Sunny has her own ideas about Syria’s sudden prominence. I don’t know whether I agree with her, but I like her video. And of course, even if she’s correct, Syria has taken on a life of its own.
I finally got around to watching Zero Dark Thirty, the film about the decade-long hunt for bin Laden. Before it came out, conservatives were concerned because the White House gave the filmmakers unprecedented access to information about the hunt and about the actual hit on bin Laden. This opened up the possibility that (a) the movie would betray America’s security secrets and (b) the movie would become a pro-Obama piece of political propaganda.
I don’t know whether the first fear was realized, but the second certainly wasn’t. Those who claim that the movie supports using torture to obtain information are correct. The movie opens with audio of phone calls from people trapped in the Twin Towers, and then shifts to a torture site somewhere vaguely Middle Eastern looking. The torturer is a CIA man. The person being tortured is a money man for al Qaeda. Having heard that audio, you are not sympathetic to the al Qaeda guy.
Because of the CIA’s torture tactics, the man gives them useful names. This happens repeatedly, with al Qaeda members getting hung in chains, hit, subject to water torture, deprived of sleep and human dignity, etc., and eventually revealing names and phone numbers. The movie makes it clear that they are not being tortured for fun. They are being tortured to get them to yield information about their, and other people’s, role in killing 3,000 Americans.
The film also makes the point that this information is necessary. Every so often, after showing CIA interrogations aimed at drawing out a little more information about al Qaeda, the film breaks in with news reports about the Khobar Tower bombing, or the London bombing, or the Islamabad Marriott bombing. The implication is that it’s vitally necessary for the CIA to crack open al Qaeda’s notoriously closed infrastructure.
The CIA operatives in the movie are dismayed when the situation in Washington changes, making “enhanced” interrogation techniques impossible. As one says when his boss demands that he get information, if they ask someone in Gitmo, he’ll just get lawyered up and the lawyer will pass on the question to al Qaeda, which can then use it to their advantage. The only “anti-torture” argument in the movie is a 30 second or so snippet of President Obama saying torture is “not who we are.”
That’s not who we are? What a funny way to frame a rather more fundamental argument: Are we, as a society, willing to have our public servants use torture for certain limited purposes? That’s the question, and the movie answers with a definitive “yes.” If using torture will get information that can save hundreds, thousands or (G*d forbid) millions of lives, torture is not just appropriate, it’s necessary. We don’t torture for pleasure or “to make a point,” we do it to save lives.
As for Obama’s that’s “not who we are” statement, I was struck then, as I always am, by how self-referential Barack and Michelle are. They were at it again in Africa. Michelle, the spoiled darling of a middle-class Chicago family, said that she’s just like the Senegalese (and before that, she was just like youths in Chicago’s worst ghettos). I know she’s striving for empathy, but it just ends up looking narcissistic.
Obama is worse, though, because he is America’s official spokesman. While in Senegal, the press asked him about his response to the Supreme Court’s decisions opening the door for national gay marriage. (By the way, I like Andrew Klavan’s take.) Obama, of course, approves. Not only did he say that, he used the question as an opportunity to talk about gay rights as human rights. This is actually an important thing, because gays are subject to terrible abuse in both Muslim and Christian Africa. No matter how one feels about gay marriage or homosexuality, the torture, imprisonment, and murder gays experience throughout Africa is a true crime against human rights.
With the gay marriage question, Obama — who is the greatest orator since Lincoln, right? — had the opportunity to make a profound statement about basic principles of human dignity. Instead, he embarked upon a wandering rumination about his feelings and his thoughts:
The issue of gays and lesbians, and how they’re treated, has come up and has been controversial in many parts of Africa. So I want the African people just to hear what I believe, and that is that every country, every group of people, every religion have different customs, different traditions. And when it comes to people’s personal views and their religious faith, et cetera, I think we have to respect the diversity of views that are there.
But when it comes to how the state treats people, how the law treats people, I believe that everybody has to be treated equally. I don’t believe in discrimination of any sort. That’s my personal view. And I speak as somebody who obviously comes from a country in which there were times when people were not treated equally under the law, and we had to fight long and hard through a civil rights struggle to make sure that happens.
So my basic view is that regardless of race, regardless of religion, regardless of gender, regardless of sexual orientation, when it comes to how the law treats you, how the state treats you — the benefits, the rights and the responsibilities under the law — people should be treated equally. And that’s a principle that I think applies universally, and the good news is it’s an easy principle to remember.
Every world religion has this basic notion that is embodied in the Golden Rule — treat people the way you want to be treated. And I think that applies here as well. (Emphasis added.)
No wonder that the Senegalese president Mackey Sall had no compunction about delivering a smackdown to the American president. And I do mean a smackdown, since he told Obama that he was a hypocrite to say that every culture has its own way of doing things, and Obama totally respects that, it’s just that the American way is better:
These issues are all societal issues basically, and we cannot have a standard model which is applicable to all nations, all countries — you said it, we all have different cultures. We have different religions. We have different traditions. And even in countries where this has been decriminalized and homosexual marriage is allowed, people don’t share the same views.
Obama is a petty mind with a bully pulpit.
Barack Obama chose to sit out the first two years of the civil war in Syria. When it started, he could have helped out the rebels before al Qaeda co-opted them, but he didn’t. Now, Syria is in a full-scale civil war with the Assad regime as the proxy for Iran and Hezbollah, and the rebels as the proxy for al Qaeda. It is a war with no good guys, but with plenty of victims in the form of ordinary civilians (especially children, the elderly, and helpless women) slaughtered wholesale or turned into refugees.
Bret Stephens, writing at the Wall Street Journal says that a very prevalent mindset (and I have to admit that it’s been my view) is that as long as they’re fighting each other, they’re not attacking Israel, America, or Europe. He thinks this is a dangerous attitude, first, because these regional Shia versus Sunni fights can spread until the entire Arab world is aflame and, second, because these wars radicalize Muslims.
