Dear Mahmoud Ahmadinejad,
I'm in northeastern Connecticut, staying with some relatives here for the duration of my two-week visit. We had Thanksgiving dinner and I'm enjoying a lot of downtime. Last night I made it to my high school reunion - the first one I've attended - and it was a blast. I haven't lived on the East Coast since I left home, and I'd lost touch with almost everyone back here, with the exception of one good friend who reads this blog and writes regularly.
Probably no political posting here until after I get back to Portland on December 5. For the latest events in Lebanon, go visit Michael Totten. For Iraq, read Iraq the Model. Iran-related matters at Azarmehr and the Free Iran news forum. Great commentary on international affairs can always be found at The Belmont Club. Authentic feminism at Tammy Bruce, and great conservative commentary at Gay Patriot. Cobb is erudite, articulate, and in a class by himself.
Finally, be sure to visit Judith and friends at Kesher Talk.
One day at a time. Iranian refugees need your help, Egyptian bloggers speak out against arrests and oppression, Pakistan takes a small step forward, and women in the Netherlands need to show their faces. Some thoughts on moving forward in a ruthless world.
Iranian refugees stranded in Moscow airport. This isn't some nice fairy tale from Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks. Azarmehr: 'I read about the heart wrenching plight of this family on Ardeshir Dolat's weblog. Watching the video of the mother describing the plight of the family is even more disturbing. I curse every day those who have reduced the children of Cyrus to such misery. I have no first hand knowledge of this family. My information comes from Ardeshir Dolat's weblog and the video on youtube. However I do believe that we owe much of our misery to our proximity with the Russians.' Ardeshir Dolat:
An Iranian refugee family has been imprisoned in the Russian capital for 18 months. Zahra Kamalfar is an Iranian citizen made a refugee claim, together with her two minor children, Ana (DOB 1367-11-02) and Davood (DOB 1373-3-25) through UNHCR in Russia on or about May 3, 2005.
Originally, Zahra and the children were being kept at a hotel at the airport. However, several months ago, they were evicted from the hotel and forced to sleep in the open terminal. They have not had access to shower facilities and are restricted to public toilets.
Zahra and her husband were involved in demonstrations in Iran in the year 2000. In July 8 2004, Zahra was arrested and held in jail. Zahra was in jail for 8 months. Then she was released on a 48 hour pass to visit her family. She immediately fled Iran with her two children on April 6 2005. She and her two children went to Turkey on a false Bulgarian passport arranged by a smuggler. Zahra and her children then traveled from Turkey, transiting through Russia on their way to Germany. When they arrived in Germany, the authenticity of their passports was questioned. Zahra made asylum claims but their asylum claims were refused by German immigration authorities and then they were sent back to Russia. When they returned to Russia, they were detained by the Russian authorities. The Russian authorities then assaulted her and her daughter. The Russian authorities want to send Zahra and her children back to Iran. Zahra is afraid to return to Iran as she believes she will be sent to jail and run the risk of rape, torture and possibly death. She also fears her daughter will be at risk of being sexually assaulted and raped.
The Russian authorities now want to deport the family to Iran; something that the family is convinced will be devastating to their lives and safety. The Russian authorities are imposing pressure on the family by having them stranded in the transit hall of the Moscow International Airport for months, denying them all access to the most basic needs, including shower, proper food, etc. Regardless of the legalities of their case, this is a clear breach of all human rights principles.
Asghar Akbarzadeh, another Iranian dissident you should know about. Shiro-Khorshid Forever posts this human rights item:
A student was detained by plain clothes individuals and is believed to be held incommunicado at an unknown location.
AI Index: MDE 13/124/2006
17 November 2006
Incommunicado detention/ fear of torture
Asghar Akbarzadeh (m), student, aged about 21
Iranian Azerbaijani Asghar Akbarzadeh is believed to be held incommunicado at an undisclosed location, where he is at risk of torture.
Pakistan to stop punishing rape victims. Vital Perspective: 'MediaLine reports that Pakistan has changed its rape laws to prevent women from being punished even though they were the victims of sex crimes. Until now, rape was a crime tried in Islamic courts, where any woman found guilty of having sex outside of marriage received stiff punishments, even if she was forced to have sexual relations. Among the changes, the death penalty for extramarital sex has been abolished. Pakistani lawmakers had previously attempted to change the law, but delayed the move because of vocal opposition from Islamist politicians. Women's rights activists welcomed the reform, but said far more must be done to redress the injustices still found in the law.' (Vital Perspective)
Fox reports on persecution of Christians in Egypt. Freedom for Egyptians: 'Shepard Smith's Fox Report ran a report today [Friday, November 17] on Egyptian Christians and on the treatment they receive from the Egyptian government when it comes to building their own churches, torture, arbitrary arrests...etc. Some Egyptian Copts and priests were interviewed and described their struggle to live in Egypt. The report referred to the Alexandria sectarian violence last April, as Egyptian churches became target for extremists.' I'll be posting a round-up on this subject soon - watch Dreams Into Lightning for more. (FFE)
State's James Jeffrey talks Iran. Vital Perspective has a full transcript of a press briefing by Ambassador James Jeffrey, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs. Excerpt:
Q Thank you very much. My name is Ibrahim Bidarva from Persian Service of VOA. In today's meeting between President Bush and Prime Minister Olmert, Iran's controversial nuclear program is at the top of the agenda. Since it's less than a week after the election, this visit is taking and already Robert Gates, nominee for Defense Secretary, said sanction against Iran has not been in the interest of the United States of America. Congress is starting January going to be controlled by Democrats and other developments. What do you think, Mr. Ambassador, about the American policy in the future, starting in January? Is Israel worried to see a change in American policy towards Iran?
