The most unethical act in war 0

The surest successes that the US has achieved lately in the war against the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan have been by the use of drones. Questions have been raised about the morality of their use, by the American Civil Liberties Union for instance, on the grounds that they incidentally cause civilian deaths.

A new documentary examines the morality of incidentally or deliberately killing civilians in war.

From Commentary, by Jonathan S. Tobin:

Monday night, PBS’s American Experience series will broadcast a new documentary titled The Bombing of Germany, about the strategic-bombing campaign carried out against the Nazis by American forces in World War II. Coming from the liberal-leaning PBS and in an era where denunciations of American military actions — even in the “good war” against Nazi Germany — have become commonplace, it would have been no surprise if this film was yet another revisionist attempt to decry Allied tactics as immoral. This impression is reinforced by the introduction to the film on PBS’s website, which highlights the number of German civilian casualties incurred by Allied bombing and the “defining moments that led the U.S. across a moral divide” that would make it easier to drop a nuclear bomb on Japan. Indeed, the narration heard during the opening moments of The Bombing of Germany goes straight to this conclusion when it says that by the time the war ended, the bombing left “both German cities and America’s lofty ideals in ruins.”

But, fortunately, there is more to this documentary than the facile conclusion that the bombing of Germany was so immoral that it cannot be defended even in a war in which the future of civilization was at stake. By the time the 50-minute film is over, liberals expecting another trashing of America are left with some conclusions that not only reinforce the morality of American tactics during that war but also might affect the way we think about contemporary conflicts.

The story of the bombing offensive is complex. During the war, Britain’s Royal Air Force believed that the key to knocking German war industries was to burn down the cities where the factories existed. From their frame of reference, there was no moral distinction between the factories themselves and the homes of the defense workers who created the material that enabled the Nazi regime to commit the crimes against humanity that made the war a matter of life or death for the free world.

But the United States Army Air Corps, equipped with more sophisticated planes and bombsights, as well as a more romantic notion about the distinction between government and civilian targets in a totalitarian state, disagreed. The Americans believed that by flying during the day when visibility was obviously better (the British flew at night), their planes could knock out strategic targets without having to attack entire cities. The results produced by this theory were not that good. Much damage was caused to the German war effort, but the losses of American planes (especially before the introduction of a long-range fighter plane in 1944 that would make it safer for U.S. bombers to fly over Germany) made it too expensive to continue. By contrast, the British weeklong raid on Hamburg in 1943, in which the entire city was hit, was a major blow to the German war effort. At the time, Nazi armaments minister Albert Speer told Hitler that a few more raids like Hamburg would bring the German war effort to a halt. …

What the filmmakers and some of their consultants see as the moral turning point of the war for America [was] the bombings of Berlin and Dresden in February 1945 in which there was no pretense that the attack was anything but an attempt to destroy the city. The Dresden raid, immortalized in Kurt Vonnegut’s novel Slaughterhouse Five, has been widely represented by many American, English, and German historians as immoral because the beautiful medieval city was not considered a military target and heretofore had been spared the devastation that rained down on other German cities. It is here that author Don Miller, one of the prominent voices heard in the film, describes the raid as the crossing of “a moral threshold … that we will not deliberately bomb civilians … once we crossed the moral divide in Berlin, it made everything else, including the atomic bomb, a little bit easier.”

But Miller is not the only voice heard about the raids against Berlin and Dresden. The film goes on to credit these devastating attacks for helping to make the Soviet assault on Eastern Germany, including the conquest of Berlin, easier. Moreover, the film points out that in a total war against a ruthless foe, half measures are of no use. After all, the ordinary Germans who served in Adolf Hitler’s army and worked in the factories that produced the weapons and other material that made his crimes possible never wavered in their loyalty to the Nazi regime, even as the Reich was reduced to ruins around them. This fact undermines the notion that Allied air-war theorists fervently believed in: that bombing could break the will of a nation. But Allied bombing attacks that literally destroyed the physical structures of the enemy’s war effort did work and, in fact, helped shorten the length of the bloodiest war in history.

The most devastating line of the film is its last, in which historian Conrad C. Crane, director of the U.S. Army Military History Institute, confronts the moral dilemma of killing civilians in a righteous war against an immoral opponent. While the question of the deaths of civilians is one we must ponder, Conrad insists, “The most unethical act for the Allies in World War II would have been allowing themselves to lose.”

This is a concept that applies not only to the war against Hitler but also to the one that America is currently fighting against Islamo-fascists. We have heard a great deal in the past few years about unethical tactics both in terms of attacking terrorist strongholds and as in dealing with prisoners who possess information about future threats. As the Obama administration tries to avoid further debacles like its reaction to the Christmas Day bombing attempt over Detroit and to maintain pressure on the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the conclusion of The Bombing of Germany should haunt them. It is all well and good to try to earn applause for being more moral than our opponents. But when facing an enemy whose goal is the destruction of our society and the murder of countless innocents, the prime objective must remain the same as it was in World War II. Allowing ourselves to lose such a war is the most unethical act imaginable.

