Tuesday, December 25, 2007

The Mother of All the Arabs

The Sandmonkey writes about his mother:
[S]he is one of the most racist people I've ever known or met. She hates Blacks, Jews, Christians, Arabs, Indians, Asians...I once jokingly told her that when I will go to the US for college, I would find me a black Jewish wife and have like 3 babies with her, you know, just to mess with her. She looked me straight in the eye and told me that if I actually did that, she would line up the children next to each other on the wall, so that when she shoots them, she wouldn't miss and waste bullets.

Such a thrifty person! Charming.
This used to disturb me (I mean people with PHD's from Georgetown can not be this closed-minded, right?)...I've tried to change her mind for years using every possible logical, philosophical and religious argument out there, and they would hit the brickwall called her frontal lobe, and then wouldn't go anywhere.

Here's the key:
I then realized that it might be best if I just let it be. She , after all, has been this way all of her life, and she isn't going to change now. Plus, what if I did succeed and she saw the error of her ways? She would spend the rest of her life horrified of how she spent the majority of her life and she would try unsuccessfully to make-up for it and fail, because, like, how do you make up for something like that?

My response:
Oho! You're the first Arab I’ve ever known who realized this. Perhaps the better question is why you don’t feel the same way.

The answer, I suppose, is that not only are you innocent of such errors, you respect your parents yet you don’t feel as if they own your soul and therefore you don’t have to follow in the same path they did. How many other Arabs like you are there? What would the world be like if they could come out of the closet?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

"I find the term “Islamofascism” to be quite accurate"

Unlike most Americans, Solomon2 grew up with Muslims as his next-door neighbors. Solomon2's memories of them are as good people and happy, generous friends.

About twenty years ago their humor took a darker turn. They told me their religion had moved in another direction and left them behind. They told me they were now proud to be considered "bad Muslims" by some of their co-religionists! At that time, long before 9-11 or even the 1993 World Trade Center attack, I was very puzzled by this response.

Without a doubt there are many such Muslims living in America today, though many may carry on in silence out of fear of ostracism, at the very least. I haven't contacted my old friends lately, yet I imagine that Doctor M. Zuhdi Jasser, president and founder of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, here interviewed by National Review Online, does a great job of speaking for them and like-minded Muslims:

I have always been a devout practicing Muslim maintaining a central personal spiritual relationship with God in my life. I have also held true to the importance of spiritual practices in my life including fasting, daily prayer, scriptural recitation, charity, community worship, and personal integrity...I found myself frustrated by the politicization of many but not all of the Muslim communities in which I participated, I began to focus on the main problem I experienced — the harmful impact of political Islam upon the practice of Islam in America...[I] realized that at some point anti-Islamists were going to need to take them on to rescue our faith from their clutches...

...Islamists would rather continue wallowing in denial. They prefer to project responsibility for terrorism upon everyone else in the world, rather than placing the responsibility upon the ideology of political Islam and the toxicity of the dreams of an Islamic state. They would much rather debate non-Muslims or former Muslims, because they can change the debate focus to Islamophobia, rather than the central issue of Islamism...

...I’ve never been threatened physically. But if I allow such frivolous attacks or fear of them to modify the intensity of my work, I would dishonor the freedoms which our serviceman and women are fighting to preserve and I might as well take my family back to their motherland of Syria where there are no freedoms and the masses are silent out of fear of the ruling despots. If I stay silent I would no longer be an American...

When we Americans, regardless of our religion or creed, stay silent in the face of creeping fascism we may remain citizens yet lose what it means to be an American in our souls. Each time this happens America dies a little, for its beacon of freedom and justice dims. As Jasser says, America's "liberty-culture mindset is the greatest antidote to Islamist tribalism and collectivism." He concludes with a vision for the future that can be attained through the actions of Muslims like himself:
Once devout Muslims can deconstruct the goal of the Islamic state and prove to our fellow co-religionists that the most pious form of society is one where government and religion are separate and faith practice is allowed only to be judged by God in a laboratory of free will, Islamofascism will die in the dustbin of history.

I will finally add a caveat that my only fear is that many exposed to the term will have little prior knowledge of Islam or contact with Muslims and will carry away a belief that Islam as a spiritual faith is fascistic in its ideology. That cannot be further from the truth of the Islam which I teach my children and so many of the vast majority of Muslims teach their families. But that should stimulate Muslims to even more actively defeat the Islamists who have hijacked our faith for their own political agenda.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

A Time to Kill, A Time to Heal

A great story in The Washington Post:
If Nasima ever met an Israeli pilot, "I would faint and die from fear."

Yuval patted Ahmad on the head. The surgery would be soon. Later, Nasima called Yuval "our savior of the children."

Yuval is a savior of children. He is also an attack helicopter pilot. It was Yuval in his Cobra -- though Nasima didn't know it -- hovering over her town, as Israeli troops battled armed Palestinians. By day, Yuval works as a pediatrician. By night, he fires missiles for the air force.

In theory, there is no moral contradiction here: in both jobs, Yuval is saving lives. Applying theory to practice is the agonizing part. That he has to kill Arabs to save Jews is an unfortunate result of "the situation":
It was sad for Yuval, but he often thought that the Gaza children had "a 90 percent chance of becoming terrorists. But mainly it's not their fault, it's 'the situation's' fault. And I'm not treating 'the situation.' I'm treating the child."

Without troops in Gaza, and without the willingness to kill wantonly or apply economic screws as collective punishment, there is little Israel can do to rescue Palestinian Arabs from the role assigned to them by their families and foreign supporters who wish to use them as cannon fodder to kill Jews. It's an unjust fate, but resolving it isn't a matter for Israel anymore. Or so the Israelis think.

Annapolis, Saudi Arabia, and Islam

Much hullaballoo has been made of this week's upcoming Annapolis Conference. It seems very ill-defined, yet all the major players in the Middle East will be there, save Iran and possibly Syria.

In his writings Henry Kissinger warned that poorly planned and staged summits carry the potential for political disaster. Maybe so, but mutual enemies like Israel and the Arab states don't have normal political contacts like most countries. The following is cross-posted at Crossroads Arabia:

Faisal warned that he would not participate in a "theatrical show...We are going with seriousness.

So it won't be a let's-beat-up-on-Israel-and-offer-nothing confrontation like previous conferences? Interesting. Compare to these "heretical" words of Ibn-al-Khatib, a fourteenth-century Muslim physician in Granada:
"It must be a principle that a proof taken from the Traditions [of the compainions of Mohammed] has to undergo modification when in manifest contradiction to the evidence of the senses." (The Reformation, Durant, XXX-VIII, 1957)

This is the point where education, theology, ideology, and politics collide: is truth to be ignored because it must be considered heresy?

That is also the core difficulty Muslim and Arab countries have in trying to fashion first-rate universities like KAUST. For after its initial flowering, Muslims rejected science and philosophy in favor of relgious orthodoxy in the the twelfth century, when Averroës was rejected in favor of al-Ghzali, for the rulers thus supported by the theologians in exchange. Are the Saudis trying to change Islam's cultural choice of the past eight centuries?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Jews and Muslims don't play from the same rulebook

My comments here. If you still doubt what I'm saying, watch this MEMRI video of Egyptian Nonie Darwish, "We must begin to view the Jews in a forgiving light":

- and see what happened to her as a result of expressing her views. Even in America, the Muslim community insists on ostracizing her. She may be safe in Egypt for the moment only because of the posthumous respect accorded her shahid father, Lt. Col. Mustafa Hafaz, terror-directing leader of the Egypt's anti-Israel fedayeen in the 1950s.

11/22/07 Correction: Ms. Darwish has lived in America for the past twenty-eight years and is an American citizen.

Monday, November 05, 2007

"I am a racist"

Says Baron Bodissey over at Gates of Vienna:
The topic simply cannot be discussed without my becoming a racist. We all know where the dangerous areas lie, and how to avoid them. We know that if we don’t stay away from them, we can lose our jobs, be publicly vilified, and in some cases be subject to arrest and prosecution...

...I am a racist. By these paragraphs I have proved it.

Solomon2 looks forward to the day when discussing real differences between the conduct of different groups and races can be done without paying a personal or professional penalty. The bounds of permitted discussion must be enlarged so real issues can be addressed and resoloved, rather than shamefully concealed. If that means being tagged a "racist" (or "sexist", or "homophobe", etc.) so be it.

