In Iraq, similarly, the administration of President George W. Bush is taking flak from the Democrats for the failure of an elected legislature to agree on a new government of national unity. "We should make it very clear to them that we're only going to continue to be there if they work out a political compromise," blustered Senator Carl Levin on Fox News television Sunday. He was criticizing the more moderate comments of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who had immediately preceded him in an interview with host Chris Wallace.
Ms. Rice, who has real responsibilities and by contrast to Mr. Levin has to forego bombast and idle threats, had earlier asserted that what Iraqi leaders are doing now is in fact a part of the democratic process:
...Democracy is a continuum, not something that ends with an election. It is a process through which representatives of various constituencies and points of view work out their differences through persuasion and compromise. It ill-behooves American congressmen to lecture the elected representatives of new democracies when their own inability to come to terms on divisive issues -- such as the immigration question -- is so much on display. They would do better to try to set a better example in their conduct of the public business, rather than circling around like wrestlers in a tag-team match trying to get the upper hand in a contest that is only about power, not policy.
-- George Melloan, Wall Street Journal, March 28, 2006; Page A21
Exactly. Pretender presidential wannabees like Carl Levin should perhaps practice just a little of what they preach. One supposes that Levin would rather these Iraqi leaders fire AK-47s at one another rather than argue over how to run a country.
And, while were at it, when the United States of America creates this mythical government of national unity somebody let me know. I don't know if Carl has been paying attention to election results but it seems to me that this nation has been pretty polarized since 1992.
Boy, even the Wall Street Journal gets in the act (okay, okay, I realize that while their editors are conservative the paper itself is not). Salim Ahmed Hamdan was once Osama bin Laden's driver. He's one of several al Qaeda and Taliban detainees being considered for a military tribunal. My personal opinion is that one need only look at the fiasco court trial of Zacarias Moussaoui to understand why military courts are better designed to try enemy combatants. Anyway, in an article covering Hamdan's defense lawyers arguments the Journal commits the most egregious of misrepresentations:
In a letter to the court, the generals asked Justice Scalia to withdraw from participating in the case because of remarks he made in a recent speech in Switzerland about "enemy combatants." Speaking at the University of Freiberg in Switzerland on March 8, Justice Scalia said foreigners waging war against the U.S. have no rights under the Constitution.
Did you catch that? So now, by the Journal's misrepresentation of what Scalia said, an "enemy combatant" is just a "foreigner waging war against the US"? It's a common yet petty tactic for one side to reword the arguments of the another in order to skew facts. Scalia never termed an enemy combatant as just some foreigner waging war.
Scalia's point is logical. I.e., you don't give a full jury trial to person captured in a war or in combat. Furthermore, that the Left argues we must do so underscores how incompetent our former leaders were in treating terrorism as a law enforcement problem instead of an issue of war and national security. Scalia's critics say he should have recused himself because he made up his mind before the case. But military tribunals are born are constitutionally protected and backed by former US court decisions [for one, Ex parte Quirin, 317 US 1, 37-38 (1942)]. It isn't a new topic and justices do not live in a vacuum.
Also, by design, illegal enemy combatants are not covered by the Geneva Convention because they do not a) follow a direct chain of command, b) use a "fixed distinctive sign recognizable at a distance" [uniform, bandana, whatever], c) carrying arms openly and d) "conduct[ing] their operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war." It's common sense that if we begin protecting combatants who don't follow these rules the combatants who do will decide there's no gain in fighting ethically. We'll all be hijacking plans and ramming them into buildings.
Anyway, the point of the paper's generalization may not be sinister but in an era where Dan Rather was gleefully duped (or not) by forged documents one must wonder if the intent to water down the definition of enemy combatant is to sway public opinion. The collective media doesn't like the tribunal idea, so they butcher the definition to make the proponents of military tribunals look like racist thugs who just want to punish "foreigners waging war."
Can Middle Eastern states put oil resources to better use? Is it possible for free enterprise to thrive in the Arab world? The experience in Iraq suggests that the answer to these questions might be yes. The democratization of Iraq has meant that both foreign and domestic businesses can operate in a freer economic environment. Although media seldom report about this, the Iraqi economy is rapidly growing. According to the report "Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq October 2005," GDP per capita has more than doubled between 2003 and 2005. Compared to pre-war levels the increase was 31 percent. And the future looks bright. According to the Brookings Institution Iraq Index the Iraqi economy is expected to have a real GDP growth of 49 percent in the period 2006-2008. The oil sector has still not recovered to pre-war levels, partially due to the terrorist menace. Still, if Iraq continues on a path to democracy and economic progress, it is a fair assumption that its natural resources will be put to better use. Foreign investors and consumers would most likely appreciate the possibility to buy oil from a country that does not support terrorists or fundamentalist schools abroad.
-- Nima Sanandaji, TCSDaily
There has been a noticeable lack of outrage, and even defense, of Yale's decision to admit Sayed Rahmatullah Hashemi, the former Taliban spokesman turned college student. James Kirchick relays an explanation:
Whether one believes Hashemi should be at Yale or not, his presence has been instructive in one way: It has caused a reckoning at Yale over the issue of cultural relativism.
... Outrage over religious fascism ought to be the province of American liberals. But in Hashemi's case it has been almost entirely trumpeted by Fox News, the Wall Street Journal editorial page and right-wing bloggers. A friend of mine recently remarked that part of his and his peers' nonchalance (and in some cases, support for) Hashemi has to do with the fact that the right has seized upon the issue. Our politics have become so polarized that many are willing to take positions based on the inverse of their opponents'. This abandonment of classical liberal values at the expense of political gamesmanship has consequences that reach far beyond Yale; it hurts our national discourse.
In a bold declaration that she will, with any hope, one day come to regret, Della Sentilles '06 wrote on her feminist Weblog, "Broad Recognition," "As a white American feminist, I do not feel comfortable making statements or judgments about other cultures, especially statements that suggest one culture is more sexist and repressive than another." While I cringe at the implications of this, I applaud its honesty. It lays bare a method of thinking that is quite pervasive on our campus, and that many, if not most, students claim allegiance to. It is at once racist -- for holding non-Westerners to a lower standard of behavior -- and dangerous in its cold abandonment of those who suffer under totalitarian and theocratic regimes. "They shamelessly defer to oppressive religious and cultural norms in the name of respecting diversity, betraying the victims of oppression in the process," British gay-rights activist and self-described "radical, left-wing Green" Peter Tatchell wrote of his comrades on the left who refused to condemn barbaric practices in Muslim societies. Joya has no problem saying Taliban Afghanistan was "more sexist and repressive than" the U.S. Why can't Sentilles?