MR. JEFFREY: That's about six different questions and three or four comments, several of which I don't agree with, so I'm going to give a scattershot approach to the set of questions.
First of all, I don't think Mr. Gates -- but I could be wrong, but I just went through the 2004 Council on Foreign Relations Report -- I don't think Mr. Gates has said that sanctions don't work. I think Mr. Gates proposed that the United States look for ways to engage Iran, which of course is exactly what we have done since. And the Secretary of State twice, before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Iraq and before the press and me on the nuclear issue, raised the willingness to sit down and speak with the Iranians. So I think that we have responded in part to much of that report long before we knew that Gates was going to become the Secretary of Defense.
I think in terms of what will happen in January, I think we should wait till January. I think January is quite a ways away. I would make a comment that it would be -- regardless of how you interpret Iraq in the election and the congressional makeup vis-a-vis Iraq, I would be very cautious about extending that to the question of Israel in general.
And thirdly, it is absolutely proper and fitting that Prime Minister Olmert, a good friend of the United States and we think a good friend of international stability, is here to talk about a country which has threatened to destroy Israel, wipe it off the face of the earth and is busily working on long-range missiles and nuclear weapons. That is an appropriate theme. It would be quite incomprehensible if Mr. Olmert did not want to talk about the existential threat to his country raised by Iran, particularly under this leadership, following these policies.
Another Egyptian blogger arrested. Sandmonkey: '3arabawy has the news. It's worth noting that he was arrested for walking in the streets of downtown late, and the police who arrested him claimed there was some sort of curfew in effect that justifies his arrest. He should be released soon, because they have no case and they know it. It is however a telling sign of the panic that is undergoing the egyptian police and their fight to still seem to have control on the streets of Cairo, despite all the growing signs to the contrary!' 3arabawy: 'Egyptian blogger Rami Siyam, a.k.a. Ayoub, is currently in Qasr el-Nil Police Station, and will be transferred to Belbeis Prosecutor’s office in the Sharqiya Governorate. Ayoub and and a number of bloggers were leaving Sharqawi’s place around 4 am, when police rounded them up, and took them to the notorious Qasr el-Nil Police Station. They were all released except for Ayoub, who is to be transferred to Belbeis Prosecutor’s Office.' Commenter Purple Rose says: 'The bloggers have scared the hell out of security forces … They have established that they are the free alternative to media in Egypt and are being cracked down on. Blogger solidarity is the only way of standing up against this crack down. All bloggers remember Karim Amer and now Ayoub in your posts'. (Sandmonkey, 3arabawy)
Dutch government backs burqa ban. BBC: 'The Dutch cabinet has backed a proposal by the country's immigration minister to ban Muslim women from wearing the burqa in public places. The burqa, a full body covering that also obscures the face, would be banned by law in the street, and in trains, schools, buses and the law courts. The cabinet said burqas disturb public order, citizens and safety. ... Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk, who is known for her tough policies, said it was important that all people in the Netherlands were able to see and identify each other clearly to promote integration and tolerance.' (BBC)
Arab/Israeli group blog: "Good Neighbours". Via Michael Totten, here's a homepage link to Good Neighbours. Bookmark it! The all-star lineup currently comprises Big Pharaoh, Drima, Free Cedar, Ramzi.S., Shifaa, Tif, Yaeli, and Yasser. Here's Yasser on democracy and peace:
I believe you can’t have democracy if you don’t support democracy in other counties,so its natural to see the United States concerned about democracy in the world particularly in the Middle East also Europe ; take Turkey for example and look how the Turks received huge assistance and incentives from the Europeans to the end of achieving reforms regarding human rights and freedom of expression .
Of course I am not in any way denying or ignoring the fact that you have to build your own democracy but what I am saying is that you can’t possibly have an isolated democratic country amidst a sea of tyranny and that is why success of Iraqi democracy is so important and vital and that is why we have to support the Iraqi people as hard as we can so they can overcome the problems hindering them from establishing a free and democratic state
Contrary to what some people say that all the talk about democratizing the ME is just propaganda to justify American interference in the region I think that the west interest in seeing a democratic ME is a great opportunity that we have to capitalize on.