The religion of peace 1

In our margin we reproduce, as a fixed feature, an ever mounting tally of vi0lent attacks carried out by Muslim terrorists since 9/11 in the name of their faith. It comes from The Religion of Peace, a website that has proved itself an indispensable source of information in this era of unremitting war waged by Islam against the rest of the world.

Every day it publishes a list, of which today’s is typical:

010.02.04 (Kandahar, Afghanistan) – Three people are dismembered by a Shahid suicide bomber.

2010.02.03 (Narathiwat, Thailand) – A rubber tapper working with his wife is shot in the back by Muslim militants with a shotgun

2010.02.03 (Swat, Pakistan) – Four children are among nine people killed when the Tehrik-e-Taliban bomb an opening ceremony at a girl’s school.

2010.02.03 (Karbalah, Iraq) – A Fedayeen bomber passes out fruit to children before detonating, killing nearly two dozen.

2010.02.03 (Baghdad, Iraq) – Sunni bombers send a Shia pilgrim straight to Allah.

2010.02.02 (Karbalah, Iraq) – Three Shia pilgrims are murdered by Sunni bombers.

The total at the time of this writing: 14,784

A realm of deadly failure 0

‘The most destructive address in the history of American foreign policy’, is the verdict of Ralph Peters on President Obama’s Cairo speech. We agree.

This is the worst time imaginable to have a pro-Islam leftist occupying the Oval office.

Taking a realistic, and consequently pessimistic, survey of the Islamic lands from the Mediterranean to the border of India – and the sole exception to their failure, the small singular Jewish state beleaguered among them – Peters writes in the New York Post:

No region — not even sub-Saharan Africa — competes with the greater Middle East when it comes to wanton savagery, thwarted opportunities and the danger posed to innocent populations around the world. With fanatical terrorists of unprecedented brutality, Islamist extremists pursuing nuclear weapons, rogue regimes, disintegrating states and threats of genocide against Israel, the lands of heat and dust between the Nile and the Indus form a realm of deadly failure that will haunt the civilized world throughout our lifetimes.

A survey of the region’s key countries — and problems — doesn’t offer much good news for the Obama Administration’s naive foreign policy efforts:

LEBANON: This isn’t a country — it’s a temporary stand-off. Recently, Prime Minister Saad Hariri, whose father, Rafik, was assassinated by Syria, had to make a humbling visit to Damascus. Syria’s decades-long penetration of the government in Beirut and various Lebanese factions (not least, its backing of the Hezbollah terror organization) has kept Beirut dependent on Damascus to break the political gridlock in parliament. Meanwhile, Hezbollah has been rearming mightily in the wake of its 2006 war with Israel. A new war would devastate much of Lebanon — if internal strife doesn’t do it first.

EGYPT: A US client long counted among the most stable states in the Middle East, Egypt faces a potential succession crisis as octogenarian president Hosni Mubarak, who’s ruled the country for almost three decades, grooms his singularly unimpressive son, Gamal, to take over upon his death. The government and armed forces are more factionalized than they seem to outsiders, Islamist movements have proven ineradicable, and violence against Egypt’s minority Christians is on the rise again…

TURKEY: Long in NATO, but denied membership in the European Union, Turkey has grappled with an identity crisis. Increasingly, its political bosses back an Islamic identity. The ruling AKP (Justice and Development Party) soft-peddles its religious agenda when dealing with the West, but has been methodically dismantling the secular constitution left behind by Kemal Ataturk — who rescued Turkey from oblivion 90 years ago… Will the military move to preserve the legacy of Ataturk? Unlikely. But if the generals did move, the Obama administration would back the Islamists

SYRIA: The neighborhood’s in such awful shape that this police state’s beginning to look like a success story… On the other hand, the Assad family’s government backs terrorism, harbors remnants of Saddam Hussein’s regime, still hopes for Israel’s destruction — and wouldn’t mind having nukes, if it could figure out how to get them. When Damascus looks like a beacon, it’s getting awfully dark in the Middle East.

ISRAEL: Civilization’s last hope in the region, Israel remains the target of international leftists dreaming of another, more-thorough Holocaust. The “peace process” will continue to fail. Arabs need Israel to blame for their failures. And President Obama empowered the worst Arab elements with his Cairo speech, which convinced the dead-enders there’s no need to compromise with Israel — that the US would shift its support to the Arab cause. That Cairo speech may prove to have been the most-destructive address in the history of American foreign policy.