As with any spin doctor, it is difficult to discern what Hashemi thinks, so crafty is he with language. He is quite adept at getting what he wants from Westerners with guilt complexes, be they adventurous CBS cameramen, Ivy League admissions officers or self-professed "feminists."
I will never understand the Left's love of moral equivalence... One would think this so-called Yale feminist would be a little more inclined to condemn an unelected illiberal dictatorship that whipped women in public for having non-covered ankles, and stoned to death those accused of sex outside of marriage.
But, hey, so long as they can compare Bush to Hitler, right?
The third anniversary of U.S. military action to liberate Iraq has brought with it a relentless stream of media and political pessimism that is unwarranted by the facts and threatens to become a self-fulfilling prophesy if it goes unchallenged.
That's the introduction from an editorial by the Wall Street Journal editors. Self-fulfilling prophesy is exactly right, but what's saddest of all are the large numbers of persons who hope for that prophesy to come true. Moreover, we have political parties, groups and persons in this country who pursue this defeatism as active policy. Not just in thought, but in words and deed they actively work to bring about our defeat in Iraq.
It's largely based on the same theme we've seen since the 2000 election: oppose all things Bush. It's further unified by common 20th century liberal extremist notions of antiwar, anti-capitalism, anti-globalism, self-blame, and schadenfreude. Lately, however, the defeatism has been seeping into the Republican Congress, especially those spineless types more interested in election polling than principles. These jellyfish for the most part haven't been willing to fight Democrats on issues as simple as judicial nominations or tax cuts. Should it really be a surprise then that they're going wobbly on Iraq?
I hate the Vietnam to Iraq analogies, but there are some worth pointing out. Some argue Vietnam was lost because we didn't use enough troops, as though another couple hundred thousand on top of the 500,000 already there would have magically produced a tipping point; others argue the point, with a little more merit, that we waited too long to bomb the hell out of North Vietnam; others, with whom I'd agree the most, point out that we foolishly tried to fight insurgents with conventional tactics instead of with our own insurgents (special forces).
But whatever your view on the perils of Vietnam, and it is indeed complicated, I think it's hard to disagree that we won the battles and lost the war because of public opinion (I'd argue often misguided). Furthermore, it's impossible to argue against the historical fact that when the US betrayed its South Vietnamese allies and pulled out we enabled a blood bath against the south that carried over into Laos and Cambodia's killing fields. (You can label the escalation misguided good intentions if you please, but betrayal of our allies is proper description).
Of course, Iraq is not Vietnam. Missed in all the pessimism is that time is on our side in Iraq - every day a US soldier spends in Iraq is a day an Iraqi soldier has more time to properly learn how to be a professional soldier and protect his own country; a day in which the Iraqi government's legs grow stronger; a day in which regional dictators lose more credibility as their populations say, "if Iraqis, why not us?"
This war's opponents breathlessly state that the Bush administration - but strangely not the Democrats like John F. Kerry or Hillary Clinton, who voted to go to war - "created" terrorists in Iraq (as though Iraq was a paradise where Arab terrorists didn't train how to hijack on a Boeing 707 at Salman Pak; as though Saddam didn't fund Islamic suicide bombers in Hamas; or put "Allah is Great" on the Iraqi flag; or create his own Islamic based paramilitary group (Saddam's Fadayeen); or whose security services allowed al Qaeda's Abu Zarqawi to have major surgery in Baghdad after being wounded in Afghanistan; or whose captured government documents, video and audio bites are filled with references to Allah -- this is "secular"?).
The truth, however, is that the war's opponents miss the obvious corollary: The Bush Administration produced far, far more democrats (small "d," as in those who practice democracy) then anything else - up to 15 million in the last Iraqi election alone, to be exact.
Well, let's just pray that the Iraqis have a bit more resolve then we.
[WSJ]...it's worth thinking through what would happen if the U.S. does fail in Iraq. By fail, we mean cut and run before giving Iraqis the time and support to establish a stable, democratic government that can stand on its own. Beyond almost certain chaos in Iraq, here are some other likely consequences:
* The U.S. would lose all credibility on weapons proliferation. One doesn't have to be a dreamy-eyed optimist about democracy to recognize that toppling Saddam Hussein was a milestone in slowing the spread of WMD. Watching the Saddam example, Libya's Moammar Gadhafi decided he didn't want to be next. Gadhafi's "voluntary" disarmament in turn helped uncover the nuclear network run by Pakistani scientist A.Q. Khan and Iran's two decades of deception.
Now Iran is dangerously close to acquiring nuclear weapons, a prospect that might yet be headed off by the use or threat of force. But if the U.S. retreats from Iraq, Iran's mullahs will know that we have no stomach to confront them and coercive diplomacy will have no credibility. An Iranian bomb, in turn, would inspire nuclear efforts in other Mideast countries and around the world.
* Broader Mideast instability. No one should underestimate America's deterrent effect in that unstable region, a benefit that would vanish if we left Iraq precipitously. Iran would feel free to begin unfettered meddling in southern Iraq with the aim of helping young radicals like Moqtada al-Sadr overwhelm moderate clerics like the Grand Ayatollah Sistani.
Syria would feel free to return to its predations in Lebanon and to unleash Hezbollah on Israel. Even allies like Turkey might feel compelled to take unilateral, albeit counterproductive steps, such as intervening in northern Iraq to protect their interests. Every country in the Middle East would make its own new calculation of how much it could afford to support U.S. interests. Some would make their own private deals with al Qaeda, or at a minimum stop aiding us in our pursuit of Islamists.
* We would lose all credibility with Muslim reformers. The Mideast is now undergoing a political evolution in which the clear majority, even if skeptical of U.S. motives, agrees with the goal of more democracy and accountable government. They have watched as millions of Iraqis have literally risked their lives to vote and otherwise support the project. Having seen those Iraqis later betrayed, other would-be reformers would not gamble their futures on American support. Nothing could be worse in the battle for Muslim "hearts and minds" than to betray our most natural allies.