Silicone breast implants OK'd by FDA; Tammy PO'd. Tammy Bruce: 'Women surgically mutilating themselves to conform to a media and pornography-driven sick view of what a woman's body should look like is bad enough. For the FDA to approve a device that even the agency admits is faulty and only 'reasonably safe' (whatyever that means), is absurd. But then again, the FDA is now more concerned with the health of pharmaceutical companies and medical profits than they are with the health of individual Americans. ... plastic surgeons love the decision. Silicone implants are more expensive. And the same surgeon, of course, is returned to for the additional surgeries that are needed to remove the ruptured 'device.' Lots more money all around. Plastic surgeons and other 'experts' also hail the decision because silicone implants 'feel more natural' than saline-based. That's great--for the men who want to be feeling them. Here's a Newsflash for that 'feels more natural' crowd--surgically unaltered bodies not only 'feel' more natural, they actually are.' Morning Report seconds Tammy. (Tammy Bruce)
Army Gen. John Abizaid compared the rise of militant ideologies, such as the force driving al Qaeda, to the rise of fascism in Europe in the 1920s and 1930s that set the stage for World War Two.
"If we don't have guts enough to confront this ideology today, we'll go through World War Three tomorrow," Abizaid said in a speech titled "The Long War," at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government in Cambridge, outside Boston.
If not stopped, Abizaid said extremists would be allowed to "gain an advantage, to gain a safe haven, to develop weapons of mass destruction, to develop a national place from which to operate. And I think that the dangers associated with that are just too great to comprehend."
Abizaid said the world faces three major hurdles in stabilizing the Middle East region: Easing Arab-Israeli tensions, stemming the spread of militant extremism, and dealing with Iran, which Washington has accused of seeking to develop nuclear bombs.
US, EU to improve anti-terror ties. Victor Comras at Counterterrorism Blog: 'I have often written criticizing shortcomings that have hampered close US- EU information sharing and cooperation related to the investigation of terrorism and terrorism financing. So it’s a real pleasure to write now on steps recently taken by both sides of the Atlantic to try and improve this situation. Last week the EU and US agreed to establish a new high level “contact group” which will focus on overcoming current information sharing and judicial cooperation impediments. A new agreement was also signed during meetings in Washington November 6th between the US Justice Department and European counterparts. The agreement engages both the Justice Department and Eurojust to “to foster the exchange of information between law- enforcement communities in the US and the EU and strengthen co-operative efforts to prevent and prosecute organised crime, human trafficking, cybercrime and terrorism.” (CTB)
The U.S. Ambassador to the UN, John Bolton, launched a scathing attack on the United Nations Friday.
Bolton was furious over the adoption by the General Assembly of a resolution which said the assembly regretted the deaths of 19 civilians in an attack by the Israeli military in the town of Beit Hanoun last week.
Despite the resolution being significantly watered down at the behest of the United States, and being passing by 156 votes to seven, Bolton launched a blistering attack on the UN, and many of its members.
"Many of the sponsors of that resolution are notorious abusers of human rights themselves, and were seeking to deflect criticism of their own policies," he said.
"This type of resolution serves only to exacerbate tensions by serving the interests of elements hostile to Israel's inalienable and recognized right to exist."
"This deepens suspicions about the United Nations that will lead many to conclude that the organization is incapable of playing a helpful role in the region," Bolton continued.
Wretchard on the absurdities of the Third World. The Belmont Club:
All too often normal Americans make the mistake of going through the front door of the Minister's office to get cooperation. Ministers will tell you what you want to hear; and he will tell the next man something different. Cooperation is often better obtained by building up the trust of key persons who will perform tasks, not for their country or America, but out of a loyalty to you in ways that many Westerners find hard to understand.
But Americans who persist eventually do and the day finally comes when they are equally at home dealing with poor men swathed in the rags that keep out the oily mist of grit and diesel exhaust in which they must stand the all day and looking down from some high apartment window at the snake-line of European luxury cars vaguely visible through the smog, their yellow lights pausing at the port-cocher as they unload their jeweled cargos of local politicians and dubious businessmen at a fine restaurant; knowing that terrorists who threaten all that he knows and loves, all that he has sworn to protect -- are out there. And that he will defeat them.
Commentary. This weekend, the captured fighter pilot Bulldog was rescued from his three-year captivity with the Cylons. Once aboard the Galactica, though, he discovered that he owed his capture and captivity to a decision by Admiral Adama. Enraged, he attacked Adama, but was stopped by the executive officer Tighe, Adama's sometime friend and second-in-command. And here's what the cranky old bastard Tighe - who had no shortage of grievances against Adama himself - had to say:
We're all soldiers, Danny. We're all expendable. And we did what we had to do to protect the mission. It's ugly, but there it is. The Cylons let you go. The question is, Why? Because up until a minute ago, you were doing exactly what they wanted you to do: come here and learn the truth, and seek revenge. And that's exactly what you did. You almost gave them what they wanted.
I'll tell you a dirty little secret. The toughest part of getting played is losing your dignity. Feeling like you are not worth the oxygen you are sucking down. You get used to it. You start to believe it. You start to love it. It's like a bottle that never runs dry. You can keep reaching for it, over and over and over again.
I don't know. One day, you just decide to get up and walk out of your room.
Note to readers. I will be taking a break from posting for a few days. Morning Report is going on leave. Many thanks to all regular and new readers of this site. Regular posting will resume before too long.
The Iraq Study Group, according to its website,
is a bipartisan group of prominent Americans supported by four premier institutions. It is led by co-chairs James A. Baker, III, the nation’s 61st Secretary of State and Honorary Chairman of the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University, and Lee H. Hamilton, former Congressman and Director of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.