I think Stephens has a point that there is a danger that the entire region goes up in smoke, which could suck in other parts of the world. I don’t agree with the radicalization, though, because that horse has already left the barn. In the 1980s, during the Iran-Iraq war (which was another Sunni versus Shia fight), the Muslim world wasn’t yet so radicalized and the war did change things. Now, though, with 9/11 and ten years of war in the Middle East, not to mention the Arab Spring, the name of the game is “radicalized Muslims through the world.”
Accepting as true that Obama has already screwed up by letting the situation get this far, is there anything that can or should be done now? Or are we fated to sit here helpless and watch the whole world get sucked into the Middle Eastern black hole?
As was to be expected (and all of you predicted), the media is rushing to indict . . . America for having failed to give two Chechen immigrant brothers the love they needed. Because of this, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26 years old, and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19 old, became disaffected losers longing to kill. Or, as their uncle, Ruslan Tsarni of Maryland, told reporters: “This has nothing to do with Chechnya.” Instead the Bomb Brothers were “losers — not being able to settle themselves [in America] and thereby just hating everyone who did.”
There’s your narrative: this was just like Columbine all over again. Islam was merely a religious bagatelle attached to two young men who would have been ticking time bombs regardless. And most importantly as far as the Left is concerned, there’s no indication that these boys acted under al Qaeda’s guidance. They were truly Americanized in that they were self-starters, arriving at terrorism due to their own disaffection and diligence.
To which I say, who cares about al Qaeda? al Qaeda does not have to be involved in every attack before the bombing can be labeled as bona fide Islamic terrorism. al Qaeda is just one head of the hydra. It’s not the beast itself.
The problem is Islam — by which I don’t mean the garden-variety faith that millions of people practice as a party of their ordinary, non-hate-filled lives. That’s a housebroken version of Islam, and I highly approve of it.
No, the problem is the very core of Islam — its Jihad element — which is a magnet for disaffected people. The chicken and egg debate (i.e., which came first, Islam or disaffection?) is irrelevant. The only thing relevant is that Islam comes last, right before the bomb explodes. Whether Islam breeds terrorists or just provides an attractive justification for malevolent people doesn’t matter. There it is, sitting like a big ticking egg, just waiting to go BOOM!
I’ve quoted my cousin, the former prison minister (Christian), dozens of times here, but I think it’s important to say again what he once wrote in an email to me:
It is not a contradiction to be a Muslim and a murderer, even a mass murderer. That is one reason why criminals “convert” to Islam in prison. They don’t convert at all; they similarly [sic] remain the angry judgmental vicious beings they always have been. They simply add “religious” diatribes to their personal invective. Islam does not inspire a crisis of conscience, just inspirations to outrage.
The core of Islam, which is built around Mohammad’s demands that his followers go forth and kill, both creates and attracts killers. Until we address and de-fang Islam, there will always be “disaffected,” “lone wolves,” who just “coincidentally” have as their last words “Allahu Akhbar.”
There’s been a lot of upset in the conservative blogosphere about Obama’s drone strike policy. The way the administration phrased it, as “legal,” “ethical,” and “wise,” got a lot of hackles up, especially when Michael Isikoff let slip how little oversight there is — including oversight over decisions to kill American citizens.
A lot of people are very worried about this, because they see a government that feels unfettered by the protections accorded citizens under the Bill of Rights. The problem, as conservatives see it, isn’t so much what the administration does, but the attitude it has when it does it. Thus, the administration manifestly refuses to acknowledge that the rights stated in the Bill of Rights are inherent in all citizens and that the government has the burden of proving good cause to implicate or limit those rights in any way.
Instead, in every instance, the Obama administration takes the position that government has the inherent power to impinge upon and limit citizen’s freedoms, or even take their lives, leaving citizens with the burden of proving that the government has overreached. To the extent that the attitude inverts both the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights, people who care about those documents and the unalienable rights they establish and protect are going to view anything the administration does with a jaundiced eye.
Rusty Shackleford, however, who knows as much about Al Qaeda and other Islamist extremists as anyone else on this earth, tells conservatives not to get too uptight about those American citizens that the Obama administration targets for drone killing. These people aren’t just any old Americans. Instead, they are citizens who have deliberately thrown their lot in with al Qaeda, thereby taking upon themselves enemy status:
If you think it’s unconstitutional or immoral to kill a member of a terrorist organization living abroad then you and I have very different readings of the Constitution and very different sets of moral standards.
Moreover, it’s just basic common sense that in warfare you don’t stop to ask the person you’re about to shoot for a copy of their passport. Who gives a rat’s ass if bin Laden was Saudi or if he was born in Colorado?
Please, go read the report. Nowhere in it is there even a smidgen of a hint that drones could be used against Americans … in America.
The memo in question sets up a three tiered test for when it’s okay to kill an American living — and this is a direct quote from the memo — “in a foreign country“.
1) He must be an immanent threat. By immanent, we don’t mean the threat is immediate. What we mean is that the person is involved in operations that will go forward unless he is killed. In other words, we don’t have to wait for a suicide bomber to get on the airplane before we kill him.
2) Capture is infeasible. This means that a terrorist living in France will be treated differently than a terrorist living in Mali. The major difference being that the French police are perfectly capable (assuming they have the backbone) of arresting a suspected terrorist. In the hinterlands of Mali, not so much.
Please read the rest of Rusty’s post here. It will assuage some of your worries about the administration’s acts.
Having said all that, I still think Obama is a rotten stinker for what he’s doing. I’m not saying that it’s bad to kill al Qaeda operatives wherever and whenever we find them in a foreign country, and regardless of whether they are American or non-American. Rather, my view arises because Obama is a hypocrite who hasn’t had the decency to come before the American people and say that he was wrong to malign George Bush and our troops as rabid killers.