* We would invite more terrorist attacks on U.S. soil. Osama bin Laden said many times that he saw the weak U.S. response to Somalia and the Khobar Towers and USS Cole bombings as evidence that we lacked the will for a long fight. The forceful response after 9/11 taught al Qaeda otherwise, but a retreat in Iraq would revive that reputation for American weakness. While Western liberals may deny any connection between Iraq and al Qaeda, bin Laden and the rest of the Arab world see it clearly and would advertise a U.S. withdrawal as his victory. Far from leaving us alone, bin Laden would be more emboldened to strike the U.S. homeland with a goal of driving the U.S. entirely out of the Mideast.
We could go on, but our point is that far more is at stake in Iraq than President Bush's approval rating or the influence of this or that foreign-policy faction. U.S. credibility and safety are at risk in the most direct way imaginable, far more than they were in Vietnam. In that fight, we could establish a new anti-Communist perimeter elsewhere in Southeast Asia. The poison of radical Islam will spread far and wide across borders if it can make even a plausible claim to being on the ascendancy, and nothing would show that more than the retreat of America from Iraq.
We still believe victory in Iraq is possible, indeed likely, notwithstanding its costs and difficulties. But the desire among so many of our political elites to repudiate Mr. Bush and his foreign policy is creating a dangerous public pessimism that could yet lead to defeat--a defeat whose price would be paid by all Americans, and for years to come.
Here's my favorite. I bet Oliver Stone is thinking, "If only I had waited 10 more years to make JFK!!!"
"From the river to the sea,
Palestine will be free!
Apparently this was a common chant among the "peaceful" "anti-war" protesters. In case you don't know your geography and history, Israel exists on the Mediterranean Sea, and thus the protesters - like the murderous terrorist groups of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah, et. al. - are arguing that Israel should be defeated militarily and wiped off the face of the Earth. Call it a second Holocaust. "Peace" again, eh?
As one pundit - Glenn "Instapundit" Reynolds - put it a while back, they're not anti-war, they're just rooting for the other side - the side that once oppressed all of Eastern Europe and the Far East, and now the side that flies airplanes into buildings. But, at least when they're in their element they're honest about their intentions.
By the way, if you need a reminder about what these "peace" protesters are really defending, click here.
...the UAE company's role here might result in better security implementation for the cargo container terminals than would otherwise have been possible.
Two factors explain potentially improved security under DP World management. The first is merely deductive. Given the intense furor already stirred to life in the media, the pressure to assure security could rise to a make-or-break agenda item for the ambitious company which already operates more than 40 terminals around the world.
Even before the media firestorm, a member of the U.S. committee that originally approved the DP World deal said that because the company is Persian Gulf-based it has "a strong incentive to make sure [terrorist threats to U.S. ports] never materialize." If anything, that incentive doubled when critics made a billboard issue of the deal.
That's by Robert Green, over at TCS Daily.
Boy, that point is so good and so obvious I'm kicking myself for not have stating it first. It's a perfectly reasonable deduction that the media scrutiny would have led to security in at least six of our ports. As it stands now the US does not inspect - at least not enough to prevent a terror attack - 95% of our shipping cargo containers. That's not going to change regardless of who owns (not controls) the deeds to the ports. And it also doesn't change that the security at the port of origin is far more important than the security at the port of arrival. Anyway, I've certainly argued that enough here, here, here, here and here.
The remainder of Green's article dealt with the massive technology apparatus Dubai Ports has constructed to ensure security founded, in part, because they long ago had to deal with the Western perception that an Arab company would be incapable of ensuring security.
Well, it's all moot now because the Dubai Ports Company has decided to divest its American port holdings - those six ports it would have attained in the final deal. An American company will now own those six ports, so we can all get back to not worrying about that 95% of shipping containers not checked.
There... don't you feel safer now?
Americans are "xenophobic" about globalization, Port of Seattle official says, but like their "$1.98 underwear at Wal-Mart."
-- quote of the day, courtesy of the Wall Street Journal.
What I'm wondering, and what Larry Kudlow of CNBC mentions below, is what is to become in the aftermath. After all, Dubai Ports is hardly the only foreign - or Arab - entity operating in the US. Will these same Democrats who suddenly discovered national security be applying these same standards to, say, Egypt Air flights into JFK Airport? Will Republicans who sold their free-market souls during this debacle now mimic liberal Democrat union coddling and economic protectionism?
Looks like that might be the case, according to the Wall Street Journal:
The House Appropriations Committee directed the Bush administration to put its airline plan on hold. "Congress must exercise vigorous and very careful oversight over these agencies to be sure we’re protecting American sovereignty and American control over these industries," said Rep. John Culberson (R., Texas), who sponsored the airline amendment to an emergency spending bill for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan along with Hurricane Katrina aid. [yes, call it pork barrel protectionism]
The Bush administration has said the regulation would help attract foreign investors. It is also an important step toward sealing an "open skies" deal with the European Union, allowing for deregulated flow of airline traffic across the Atlantic. The Europeans have said they won’t approve the deal without the rule change on foreign control.
Continental Airlines, which opposes the open skies agreement, brought the issue to the attention of Culberson, who represents Houston, where Continental is headquartered. Opponents acknowledge the fury over the Dubai deal has helped. "It’s good timing," said Edward Wytkind, president of the Transportation Trades Department of the AFL-CIO.
So now Appropriations Committee Republicans are in bed with the AFL-CIO? The AFL-CIO cares nothing about free markets or how competition keeps prices lower for all consumers. Mr. Wytkind in three small words all but admits he could care less about security so long as his job is Congressionally protected (a luxury you and I don't have in our job). Republicans, meanwhile, can whore themselves out to Democratically-owned unions all they want but it won't gain them any votes come November. In fact, the GOP disgusts me so much I may just forget to vote this time. After all, if they're just going to act like Democrats...
Larry Kudlow wonder points out that one of the few American companies capable of operating the Ports is... Halliburton! Ha ha ha ha ha! Stupid, stupid Democrats. Anyway, here's Kudlow on protectionism:
But the big question is whether foreign investors are being repelled by neo-protectionist American politicians who are using phony national security reasons to advance an anti-trade, anti-investment, xenophobic agenda. This is a point that Steve Moore over at the WSJ is putting forth and it is vitally important. Do we really want to tell foreign capital not to come here? Do we want it in China? Russia? Brazil?
