Thursday, June 30, 2005
Wednesday, June 29, 2005
History Repeats Itself
While America slumbered unaware of the al Qaeda threat during the Summer of 2001, the top stories in the media were the search for a missing young woman and shark attacks. Now, less than four years after 9/11, what are the top stories in the media? The search for a missing young woman and shark attacks.
The greatest danger facing this country is the lapse into a September 10th mindset. Al Qaeda and its affiliated networks remain a formidable adversary, in Iraq, Afghanistan, and around the world. They are as determined as ever to strike a devastating blow here in the US. Mindless fear is not the answer. Wishing the threat away, however, is even more dangerous.
Iraq: "Smell the Kofi"
Arthur Chrenkoff again provides a detailed biweekly update on the progress that continues to be made in Iraq despite the barbarism of al Qaeda:
Two years and a democratic election later, the international community, deeply skeptical if not hostile at first, is now increasingly coming on board to help Iraq make the transition to a normal country. While stories of violence dominate the news, these international and domestic efforts to rebuild Iraq after decades of physical and political devastation continue to pick up pace. Below is a selection of past two weeks' worth of stories which, if they get reported at all, usually are drowned by the tide of negativity.
Smell the Kofi
(Also available via Chrenkoff)
Tuesday, June 28, 2005
Monday, June 20, 2005
Monday Winds Of Change Roundups
Sunday, June 19, 2005
Abu Talha: A Followup
Mohammed at Iraq the Model has some information that adds credence to my previous speculation that Abu Talha, "Emir" of al Qaeda in Mosul, was turned over to coalition forces as part of a broader deal between local Sunni leaders and the Iraqi government. In his post, Mohammed provides the following quote from the Iraqi newspaper Al-Mada:
It is believed that that a meeting for the leaders of armed groups in Mosul was planned to be held in the house where Abu Talha was staying and that representatives of the groups that established contacts with the government didn't attend the meeting.
American troops raided the house at the exact time of the meeting and captured Abu Talha. Sources from Mosul told Al-Mada that on June 9, some person bought a house for 120 million Dinars and then immediately rented the house to a man who works for the education ministry and on Tuesday June 13, a task force from the American army (12 armored vehicles backed by 4 helicopters) raided the same house and arrested Abu Talha and his wife. Not one bullet was fired in the operation.
As progress towards creating a permanent democratic Iraqi government continues, Iraq's Sunni Arabs are increasingly seeking a political solution that will allow them to be a part of this process. While the less radical Sunni insurgents are gradually persuaded to lay down their arms, al Qaeda and the jihadists will be left holding the bag. Hysterical Congressmen and negative media coverage aside, almost all the long-term trends point towards a successful outcome in Iraq. It won't be easy, and the end product will be far from perfect, but America and the world will be better off for our willingness to see things through. If we don't have the will to defeat al Qaeda in Iraq, we will have to pay a far higher price to do it somewhere else.
Homes for Wounded Veterans
Honoring a Hero
Earlier this week, the Army awarded its first Silver Star to a female soldier since World War II:
Sgt. Leigh Ann Hester of the 617th Military Police Company, a National Guard unit out of Richmond, Ky., received the Silver Star, along with two other members of her unit, Staff Sgt. Timothy Nein and Spc. Jason Mike, for their actions during an enemy ambush on their convoy. Other members of the unit also received awards.
Hester's squad was shadowing a supply convoy March 20 when anti-Iraqi fighters ambushed the convoy. The squad moved to the side of the road, flanking the insurgents and cutting off their escape route. Hester led her team through the "kill zone" and into a flanking position, where she assaulted a trench line with grenades and M203 grenade-launcher rounds. She and Nein, her squad leader, then cleared two trenches, at which time she killed three insurgents with her rifle.
When the fight was over, 27 insurgents were dead, six were wounded, and one was captured.
This is the kind of story that should settle the question of whether or not women can handle combat.
Saturday, June 18, 2005
VDH: "The Sorry Bunch"
Dr. Victor Davis Hanson once again supplies his weekly dose of perspective:
A war that cannot be won entirely on the battlefield most certainly can be lost entirely off it — especially when an ailing Western liberal society is harder on its own democratic culture than it is on fascist Islamic fundamentalism.
So unhinged have we become that if an American policymaker calls for democracy and reform in the Middle East, then he is likely to echo the aspirations of jailed and persecuted Arab reformers. But if he says Islamic fascism is either none of our business or that we lack the wisdom or morality to pass judgment on the pathologies of a traditional tribal society, then the jihadist and the police state — and our own Western Left — approve.
The problem the administration faces is not entirely a military one: Our armed forces continue to perform heroically and selflessly under nearly impossible conditions of global scrutiny and hypercriticism. There has not been an attack on the U.S. since 9/11 — despite carnage in Madrid and over 1,000 slaughtered in Russia by various Islamic terrorists during the same period.
Rather, the American public is tiring of the Middle East, its hypocrisy and whiny logic — and to such a degree that it sometimes unfortunately doesn't make distinctions for the Iraqi democratic government or other Arab reformers, but rather is slowly coming to believe the entire region is ungracious, hopeless, and not worth another American soldier or dollar.
This is a dangerous trend. Despite murderous Syrian terrorists, dictatorial Saudis, crazy Pakistanis, and triangulating European allies, and after so many tragic setbacks, we are close to creating lasting democratic states in Afghanistan and Iraq — states that are influencing the entire region and ending the old calculus of Middle Eastern terror. We are winning even as we are told we are losing. But the key is that the American people need to be told — honestly and daily — how and why those successes came about and must continue before it sours on the entire sorry bunch.
The Sorry Bunch
My One and Only Michael Jackson Post
Friday, June 17, 2005
Catching Abu Talha
Edited to update link: 6-19-05
Coalition forces in Iraq scored a major victory on Tuesday with the capture of Muhammad Khalaf Shakar, known as Abu Talha, leader of al Qaeda in the key city of Mosul. Talha was one of the top figures in the Iraqi al Qaeda hierarchy. As Bill Roggio of Winds of Change has pointed out, his loss is merely the latest in a series of damaging setbacks for the terrorist organization.
Just over a month ago, while the media focused almost exclusively on reporting the wave of terrorist car bombings, it was left to Bill and other bloggers to note that two thirds of the known al Qaeda in Iraq leadership had been either killed or captured. The arrest of Abu Talha now takes this figure to over 70%. Of course, another terrorist will be promoted to take his place. However, as Bill also pointed out, the new man will lack Talha's experience and stature within the organization. It is easy to dismiss the impact of capturing individual terrorist leaders, since a successor will inevitably arise. The cumulative effect of losing such veteran commanders, however, eventually takes a toll on the effectiveness of the network. If Talha provides useful intelligence on the inner workings of al Qaeda in Iraq, his loss will be even more devastating.