Nick Gillespie, who has the true libertarian’s disdain for these killings (and I don’t necessarily agree with him, but I do admire his consistency), perfectly sums up Obama’s disgusting double standards:
There is a darkly comic aspect to this, I suppose: Here’s a president who once taught classes in constitutional law and swore up and down that America doesn’t torture, that he was against “dumb wars” waged by his predecessors, that he was more transparent than a glass of triple-filtered water, and who won a goddamned Nobel Peace Prize! And he turns out to be not just a little iffy when it comes to being constrained in his willingness to break all sorts of rules but downright godawful.
And his main mouthpiece is a former MSM drone whose babyface is quickly turning into a map of wrinkles brought on by working for an administration which has manifestly failed to live up to even the mediocre standards of the previous occupant of the White House.
The same president who sounded all high and mighty about Gitmo and the fact that American troops are “air raiding villages and killing civilians” seems to have no problem with going into Pakistan, a country with which we’re not at war, and, once there, drone raiding villages and killing civilians.
Unlike Gillespie, I believe that the Bush people were doing the right thing in their battle against an amorphous enemy that transcends borders and draws fellow travelers from myriad nations. In that regard, it’s telling that the Bush administration had so many good things going there that Obama, in one of the few wise acts of his presidency, built upon their original programs.
What’s sickening is that Obama has never retracted his attacks against those Americans who spent so much time during the Bush years defending us and, when he does the same thing (only more so), he has his flunkies announce that, because it’s The Won who’s killing and torturing, it’s suddenly legal, ethical, and wise. Along these lines, don’t forget that Eric Holder spent almost four years wrecking havoc in the lives of CIA agents who used techniques less bad than those Obama now countenances, and only let them off the hook this past August.
Bottom line: there are few things more loathsome than someone who yells at you and humiliates you for doing something, then does the same thing himself, and, if you call him upon it, says that the mere fact that it is he who’s doing it, not you, makes it all right.
I’m guessing that a majority of Americans (a slim majority, but still a majority) know that America entered WWII because the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. What few stop to consider is why we ended up fighting, not only the Japanese who had just bombed us, but the Germans as well, since they, after all, had not yet done anything to us. The answer to that unasked question is that, for reasons known only to a megalomaniac, a few days after the Pearl Harbor attack, Hitler declared war on the United States. The United States took up the challenge with gusto. Within months, America had become a war machine, cranking out ships, tanks, guns, airplanes, and trained troops. If Hitler hadn’t acted, Germany might have won the war. England, after all, was on the ropes by the time America came in to help out.
It’s a little chilling to think that, were we to replay December 1941 with Obama in the White House, America would simply have ignored Germany’s declaration of war. We would have heard that we have no quarrel with the Germans, who are a peaceful people, except of course for a handful of madmen. We would have been told that, if these madmen killed our citizens, we would bring the actual killers to justice, but that we had no quarrel with the nations or ideology that gave birth to those killers and that are hard at work to raise an army of madmen.
As our administration and media talked, Hitler would have tightened his grip on Europe; fought a single front war against the Soviet Union; killed all the Jews, Gypsies, mentally disabled, and homosexuals in Europe; and then enslaved all Slavs and Communists (never mind that Naziism was a variation of socialism itself). At the end of the day, our government would have said that we’re scarcely in a position to criticize the Nazis, since America was once a slave country itself. Congress would then have announced economic sanctions, but the Executive office would have failed to enforce them.
But we don’t need a hyp0thetical December 1941 to imagine what our current administration would do. We can watch it in real-time today. There is a saying that “Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt” — and it’s funny that you should mention Egypt right now. As if 9/11/01 and 9/11/02 weren’t strong enough declarations of war, Islamist clerics are actively calling all Egyptians to wage war against the west, starting with kidnapping:
Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri has urged Egyptians to restart their revolution to press for Islamic law and called on Muslims to kidnap Westerners, the SITE Intelligence Group said Friday.
In a video released on jihadist forums and translated by the US monitoring service, Zawahiri also lashed out at President Barack Obama, calling him a liar and demanding he admit defeat in Iraq, Afghanistan and North Africa.
Criticizing the new Egyptian government — led by a president drawn from the Muslim Brotherhood — as corrupt, he said a battle is being waged in Egypt between a secular minority and Muslims seeking implementation of Shariah law.
I’ll admit that this is a challenging war because we are fighting, not a single nation, but a geographically diffuse ideology, but it is still war. After all, what do you call it when a vast and recognizable group of individuals announces that it intends to kill and enslave your people, and then uses arms to carry out that promise?
We should be addressing this war on all fronts: militarily, economically, and ideologically. Instead, we are pretending it’s not happening. To give credit where it’s due, George W. Bush figured out the military part and, with Iran, the economic part. His problem, though, was that, as leader of a pluralist country, but he couldn’t bring himself to break through political correctness to admit that we are at war with a huge ideological foe. After all, many Americans who are good, decent people share the same label (i.e., “Muslim”) as that foe. We confuse linguistic nuances with substance.
A problem of nomenclature, though, should not be allowed to obscure the fact that we have an active, resolute, powerful, and devious enemy. We therefore do not fight that foe by excusing it. Instead, we fight it by using every breath of free speech to challenge it in every way possible — debate, media, leaflets dropped from airplanes, and whatever else could work.
Obama has been the ultimate Islamist apologist. He has only half-heartedly imposed sanctions against Iran, given a blank check to the Palestinians (who are a front in this Islamist jihad), weakened Israel (which is an ally in this existential battle), demoralized troops and energized enemies in Afghanistan by setting a certain pull-out date, and undermined a nascent democracy in Iraq by pulling out all troops without leaving a provisional force. As for what just happened in Benghazi, that’s a chapter in itself, one that includes institutional cowardice and politicizing, lying, cover-ups and, with the imprisonment of a video maker, the destruction of our First Amendment.