An international think tank estimates that U.S. jobs from foreign direct investment average over $60,000 per job; 34 percent more than U.S. capitalized jobs.
Today's stock market opened up, but at precisely 2:00 p.m. EST when the Dubai Ports World sale was announced, stocks turned tail and closed down 33 points on the day. What does that tell you?
Do we really want to send a message to world investors that we don't want their capital? Do we really want a political surrender to protectionism? Do we really want to emulate the political economy of Smoot Hawley of the 1930s? I don't think so.
And stupid, stupid so-called free-market Republicans.
In any event, the politics of this could actually help Bush. Two conservative writers (one who was for, and one who opposed the Dubai deal) agree:
First, Tom Bevan:
Will this be the end of it? I suspect so. Bush saves face and doesn't have to make good on a veto threat. A Republican-led Congress looks good to its constituents (and feels good about itself) for flexing its muscle and derailing the deal.
Next, Mark Levin:
Thanks goes to the House Republicans. The Appropriations Committee vote was so overwhelming, that the UAE got the message and is now pulling the ports deal. Hence, there will be no confrontation with the president, or embarrassing veto override. And the reaction from Harry Reid, Chuck Schumer, and the appeasement wing of the Senate is hilarious: Reid is demanding a vote on a deal that no longer exists and Schumer is insisting on seeing the details of the now defunct deal. It's not easy being a weak-on-defense liberal.
Well, I won't say "thanks," but at least Democrats can no longer pretend to care about national security. They're back to opposing Guantanamo, spying on al Qaeda, and fretting if terrorists are tortured (while defining "torture" in the broadest of terms, like "forced feeding").
Only in Bizarro World can some classify "forced feeding" as "torture," particularly considering the alternative is death. But here we are. US District Judge Gladys Kessler is considering prohibiting the US military from feeding by force prisoners - aka, Al Qaeda and Taliban terrorists captured during the war in Afghanistan - on hunger strikes at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Judge Kessler is considering the case of Mohammed Bawazir, a Yemeni captured in 2002.
[NY Times] A prisoner at the American-run detention center in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, who says he was tortured when the authorities subjected him to force-feeding in a restraining chair to break his hunger strike, asked a federal district judge Thursday to intervene in his case.
But Justice Department officials said that the forced feeding of the detainee, Mohammed Bawazir, had been humane and that Mr. Bawazir had mostly fabricated any discomfort he suffered. Moreover, government lawyers suggested that the judge, Gladys Kessler, refrain from ruling on the case until higher courts resolved whether a recently enacted law stripped district judges of the power to hear such cases.
...Mr. Bawazir's lawyers, in seeking court intervention, had said he cooperated in being fed through a nasal tube when the military "suddenly changed tactics implementing torture to coerce Mr. Bawazir and other Guantánamo Bay detainees to quit their hunger strike."
Bawazir claims he was restrained and forced to urinate and deficate on himself. Military lawyers say Bawazir was restrained "to prevent him from sabotaging the process by purging" and that "Mr. Bawazir had been allowed use of a toilet before and after the process."
What's more disturbing about this? That every Leftist from Human Rights Watch to The Hague has no problem accepting without challenge the word of a terrorist over the US military, or that had the military not intervened and allowed Bawazir to die these same leftists would right now be crying foul for "starving to death" this terrorist?
Bawazir, who like most Islamic jihadists caught on the battlefield, would likely not think twice about dragging a knife across the throat of any Human Rights Watch guru in his oversight, and who asks not the political affiliation of persons before ramming their hijacked airliner into a building, at most - at most! - suffered discomfort. But the alternative was to allow him to die. Yet the US military is vilified applying medical treatment? Yes, Dorothy, you're in Bizarro World.
Let's remember that Guantanamo is for the worst of the worst. People aren't - as the media often baselessly alledge - just indiscriminately thrown in there. The Pentagon first vets the prisoners to ensure that they are exactly whom the military suspects them to be. According to the Montery Herald's interview of Air Force Col. Barry Coble, "Of approximately 90,000 detainees taken into custody since the 9/11 terrorist attacks... 70,000 have since been released." Col. Coble, chief of the detainee affairs division for the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon, says detainees include "terrorist trainers and recruiters, bombers, former bodyguards of Osama bin Laden, potential suicide bombers." I.e., much, much worse your average grand theft felony or crack cocaine dealer. If Human Rights Watch wasn't a joke you think they'd be just as outraged at the commonplace anal rape that occurs at most American prisons, not [gasp] forced medical care at highly professional, highly structured military ones.
Lastly, Col. Coble affirms what most educated persons know - Geneva Rights Conventions apply only to uniformed, recognizable soldiers who carry arms openly, operate in a chain of command, and who operate in the "laws and customs of war" - in other words, all the things your average disguised, suicide bomber targeting civilians terrorist does not do.
It gets better. Speaking of comparisons between military oversight at Guantanamo and your average anal-rape state prison, a European prison expert on tour from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) claimed that detainee treatment at Guantanamo Bay is better then the average Belgian jail.
[While noting some cruelty in holding people indefinitely] "At the level of the detention facilities, it is a model prison, where people are better treated than in Belgian prisons," said [Alain] Grignard [deputy head of Brussels' federal police anti-terrorism unit].
Grignard told a news conference that prisoners' right to practice their religion, food, clothes and medical care were better than in Belgian prisons.
"I know no Belgian prison where each inmate receives its Muslim kit," Grignard said.
Grignard said that while Guantanamo was not "idyllic," he had noticed dramatic improvements each time he visited the facility over the last two years.
The head of the OSCE lawmakers in the delegation said she was happy with the medical facilities at the camp, adding she believed they had been improved recently.
Anne-Marie Lizin, chair of the Belgian Senate, told reporters at the same news conference she saw no point in calling for immediate closure of the detention camp.
"There needs to be a timetable for closure," said Lizin, but asking for immediate closure would have been unrealistic.
Well, we'll make Ms. Lizin a deal - when there are no more militant Islamic fundamentalists we'll close Guantanamo. Until then...