The other members of the study group include: Lawrence S. Eagleburger, Vernon E. Jordan, Jr., Edwin Meese III , Sandra Day O'Connor, Leon E. Panetta, William J. Perry, Charles S. Robb, and Alan K. Simpson.
Wikipedia: 'The Iraq Study Group (ISG), also known as the Baker-Hamilton Commission, or simply the Baker Commission, is a ten-person panel appointed on March 15, 2006, by the United States Congress, that is charged with delivering an independent assessment of the situation in Iraq and the US-led Iraq War. It was first proposed by Virginia Republican Representative Frank Wolf. The panel has no direct authority to change Iraq policy, but will make policy recommendations.'
As reported by Wikipedia, the members of the Iraq Study Group are as follows:
The ISG is led by co-chairs James Baker, a former Secretary of State (Republican) and Lee Hamilton (Democrat), a former U.S. Representative and the vice chair of the 9/11 Commission. It is composed of four additional Republicans and four additional Democrats.
In addition to Baker, the panel's Republicans are:
Sandra Day O'Connor, former Supreme Court Justice
Lawrence Eagleburger, former Secretary of State
Edwin Meese III, former US Attorney General
Alan K. Simpson, former Wyoming Senator
Former New York City mayor Rudolph Giuliani was originally a member but resigned on May 24, 2006, stating in a letter to co-chair Baker "my previous time commitments do not permit me the full and active participation that the Iraq Study Group deserves." He was replaced by Meese.
Former Director of Central Intelligence Robert M. Gates was also a member of the panel until he was replaced by Lawrence Eagleburger on November 10, 2006. Gates resigned because he was nominated by President George W. Bush as US Secretary of Defense on 8 November 2006, replacing Donald Rumsfeld.
In addition to Hamilton, the panel's Democrats are:
Vernon Jordan, Jr., business executive
Leon E. Panetta, former White House Chief of Staff
William J. Perry, former US Secretary of Defense
Charles S. Robb, former Governor of Virginia and former U.S. Senator
The Baker-Hamilton study group will not produce any new thinking. The U.S. military has analyzed and gamed every course of action, including cut and run. For that matter, it gamed “non-intervention” in Iraq as well.
What Baker and Hamilton provide is political cover for Democrats. Our plan has been a sound one — build Iraqi security and political institutions to the point US and coalition forces move to “strategic overwatch.” ...
Which is where Baker-Hamilton comes in. Baker-Hamilton is an academic committee. I guarantee the John Kerry-level strategic geniuses who participated in the study have radcially differing views of the issues, different definitions of problems, and a spectrum of mutually-incoherent policy prescriptions. (Like I said, it’s an academic committee.) My bet is the Baker-Hamilton “consensus” will ultimately reflect Jim Baker’s and Lee Hamilton’s two-man consensus (in other words, truth in packaging unusual in government and academia).
If we are lucky, the Baker-Hamilton magic show will drop a scarf over the top hat and with a the ”poof” of a New York Times headline produce a “unifying” policy of words that will let the Democrats join the war, despite the howls of their blogosphere nutsroots.
The Iraq Study Group is suspected by Gateway Pundit of being infiltrated by agents of the islamist regime in Iran - the same Tehran regime that's killing innocent Iraqis and American soldiers daily.
Now, there are concerns that a group of highly placed Iranian Regime lobbyist/agents, so called "Iranian experts", have peddled bad information into the Iraq Study Group hoping to shape the upcoming recommendations by that group.
A couple of names of known Iranian sympathizers who may be shaping the opinion of the Iraq Study Group are Houshang Amir Ahmadi and Hamid Dabashi.
Professor Daniel M. Zucker wrote at Iran Terror Database about the very sophisticated disinformation campaign dished out by the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence and Security.
The mullahs have fooled Jimmy Carter and other democrats before and they are fooling them again now says Zucker. Hasn't Carter done enough in creating militant Islam? When is the left ever going to learn? Why do we have to pay for their ignorance and cluelessness?
Now Gateway Pundit has more concerns about the Iranian regime influencing the Baker Iraq Study Group:
Another Iranian Human Rights Activist writes in demanding that the Iraq Study Group release the names of the Iranians they are interviewing for their report:
We must publicize this by putting enough pressure on the Baker Iraq Study Group to reveal the names of all of their so-called Iranian-experts. Trust me, there are many Iranian activists who know much more about such Iranian characters than many Americans do and we are here to help.
Unless, America clearly knows who, among the so-called "Iranian experts", has influenced the Baker Commission, I have no doubt that she will be making her greatest mistake to accept ISG's recommendations. Baker Commission must announce the names of Iranians who have helped/influenced ISG's recommendations. America needs to also trust her ordinary loyal Iranian-American citizens who have a better understanding about the so-called "Iranian-experts" and tell America which one is an Iranian regime sympathizer.