The capture of Abu Talha is also a major victory in the struggle to secure the city of Mosul. One of Iraq's largest cities, Mosul sits in the northwest part of the country and has a mixed Arab and Kurdish population. Tensions between Kurds and Sunni Arabs have been a major source of instability that the terrorist insurgency has been able to exploit. The terrorists came to Mosul in force last November, and the area has been one of Iraq's major hotspots since then. As Michael Yon has chronicled, coalition and Iraqi forces have made substantial progress in restoring peace to the city, in the face of fierce resistance from the jihadists. While much remains to be done, the arrest of the top al Qaeda terrorist in Mosul bodes well for the outcome of that campaign.
Finally, Talha's seizure is also a possible indicator of yet another trend that has gone largely unnoticed: the growing rift between many of Iraq's Sunni Arabs and al Qaeda. A number of Sunni tribes in Anbar province are now in a state of open war with al Qaeda as the result of the terrorists' barbarous and oppressive conduct. At the same time, Iraq's Sunnis are slowly, if painfully, being integrated into the democratic political process. Even some of the less radical, indigenous parts of the insurgency are seeking to negotiate a political solution with the new Iraqi government.
The possible success of Iraq's fragile democratic experiment is al Qaeda's worst nightmare, and they are desperate to prevent such an outcome at all costs. In particular, al Qaeda knows that if the Sunnis are successfully incorporated into the new democratic Iraq, it spells the end for the terror network in that country. This is why the terrorists, at the behest of their murderous "Emir", Abu Musab al Zarqawi, have inflicted the recent wave of horrific car bomb attacks on Iraqis. Zarqawi has sought to justify this indiscriminate slaughter by citing Islamic doctrine. Fortunately, many in the Muslim world are rejecting Zarqawi's efforts to turn their religion into an ideology of mass murder. Within Iraq itself, as Strategy Page.com reported on June 12th, "(e)ven Iraqis who support al Qaeda cannot understand this reliance on car bombs, which kill many innocent bystanders, and generate much hatred against al Qaeda".
How does this growing division between Iraqi Sunnis and al Qaeda relate to the capture of Abu Talha? A statement recently posted on the Web by al Qaeda gives a tantalizing clue. To quote Reuters:
Iraq's al Qaeda vowed to kill anyone negotiating with the U.S.-backed Iraqi government in a Web statement on Tuesday, a sign the group was worried about possible divisions among its Sunni Muslim allies.
The group led by Jordanian Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was responding to what it said were reports that tribal leaders in Iraq's third-largest city Mosul, the scene of frequent outbreaks of guerrilla violence, were seeking talks.
"Liars claim that the sheikhs of tribes in Mosul plan to hand over mujahideen (holy fighters) and assist the crusaders and apostates, and we do not know which tribes or sheikhs they speak of," the Sunni Muslim group said.
Ironically, this statement was released the same day that Abu Talha was arrested. Is there a connection? Was Talha's capture part of a broader deal between Sunni leaders in Mosul and the Iraqi government? Possibly. For one thing, according to a coalition spokesman, it was information from Iraqis that led to Talha's capture. In addition, numerous tribal sheikhs in the nearby city of Tal Afar, which has been virtually overrun by al Qaeda and other insurgent groups in recent months, have all but begged US forces to come and wipe out the terrorists, a process that is now underway. So, there is reason to believe that Abu Talha may have been turned in by Sunni sheikhs or other local leaders in Mosul as part of a broader agreement with the Iraqi government. If this is indeed the case, and such deals become commonplace, then al Qaeda's days in Iraq are truly numbered.
Even if Talha's capture was merely the result of a tip from an ordinary Iraqi fed up with the terrorists and their violence, this event still conveys an importance well beyond the arrest of a single man. Al Qaeda in Iraq has amply demonstrated its ability to inflict death and destruction. Yet it has alienated the vast majority of Iraqis in the process. Even Iraq's Sunni Arabs, the heart of the insurgency, are now turning against Zarqawi and his jihadists. Barring a disgraceful collapse of will here in the United States, there is no way that al Qaeda can ultimately win in Iraq. Talha's capture both reminds us of this essential truth, and helps bring it closer to fruition.
Thursday, June 16, 2005
Today's WOT Updates
Wednesday, June 15, 2005
Words Fail Me
I can barely put into words how disgusted I feel after reading this post at Mudville Gazette. Scumbag supreme Fred Phelps, the anti-Gay "preacher", plans to picket the funeral of a young woman soldier who was killed recently in Iraq. Her death, according to Phelps, was "God's punishment" for his church being bombed six years ago.
Yes, this is just what the grieving family and friends of Corporal Carrie French need. The funeral is a public event, so unfortunately Phelps and his fellow whackjobs have every right to be there. According to an article Mudville links to, they even plan on making it a habit to picket all public funerals of those who have fallen in Iraq.
This is where words fail me. Terms like "vile", "repugnant", and "nauseating" simply are inadequate to the task of describing Phelps and his ilk. Since I try to run a PG, or at least PG-13, blog, I'll stop at this point. What I will do is humbly offer my thoughts and prayers to the family of Cpl French, and hope that they are able to mourn her passing and honor her life and memory without Phelps and his clowns getting in the way.
Tuesday, June 14, 2005
A "Victory" for al Qaeda in Iraq
The "heroic warriors of jihad" scored a major "victory" today in the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk, as a suicide terrorist blew himself up among a group of elderly pensioners waiting to cash their checks:
A man wearing a belt packed with explosives blew himself up outside the Rafidiyan Bank just after it opened Tuesday morning, said Gen. Sherko Shakir, Kirkuk's police chief.
A crowd of street vendors and elderly men and women waiting outside the bank bore the brunt of the blast, and a pregnant woman and several children were among the victims.
Body parts were strewn for 20 yards in every direction from the blast. The bodies of several victims were found in the rubble of a nearby pedestrian overpass. Two cars were set on fire.
"It was the biggest awful crime in Kirkuk since the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime," Shakir said.
Al-Qaida's northern affiliate, the Ansar al-Sunnah Army, claimed responsibility for both suicide bombings in northern Iraq and threatened more violence in retaliation for the arrests and killings of Sunni Arabs.
Ansar al-Sunnah has been responsible for numerous terrorist atrocities during the last two years, among them the December 2004 suicide bombing of a US Army mess hall in Mosul. The Iraqi government has even put a $50,000 bounty on the head of the group's leader, Abu Abdullah Al Shafi’i. Ansar's objective is to turn Iraq into a Taliban-style totalitarian Islamist state. As noted above, Ansar al-Sunnah is an al Qaeda affiliate organization, part of the broader jihadist network.
With this "heroic" massacre of elderly "apostates", Ansar al-Sunnah has outdone itself. As horrific as this atrocity is, it shows why the terrorists are destined to lose. They have nothing to offer but death, destruction, and the promise of eventual slavery. The vast majority of Iraqis want no part of the jihadist agenda, and today's display of barbarism will only further alienate them. As long as the United States retains the will to stay the course in Iraq, the terrorist insurgency will ultimately be defeated.
Monday, June 13, 2005
Microsoft Supports Censorship
Roger L. Simon brings word of Microsoft disgracefully kowtowing to the Leninist despots in Beijing. To quote a Financial Times article he links to:
Microsoft's new Chinese internet portal has banned the words "democracy" and "freedom" from parts of its website in an apparent effort to avoid offending Beijing's political censors.