Unfortunately, common-sense reports on Guantanamo like the above wire from Reuters are frequently drown out by the baseless, idiotic and breathless creative writing which the mainstream media masses produce without end.
Meanwhile according to training manuals of al Qaeda operatives captured in Afghanistan, al Qaeda operatives are specifically taught to claim torture and mistreatment at the hands of the state security in which they were captured. The manual also mentions hunger strike as a tactic that "can either succeed or fail." (Note: you can find the manual at websites for either The Smoking Gun or the Federation of American Scientists).
Vladimir Lenin once termed the USSR's Western sympathizers as "useful idiots." How do you say that in Arabic?
As it's a few nights after the Oscars I want to pass along this excellent piece and points made by the always humorous Mark Steyn:
George Clooney’s triple Oscar nominations for acting, writing, and directing are said to be a significant moment in the life of the nation, and not just by George Clooney, though his effusions on his own "bravery" certainly set a high mark. "We jumped in on our own," he said, discussing Good Night, and Good Luck with Entertainment Weekly. "And there was no reason to think it was going to get any easier. But people in Hollywood do seem to be getting more comfortable with making these sorts of movies now. People are becoming braver."
Wow. He was brave enough to make a movie about Islam’s treatment of women? Oh, no, wait. That was the Dutch director Theo van Gogh: He had his throat cut and half-a-dozen bullets pumped into him by an enraged Muslim who left an explanatory note pinned to the dagger he stuck in his chest. At last year’s Oscars, the Hollywood crowd were too busy championing the "right to dissent" in the Bushitler tyranny to find room even to namecheck Mr. van Gogh in the montage of the deceased. Bad karma. Good night, and good luck.
No, Mr. Clooney was the fellow “brave” enough to make a movie about — cue drumroll as I open the envelope for Most Predictable Direction — the McCarthy era!
How about that? I don’t know about you but I was getting so sick of the sycophantic Joe McCarthy biopics churned out year in year out — Nathan Lane in McCarthy! The Musical was the final straw — that thank God someone finally had the “bravery” to exercise his “right to dissent.” I only hope George Clooney isn’t found dead in the street at the hands of some crazed nonagenarian HUAC member.
He’s got some tough competition, of course. This year’s five Best Picture nominees are all “films that broach the tough issues,” as USA Today put it: “Brokeback and Capote for their portrayal of gay characters; Crash for its examination of racial tension; Night for its call for more watchdog journalism; and Munich for its take.” Whoops, my mistake. That should be “Munich for its take on terrorism.” In their combined take at the box office, these Best Picture nominees have the lowest grosses since 1986. That means very few people have seen them. Which in turn means these Oscars are likely to have the lowest audience ever. Okay, maybe not ever. In 1929, they handed them out to an audience of 270 in the Blossom Room at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, and no doubt by the time you add in overseas viewership from the many chapters of the Jon Stewart Fan Club this year’s audience will be up around 309.
The fact that hardly anybody has seen these films does not in and of itself mean that they’re not artistic masterpieces. That’s why the Oscars are important: They can shine a light on undeservedly neglected art-house jewels that might otherwise get overlooked. But you couldn’t exactly call Brokeback Mountain overlooked. It’s the Jungfrau, it’s the peak of cinematic achievement. It’s an Everest papered from base camp to summit in rave reviews. And in the week the Oscar nominations were announced the world’s most ballyhooed art-house obscurity added another 435 theaters to its outlets — and business declined 13 percent.
Maybe it’s because Americans are homophobes. Or maybe it’s because these films are not as “controversial” as Hollywood thinks.
...“I’m an old-time liberal and I don’t apologize for it,” Clooney told Newsweek.
Good for him. And certainly, regardless of how liberal he is, he’s undeniably “old-time.” I don’t mean in the sense that he has the gloss of an old-time movie star, the nearest our age comes to the sheen of Cary Grant in a Stanley Donen picture, but that his politics are blessedly undisturbed by any developments on the global scene since circa 1974. Clooney’s other Oscar movie, Syriana, in which he stars and exec-produces, reveals that behind a murky Middle East conspiracy lies . . . the CIA and Big Oil! In Good Night, and Good Luck, he’s produced a film set in the McCarthy era that could have been made in the Jimmy Carter era. That’s to say, it takes into account absolutely nothing that has come to light in the last quarter-century — not least the relevant KGB files on Soviet penetration of America. To take one example that could stand for Clooney’s entire approach to the subject, Good Night includes shocking scenes of Senator McCarthy accusing Annie Lee Moss, who worked in a highly sensitive decoding job in the Pentagon, of being a Communist, and the heroic Edward R. Murrow then denouncing McCarthy’s behavior.
But we now know, from the party’s own files, that Miss Moss was, indeed, a Communist. What should we conclude from the absence of this detail in the picture? That Clooney, who goes around boasting that every moment in the screenplay has been “double-sourced” for accuracy, simply doesn’t know she’s a Commie? Or that he does know but thinks it’s harmless? That she, like he and Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon, is merely exercising her all-American “right to dissent,” in her case in the Pentagon Signal Corps’ code room? If so, that’s a subtly different argument than Murrow was making: It’s one thing to argue that it’s all a paranoid fantasy on the part of obsessed Red-baiters, quite another to shrug, hey, sure they were Commies, but what’s the big deal?
Or is it that Clooney doesn’t care either way? That what matters is the “meta-narrative” — the journalist as hero, “speaking truth to power,” no matter if the journalist is wrong and wields more power than most politicians. Even if one discounts the awkward fact that these days CBS News is better known for speaking twaddle to power — over the fake National Guard memos to which Dan Rather remains so attached — the reality is that the idea of the big media crusader simply doesn’t resonate with any section of the American public other than the big media themselves. Indeed, if you wanted to create a film designed to elicit rave reviews from the critics, you could hardly do better than a McCarthy-era story built around a Watergate-style heroic reporter, unless you made the reporter gay. The media seem to have fallen for it, with the splendid exception of Armond White in the New York Press who said Clooney was far more hagiographic of his subject than Mel Gibson was in The Passion of the Christ.