I bet, for example, very few Americans may know that Hooshang Amirahmadi was also a candidate for Iranian Presidency in 2005. Aftab News on May 11, 2005, while announcing Hooshang Amirahmadi's candidacy for Islamic Regime's presidency, stated (translated from Farsi):
Amirahmadi believes that there is no reason for his disqualification, because he is a patriotic Iranian and he has never acted against the Islamic Republic and he has never been a member of any group or faction.
If Mr. Amirahmadi is indeed working with the Iraq Study Group, one must ask: will he use them as tools? He did not need to brownnose the Islamic regime in Aftab News or Baztab News; no one could ever mistake him with an opposition member to Islamic Regime. With pictures (such as those posted here), where he is with Javad Zarif and Mullah Kahrubi, he can not possibly qualify to be an honorable opposition member.
I'll post any further information I find on the Baker Iraq Study Group.
Dangerous liaisons. In Europe, hope for a refugee from a land where her love dare not speak its name. Connections of a more unsavory character surface in America.
Iranian lesbian granted asylum in Germany. Via Maynard at Tammy Bruce's blog, the BBC reports: 'A court in Germany has accepted an Iranian woman's bid for asylum on the grounds that she is a lesbian. The 27-year-old woman said she would face persecution and isolation if she was sent back to Iran. The court decided she should stay in Germany and said its ruling set a binding precedent for similar cases. ... The woman, whose name was not released, had travelled to Germany in September 2003 where she had applied for asylum.' She was also facing punishment in Iran for refusing to wear a head covering. (BBC)
Suspect arrested in Detroit with cash, cyanide, nuclear info. USA Today: 'Federal agents continue to investigate a Dallas man arrested at a Detroit airport Tuesday after arriving on a flight from Amsterdam with nearly $79,000 in cash and a laptop computer that, according to court papers, contained information about nuclear materials and cyanide. Sisayehiticha Dinssa will appear for a detention hearing before U.S. Magistrate Judge R. Steven Whalen at 1 p.m. Monday. He is charged with illegally concealing more than $10,000 in his luggage and with smuggling bulk cash into the USA. If convicted, Dinssa could be sentenced to five years in prison on each charge.' AP at Breitbart: 'Sisayehiticha Dinssa, an unemployed U.S. citizen, was arrested Tuesday after a dog caught the scent of narcotics on cash he was carrying, according to an affidavit filed in court. When agents asked him if he had any cash to declare, he said he had $18,000, authorities said. But when agents checked his luggage, they found an additional $59,000. When they scrolled through his laptop, they said they found the mysterious files.' Dinassa arrived in Detroit from Nigeria by way of Amsterdam and was headed for Phoenix. Go to Tammy Bruce and Gateway Pundit for full round-ups. (various)
More on that nuclear trailer park business. Speaking of nuclear plans in odd places, Tammy brings us up to date on another recent incident:
For more on the significance of drug money now being the primary source of funding for al-Qaida and terrorists world wide, I blogged here about the other recent dscovery of nuclear material, in a drug den, in a border state. This story of nuclear secrets on a laptop with the meth dealing roommate of Los Alamos worker Jessica Quintana, has grown in seriousness. The latest reporting includes the assessment that this could be "potentially the greatest breach of national security" in decades. There's more about Little Miss Quintana:
Though she had completed only one semester of college, in early 2005 Quintana was granted what the nuke world calls a "Q clearance," which meant she had access to nuclear-weapons designs. She had further access to a category of information code named Sigma 15. This meant she could handle material detailing how to override the security locks on U.S. nuclear weapons. The vaults she worked in contained data from 50 years of nuclear tests.
22 years old. Not only no college, but a college dropout, which is even worse. Living in a trailer with a drug dealing roommate. While we still have not been told by the government the significnace of this situation, we at least we now know that Los Alamos is giving extraordinary nuke clearance to people who pose a stunning security risk. Immature. No discipline. Blackmailable because of association, with people involved in crime. And believe me, if she got hired and got that clearance, it must have been par for the course.
So, we are at war with an enemy that we know has been working for over a decade now to acquire nuclear material; we know terrorist groups are ensconced to our south, running the drug trade; and we know that UK spy masters are sure that a terrorist chemical or nuclear attack against Western interests is probable, sooner than later.
Two gunmen killed after Iraq hijacking. AP: 'British ground forces and U.S. military helicopters fought with gunmen on Friday in southern Iraq where four American security contractors and their Austrian co-worker were abducted in a convoy hijacking. It was not known whether the five were still in the area or whether the gunmen were involved in the kidnapping, said Capt. Tane Dunlop, a spokesman for British forces. He said two of the gunmen were killed. Nine other civilians were in the convoy when it was attacked Thursday near Basra. ...' Full story at the link. (AP)
Strategy Page: Muslim moderates are getting PO'd. And it's about time. Strategy Page:
They are the majority, and there are lots of them actively opposing the fanatics. These backlash incidents rarely make the press. Not quite violent enough. But in places like Indonesia, Pakistan, the Gulf States, Africa and Bosnia, the moderates are stopping the radicals. Sometimes with violence, but more often with words, or using the law and their greater numbers. The radicals will often cry "religious persecution," or insist that their opponents are not "true Moslems." These antics have lost a lot of their impact during the last few years. Mainstream Moslems are getting tired of the empty rhetoric and bullying.