Users of the joint-venture portal, formally launched last month, have been blocked from using a range of potentially sensitive words to label personal websites they create using its free online blog service, MSN Spaces.
Attempts to input words in Chinese such as "democracy" prompted an error message from the site: "This item contains forbidden speech. Please delete the forbidden speech from this item." Other phrases banned included the Chinese for "demonstration", "democratic movement" and "Taiwan independence.
"This item contains forbidden speech." It doesn't get more Orwellian than that. So much for Bill Gates' commitment to intellectual freedom.
Iraq: "Step by Step"
With defeatism on the rise, in Congress, public opinion polls, and, as always, the media, it is important to realize that progress continues in Iraq, despite the fact that you never hear about it. Thankfully, Arthur Chrenkoff again does what he can to fill the void:
Step by Step
(Also available via Chrenkoff)
See also Andrew Olmsted's Winds of Change Iraq Report for a good roundup of recent days' news.
Sunday, June 12, 2005
Why Do they Hate Us?
In a recent television interview, an Egyptian history professor outlined some of the "anti-Muslim" policies that have inspired anti-Americanism in the Islamic world. The Middle East Media Research Institute has the transcript:
"You mean to say that the World Council of Churches delegated the mission of Christianizing of the world to the US."
Abd Al-Aziz: "Yes. And how could the US win legitimacy for this without anyone saying that they are perpetrating massacres and waging a Crusader war? It fabricated the 9/11 show. I call it a fabrication because much has been written on this. We are also to blame. Why do we accept a single perspective? Countless books were written, some of which were even translated into Arabic, like Thierry Meyssan's 9/11 – The Appalling Fraud  and Pentagate. "Pentagate" like Watergate… He brings documents to prove that the method used in destroying the three (sic) towers was "controlled demolition.
"This is an architectural engineering theory, which was invented by the Americans. They teach it in their universities. They make movies and documentaries about it. They incorporated it in movie scenarios and then carried it out in real life. Why do we accept this?"
Host: "My God, doctor. This is unbelievable! You're saying that this destruction…"
Abd Al-Aziz: "...was a controlled demolition. The building collapsed in its place, without hitting a single building to its left or right. The three towers fell in place."
Professor Abd Al-Aziz then goes on cite the mind boggling lie about how all the Jews stayed home on 9/11. You have to read it for yourself. Remember this is a history professor being solicited for his "expert" opinion, not some nutter off the street.
This is just one of the numerous anti-American fantasies that are all too popular in the Islamic world. The idea that Muslim hostility to America is merely a rational reaction to our policies is quite popular, especially among those who believe that the War on Islamist Terrorism is a horrible overreaction to a one-off event. Such a belief ignores the fact that neither America nor our policies are viewed in any kind of objective, rational way. Many Muslims, especially in the Arab world, see the USA through a prism built on xenophobia, conspiracy theories, anti-American propaganda, and lies and incitement from radical clerics and "news" outlets like al-Jazeera. These views will persist no matter what America actually does. It is only when the Middle East ceases to be dominated by fanaticism and dictatorship, when Arabs begin to take responsibility for the shape of their own societies instead of blaming the "infidels and Jews" for everything, that such attitudes will finally change.
Saturday, June 11, 2005
A Good Week for US Soccer
The men's national team posts back to back 3-0 wins in World Cup qualifying, while the U-20s get a historic 1-0 over Argentina at the World Youth Championship.
The senior team is now halfway through World Cup qualifying with a 4-1-0 record. This is good for 12 points, one behind group leader Mexico, and five in front of Costa Rica. With the top three teams out of six going to Germany, two more wins should be enough.
The U-20s still have two tough group matches against Germany and Egypt, but are in good position to advance in the tournament.
Friday, June 10, 2005
Gemma McCartney Speaks
Ed Morrissey of Captain's Quarters recently received a letter from Gemma McCartney, one of the sisters of murdered Belfast resident Robert McCartney. With her permission, he has posted it to his site. I know I use this phrase a lot, but please give it a read:
'They Murdered My Brother Without Regard'
ALA and Cuban Libraries: An Update
Jack Stephens at Conservator has the text of an open letter to ALA President Carol Brey-Casiano. The letter is from Robert Kent of Friends of Cuban Libraries:
As your term as president of the American Library Association draws to a close, we in The Friends of Cuban Libraries are inviting you to make a decision which will establish, for all time, your stand on one of the most important intellectual freedom issues confronting librarians today: the persecution of Cuba's independent library movement. We are asking you to use your authority as ALA president to invite Ramon Colas and Berta Mexidor, the co-founders of Cuba's independent library movement, to be speakers at the upcoming ALA conference in Chicago.
For six years, a small but powerful extremist group within the ALA has used falsehoods, evasions and coverups to prevent the ALA from fulfilling its duty to condemn the systematic persecution of people who, in an historic challenge to tyranny, are opening uncensored public libraries for their fellow citizens in Cuba. Exploiting the inattention of the majority of ALA members on this issue, over the past six years the extremist faction in the ALA has tried to ignore the numerous reports by respected human rights organizations and journalists which have documented the systematic persecution of library workers in Cuba. Sadly, for the past six years reports and resolutions engineered by the ALA's extremist group to deny and coverup Cuba's grim reality have been naively and unthinkingly approved by the well-meaning but negligent majority on the ALA's governing Council.
Please read the rest.
Mr. Kent has been tireless in his support of Cuba's independent librarians. Unfortunately, I fear his request will go unanswered.
The Continuing Decline of the NHL
Duncan Currie has a great article on the Weekly Standard Web site discussing the impact of ESPN's decision to end its broadcast deal with the NHL:
ESPN regained the cable broadcast rights to NHL action in 1992. This time, the network's choice proved felicitous. Hockey's popularity skyrocketed following the New York Rangers' gripping Stanley Cup run in 1994. Suddenly, everybody wanted a piece of "the coolest game on earth." But over the past several years, the talent pool has been diluted by near-constant league expansion, scoring has plunged, the games have gotten slow and boring, and TV ratings have sunk. The heady days of the mid 1990s seem a distant memory.
Then, of course, there was the 2003-2004 lockout. The NHL became the first pro sports league in North America to forfeit an entire season due to a labor dispute. ESPN had to fill scads of empty timeslots with substitute programs. And, as Reuters reported last week, the network discovered that programming "it aired in place of NHL games on a month-to-month basis during the canceled season did just as well or better than hockey would have."
Even despite all that, ESPN offered a last-minute compromise. It would buy year-long broadcasting rights from the NHL--but for "well below half of $60 million," according to Shapiro. The league demurred, refusing to budge from its $60-million asking price. Said Bernadette Mansur, the NHL's communications VP, "We're not interested in devaluing the product any further."
True, a lesser deal--one for, say, $15 or $20 million per season--would have meant harsh revenue losses for the league's 30 clubs. But at least it would've been something. As it stands now, with ESPN's apparent exit, NHL teams stand to lose $2 million apiece. How's that for "devaluing the product"?
