Questions of liberty 25

A case for debate

Milton Friedman – why drugs should be legalized

Posted under Commentary, Ethics, government, Law, liberty, Miscellaneous, Videos by Jillian Becker on Saturday, January 21, 2012

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No good deed goes unpunished 7

This is from Front Page, by Bruce Bawer:

Anti-Americanism is, of course, as European as Apfelstrudel. But over the last few years it’s rollercoastered like the stock market. The invasion of Iraq sent it skyrocketing. It was muted somewhat by the election of a black man as President of the United States. (That Americans, whom Europeans are taught to think of as incurable racists, had done such a thing rendered some veteran America-bashers temporarily mute.) But European anti-Americanism has never entirely gone away, and the troubles America has been through of late have been the occasion for much Schadenfreude, especially given that they’ve provided a pleasant distraction from Europe’s own even more formidable problems.

In our estimation, European anti-Americanism has never abated for a moment but only spread more widely and grown more intense every year since the end of World War II.

Still, it wasn’t until I ran across an article the other day in the Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet that I realized European anti-Americanism, thanks to Urinegate [see our post Takingthe Piss, January 14, 2011], is once again in full bloom. The article, written by somebody named Asbjørn Svarstad, begins by noting that the American soldiers who filmed themselves urinating on dead Taliban members may not be the first GIs to have behaved in such a manner. “American commandos who were dropped over Snåsa [in northern Norway] toward the end of World War II,” writes Asbjørn Svarstad, “are suspected of having displayed the same kind of contempt for their enemies.”

The main character in Svarstad’s story is none other than William Colby, who would later become head of the CIA but who back in 1945 was a 24-year-old major in charge of the Norwegian Special Operation Group (NORSO) under the command of the OSS. NORSO … consisted of Norwegian-Americans and Norwegians who were operating behind enemy lines on a mission called Operation RYPE. On May 2, 1945, Colby’s men, who were stationed at a farm called Gjevsjøen, were discovered by five German soldiers, whom they quickly dispatched. According to Svarstad, local Norwegians – and here’s the meat of the story – later claimed that they were then invited by the Americans to urinate on the Germans’ corpses.

One of Svarstad’s sources is Norwegian journalist Ola Flyum, whom he describes as an authority on how northern Norway experienced World War II. Flyum’s verdict on the NORSO episode is as follows: “This kind of behavior says a great deal about the way in which the Americans conducted themselves. The Norwegians were shaken. Such a culture was unknown to them. I see many reasons to examine whether this was a war crime.”

Yes, you read that right. The local Norwegians had lived for five years under the Nazis, who had come to subdue and tyrannize them, to execute troublemakers and cart Jews off to their deaths. But, if Flyum is to be believed, the real trauma for these folks was being invited by their American liberators to relieve themselves on the bodies of their oppressors.

It should be remembered that the Norwegians – unlike the Danes – co-operated officially and enthusiastically with their Nazi occupiers. 

Interesting. And even more interesting are the reader comments on Svarstad’s article, which the last time I checked totaled no fewer than 645. Let me emphasize that several readers, to their credit, sought to provide a degree of perspective by bringing up such small details as, ahem, the Nazi death camps. But the overall tone of the comments was set by those who agreed heartily with the implicit message of the article: namely, that Americans are by nature more uncouth – and more prone to violence, war crimes, torture, and abuse of civilians – than anybody else, including the Nazis.

“Most of the Germans,” insisted one reader, “followed the rules and fought a civilized war.” Another agreed, saying that America “is way worse then Nazi Germany ever was.” A third asserted that during the Vietnam War, the US, that “sanctimonious and arrogant s*** country,” had outdone Hitler. A couple of readers cited the Allied bombing of Dresden as proof that America and the western Allies were at least as bad as the Nazis; one recalled having “seen videos from WWII of P51 planes mowing down German farmers in May 1945.” Several readers insisted that it wasn’t the Western Allies that whupped the Nazis and freed Norway, but the Soviets: “America would have been a**-f***ed in a one-on-one against Nazi Germany.”

A number of readers gleefully savaged the American soldiers who urinated on the Taliban. “How many women and children have these brave soldiers killed?” asked one. A running theme was that American soldiers are, as one reader put it, “typical American white trash.” Indeed, the words “white trash” recurred frequently. Left-wing readers who undoubtedly pride themselves on their purported respect for people (especially the underprivileged) of all races and religions, and who fret about the human rights of even the most loathsome members of the species (such as Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden), were quick to deride American GIs as poor, dumb – and, indeed, barely human – hicks: “There’s no doubt that white trash from the US…have lukewarm attitudes toward morality. Without the local minister and sheriff they fumble around, unwashed and drunk, and rape, kill, and film their crimes. They’re garbage.”

