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.