Saturday, March 24, 2007

Let Them Eat Sand Salad!

""Spinach, shrimp, peanuts and shellfish? That's not a war funding bill, that's the salad bar at Denny's.""

The Ghosts Clowns Of Chamberlain

"On the airplane on his way to Iran Khomeini was asked by reporter Peter
Jennings: "What do you feel in returning to Iran?" Khomeini answered "Hic ehsasi
nadaram" (I don't feel a thing).
In other words, Khomeini (and most of his followers) are not Iranian nationalists. They are Islamists doing "God's work." National borders do not exist in their eyes. There can be no separation of church and state, because there is no state. Parts of Iraq like Najaf and Kerbala are God's territory to them. They are key Shiite holy places.

And yet the semi-literate partisans in our Congress voted yesterday to withdraw from Iraq and give the mullahs what they originally sought in the Iran-Iraq War (those same holy places). Moreover, that same Islamic Republic of Iran will soon be nuclear.

Perhaps we should call our Congress the Chamber of Clowns
."

Not A Chance

"The indictment of British sailors in uniform as spies will violate the GC. Can we expect the same level of outrage over this explicit violation as the supposed violations of the US government?" [ After all, they're the murderous thugs victims. -ed. ]

Typical. And Sadly So.

"Thabo Mbeki is a typical African leader, and he has been busily turning South Africa into a typical African nation, marked by support for other thugocracies, a paranoid, unscientific AIDS policy and support for the murderous Mugabe regime. That doesn't leave much room for moral exceptionalism."

Darfur Update: Welcome To The West's Future

""They beat us, but we treat them like family," added his friend Abdulmalik Ismail. "In our minds, we hate them."

I can't imagine why." [ Of course, beatings are their idea of the family norm. And as that last link shows, Eurabia is about to join the family... -ed. ]

Hitch: The Original Totten

"Well, as it happens, I decided to check this out, and did spend most of the Christmas holiday in Iraqi Kurdistan, bringing my son along with me, and had a perfectly swell time. We didn't make any investments, though I would say that the hotel and tourism and oil sectors are wide open for enterprise, but we did visit the ancient citadel in Erbil, where Alexander the Great defeated the Persians—my son is a Greek-speaking classicist—and we did sample the lovely mountains and lakes and rivers that used to make this region the resort area for all Iraqis. Air and road travel were easy (you can now fly direct from several airports in Europe to one of two efficient airports in Iraqi Kurdistan), and walking anywhere at night in any Kurdish town is safer than it is in many American cities. The police and soldiers are all friendly locals, there isn't a coalition soldier to be seen, and there hasn't been a suicide attack since May of 2005.

It wasn't my first trip. That took place in 1991, in the closing stages of the Gulf War. With a guerrilla escort, I crossed illegally into Iraq from Turkey and toured the shattered and burned and poisoned landscape on which Saddam Hussein had imprinted himself. In the town of Halabja, which has now earned its gruesome place in history, I met people whose hideous wounds from chemical bombardment were still suppurating. The city of Qala Diza had been thoroughly dynamited and bulldozed, and looked like an irretrievable wreck. Much of the area's lavish tree cover had been deforested: the bare plains were dotted with forbidding concrete barracks into which Kurds had been forcibly "relocated" or (a more accurate word) "concentrated." Nearly 200,000 people had been slaughtered, and millions more deported: huddling in ruins or packed into fetid camps on the Turkish and Iranian frontiers. To turn a spade was to risk uncovering a mass grave. All of Iraq suffered terribly during those years, but its Kurdish provinces were among the worst places in the entire world—a howling emptiness of misery where I could catch, for the first time in my life, the actual scent of evil as a real force on earth.

Thus, I confess to a slight lump in the throat at revisiting the area and seeing thriving, humming towns with multiplying construction sites, billboards for overseas companies, Internet caf├ęs, and a choice of newspapers. It's even reassuring to see the knockoff "MaDonal," with pseudo–golden arches, in the eastern city of Sulaimaniya, soon to be the site of the American University of Iraq, which will be offering not only an M.B.A. course but also, in the words of Azzam Alwash, one of its directors, "the ideas of Locke, the ideas and writings of Paine and Madison." Everybody knows how to snigger when you mention Jeffersonian democracy and Iraq in the same breath; try sniggering when you meet someone who is trying to express these ideas in an atmosphere that only a few years ago was heavy with miasmic decay and the reek of poison gas." [ Kurdistan doesn't exist you know. And the MSM is happy to keep it that way lest it dampen the narrative. -ed. ]

Another Day In "Moderate" Islam

"Tarek Fatah, communications director of the MCC said, “It is ironic that Muslim extremists are portraying themselves as anti-imperialist, when in fact Al-Qaeda and the Taliban are nothing more but a creation of the CIA.”" [ Believe it or not, this is a man receiving death threats from Islamists for being too "moderate". If you don't believe it, you're not paying attention. -ed. ]

Nuclear Poker Today

"The threat has military significance, and it would be both prudent and appropriate for the Americans and their allies to have responded militarily — if only by “leaning forward” a bit more. The Persian Gulf is now one big game of chicken. When the Iranians get belligerent, we have to respond in kind. Iran is getting ready to expel the IAEA inspectors. The United States needs to make it clear that the expulsion of the inspectors will be considered an act of aggression, and that we will respond appropriately.