This is the Platonic reductio of political art. Say what you like about those Hollywood guys in the Thirties but they were serious about their leftism. Say what you like about those Hollywood guys in the Seventies but they were serious about their outrage at what was done to the lefties in the McCarthy era — though they might have been better directing their anger at the movie-industry muscle that enforced the blacklist. By comparison, Clooney’s is no more than a pose — he’s acting at activism, new Hollywood mimicking old Hollywood’s robust defense of even older Hollywood. He’s more taken by the idea of “speaking truth to power” than by the footling question of whether the truth he’s speaking to power is actually true.
That’s why Hollywood prefers to make “controversial” films about controversies that are settled, rousing itself to fight battles long won. Go back to USA Today’s approving list of Hollywood’s willingness to “broach the tough issues”: “Brokeback and Capote for their portrayal of gay characters; Crash for its examination of racial tension . . .” That might have been “bold” “courageous” movie-making half-a-century ago. Ever seen the Dirk Bogarde film Victim? He plays a respectable married barrister whose latest case threatens to expose his homosexuality. That was 1961, when homosexuality was illegal in the United Kingdom and Bogarde was the British movie industry’s matinee idol and every schoolgirl’s pinup: That’s brave. Doing it at a time when your typical conservative politician gets denounced as “homophobic” because he’s only in favor of civil unions is just an exercise in moral self-congratulation. And, unlike the media, most of the American people are savvy enough to conclude that by definition that doesn’t require their participation.
... Three months after 9/11, George Clooney was asked what he wanted for Christmas. “I want,” he said, “one day when nobody is getting shot at. Call a truce for a day.” Our own Jay Nordlinger remarked at the time that this was “a child’s response,” correctly noting “the implied moral randomness . . . People are just shooting at each other, you know, and shooting at each other is bad.” If you want stories about journalists, nobody was shooting on the day the Wall Street Journal’s Daniel Pearl had his head sawed off. If you want stories about “racial tensions,” nobody was shooting on the day British expat Ken Bigley was similarly decapitated. Hollywood’s “bravery” is an almost pathological retreat: It’s against segregated drinking fountains in Alabama and blacklisting writers on 1950s variety shows. It’s in danger of becoming an oldies station with only three records.
I noticed the other day that Nigeria now has the third biggest movie industry in the world, after Hollywood and Bollywood. In the showbiz capital of West Africa, you can make a feature for 40,000 bucks. What talk radio did to network news and the Internet is doing to monopoly newspapers, someone will eventually do to the big studios, and one day we may wind up with a Hollywood in which, as Clooney might say, nothing is getting shot. In the meantime, Danish cartoonists are in hiding for their lives but George Clooney will be televised around the world picking up an award for his bravery.
Give me four years to teach the children and the seed I have sown will never
be uprooted. -- Vladimir Lenin
This week a very brave 16-year-old high school sophomore named Sean Allen decided to take the rantings of his teacher public by providing a local radio station, KHOW Radio, a 20-minute class room recording. The teacher, Jay Bennish, apparently on a daily basis, uses his Geography class to attack all things Bush, conservative, and capitalist, in that order.
Of course, Mr. Bannish's hatred isn't just towards the right-wing of American politics. One supposes that would at least be typical of many of America's public educators. No, Mr. Bannish is so out of wack he uses his class - again, a geography class - to tout Karl Marx's Communist Manifesto. The Manifesto, you may recall, promoted abolishing rights to private property; abolishing inheritance; heavy progressive taxation; production means owned only by the state, and elimination of all private, decentralized banking, among other things.
Somewhere, perhaps in a very hot place, Lenin is smiling.
It's bad enough that Bannish isn't teaching his class a damn thing about geography. It's worse that Bannish distorts history and facts to the point of comedy - sure, it's easy for an educated 30-something to debunk, but how many teenaged high school students will buy into Bannish's lies hook, line and sinker?
In all this, don't get me started on First Amendment smoke-and-mirror defenses. Bannish still has the right to protest, to write letters to his local news editors and news stations, to form advocacy groups or political action committees, to write "Bush lied people died" on poster board and protest the street corner, or outside the White House for that matter.
What Bannish absolutely does not have is a right to brainwash the undeveloped minds of children in his class with personal propaganda that is never sanctioned by any parent-school authority! It is truly outrageous. Indeed, were it truly protected so, with that same First Amendment defense a teacher could just as lawfully purport the advantages of segregation or teach anti-Semitic Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
Perhaps it's more press then Bannish deserves, but loggers and conservative columnists are taking Bannish not just to task for his methods, but for his facts too.
Blogger Dignan dissects here.
However, a few additions could include that it's absolutely false that the US "sold missiles, tanks, guns and planes to [Iran and Iraq]." Iranian and Iraqi armed forces used Soviet-made tanks (T72s), Migs and Kalashnikov rifles (not M-16s). Americans issued loans and civilian helicopters and trucks which were converted by these states into military hardware. The missiles provided to Iran, noted by Dignan, was done in a well-intended but foolish attempt to trade for the lives of Americans taken hostage by Iran.
These blanket statements are also lacking any context. The Iran-Iraq war was very much central to the Cold War. It is ugly and regrettable but at the time the only way the US could stop the territorial expansion of Soviet satellites was by providing support to the other side. Indeed, because the Cold War has ended, and because we won, the US was able to cut its support of illiberal regimes. We're finally in a position to rectify the damage of the 50-year Cold War. But don't expect the Bannishes to include that in their curriculum.
Most disgusting of all is Bannish's use of moral equivalency. To Bannish, there is no difference between liberal, constitutional democracies in the West or Israel, and the autocratic, illiberal regimes in the Arab world. This simple but fundamental fact is why Israeli WMD is no threat to the Arab world so long as the Arab world finally renounce their goal to destroy Israel. Israel's weaponry is to ensure the survival of a liberal, free-market, constitutional state. Arab regimes seek WMD not to protect the liberties of their masses, but to keep those masses powerless and from toppling them.
Indeed, were Israel or the US as bad as our enemies in al Qaeda, as Bannish implies, then there would be no Muslim man, woman or child left on planet Earth. It is our measured response and refusal to indiscriminately kill - unlike them - that separates and legitimizes us.
Let's start off with a few quotations, then a question. In reference to the president's State of the Union: "Sounds a lot like the things Adolf Hitler used to say." "Bush is threatening the whole planet." "[The] U.S. wants to keep the world divided." Then the speaker asks, "Who is probably the most violent nation on the planet?" and shouts "The United States!"