Friday, October 26, 2007

On Choosing a Lebanese President

Any "consensus" candidate is sure to be a weak president. The reason is simply that if he wants to pursue some policy or make some decision that a party to the consensus disagrees with, he'll be accused of violating his legitimacy. A "temporary" president - one who takes office with the understanding that his exercise of Constitutional authority is limited until it can be exercised by the "permanent" president - is subject to the same constraints, only worse.

That is why I believe best course of action for Lebanese who want a strong president is to ignore calls for consensus completely and stick to the Constitution and its spirit as much as possible. It is a very American belief, so I don't know if it translates into the Lebanese reality.

The ultimate test is if all of Lebanon's dissident ethno-sectarian groups are willing to abandon their leader and follow the Government instead in case of some disagreement. The only other possible sources of legitimacy are the Constitution or force of arms - civil war.

No one in Lebanon wants to see civil war resume, so as long as the legitimacy of the government is considered dicey, conflict is being put off as long as possible by accomodating ethno-sectarian leaders like Hassan Nasrallah.

But Nasrallah doesn't represent Lebanese as much as Syria and Iran, who see the Shia as a paid tool of their policy of proxy war against the West and Israel. They are rearming and fortifying Hezbollah now to improve their tool for future use in war. When that war comes, it will be at the call of Syria and Iran, not the Lebanese will once more die by the thousands. And everybody, even the Hezbollah rank and file, knows this.

No one wants civil war, but clearly some parties are maneuvering for it. The only constraint is then establishing some sort of pretext, some way to say that "the other guy started it first, and the government isn't strong enough to deal with the problem." A weak president, then, favors such conditions, or better yet, creates the condition that the unarmed ethno-sectarian groups will surrender without a blow being struck at all.

Don't give in. Elect a president without qualifications, either "consensus" or "temporary", and prepare to live with the results: an exercise of power that will diminish all of Lebanon's ethno-sectarian leaders, not just those of Hezbollah, in exchange for eventually freeing the Shia and their captive allies from foreign domination, with the support of the U.N. and the West. It must be a pretty scary thought to Lebanon's ethno-sectarian leaders, as they will be exposed to government authority in a way they haven't in over a generation. But are Lebanon's leaders prepared to ask themselves, "Won't the consequences of not electing a real president be worse?"

Monday, October 08, 2007

Six Years Later: Moti's Thoughts

Mordechai Sorkin is a U.S. Army Ranger and platoon leader in Afghanistan. He explained "why I fight" on the anniversary of September 11th:
In any event, at one point during the day I was sitting about 15 meters away from a detainee, watching our Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) talk to him. Now I’m not completely cold-hearted, but I’m definitely not buddy-buddy when it comes to handling enemy suspects. As long as they’ve got food, water, and clothes, and haven’t soiled themselves, my interaction with them might involve an occasional glance. Maybe. Yet my ANSF counterparts sat close by, talking, smiling, and laughing. They held hands for a period, and if it wasn’t for the flex cuffs on the guy, you’d have thought they had been friends for years...

I’ll be honest: I didn’t joint the Army to make Afghanistan or Iraq into better places. I would like to help these countries, but that’s not why I’m here. I find some things about Afghans endearing, and there are parts of their culture that humble me. But I’m not an Afghan patriot. I am an American. I’m here to fight for the United States...

...ultimately, protecting America involves more than just killing bad guys. That means I’ve often got different missions than the ones I envisioned in my sleep-deprived days of Ranger school, where I dreamed of mowing down the Islamist horde with an endless belt of 7.62. Despite what Brian DePalma and his ilk might think, I don’t go around dictating law with the muzzle of my rifle, and neither do my men...Every mission we have is dedicated to helping Afghanistan, and to making this country a better place. For the only way Afghanistan will no longer be a threat to America is if it gets better...

As angry as our enemies make me, I did not join the Army to achieve retribution. I joined so that others would not have to face this threat in the future. I joined so that my friend’s daughters can grow up in an even better world than the one that I enjoy. It is for children like them that I fight; and it is for their future that we must remember the past.

Read it all
. Then read the rest of his blog, starting at his very first post, The Forgotten War.

Update, 10/10/07:

I contributed the following comment on Moti's latest post, which recounted this incident:
A few days ago we went to a village to investigate reports of heavy enemy traffic. I ended up with a big crowd of kids, who tend to be the best sources of information in this country: They're honest and they're curious. One child told me he wanted to grow up to be a Talib. When I asked my terp to clarify if he meant 'student' or 'crazy murderous fanatic', the child responded for me. The kid said that he liked ANP and ANA, and he liked the Taliban. He liked all of them compared to us, the non-Muslim American Army, who all just ought to be killed. Enemy fighters with body armor and chest racks [provided by the U.S. to Afghan forces] make me angry—children like this just take the wind out of my lungs.

This is the kind of victory you are winning, Moti:
As a child, Maseullah’s parents sent him to live and study at a madrassa, or religious school, in Pakistan. Maseullah returned home as a hafiz—one who can recite the whole Koran from memory. His instructor’s charge still rang in his ears, “America is the great Satan. Go forth from here and drive out the infidel occupiers, and God will sanctify you.”..

Under Commander Ron’s proactive implementation of the military’s policy of respect for local religious practices, Maseullah had begun to question aspects of his religious training and joined the Afghan Security Forces. When my assistant and I arrived in the Pesch Valley with a plan to employ local craftsmen to restore damaged and rundown mosques in villages that supported coalition efforts and invited Maseullah to be our special advisor, the idea of Americans as crusaders come to destroy Islam began to make even less sense to him...

One day, as I returned to Camp Blessing from a meeting with village elders about mosque reconstruction work, Maseullah jumped up to greet me from where he had been waiting at our dusty outdoor mess table next to the motor-pool yard. I had not seen him for some time.

He told me he had just returned from a trip to Pakistan to visit his old madrassa. He had hiked 40 miles through some of the most dangerous territory in the world to see his former teachers. Much of the ideological fuel sustaining the terrorists continued to pump out of the same sort of place Maseullah had gone back to.

He told me that in Pakistan he had sat down with his teachers. “I am working with the Americans,” he confided. “They have supported me as chaplain over the Afghan Security Forces in my valley, and we are doing great things together. They are not the crusaders you said they were.”

His astonished teachers replied to his tale, “We don’t believe you, Maseullah. Surely you have been duped by their crafty deceptions. All Americans do is try to destroy Islam.”

“Then why are they restoring mosques all over my valley, and why are they allowing me to make sure my soldiers pray five times a day?”

“Surely none of this is true, Maseullah,” they insisted. “You must be joking with us.”

“No, I am not joking. Come see with your own eyes. Come to my valley and see it dotted with the newly painted minarets the Americans have helped us restore. With respect, you were wrong about them.”...

“You see, Chaplain, whether I live or die is no matter. I will die when I die, and I hope to die while doing what is right—regardless of the dangers. It is all in God’s hands. We are working together, you and I—a Muslim and a Christian working together to conquer those who don’t like the idea of a Muslim and a Christian as friends here in Afghanistan or anywhere in the world. If God wills, we will prevail, so we need not fear.”

I want to add this thought: it was easy for the "greatest generation" of WWII soldiers to be hailed as heroes when the entire country was behind them. It is far more challenging for the soldiers of today to do so when the U.S. is split at home, and some Americans profess to despise your actions because they despise the very idea of America fighting a noble war.

Truly, men like yourself are the "greatest generation" of soldiers we have yet seen in the United States. The third stanza of America the Beautiful is floating through my mind; did the author forsee today's conflict?

Oh beautiful for heroes proved,
In liberating strife,
Who more than self the country loved,
And mercy more than life!

America, America,
May God thy gold refine,
‘Til all success be nobleness,
And every gain divine!

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Lebanon: The Missing Ingredients

I keep thinking of Charles Malik's post from late last year:

A core problem, and one of the reasons why Shia are so dead set against 14 March and support Hezbollah even though they don't support their entire agenda, is because of the sectarianism, classism, and tribalism of the 14 March parties. Sure, the Democratic Left is non-sectarian, but Future, the PSP, and the LF - the power 3 - carry the sectarian battle standards high and make no effort at winning the support of Shia on the ground. Despite popular opinion, the Shia are not driven solely by edicts from leaders.