In Indonesia, gangs of Islamic radicals on "anti-vice" patrols (to bust up bars and movie theaters), are increasingly running into groups of cops, or pissed off citizens, who chase off the radicals (or arrest them.) Indonesian Islamic radicals have made themselves lots of enemies by denouncing popular religious leaders. The many followers, of those denounced, make their own threats of violence. It's getting harder to be hard core. ...
Commentary. In the post-Rumsfeld era, Barbara Lerner asks:
If Rumsfeld really does see the war in Iraq as a regional war that we must fight as such if we are to win, why the devil didn’t he say so? The answer, I think, is that he did, many times and in many ways, starting in 2003. But he would have said it only to the president he agreed to serve, and to a very few trusted allies, like Vice President Cheney, who share Rumsfeld’s sense of the loyalty that serving cabinet members owe to their commander-in-chief in a time of war. To the best of my knowledge, the only time Rumsfeld made it clear, in public, that he disagreed with the president on the scope of the war was when he acknowledged that he had asked for permission to cross the border into Syria to strike terrorists fleeing there after carrying out attacks in Iraq. He asked a number of times, beginning in 2003. The president said no.
Rumsfeld wanted to put an Iraqi face on everything at the outset — not just on the occupation of Iraq, but on its liberation too. That would have made a world of difference.
Rumsfeld's plan was to train and equip — and then transport to Iraq — some 10,000 Shia and Sunni freedom fighters led by Shia exile leader Ahmed Chalabi and his cohorts in the INC, the multi-ethnic anti-Saddam coalition he created. There, they would have joined with thousands of experienced Kurdish freedom fighters, ably led, politically and militarily, by Jalal Talabani and Massoud Barzani. Working with our special forces, this trio would have sprung into action at the start of the war, striking from the north, helping to drive Baathist thugs from power, and joining Coalition forces in the liberation of Baghdad. That would have put a proud, victorious, multi-ethnic Iraqi face on the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, and it would have given enormous prestige to three stubbornly independent and unashamedly pro-American Iraqi freedom fighters: Chalabi, Talabani, and Barzani.
Jay Garner, the retired American general Rumsfeld chose to head the civilian administration of the new Iraq, planned to capitalize on that prestige immediately by appointing all three, along with six others, to head up Iraq's new transitional government. He planned to cede power to them in a matter of weeks — not months or years — and was confident that they would work with him, not against him, because two of them already had.
With the nomination of Robert Gates, a man strongly backed by the first President Bush and his key deal-makers, James Baker and Brent Scowcroft, it seems that Secretary Rumsfeld has proved prescient once again. And I think that Republican hawks like Bill Kristol at The Weekly Standard — hawks who have been screaming for Rumsfeld’s scalp for years — are not going to like the results, because, in the end, no American patriot will.
1. Encourage innovation by emphasizing small-scale technological solutions and rejecting peacetime bureaucracy.
2. Improve pre-deployment training realism and abandon Cold War-era checklists.
3. Allow local commanders to buy what they need and nationalize the war effort by connecting the American public with the troops and their mission.
4. Strengthen intelligence sharing between tactical and national levels, and develop a national insurgent database.
5. Take the offensive by reducing predictable patterns on the ground while conducting operations that hunt, rather than chase, the enemy.
6. Accept the realities of warfare in the media age by decentralizing the sharing of information with both the Iraqi and the American public.
Fascinating read at Defensetech.org, which profiles a British commander who has implemented some innovative--and perhaps historical--tactics for controlling a sector of southern Iraq, along the Iranian border. When Lieutenant Colonel David Labouchere found his base a magnet for enemy rocket and small arms fire, he took a page out of the T.E. Lawrence playbook, going light (and mobile).
"Like Lawrence, Labouchere relies on speed and agility. He travels light in just a dozen vehicles per squadron, mostly trucks and speedy Land Rovers but including a handful of Scimitar light tanks armed with 30-millimeter cannons. At night he bivouacs in depressions or nestled between hills to shield him from prying eyes. By day he sorties to patrol the border, show the flag in remote towns and hold court with Iraqi cops, local army troops and the tribal leaders who are his eyes and ears and his allies in the fight against smugglers and foreign fighters. He and his troops shit in ditches, shave with bottled water and eat foil-packed rations. They sleep under the stars on collapsing cots. They live simply and waste little, all in an effort to stay light and to ween themselves from slow, vulnerable ground convoys."
Instead of trapping themselves in an imaginary quagmire, the commissioners can help us face the real war. What’s going on in Iraq is not “the war,” which is raging over the entire world. The real question — the life and death question — is: How can we win the war in the Middle East, which now extends from Afghanistan to Lebanon, Iraq, Israel, and Somalia?
That question forces us to devise a strategy to deal with multiple enemies instead of limiting our strategic thinking to the Iraqi insurgency alone. It forces us to confront the terror masters in Tehran and Syria as well as the killers in Iraq. If we ask how to win in Iraq alone, we are led into a fool’s errand of trying to convince our sworn enemies–Iran has been at war with us for twenty-seven years—to act like friends. But if we ask how to win the war, we can see that we have many good cards to play, and many real allies, from the Iranian and Syrian people to the millions of Kurds in Iran, Iraq and Syria, to several other oppressed groups throughout the region, and even to leaders who today denounce us.