IRAQ: Can’t say we didn’t try. After years of serious progress toward a national compromise, Shia political agents close to Iran recently banned over 500 influential Sunni candidates from standing in Iraq’s upcoming elections. Reconciliation has come to a screeching halt. The Shia are smug, the Sunnis feel betrayed, and the Kurds are still denied title to the traditionally Kurdish city of Kirkuk. Every faction’s fighting for a greater share of oil revenues. And the Obama administration’s AWOL (this was Bush’s war — we wouldn’t want a positive outcome)… the old blood feuds and thirst for vengeance go deeper than we thought

SAUDI ARABIA: Its two main exports are oil and fanaticism. Saudi funding supports a global effort to drive Muslims into the fold of its severe Wahhabi cult — and to prevent Muslims (including those in the US) from integrating into local societies. The Saudis care nothing for the fate or suffering of fellow Muslims (check out the Palestinians). They care only for their repressive version of Islam. The birthplace of Bin Laden, Saudi Arabia’s differences with his terror organization are over strategy and tactics, not over their mutual goal of forcing extremist Islam on all of humanity.

IRAN: Racing to acquire nuclear weapons, delighting in the prospect of a cataclysmic war that would lead to the “return of the hidden imam,” beating the hell out of its own people in the streets, murdering members of the intelligentsia, and explicit in its vows to destroy Israel, the government of Iran continues to be protected by China and Russia. There will be no meaningful sanctions. Over the next few years, we’ll see a nuclear test in the southeastern desert region of Baluchistan. Will Israel strike first? Perhaps. Would the US? Not under this administration. The best hope is for a miracle that leads to a popular overthrow of the current maddened regime. But strategy can’t be based upon the expectation of miracles.

YEMEN: It’s Saudi Arabia without oil, running water or literacy. Perhaps the most-backward country in this stubbornly backward region, Yemen has harbored terrorists for years (we really didn’t want to know). Its government cannot control its territory, its tribes are so fanatical they alarm the Saudis (who have had to fight them), and Iran backs the Shiite minority in its revolt against the state. Throw in Yemen’s strategic position astride the world’s most-sensitive oil-shipping routes, and this pretense of a country looks far more important than Afghanistan.

DUBAI: The late Michael Jackson’s flirtation with this high-rise bazaar apparently couldn’t rescue an economy built on sand…

AFGHANISTAN: We’re there, and we don’t know why. We know why we went in 2001, but al Qaeda’s long gone. Initially, we were welcomed. Now, the more troops we send, the stronger the Taliban becomes. We’re tied to a corrupt, inept government despised by the people. Afghans won’t fight for that government, but they’ll give their lives for the Taliban. And we’re determined to turn the place into Disney World.  Should we just leave? No. Afghanistan provides a crucial base for striking the terrorists across the border in Pakistan… Afghanistan is worthless in itself. Instead of concentrating on killing our enemies, we’re buying worthless real estate with American blood.

PAKISTAN: 180 million anti-American Muslims, thanks to generations of politicians who took American aid while playing the anti-American card with their constituents. The government won’t crack down on the Taliban factions it’s preserving for a reconquest of Afghanistan after we exit… Promised another $7.5 billion in aid, Pakistan’s response has been not only to bite the hand that feeds it, but to gnaw it to a bloody pulp. And, in an act of strategic folly, we’ve left our troops in Afghanistan dependent upon a single supply line that runs for over a thousand miles through Pakistan. .. Isn’t it about time we got a grip? Around Pakistan’s throat? … Leaving the greatest power in history at the mercy of the impossibly corrupt regime in Pakistan guarantees that our troops lives are wasted next door in Afghanistan. Afghanistan isn’t our problem. Pakistan’s the problem.

America and the Taliban: a dialogue of the credulous and the cunning 1

There’s an old quip about the British Foreign Office, that just as the Ministry of Defence is for defence [British spelling], the Foreign Office is for foreigners. Another in similar vein: They found a mole in the Foreign Office – he was working for Britain. And who can forget if he’s once seen it the episode of ‘Yes, Prime Minister’ in which an especially slithery FO official, informed by the PM that he’s being posted to Israel, protests, ‘But you know I’m on the Arab side!’ and the PM retorts, ‘I thought you were on our side.’

Career diplomats, at least in the First World, tend to lose sight of what their job is really all about – to look after the interests of their country in dealings with other countries – and instead come to believe that their high, almost priestly, calling is to maintain amicable relations with their foreign counterparts; so as soon as a conflict of interest arises, they are ready to negotiate the terms of their surrender. In Britain this standard maneuver is called the pre-emptive cringe.

A perfect illustration is the US State Department’s transactions with the Taliban. The history is related in some detail by Michael Rubin in Commentary (Taking Tea with the Taliban, February 2010). ‘The story the documents tell,’ he writes, ‘is one of engagement for its own sake – without any consideration given to the behavior or sincerity of an unambiguously hostile interlocutor.’

The exercise in futility, a dialogue of the credulous and the cunning, began in February 1995 when US diplomats met seven Taliban spokesmen in Kandahar. The diplomats wanted information. They got none. Therefore they reported that ‘the Taliban appeared well-disposed toward the United States’.