Readers who would surely never breathe a critical word about Islam sneered about the nauseating religiosity of American Christians. Several proffered social analyses founded on familiar stereotypes: “This [urinating on the enemy] probably has something to do with American sexual morality. This reminds them of a sexual act, and that’s a no-no in America. But violence and murder are totally OK.” Two or three readers even took the opportunity to attack the Marshall Plan, the purpose of which, they had apparently been taught, was not to help but to exploit.

The Marshall Plan was an act, fully implemented, of immense generosity on the part of the United States which rescued Europe from poverty, hunger, and hopelessness in the aftermath of the war.

The following reader comment was representative of many in its pure, unhinged enmity:

“USA! Degenerate land that steadily gets worse and worse! The world’s misery springs out of that country. Soon it will be Iran’s turn [because Americans are] horny for war. [Kill who you want, women, children, it doesn’t matter to America] as long as the money rolls in. Evil, perfectly set in system!”

Ah, well.

Why bother with Mr. Svarstad’s silly article and with his readers’ even sillier comments? Partly because the whole thing is a sobering lesson in the power of disinformation. Back in the 1940s, when Americans soldiers were putting their lives on the line to free Europe, could even the most cynical of them have imagined that within a couple of generations, thanks to an army of determined European journalists and schoolteachers, their sacrifice would have been turned into exploitation, their heroism into villainy, in the minds of countless Europeans? Could they ever have conceived that one day the grandchildren of the people they freed from totalitarianism would be maligning them in the most condescending terms and denying that they had done anything worthwhile? …

But this story is not just about disinformation but about moral sickness. For some of the people who posted comments on Mr. Svarstad’s article are not, in fact, ignorant. They know better. They know history. Yet something perverse in their souls drives them to spit on people who have protected them and bow to those who would destroy them. It is an aspect of human nature that is nothing less than chilling.

One thing that certainly comes through clearly in the comments on Svarstad’s article is that in the minds of many Europeans, the Holocaust is barely a footnote. They know that the Nazi occupying forces in Norway rounded up Jews and sent them to their deaths, but, to put it bluntly, they don’t really care.

The Norwegian government did nothing to try and save its Jewish citizens. The very absence of any such effort, of any official protest, of any widespread mood of objection positively assisted the Nazis to carry out their “final solution”.

One conclusion to be drawn from all this, perhaps, is that if you want to free people from some monstrous despot, go ahead. They may indeed cheer you in the streets when you’re done. But be prepared for their grandchildren to spit on your grave.

More acts of religion in Nigeria 2

This is from Front Page, by Raymond Ibrahim:

The New Year’s resolution for “Sunnis for Da’wa [Islamization] and Jihad” — also known as Boko Haram, that is, “Western education is forbidden” — is to create a Christian-free Nigeria, beginning, naturally, with the north, where Muslims outnumber Christians.

Right at the start of 2012, Boko Haram issued an ultimatum giving Christians living in northern Nigeria three days to evacuate or die — an ultimatum the group has been living up to, so much so that Nigeria’s President Jonathan recently declared a state of emergency. …

Boko Haram and other Muslims have been terrorizing Nigerian Christians for years, killing thousands of them, and destroying hundreds of their churches. Just last November, hundreds of armed Muslims, many from the group, invaded Christian villages, “like a swarm of bees,” killing, looting, and destroying. At the end of their four-hour rampage, at least 130 Christians were killed. Forty-five other Christians in another village were slaughtered by another set of “Allahu Akbar!” screaming Muslims. …

Beginning with Boko Haram’s church attacks of December 25, where over 40 people celebrating Christmas were killed, the group has definitely upped both the frequency and savagery of jihadi attacks on Christians and their churches. Most recently, armed Muslims stormed a church … killing six Christians, including the pastor’s wife, and wounding many.

Then, when friends and relatives gathered to mourn the deaths of some of those slain in this most recent church attack, Boko Haram Muslims appeared and opened fire again, killing another 20 Christians, all while screaming “Allahu Akbar!”—Islam’s ancient war cry, which at root simply means “my god is greater than your god!”

Ayo Oritsejafor, head of the Christian Association of Nigeria has accurately characterized this spate of attacks on Christians as “religious cleansing,” citing that some 120 Christians have been killed since the Christmas day church attacks.

Worse, but not unexpectedly, President Jonathan recently declared that “some of them [Boko Haram] are in the executive arm of government, some of them are in the parliamentary/legislative arm of government, while some of them are even in the judiciary. Some are also in the armed forces, the police and other security agencies.”