Not only is Obama not much of a leader, he’s totally unsuited to military leadership. You have to love your country to lead your military. Obama doesn’t. You have to believe in your country’s values to lead your military. Obama doesn’t. You have to courage to lead your military. Obama doesn’t. At every level, in every way, Obama fails as a military leader. Let’s fire him from the job before it’s too late and we find ourselves defeated in the war we continue to pretend doesn’t exist.
John Hinderaker caught a very funny statement from Jen Psaki, who is one of the president’s official spokesmen. She was responding to a reporter’s question regarding the fact that PBS asked the Democrats to take down an add using Big Bird (emphasis mine):
We have received that request [from PBS]. We’re reviewing it. I will say it doesn’t change the fact that there’s only one candidate in this race who is going to continue to fight for Big Bird and Elmo, and he is riding on this plane.
You can just see the great minds of the Democrat party meeting to put together a checklist of ordinary voter concerns that they should be addressing.
Meeting Chairman: Okay, folks. It’s time to get to work. With the president having tanked in his first debate, and the very real risk that Joe will implode in his only debate, we’ve got to get the president ready to talk about things that really matter to the American people. I’m going to open the floor to suggestions:
Twenty-something young man: Uh, what about young people’s concern about the deficit that they’ll have to pay for?
Chairman: Not going to happen, We know they’re not thinking about that. They just want sex, booze, and subsidies. We’ve already tapped Hollywood to remind the demographic that the President is cool, and that he’s got their backs.
Thirty-something young woman: The President needs to tell womyn that he’ll make sure that they get free birth control and abortions, as well as unrestricted access to tampons (which should be free too).
Chairman: Again, not going to happen, Sandra. Our internal polling shows that the Independents aren’t buying that argument. Anyway, women know that Obama has got their back, and we’ve had Hollywood double down on its “Republicans will legalize rape” claims.
Black woman: Should we talk about the fact that blacks are disproportionately affected by unemployment?
Chairman: Our campaign funds and air time are too limited to do messaging on the way the President’s policies are good for African Americans. American blacks know that Obama’s got their backs, He’ll make sure that the government always supports them.
Jewish Guy: Isn’t it time that the President made a strong statement about Israel?
Chairman: We’ve polled that one, Shlmo, and it’s going nowhere in this election. Let’s let sleeping dogs lie.
Palestinian Guy: The president must talk about the continued slaughter and rape of the Palestinian people.
Chairman: Calm down, Achmed. We don’t need to do a strong message on this, because our base knows that the President has the Palestinian people’s backs.
Sex-changed gay transvestite: I have two words: Gay Marriage.
Chairman: The president’s still evolving on that one until after the election, Pat. Don’t worry. You guys, gals and indeterminates know that the president has your backs.
Lone WASP guy: What about the murdered ambassador in Libya, the head of security killed in Yemen yesterday, and all the other signs that al Qaeda is coming back?
Chairman: Come on, Charlie. The president has already explained that these are just highly critical movie reviews that got out of hand. The public doesn’t need to hear more. Al Qaeda knows that the President’s got its back. Uh, misspoke there, Dude. I meant that the American people and the American military know that the President’s got their backs.
Five year old attending meeting because she’s got a cold and her mom is still breast-feeding her: Mommy, Mommy! I want my Tickle Me Elmo doll!!!
Chairman: That’s it. Elmo! Big Bird! Protecting those icons from Republican attacks is the one thing we need to do in order galvanize those Independent voters. It’s Mom, Apple Pie, Elmo and Big Bird. Okay, folks! Here’s the official line: President Obama, Defender of Sesame Street!
I’ve got an amazing array of links, all of which indicate that, with three weeks before the election, America and the Middle East aren’t static. Instead, there are a lot of things that are suddenly coming to the boil in ways that make me pray very hard that Mitt Romney wins.
A lot of people have been linking to an op-ed piece in the Arab News, a paper that I understand is the English language paper in Saudi Arabia. That being the case, I have to believe that the Saudi government sent this one up the flag pole to see if anyone salutes. It would be amazing and wonderful if they did salute, because the column says that Arab countries must stop blaming Israel for their woes, and start examining their own cultures:
[I]f many of the Arab states are in such disarray, then what happened to the Arabs’ sworn enemy (Israel)? Israel now has the most advanced research facilities, top universities and advanced infrastructure. Many Arabs don’t know that the life expectancy of the Palestinians living in Israel is far longer than many Arab states and they enjoy far better political and social freedom than many of their Arab brothers. Even the Palestinians living under Israeli occupation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip enjoy more political and social rights than some places in the Arab World. Wasn’t one of the judges who sent a former Israeli president to jail is an Israeli-Palestinian?
The Arab Spring showed the world that the Palestinians are happier and in better situation than their Arab brothers who fought to liberate them from the Israelis. Now, it is time to stop the hatred and wars and start to create better living conditions for the future Arab generations.
These changes can’t happen too soon. Lara Logan, who was brutally gang raped during Egypt’s “Arab Spring,” could have retreated forever from the public view, or become a scared dhimmi, hiding behind PC platitudes. She did neither. Instead, she is speaking openly about the grave threat we face from Al Qaeda and the Taliban, one that hasn’t diminished with the years but that, instead, has been resurgent during Obama’s “reset.” More than that, Logan directly accuses the current administration of lying about the enemy’s strength in order to justify its failed policies. I salute her.
Not only does Obama deny the reality in the Middle East, he is exceptionally cavalier with those Americans on the front lines fighting this enemy. In Houston, today, a Marine’s father is livid that he received a generic form condolence letter from Obama following his son’s death. If you would like to see what a real condolence letter looks like, check out the letter that Obama’s alleged hero, Abraham Lincoln, sent to one grieving mother.
With matters escalating so quickly, we need a Mitt Romney. Happily, the evidence is that, since the debate, people are eying Mitt Romney more favorably. The Left, of course, can’t let that happen and they’re doing what the Left does best: threatening people. African-American Actress Stacey Dash discovered that Lefties don’t take well to being crossed when she sent out a tweet endorsing Mitt Romney. Among the nicer things she was called was a “race traitor.” It went downhill from there, with the usual intimations of rape and violent death. But Leftists are looking at bigger things. Dash is just a dot on their radar. The current idea is to run riot if Romney wins — and I think they mean it.