‘Later the same week, another US diplomat met a Taliban “insider” who told the official what he wanted to hear: the Taliban liked the United States, had no objection to elections in Afghanistan, and were suspicious of both Saudi and Pakistani intentions. This was nonsense, but it was manna for American diplomats who wanted to believe that engagement was possible.’

America wanted the Taliban to stop sheltering Osama bin Laden. When the Taliban took Kabul and became the de facto government of Afghanistan, the US ambassador to Pakistan, Thomas W. Simons, met with Mullah Ghaus, who bore the title of Foreign Minister, to ‘discuss the fact’ that they were giving safe haven to terrorists. Ghaus said there weren’t any terrorists, but if the US would give the Taliban money, they might possibly be ‘more helpful’ to the US. What could he have meant – that they’d find some terrorists lurking about after all? Clarification was not requested, however, and by this hopeful suggestion Simons apparently felt much encouraged.

Even without getting American aid, the Taliban had scored a success. They had violently seized power, but were being negotiated with by the US State Department as a legitimate government. It was enough and more than enough to gratify them, and they had achieved it without making a single concession: they still sheltered bin Laden, and could carry on savagely torturing prisoners and making the lives of Afghan women unrelenting hell without it costing them anything at all.

The US was grateful to the Taliban just for being willing to talk, and the Taliban were grateful to the US for being willing just to talk – because they knew that as long as the talk went on, the Americans would do nothing else. It was a match made in diplomat’s heaven. But what the State Department or President Clinton thought they now had to bargain with, only heaven could tell.

In 1997 Madeleine Albright became Secretary of State and was eager to continue the engagement. ‘Diplomats met Taliban representatives every few weeks … What resulted was theater: the Taliban would stonewall on terrorism but would also dangle just enough hope to keep diplomats calling.’

The very refusal on the part of the Taliban to expel bin Laden seemed to the Clinton administration a compelling reason to go on talking. Not to talk to them would ‘isolate’ them, and that, the National Security Council reckoned, would be a dangerous consequence. Instead they were to be shown yet more goodwill by the US: they were given the money they’d asked for. Of course the funds were carefully labeled: this for providing schools for girls; this for sowing new crops in the fields that had hitherto grown only poppies for the heroin trade. The Taliban took the money, spent it on arms or whatever they liked, continued to deny education to girls, left the poppies in the fields, and pocketed the lesson that the more obstinate they were the more they’d get from the United States.

The US had no compunction about leaving the Northern Alliance isolated, ‘the group of one-time rebels and chieftains that constituted the only serious resistance to the Taliban’. In April 1998 the American ambassador to the UN, Bill Richardson, went to Afghanistan and deceived himself into believing that he brokered a cease-fire between the Northern Alliance and the Taliban, while in fact the fighting between them intensified and continued until the US invasion three years later.

For yet more talks, the Clinton administration then welcomed Taliban delegates into America. The issues were again the treatment of women and terrorists using Afghanistan as a base. An ‘acting minister of Islam and culture’ explained that it was Islamic custom to treat women the way the Taliban did, implying that in the name of the American idea of multicultural tolerance Americans could raise no objection to it. As for bin Laden, they promised to keep him isolated and subdued.

So subdued was he kept that shortly afterwards, in August 1998, his al-Qaeda terrorists carried out their plots to attack the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, killing hundreds and injuring thousands. Clinton retaliated by having a factory flattened in the Sudan, destroying a terrorist training camp with a cruise missile in Afghanistan – and continuing diplomatic engagement with the Taliban.

The Taliban were furious about the training-camp. Mullah Omar, ‘spiritual head’ of the Taliban, phoned the State Department and complained angrily about it. The plots had not been hatched in Afghanistan he insisted, and it was grossly unfair of the US to avenge itself on his country. But he was open to dialogue, he conceded – to the relief of Madeleine Albright. The Taliban’s ‘foreign minister’ Maulawi Wakil Ahmed, met the US ambassador to Pakistan, William B. Milam, and reiterated that they would not expel bin Laden, whose presence in Afghanistan he referred to as a ‘problem’, by which he might have meant for the Americans than rather than the Taliban, but the word made Milam feel hopeful. The ‘diplomatic pressure’, he concluded, was working, and must be kept up. So the talks continued.

When a court in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan found bin Laden not guilty of being involved in the East African attacks, a suspicion rose in the mind of Alan Eastham, a diplomat in the Islamabad legation. “It is possible that the Taliban are simply playing for time,” he wrote; but nevertheless he thought “it is at least [also] possible that they – some of them – are serious about finding a peaceful way out.” [My italics]

Unable or unwilling to see that the Taliban and al-Qaeda were two claws of the same beast, and disregarding all proofs that the Taliban were acting in bad faith, the Clinton State Department insistently proceeded with its pointless, fruitless, self-defeating dialogue. The Taliban and al-Qaeda ‘exploited American naiveté and sincerity at the ultimate cost of several thousand [American] lives.’ For while the talks were proceeding, bin Laden and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed were putting their heads together in Tora Bora to plot 9/11.