Persons elected or appointed to maintain law and order are the disrupters of law and order – a state of affairs typical of many Third World “democracies”.

In any case, Muslims in power obey the commands of their religion rather than conform to Western notions of the rule of law, and the Koran commands the slaying of Christians.

For more on Muslims killing Christians in Nigeria, with more pictures of atrocities, see our posts –

Christians murdered by Muslims, March 9, 2010

Muhammad’s command, March 30, 2010

Suffering children, May 11, 2011

Victims of religion, October 16, 2011

Acts of religion in Nigeria revisited, October  16, 2011

Christians slaughtered by Muslims in Nigeria, October 17, 2011

Boko Haram, the Muslim terrorists of Nigeria, November 10, 2011

The tale of a Muslim terrorist parasite 4

This is a story of injustice in the name of compassion. It is one of thousands with the same plot and message. It is the European story of the age – along with the tale of the collapsing welfare states.

The following article by Philip Johnston, and the picture of Abu Qatada, are from the Telegraph:

Three years ago this week, a British man, Edwin Dyer, was kidnapped by nomads in north-west Africa, where he was working, and handed over to al-Qaeda militants based in Mali. They threatened to kill him if the British government refused to release the radical Muslim cleric Abu Qatada from prison, where he was awaiting deportation.

A few months later, Mr Dyer was murdered … We cannot be sure that releasing Qatada would have spared Mr Dyer, since the extremists were also demanding a ransom. In any case, it is the British government’s long-stated policy not to deal with terrorists.

But the question that arose then, and still applies, is this: why was Abu Qatada even in the country to be included in a potential bargain with extremists? Since he was identified as Osama bin Laden’s “ambassador in Europe” after the 9/11 attacks on America, British authorities have been trying to deport him to his native Jordan.

Yet for more than 10 years, every effort to do so has been thwarted by human rights laws. In 2009, it looked as though he would be sent packing when the highest court in the land ruled that his deportation would be lawful, the government having gone to considerable efforts to extract a guarantee from Jordan that Qatada would not be ill‑treated if he was returned. But he appealed to the European Court of Human Rights, whose judges yesterday said that in their opinion he could still face an unfair trial, since evidence against him might have been extracted under torture. He could not, therefore, be removed.

In doing this, the European Court moved the legal goalposts: it accepted that he would not be tortured personally – which would prevent his deportation under Article 3 of the convention – but ruled instead that his removal would be a breach of Article 6, the right to a fair trial. At every turn, Britain has found itself hamstrung trying to get rid of a foreign national considered to be a risk to public safety. How has this come about?

Principally, it is to do with the warped application of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), which was drawn up after the Second World War as a response to the atrocities in Europe. The Abu Qatada saga is an affront to the enlightened attitudes that inspired the convention; it was never envisaged by its architects, many of them British, that it would end up making it impossible for democracies to defend themselves from those who would wish them harm.

We’ve always thought the “human rights” idea was a bad one. It arose out of the fairly common human need among a lot of nice people to feel good. But it is a sentimental idea, and sentimentality is the enemy of reason and commonsense. Furthermore, European politicians drew the wrong lesson from the Holocaust, so the Jews, who were its victims, are not the beneficiaries of Europe’s shame – Muslim Jew-haters like Abu Qatada are.

This story began in 1993 when Abu Qatada, a Palestinian wanted for terrorist crimes in Jordan, arrived in Britain on a forged United Arab Emirates passport.

Of course he should have been refused entry. But sentimentality won the day.

He was allowed to settle in Britain as a political refugee precisely because this country has a record of offering sanctuary to the persecuted. This generosity also turned London in the 1990s into a haven for Islamists who had no love for the West, nor for what they regarded as its decadent politics.

By the time the threat was catastrophically apparent in 2001, the capital was derisively being referred to as “Londonistan”, with Abu Qatada as fundamentalist-in-chief. According to security documents, he was responsible for “facilitating the recruitment of young Muslims for jihad”. One file stated: “He has been linked to support of terrorist and extremist activity, including support for anti-US terrorist planning in Jordan during the millennium [celebrations]. He has been a focal point for extremist fund-raising, recruitment and propaganda.”

Another added: “As soon as Abu Qatada had arrived in London and had applied for asylum, he started supporting jihad by recruiting for al-Qaeda. Abu Qatada was considered a major figure for al-Qaeda.”

He went on the run after 9/11 but was arrested in 2002 and held in Belmarsh top-security prison, along with other Islamists the Government wanted to remove but who could not be tried in this country, not least because the security service feared jeopardising its intelligence sources. In any case, Britain did not want to try them but to get rid of them.

There then began an extraordinary legal and political battle that has tied our courts in knots and undermined the rights of Parliament to decide who should be allowed to stay in the country.