The NHL on Ice
The NHL was once a league built around passion and tradition. Gary Bettman and the league office have worked tirelessly over the last decade to destroy this legacy and turn the game into a soulless, boring, prepackaged form of corporate entertainment. Their success in this endeavor has done far more to "devalue the product" than any TV negotiation. I am a lifelong hockey fan, yet I could care less if the NHL ever comes back.
Thursday, June 09, 2005
Thursday War on Terror Updates
Blog Censorship in China
In yet another sign of China's growing crackdown on the free exchange of ideas, the communist regime now plans on registering all blogs:
The Chinese authorities have ordered all weblogs and websites in the country to register with the government or face closure in Beijing's latest attempt to control online dissent.
Commercial publishers and advertisers could be fined up to 1m yuan (£66,000) for failing to register, according to documents on the Chinese information industry ministry's website.
Private bloggers or websites must register the complete identity of the person responsible for the site, and the ministry - which has set a June 30 deadline for compliance - said 74% of all sites had already registered.
(Link via Harry's Place)
The Chinese Communist Party is trying to combine its one party, Leninist dictatorship with a modern, information age economy. So far they have been successful, but it is unlikely that they can continue to square the circle indefinitely.
9/11 Denial in Germany
Via Chrenkoff, comes this enlightening post from German blog Davids Medienkritik. Recently, Germany's main state-run television network, ARD, aired a very special episode of Tatort, a crime drama that is apparently Germany's answer to Law & Order or CSI. This particular episode made the case that 9/11 was the work of a US government/Bushitler conspiracy. Sadly, the Germans are more than willing to entertain such disgusting ideas. As noted in the comments to David's post, 1 in 5 Germans now believe that the US government was behind the September 11th atrocities.
As David's blog makes clear, this is just another example of the German media's pathological anti-Americanism. The juvenile fiction of Michael Moore is insanely popular there. Like the majority of Europeans, the Germans have chosen to live in denial regarding the threat of radical Islamism, and instead comfort themselves with the idiotic belief that everything is America's fault. By the time they are disabused of this notion, I fear it will be too late.
A Bit of Good News
I am happy to report that my skepticism regarding the willingness of NATO to act in Darfur seems misplaced:
NATO has agreed to airlift African Union troops into Sudan's troubled Darfur region and provide some training, officials said Wednesday.
The United States will perform some of the airlifts, a senior U.S. defense official said. The first could come this month or next, said the U.S. official and a NATO diplomat, who briefed reporters on condition of anonymity because final details of the plan have not been arranged.
Violence has raged in Darfur for more than a year, mostly between black Africans and ethnic Arab militiamen called Janjaweed aligned with the Sudanese government. The government and Janjaweed have been accused of committing wide-scale abuses against ethnic Africans in which 180,000 people have died and millions have fled to refugee camps.
The Darfur mission would be NATO's first in Africa. The African Union a 53-member organization that African countries use to address problems on that continent asked NATO in April to help bring more of African troops into the remote region.
This is just a small step, but it is a good beginning.
Wednesday, June 08, 2005
Rangel Files for Bankruptcy
Democratic congressman Charles Rangel has officially filed for moral and intellectual bankruptcy. Earlier this week, in a radio interview, he compared the Iraq War to the Holocaust.
I know I've asked this question before, but why is it the US-led liberation of Iraq that inspires Nazi comparisons? How come people like Rangel never compare the Iraqi regime that was led by a mustachioed, genocidal, anti-Semitic dictator, and committed mass murder using poison gas, to the Third Reich?
It's perfectly acceptable to disagree with the decision to invade Iraq. But for two years now I have listened to Rangel, Howard Dean, and other Democrats too numerous to mention rant like a bunch of unhinged five year olds. At a time when we are at war with a totalitarian terrorist movement that actively seeks our destruction, they have offered little but infantile Bush-bashing and morally bankrupt nonsense. Until the Democratic Party shows me that it considers the jihadists to be the enemy, and not the Republicans, I won't even consider splitting my ballot.
Secrets and Lies at the ACLU
According to the June 5th New York Times, the ACLU, tireless critic of real and alleged government secrecy, has taken to shredding many of its own internal documents:
The American Civil Liberties Union has been shredding some documents over the repeated objections of its records manager and in conflict with its longstanding policies on the preservation and disposal of records.
The matter has fueled a dispute at the organization over internal operations, one of several such debates over the last couple of years, and has reignited questions over whether the A.C.L.U.'s own practices are consistent with its public positions.
The ACLU has long made a mockery of its pretensions to nonpartisanship. It is hardly surprising that it would hypocritically engage in some of the same practices it condemns the government for employing.
Options in Darfur
Courtesy of Winds of Change, comes this list of ten things the US can do to stop the genocide in Darfur, short of committing American ground forces. Most of the suggestions are quite good and in fact long overdue. The only problematic ones, in my opinion, are those proposing a NATO role in halting the genocide. While a good idea in principle, action by NATO requires the approval of France, and the French have already made clear that they oppose any such alliance intervention. France owns substantial oil concessions in Sudan, and considering how they allowed Saddam Hussein to buy their services, it is highly unlikely that the French would agree to act against the Khartoum regime.
Stealing Ground Zero
Debra Burlingame's brother Charles was the pilot of American Airlines Flight 77, which was hijacked by jihadist murderers and crashed into the Pentagon on 9/11. She currently sits on the board of directors of the World Trade Center Memorial Foundation. In a piece from the June 7th Wall Street Journal, Ms. Burlingame warns that "Ground Zero has been stolen, right from under our noses." Instead of telling the story of 9/11 in all its heroism and horror, the memorial will drown it in a sea of political correctness and moral relativism:
On Memorial Day weekend, three Marines from the 24th Expeditionary Unit who had been wounded in Iraq were joined by 300 other service members for a wreath-laying ceremony at the empty pit of Ground Zero. The broken pieces of the Twin Towers have long ago been cleared away. There are no faded flags or hand-painted signs of national unity, no simple tokens of remembrance. So why do they come? What do they hope to see?
The World Trade Center Memorial will break ground this year. When those Marines return in 2010, the year it is scheduled to open, no doubt they will expect to see the artifacts that bring those memories to life. They'll want a vantage point that allows them to take in the sheer scope of the destruction, to see the footage and the photographs and hear the personal stories of unbearable heartbreak and unimaginable courage. They will want the memorial to take them back to who they were on that brutal September morning.
Instead, they will get a memorial that stubbornly refuses to acknowledge the yearning to return to that day. Rather than a respectful tribute to our individual and collective loss, they will get a slanted history lesson, a didactic lecture on the meaning of liberty in a post-9/11 world. They will be served up a heaping foreign policy discussion over the greater meaning of Abu Ghraib and what it portends for the country and the rest of the world.
Rest assured that the "Abu Ghraib" exhibit won't be about the amputations and mass executions that occurred there under Saddam Hussein.