I find it striking that none of you March 14 guys has anything to offer the Shia (as represented by Lover/Romeo in the previous two threads). What do Hezbollah supporters have to look forward to if they give up on Hezbollah? Will it be charges of exile and treachery, followed by fleeing abroad, as happened to the SLA? Will Sabra and Shatila occur in Shia communities? Everyone knows Hezbollah did nasty things during the last war, and the enmities of the civil war bubble just under the surface.

Is it too much to ask M14 to provide some sort of reassurance or program for the Shia so they can be comfortable with a disarmed Hezbollah? Maybe amnesty and a South African-style truth-and-reconcilation commission? Apparently it is too much to ask. This seems to guarantee that Lebanon is heading for a train crash.

However, I deem that striking a middle course right now is tantamount to asking for assassination. Whoever is propping Hezbollah with targeted assassinations certainly doesn't want anyone else to appeal to the loyalty of its captive population.

So what can be done? As near as I can figure, the thing to do is to ride it out until the next prez is elected, or executive authority by default passes to the cabinet. At that point, the executive must do a very un-Lebanese thing: he/they must act immediately and exercise their authority to the fullest possible extent immediately, without negotiations with the other side. Anything less and the new prez will soon become another martyr, but with matters in abeyance until (and if) a new executive can be selected. The president may still become a martyr, but if he exercises his authority before he is murdered - say by appointing new Army commanders, kicking out offensive "diplomats", etc. - he may make it much harder for Lebanon's enemies to kill his successor.

Bad Vilbel:


"Us March 14 supporters" (as you call us), DO have something to offer the shia: A sovereign, independent, democratic state. Where their voices would be equal to those of other Lebanese. A state where the rule of law applies to all: Shia and non-Shia alike. A state where everyone's loyalty is to Lebanon, first and foremost. Not Iranian mullahs, Syrian presidents or Saudi Kings. A stable and peaceful state, where they can turn their attentions to jobs, families, education, rather than being obsessed with fighting Israel or whatever other bogeyman they're told to focus on.

Does the entire M14 leadership get that? Probably not.
Does the shia population actually WANT that? I am not entirely sure.

BV, if I was a Shia, that might not be enough. I would wonder: once we have a law-and-order society, will I be punished for all the "bad" things I did for Hezbollah? If not, I might as well support Hezbollah to the very end, because the chance of me or my family losing property or life might be less.

I think an applicable historical comparison here is the Soviet Union. Even after Stalin was dead, tyranny remained, for just about all his henchmen had the blood of innocents on their hands. Solzhenitsyn's One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich appeared and that freaked everyone out, and they recoiled from facing themselves, fearing they, too, would be strung up on lamp-posts.

The South Africans had a much more sensible approach, with their truth commissions and very selective prosecutions. All that was part of the negotiation process that led to full democracy. The South Africans are available for consultation, and I understand they have been a major influence upon the Irish peace process.

Justice, as much as we desire it, must be tempered with mercy, lest greater injustices result. Nor is justice always a matter of fair and equal treatment for everybody at all times and places. These are the missing ingredients of the Lebanese political debate.


I don't think you grasp how things work in Lebanon. I can't for the life of me imagine anyone "punishing" the Shia for supporting Hezbollah.

Just look at the post-civil-war era. Nothing changed. Did anyone punish the LF? The Druze? or any of the other factions or sides involved in the civil war? Not at all.
They all got rewarded for agreeing to stop fighting (except Geagea, but that's a different matter, and that was teh Syrians, not other Leb factions).

Lebanon doesn't work anything like the Soviet Union or South Africa. Trust me.

And i have to parrot Ghassan's endless comments here: If a stable, loyal and democratic state is NOT enough for the Shia community, then I don't think they (or anyone else with similar agendas that are in complete contradiction to the idea of Lebanon) can be offered anything by anyone.

I mean, you can only offer something to someone if it's in the general ballpark of what they're interested in. You guys in Israel can offer a peaceful and stable and independent Palestinian state to those Palestinians who are amenable to peace. Right?
But can you offer a peaceful stable and independent state to those who refuse your right to exist, for example? Does offering a sovereign state make sense to someone who's shouting about throwing you into the sea?

I think you understand my point.



A agree with your approach in principle, but the Lebanese have proven too immature for your suggestions. We had the Amnesty Law after the civil war, and it became absurd everytime something happened and folks got arrested and the usual solution from some pols was to extend the date of the amnesty law. I don't recall the specific incident, but 3 years ago or so the way to help heal after some kids demonstrated and were arrested (someone help me out here) was to say, "How about we make the amnesty law that forgave all crimes through 1991 go through 2003 so we can get these kids out of jail." The absurdity of that idea is beaten only by Lebanon's creed of No Victor/No Vanquished.

Again, I don't disagree with you. It's just that everytime someone has a good idea for a problem, we say, "Yeah, but in Lebanon we can't because..."

"I can't for the life of me imagine anyone "punishing" the Shia for supporting Hezbollah."

That's probably because you are not a Hezbolli who has to rationalize in his heart why his sectarian group has weapons whereas the others do not. You are asking him to give up weapons that if they don't protect him much from Israel, at least protect him from addressing any accusations leveled by non-Hezbollah Lebanese.

"Lebanon doesn't work anything like the Soviet Union or South Africa"

Probably the best historical analogy is the England of King Alfred: a small country split into many different ethno-sectarian factions, the power of each varying with the degree of foreign support to its fighters, and threatened by periodic invasions to boot. Sound familiar?

"A agree with your approach in principle, but...we had the Amnesty Law after the civil war, and it became absurd...the usual solution from some pols was to extend the date"

Then why not try again? Now you know one thing that shouldn't be done the next time. I'm not recommending specifics here, yet one of King Alfred's strangest stratagems was the repeated conquest, pardon, and conversion of his defeated enemies, even when everyone knew it was a sham. A joke that survived over a millenium that I recall from Churchill's The Birth of Britain was of the experienced warrior who complained that the ceremonial alb wasn't as good in quality as those from his previous "conversions".

Alfred and his successors fought many battles, but Churchill maintains it was partly by turning the hearts of his enemies that he became known as "Alfred the Great".

Always, always beware reinforcing a key Lebanese weakness of character: the willingness to accept paralysis, trust blind hope, and do nothing, leaving your declared enemies free to maneuver unopposed. The short-term risk to the individual or group is lessened, yes, but at the cost of long-term well-being.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Sputnik at 50

"At that moment we couldn't fully understand what we had done," Chertok recalled. "We felt ecstatic about it only later, when the entire world ran amok. Only four or five days later did we realize that it was a turning point in the history of civilization."

The surviving key men of the Soviet space program are finally free to speak. Secrecy related to nuclear and missile matters was so extreme in the Soviet Union that not only were the names of key designers a secret, but they had to design their missiles without any clear idea of the size and weight of the nuclear warheads they were destined to carry, so apparently they built them with an emphasis on throw-weight rather than durability, survivability, or ease of deployment. Which made them comparitively crummy weapons, but mighty good satellite launchers.

I also note that their testimony confirms GRU defector Viktor Suvorov's contention that the USSR lost the race to the Moon because their electronics were inferior. Unlike Suvorov, however, the rocketmen claim that the moon-race was Brezhnev's idea, not Khrushchev's.

That better explains what Henry Kissinger described as the Russians' superstitious awe of American technological superiority: Brezhnev had tried and failed, whereas the U.S. succeeded. Perhaps America's success at reaching the Moon was the key reason why Brezhnev signed so many strategic arms agreements with the Soviet Union's ideological enemy, the United States of America.

See also: On Gamma-Ray Astronomy and Nuclear War

Friday, September 21, 2007

Why stop at Ghanem?

Why stop at Ghanem? As long as assassins can't be caught and there is no political cost to the "other side's" agenda for such dastardly deeds, why shouldn't whoever wants to kill Lebanese democracy simply continue?

Whats so frustrating here, besides the fact that once again a respected leader was mercilessly and anonymously murdered in broad daylight, is that we still have NO plan for Lebanon, and it quite hard to draw any hope out of this.