What's the source of these statements? Were they made in the heat of a political campaign? Was it a yet-to-be captured leader of al Qaeda? Was it French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin? Any "yes" answer would miss the true source by a mile. All of those statements were made by Mr. Jay Bennish, a teacher at Overland High School in Aurora, Colo.
During this class session, Mr. Bennish peppered his 10th-grade geography class with other statements like: The U.S. has engaged in "7,000 terrorist attacks against Cuba." In his discussion of capitalism, he told his students, "Capitalism is at odds with humanity, at odds with caring and compassion and at odds with human rights."
Regardless of whether you're pro-Bush or anti-Bush, pro-American or anti-American, I'd like to know whether there's anyone who believes that the teacher's remarks were appropriate for any classroom setting, much less a high school geography class. It's clear the students aren't being taught geography. They're getting socialist lies and propaganda. According to one of the parents, on the first day of class, the teacher said Karl Marx's "Communist Manifesto" was going to be a part of the curriculum.
This kind of indoctrination is by no means restricted to Overland High School. School teachers, at all grades, often use their classroom for environmental, anti-war, anti-capitalist and anti-parent propaganda. Some get their students to write letters to political figures condemning public policy the teacher doesn't like. Dr. Thomas Sowell's "Inside American Education" documents numerous ways teachers attack parental authority. Teachers have asked third-graders, "How many of you ever wanted to beat up your parents?" In a high school health class, students were asked, "How many of you hate your parents?"
Public education propaganda is often a precursor for what youngsters might encounter in college. UCLA's Bruin Standard newspaper documents campus propaganda. Mary Corey, UCLA history professor, instructed her class, "Capitalism isn't a lie on purpose. It's just a lie," she continued, "[Capitalists] are swine. . . . They're bastard people." Professor Andrew Hewitt, chairman of UCLA's Department of Germanic Languages, told his class, "Bush is a moron, a simpleton, and an idiot." His opinion of the rest of us: "American consumerism is a very unique thing; I don't think anyone else lusts after money in such a greedy fashion." Rod Swanson, economics professor, told his class, "The United States of America, backed by facts, is the greediest and most selfish country in the world." Terri Anderson, a sociology professor, assigned her class to go out cross-dressed in a public setting for four hours. Photos or videotape were required as proof of having completed the assignment.
The Bruin Alumni Association caused quite a stir when it offered to pay students for recordings of classroom proselytizing. The UCLA administration, wishing to conceal professorial misconduct, threatened legal action against the group. Some professors labeled the Bruin Alumni Association's actions as McCarthyism and attacks on academic freedom. These professors simply want a free hand to proselytize students.
Brainwashing and proselytization is by no means unique to UCLA. Taxpayers ought to de-fund, and donors should cut off contributions to colleges where administrators condone or support academic dishonesty. At the K-12 schools, parents should show up at schools, PTAs and board of education meetings demanding that teachers teach reading, writing and arithmetic and leave indoctrination to parents. The most promising tool in the fight against teacher proselytization is the micro-technology available that can expose the academic misconduct.
-- Walt Williams
Charles Krauthammer's take on George Clooney's Oscar best screenplay nominated "Syriana": Osama bin Laden himself could not have produced a more grossly anti-American piece of propaganda.
The political hero is the Arab prince who wants to end corruption, inequality and oppression in his country. As he tells his tribal elders, he intends to modernize his country by bringing the rule of law, market efficiency, women's rights and democracy.
What do you think happens to him? He, his beautiful wife and beautiful children are murdered, incinerated, by a remote-controlled missile, fired from CIA headquarters in Langley, no less -- at the very moment that (this passes for subtle cross-cutting film editing) his evil younger brother, the corrupt rival to the throne and puppet of the oil company, is being hailed at a suitably garish ``oilman of the year'' celebration populated by fat and ugly Americans.
What is grotesque about this moment of plot clarity is that the overwhelmingly obvious critique of actual U.S. policy in the real Middle East today is its excess of Wilsonian idealism in trying to find and promote -- against a tide of tyranny, intolerance and fanaticism -- local leaders like the Good Prince. Who in the greater Middle East is closest to ``Syriana's'' modernizing, democratizing paragon? Without a doubt, President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan, a man of exemplary -- and quite nonfictional -- personal integrity, physical courage and democratic temperament. Hundreds of brave American (and allied NATO) soldiers have died protecting him and the democratic system they established to allow him to govern. On the very night the Oscars will be honoring ``Syriana,'' American soldiers will be fighting, some perhaps dying, in defense of precisely the kind of tolerant, modernizing Muslim leader that ``Syriana'' shows America slaughtering.
It gets worse. The most pernicious element in the movie is the character who is at the moral heart of the film: the physically beautiful, modest, caring, generous Pakistani who becomes a beautiful, modest, caring, generous ... suicide bomber. In his final act, the Pure One, dressed in the purest white robes, takes his explosives-laden little motorboat head first into his target. It is a replay of the real-life boat that plunged into the USS Cole in 2000, killing 17 American sailors, except that in ``Syriana's'' version, the target is another symbol of American imperialism in the Persian Gulf -- a newly opened liquefied natural gas terminal.
The explosion, which would have the force of a nuclear bomb, constitutes the moral high point of the movie, the moment of climactic cleansing, as the Pure One clad in white merges with the great white mass of the huge terminal wall, at which point the screen goes pure white. And reverently silent.
In my naivete, I used to think that Hollywood had achieved its nadir with Oliver Stone's ``JFK,'' a film that taught a generation of Americans that President Kennedy was assassinated by the CIA and the FBI in collaboration with Lyndon Johnson. But at least it was for domestic consumption, an internal affair of only marginal interest to other countries. ``Syriana,'' however, is meant for export, carrying the most vicious and pernicious mendacities about America to a receptive world.
Most liberalism is angst- and guilt-ridden, seeing moral equivalence everywhere. ``Syriana'' is of a different species entirely -- a pathological variety that burns with the certainty of its malign anti-Americanism. Osama bin Laden could not have scripted this film with more conviction.
[Robert Novak] While Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton was ripping President Bush's handling of American ports management, Bill Clinton was pushing for one of his favorite White House aides to be hired to defend the deal. The former president proposed to the United Arab Emirates his onetime press secretary, Joe Lockhart, as Washington spokesman for the UAE-owned company, Dubai Ports World.