The World Trade Center Memorial Cultural Complex will be an imposing edifice wedged in the place where the Twin Towers once stood. It will serve as the primary "gateway" to the underground area where the names of the lost are chiseled into concrete. The organizers of its principal tenant, the International Freedom Center (IFC), have stated that they intend to take us on "a journey through the history of freedom"--but do not be fooled into thinking that their idea of freedom is the same as that of those Marines. To the IFC's organizers, it is not only history's triumphs that illuminate, but also its failures. The public will have come to see 9/11 but will be given a high-tech, multimedia tutorial about man's inhumanity to man, from Native American genocide to the lynchings and cross-burnings of the Jim Crow South, from the Third Reich's Final Solution to the Soviet gulags and beyond. This is a history all should know and learn, but dispensing it over the ashes of Ground Zero is like creating a Museum of Tolerance over the sunken graves of the USS Arizona.
The public will be confused at first, and then feel hoodwinked and betrayed. Where, they will ask, do we go to see the September 11 Memorial? The World Trade Center Memorial Foundation will have erected a building whose only connection to September 11 is a strained, intellectual one. While the IFC is getting 300,000 square feet of space to teach us how to think about liberty, the actual Memorial Center on the opposite corner of the site will get a meager 50,000 square feet to exhibit its 9/11 artifacts, all out of sight and underground. Most of the cherished objects which were salvaged from Ground Zero in those first traumatic months will never return to the site. There is simply no room. But the International Freedom Center will have ample space to present us with exhibits about Chinese dissidents and Chilean refugees. These are important subjects, but for somewhere--anywhere--else, not the site of the worst attack on American soil in the history of the republic.
More disturbing, the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. is handing over millions of federal dollars and the keys to that building to some of the very same people who consider the post-9/11 provisions of the Patriot Act more dangerous than the terrorists that they were enacted to apprehend--people whose inflammatory claims of a deliberate torture policy at Guantanamo Bay are undermining this country's efforts to foster freedom elsewhere in the world.
In museum exhibits, context is everything. What is and is not included, and how the overall exhibit is tied together thematically, are the key factors. In this case, the atrocities of 9/11 will be removed from their specific historical context and simply used as just another example of human cruelty, no different than the Spanish Inquisition or slavery. No doubt the "gulag" at Guantanamo will also be included. The IFC exhibit will not be about how a jihadist terror organization murdered nearly 3,000 Americans in the bloodiest one day attack ever on the United States. Instead, it will be a politically correct monument to the evils of human intolerance, in which Osama bin Laden is considered no different than Lynndie England, and America no better than Saddam Hussein's Iraq. Ironically, the WTC Memorial will more than likely serve the purpose of helping delegitimize the War on Islamist Terror that started in earnest on 9/11.
As Ms. Burlingame correctly argues, the focus of the WTC Memorial should be completely on the events of September 11th, letting visitors draw their own conclusions:
The so-called lessons of September 11 should not be force-fed by ideologues hoping to use the memorial site as nothing more than a powerful visual aid to promote their agenda. Instead of exhibits and symposiums about Internationalism and Global Policy we should hear the story of the courageous young firefighter whose body, cut in half, was found with his legs entwined around the body of a woman. Recovery personnel concluded that because of their positions, the young firefighter was carrying her.
The people who visit Ground Zero in five years will come because they want to pay their respects at the place where heroes died. They will come because they want to remember what they saw that day, because they want a personal connection, to touch the place that touched them, the place that rallied the nation and changed their lives forever. I would wager that, if given a choice, they would rather walk through that dusty hangar at JFK Airport where 1,000 World Trade Center artifacts are stored than be herded through the International Freedom Center's multi-million-dollar insult.
It is inconceivable to me that this nation could have fallen so low as to memorialize the victims of 9/11 with a museum that is an exercise in phony moral equivalence and national self-flagellation. Those who perished at the hands of al Qaeda, and their families, deserve far better.
It has taken every ounce of self restraint to avoid blogging about Howard Dean. For months I have battled the temptation as best I can. Alas, I am forced to admit defeat. Here is the final straw, from the San Francisco Chronicle:
Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean, unapologetic in the face of recent criticism that he has been too tough on his political opposition, said in San Francisco this week that Republicans are "a pretty monolithic party. They all behave the same. They all look the same. It's pretty much a white Christian party."
(Link courtesy of LGF)
"They all look the same"? It boggles the mind. Frankly, I can't decide whether Howard Dean is merely a complete imbecile, or deliberately trying to make Hillary Clinton look more appealing to centrists. The man combines arrogant, condescending sanctimoniousness with the emotional maturity of a five year old. Unfortunately, these are the very traits that make him popular with the ultraliberal Democratic base. "We liberals are nuanced, sophisticated, and tolerant, and we know this because only stupid, bigoted rednecks could possibly disagree with us." This attitude seems to be all too prevalent among many liberals. That this is hardly a recipe for electoral success doesn't seem to matter.
If the Democratic Party wishes to mount a serious challenge to the Republicans, it needs to become credible on national security and offer serious alternative approaches on domestic issues, not infantile name calling.
If nothing else, Howard Dean has at least had the privilege of collaborating with James Lileks on the major techno dance hit of 2004.
Tuesday, June 07, 2005
Bad Agitprop on FX
I foolishly wasted much of my Monday night watching a horrible piece of agitprop on FX called Oil Storm. The film is a faux documentary that purports to cover the devastating impact of a catastrophic rise in oil prices from September 2005-September 2006. In reality, Oil Storm is so laughably over the top that it cannot be taken seriously by any thinking person. Forget Michael Moore: this movie rivals the ridiculous "documentaries" we used to see in school that warned there would be a new ice age, or that a big earthquake would wipe out San Francisco.
To be charitable, Oil Storm depicts what would be considered a worst case scenario. To put it bluntly, the storyline makes a Michael Bay movie look imaginative and unpredictable. Basically, everything that can go wrong does. A massive hurricane chooses to come ashore right at America's major oil terminal in the Gulf of Mexico, putting it out of commission for an entire year and causing prices at the pump to more than double. The US then cuts a deal with Saudi Arabia to purchase more oil, buying 3 million barrels per day instead of 2 million. Al-Qaeda in Saudi Arabia, who apparently were okay with selling the infidels 2 million bpd, suddenly take offense and stage a major terrorist attack at a Saudi shopping mall that kills over 100 Americans. The fact that the Saudi branch of al-Qaeda isn't exactly the jihadist elite seems to have been ignored by the filmmakers. Anyway, this attack drives oil prices even higher. Now the movie gets really bad.
The events in the movie are depicted in part through "interviews" with people who endured this year of horrors. The main focus is on a "family" in Texas who own a gas station. They have two sons, the eldest is in the Army. As a result of the unrest in Saudi Arabia, the oldest son's unit is deployed to protect the kingdom's main oil terminal at Ras Tanura. Don't worry, he tells his family in a scene captured on "home video" just before he ships out. In other words, the poor kid's dead meat, but more on that later.
