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US News has some good "behind the scenes" information on the war on terror. It's a long article, but well worth the time. This is good to know:
And the brass knuckles came on. America's frontline agents in the war on terror have hacked into foreign banks, used secret prisons overseas, and spent over $20 million bankrolling friendly Muslim intelligence services. They have assassinated al Qaeda leaders, spirited prisoners to nations with brutal human-rights records, and amassed files equal to a thousand encyclopedias.
Salam Pax has his parlayed his Baghdad Blog into a gig with the Guardian. Excerpt,
The most gripping account of the Iraq conflict came from a web diarist known as the Baghdad Blogger. But no one knew his identity - or even if he existed. Rory McCarthy finally tracked him down, and found a quietly spoken, 29-year-old architect. From next week he will write fortnightly in G2
To see Salam Pax's original Baghdad Blog, go here. Here's Salam's response to a recent email he received:
"It seems your writing is dedicated to proving two points, first, minimizing the American contribution to removing Saddam and then, proving what terrible things the US did to get rid of Saddam, so as to paint a picture that it wasn't worth it."
As to the first. There is no way to "minimize" the contribution of the USA in removing saddam. The USA waged a friggin' war, how could you "minimize" a war. I have said this before: if it weren't for the intervention of the US, Iraq would have seen saddam followed by his sons until the end of time. But excuse me if I didn't go out and throw flowers at the incoming missiles. As for the second point, I don't think anyone has the right to throw cluster bombs in civilian areas and then refuse to clean up the mess afterwards.
Anyway. I don't really understand why among the 26 million Iraqis I have to explain everything clearly, are you watching the news? can't you see the spectrum of reactions people have to the American presence in Iraq?
I was at an ORHA press conference the other day (got in with someone who had a press pass) the guy up there on the podium said in an answer to a question, that most probably the people who have had good encounters with the coalition forces were saying things are getting better and those who have had bad things happening to them were saying things are getting worse.
It is still too early to make any judgments, I don't feel that I have an obligation say all is rosy and well.
Iraq is not the black hole it used to be and there are a bazillion journalists here doing better than I can ever do, they have a press ID and they know how to deal with stuff.
As to the question "why are you not documenting saddam's crimes?" Don't you see that this is not the sort of thing that should be discussed lightly in a blog like this one. And what's with "documenting", me tiny helpless salam documenting things that were going on for 30 years? Sorry to blow your bubble, but all I can do is tell you what is going on in the streets and if you think journalists are doing a better job of that then maybe you should go read them. One day, like in Afghanistan, those journalists will get bored and go write about Syria or Iran; Iraq will be off your media radar. Out of sight, out of mind. Lucky you, you have that option. I have to live it.
Civil Rights Leaders Criticized for Silence on Sudan Slavery. Excerpt,
The Islamic government of Sudan has allegedly facilitated the enslavement of Christians and animists in the southern part of the country for 20 years, long-time observers say, yet most American civil rights leaders have said little or nothing about the issue. Democratic presidential candidate Al Sharpton is among those criticizing his fellow civil rights leaders in the United States.
Why is it that everyone points to the US as the greatest sinner when it comes to the issue of slavery. After all, the US was the first country to outlaw the practice. You hear more about past slavery in the US than about current slavery in many regions of the world.
The indoubitable Charles Krauthammer. Excerpt,
On May 23, just a week ago, the official newspaper of the supposedly reformed Palestinian Authority carried a front-page picture of the latest suicide bomber dressed in suicide-bomber regalia. It then referred to the place where she did her murdering as "occupied Afula." The town of Afula is in Israel's Galilee. It is not occupied. It is not in the West Bank or Gaza. It is within Israel. If Afula is occupied, then Tel Aviv is occupied, Haifa is occupied and Israel's very existence is a crime.
Well, that was last week. Now it's time to move on....