When George W. Bush became president, the talks were broken off. And when, after 9/11, America struck at Taliban-ruled, al-Qaeda-harboring Afghanistan, it won a swift military victory – but then lingered on to try and transform the primitive tribal nation with a long history of unremitting internecine strife into a peaceful democracy.

The Taliban fought back, and are winning. And President Obama is returning to the policy of engagement. His administration has revived the fiction that there is a good Taliban and a bad Taliban, and in their desperation to end the war without seeming to be beaten, they are trying to include the Taliban in the farcical ‘democratic’ government that has been established under American auspices. It’s a weird concept: you win a war if you empower your enemy, pretending that he has been born again as your friend.

Now General McChrystal will try to persuade America’s allies at a London conference that the surge he is planning with 30,000 extra troops will lead to a negotiated settlement. But the Financial Times of January 25, 2010, reports that the general acknowledges his ‘growing skepticism about [winning?] the war’.

This seems to be the best he is hoping for: ‘By using the reinforcements to create an arc of secure territory stretching from the Taliban’s southern heartlands to Kabul, Gen McChrystal aims to weaken the insurgency to the point where its leaders would accept some form of settlement with Afghanistan’s government. … But the general warned that violence would rise as insurgents stepped up bombings to try to undermine his strategy.’

The allies he needs to persuade at the conference ‘suffered a 70% rise in casualties last year ‘ and they doubt the credibility of the Afghan government. No wonder there is not much vigorous, confident hope to be detected in the general’s expectations of his allies’ response or in his own strategy if the FT report is to be trusted. It conveys deeply dispiriting indications of McChrystal’s state of mind. The one thing it claims that he and the Taliban agree on is that ‘110,000 foreign troops should go home’. The Afghan government, it says, has ‘little incentive to alter the status quo while atop a lucrative war economy’. And ‘with Barack Obama planning to start withdrawing US troops in mid-2011, the Taliban may believe it has far more resolve than the west’ – meaning, presumably, that it has only to wait and the whole country will be back in its bloodstained hands again.

McChrystal bears the responsibility of saving Obama’s face, which unfortunately is also America’s face. For this desperate if not entirely ignoble purpose the lives of brave soldiers in the magnificent fighting forces of the United States are now being hazarded.

Meanwhile bin Laden apparently lives and al-Qaeda grows, and they continue to plot death and destruction. It seems that diplomacy is not after all the most effective means of stopping them.

Jillian Becker January 26, 2010

Bliss 0

A British Muslim journalist, Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, wrote this yesterday in the Evening Standard, in an incoherent article on how middle-class English women are converting in droves to Islam and marrying Muslim husbands, but should avoid ‘romanticizing’ Islam, although Muslim wives – she assures us – are free and happy:

Islam gives women … the right to sexual pleasure within marriage … Most Muslim women I know are blissfully happy and able to be what they want.

She provides us with a reason to post again our view of the fate of most Muslim women:

Genitally-mutilated, secluded, wrapped in a black tent, forced into marriage, illiterate, frequently beaten, liable to lose her children at any time, not permitted to go out to work, and not allowed to have medical treatment because doctors are male and may not even see her, let alone examine her. If ever a life was solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short – and full of pain and sorrow – it is the life of this woman.

She can be divorced by her husband at his whim, and if she has no family to return to, can be abandoned to starvation.

Because of her clitorectomy and enfibulation, it is agony to menstruate and copulate, and childbirth for her is even more excruciating than it is for most women.

Her children can be taken from her at any time. Her boys, even when they are little, can be sold into slavery, made to fight and kill, or to walk over minefields. Her daughters too can be taken as slaves, for a life of perpetual labour and sexual exploitation; or forced into marriage well before puberty, to endure the same sort of existence that she endures.

If she is raped she will be killed by her own male relatives in an ‘honor killing’; or, if condemned to be executed by the state, she will be buried in earth up to her shoulders and stoned to death.

If Muslim women in Britain have better lives than their sisters in Africa and Asia it’s because of British law and culture. This should persuade them to do all they can to keep sharia law out of Britain. But were they heard to protest when it was admitted as a parallel system of family law? We didn’t hear them. Now sharia can be enforced on them, yet they’re still blissfully happy?

A question of intelligence 0

How unintelligent do you have to be to get a job with the CIA?

Here are two quotations from the Telegraph.

The first is by Con Coughlin:

As if Abdulmutallab’s bombing attempt was not a crushing blow for the CIA’s morale, the organisation is also trying to come to terms with a suicide bomb attack that killed seven CIA officers last month at their base at Khost, close to Afghanistan’s border with Pakistan. US officials say that those killed included five of their leading experts on al-Qaeda, who agreed to attend the meeting because they believed they would receive key information as to the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden.

Instead, it now appears they were set up by the Haqqani clan, the pro-Taliban tribe that is widely held to be protecting bin Laden and the rest of the al-Qaeda leadership in north-west Pakistan. The CIA officers were so convinced of the bona fides of their source, a Jordanian doctor, that they did not even bother with basic security procedures – such as searching his belongings – before allowing him on to the base, with the inevitable catastrophic consequences.