Meanwhile, back on the home front, relief appears to be in sight with the arrival of oil tankers at the port of Houston. Of course, the port now is overflowing with ships and can only be reached via a narrow channel. Yeah, if I could guess what was coming next, you can too. Fully loaded oil tanker collides with ship carrying flammable chemicals. Big boom, port closed for a month, prices skyrocket even more.
It's far from a happy holiday season, as the impact of $8.00 a gallon gas ripples throughout the economy. The upcoming winter, of course, just happens to be the worst one on record. In the meantime, back to Saudi Arabia with the poor young soldier who is destined to buy it. I just knew it wouldn't be from some jihadist nutter with an AK-47. It would be a big, Beirut '83 type event, and a lot of his buddies would go with him. The foreordained massacre occurs on Christmas Day while his family is enjoying a church social. The atrocity, which claims the lives of 142 American soldiers and destroys the Ras Tanura facility, is described as a terrorist "RPG attack". This is where Oil Storm truly turns laughable and loses its already tenuous grip on plausibility. The idea that an experienced American combat brigade would be unable to create a secure perimeter beyond RPG range of the oil terminal is ridiculous. What, were our troops just standing in a circle around the oil tanks waiting to be attacked? Having it happen on Christmas was merely the final push over the cliff.
As a result of the Ras Tanura attack, oil goes to over $125 a barrel. Bad winter plus scarce heating oil leads to tens of thousands of deaths from the cold winter. Economic depression, mass unemployment, the federal government drastically cuts spending. In particular, the movie focuses on a 50% cut in agricultural subsidies. In reality, a move like this would win President Bush and Congress the lifetime support of deficit hawks and small government types. In the world of Oil Storm, however, it is depicted as a vicious blow against the noble small farmers, who mobilize under the imaginative slogan "food, not oil". The same film that has "documented" the devastating effects of an oil shortage on our society depicts this call for a return to pastoral bliss approvingly. Mass disorder breaks out, with The Man brutally suppressing peaceful demonstrators and arresting the noble leader of the farmers. Finally, the Bush Administration cuts a deal with Russia for some of their oil, thus ending the crisis. President Bush, in an effort to restore his "deeply tarnished reputation" as the film puts it, restores farm subsidies and orders the Gandhi of the Tractor released from prison. Nevermind that it's actually Congress that controls spending, or that the president has no power to free prisoners held on state charges.
Implicit in the film, as you would expect, is a strong anti-oil message. If only those greedy, short sighted, SUV driving, Bush voting suburbanites had listened to their urban dwelling, ultra-liberal betters, none of these events would have happened. Abandon the evil suburbs and cram into the cities where everyone can take public transportation is the theme of Oil Storm. S. Fred Singer does a nice job of debunking some of the myths that underlie these assumptions. While I'm not a fan of SUVs, preachy, self righteous nonsense like this is enough to make me start saving up for a Hummer. Oh well, at least I still caught the second half of the Pistons game.
Media Defeatism Watch
Here's a June 6th article from UPI headlined "Baghdad car bomber slips through security". The opening paragraph is as follows:
A suicide bomber detonated his booby-trapped car north of Baghdad Monday, injuring four Iraqi soldiers despite security raids near the Iraqi capital.
So a suicide car bomber slipped past the dragnet and launched a successful attack just north of Baghdad, which means that the major Iraqi security operation in that city has been a failure. Or, at least the reader is left with that impression if he or she only looks at the headline and first paragraph. If you continue reading, however, you'll see the following information:
Security sources said the attack occurred outside a U.S.-Iraqi military base in Tikrit, hometown of ousted Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, 200 kilometers (125 miles) north of Baghdad.
In other words, contrary to what's implied by the headline and opening paragraph, the bombing took place 125 freaking miles from Baghdad. How security operations there were supposed to prevent a car bombing in Tikrit is an absolute mystery. That's like blaming the police here in Greenville for not stopping a criminal act in Raleigh or Chapel Hill.
Only abject negative bias or an utter lack of logic can explain the slant given to this article. Neither alternative is comforting.
Monday, June 06, 2005
Monday WOC Updates
Today is the 61st anniversary of the launch of Operation Overlord, the invasion of Normandy. It is hard to overstate the importance of D-Day in the history of the 20th Century. The successful introduction of Anglo-American forces on the continent of Europe was vital not only in defeating the Third Reich, it also ensured that at least part of Europe would remain free of Stalinist domination after the war ended. By allowing the creation of a prosperous, democratic western Europe that stood in direct opposition to what lay on the other side of the Iron Curtain, the victory in Normandy made possible the ultimate defeat of Soviet Communism in 1989-91.
For more information, see the following two excellent resources on D-Day:
PBS American Experience
The success of Operation Overlord was truly a victory for freedom. At a time when America and its allies are sadly once again at war with totalitarian barbarism, let us stop and think of the brave Americans, British, Canadians, French, and numerous others who through their courage and sacrifice 61 years ago helped secure the freedom we enjoy today.
Afghanistan: "Stripping Mullah Omar"
Arthur Chrenkoff's monthly "good news" report on Afghanistan couldn't have come at a better time:
Over the last few weeks, Afghanistan has been in the news again--unfortunately, for all the wrong reasons. The media pack has made a brief reappearance in Afghanistan to report on carefully staged "spontaneous" riots, which briefly erupted around the country, ostensibly in protest over a report in Newsweek (later retracted) about desecration of Koran by the American military personnel at Guantanamo Bay.
Faced with this sort of media coverage, President Karzai expressed his exasperation during his recent visit in the United States: "Sometimes--rather often--neither our press, nor your press, nor the press in the rest of the world will pick up the miseries of the Afghans three years ago and what has been achieved since then, until today."
Below, then, the past five weeks' worth of stories that were yet again completely overshadowed by terrorism and violence.
Stripping Mullah Omar
The Nature of the Enemy
Out of the all too large number of jihadist atrocities that occurred this past week, there were two in particular that stood out as representative of the nature of our adversary:
-On Wednesday, a suicide bomber murdered 20 people in a mosque in Kandahar, Afghanistan. The terrorist appears to have been an Arab affiliated with al-Qaeda. The funeral was for a pro-government cleric murdered several days earlier by the Taliban.
-In Baghdad on Thursday, three carloads of terrorists drove through a crowded market area, firing at will. Nine Iraqis, all innocent civilians, were murdered. No US or Iraqi forces were in the area at the time.
In Afghanistan, Iraq, and around the world, we are at war with an enemy who cares nothing for human life, be it Christian, Jew or Muslim, and will commit any atrocity in pursuit of their barbarous totalitarian agenda. A recent post from Iraq by Michael Yon makes this point with unmistakable clarity:
An American soldier told me today that he has been telling kids to stay away from his unit so they won't be killed. This is harder, on all parties, than it might seem to anyone who hasn't seen firsthand how much the kids here love the soldiers. The sound of heavily armored trucks rumbling through the streets has the same effect on these kids as the tinkling bells of the "ice cream man" back home. Imagine having to tell kids to run the other way when they hear the ice cream truck on a summer afternoon.
