ultra-conservative Republicans, a deafening silence ensued.

After this awkward pause, the conversation rumbled on. At some point, I made reference to migration and the marked tendency of families to move from Islamic societies to secular ones, and not the other way round. “This seems rather important,” I suggested. “If you want to evaluate which society is preferred to another by any given group, migration patterns are an obvious yardstick to use. Broadly speaking, people don't relocate their families to cultures they find wholly inferior to their own.” Alas, this fairly self-evident suggestion did not meet with approval. No rebuttal was forthcoming, but the litany of Western wickedness resumed, more loudly than before.

This tendency to replace a coherent argument with lists of alleged Western wickedness and an air of self-loathing is hardly uncommon. Indeed, in certain quarters, it is difficult to avoid. In her increasingly baffling comment pieces, the Guardian’s Madeleine Bunting has made much of bemoaning "our preoccupation with things; our ever more desperate dependence on stimulants from alcohol to porn." (One instantly pictures poor Madeleine surrounded by booze, drugs and pornography – and tearfully alienated by all of those other terrible material “things” she doesn’t like having, honest.)

In one infamous recent article, Bunting - a “leading thinker”, at least according to her employers – waved the flag for cultural relativism and denounced the idea of Enlightenment sensibilities: “Muscular liberals raise their standard on Enlightenment values – their universality, the supremacy of reason and a belief in progress… It is an ideology of superiority that is profoundly old-fashioned – reminiscent of Victorian liberalism and just as imperialistic…” Bunting’s argument, such as it is, suggests no objective distinction should be made between democratic cultures in which freedom of belief and education for women are taken for granted, and theocratic societies in which those freedoms are curtailed or extinguished. As, for instance, when Islamic fundamentalists took umbrage at Western-funded school projects in Northern Pakistan and promptly destroyed the offending schools, on the basis that illiterate girls were being taught ‘un-Islamic’ values.

Nor, apparently, should we notice that restricting the education of women and their social interactions has obvious consequences for healthcare and prosperity, both of which Ms Bunting seems to disdain. Indeed, she has explicitly argued to this effect, insisting women in the developing world should reject the evils of capitalism and material advancement as this disrupts their “traditions of keeping children with them in the fields” - traditions which, of course, we must respect and, better yet, romanticise, albeit from a safe distance.

Perhaps Enlightenment values, including tolerance, education and free speech, should only apply in the nicer parts of London, but not in Iran, or Sudan, or Saudi Arabia. Presumably, Enlightenment values are fine for Guardian columnists, but wrong for poor women in rural Pakistan. And, given Ms Bunting’s recent Hello-style interview with the Islamist cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who insists that disobedient women should be beaten, albeit “lightly”, perhaps we can assume she’s prepared to accept similar chastisement, all in the name of the moral relativism she claims to hold so dear
?" [ Did I forget to say "WOW"? -ed. ]