I am inclined to agree with Rami. You guys need a plan. Now. Today. Why not do it on this blog, in this very comments thread? Doing so would be nothing less than an act of hope.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

"God bless Osama Bin Landin"

Today many Afghan says God bless Osama Bin Landin who attacked the twin tower and drove the world to look at our country which was in burning and also they say God bless America that saved our live and brought democracy, freedom and security...Many Afghans says it is not important for us how many people have been killed in September 11 in twin tower in New York and Pentagon outside Washington but it is important that US saved our live and released our country.

If after 9-11 the U.S. had restricted itself to anti-terrorist law-enforcement and simply apprehending Osama Bin Laden it wouldn't have made a difference in how Afghans feel about Americans. Only because the United States of America liberated their country do they say "God bless America".

I wonder what "peace-loving" liberals protesting the Global War on Terror think of that?

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

A Confession, Apology, & Obituary

This blog is premised on the basis that Solomon2 thinks he is wise. This post is proof that he is not, at least not all the time.

Last night I learned about the death of a soldier in Iraq, 1LT Andrew Bacevich. Solomon2 had ripped into and unjustly insulted this young man's father in a post two years ago. (I am too embarassed to link to it, but the post remains up.) I now realize that because I was wedded to my own fixed world-view, I vilified the father to blind myself to the other world-view he had to offer. I feel shamed and diminished that it took the death of a promising young man for me to realize this.

I apologize, Dr. Bacevich, and offer you my condolences on the death of your son.

Sophia's Voice

I was discussing this recently with a european friend and he asked why Arabs were collaborators in their own decline ? I think the question is legitimate but at the same time, one has to consider that Arab countries were never decolonised.

That statement only makes factual sense if it is taken to mean that most of the Arab states today consist of territory that was conquered, then colonized, by Arabs through religious wars. The French did colonize Algeria, but they departed over two generations ago. What became Israel was already being re-settled by Jews before World War II, though not without unnecessary hardships by many of the pioneers: many complained they had to pay two or three times for the same plot of land.

The current problems of the Arab World are intimately linked to the fall of the Ottoman Empire. Jew fought beside Arab and European in that struggle to liberate Baghdad, Damascus, and other cities, both because the Jews had been promised their homeland as a reward and because they thought their Arab neighbors deserved their own chance at self-rule.

Independent Arab states with an independent Jewish homeland were thus meant from the very beginning to be a package deal. Once the war was over, however, Arabs (1) wanted more for themselves and (2) feared the comparitive newness of a territory ruled by Jews in the midst of their own lands.

This fear was reasonable only in the sense that the examples of the Turks (where did all those Armenians and Greeks go?) and Arabs themselves was that once their ethno-religious groups dominated a region, it tended to kill or drive out the others. That the Jews arrived with the intention of not doing so could not be believed; nor the prospect (circulated by the local Imam) of the "last mosque" being converted by infidels be tolerated.

First mob violence, then armed violence, took place against the Jews. Not all Arabs participated. When independence finally came Arabs heeded the call by their own leaders to flee so conventional armies could fight unhindered, but, I guess, secretly out of fear and hatred of Jewish rule. Israel won its wars partly because the Arab states were fighting for "honor" - that is, thievery - whereas the Jews were fighting for their very lives. The leaders of the new Arab "republics" used their leverage over the law and people's fears to eject most if not all of the remaining Jews from Arab lands, seizing thier property and thus creating a permanent justification in the ruling class for anti-Semitism, for if Jews were accorded equal or even limited rights with Arabs how could they justify keeping their loot?

And what of the Arabs' original fears? The Temple Mount is undamaged, save by Muslim hands. Hundreds of thousands of Arabs returned to Israel after its war of independence. Israel-dominated territory has not experienced ethnic cleansing, save of the Jews in Sinai and Gaza. Their have been no massacres of Arabs by Jews; indeed, their population has been exploding under the twin pressures of lawlessness and unlimited food "aid".

Indeed, Bruce Thornton claims, "Since World War II, some 25 million people have died in various conflicts, only 8,000 as a result of Israel’s attempts to ward off a chronic existential threat. That number includes soldiers.

That's about one-third the casualties Assad inflicted upon Hama in a week, and less than Saddam averaged during each year of his misrule. And who counts the casualties in the civil wars of Yemen, or the Arab expansionist wars in Sudan and Western Sahara?

So how can Western colonialism be counted as one of the major ills of the Arabs? Why even associate it with Arab decline? Is it, perhaps, because Western Colonialism is a "safe" whipping boy that serves as a distraction for Arab leaders who prefer to distract their populace by waving a red herring while robbing their pockets and stealing their children to die for the sake of glory? After all, Westerners, especially Jews, don't terrorize populations by killing children for the deeds of their parents the way some Arabs do on a routine basis.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

"I am Lieutenant Hamid."

I am Lt Hamid. Thank you for this article and for this honest media. This fact all the American people need to know. They need to know that the Iraqi Army sacrifice their life to save innocent people’s life. With our sacrifice of our life, being a martyr, there is no more IED. Thank you very much.”

Hamid asked me to publish his photo. He said he wants al Qaeda to come to Sadr City and look for him.

Would this man have existed if the U.S. had employed half a million men to establish a resentful "occupation" in Iraq instead of liberating the Iraqis and providing them with the tools, training, and desire to police themselves? That was the point of Solomon2's very first post. We are not creating yet another sniggering free-riding welfare state, but strategic partners for our future security. In a world where the U.S. is only 27% of world GDP rather than the 60% or so it was after WWII, this is the way to establish world peace without great wars or empires.

The Vision and Song of Louis Armstrong

Absolutely wonderful. (H/T: The Small Wars Journal)

Monday, September 03, 2007

Guest Post: Trust Freedom

Veteran James Baxter has kindly permitted me to reprint his story on my blog:

Every September, I recall that is more than half a century (62 years) since I landed at Nagasaki with the 2nd Marine Division in the original occupation of Japan following World War II. This time every year, I have watched and listened to the light-hearted "peaceniks" and their light-headed symbolism-without-substance of ringing bells, flying pigeons, floating candles, and sonorous chanting and I recall again that "Peace is not a cause - it is an effect."

In July, 1945, my fellow 8th RCT Marines [I was a BARman] and I returned to Saipan following the successful conclusion of the Battle of Okinawa. We were issued new equipment and replacements joined each outfit in preparation for our coming amphibious assault on the home islands of Japan.

B-29 bombing had leveled the major cities of Japan, including Kobe, Osaka, Nagoya, Yokohama, Yokosuka, and Tokyo.

We were informed we would land three Marine divisions and six Army divisions, perhaps abreast, with large reserves following us in. It was estimated that it would cost half a million casualties to subdue the Japanese homeland.

In August, the A-bomb was dropped on Hiroshima but the Japanese government refused to surrender. Three days later a second A-bomb was dropped on the city of Nagasaki. The Imperial Japanese government finally surrendered.

Following the 1941 sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, a Japanese admiral said, "I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant..." Indeed, they had. Not surprisingly, the atomic bomb was produced by a free people functioning in a free environment. Not surprisingly because the creative process is a natural human choice-making process and inventiveness occurs most readily where choice-making opportunities abound. America!

Tamper with a giant, indeed! Tyrants, beware: Free men are nature's pit bulls of Liberty! The Japanese learned the hard way what tyrants of any generation should know: Never start a war with a free people - you never know what they may invent!

As a newly assigned member of a U.S. Marine intelligence section, I had a unique opportunity to visit many major cities of Japan, including Tokyo and Hiroshima, within weeks of their destruction. For a full year I observed the beaches, weapons, and troops we would have assaulted had the A-bombs not been dropped. Yes, it would have been very destructive for all, but especially for the people of Japan.

When we landed in Japan, for what came to be the finest and most humane occupation of a defeated enemy in recorded history, it was with great appreciation, thanksgiving, and praise for the atomic bomb team, including the aircrew of the Enola Gay. A half million American homes had been spared the Gold Star flag, including, I'm sure, my own.

Whenever I hear the apologists expressing guilt and shame for A-bombing and ending the war Japan had started (they ignore the cause-effect relation between Pearl Harbor and Nagasaki), I have noted that neither the effete critics nor the puff-adder politicians are among us in the assault landing-craft or the stinking rice paddies of their suggested alternative, "conventional" warfare. Stammering reluctance is obvious and continuous, but they do love to pontificate about the Rights that others, and the Bomb, have bought and preserved for them.

The vanities of ignorance and camouflaged cowardice abound as license for the assertion of virtuous "rights" purchased by the blood of others - those others who have borne the burden and physical expense of Rights whining apologists so casually and self-righteously claim.