Recently, an insurgent hid behind a child in order to attack Americans. The tactic came as no surprise to the soldiers here. Terrorists routinely play wounded or feign their surrender in order to get close enough to launch an attack on Coalition or Iraqi Forces. In January I wrote about one bomber who grabbed the hand of a small child while she was playing on a sidewalk. Smiling, he walked with the child in hand, approaching some Iraqi police, and exploded. Americans standing close by were unharmed.
During the month of May in Mosul, there have been so many terrorist attacks killing women and children--often when no American or Iraqi Forces have been in the area-- that they are barely news. It happened again on Saturday. This time by radio-controlled IED.
These are the same terrorists who claim to be the only "true Muslims", and condemn any Muslim who rejects their ideology of death as an "apostate". They commit mass murder in a mosque. They mow down innocent civilians in the street. They murder far more Muslim women and children than they do infidel Americans. Yet all most of the US and international media want to talk about is how many times copies of the Koran were mishandled at Guantanamo. For all of America's might, for all of the courage and dedication of our men and women in uniform, there are times when I fear that the prevailing climate of moral and intellectual vacuity will doom this nation to destruction.
Sunday, June 05, 2005
Good News from Belfast
On Friday, authorities in Belfast announced the arrest of two men in connection with the vicious murder of Robert McCartney by IRA thugs last January. For McCartney's five sisters, who have waged a heroic, tireless campaign for justice on their brother's behalf, the news was unexpected but welcome:
"We hope it will lead to further arrests, because there were more than two people involved. We still have a long way to go in terms of a trial and convictions," said Catherine McCartney. "We are happy this has happened, but we know it is by no means over."
The Irish Republican Army initially denied involvement, then admitted its members committed the attack after facing public pressure from McCartney's five sisters and fiancee.
Since then members of the IRA and its allied Sinn Fein party have faced criticism internationally for allegedly covering up evidence and refusing to cooperate with the police investigation.
The two men, who were arrested Wednesday, are the first to face charges in the case. They were among a dozen suspects detained previously and released without charge after refusing to answer questions.
The main obstacle to the investigation has been the climate of fear and intimidation created by the IRA. The fact that the authorities have enough evidence to charge at least two of the perpetrators is a hopeful sign that witnesses might finally be coming forward. This is a good beginning, but all of those involved in the McCartney murder must be charged and brought to justice.
Education, Academia, and Politics: A Brief Followup
My recent post on miscellaneous news from the world of academia drew the following response:
So, the point of this is. The more education you have the less likely you were to have voted for George W. Bush.
On this humble blog, comments are a rare and precious thing, to be very much appreciated regardless of whether or not they express agreement with my point. Still, this is an issue that I think needs to be addressed. So I will respond as politely and fairly as I can.
As much as many liberals like to believe the sentiment expressed above, I'm afraid that it just isn't true. In analyzing its final pre-election poll, Gallup found that Bush had the support of a majority of college graduates, as well as those with at least some college. Bush did lose among voters with post-graduate degrees, but even in this category he fared relatively well, getting 47% of the vote. All of the categories were fairly close, and the idea that there was a substantial correlation between educational attainment and voting preference is very questionable. In fact, Bush's lowest level of support (46%) came among those with only a high school diploma or less.
One popular liberal explanation for their one-sided domination of academic faculties is that most conservatives simply lack the nuance and intellectual sophistication that those who are politically left of center possess. In the island of ideological orthodoxy that is the contemporary American university, where conservatives are just a small fraction of the faculty, such things are easy to believe. However, as Gallup showed, nearly half of all voters with postgraduate degrees supported George W. Bush. This figure stands in stark contrast to the overwhelming support for Kerry among college and university faculty. This suggests that academia is very much the one party state that I and many others believe it to be.
Saturday, June 04, 2005
VDH: The Way Forward
Noted military historian Victor Davis Hanson brings an almost unparalleled sense of historical perspective to his analysis of the War on Islamist Terror. In the era of the 24 hour news cycle, when seemingly every successful suicide bombing is treated as a harbinger of inevitable terrorist victory, Dr. Hanson offers a valuable corrective to the media driven conventional wisdom. His latest column for National Review Online is a superb overview of the nature of the current struggle:
The three-year-plus war that began on September 11 is the strangest conflict in our history. It is not just that the first day saw the worst attack on American soil since our creation, or that we are publicly pledged to fighting a method - "terror" - rather than the concrete enemy of Islamic fascism that employs it.
Our dilemma is that we have not sought to defeat and humiliate the enemy as much as wean a people from the thrall of Islamic autocracy. That is our challenge, and explains our exasperating strategy of half-measures and apologies Â and the inability to articulate exactly whom we are fighting and why.
Imagine that a weak Hitler in the mid-1930s never planned conventional war with the democracies. Instead, he stealthily would fund and train thousands of SS fanatics on neutral ground to permeate European society, convinced of its decadence and the need to return to a mythical time when a purer Aryan Volk reigned supreme. Such terrorists would bomb, assassinate, promulgate fascistic hatred in the media, and whine about Versailles, hoping insidiously to gain concessions from wearied liberal societies that would make ever more excuses as they looked inward and blamed themselves for the presence of such inexplicable evil. All the while, Nazi Germany would deny any connections to these "indigenous movements" and "deplore" such "terrorism," even as the German people got a certain buzz from seeing the victors of World War I squirm in their discomfort. A triangulating Mussolini or Franco would use their good graces to "bridge the gap," and seek a "peaceful resolution," while we sought to "liberate" rather than defeat the German nation.
So to recap: The real enemy is an Islamic fascist ideology that is promulgated by a few thousand. They wear no uniforms and are deeply embedded within and protected by Muslim society.
Where will it all end? Our choices are threefold.
Our Strange War
Thursday, June 02, 2005
Why the Good News Goes Unreported
In Sunday's Washington Post, Frank Schaeffer, the father of a Marine, asks why media coverage of the troops is so one sided. Aside from a cheap shot at the president, Mr. Schaeffer's comments are right on the mark:
As a military parent, why do I read the most positive stories about our troops in a sort of military-family samizdat e-mail underground network and not on Page One? And how many times does the same type of editorial about the same handful of abused prisoners have to be repeated before an inaccurate impression of our military is given?
Maybe reporters and editorial writers think that reporting too often on the many selfless acts our troops undertake will reflect well on an undeserving president who likes to grandstand with our troops in photo ops. But is the truth about the character of our military being accurately, or should I say proportionately, reported? Does the public, which has woefully little personal contact with our military, know that most men and women in our services are not torturers but people like them trying to do the best they can with compassion and honor? Does the public know that acts of kindness are routine and acts of abuse are rare?
I treasure a photograph of my son cradling an Afghan child in his arms while standing outside a school he was protecting from fanatics who wanted to kill the teacher for the "crime" of teaching girls. That picture is far more typical of what my son and his fellow Marines did every day than are the pictures of mistreated prisoners.