If this is how the CIA takes care of its own security, we should not be surprised by its failure to address that of the wider public.

The second is by Toby Harnden:

Check out this passage from the unclassified six-page summary of the President Barack Obama’s review of the intelligence failures that led to the attempted attack by the Knicker Bomber on Flight 253 on Christmas Day:

‘Mr. Abdulmutallab possessed a U.S. visa, but this fact was not correlated with the concerns of Mr. Abdulmutallab’s father about Mr. Abdulmutallab’s potential radicalization. A misspelling of Mr. Abdulmutallab’s name initially resulted in the State Department believing he did not have a valid U.S. visa.’

So this means that the US government’s computers apparently don’t have an equivalent of Google’s “Did You Mean?” tool that picks up misspellings and finds results for similar words.

If it had been realised immediately that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab has a valid US visa then presumably the alarm bells would have begun to ring weeks before he actually flew – but they believed he had no visa because the State Department database or whatever database it was could only recognise a particular version of an Arabic name.

That’s reassuring, isn’t it?

An Arabic name? If so, transliteration can make for numerous variations. But Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab is a Nigerian, and Nigeria is an ex-British colony still using English as its official language. In his passport and on visa application forms his name would be spelt just like that. It must have been carelessly copied. Still, Harnden is right that the State Department should have a more efficient database. (It should have a great deal that it hasn’t got – a far better Secretary of State to start with, and diplomats who are on the side of America rather than its enemies.) In any case, the  young man with a bomb of a phallus has a Muslim name, and should have been ‘profiled’ for special investigation for that reason alone.

Posted under Commentary, government, Islam, Muslims, Terrorism, United States by Jillian Becker on Friday, January 8, 2010

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The spoils of war 1

From a military point of view, the Iraq war was an American (or coalition) success. Bush’s surge gained a military victory. And it must be counted as a great good that the sadistic despot Saddam Hussein was overthrown and executed.

From an historian’s point of view, however, not much has been accomplished. There have been elections, yes, but they do not make Iraq a democracy. It is governed by sharia law, and sharia and Western liberal democracy are not only dissimilar, they are incompatible.

How much benefit has America itself reaped from its investment of dollars, lives, blood, sweat and tears ?

On December 18, Diana West wrote about the surge and its success:

Step One worked. Step Two didn’t. The surge, like an uncaught touchdown pass, was incomplete. The United States is now walking off the battlefield with virtually nothing to show for its blood, treasure, time and effort. In fact, another “success” like that could kill us. … When Iraq staged one of the biggest oil auctions in history last week, U.S. companies left empty-handed. Russia, China and Europe came out the big winners.

Today she writes:

So much for the lack of post-surge U.S. business benefits in Iraq, as I wrote last week. Now, what kind of post-surge ally is Iraq?

No kind.

I write in wonder that the ultimate failures of the surge strategy — which include the failure of anything resembling a U.S. ally to emerge in post-Saddam Iraq — have never entered national discourse. Rather, the strategy that “won Iraq” has been mythologized as a “success” to be repeated in Afghanistan.

It’s not that there aren’t hints to the contrary — as when … 42 percent of Iraqis polled by the BBC in March 2008 still thought it “acceptable” to attack U.S. forces. Or when Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, as U.S. forces transferred security responsibilities to Iraqi forces in June, obstreperously declared “victory” over those same U.S. forces! …

Of greater consequence are the positions against U.S. interests Iraq is taking in world affairs.

Take the foundational principle of freedom of speech, continuously under assault by the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) in the international arena. The OIC includes the world’s 57 Muslim nations as represented by kings, heads of state and governments, with policies overseen by the foreign ministers of these same 57 nations. Describing itself as the “collective voice of the Islamic world,” the OIC strives to extend Islamic law throughout the world, and to that end, is the driving force at the United Nations to outlaw criticism of Islam (which includes Islamic law) through proposed bans on the “defamation of religions” — namely, Islam. This is a malignant thrust at the mechanism of Western liberty. Where does post-surge Iraq come down in this crucial ideological struggle?

An OIC nation, Iraq is, with other OIC nations, a signatory to the 1990 Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in Islam. This declaration defines human rights according to Islamic law, which prohibits criticism of Islam. Indeed, Iraq’s U.S.-enabled 2004 constitution enshrines Islamic law above all. Little wonder Iraq consistently votes at the United Nations with the OIC and against the United States on this key ideological divide between Islam and the West, most recently in November.

Then there’s Iran.

Iran may be a menace to the West, but it is also Iraq’s largest trading partner. … This disastrous fact should dampen — at least enter into — assessments of the surge strategy’s “success”.