Please feel free to treat this as an Open Thread, and add to the comments section any interesting things you’ve found today.
As I’ve mentioned just a few times, I just read, and was very moved by, Marcus Luttrell’s Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10. A liberal I know flipped through the book’s first few pages and had a very different reaction. The following passages bugged the liberal:
My name is Marcus. Marcus Luttrell. I’m a United States Navy SEAL, Team Leader, SDV Team 1, Alfa Platoon. Like every other SEAL, I’m trained in weapons, demolition, and unarmed combat. I’m a sniper, and I’m the platoon medic. But most of all, I’m an American. And when the bell sounds, I will come out fighting for my country and for my teammates. If necessary, to the death.
And that’s not just because the SEALs trained me to do so; it’s because I’m willing to do so. I’m a patriot, and I fight with the Lone Star of Texas on my right arm and another Texas flag over my heart. For me, defeat is unthinkable. (pp. 6-7)
[As they're taking off from Bahrain to Afghanistan:] There were no other passengers on board, just the flight crew and, in the rear, us, headed out to do God’s work on behalf of the U.S. government and our commander in chief, President George W. Bush. (p. 12.)
[Of the Taliban/Al Qaeda enemy in Afghanistan:] This was where bin Laden’s fighters found a home training base. Let’s face it, al Qaeda means “the base,” and in return for the Saudi fanatic bin Laden’s money, the Taliban made it all possible. right now these very same guys, the remnants of the Taliban and the last few tribal warriors of al Qaeda, were preparing to start over, trying to fight their way through the mountain passes, intent on setting up new training camps and military headquarters and, eventually, their own government in place of the democratically elected one.
They may not have been the precise same guys who planned 9/11. But they were most certainly their descendants, their heirs, their followers. They were part of the same crowd who knocked down the North and South Towers in the Big Apple on the infamous Tuesday morning in 2001. And our coming task was to stop them, right there in those mountains, by whatever means necessary. (pp. 13-14)
The liberal felt that the above passages showed that the writer was simplistic and primitive in his thinking. The whole notion of simple patriotism offended the liberal, who also thought it was just plain stupid to seek revenge against guys who weren’t actually the ones who plotted 9/11. My less than clever riposte was, “so I guess you would only kill Nazis who actually worked in the gas chambers?” Frankly, given the differences in our world views, I’m not sure there is a clever comeback or, which would be more helpful, a comeback that actually causes the liberal to reexamine those liberal principles.
UPDATE: Here’s an apt quotation, written by John Stuart Mill, in 1862, as a comment upon the American Civil War:
A man who has nothing which he is willing to fight for, nothing which he cares more about than he does about his personal safety, is a miserable creature who has no chance of being free, unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.
My liberal friend is a headline reader. That’s why we had a ridiculous conversation in which he wondered about the Fort Hood shooter’s motives. To the reader who scans, headlines that say “motives a mystery” trump even those articles that add, under the headline, little facts such as Muslim death cries (“Allahu Akbar!”), radical mosques, jihadist internet postings and FBI scrutiny.
I thought of this when a scan of my local paper led me to yet another completely misleading headline today: “Filipino militants behead captive schoolteacher.” The incurious reader, with the MTV or CNN approach to news gathering, is left with the impression that there’s some sort of civil war in the Phillipines, with some of those nasty Filipino’s acting out. The slightly more inquisitive reader will discover that Al Qaeda lies at the heart of this brutal murder:
Suspected al-Qaida-linked militants in the southern Philippines beheaded a schoolteacher after kidnapping him last month, officials said Monday.
The severed head of Gabriel Canizares, 36, was left in a bag at a gas station on Jolo Island, three weeks after suspected Abu Sayyaf militants stopped a passenger minibus and dragged him away in front of his colleagues, said regional military commander Maj. Gen. Benjamin Dolorfino.
The militants, notorious for bombings, ransom kidnappings and beheadings, were reportedly demanding a ransom of 2 million pesos ($42,000) for his release.
What’s fascinating is that the word “Islam” never appears in the article, while the word “Muslim” appears only in what seems to be an irrelevant aside, in the very last paragraph, about student populations in the region:
He said his department was at a loss how to ensure security for public schoolteachers in high-risk areas and feared that the kidnappings would discourage others from teaching underprivileged youths in Muslim areas.
I’ll readily concede that you’d have to have lived under a rock for a long, long time not to appreciate that organizations such as Al Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiyah (described in the same article as a “Southeast Asian terrorist group”) are Muslim in nature. Nevertheless, the AP’s deliberately unwillingness to acknowledge that Al Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiyah aren’t just coincidentally Muslim, but have as their central tenet the violent advance of their Muslim faith, goes beyond a writer’s desire to avoid larding prose with the obvious. Instead, the news service is manifestly trying to unlink the groups from religion in the public mind. To this end, the report carefully carefully gives out the groups’ names, while describing them as “militants” or “terrorists,” the genesis of whose terror or militancy clearly has no known cause.
This obfuscatory, almost fraudulent writing* matters, as we know, because of the media’s frantic effort to de-couple the murderous Hasan of Fort Hood** from his faith. Jeffrey Goldberg, whose tenure at the Atlantic is going to get shorter and shorter as he keeps stating honest truths,*** has this to say on that subject:
A consensus seems to have formed here at The Atlantic that the Ft. Hood massacre means not very much at all. Megan McArdle writes that “there is absolutely no political lesson to be learned from this.” James Fallows says: “The shootings never mean anything. Forty years later, what did the Charles Whitman massacre ‘mean’? A decade later, do we ‘know’ anything about Columbine?” And the Atlantic Wire has already investigated the motivation for the shooting, and released its preliminary findings. Of Nidal Malik Hasan, the Wire states: “A 39-year-old Army psychiatrist, he appears to have not been motivated by his Muslim religion, his Palestinian heritage (he is American by nationality), or any related political causes.”