POSTSCRIPT: Richard Fernandez has been quiet for the last few days, but his latest post is well worth the wait: it's about the Philippines, and it's called The First Iraq.
Imagine a time when America found itself in a war against a foreign foe whose strategy was to inflict a constant rate of loss on the army; invited US and British reporters to feed antiwar elements with atrocity stories; when US commanders who expected a quick war against a corrupt and oligarchic native elite found they had roused the countryside against them. Imagine a time when the issue of this war was central to an American Presidential election, caused a split in one of the major parties and planted the seeds for a world war. Not Iraq. The war was Philippine-American War and the election that of 1912.
McKinley's victory in 1900 convinced the Filipinos that the US would not soon embark upon a "responsible redeployment". Washington's stated aim was to remove the obscurantist and bloodthirsty Spanish regime from the backs of the downtrodden Islanders and give them a government better than could be provided by the landed illustrado elite.
Democrats name Hoyer, reject Murtha - Breitbart. Via LGF. 'House Democrats on Thursday chose Maryland Rep. Steny Hoyer to be House majority leader over Rep. John Murtha, the choice of Rep. Nancy Pelosi, in line to become speaker. Hoyer was elected on a vote of 149-86.'
Man arrested in Detroit with big cash, cyanide, nuclear info - Breitbart. Via Gateway Pundit. 'A man was arrested at Detroit Metropolitan Airport after officials say they found him carrying more than $78,000 in cash and a laptop computer containing information about nuclear materials and cyanide. Sisayehiticha Dinssa, an unemployed U.S. citizen, was arrested Tuesday after a dog caught the scent of narcotics on cash he was carrying, according to an affidavit filed in court. When agents asked him if he had any cash to declare, he said he had $18,000, authorities said. But when agents checked his luggage, they found an additional $59,000. When they scrolled through his laptop, they said they found the mysterious files.'
Pelosi named next House Speaker - JPost. 'House Democrats have formally chosen Nancy Pelosi to be the next Speaker of the House, the first woman to hold the top position in the US House of Representatives.'
Not so fast. A North American leader won't be pushed around by Communist China, and an analyst advises Tehran not to hold the party just yet.
Canada's Harper rejects Beijing's trade threats. CTV: 'Canada won't "sell out" on human rights to promote trade and investment with China, Prime Minister Stephen Harper says. "I think Canadians want us to promote our trade relations worldwide, and we do that, but I don't think Canadians want us to sell out important Canadian values -- our belief in democracy, freedom, human rights,'' Harper told reporters during a Wednesday stopover in Anchorage, Alaska. "They don't want us to sell that out to the almighty dollar.''' Shiro-Khorshid Forever: 'I am so proud of the Canadian Prime Minister. Once again he has shown that he is a man of dignity and he will stand up for human rights and human dignity no matter what the consequences. I am very optimistic that one of these days he will stand up against the IRI [Islamic Republic of Iran] and let everyone know that human rights is much more important then oil.' The Spirit of Man: 'This is almost unprecedented in Canadian politics and PM Harper makes all freedom loving people of the world proud by his recent stance.' (CTV, SKF, TSoM)
Europe takes firm action on a major threat. AP: 'European health ministers from 53 countries approved the world's first charter to fight obesity on Thursday, vowing greater action against the epidemic of expanding waistlines across the continent. The charter, approved in Istanbul, Turkey, was drafted by the World Health Organization in consultation with its European member states. It is the first real attempt to compel national authorities to take concrete action to combat obesity.' (AP)
Debka: Israel government "not trying" on Gaza threat. Debka:
Question No. 1: Did Israel counteract Egypt’s permission to let Hamas’ $4million cash infusion from Iran and Saudi through to the Gaza Strip on Thursday, Nov. 16? The answer is no, even though Israeli intelligence knows about Hamas’ regularly smuggled moneys and their destination - not hospitals, schools or food, but guns, troops and, yes, missiles.
Has Israel called Egypt to account for failing to stop the extremist Palestinian groups smuggling of arms and cash past its border guards? No, again. One way would be to move Israeli forces one kilometer deep into the Philadelphi border route for every $100,000 reaching the Hamas war chest. After all, Egypt contracted to seal its border against terrorist traffic under an international accord brokered by the US secretary of state. But prime minister Ehud Olmert prefers to let Cairo off the hook. Thursday, Nov. 15, the day after a deadly Palestinian missile attack on Sderot, he again praised “Egypt’s role in blocking smuggling to Gaza.”
Have the seven Israeli cabinet ministers used their presence in Los Angeles for an intensive information campaign to expose to the American public the role the Europeans and Egyptians are playing in the availability of funds for Hamas hands, despite the freeze imposed by the Middle East Quartet? No again ...