MEMRI (Middle East Media Research Institute) translates a column which appeared in a weekly Egyptian paper. Excerpt,
"Today, the United States is governed by a junta of war criminals who took power through a kind of coup. That coup may have been preceded by (dubious) elections: but we should never forget that Hitler was also an elected politician. In this analogy, 9/11 fulfills the function of the 'burning of the Reichstag,' allowing the junta to grant its police force powers similar to those of the Gestapo. They have their own Mein Kampf - the National Security Strategy - their own mass associations - the patriot organizations - and their own preachers. It is vital that we have the courage to tell these truths, and stop masking them behind phrases such as 'our American friends' that have by now become quite meaningless."
Here in Saint Louis, the House of the Mighty Saint Louis Rams (get used to it, I'll probably add a Rams page come September) used to be called the TWA dome, now it's the Edward Jones Dome. The Riverport Ampitheatre is now the UMB Bank Pavillion (hey, rivers don't have very deep pockets). Any day now, I'm expecting the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial you know, the arch to become the Volkswagen Arch (hey, it's got the right shape). Several years back all the College Bowl games also acquired new names (after three hours of the Doritos Bowl, you just have to watch the Pepsi Bowl). For those of you (are there any of you?) who get a kick out of these silly naming rights endeavors, read this. Excerpt,
I like beginning the 7-Eleven day by walking our Nestle Purina PetCare Co. dogs. Ah, the Sun Microsystems sun, shining in the Dish Network sky! The Eagle Brands birds, singing in the Weyerhouser trees! I can get my Tristate Neurosurgical Associates thoughts in U.S. Army order and plan the McDonald's Marriott morning to come.
Amnesty International is on our case again. They must be seeking Amnesty for tyrants, murderers, and dictators. Why else this:
Washington's "war on terror" has made the world more dangerous by curbing human rights, undermining international law and shielding governments from scrutiny, Amnesty International said on Wednesday.
Releasing its annual report into global human rights abuses in 2002, the London-based watchdog made one of its fiercest attacks yet on the policies pursued by the United States and Britain in response to the attacks of September 11, 2001.
So it's really the fault of the United States and it's war on terror that all this ocurred:
It said the intense media focus on Afghanistan and Iraq in 2002 meant human rights abuses in Ivory Coast, Colombia, Burundi, Chechnya and Nepal had gone largely unnoticed.
Amnesty said the human rights situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo remained "bleak, with continuing fighting and attacks on civilians."
"In Burundi, government forces carried out extrajudicial killings, 'disappearances', torture and other serious violations," it said.
Amnesty said the Colombian government had "exacerbated the spiraling cycle of political violence" by introducing new security measures.
It accused Israel of committing war crimes in the occupied territories and the Palestinians of committing crimes against humanity by targeting civilians in suicide bombings.
"At least 1,000 Palestinians were killed by the Israeli army (in 2002), most of them unlawfully," it said. "Palestinian armed groups killed more than 420 Israelis, at least 265 of them civilians..."
It very telling that Amnesty International blames the U.S. for all these troubles. Of course, the various tyrants, thugs and druglords get a free pass (perhaps they did not have happy childhoods).
But what about the "collective security" afforded to all nations under the UN. Where are all the UN "peacekeepers"? After all, it's not like the UN has been particularly busy in this war on terror. Not only that, but surely Amnesty International wouldn't want us to act "unilaterally" to control or stop any of these events.
Of course, Helen Thomas is in a huff and wants us to make nice with the French.
All I can say to this is, Bully!!!
How can there be a serious "roadmap" to peace between the Israelis and Palestinians when none of the parties are willing to recognize truth. Ok, we've finally come to the conclusion that neither we, nor the Israelis, can effectively negotiate with Arafat because he is a terrorist (Nobel Peace Prize, notwithstanding). But now we're pretending that Arafat is out of the picture and negotiations are now with Abu Mazen. This statement by Arafat is very telling. Funny thing is that Abu Mazen said essentially the same thing last week, something along the lines of, 'all decisions go through Arafat'.
We can call a dog a horse, but that doesn't make it a horse.