At best, these fakers manifest a profound and cryptic ignorance of causal relations, myopic perception, and dull I.Q. At worst, there is a word and description in The Constitution defining those who love the enemy more than they love their own countrymen and their own posterity. Every Yankee Doodle Dandy knows what that word is.

In 1945, America was the only nation in the world with the Bomb and it behaved responsibly and respectfully. It remained so until two among us betrayed it to the Kremlin. Still, this American weapon system has been the prime deterrent to earth's latest model world- tyranny: Seventy years of Soviet collectivist definition, coercion, and domination of individual human beings.

The message is this: Trust Freedom. Remember, tyrants never learn. The restriction of Freedom is the limitation of human choice, and choice is the fulcrum-point of the creative process in human affairs. As earth's choicemaker, it is our human identity on nature's beautiful blue planet and the natural premise of man's free institutions, environments, and respectful relations with one another. Made in the image of our Creator, free men choose, create, and progress - or die.

Free men should not fear the moon-god-crowd oppressor nor choose any of his ways. Recall with a confident Job and a victorious David, "Know ye not that you are in league with the stones of the field?"

Semper Fidelis
Jim Baxter
WW II and Korean War

James Baxter offers us selected articles at his website, The Choicemaker

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Lebanon: The Perils of Partition

Abu Kais, I suspected from your previous report that if "everybody" is talking about partition, the rumor probably originated with Hezbollah itself. Hezbollah has effective control of a large portion of the Shia community and in police states rumors are circulated by a special service for the purpose of obscuring the truth [re: "Viktor Suvorov", Inside the Aquarium] and establishing the meme rulers feel is desirable to be at the top of the minds of the people.

Partition might have worked six years or even twelve months ago, but not now; Hezbollah is preparing. While I feel sure Syro/Hezb/Iran wants Lebanon intact as a pliable cover for anti-Western military and terrorist activity, they are preparing a fallback position in case their effort to install a compliant Lebanese president fails.

I figure that Syria and Iran, through Hezbollah, has been offerring Lebanese a choice: peace (that is, no assassinations, mob violence, or civil war) and prosperity (enjoy the things Saudi capital helped you build) in areas outside Hezbollah territory in exchange for a free hand at extending Iranian imperialism, or throw in with the West and see your leaders die, and possibly a resumption of the civil war.

Berri practically promises that siding with the West will bring immediate violence. Of course, siding with Iran reduces Lebanon to what diplomats call a "captive state". I believe this will lead to the eventual extinction of a large portion of the Lebanese population once Hezbollah's super-protected missiles are believed to be armed with weapons of mass destruction. Lebanon's current leaders may realize the paradoxical danger of opposing the West that more weapons means less security, but a few honeyed words from Persian lips, something along the lines of, "We'll get you and your family and money out before They attack", may be enough to sway some people.

I have been reading the Lebanese Constitution. The president is far from being a potted plant, especially when the threat of domestic strife is present. His powers are comparable to yet greater than those of the British monarch. In a "normally" functioning parliamentary democracy his functions would indeed be mostly ceremonial, but the Lebanese president has the capacity to single-handedly throw much of the chess-playing carpet-weaving mullahs' careful plans for a loop, and seriously complicate their plans for regional domination.

How is that? I'll just give you one example: Article 53-7 states that the President "accredits ambassadors and accept the credentials of ambassadors." In ordinary countries, that just means the President shakes the hand of the new ambassador when he arrives. But in Lebanon, the president - and ONLY the president - has the power to kick Iranian and Syrian "diplomats" out of Lebanon entirely, and putting a padlock on their embassies so none can enter.

You can now see why the presidency is such a concern to the Iranians and Syrians: without an embassy to serve as an intelligence and command center not subject to Lebanese law, their underhanded operations in Lebanon are seriously curtailed.

Syria/Hezb/Iran are not completely sure their intimidation plan will succeed. Thus their fallback plan of partition: they establish a contiguous territory subject to their control.

Why discuss partition now, rather than years earlier, and how is this linked to the presidency? Because of the Lebanese president's oath:

I swear by Almighty God to observe the Constitution and the laws of the Lebanese Nation and to maintain the independence of Lebanon and its territorial integrity."

The current Syria/Hezbollah/Iran axis has a "fig-leaf" arrangement where "territorial integrity" is just a convenient fiction, but partition is the reality. Already it is said that the Syrian Army occupies dozens of kilometers of Lebanese territory without a peep of objection from the Lebanese president responsible for his country's "territorial integrity".

A puppet president like Lahoud accepts this arrangement without blinking. But another sort of president might object, feeling that accepting it means breaking his oath. He might decide, for example, to honor his oath by calling foreign forces to assist in defend the borders.

Hence the importance of the relation of the president to the partition issue. Hezbollah's could declare partition by fiat under a compliant president who would simply comply with his masters' wishes. But Hezbollah could also bring up the question of partition under a non-puppet president via the political process, and try to use it to destroy Lebanese democracy: either accept partition or it's civil war, or accept partition and lose your democratic legitimacy.

I suppose Lebanese both at home and abroad must feel like fish in a slowly constricting net, paralyzed by fear and lack of fresh oxygen from escaping their fate. It need not be so, but in my opinion Lebanese require both a leap in logic and a leap of faith to escape their deadly fate. They did it once before when King Hariri was assassinated. Can they do it now?

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

"Radical Justice"

Enjoy, before YouTube wipes it out for copyright infringement:

Part I:

Part II:

Friday, August 24, 2007

"The Truth Is What the Truth Is"

Those were the fateful words of convicted Congressman Bob Ney's Chief of Staff. Truth was his ultimate loyalty, so his relationship with his boss and friends had to suffer.

That is why the opposite criteria, taught by an Egyptian cleric to his class of children, is so disturbing:
Ahmad quarrels with Mahmoud, and the two are mad at each other, After the show, they might got out and hit each other. What should we do? We take Ahmad aside, and say to him: “Ahmad, you are mad at Mahmoud, but Mahmoud loves you very much, and keeps saying: I love Ahmad very much and don’t know why he’s mad at me. I want to make up with him, and if I was sure he would agree to make up with me, I’d tell him I love him very much.” And then you go to Mahmoud and say to him: “Why are you mad at Ahmad? Ahmad praises you, and loves you very very much.” Did I lie to him? Yes, I did. But is this lie permitted or forbidden?

Children: It’s permitted.

Mahmoud Al-Masri: How come? Because we are reconciling two Muslims.
Is this truly a Muslim teaching? It is easy to imagine that this teaching endorses any action a Muslim takes to blame Jews for any wrongs Muslim do to each other, because it encourages reconcilement between Muslims. It explains a lot of things, like the easy acceptance of Israel-hatred once a community is conquered by Islamic militants.

If Heaton had been a Muslim, would he ever have turned in his boss?

"The Truth Is What the Truth Is."

It was only when Heaton uttered the words above that he "began cooperating proactively with government prosecutors and investigators" rather than merely being a target of the investigation.

Do Muslims currently follow a different standard? If so, is there any hope this could change for the better? I invite my readers' feedback in the comments section.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

"I Guess I've Done My Duty"

Situation for a wounded specialist reluctantly returning home from Iraq:

An estranged parent.
A mid-tour divorce.
Attacked by IEDs four times.
Two best friends blown to bits.
Two offspring dead in an explosion.

But these little things aren't the reasons why this soldier has to return home. To read more about this remarkable woman, click here to read this latest post at "Notes from Downrange", the hot warblog-for-a-month written by Petraeus protegé and nineteen year-old Princeton sophomore Wesley Morgan.

Update, 9/2/07: The linked post has been removed. As "Truck" pointed out in the comments, this woman took Wes for a ride. He thought confirming her story with her sergeant was enough, and so did I.

That doesn't mean the rest of young Mr. Morgan's work isn't good reading. His tour is almost over; you can get the latest updates here.

Friday, August 10, 2007

The Bark of the Aardvark

Abu Aardvark complains
Ambassador Crocker and General Petraeus are actually working at cross-purposes. Petraeus's military 'successes' and local initiatives come at the expense of the national political track, not in support of it...