It seems, though, that when an American military officer who is a practicing Muslim allegedly shoots forty of his fellow soldiers who are about to deploy to the two wars the United States is currently fighting in Muslim countries, some broader meaning might, over time, be discerned, especially if the officer did, in fact, yell “Allahu Akbar” while murdering his fellow soldiers, as some soldiers say he did. This is the second time this year American soldiers on American soil have been gunned down by a Muslim who was reportedly unhappy with America’s wars in the Middle East (the first took place in Arkansas, to modest levels of notice). And, of course, this would not be the first instance of an American Muslim soldier killing fellow soldiers over his disagreements with American foreign policy; in 2003, Army Sgt. Hasan Akbar killed two officers and wounded fourteen others when he rolled a grenade into a tent in a homicidal protest against American policy.
Please do read the rest of Goldberg’s thoughtful, intelligent and intellectually honest post. Then think about everything else you’ve read. And then wonder if the Fort Hood massacre will be the breaking point for the American people, because it will stand as the moment when they can no longer stomach the cognitive dissonance of a media that so assiduously avoids the hard facts playing out in real time before our eyes.
*And it is fraud, as a matter of law, the the speaker deliberately fails to disclose material facts in order to deceive.
**I promised a military friend I wouldn’t use his rank and name together, since he doesn’t deserve that honor.
*** I see Goldberg pulling a John Stossel and seeking a more salubrious and intellectually honest work environment.
I just copied the following from Drudge:
Possible Swine Flu Outbreak At NYC Prep School…
Most fatal flu victims aged between 25-45…
Swine flu could infect trade and travel…
Schwarzenegger has ‘rigorous’ plan…
WHO ready with antivirals…
The mysterious respiratory illness…
CDC says too late to contain…
60 DEAD: Mexico City launches huge vaccination campaign…
CLOSE TO 1,000 SUSPECTED CASES…
Heighten Risk of Pandemic…
Concerns in California, Texas…
Mutated from pigs, transmitted to humans…
Mexico has not suffered serious flu epidemic before…
Considering the last headline, and considering that flu epidemics have always originated in the Far East, my conspiracy mind thinks only one thing: Al Qaeda/biological warfare on our borders.
UPDATE: And if you want more stress, Laer has more for you.
Drudge‘s headline: Trash Talk: Al-Qaida Insults Obama In New Message.
The underlying story, here, explains that:
Al-Qaida’s No. 2 leader used a racial epithet to insult Barack Obama in a message posted Wednesday, describing the president-elect in demeaning terms that imply he does the bidding of whites.
The message appeared chiefly aimed at persuading Muslims and Arabs that Obama does not represent a change in U.S. policies. Ayman al-Zawahri said in the message, which appeared on militant Web sites, that Obama is “the direct opposite of honorable black Americans” like Malcolm X, the 1960s African-American rights leader.
In al-Qaida’s first response to Obama’s victory, al-Zawahri also called the president-elect—along with secretaries of state Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice—”house negroes.”
Speaking in Arabic, al-Zawahri uses the term “abeed al-beit,” which literally translates as “house slaves.” But al-Qaida supplied English subtitles of his speech that included the translation as “house negroes.”
The message also includes old footage of speeches by Malcolm X in which he explains the term, saying black slaves who worked in their white masters’ house were more servile than those who worked in the fields. Malcolm X used the term to criticize black leaders he accused of not standing up to whites.
As we’ve known since Mark Fuhrman and the OJ trial, there is no surer sign that someone is irredeemably evil than his use of racial epithets. With that in mind, I wondered whether the nutroots, who always had a sneaking fondness for Al Qaeda (the enemy of my enemy [that would be George Bush] is my friend) might suddenly realize that Al Qaeda is, in fact, evil. This latest Al Qaeda message would be a pathetic excuse for the nutroots finally to recognize the evil of an organization that gleefully and brutally slaughters civilians, but I’ll take it any way I can for the nutroots finally to figure out that Al Qaeda is, in fact, irredeemably evil.
UPDATE: Here I thought I was being original, only to discover that Charles Johnson had the same thought I did!
I must work, but I have to give you a couple of quick links, one of which you may want to act upon and one of which is just nice to know.
On the “you might want to act” (by contacting your representatives in D.C.), Right Wing News offers useful information about the expiration on a major drilling ban:
Yesterday, the fine folks over at Americans for Prosperity alerted me to the fact that the election issue of all election issues has been dumped into the GOP’s lap.
What will likely happen, according to AFP is that “Congressional leaders will likely try to sneak an extension into supposedly ‘must-pass’ last-minute spending legislation.”
Republicans, including most importantly, John McCain, should refuse to support ANY legislation that extends the drilling ban. That means they should speak out against it, they should vote against it, and George Bush should veto it if it comes across his desk.
This should not be a issue in the 2008 election, the GOP should make it THE ISSUE of the 2008 elections.
Even with gas prices as high as they are, the Democrats want to keep a drilling ban in place while Republicans want to take action that will help reduce prices, in the short and long term. What do you think the American people are going to think about that news if the GOP has the guts to make it a centerpiece of their electoral strategy?
The GOP, John McCain included, is already talking the talk on this issue and if they walk the walk and the Democrats predictably, yet foolishly, fight to keep us from drilling, this issue alone could literally make the difference in the presidential race and save multiple seats for the GOP in the House and Senate.
So, take a look at what I have written and take a look at the letter the AFP has been sending around to Congress that follows and call your senators and congressmen, call your favorite talk radio host and get them talking about this, write your favorite bloggers, and email your friends. If the Republican pols on the Hill see that this is taking off, they will get on board, too, and it can change the face of the political landscape in 2008.
Read the rest here.