So, long story short: It wouldn’t surprise me if the British sailors were detained because the British did something to make the Iranians really angry. Khamanei dramatically upped the ante this week. We probably raised. And they probably raised back. The stakes in this nuclear-poker game just got a little higher."

Friday, March 23, 2007

F Scott Fitzgerald Watch

"Edwards is a saint when he drops out. Edwards is a saint when he doesn't. I don't have a major problem with the sentiments of either post taken individually, but taken together, we can now see that the intervals between self-contradictory statements by Sullivan has fallen to a mere 22 minutes. Pretty soon the ends of his sentences will contradict the beginnings.

Perhaps the unifying thought is "Edwards is a saint." In any event, I'm quite sure that this is not what Scott Fitzgerald had in mind when he wrote that genius consists of the ability to hold two opposing ideas in the mind at once.

JOHN adds: Back in late 2001 and early 2002, Andrew was one of the people, along with Glenn Reynolds and a couple of lesser-known bloggers who are no longer active, who introduced us to this medium and inspired this site. While our paths have long since diverged, I'll always appreciate Andrew for the role he played in the early days of the war against the jihadists."

NYeTbots

"The memo closes with a quote from yesterday's editorial in the New York Times supporting the Democrats' efforts to subvert the war effort. If the Democrats were willing to fight as hard for victory as they are fighting for defeat, the country would be much better off."

Ask Galileo

"Some people think that our planet is suffering from a fever. Now scientists are telling us that Mars is experiencing its own planetary warming: Martian warming. It seems scientists have noticed recently that quite a few planets in our solar system seem to be heating up a bit, including Pluto."

Lewis: Terror And Migration

"In his perception, the millennial struggle between the true believers and the unbelievers had gone through successive phases, in which the latter were led by the various imperial European powers that had succeeded the Romans in the leadership of the world of the infidels--the Christian Byzantine Empire, the Holy Roman Empire, the British and French and Russian empires. In this final phase, he says, the world of the infidels was divided and disputed between two rival superpowers, the United States and the Soviet Union. In his perception, the Muslims have met, defeated, and destroyed the more dangerous and the more deadly of the two infidel superpowers. Dealing with the soft, pampered and effeminate Americans would be an easy matter.

This belief was confirmed in the 1990s when we saw one attack after another on American bases and installations with virtually no effective response of any kind--only angry words and expensive missiles dispatched to remote and uninhabited places. The lessons of Vietnam and Beirut were confirmed by Mogadishu. "Hit them, and they'll run." This was the perceived sequence leading up to 9/11. That attack was clearly intended to be the completion of the first sequence and the beginning of the new one, taking the war into the heart of the enemy camp.

In the eyes of a fanatical and resolute minority of Muslims, the third wave of attack on Europe has clearly begun. We should not delude ourselves as to what it is and what it means. This time it is taking different forms and two in particular: terror and migration." [ The link to Lewis' speech that I had referred to earlier is now available. The is DEFINITELY a RTWT. -ed. ]

Thursday, March 22, 2007

And No More Tea Parties For Women In Germany Either...

"The nihilistic dead end of multiculturalism has been attained in Germany, where a female judge seemingly forgot which culture’s laws she was supposed to uphold: German judge rules Koran allows wife abuse. " [ Ughh. Of course, she's technically correct about what the Koran says... -ed. ]

Looking Past The Tea Party...

"And the danger, of course is that Rashid's recommended center won't hold and Pakistan enters an ever sharpening spiral of extremism that will make events in Iraq look like an English tea party on a summer's day."

VDH On The Anxiety Society

"Just as the nation could not breathe without learning the size of Dick Cheney’s shotgun pellets (I remember a Washington reporter calling me to ask what a 4-10, 20, and 28 gauge were), or the minutiae of Scooter Libby’s testimony, so now the fired federal attorneys hog the airways.