Qatada’s detention was ruled unlawful on the grounds that since his deportation was blocked under Article 3 of the ECHR, he faced indefinite incarceration. He was even awarded £2,500 compensation for unlawful imprisonment.

In response, the last Labour government introduced a system of control orders to keep Qatada and other Islamists under house arrest. However, this was ruled unlawful by the courts here; it amounted to imprisonment without trial, so the restrictions had to be loosened.

Undaunted, the Home Office tried another tack. Officials opened talks with Jordan to obtain assurances that he would not be tortured if sent back. When these were forthcoming, the Law Lords in 2009 agreed his deportation should proceed.

Yet, three years on, that judgment has now been overturned by the European Court. The Government has three months to appeal but the chances of success are fanciful. In the meantime, Qatada will remain in jail.

And here is the most bizarre aspect of this affair. The reason he is in prison is because he breached the conditions of his control order. His offence was that he was suspected of trying to leave the country – the very thing we have wanted him to do for 10 years.

So sentimentality brought its ever more ludicrous consequences.

This, then, is the topsy-turvy world that the ECHR has produced – and the latest ruling goes much further than before, when the ban on deportation was effected under Article 3, where someone might face “inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”. …

The judgments of our courts are trumped by a 47-member body set up under the Council of Europe (not the EU), whose president, Sir Nicolas Bratza, is a British lawyer who has never held a senior judge’s job in this country. …

What began as an attempt to limit the power of the state in relationship to the individual by drawing upon British concepts of liberty has been transformed into a corpus of immutable rights that defy rational expectation. Even the 1951 Refugee Convention, under which Qatada was allowed into Britain in the first place, specifically states that asylum “cannot be claimed by a refugee whom there are reasonable grounds for regarding as a danger to the security of the country in which he is”.

To add insult to injury, Philip Johnston points out, al-Qatada and his large family live on benefits paid for by the British tax-payer. Free house, free education, free medical treatment, and loads of cash in hand.

So this Muslim terrorist parasite will live not too unhappily ever after. Or at least until the British welfare state finally collapses.

The Keystone dilemma 0

How happy could I be with either

Were t’other dear charmer away.

                                                                       – John Gay: The Beggar’s Opera


Keystone XL is a TransCanada pipeline project to bring Canadian oil to the US.

TransCanada says of it:

The U.S. consumes 15 million barrels of oil each day and imports 10 to 11 million barrels per day.  Industry forecasts predict oil consumption will continue at these levels for the next two to three decades, so a secure supply of crude oil is critical to U.S. energy security. …

TransCanada is poised to put 13,000 Americans to work to construct the pipeline – pipefitters, welders, mechanics, electricians, heavy equipment operators, among other jobs – in addition to 7,000 manufacturing jobs that would be created across the U.S.  Additionally, local businesses along the pipeline route will benefit from the 118,000 spin-off jobs Keystone XL will create through increased business for local goods and service providers.

Rich Trzupek comments at Front Page:

Not only would Keystone XL generate tens of thousands of new jobs, both in terms of construction jobs and in terms of a myriad of employment opportunities down the supply chain, it would also take a huge bite out of overseas oil imports. At full capacity, Keystone XL would provide about ten percent of America’s crude oil demand, without the slightest risk of a foreign tyrant cutting off production or closing a supply route. 

But there is opposition to the project by environmentalists, who have been allowed to become all too powerful. Trzupek praises Prime Minister Stephen Harper for standing up to them:

Last week Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper demonstrated that he’s more than willing to do that which his counterpart in the White House is unable or unwilling to do: display a little backbone when dealing with radical environmentalists and their pet causes. Harper’s administration both commenced hearings on an alternative pipeline that would be used to ship Canadian crude to China, as well as putting the “green movement” on notice that extremism masquerading as environmentalism will no longer be tolerated in the Great White North.

President Obama, however, is a fully committed member of the green movement. So he’s against the project. But the trade unions, which he likes to please, are of course for it, so he wants to be for it too. He’d be happy with either, if only the other weren’t there.

Unfortunately, the combination of green fear-mongering and President Obama’s predictable dithering has put approval of Keystone XL in doubt. Per his deal with Congress the President has until February 21 to approve the pipeline project or to explain his refusal to do so. Yet, even if the President does approve the project and risk annoying those among his supporters who worship planet earth even more than they do him, there is no guarantee that construction of Keystone XL would start anytime soon.