But it doesn’t. Not even the fact that Bank Melli — the Iranian terror bank outlawed by the U.S. Treasury as a conduit for Iran’s nuclear and terrorist programs — operates a branch in Baghdad gives pause to one-surge-fits-all enthusiasts. The Bank Melli example is particularly egregious because the bank funds Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Qods Force, which is responsible for innumerable American casualties in Iraq — American sacrifices on behalf of Iraq. Guess we’re supposed to look the other way. But that’s like applauding the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) between the United States and Iraq without noticing that the agreement prohibits the United States from attacking Iran (or any other country) from Iraq.

Iraq’s pattern of hostility to U.S. interests continues vis-a-vis Israel, a bona-fide U.S. ally against jihad terror. Whenever Israel strikes back at jihad — whether at Hamas in Gaza or Hezbollah in Lebanon — post-Saddam Iraq is quick to condemn the Jewish state, which, not incidentally, it also continues to boycott with the rest of the Arab League. …

Onto Afghanistan.

… where, even if another military success were to be scored, the chance of that benighted land being transformed into anything significantly better is not just remote but less likely than a Yeti.

Who really hates Obama? 2

Uncountable Republicans and conservatives express outrage over, loathing for, desperation about, fury with Obama, and are amply justified in doing so we believe.

But for sheer contempt for him and rage against him it would be hard to beat this rant – from the far left.

It comes from the pen, dipped in vitriol, of one David Michael Green, a professor of political science [!] at Hofstra University in New York.

His bitter denunciations and criticisms may in some instances coincide with ours, but they don’t of course arise for the same reasons. We deplore Obama’s rapid shifting of America to the left and his turning it into an impoverished, weak, welfare state.

Professor Green (how aptly named he is!) thinks that Obama is failing to take America far enough to the left, so that it is not rapidly becoming a disarmed, egalitarian utopia.

He hates Obama more for failing to transform America into a command-economy collective than we do for his failing to keep America free and strong.

He hates Obama so much – and this is truly astonishing – that he would rather have Sarah Palin as president if that would be the ultimate humiliation for ‘the little prick’.

That a man with such passionately leftist opinions as he obviously holds can become a professor of political science in an American university speaks volumes, if you’re looking for an explanation for how a disciple of the Marxist Saul Alinsky came to be elected to the presidency .

It can reasonably be assumed that the far left broadly shares the views uttered, or spat out, by Professor Green. But what did they expect? That as soon as he entered the Oval Office, Obama would nationalize every business, force the rural population on to collective farms, send all dissidents into re-education camps or forced-labor prisons, make heterosexual marriage illegal, execute Bush and Cheney, recall all American servicemen from Iraq and Afghanistan and punish them for having fought there, force Israel to surrender to Hamas, give trillions of dollars to the Third World to put out ‘the fire’ that the Greens claim is ‘burning up the world’, make us wait all day in line for a loaf of bread at a state store and put our names down for medical treatment at state-run hospitals in preparation for waiting patiently for years to be given the treatment that we might or might not eventually be allowed?

Has this Green, a professor of political science, never heard that politicians ‘cannot legislate too far ahead of public opinion’? Does he not realize, professor of political science though he is, that the Constitution and the institutions of government were designed to prevent such revolutionary change? The answer to both questions is, apparently not.

Here’s part of what he has to say (all of it can be found here):

You know, I’ve really been trying not to write an article every other week about all the things I don’t like about Barack Obama.

But the little prick is making it very hard.

Like any good progressive, I’ve gone from admiration to hope to disappointment to anger when it comes to this president. Now I’m fast getting to rage.

How much rage? I find myself thinking that the thing I want most from the 2010 elections is for his party to get absolutely clobbered, even if that means a repeat of 1994. And that what I most want from 2012 is for him to be utterly humiliated, even if that means President Palin at the helm. That much rage.

Did this clown really say on national television that “I did not run for office to be helping out a bunch of you know, fat cat bankers on Wall Street”?!?!

Really, Barack? So, like, my question is: Then why the hell did you help out a bunch of fat cat bankers on Wall Street?!?! Why the hell did you surround yourself with nothing but Robert Rubin proteges in all the key economic positions in your government? Why did you allow them to open a Washington branch of Goldman Sachs in the West Wing? Why have your policies been tailored to helping Wall Street bankers, rather than the other 300 million of us, who just happen to be suffering badly right now?

Are you freakin’ kidding me??? What’s up with the passive president routine, anyhow, Fool? …

But, really, are you going to spend the next three interminable years perfecting your whiney victim persona? I don’t really think I could bear that. Hearing you complain about how rough it all is, when you have vastly more power than any of us to fix it? Please. Not that.

Are you going to tell us that “I did not run for office to be shovel-feeding the military-industrial complex”? But what they’re just so darned pushy?

“…I did not run for office to continue George Bush’s valiant effort at shredding the Bill of Rights. It’s just that those government-limiting rules are so darned pesky.”

“…I did not run for office to dump a ton of taxpayer money into the coffers of health insurance companies. It’s just that they asked so nicely.”