These may or may not be critical stories of the age, but my confusion is over their transitory nature: the world is supposed to stop over the Harriet Meyers nomination or Valerie Plame testimony. Fine, but why then do they become ancient history within hours? Various explanations: 24-hour cable news stations must create scandal and headlines; the NY-DC media is in a serial hysteria over George Bush; the inability of the American viewer to put up with a sustained analysis, etc. In any case the net effect is abject cynicism, with the public realization that what was supposed to work the nation into a frenzy will be sominex in three weeks—and all this tucked between fights over the corpse of Anna Nicole and worry over lost hikers
."

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Welcome To The Depths

"Between this and the chlorine dirty bombs, the surge has really brought out the artist in them."

Now I'm Feeling Poor...

"In all events, it turns out that the financial resources of the poor in the US tend to be undercounted. For example, the poor tend to underreport income to the Census, perhaps because they fear it will be reported to the IRS. Consequently, Census figures on income relative to spending indicate that the poor spend $1.94 for every dollar of reported income.

Poverty measures ignore the value of household assets like housing. Consider the following facts about the poor in America. Data from 1995 indicate that 41% of all "poor" households owned their own homes with an average size of 3 bedrooms, 1 ½ bathrooms and most had a garage and a porch or patio. Among the poor, 750,000 owned homes worth over $150,000 (an amount that should be much greater given the US housing bubble).

The average poor American lives with 1/3 more living space than the average Japanese, 25% more than the average Frenchman, 40% more than the average Greek and 4 times more than average Russian. Among the poor of America, 70% of "poor" households owned a car and 27% had two or more cars."

Monday, March 19, 2007

Hitch: The One-Man Iraq Memory Hole Antidote

"Was a civil war not predictable?

Only to the extent that there was pre-existing unease and mistrust between the different population groups in Iraq. Since it was the policy of Saddam Hussein to govern by divide-and-rule and precisely to exacerbate these differences, it is unlikely that civil peace would have been the result of prolonging his regime. Indeed, so ghastly was his system in this respect that one-fifth of Iraq's inhabitants—the Kurds—had already left Iraq and were living under Western protection.

So, you seriously mean to say that we would not be living in a better or safer world if the coalition forces had turned around and sailed or flown home in the spring of 2003?

That's exactly what I mean to say
."

Has The Flying Pig's Clock Stopped?

"PARIS, Mar. 18Russia has informed Iran that it will withhold nuclear fuel for Iran’s nearly completed Bushehr power plant unless Iran suspends its uranium enrichment as demanded by the United Nations Security Council, European, American and Iranian officials said.

The ultimatum was delivered in Moscow last week by Igor Ivanov, Russia’s Security Council Secretary, to Ali Hosseini Tash, Iran’s deputy chief nuclear negotiator, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because a confidential diplomatic exchange between two governments was involved.

For years, President Bush has been pressing President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia to cut off help to Iran on the nuclear reactor, which is Tehran’s first serious effort to produce nuclear energy and has been highly profitable for Russia. But Mr. Putin has resisted.

Recently, however, Moscow and Tehran have been engaged in a public argument about whether Iran has paid its bills, in a dispute that may explain Russia’s apparent shift
. The ultimatum may also reflect Moscow’s increasing displeasure and frustration with Iran over its refusal to stop enriching uranium at its vast facility at Natanz.

We’re not sure what mix of commercial and political motives are at play here,” one senior Bush administration official said in Washington. “But clearly the Russians and the Iranians are getting on each other’s nerves — and that’s not all bad
.”" [ I'm less sure how clear it is. I suspect the pig will tick once more... -ed. ]

An Inch Of Time

"Four years in. An inch of time. Four years in and the foolish and credulous among us yearn to get out. Their feelings require it. The power of their Holy Gospel of "Imagine" compels them. Their overflowing pools of compassion for the enslavers of women, the killers of homosexuals, the beheaders of reporters, and the incinerators of men and women working quietly at their desks, rise and flood their minds until their eyes flow with crocodile tears while their mouths emit slogans made of cardboard. They believe the world is run on wishes and that they will always have three more."

Totten: Back In The 51st State

"Kurdistan’s rise flips Iraq on its head. The Kurds are ahead, but they started from nothing. Under Saddam’s regime they had the worst of everything – the worst poverty, the worst underdevelopment, and worst of all they bore the brunt of the worst violence from Baghdad. 200,000 people were killed (out of less than four million) and 95 percent of the villages were completely destroyed.

The Kurds seem happy and well-adjusted. Scratch the surface, though, and any one of them can tell you tales that make you tremble and shudder. Everyone here was touched by the Baath and by the genocide. If living well is the best revenge, the Kurds got theirs
.

“You see this place now with its government, its democracy, and its system of laws,” my guide Hamid said. “It wasn’t like this even recently, believe me. Before, it was a jungle.”

Baghdad, the Sunni Triangle, and Shia South are still jungles. No one I know here thinks the Sunni and Shia Arabs will be able to reconcile and live with each other in peace – there is too much bad blood between them. I don’t know if that’s true or if it’s not. The Middle East is an unpredictable place, and I’ve made a fool of myself often enough by thinking I know what will happen.