Also, I thought I’d pass on to you some excellent news I learned from Steve Schippert (who blogs at The Tank and Threats Watch). It seems that Al Qaeda, once famed for its tight, practically impermeable network, is falling apart:
This Washington Post report that Abu Ayyub al-Masri has, according to the Iraqi interrogation of captured al-Qaeda in Iraq leaders, fled Iraq for Afghanistan is perhaps the most significant report to come out of Iraq since the fall of Baghdad. It may not readily jump out at readers as such, but trust me when I stress that it is, and will prove such without doubt in due time for those who may question or doubt. Read it all and read it carefully.
The insurgency has collapsed, an implosion brought about by the clear splintering of what was once a cohesive al-Qaeda in Iraq. Each of the new leaders for the various splintered groups spoken to by WaPo in the article presents a different view on the status of al-Masri’s intent in leaving Iraq and his status as overall leader, but the differences themselves evidence a splintering, no matter what each believes. And the key to breaking and defeating an insurgency is to fracture cohesion. Done. Meaning: Don’t get too hung up on one guy saying he is keeping the seat warm for the Egyptian to return from the Mother Ship in Pakistan. If others refuse it, it’s fractured. Game over.
Now, that does not mean we’ll be hosting the Sundance Film Festival in Baghdad or Ramadi any time soon. The various disjointed cells are quite capable of and will carry out lethal acts of terrorism through bombings and the like. but the cohesive insurgency’s concerted run at the Iraqi government is finished.
Read the rest here. It’s quite heartening, although I’m sure the MSM will miss its significance and ignore it too.
Britain’s Telegraph has three interesting articles, and the London Times one:
Read about the vast difference between Britain’s and France’s socialized medicine. I’d certainly like to know what accounts for the difference before I start making changes to the American system. Color me skeptical, but I bet Obama, who shows himself to be remarkably ignorant about so many things, doesn’t know.
Speaking of the NSH, here’s one man’s story of what happened to him when he tried to improve his treatment for cancer. It’s a reminder that a whole bunch of socialism is less concerned with getting a good deal for all and much more concerned with making sure that some guy over there doesn’t get a better deal.
One British columnist offers a good analysis pointing to a McCain victory in November.
And some good news: Although it’s for the wrong reason (shock collateral damage in the form of Muslim deaths), some of the most outspoken clerics in the Islamic world are starting to turn on Al Qaeda. (H/t Danny Lemieux, who read it at Flopping Aces.)
UPDATE: You have to read this one too: Melanie Phillips’ marvelous op-ed about the way in which the British body politic is trying to bamboozle Brits into ceding all national power to the European Union (and the way in which plucky little Ireland is the one thing that stands in the way). Phillips also disclosed the really dirty little secret, which is that the horses have already left the barn: the EU controls most of British day-to-day life already.
WARNING: British bloggers — do not write about this story.
In England, a convoluted case played out in which the government froze funds in British banks that were to be sent to Al Qaeda, the funds’ owners challenged that action, and the court held against the government. As a result of this successful court action, the court further ordered that the individuals who brought suit couldn’t be named, because they’d be “smeared” with the Al Qaeda brush (never mind that they were voluntarily financing Al Qaeda and using British funds to do so).
Under U.N. Resolution 1267 and its subsequent addendums, the Security Council:
obliged all States to freeze the assets, prevent the entry into or the transit through their territories, and prevent the direct or indirect supply, sale and transfer of arms and military equipment, technical advice, assistance or training related to military activities, with regard to the individuals and entities included on the Consolidated List.
The British papers have known who these individuals are but the gag order has meant they have to keep their mouths shut. All they can do is issue broad, broad hints, in the hopes that others will figure it out. As Shackleford again explains:
For instance, this Times piece:
The man, who can be identified only as G, is one of five people who challenged the Treasury’s powers to freeze terrorist suspects’ bank accounts in a successful High Court action…The judge banned publication of G’s name but The Times is aware of his identity, which is published on a United Nations Security Council list of terrorist suspects linked to al-Qaeda and the Taleban.
However, Americans are not bound by this Court order, and Shackleford now reveals who the mysterious “G” really is: MOHAMMED AL GHABRA.
You and I, of course, probably don’t know a whole lot about this man — or even anything at all. The Treasury Department, however, is pretty well-informed about Mr. Al Ghabra and, from the point of view of Western security, it’s not a pretty picture:
Al Ghabra has organized travel to Pakistan for individuals seeking to meet with senior al Qaida individuals and to undertake jihad training. Several of these individuals have returned to the UK to engage in covert activity on behalf of al Qaida. Additionally, Al Ghabra has provided material support and facilitated the travel of UK-based individuals to Iraq to support the insurgents fight against coalition forces….
Apart from the financial and logistical support activities that led to his designation, Al Ghabra maintains contact with a significant number of terrorists, including senior al Qaida officials in Pakistan…
Al Ghabra is also in regular contact with UK-based Islamist extremists and has been involved in the radicalizing of individuals in the UK through the distribution of extremist media.
You can read the rest here, at the Jawa Report. I’ll just leave you with Shackleford’s last word on the subject, which is well worth thinking about:
The fact that I was able to identify G so easily makes one wonder if these kind of gag orders are effective? And, in fact, doesn’t the public have a right to know who the UN has designated a terrorist? Especially when that terrorist may be living next door or down the street?
Niall Ferguson, whose book Empire: The Rise and Demise of the British World Order and the Lessons for Global Power was an excellent primer about the virtues of the British Empire (a tough argument in an anti-imperialist age), has written a rave review about Philip Bobbit’s newest book, Terror and Consent : The Wars for the Twenty-First Century. Bobbit, who supported the Iraq War, argues that you can no longer wage wars in a nation-state mold. This is a concept I tried, and failed, to get my mind around some time ago — indeed, I have a folder labeled Non-Government Organizations that never turned into either a post or an article. What I really wanted to say, and never could, was this:
In his last book, “The Shield of Achilles” (2002), Bobbitt advanced a bold argument about the history of international relations since the time of the Treaty of Westphalia (1648). His central argument was that, in the aftermath of the cold war, the traditional post-Westphalian ideal of the sovereign nation-state had become obsolescent. In the increasingly borderless world we associate with globalization, something new was emerging, which Bobbitt called (and continues to call) the “market-state.” This state’s relationship to its citizens resembles that between a corporation and consumers. Its counterpart — and enemy — is the terrorist network. The central problem raised in “The Shield of Achilles” was how far the market-state could and should go to defeat such networks, particularly when they were in some measure sponsored by traditional nation-states.