Crocker's job is to encourage political reconciliation at the national level, which has been the Bush administration's stated goal from the start and which was the declared goal of the 'surge'...Petraeus's strategy thus far has been to work at the local level. His signature initiative to date, the arming and tactical alignment with Sunni tribes and former insurgents, largely ignores the Iraqi state.

They aren't working at cross-purposes, exactly. By appealing to Iraqis more directly, Petraeus is moving the entire table.

It's a little like the medieval practice of circuit courts: by demonstrating that Iraqis can get better results at the hands of the Americans rather than their own government, the U.S. increases its credibility among the populace, just as English citizens' discovery that they received better justice at the hands of the King's servants' rather than their local lords increased loyalty to the King.

Maliki can no longer drive out the Sunni populace by withholding state funds from them and turning a blind eye (at best) to the Shia militias and the Al-Qaeda groups used to justify their existence. The root problem, I guess, is in the Iraqi Arab winner-take-all approach to government, no matter if it is democratic or not. Just look at how a Saddam-era law was revived to protect government ministers AND their entourage from prying eyes, once again enabling high-level corruption.

If Maliki and his ilk refuse to change their purposes very soon, answers to these problems can only be found at the political, not diplomatic, level. Possibly the U.S. could help by taking a more active role in the Iraqi political process, openly pointing out Maliki's failures and proposing that Iraqis support a government that truly embraces the country, rather than sectarian desires. Perhaps the U.S. can encourage the development of local leaders, especially those who have become prominent in the wake of The Surge. These can then band together and, because of their popularity, apply pressure to the "national" government, or start a national campaign themselves.

This makes the success of The Surge more important than ever. Not only must Al-Qaeda be dealt with, but the Shia militants as well, to better forestall any campaign to silence or assassinate moderate Shia leaders by militant extremists of any stripe.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Al Qaeda's Loss is America's Warning

Plenty of people in the intelligence community do not agree with actions taken, but in the end, they do not get the final say

I'm not in the intelligence community, but I've said from the beginning that Iraq was the "flypaper" to concentrate and destroy Al-Qaeda: Zawahiri & Co. couldn't let a genuine Arab democracy be established unchallenged. It has been a cruel time for the Iraqis, but we rid them of Saddam and in return and they are in the process of becoming a "normal" country.

However, now that Al-Qaida in Iraq is being exposed and obliterated, it is logical that the remnants of Al Qaida will turn their attentions elsewhere. I had thought that target would be Pakistan, but I now think the Taliban want it for themselves, and will ensure that Al-Q's influence in their struggle be limited to a supporting role.

That leaves the West as Al-Qaida's primary target once more. I expect that the redeployment of operatives and the activation of sleeper cells will start soon, if it hasn't already. We also see just how well six years of counter-terror preparation has served to boost the security of Western countries by measuring the outcome of terrorist operations like the failed attack in Britain earlier this month.

In short, we're probably ready for Al-Qaida's return, but it doesn't look like they are ready for us.

Hizbollah in America, however, is another can of worms. As the undercover terrorist arm of Iran's mullahs, they will only undertake operations directed by their head. "Inside the Beltway" their primary activity is undoubtedly intelligence gathering; that's why it seems quiet here.

Ultimately, I doubt Hizbollah's intentions in the U.S. are anything close to benign. Doubtless preparations have been made to respond to the Hizbollah military threat, but they will live or die independently of Al-Qaida, unless the mullahs dictate otherwise.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Who has the Right to Complain?

From an op-ed in Asharq Alawsat, courtesy of Crossroads Arabia:
In the wake of the foiled London and Glasgow terrorist attacks, one Arab writer complained about a campaign to distort the image of Arabs. Rather than being regretful that people from amongst us are seeking to do us harm, he further vented his anger at the victim—the society targeted by sabotage and killing, considering it bias and aiming to offend.

...At that time, some Arab voices justified the crime. Then killings and hijackings proliferated…Ever since then, we have been witnessing the same circle of violence that has killed more Arabs and Muslims than anyone else…most of these bombings were carried out in our name. Although we are innocent, we cannot improve our image at the international level while these perpetrators are our fellow citizens. Terrorism is a horrible condition both mentally and politically and cannot be cured by falseness.

My response, aided by the magic of Google translation:
It seems strange to read such words coming from an Arab, because not only does he reject, but the author comes very close to the idea that Arabs must accept responsibility, as a society, for the terrorist culture that exists in a significant proportion of Arab and Muslim populations.

I note that the feedback from readers about this opinion piece is mostly but not completely negative:

“Your words are true, but the Western world…”
“it’s Khomeini’s policy…”
“Who kills innocent people in Palestine? Isn’t that Israel?”

One person commented that since the terrorists hurt Islam’s image, it is up to those Muslims in the West to improve Islam’s image, which effectively denies the author’s point entirely.

On the other hand, one person seemed to say that Arabs are “victims and executioners at the same time, and seek to create this in others.”

I note that only the American Muslim commented that if Muslims had fought the terrorist phenomenon then (the early 70’s) then maybe the more extreme organizations would be less successful today.

Encouragingly, the last comment is that the author should go all the way and not hold back.

My interpretation is that Arab and Muslim opinions in this matter are in a state of flux, with the tendency to blame the West and Israel declining slightly as the Iran situation worsens, the Iraqi situation improves, and the inadequacy of Palestinian self-rule becomes difficult to ignore. It seems there is a very long distance from this point to the direction the author is heading, which is that Arab society still can’t take responsibility for the terrorists it breeds from birth to bomber, and should do so if it wishes to improve “our image”.

What I find peculiar is that no one expresses the opinion that terrorism itself is an offense against G-d. Is that because the writer and his respondents are secular, or is it because the principle of terrorism is seen as religiously acceptable, or is there some other explanation?

[All my translations are very loose, and I would welcome any corrections.]

Sunday, June 24, 2007


Simply too cool not to share:
...one of my oldest, closest friends Thayer Walker convinced Outside Magazine — more like Outside Magazine convinced Thayer to let them drop him off on a deserted island with a mask, a knife and the clothes on his back to see how long he could survive.
Thayer tells his story in a series of podcast videos here. Best of all, he answered my questions here.

Friday, June 22, 2007


Updates at Michael Yon, IraqSlogger, Mudville Gazette, and The Fourth Rail. The current concern isn't winning the battle, but preventing Al-Qaida's leaders from escaping, so U.S. troops need not return to fight them again. Local Iraqi commanders are not considered competent or motivated enough even to deliver humanitarian aid - not a surprise after the revelations of Iraqi unconcern in the Iraqi Orphans Scandal.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Eyewitness: The Conquest of Gaza

Reporter Dion Nissenbaum told the border guard that he was heading to Gaza for a short holiday. Instead he was an eyewitness to Hamas' conquest of the territory from Fatah. Note especially the coordination of massed, unarmed demonstrators with Hamas gunmen:
Nearby, another demonstrator marched up to a Fatah gunman taking protection along a wall and pushed him backwards. The startled Fatah fighter fired a round at the demonstrator’s feet, but he was unfazed and kept pushing the gunman back until he was swarmed by other angry marchers. Another Fatah fighter rushed into the crowd and tried unsuccessfully to disburse the crowd by firing into the air.

Hossam, Nissenbaum's translator,
collapsed in tears on his couch as his bashful five-year-old daughter played in the next room.

“I can’t go on like this,” he said. “I’ve got to get out. This is no life for my daughter. This is shit. These are kids. They don’t even know what they are doing. They are being used by political leaders on both sides.”

Read it all.

Update: Read Nissenbaum's story for McClatchy Newspapers here.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Gaza is the Middle East's Unloved, Unwanted Child

It’s going to be on the Palestinians’ shoulders to demand and get good governance. I’m not holding my breath…

It’s sad. The Palestinian Arabs’ leaders are so utterly vile - quick to kill or rob dissidents and willing to drown their subjects in sewage so they can better kill Jews — that invasion and re-occupation would seem to be a kindness. Yet Gazans can’t look to Israel for this favor anymore, though many escaped across the border to Israel before Hamas sealed it. The international community won’t do is as long as Hamas et al insist on retaining their “right” to attack Israel. Nor can Gazans easily ignore the men with guns because it is they who control the external funds that are Gaza’s life support.

Gaza is the middle east’s unloved, unwanted child. Though Egypt occupied it from Israel’s independence to 1967, Egypt didn’t want it back. Nor did Israel especially wish to keep it: a popular Israeli play of the 1980s featured a Begin-like character dragging a trash can around with the label “Gaza” on it. It’s not surprising to me that Gazans would seek comfort by becoming yet another satellite of modern-day Persia.