What I do know for sure is that Baghdad is burning and Kurdish power is rising. The question up north isn’t whether Iraq will come apart, but only when, how, and into how many pieces." [ RTWT and hit his Paypal link! -ed. ]

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Looking At Algore: Iraq Edition

"Yesterday, I demonstrated Al Gore's incorrigible phoniness. This is a man who pledged upon his sister's death from lung cancer to "pour his heart and soul" into taking on the tobacco industry, but then campaigned on his affection for tobacco and took campaign contributions from the industry. And this is a man whose lifestyle represents the antithesis of what would be required to make a dent in dealing with the global warning problem which has become the centerpiece of his attempt to return to the limelight.

Hoping perhaps to redeem Gore, Cenk Uygur links to a speech the former Vice President gave before the war in Iraq. Uygur calls Gore's remarks "prescient." It turns out, however, that Gore's core predictions and analysis were wrong in hearly every particular.

First, though, let's give Gore some credit. He was correct in noting that "Iraq does pose a serious threat to the stability of the Persian Gulf." He was also correct that "Iraq's search for weapons of mass destruction has proven impossible to completely deter and we should assume that it will continue for as long as Saddam is in power." Gore may have incorrect in stating that "we know [Saddam] has stored secret supplies of biological and chemicals throughout his country," but that's what our intelligence agencies had been saying for years (including during Gore's time as VP), so his mistake here was understandable.

Why, then, did Gore think we should not take military action to remove the threat he acknowledged Saddam posed? His speech asserts four main reasons, all of which turned out to be misguided.

Gore was concerned that our troops would be subject to attacks with the biological and/or chemical weapons he was sure Saddam possessed. That, of course, did not happen
." [ RTWT. Like Hitchens, I find it morbidly fascinating to watch all the left's contemporary concern about OIF being repelled by Saddam's WMD being systematically vacuumed down the Memory Hole. Algore saying this as a recent ex-VP has zero excuse for the "Bush lied" vacuities -- he was privy to Tenet's briefings also. Never mind says the left, not only did Shrubbie lie to us, but we were too smart to believe him. And we'll conveniently expunge any evidence to the contrary. Not that we have any sympathy with totalitarian methods, mind you. This also reminds me of the anecdote Bernard Lewis told in his recent talk on Islam in Europe about the Soviet historian pointing out that in his country the issue was not predicting the future but the past as it always seemed to keep changing! -ed. ]

In Full: Omar On WMD

"With this series of dirty chemical bombings a war between al-Qaeda and the tribes in Anbar is no longer a possibility. It just became a fact.

I've read at least two very optimistic reports from al-Almada in the last week about purported victories of the tribes and police over al-Qaeda in Ramadi and Fallujah
. I was reluctant to trust the accuracy of the reports which sited unnamed sources but now seeing the reaction of al-Qaeda suggests that the action of the tribes was so painful that al-Qaeda retaliated in the way we see today.

Al-Qaeda's terrorists-whom AP insists on calling insurgents-expended three suicide bombers and precious resources against their supposedly sympathetic civilian Sunni hosts instead of American and Iraqi soldiers and Shia civilians; their usual enemies.


If this indicates anything it indicates that al-Qaeda's is reprioritizing the targets on the hit list. The reason: al-Qaeda is sensing a serious threat in the change of attitude of the tribes toward them and perhaps the apparently successful meeting of the sheiks with Maliki and the agreements that were made then was the point at which open war had to be declared.

The tribes in Anbar are stubborn and they have many ruthless warriors. That's a proven fact and it looks like Al-Qaeda had just made their gravest mistake—their once best friends are just about to become their worst enemy
. " [ The bloggers in Iraq know where to prioritize this story. -ed. ]

Media Wunderkind Watch

"The media wunderkind have missed a fundamental point of the "Surge"

Iraqi Army battalions that were at, or near "Indepentent Status" are being pulled into Baghdad, their equipment is being brought up to snuff, and they are being "filled" out to 110% manning. They then get 90 days of actual Urban Combat before they are then sent back to the outlying areas.

Since Iraqi troops are being pulled out of outlying areas, planned Coalition decreases in outlying areas needed to be put on hold..

At the same time that the top IA Units are being rotated thru Baghdad for what could aptly described as their "Final Exam"...
20 new Iraqi battalions are being stood up...so that the coalition doesn't need to "Fill In" for Iraqi units being rotated into Baghdad.

The end result is a larger Iraqi Army that is better equipped and better trained not only in Baghdad..but the outlying provinces.

The surge is the proverbial "One Step Back, Two Steps Forward
""