Bobbitt’s central premise is that today’s Islamic terrorist network, which he calls Al Qaeda for short, is like a distorted mirror image of the post-Westphalian market-state: decentralized, privatized, outsourced and in some measure divorced from territorial sovereignty. The terrorists are at once parasitical on, and at the same time hostile toward, the globalized economy, the Internet and the technological revolution in military affairs. Just as the plagues in the 14th century were unintended consequences of increased trade and urbanization, so terrorism is a negative externality of our borderless world.
The difference, of course, is one of intent. The rats that transported the lethal fleas that transported the lethal enterobacteria Yersinia pestis did not mean to devastate the populations of Eurasia and Africa. The Black Death was a natural disaster. Al Qaeda is different. Its members seek to undermine the market-state by turning its own technological achievements against it in a protracted worldwide war, the ultimate goal of which is to create a Sharia-based “terror-state” in the form of a new caliphate. Osama bin Laden and his confederates want to acquire nuclear or biological weapons of mass destruction. Precisely because of the nature of the market-state, as well as the actions of rogue nation-states, the key components and knowledge are very close to being available to them — witness the nuclear Wal-Mart run in Pakistan by A. Q. Khan. With such weapons, the terrorists will be able to unleash a super-9/11, with scarcely imaginable human and psychological costs.
Bobbit mixes an intelligent understanding of the diffuse and dangerous nature of the enemy we face, along with a practical realization that traditional warfare is no longer a useful approach to dealing with this enemy — or, at least, is not the sole useful approach. It’s hard to believe he’s a Democrat, although I guess he comes by it honestly enough, since he is (if I recall) a blood relative of LBJ. In any event, of his Democratic leanings, Ferguson has this to say:
To summarize: Bobbitt believes that there is a real war against terror; that civil liberties as previously understood may need to be curtailed to win it; that we must nevertheless fight it without violating our commitment to the rule of law; and that the United States cannot win it alone. This is certainly not a combination of positions calculated to endear Bobbitt either to the left or the right in the United States today.
Yet it is striking that, despite being a Democrat, Philip Bobbitt so often echoes the arguments made by John McCain on foreign policy. He sees the terrorist threat as deadly serious. He is willing to fight it. But he wants to fight it within the law, and with our traditional allies.
Perhaps — who knows? — this brilliant book may also be an application for the post of national security adviser. In times of war, stranger bedfellows have been known than a Democratic Texas lawyer and a Republican Arizona soldier.
The only thing that bewilders me about the book (or, at least, the book review) is Bobbit himself. He was my Con Law professor and, while an elegant individual, he didn’t strike me as “A dapper Southerner, renowned almost as much for his sparkling literary allusions as for his acute thinking,” which is how Ferguson describes him. As a teacher, he was, well, dull. I guess he saved his brilliance for his books.
A gang of alleged British Muslim fanatics plotted to cause “carnage on an almost unprecedented scale” with simultaneous suicide bombings on up to 18 transatlantic airliners, a court has heard.
Bombs made from hydrogen peroxide liquid explosives, and disguised as soft drinks including Lucozade and Oasis, were to be taken on board and detonated mid-flight, causing thousands of deaths “in the name of Islam”, it is alleged.
If the alleged plan had been carried out, it could have led to the worst terrorist atrocity since the attacks on the US on September 11, 2001.
It was as a result of the alleged plot being uncovered 18 months ago that authorities tightened security at airports in the UK, banning people carrying liquids on to planes.
The long awaited trial started today amid high security at Woolwich Crown Court in south-east London.
Jurors were told that the accused were only interested in one way flights from Heathrow airport and possible target cities included New York, Washington, Chicago, Denver, Miami and San Francisco, as well as Montreal and Toronto in Canada.
They aimed to inflict “heavy casualties” on an “unwitting civilian population”, jurors were told.
The result would have had a “violent and deadly, global impact”, the court heard.
Peter Wright QC, prosecuting, in his opening speech, said that the men had planned to smuggle liquid explosives – disguised in drinks bottles – aboard selected flights in the summer of 2006.
The men and others were prepared to board the aircraft carrying their “deadly cargo” and detonate it in flight, he said.
“They are men with the cold-eyed certainty of the fanatic, prepared to board an aircraft with the ingredients to construct and detonate a device to bring about the loss not only of their own life but all those around them.”
Mr Wright claimed the alleged plot was foiled when police arrested two men in east London in August, 2006.
“The disaster they contemplated was not long off,” he said.
The court was told that intelligence suggested the alleged plotters may have recruited as many as 18 suicide bombers, who would have set off on flights from several Heathrow terminals at once.
I will also be very clear in my own mind that, when Al Qaeda’s number two assures the West that Al Qaeda would never harm “innocent” people, he defines “innocent” in a very narrow sense to mean himself, and maybe a good friend. Everyone else, especially everyone who is not a fanatic Muslim, does not fall within that category and is, accordingly, fair game.
Dr. Rusty Shackleford has carefully examined the “new” Bin Laden video that Al Qaeda released on the War’s 5th anniversary and he concludes that Bin Laden’s voice is coming from the grave. You can see the video and Rusty’s analysis here. If this is indeed the best Al Qaeda has to offer, I too think that Bin Laden is dead. I’m actually not quite sure how much that will matter to the fanatics though. Invested as they are in their Islamic imaginings, they’ll find another ranter around whom to rally.