As Harper is aware, the United States is as litigious a society as there is on earth and – thanks to themany misguided decisions made in the pursuit of environmental purity by both partiesthe massive statutory and regulatory infrastructures that have been constructed in the name of protecting mother earth practically guarantee that environmental groups could tie up an approval of Keystone XL in the courts for years. It would be silly to put all one’s eggs in one basket in any case, but given the dysfunctional manner with which America addresses environmental issues and energy issues, Harper would be worse than foolish to assume that Canada’s best energy customer will continue to be so.

So, the Harper government opened hearings on the Northern Gateway pipeline, an alternative route that would send crude from Alberta to Kimat, British Columbia, where it would be loaded onto tankers and shipped to energy-starved China. To be sure that pipeline faces opposition and its own bureaucratic obstacles as well, but with hundreds of billions of revenue at risk it is clearly well worth the effort to move forward on both tracks. Keystone XL is surely the preferred – and sensible – way to get Alberta’s crude to market, but Northern Gateway will do just fine if the United States is too stupid to approve a project that is so clearly in our national interest. …

That the Harper government is savvy enough to pursue a second pipeline option is testament to its wisdom, but the fact that it also called out (finally!) the environmental movement for its unrestrained, unscientific extremism speaks volumes about its courage. In an open letter published at the Financial Times, Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver put environmental groups on notice last week, letting them know that their tawdry little games would no longer be tolerated in Canada. He called them out in no uncertain terms:

“These groups threaten to hijack our regulatory system to achieve their radical ideological agenda. They seek to exploit any loophole they can find, stacking public hearings with bodies to ensure that delays kill good projects. They use funding from foreign special-interest groups to undermine Canada’s national economic interest. They attract jet-setting celebrities …  to lecture Canadians not to develop our natural resources. Finally, if all other avenues have failed, they will take a quintessential American approach: Sue everyone and anyone to delay the project even further. They do this because they know it can work. It works because it helps them to achieve their ultimate objective: delay a project to the point it becomes economically unviable.”

How refreshing it is to hear a leader of a representative form of government speak in such a clear, uncompromising manner. Oliver’s words are a reminder why plain-spoken leaders like Reagan and Christie are so well-received: they are remarkable because they are so rare. And surely Oliver is correct on all counts. For what are massive, well-heeled environmental groups like the Sierra Club and NRDC if not special interests? What are rich, finger-wagging Hollywood celebrities like Streisand, Cameron and DiCaprio if not hypocrites? What is the reason behind the numerous, pointless lawsuits that greenies file if not to obstruct and demoralize those who seek to create wealth?

A little more than a month from now, President Obama will be forced to do something he hates to do: make an actual decision, all the more so because if he approves Keystone XL he will upset his green base, while if he kills it he will annoy his union base. History suggests he’ll look for a new way to waffle – perhaps by killing the project for now, while promising to revisit it in 2013 – but no matter what happens it’s clear that Canada is determined to find a way to sell its riches to someone. It ought to be us, yet perhaps this too is just another sign of the way power is shifting in the world today. For not only are China and India showing more leadership than Obama’s America, it seems that even Canada is too.

Friends of the Earth are, expectedly, among the complaining environmentalist groups. Their case against the pipeline and against the means used to extract the oil may be found here  –  a howl of distress against what they consider a dirty and dangerous project. This is one of their complaints:

Northern Alberta, the region where tar sands oil is extracted, is home to many indigenous populations. Important parts of their cultural traditions and livelihood are coming under attack because of tar sands operations. Communities living downstream from tailing ponds have seen spikes in rates of rare cancers, renal failure, lupus, and hyperthyroidism. In the lakeside village of Fort Chipewyan, for example, 100 of the town’s 1,200 residents have died from cancer.

So about 8% of this village’s deaths have been due to cancer. Over what period is not given.

According to this official source, 24% of Canadian women and 29% of Canadian men will die of cancer. So the number of cancer deaths downstream from the extraction operations in Northern Alberta would seem to be exceptionally low. 

The rest of the Friends of the Earth’s arguments may be assessed as valid or invalid according to your investigation or your bias.

Our investigation of just the one argument, but mostly our bias, puts us firmly in favor of the project.


P.S. Obama has made a decision about Keystone XL. He’s decided against it.

Israel for itself 15

We continue to suspect that Obama wants to protect Iran from an Israeli attack on its nuclear installations.

But one part of the the report we quoted in our post Obama protects Iran from Israel, that the US called off scheduled joint military exercises with the Israelis, turns out to be untrue. They were called off by Israel itself.

This is from DEBKAfile, the source of the information we used for our earlier post:

Contrary to recent reports published in Washington, Jerusalem – and this site too – it was Israel Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, not the Obama administration, who decided to call off the biggest ever joint US-Israeli military exercise Austere Challenge 12 scheduled for April 2012.