It isn’t a new choice for them, either. In ancient times Gaza held out against Alexander’s army for months, giving its Persian masters additional time to muster a huge army. If you accept that Hezbollah is Iran’s weapon against Israel in case Iran’s nuclear program is ever attacked, it’s easy to think that Gaza is meant to serve the same function.

I note that when Gaza finally fell to Alexander, its male population was slaughtered to the last man. Although the Israelis don’t do such things (or else the Palestinians in the occupied territories would have ceased to exist decades ago), people should keep in mind that it wasn’t just the rocket attacks that prompted Israel’s incursions into Lebanon and Gaza last year, but, I think, the feeling Israelis had that their normal, peaceful lives could not last if these attacks were allowed to continue with impunity.

What to do about the Palestinian Arabs? I long ago recommended that the world should cut off aid to them entirely. In the case of heavily overpopulated Gaza, that would compel the Arabs to forget “pride” and conquest and seek mutually satisfactory arrangements with surrounding states and a market-based system at home lest they face starvation - in other words, peace!

Friday, June 15, 2007

What happens when you reject Zionism

It's tough to advocate human freedom and reject Zionism at the same time. The justice of Zionism is so firmly rooted that insistence on rejecting it naturally leads to the rejection of reason itself, and eventually civilized norms of tolerance. Egyptian commentator Kamal Gabriel points out in the Arabic on-line journal Elaph. MEMRI translation is here, I offer the Google translation for comparison:
What is happening now in the Gaza Strip, since Israel withdrew in, a clear example of what we expose ourselves, attendant rules between brothers home, the wretched, wretched Power returns culture, the biggest and most dangerous to be a result of differences in viewpoints among the opponents, or be due to the absence of strong central authority, or even what they call chaos disarmament, all of this is definitely, but in more serious matter, which failed to overcome bilateral meetings between the parties, or meetings sponsored by a third party, in Gaza or Cairo or Mecca, or even Arab summit conferences folklore, That is the fighting of everyone against everyone and Kauda basic structure is mental, psychological, which is by the Palestinian people, as a corollary of the speech inciting hostility prevailing, and adopted by all directions and the Palestinian factions, religious, nationalist and leftist revolutionary, and a speech aimed sow hatred and the option of resorting to violence and bloodshed to enjoy, It was primarily directed against what they called the Israeli enemy, and that his removal every likelihood or tendency of rational understanding, or resorting to discussion, dialogue and negotiation...

Perhaps no one noticed-and where we think in the absence of reason and rationality - that you extracted from the individual or the total culture of the use of reason and peaceful dialogue, and replaces the culture of violence and the killing of controversial, you can not yet harnessed and directed to employ against a specific single, what we call the beginning is the Zionist enemy...Thus, our blessed the flames of violence and hatred which extends from the Zionist enemy, extend to each of Isadegh or help, even if it helps us, too, and rely on him for everything from medicine to food, and extending Envena our dislike to America, England and the rest of the Western world, and press ahead...Still walking our mujahid or sweet nothingness, and the corollary to the rule of the culture and psychology of violence and spreading, that is what we see and harder and defied all attempts at containment of violence between brothers, who all agree that they proletarian all standards...

...The crisis in the region is not in the size of their differences in views or differences in interests with their neighbors or with the world, and that this can find them reason and dialogue solutions wholly or partially, or completely satisfactory can be accepted or even intolerable, But the real crisis is that the peoples of the region need rehabilitation psychological and cultural, must be preceded by the letter of incitement and violence and hatred, all colors and classifications, but can this happen, the fire of hatred erupted in the trees, and stone? ! !

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

The World Civil War & The Final Option

In the Israeli view, Fatah is engaged in a holding action in the Gaza Strip. Residents only rouse themselves and feel real enthusiasm for battle if harm is done to members of one of the clans, whose people feel obliged to react.

This is what I feel happens as Islamists take over: the civil protections offered by the state disappear, so people must rely on family to protect themselves from the injustices of the new regime. Large families become a necessity, simply for protection.

Hence the persistence of the tribal system and tribal conflict throughout the Muslim World. Discord and conflict are diminished or at least obscured when aggressions are directed outward, either by jihadis or imperialists. Eventually a kind of quasi-stable power balance is established between the central power and the surviving local tribal groups; however, the economic and social costs of the fragmentation are never overcome, as parochialism becomes necessary for survival. (Outsiders are at high risk of being robbed, killed, or kidnapped.) Controlled religion becomes the only unifying force for large endeavors, and freedom of thought dwindles.

This system was stable for eight hundred years, until the progress of the Western world left Islam far behind in military, economic, and demographic progress. The Ottoman Turks, long skeptical of their own system, decided to junk it, trading a loose religious-based empire for a smaller national, secular system that they felt benefited them more.

We can see that "Islamic rule" thus tends to displace democratic or highly centralized monarchic institutions in favor of tribal ones. It is difficult to kick the "tribal" habit, as Michael Yon describes in his latest amazing report, which includes this vignette about the recruitment of Iraqi policemen:
The Abu Nimr tribe, the dominant tribe in the area, was trying to grab too many slots. And so during one meeting with sheiks and police commanders, while perhaps a hundred potential recruits were waiting outside for screening, tribal sheiks and police chiefs were haggling over details

Rather than establishing the rule-of-law, the coalition risks establishing rule-by-law, for tribal members, as they gather more power, will seek to exercise power in an irresponsible, undemocratic fashion. Indeed, this is how Saddam grew into a monster and his Tikriti faction gained preeminence.

Iraqis can't yet deal with removing such people, and in the city of Hit the "final option" was for them to task a brave American battalion commander to do the job and arrest the local constable. If the Americans hadn't been there, assassination would have been "the final option".

This is how we must measure progress in Iraq. A must-read!

Thursday, May 31, 2007

An Open Letter to Egyptian Ex-pat Democrats

Rescue Egypt!

Mubarak's modus operandi is polarization: squeeze out the liberal democrats leaving a vacuum that only the Mubarak Gang or the Muslim Brotherhood can fill, thus forcing the West to support him as the "moderate" alternative, even as he stokes the fires of extremism and arms Egypt for external confrontation.

The solution: don't confront Mubarak, but go around him. Announce that you are actively seeking prominent Egyptians willing to join a National Rescue Committee to restore the Republic.

Your purpose is to create a shadow cabinet-in-waiting ready to peacefully assume power for a one-year period until internationally supervised elections can elect a new representative body. All laws, constitutional amendments, etc. passed after [fill in the date here] will be null and void and all political prisoners are to be released immediately. No government official outside Mubarak's inner circle is to lose their job if they switch their support to the Committee.

For Mubarak and his gang have exceeded both their legal limits by and their popular support by instituting their own constitutional amendments through a sham plebiscite. There just isn't any voice out there brave enough to take the reigns yet. When Mr. Wael Aboulmagd, Deputy chief of Mission to the U.S., specifically and entirely unprompted made sure to mention his connections with the Muslim Brotherhood to Nora Younis, he may have been trying to give a broad hint that they are ready to dump the Mubarak gang and switch allegiances; but if a democratic opposition movement like Kefiyah doesn't step forward soon, they will try to do their best and cut a deal with the Muslim Brotherhood.

As your movement draws support from Egyptians, both expatriate and at home, support for Mubarak will simply fall away. With the defection of the diplomatic community, the aid taps that support the Mubarak regime will be turned off. Lots of government employees won't be paid. The police and state security will be reluctant to obey orders and eventually switch allegiances. Mubarak & Co. will hand you the reigns of power because they will have no choice - nobody will be listening to them any more.

Does this sound fantastic? Try it and see! It's a lot better than the current approach of protests begging the regime for favors. You will have far more legitimacy with the people than Nasser's gang did when they overthrew King Farouk.

By this approach you will endear yourselves to the current enforcers of the Egyptian government, who may secretly hate the Mubarak regime yet fear disorder:

Above all, every policeman knows that though governments may change, the police remain.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007


In the wake of the tragedy of the Virginia Tech shootings, a story of the death of one of the victims, Waleed Shaalan, popped up in The New York Times and was widely circulated in the major Arab and Muslim media outlets, namely that Waleed, like Librescu, died while trying to protect someone else.