Jihad cell busted in Morocco. AKI via The Intelligence Summit: 'Authorities in Morocco say they have destroyed a Jiihadist cell consisting of 13 militants based in the city of Casablanca. In a raid on the safehouse used by the militatns who called themselves "Group for Monotheism and Jihad" [al-Tawhid w'al-Jihad], security forces found a"hit list" with the names of people the cell was allegedly plotting to kill as well as a haul of threatening letters addressed to prominent civil society figures.' (AKI)
Amir Taheri on Ahmadinejad's premature euphoria. Amir Taheri at Benador: 'Iran: Radical circles are unanimous in their belief that Iran can now proceed with its nuclear program without fear of U.S. and allied retaliation. They expect Democrats to revert to Clinton-era policy and seek a "Grand Bargain" with the Islamic Republic - acknowledging Iran as the major regional power and recognizing its right to the full cycle of nuclear technology. This perception has boosted President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's cause in next month's crucial elections. Ahmadinejad argues that Bush's defeat vindicates his own policy of "standing firm against the Great Satan he hopes to see his faction win control of the Assembly of Experts - a body that can elect and dismiss the "Supreme Guide." Ahmadinejad would thus control all levers of power in Tehran. Yet the expected U.S. retreat on Iran may not materialize - or, if it does, produce the results Tehran desires. Why should Democrats be less worried about a rogue state armed with nuclear weapons than the vilified "neocons"?' (Amir Taheri)
ThreatsWatch: Iraq kidnapping details still hazy, but meaning is clear. Steve at ThreatsWatch:
The Iraq Minister for Higher Education, Abd Dhiab, maintains still that 150 were kidnapped and that 70 have been released. He also said that according to the testimony of the released men, some of the kidnap victims were tortured and killed by their captors. With 55 unidentified bodies showing up on the streets of Baghdad overnight, there is likely validity to his claim.
To the detriment of all Iraqis, Shi’a and Sunni, President Nouri al-Maliki is giving every appearance of minimizing the situation, leaving the impression among the Iraqi public that he is misrepresenting either known facts or suspicions or both. This highlights a greater issue for the Iraqi political leadership going forward, with consequences paid by the Iraqi general public. If Maliki continues to refuse to challenge Muqtada al-Sadr and the Mahdi Army and all other bands of terrorist thugs - Sunni or Shi’a - the Iraqi general public stands little chance of realizing liberty.
That, however, is easy to say from the comfort of the continental United States. Action taken will certainly result in the peril of grave danger for the families of the brave at the hands of retaliatory animals. Unfortunately, there is no other path to liberty for Iraq and its citizens. Forget the elections for a moment. Think of the liberty lost (or yet to be attained) when one is fearful for his life to simply walk the streets or go to a university. Without liberty, democracy serves little purpose.
Liberty and liberty alone will transform the Middle East. ...
Commentary. People who are in power, and who feel empowered, often behave very differently from people who see themselves as powerless. Having a stronger Democratic presence in Washington may mute the voice of the juvenile extremist faction of the Democratic party. Perhaps the party's authentic liberal core - the Democrats truly worthy of the name - will rise to the defense of liberty in America and in the world. We'll have to wait and see.
REMINDER: Don't miss this show! It starts in half an hour.
CNN.com: Glenn Beck Exposed, Wednesday, November 15 - 7PM ET
ABOUT THE SHOW
Radical Islamists are at war with the West. In a one-hour special, Glenn Beck will show you the shocking images -- rarely seen by American viewers -- that help fuel rage against Israel and the West.
The media are finally showing the courage to tell the truth about terrorism. Let's hope this trend continues.
UPDATE: Little Green Footballs has a link to the video on YouTube.
My own reaction: I don't follow the mainstream media at all - I don't read newspapers, and I don't own a television set - so the biggest shock for me was realizing that the footage Glenn Beck was showing was a shock for other people. I like the way Beck was upfront about identifying himself as "a conservative" and "not a journalist". (Thinking back, I realize that this was also a subtle way of showing up his liberal journalist colleagues, because he's inviting the viewer to reflect on how often the pair of attributes "liberal" + "journalist" go together without being noticed.)
Good on Glenn Beck for speaking up, and as I've said before, CNN deserves a lot of credit for having the courage to air this. Keep up the good work, CNN!
New Kassam rocket attack on Sderot causes injuries, following this morning's death - A7. 'Several people were injured, one of them seriously, in a rocket attack on the Negev city of Sderot a short time ago. The regional warning siren was activated when the rocket launch was detected. The rocket came from the Palestinian Authority area of the Gaza Strip. This morning, a woman was killed and a man was injured when a PA rocket exploded in Sderot. Other rockets fell throughout the day on Sderot and on Ashkelon.'
Rockets land south of Ashkelon - YNet. 'Palestinian terror groups in northern Gaza launched four Qassam rockets at Israel Wednesday afternoon. The rocket landed south of Ashkelon. No injuries or damage were reported.'
Iran flexes muscles in Baghdad - ITM. 'The mass abduction that shocked Baghdad yesterday was intended to be a clear message from Tehran-through its surrogates in Baghdad-to anyone who thinks productive dialogue with the Islamic republic over Iraq and Middle East peace is a possible option. ... And today the show continues with the assassination of the colonel who's in charge of internal investigation in the department of national police, also known as the police commandos, one day after an investigation was ordered.'