Washington was taken aback by the decision. It was perceived as a mark of Israel’s disapproval for the administration’s apparent hesitancy in going through with the only tough sanctions with any chance of working against Iran’s nuclear weapon program: penalizing its central bank and blocking payments for its petroleum exports.

This was the first time Israel had ever postponed a joint military exercise; it generated a seismic moment in relations between the US and Israel at a time when Iran has never been so close to producing a nuclear weapon.

This week, Netanyahu further orchestrated a series of uncharacteristically critical statements by senior ministers: Deputy Prime Minister Moshe Yaalon called the Obama administration “hesitant” (Jan. 15), after which Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman urged the Americans to “move from words to deeds” (Jan 16).

The underlying message was that the Israeli government felt free to attack Iran’s nuclear sites on its own if necessary and at a time of its choosing.

Why now? DEBKAfile suggests four reasons:

1. Washington has taken no action against Iran’s capture of the RQ-170 stealth drone on Dec. 4 more than a month after the event, and not even pressed President Obama’s demand of Dec. 12 for the drone’s return. Tehran, for its part, continues to make hay from the event …

2. Silence from Washington also greeted the start of 20-percent grade uranium enrichment at the underground Fordo facility near Qom when it was announced Jan. 9. Last November, Defense Minister Ehud Barak warned in two US TV interviews (Nov. 17 and 22) that as soon as the Fordo facility went on stream, Iran would start whisking the rest of its nuclear facilities into underground bunkers, out of reach and sight of US and Israeli surveillance.

Barak made it clear at the time that Israel could not live with this development; therefore, the Netanyahu government believes Israel’s credibility is now at stake.

3. Exactly three weeks ago, on Jan. 3 Lt. Gen. Ataollah Salehi, Iran’s Army chief, announced that the aircraft carrier USS Stennis and other “enemy ships” would henceforth be barred from entering the Persian Gulf through the Strait of Hormuz . Yet since then, no US carrier has put this threat to the test by attempting a crossing. Tehran has been left to crow.

4. Even after approving sanctions on Iran’s central bank and energy industry, the White House announced they would be introduced in stages in the course of the year. According to Israeli’s calculus, another six months free of stiff penalties will give Iran respite for bringing its nuclear weapon program to a dangerous and irreversible level.

So it does look very much as if the Israelis are planning to strike Iran. We hope they do.


Post Script: Commenters have more than once pointed out the unreliability of DEBKAfile. We agree with them, and will treat this source of information more skeptically in future.

A very short secular sermon 7

In the light of certain altercations that have taken place recently on our comment pages – less arguments than cursing and mud-slinging – we offer the balm of some words by Dr. Theodore Dalrymple, one of the (few) great moral thinkers of our time. The quotation comes from his recent book of collected essays, Anything Goes. We more than recommend it, we urge our readers, commenters, visitors and critics to read it. You’re unlikely to agree with every word, but every word is worth reading.

The essay we are borrowing from is titled Freedom And Its Discontents.

There are few of us who have never felt the temptation to silence those fools and scoundrels who have views different from our own. They must, after all, be either stupid or malevolent (or, of course, both). If the means to silence them were at hand, we’d be sorely tempted to use them.

Which of us listens without impatience and even anger to the arguments of our opponents? …

Love of free speech in most men is only fear of being shut up. If they were a bit stronger than they are, they would just have monologues, the most pleasurable of all speech forms. …

The threat to free speech does not inhere, therefore, solely in governments, but in our hearts.

We welcome debate.  Please put your arguments, the more persuasively the better. Agree, disagree, criticize, give your reasons. The slinging of invective is not argument and never persuades anyone to anything. Mere abuse is not productive, and not interesting to read.

One more thing. Listening (and its equivalent, reading attentively) is an art worth practicing. Ideally, we need first to comprehend, then to test with internal argument, and only then to express ourselves freely.

Posted under Commentary, Ethics, Miscellaneous by Jillian Becker on Tuesday, January 17, 2012

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Two boys flogged and hanged in Iran 20

Posted under Iran, Islam, Law, Muslims, tyranny, Videos by Jillian Becker on Monday, January 16, 2012

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Obama protects Iran from Israel 6

Obama hates the idea of an attack on Iran. He also hated the idea of the long-planned joint military exercises with Israel – named “Austere Challenge 12” – due to take place this spring. He looked for an excuse to scuttle them, and he found it.

That is our interpretation of the events reported here:

US-Israeli discord over action against Iran went into overdrive Sunday, Jan. 15 when the White House called off Austere Challenge 12, the biggest joint war game the US and Israel have ever staged, ready to go in spring, in reprisal for a comment by Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Moshe Yaalon in an early morning radio interview.