I was suspicious of this story from the start. The only witness emphasized that his/her judgment was subjective and has remained anonymous by releasing the story through a compliant professor.

Rather than accuse rashly, I sought confirmation from the coroner's office, thinking that Waleed's autopsy results would at least confirm that he was shot twice, but several minutes apart. I received this note in response a few days ago:

OCME records are medical records pursuant to 2.1-342 (B) (3) of the Virginia Code and are not subject to disclosure. Records may be released to certain agents with proper authorizations (Virginia Code 32.1-127.1:02).

In other words, the autopsy results will remain the secret of investigators and Waleed Shaalan's family. There is no way to independently confirm this story.

When I posted my news and suspicions as a comment at altmuslim.com, I received an angry response:
You are a disgusting excuse for a human being, you ought to [be] ashamed of yourself for tarring the memory of this man...I don't have to be a genius or self-declared "engineering student" to see a pattern in your narrow minded thinking. Your extremist blog(with endorsement links to pro-terrorism blogs) is further evidence of your irrational mindset.

Yes, it does make me feel a bit slimy to point this out. But wouldn't not doing so be worse?
BTWFMBGNOF, why do you keep altering my carefully qualified statements into something different? There are Muslim teachers out there who worry that they may be teaching their students contempt for others. Do I direct them to your posts on this site? Then what are they supposed to do? Leave Islam and teach their students Judaism, Christianity, or secular humanism instead?

One may justly ask, why is it important to question the manner of Waleed's passing? Yet, if somebody is inventing his deeds and attributing them to G-d and Islam, is that not blasphemy? Would Waleed have wanted to be an object of such? And if you aren't making it your duty to uncover the truth, choosing to promote this tale blindly instead, do you not also blaspheme?

Monday, May 14, 2007

The Syrian Winter

The able writer Mona Eltahawy muses about what happened to Syria? Was there not such promise when baby Assad took over?
In the old Syria (for which read: that of Hafez al-Assad), Bunni told me, he would have been bundled into a car in broad daylight and taken to a jail cell somewhere. But Syria was changing, Bunni said. It had opened up to the world through the internet, it had a younger president in the form of Assad’s son, Bashar, and Bunni said that his appearances on pan-Arab satellite television channels effectively provided him with cover to speak out.

Less than a year after I met him, Bunni was bundled into a car in broad daylight and thrown into a jail cell after he signed a petition calling for improved Lebanese-Syrian relations...

It's the old, "Let a Thousand Flowers Bloom!" campaign, again. That's the trick Mao pulled in China in the 1950s: Let everyone have their say, but keep (1) police powers, and (2) individual rights in State hands. Then, once all the real or potential dissidents have had their say, lock them up and clamp down again so everyone realizes they live under an unjust regime. Re-direct all aggressions of the populace to external enemies if possible, or invent internal enemies if not.

That's the best reason why the ENTIRE Syrian regime should go down the toilet: lock, stock, and barrel! Of course, the regime is probably more stable than most analysts believe. In my opinion, only mass people power coupled by internal revolt within two or more armed forces can do the trick - and even then, the populace will have to capture secret police records intact to make sure the guilty parties can't just regroup.

It will take courage and not a little foolishness to pull it off. Doubtless many young men will see it as hopeless and sign up for jihad somewhere, thinking it an easy ticket to heaven that they can't get otherwise. These deluded people don't realize that heavenly judgment is passed not just upon ones deeds, but on what one could have done but avoided.

Can there be any doubt that the struggle for freedom from fear and want, and freedom for speech and religion, is far more important than any struggle against "infidels" or "occupiers"?

Sunday, May 06, 2007


abusinan, I appreciate what you’re telling me: that all Arabs have to do is trash somebody’s reputation and then they can ignore whatever he or she was trying to communicate. Good moral repute comes first, a quality that must be judged by the recipient of the message, not the sender.

That reminds me of a story about Khrushchev’s speech to Communists denouncing Stalin in 1956. While listing Stalin’s terror campaigns against the Communist Party, somebody in the chamber yelled out, “And where were you when all this was going on, comrade?”

“WHO SAID THAT?” Khrushchev shot back. The entire hall fell silent.

“That’s where I was.” concluded Khrushchev.

Khrushchev, who was very active during the period of the deadly purges of the Ukraine in the thirties, was nonetheless instrumental in dismantling many of the worst elements of the Soviet terror state. I suppose, by your reasoning, if his audience had been Arabs rather than Russians Khrushchev would have been hounded into silence and out of power entirely.

In fact, since almost everyone in the Party shared in these crimes, they would feel obliged to cover things up and keep everything going pretty much as it was before. Which is exactly what Khrushchev’s successors did after booting him out of office. Political reform stagnated until Gorbachev - the first Soviet General Secretary who had not participated in murderous purges - came to power.

Can there ever be an Arab Khrushchev?

Saturday, May 05, 2007


...To give you an idea of why Averroës is so important, both Christian and Jewish philosophers built upon his work, which first involved commentaries on Aristotle, but grew into a doctrine that a proposition may be philosophically true but religiously or morally false, which he then applied nearly as universally as Aristotle's writings did. Hence his works were major advances in philosophy. A century later Western philosophers held Averroës and Aristotle in equal esteem.

However, in Islam the fate of Averroës works was tied into the decline of twelfth-century Islamic Civilization as a whole by Durant [The Age of Faith, Chapter XIV, VIII (1950)]:
In 1194 the Emir Abu Yusuf Yaqub al-Mansur, then at Seville, ordered the burning of all works by Averroës except a few on natural science; he forbade his subjects to study philosophy, and urged them to throw into a fire all books of philosophy wherever found. These instructions were eagerly carried out by the people, who resented attacks upon a faith that for most of them was the dearest solace of their harassed lives. About this time Ibn Habib was put to death for studying philosophy. After 1200 Islam shunned speculative thought. As political power declined in the Moslem world, it sought more and more the aid of the theologians and lawyers of orthodoxy. That aid was given, but in return for the suppression of independent thought. Even so, the aid did not suffice to save the state. In Spain the Christians advanced from city to city, until only Granada remained Moslem. In the East the Crusaders captured Jerusalem; and in 1258 the Mongols took and destroyed Baghdad.

The grammar text, then, must have been saved from al-Mansur's destruction order. Presumably, the Mauritanians could afford to do so because they were far away and honored learning and scholarship. Who knows what other treasures may be recovered in the near future, and their impact upon philosophies and relgions worldwide?

Thursday, May 03, 2007


"Solomon dear have you taken your meds today? If not, I probably have some I can share round. Please, let’s leave off the bible quoting and, as Corey noted, the bigoted language."
...One thing I do perceive is that some of those who studied halacha early in life absorb the ritual without truly follow Judaism’s precepts. A religious Jew who acts badly is known as a khillul ha-Shem. A religious Jew whose acts inspire admiration is referred to as a kiddush ha-Shem.

It’s all too easy, especially for those not very learned in Torah, to let the khillul ha-Shem get you down. This often results in hostility to Judaism in general and perhaps even self-loathing.

Don’t let the khillul ha-Shem get you down. There are plenty of kiddush ha-Shem out there.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

31¢ Scoop Night!

Tonight's flavors were Pistachio Almond and Oreo® Cookies 'n Cream. Yum!

This annual event, where each customer receives one junior-sized scoop of free or cheap ice cream at each Baskin-Robbins location visited during five hours in the evening, always draws big crowds. At one location the local rescue squad was in line directly in front of us. As tonight was dedicated to their fallen fellows, several people encouraged them to jump the line, and besides a call could arrive any moment and the team would have to depart without their dessert. But they refused all special favors and remained in line to the door. You can be sure I'll send them an extra donation this year!

Sunday, April 29, 2007

He's gone

Mstislav Rostropovich, absolutely my favorite cellist ever. I don't know enough to claim: "He represented the true greatness of Russia." What I do know is that he played the cello marvelously well and infected his audience with his enthusiasm. Rotropovich playing his best was Rostropovich breaking the horsehair strands of his bow as he banged out a piece full of energy, chanting dah dah in time with the music and spitting out upon the audience as he did so.

I switched from the front to the second row after that. But I didn't love his music any less for it.

He belongs to the ages now. And to the angels in heaven I offer this advice: Not so close!