In a May 24th post on his blog, Michael Yon, a journalist on the ground with US forces in Mosul, Iraq, provides the best answer I have seen yet to Mr. Schaeffer's question:
When this SIGACT is translated by a PAO, this might come out: "3 US soldiers were wounded by small arms in Mosul, Iraq. The soldiers were assigned to Task Force Freedom." News agencies that call or request information will get some variation of this report.
But news of a baby girl with a circulatory condition who needed hand surgery getting medical help from U.S. soldiers and a concerned nurse did not become a SIGACT, nor will it be included in a media release. So, unless a reporter was embedded with that unit at that time--and decides to tell the story--no one will ever know this one small, but powerfully important detail. There are a thousand such details falling like trees in a forest, but no one is listening for those kinds of sounds.
I write about them when I can, but there's an irony to all of this that is hard to escape. Most of the acts of kindness I witness are done from an instinctive altruism that almost always seeks anonymity. And there is that other problem with catching people doing good--the cynical media is quick to ascribe cheap motivations to soldiers who reveal their humanity through their decency. And does anyone really care about the soldiers who, after having arrested a suspected insurgent, then spent the next twenty minutes trying to find a home for the two little puppies he was keeping?
Mr. Yon ably explains why most reporting on Iraq is so slanted towards the negative. He shows how military action reports become press releases, which are then turned into the "body count" articles that comprise most of the media coverage. Just take the press release, throw in a couple suitably poetic lines about how "the Iraqi insurgency today continued its relentless campaign to cover the streets in blood", add in the total number of US fatalities to date, and make sure that any news of coalition successes is buried within the last couple lines. Voila, your piece is ready to hit the wires.
I shudder to think what would happen if we didn't have e-mail and the blogosphere to tell the rest of the Iraq story.
The Latest on Darfur
A June 1st report from ABC News offers a horrifying glimpse into the scope of the Sudanese regime's genocidal campaign in Darfur:
The Abu Shouk refugee camp goes on for miles, an expanding slum that grows larger every day in Darfur, the northwest region of Sudan.
The camp, home to 40,000 displaced people a year ago when it was founded, now provides shelter for nearly 100,000.
Since the beginning of the conflict two years ago in this arid northern African country, more than 180,000 people have died from violence, hunger and disease.
Sudan's government and the pro-government Arab militias, known as the Janjaweed, are accused of killing, looting and driving out the region's black African population in response to an anti-government rebellion. Military regimes favoring Islamic-oriented governments have dominated national politics since the country's independence from Britain in 1956 and Sudan has been embroiled in a civil war ever since.
According to the United Nations, there are now a staggering 1.8 million refugees in Darfur and another 250,000 just over the western border in Chad. Although camps like Abu Shouk offer food and shelter, tribal leaders claim that these shanty towns have become like prisons where people are trapped and afraid to leave.
The refugee who said she'd lost her family and home explained that she wasn't leaving because, "there is still fighting there."
"We believe there is a lot more the government can do," said U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick during his visit to Darfur in April. "We also have to work with the rebel groups. You got to try to stop the violence; you got to get on top of the banditry."
A lot more the government can do? My God, who do you think is behind the violence and "banditry"?
Photographer Brian Steidle, who witnessed the systematic killing there, said, "The government and the Janjaweed, side by side, go in and attack the village and kill anything and anybody that moves."
The government official in charge of security forces in Darfur, Abdul Rahim Muhammed Hussein, denies any such thing. "It never happened, it never happened," he repeated.
Hussein acknowledged there are photographs of people in Sudanese army uniforms at the destroyed villages, but he said there are photographs of the American army doing bad things in prisons too.
Analysts say such denial is one reason diplomatic efforts have not worked.
Wonderful, a regime in the process of committing ethnic cleansing and mass murder is allowed to get away with it just by shouting "Abu Ghraib". Here is the price of the moral relativist nonsense espoused by Amnesty International and others. Several months' worth of abusive conduct in a prison is considered the equivalent of a full blown campaign of genocide.
There is ample evidence of the role of the Sudanese government in the Darfur atrocities. The Bush Administration must do everything possible to see that the genocide is brought to an end and the regime in Khartoum held accountable for its actions.
War on Terror Updates
Tales of Academia
Here are three recent news items that reflect on the broader state of academia, each in its own way:
-Here in North Carolina, Professor Jane Christensen of North Carolina Wesleyan has become the object of controversy for teaching a course that argues that the 9/11 attacks were the result of a US/Israeli conspiracy. In a recent interview with the Rocky Mount Telegram, Professor Christensen was asked about her views on the Holocaust:
Do you believe that the Germans and their allies engaged in a systematic program to kill Jews during World War II?
"If there was a systematic program to kill Jews, it was done in collaboration with the Zionists," Christensen answered.
Well, I think that answer more than speaks for itself.
-Via Powerline, comes yet another study showing the left of center dominance of academia:
Although George Bush claimed a bare majority of votes in the actual election, John Kerry trounced him in donations received from colleges and universities. In fact, John Kerry received the lion's share of donations from workers at all twenty-five schools featured in U.S. News and World Report's annual survey. At one school (Dartmouth), Kerry posted an infinite advantage: FEC records show 39 donations to Kerry but not a single Dartmouth employee donating to George W. Bush's campaign.
According to Federal Election Commission records, five of the top twenty institutions of all types from which donors made contributions to John Kerry's campaign-the University of California, Harvard, Stanford, the University of Michigan, and Columbia-were universities. The UC system and Harvard actually gave more than Viacom, JP Morgan, CitiGroup, and other corporate behemoths. In contrast, no university ranked in George W. Bush's top twenty contributors.
The buzzword on campus is diversity. The reality on campus is conformity.
I can't put it any better than that.
-Finally, Opinion Journal's Best of the Web brings word of an academic study on one of the most pressing issues of the day:
We invite contributions for the edited collection Toilet Papers: The Gendered Construction of Public Toilets.
Public toilets are amenities with a functional, even a civic, purpose. Yet they also act as the unconscious of public spaces. They can be a haven: a place to regain composure, to 'check one's face,' or to have a private chat. But they are also sexually-charged and transgressive spaces that shelter illicit sexual practices and act as a cultural repository for taboos and fantasies.
This collection will work from the premise that public toilets, far from being banal or simply functional, are highly charged spaces, shaped by notions of propriety, hygiene and the binary gender division. Indeed, public toilets are among the very few openly segregated spaces in contemporary Western culture, and the physical differences between 'gentlemen' and 'ladies' remains central to (and is further naturalized by) their design. As such, they provide a fertile ground for critical work interrogating how conventional assumptions about the body, sexuality, privacy, and technology can be formed in public space and inscribed through design.
The gendered nature of public toilets? Ooohkay. You can just feel the postmodern jargon. Personally, I recommend sticking with the "banal", "simply functional" thesis. Oh well, such is the state of contemporary academia.
I have just watched the South Park hippie infestation episode, and it is pure genius. From the hippies piling out of the car with the University of Colorado at Boulder rear windshield sticker, to their invocation of Ward Churchill's infamous phrase "little Eichmanns", to Cartman finally driving them off with a Slayer CD, the episode is brilliant from start to finish. If you have not yet seen it, I highly recommend it.