...According to well-placed UAE sources, the former president made the suggestion at the very highest level of the oil-rich state. The relationship between him and the UAE is far from casual. The sheikdom has contributed to the Clinton Presidential Library, and brought Clinton to Dubai in 2002 and 2005 for speeches (reportedly at $300,000 apiece). He was there in 2003 to announce a scholarship program for American students traveling to Dubai. Certainly, the emirs would pay the closest attention to any request from the former president. Lockhart did confer with DP World officials, but the UAE sources said Lockhart's asking price was much too high.
Lockhart did not flatly deny that Clinton had made a pitch for him, but instead said he did not know whether the former president was involved. Lockhart said he was recommended by another Clintonite: Carol Browner, the former Environmental Protection Agency chief and now a principal in the Albright Group lobbying firm. Headed by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, the company is representing DP World. Lockhart told me ''money was not the problem'' as he turned down the offer.
Now, reaaaaally... If the United Arab Emirites is truly some dagger-behind-the-back friend to the United States would the former commander of US Central Command, General Tommy Franks, the guy who ran the friggin war in Afghanistan, be supporting them in their bid to become a holding company for six US ports?
Read how deftly he handles both Sean Hannity and Alan Combs:
COLMES: Good to see you once again. You know, we went and invaded a country that it was hinted had links to 9/11, that country being Iraq. We found out there were no WMDs, no links to 9/11. And now this country clearly did have links to 9/11, as an operational and financial base. Two of the terrorists came from there.
I don't get it. How could the president make that case against Iraq, and invade that country, and then want to have this other country, where there was a link, control our ports?
FRANKS: Well, Alan, in the first place, I'm not at all sure that there has been a suggestion by anyone that the UAE, Dubai in specific, was going to, quote, "control our ports," close quote.
COLMES: Own the company.
FRANKS: Own the company. Totally different issue. Security is a totally [different] issue. I think that's been addressed. And I'll be glad to address it further.
I think, when you take a look at where the terrorists came from — look, I'm in Tampa, Florida, tonight. I'm a Floridian, and I'm very proud of it. I think, if you checked the file, you'll find that a great many terrorists lived in the state of Florida while they took flight training.
I suspect that they may have had money in financial institutions here. That does not make me like my state of Florida, any less.
I believe it's ludicrous and disingenuous for us to look at activities inside the United Arab Emirates and say that, just because one, two, or three hijackers, at some point in time, lived in the Emirates that we should hold that government responsible.
Isn't it funny how because terrorists moved through the UAE our liberal FOX News friend Alan Combs insists that by the very nature of its government the UAE must have both known and approved? Seems to me that Combs and fellow liberals refused to acknowledge that very notion when it came to terrorists moving through Iraq (Abu Zarqawi reportedly had a leg amputated in Iraq after the war in Afghanistan [and he now leads the terror there], and Abdul Rahman Yasin, whom the Iraqi government put on the dole after he fled the 1993 WTC bombing). Now the UAE is certainly an autocracy, yes. But if that alone means that the UAE must have known the comings and goings of terrorists in its country certainly that same logic must apply to Saddam Hussein's Iraq. Iraq was far and away more dictatorial than the UAE. Indeed, Saddam's paranoia was so severe that he had spy agencies whose sole job it was to spy on Iraq's other spy agencies.
Anyway, that's another set of posts. Moving along:
FRANKS: Well, Sean, you know, with you being my buddy, I feel like I can take issue with you, especially the comment about the Emirates having a history of supporting terror. That's not my experience.
Now, I confess that I'm a little bit behind some of the politicians who have come forth and made statements about this, in that I've actually been there, and I actually have been through the ports of Dubai, and I actually know the people in the Emirates, and, in fact, worked with them in the days after 9/11 and worked with their intelligence sources.
HANNITY: Do you want me to tell you what I mean by that? Because I don't want you to have any ambiguity. This may be important to your answer.
FRANKS: Sure, sure.
HANNITY: What I mean by that, General, is it's sketchy in this regard. And it's all over the 9/11 report. I went back and looked at all the times Dubai was mentioned, United Arab Emirates were mentioned in the 9/11 Commission report.
But, for example, their support of the Taliban concerns me. Their non-recognition of Israel concerns me. The UAE's banking system filtered a lot of the money that was used operationally prior to 9/11. Their use of transportational assistance.
Those specific things, they're going to have access to one of the most sensitive, secure areas in this country. That history bothers me. The administration is saying they're changing. What am I missing here?
FRANKS: Well, Sean, let me just kind of walk through my understanding of it. I personally believe that we have had no greater ally in seeking a resolution of problems in the Middle East, the Palestinian issue, the Israeli issue, than we have found in the United Arab Emirates.
With regard to maintaining contact with the Taliban, even before Sept. 11 - and I'll exercise caution how I say this - but I'll say that I believe we had every reason to be thankful for the relationship and the dialogue that existed between the United Arab Emirates and the Taliban, as it assisted us in our efforts to understand what was going on in Afghanistan.
Read between the lines - Tommy Franks is basically saying that the UAE assisted the US military during the war in Afghanistan, and it was because the UAE had ties to the Taliban (formally cut off on September 22, 2001) which allowed it to spy and provide that intelligence to the US.
Saudi Arabia owns - or "controls" as Hillary Clinton might say - 9 US ports... and has since 1979. As the blogger who researched this asks, if foreign ownership is such a big deal to the opponents then "Where's the outrage?" Well, clearly it's feigned.
[Indeed, why not focus on all the Arab air carriers that operate out of this country. It'd be far easier to recruit a fanatical pilot to slam a plane into a building then smuggle WMD into a port; such as may have been the possibility when Egypt Air FLT 990 pilot Gameel el-Batouty put a plane carrying 33 Egyptian army officers into a nose dive off the US north-east coast. 217 died in that crash.]
Government of Saudi Arabia, Saudi individuals and establishments
Head Office Riyadh, KSA
The National Shipping Company of Saudi Arabia (NSCSA) was established in 1979 to meet the transportation needs of Importers and Exporters in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and other countries in the Middle East.
[Marine terminals include]
Newport News, VA
New Orleans, LA
St. John, Canada
Port Newark, NJ
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