“…I did not run for office to block equality for gay Americans. I just never got around to doing anything about it.”

“…I did not run for office to turn Afghanistan into Vietnam. I just didn’t want to say no to all the nice generals asking for more troops.”

Here’s a guy who was supposed to actually do something with his presidency, and he’s … being punked by John Boehner, for chrisakes. He’s being rolled by the likes of Joe Lieberman. He calls a come-to-Jesus meeting with Wall Street bank CEOs, and half of them literally phone it in. Everyone from Bibi Netanyahu to the Japanese prime minister to sundry Iranian mullahs is stomping all over Mr. Happy.

And he doesn’t even seem to realize it.

Did you see him tell Oprah that he gave himself “a good solid B+” for his first year in office? And that it will be an A, if he gets his healthcare legislation passed?

Somebody please pick me up and set me back on my chair, wouldya? …

I can’t even begin to describe how insulting Obama conducting a “jobs summit” is to me, or what an unbelievably ham-fisted piece of public relations that was for the White House, which is increasingly showing itself not just to be sickeningly regressive, but also fully inept. I think I speak for a whole lot of Americans when I say that, one year into his stewardship over a destroyed economy that was actually atomizing for at least six months before inauguration day, I don’t want my president sitting around a table, running a dog-and-pony show, pretending to kick around ideas on how to generate jobs. I wanted him to have those ideas, himself, before he was inaugurated. …

If Democrats think they’ll be screwed next November because of unemployment, wait till Congress passes this healthcare monstrosity. Or doesn’t. At this point, either way they’re gonna get slammed for it, and rightly so.

If they don’t pass anything, they will be seen as unable to govern. …

On the other hand, the Democrats and their hapless president are probably in worse shape if they actually pass this legislation. Especially now that it’s been stripped of nearly every real progressive reform imaginable, it has become an incredibly stupid bill, from the political perspective. …

This will be a total train wreck for the Democratic Party … You know, elite Republicans may be sociopaths, and they may be lower on the moral totem pole than your basic cannibal, but they’re not stupid. I bet they’re salivating at the idea that this thing passes. I bet they’d even have Olympia Snowe vote for it if necessary, just to put it over the top. They must be laughing their asses off at this gift. All they have to do is oppose it right down the line, then say “Told ya so!” at the next election, squashing the pathetic Demognats, one after the next. …

This is President Nothingburger’s great gift to America, along with doing nothing about jobs, doing nothing about the Middle East, nothing about civil liberties, nothing about civil rights, and now doing nothing at Copenhagen. Regarding the latter, the world is literally on fire, and he jets in, gives a speech haranguing the delegates that “Now is not the time for talk, now is the time for action”, then splits even before the vote in order to beat the snowstorm headed to the east coast that might delay him getting home to his comfy bed. I’m not kidding. You can’t make this shit up, man.

This guy is killing me, though at the same time I still can’t quite figure him out. …

Is he just massively deluded? I wouldn’t have thought so, but watching the guy give himself a very good grade for 2009 straight face and all during the same year he’s lost twenty points off his job approval rating, and at a moment when even blacks and gays are deserting him, you know, you have to wonder.

Is he happy just to be a one-term president just to say he’s been there and done that, and then sell some more books even if he is reviled as one of the worst in history? … Obama looked like he could’ve been something different. He ain’t. …

Fine and dandy. With the help of political enemies like this, the conservative right may regain the White House in 2012. Strange, though, to have to welcome such allies!

Trusted voices for a better world 1

How can we bear to miss it?

From Politico:

Iranian Prime Minister Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe plan to address negotiators at international climate talks in Copenhagen next week. …

The assistant president of Sudan [ you know, where Dafur is], Nafie Ali Nafie kicks off the speeches at noon on Wednesday. Nafie chairs the G-77 group, a block of developing nations pushing hard for more money and stricter emissions cuts from rich countries.

Mostapha Zaher, director-general of Afghanistan’s Environmental Protection Agency [who knew there was such a splendid thing?], is listed as the final speaker. …

In proportion 2

We took this map from Dry Bones, the Israeli cartoonist. The Islamic states colored yellow all passionately desire the elimination of Israel. Turkey is warming its diplomatic relations with Iran. Iran is not only actively building up its own military power, including a nuclear capability, but also arming proxy forces on Israel’s borders in Lebanon and Gaza. Two more neighboring Islamic states, ostensibly less aggressive towards Israel but in fact no less desirous of its destruction, are Jordan and Egypt. Beyond Jordan lies ruthlessly jihadist Saudi Arabia. Now imagine the whole of Europe as equally hostile Muslim territory, as it almost certainly will be in just a few decades from now. Bear in mind that the present decider-in-chief of US foreign policy is the son of a Muslim, emotionally pro-Islam, and reluctant to take any action to prevent Iran becoming a nuclear-armed power. What are the odds that the tiny sliver of a state called Israel will survive to the end of this century, do you think?

map of Iranian influence

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