What did Deputy Prime Minister Moshe Yaalon say that elicited such a furious, punitive response from Commander-in-Chief Obama?

He said the United States was hesitant over sanctions against Iran’s central bank and oil for fear of a spike in oil prices. … He pointed out that the US Congress had shown resolve by enacting legislation for sanctions with real bite. But the White House “hesitated.” 

On the pretext of finding these statements intolerable, Obama reacted vengefully.

The row between Washington and Jerusalem is now in the open, undoubtedly causing celebration in Tehran.

Nothing was said about [what will now be done with] the 9,000 US troops who landed in Israel earlier this month for a lengthy stay.

Neither was the forthcoming visit by Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint US Chiefs of Staff, mentioned.

The official purpose of Gen. Dempsey’s visit next Thursday was supposed to be coordination between the US armed forces and the IDF. But his main object was another try to dissuade Israel’s government and military leaders from plans to strike Iran without Washington’s prior consent.

A diplomatic ruse has been resorted to:

The exercise was officially postponed from spring 2012 to the last quarter of the year over “budgetary constraints” – an obvous diplomatic locution for cancellation. It was issued urgently at an unusually early hour Washington time…  to underscore the Obama administration’s total disassociation from any preparations to strike Iran and to stress its position that if an attack took place, Israel alone would be accountable.

The “budgetary constraints” pretext for cancelling Austere Challenge 12 is hard to credit since most of the money has already been spent in flying 9,000 US troops into Israel this month. Although the exercise in which they were to have participated was billed as testing multiple Israeli and US air and missile defense systems, the exercise’s commander, US Third Air Force Lt. Gen. Frank Gorenc, announced that the event was more a “deployment” than an “exercise.”

But Obama does not want to deploy against Iran, and he manifestly dislikes Israel’s determination to make its own decisions about its own survival:

Neither Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, nor Defense Minister Ehud Barak or Deputy Prime Minster Yaalon, who are responsible for all decisions on Iran, are willing to put all their trust for defending Israel in American hands or relinquish unilateral military options against Iran. They believe US officials when they assert that the administration is prepared to prevent Iran acquiring a nuclear weapon (we don’t! – JB) but they want to see … actions to back up the rhetoric. In the light of credible intelligence that Iran is very close to achieving its nuclear goal, Israel is holding on to its military option over American objections.

The Iranian tyrants may derive some pleasure from the conflict between the Israeli and US governments, but it will not lessen their fear. The essential intransigence of Israel is more likely to increase the growing desperation in Tehran. The Iranians are trying to bluster their way out of the crisis they have put themselves into, threatening to close the Straits of Hormuz. But they know they couldn’t win over that issue. Nor could they win a war with Israel. The only thing they can do to save themselves is abandon their ambition to become a nuclear-armed power.

Obama’s Muslim bias and his chronic inability to make decisions and act effectively leaves control in the hands of Iran and Israel. What either Iran or Israel does next will force the US to react, and Obama will not be able to evade responsibility, perhaps for a new war in the middle east. 

Taking the piss 38

We are of course against the deliberate infliction of physical pain. But the infliction of humiliation, especially on enemies who hold what they call honor as their highest value, seems to us a very good way of punishing them or, used as a threat, of eliciting information from them. Which is why we do not condemn the humiliating treatment some Muslim terrorists famously received at the hands of American soldiers at Abu Ghraib.

Now the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) – and the bien pensant throughout the West –  are claiming to be shocked by a video of some marines pissing on Afghan corpses. Comparisons are being made with Abu Ghraib. A criminal investigation is underway.

Since the Afghans are dead, they are not even being humiliated. The pissing merely relieved the feelings as well as the bladders of American soldiers. But by publicizing the picture, condemning the soldiers, launching criminal enquiries, the ISAF are choosing to feed propaganda fuel to the enemy.

President Karzai, he who wears literally the mantle of power in his hell-hole of a country, purses his mouth and blusters – frankly taking the piss out of the US and its allies:

The government of Afghanistan is deeply disturbed by a video that shows American soldiers desecrating dead bodies of three Afghans. This act by American soldiers is simply inhuman and condemnable in the strongest possible terms. We expressly ask the U.S. government to urgently investigate the video and apply the most severe punishment to anyone found guilty in this crime.”

The enemy will only see self-castigation by the Western allies as proof of weakness. For them, war has to be ruthless. Muhammad and his followers slaughtered all the men of a tribe and enslaved the women and children, setting the god-authorized pattern for Muslims to follow forever. The desecration of enemy corpses is routine for jihadis.

And what else do they do? What do Afghans themselves do to their own people?