Additionally, we have no business threatening Israel with sanctions to get them to accept the roadmap proposal. Excerpt,
The sources said the State Department's proposed list of sanctions included an examination of the use of U.S. weapons in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Israel has employed such platforms as the AH-64A Apache helicopter, the AH-1G Cobra helicopter and the F-16 fighter-jet in air attacks on Palestinian insurgents, Middle East Newsline reported.
"It's hard to overestimate the anger within the administration toward Israel regarding the delays in the roadmap," a congressional source close to the administration said. "The White House doesn't regard the roadmap merely as foreign policy. It sees the roadmap as a major element toward the reelection of the president."
Somehow, this just doesn't quite ring true to me. I have not doubt the State Department would want sanctions on Israel and has drawn up a list. But that last paragraph....I just don't believe that those are the views of the President.
Here's Patrick J. Buchanan's take on what he terms the Radicalization of Middle-America. Excerpt,
"Those 11 words have haunted the Chicks," writes Harper. "They have been boycotted by fans, banned from radio station playlists and included in South Carolina state legislation that called for them to apologize for the remark. One offended group ran over Dixie Chicks CDs with a tractor down in Louisiana."
There are other signs that America's patience with what it sees as anti-Americanism, from Hollywood and the Big Media, is running out.
Legendary liberal talk-show host Phil Donahue was booed and hooted at the commencement at North Carolina State. The New York Times' Chris Hedges was shouted down and had the microphone plug pulled on his anti-war tirade to the graduates and their families at the Rockford College commencement in Illinois.
I, for one, am quite tired of all these people who confuse celebrity with wisdom.
Here's the CIA Report on the mobile biological laboratories which Colin Powell referred to in his address to the UN, one of which was uncovered by coalition forces in Iraq this April. Excerpt,
Coalition experts on fermentation and systems engineering examined the trailer found in late April and have been unable to identify any legitimate industrial use—such as water purification, mobile medical laboratory, vaccine or pharmaceutical production—that would justify the effort and expense of a mobile production capability. We have investigated what other industrial processes may require such equipment—a fermentor, refrigeration, and a gas capture system—and agree with the experts that BW agent production is the only consistent, logical purpose for these vehicles.
Now it's Istanbul, not Constantinople, Istanbul, not Constantinople... Sorry, I couldn't resist.
Are some Iraqis hiding in Cuba? Excerpt,
Large numbers of former officials from Saddam Hussein's government have been given safe haven in Cuba, Cuban exile sources say. The former officials and their families arrived in Havana in the days following the fall of Baghdad April 9.
I think this effectively refutes those who say we don't have coherent plan for the rebuilding of Iraq (registration required--but it's worth it; it's not like it's the LA LA Times). Paraphrase,
Assert authority. Provide security. Commitment to stay; commitment to leave. Improve conditions; involve Iraqis. Promote Iraqis who share the goals of a free and moderate Iraq. De-Baathification. Justice for criminals. Property claims. Favor market economy. Oil. Contracts--promoting Iraq's recovery. The international community. Iraq's neighbors: assistance, but not interference. Priority sources of funds. Trial and error. Patience and respect for Iraq's singular character.
Iranian issues coming to the fore: read here, here, here and here.
I think we can accomplish regime change in Iran without military force. I believe that is the current policy and I support it for a variety of reasons. I believe the people of Iran are in favor of it. The current regime sponsors terrorists and terrorism. They are well on their way to developing nuclear weapons. It is in our national security interest to have a friendly regime in Iran.
Iraqi's are now beginning to come out of the closet. Excerpt,
Twenty-one years ago, Saddam Hussein placed an execution order on Jawad Amir for supporting an outspoken Shia cleric. Mr Amir escaped - not into a far-off town or neighbouring country, but into a space sandwiched between two walls in his parents' home. He said for the whole of his hiding he never left that small, dark space and had only a tiny peephole to view the outside world.