This is from the Telegraph:

“You must become so notorious for bad things that when you come into an area people will tremble in their sandals. Anyone can do beatings and starve people. I want your unit to find new ways of torture so terrible that the screams will frighten even crows from their nests and if the person survives he will never again have a night’s sleep.”

These were the instructions of the commandant of the Afghan secret police to his new recruits. For more than three years one of those recruits, Hafiz Sadiqulla Hassani, ruthlessly carried out his orders. But sickened by the atrocities that he was forced to commit, last week he defected to Pakistan, joining a growing number of Taliban officials who are escaping across the border.

In an exclusive interview with The Telegraph, he reveals for the first time the full horror of what has been happening in the name of religion in Afghanistan. …

He became a Taliban “volunteer”, assigned to the secret police. Many of his friends also joined up as land owners in Kandahar were threatened that they must either ally themselves with the Taliban or lose their property. Others were bribed to join with money given to the Taliban by drug smugglers, as Afghanistan became the world’s largest producer of heroin.

At first, Mr Hassani’s job was to patrol the streets at night looking for thieves and signs of subversion. However, as the Taliban leadership began issuing more and more extreme edicts, his duties changed.

Instead of just searching for criminals, the night patrols were instructed to seek out people watching videos, playing cards or, bizarrely, keeping caged birds. Men without long enough beards were to be arrested, as was any woman who dared venture outside her house. Even owning a kite became a criminal offence.

The state of terror spread by the Taliban was so pervasive that it began to seem as if the whole country was spying on each other. “As we drove around at night with our guns, local people would come to us and say there’s someone watching a video in this house or some men playing cards in that house,” he said.

“Basically any form of pleasure was outlawed,” Mr Hassani said, “and if we found people doing any of these things we would beat them with staves soaked in water – like a knife cutting through meat – until the room ran with their blood or their spines snapped. Then we would leave them with no food or water in rooms filled with insects until they died.

“We always tried to do different things: we would put some of them standing on their heads to sleep, hang others upside down with their legs tied together. We would stretch the arms out of others and nail them to posts like crucifixions.

“Sometimes we would throw bread to them to make them crawl. Then I would write the report to our commanding officer so he could see how innovative we had been.” …

After Kandahar, he was put in charge of secret police cells in the towns of Ghazni and then Herat, a beautiful Persian city in western Afghanistan that had suffered greatly during the Soviet occupation and had been one of the last places to fall to the Taliban.

Herat had always been a relatively liberal place where women would dance at weddings and many girls went to school – but the Taliban were determined to put an end to all that. Mr Hassani and his men were told to be particularly cruel to Heratis.

It was his experience of that cruelty that made Mr Hassani determined to let the world know what was happening in Afghanistan. “Maybe the worst thing I saw,” he said, “was a man beaten so much, such a pulp of skin and blood, that it was impossible to tell whether he had clothes on or not. Every time he fell unconscious, we rubbed salt into his wounds to make him scream.

“Nowhere else in the world [is there] such barbarity and cruelty as in Afghanistan. At that time I swore an oath that I will devote myself to the Afghan people and telling the world what is happening.”

Before he could escape, however, because he comes from the same tribe, he spent time as a bodyguard for Mullah Omar, the reclusive spiritual leader of the Taliban.

“He’s medium height, slightly fat, with an artificial green eye which doesn’t move, and he would sit on a bed issuing instructions and giving people dollars from a tin trunk,” said Mr Hassani. “He doesn’t say much, which is just as well as he’s a very stupid man. He knows only how to write his name “Omar” and sign it.

It is the first time in Afghanistan’s history that the lower classes are governing and by force. There are no educated people in this administration – they are all totally backward and illiterate. … I think many in the Taliban would like to escape. The country is starving and joining is the only way to get food and keep your land.”

This Hafiz Sadiqulla Hassani should not be let off his crimes simply because he piously promised himself to tell the world about them and has done so. Why isn’t he being tried, condemned, executed – and pissed on?

The Washington Post usefully informs us:

U.S. military law and the Geneva Conventions prohibit desecration, mishandling or exploitation of bodies of people killed in war.

Prohibit do they? To our own certain knowledge their prohibition has been about as useful as the Pope’s pudenda. (In Lebanon in 1982-1983, the corpses of men killed by the PLO had their genitals cut off and stuffed into their mouths, and no cry of “Foul!” went up from Geneva or anywhere else – JB.)

The human capacity for indignation is inadequate to react commensurately to the savagery of the murdering, torturing Afghans.

The best thing our soldiers can do is kill them. They should also, if they feel like it, piss on their corpses.


P.S. Seems the four marines didn’t actually piss at all.  (Hat-tip Indigo Red)

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