Gloom and doom in America from the Boston Globe. Excerpt,
When will the bad weather end? Why the distance between what is and what ought to be? Where are Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction? If he was such a threat, why did his army perform so poorly? Does it matter where he is? If the war in Iraq was not about oil, why does the United States insist on its indefinite control? If the war was, instead, about democracy, why are the Iraqi people, including Saddam's proven enemies, excluded from authority? Is Iraq to be like Afghanistan, where war lords rule and heroin thrives? Are there more suicide-bombers now than ever? Has the American war on terrorism advanced safety? How did relations between the United States and its European allies become so fragile? Will history recognize the 21st century Anglo-American combine as a mere continuation of the 19th century British Empire? What do good intentions count for if they cut a wake of wreckage? And is the bad weather the result of an atmospheric low that will not lift without the answers?
I remember when Democrats were in power. The sky was bluer, the grass was greener, teeth were whiter. Now the economy is ruined, we are at war, terror alerts abound and a dark cloud hangs over the land.
With all the commotion of various speakers spouting their political agendas as commencement speeches it is very refreshing to read this transcipt of a speech by Victor Davis Hanson. Excerpt,
By your very apprenticeship here at St. John's, you have been anointed as stewards of the ancient knowledge - the rare few who accept Homer's brutal truth, who are disturbed by Thucydides' portrait of human nature, and who perhaps wish Hobbes, Machiavelli, and Nietzsche were not so wise so often.
Of what value is your liberal education, others will ask? You will reply to many of the wealthier and more proud, who are half-educated and who do not know its nature, that it is simply the power - today, tomorrow, always - to use the abstract wisdom of the ages to make sense of the daily chaos of the present.
St. John's has given you all a reservoir of learning from great men and women. These are your intellectual acquaintances for life. Each hour, each day from now to the end they will be there with you - to remind you, chastise you, enlighten you that you and what you experience are neither novel nor unique.
Really, go read it all.
This guy must have a real harridan of a wife. Why else would he do this . Excerpt,
Polar explorer Pen Hadow remained trapped on the roof of the world yesterday, his food running out and his mental health at risk from fear and isolation. The first man to trek unaided to the geographic North Pole has provisions and fuel to last two days on half rations. His support team was desperately trying last night to find a way to beat appalling weather conditions to rescue the adventurer, who has been sitting on the ice for a week since he finished the a 500-mile journey into the record books.
Seriously though, it's too bad this guy doesn't expend his time, energy and resources on something more important than his personal satisfaction. Then again, I guess that can be said of most of us.
Although it is possible and desirable for individuals to act altruistically and with compassion to seek to end or alleviate human suffering, it is not always possible for states to act in this manner. For the most part, states tend to act in their own self-interest. This is why the UN failure to take appropriate action in The Congo is not entirely surprising. Excerpt,
Like it or not, the UN is no longer capable of finding adequate resources, read countries, willing to sacrifice their sons and daughters in uniform for someone else's human rights, unless the conflict threatens world peace and security or is in America's self-interest to get involved.
Since the goings-on in most of Africa do not effect the security concerns of the permanent 5 (members of the UN Security Council) the UN rarely acts with the requisite force (remember Rwanda?).
For an idea of just how bad things are, read this.
The Israeli cabinet has approved the road map for peace leading to the establishment of a Palestinian state. Perhaps I'm a cynic, but I think that this "road map" will only lead to more terrorist attacks. Officially, Arafat is out of the equation and the negotiations are to be held with the new Palestinian Prime Minister, Mahmoud Abbas (aka Abu Mazen). This is really only pretense--Abu Mazen has gone so far as to say that all decisions go through uncle Yassar.
It's pretty clear that William Safire isn't convinced either.
Nor are some members of the Likud party. Excerpt,
Aviad Visuly, head of the Land of Israel Faithful faction in the Likud, is demanding the resignation of the Likud ministers who voted for the Road Map yesterday. "You voted for the division of the Land of Israel, the destruction of the settlement enterprise in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, the establishment of a Palestinian state, and the ruination of the security, society and economy of the State of Israel," Visuly wrote to them. "You voted for a plan that is many times worse and more dangerous than all those that came before it, including the Oslo and Barak-Clinton plans."
The Land of Israel Faithful faction need not worry. There is essentially no chance that there will be agreement on these 14 points.