Sunday, December 31, 2006

More on creedal nation

A couple of days ago I posted my comments regarding my friend George Mellinger's article on America as a creedal nation. George e-mailed me a reply. Here it is, with my comments below:

I do believe that the Soviet Union was a nation founded on a particular creed, and did indeed try to create an entirely new culture based on that creed. Much of the communal living of the 1920s was not just from poverty, but mainly engineered to be part of the new culture. Pproletkult anyone? Homo Soveticus? "Cogs in the Wheel" by Mikhail Heller, another Soviet émigré, is an essential, and readable account of those early years. Of course, you don't remember most of that, because the attempt to create Homo Soveticus failed, and the system ultimately degenerated back into something that was..."sort-of Russian" culture, but not even the the old traditional culture of the Silver Age. And that is part of the problem. Abstract formally declared creeds fail, particularly when they seek to ignore the realities of the daily culture and human nature. And far too much of what I hear promoted today under the label of an American Creed" by the creedal nationists, does just that. It seems to be a sort of inverted neo-marxianism which seeks to ignore or deny the reality of actual culture in favor of economic utility, and placing an ever-higher Dow and GNP as the main measures of success. Which is obsessed with a sort of radical egalitarianism which transcends equality before the law, and has become a social form of what Lenin himself sometimes ridiculed as uravnilovka. We are still arguing in this country about when this process began in America, but I believe it took a sudden turn for the worse during the 1960s. I believe it is at the root of many of America's current problems.
Of course, culture changes, it evolves. But it should do so naturally, by social processes, and not by the abstract theorizing of social engineers and judges. And yes, here I am explicitly blaming everyone on the left, and some who think themselves to be on the right.

George is, of course, right when he says that there was an attempt in the Soviet Union to create "homo soveticus". Back in school we were always told that we belong to a "new historical community of people called Soviet People". But that could never work. There was never any attempt to eliminate the ethnic differences. Instead, those differences were maintained and fostered. Why else would the Soviet Government include the ethnic origin in the internal passport? Interestingly, it was usually explained that it was done in order to emphasize the multi-ethnic character of the Soviet Union and friendship between various groups. Reality was quite different. This distinction, marked in the passports, was used to promote local nationalities in the republics and discriminate against ethnic groups deemed insufficiently loyal to the Soviet Union, like Jews. So, perhaps there was an attempt to create a creedal nation in the Soviet Union, but it was done where historically ethnic nation existed. Furthermore, it was done while trying to preserve ethnic character of previously existing nations at the same time. Also, we were always taught that the Soviet Union was more than a nation. It consisted of nations, like Russians, Ukrainians and all the rest of the republics. Jews were specifically considered a nationality, but not a nation, since, we were told, they did not have a common territory.
America is very different. Historically anybody becoming an American would renounce all the previous ethnic-based loyalties and instead would swear loyalty to the non-ethnic-based United States of America. Many Americans I know often proudly proclaim that one set of their ancestors fought another set, but it does not matter, because they are Americans. What was always required of the new Americans is learning the English language and assimilation into the American culture. New Americans always contributed to the American culture as a part of that great melting pot. That is how American nation has evolved. That is also why maintaining and emphasizing the ethnic differences between Americans will have disastrous consequences to the American nation.
So, in the end there isn't much difference between mine and George's view. We both agree that a nation cannot exist without language, culture and defined borders. I just don't think that replacing ethnic definition with creedal definition contradict that.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Myth of disadvantaged military personnel and the draft

Here is an interesting article from Fox News:

It’s been 33 years since America got rid of the draft and moved to an all-volunteer military. Is it time to return to the days of conscription?

Rep. Charlie Rangel, D-N.Y., thinks so. He plans to hold hearings soon after the new Congress convenes in January.

For years, Rangel has been saying wealthy Americans are “absent” from the military. More recently, he dismissed any sense of duty in America’s youngest generation.

“If a young fellow has an option of having a decent career, or joining the Army to fight in Iraq, you can bet your life that he would not be in Iraq,” he said on “Fox News Sunday” on Nov. 26.

This is a bizarre slur on the volunteers in uniform. Class warfare rhetoric is a staple of liberals, but it is stunningly insulting when applied to the integrity of American troops engaged in real warfare. Rangel is talking about people in the profession of arms, men and women who believe it to be the most honorable path in life.

The pernicious myth that the armed forces are filled with stupid soldiers has got to stop. It spews from Michael Moore’s film, Fahrenheit 9/11. It slipped out in John Kerry’s botched “joke.” And it has been echoing around the Left unchallenged for too long.
In 2005, some 80,000 young adults enlisted in the Army, and they came from some surprising places. From 2003 to 2005 -- i.e., after the Iraq War began -- the richest one-fifth of the population was overrepresented in the military at 23 percent. Meanwhile, the percentage of recruits from the poorest neighborhoods dropped from 18 percent in 1999 to 14 percent in 2005.

I personally know of people who enlisted in the military. They come from the upper middle class families: computer programmers from Silicon Valley or furniture store owners from San Diego should qualify as such. And, in case you are wondering, those families are Jews from the former Soviet Union. Immigrants from the former Soviet Union represent one of the most successful immigrant groups in this country. They came to this country often with nothing and made very good lives for themselves. I should know: I am one of them. They also tend to be very patriotic: the comparison with the old country is quite startling. Those people I know are not the only ones: click here. My point is, those people are pretty well to do and have plenty of opportunities. But they chose to serve out of sense of patriotism. While we are at it, let's bust the myth of underprivileged fighting in Vietnam.

Breath of the Beast

Yesterday a friend sent me a link to a new blog called Breath of the Beast. Here is an excerpt from the very first post:

...It was a sunny Sunday morning and Amy went out right after breakfast and met Amir in his backyard. We watched as they began to play and turned away to read the Sunday paper. We were surprised when Amy came back inside a short while later. She walked by us with her head down and started up the stairs to her room. We had expected to have to call her in for lunch so it was odd that she came back so early. I called after her and asked her what was wrong. She told me how little 5-year-old Amir had matter-of-factly informed my innocent 5-year-old daughter that because she is a Jew it is his duty to kill her.
I went right over to talk with my friend and neighbor. Hamid was deeply embarrassed. He hastened to explain that: “Over there, the radio and TV were full of that kind of thing - you simply couldn’t avoid it. He assumed that Amir had heard this kind of thing on the radio or TV because no one in his family believed such things. He was sure, he told me, that now that Amir was back here he would soon forget it. He assured me that he would talk with Amir and was sure that the boy didn’t even understand what he was saying.
I could see how distressed he was and told him that I understood and that I appreciated his concern. We looked at each other and shook hands and patted each other on the shoulder. I was sure that it would not change things between our families.
Remember that this was twenty years before September 11, 2001. It was a few years after the fall of the Shah so, before they had left, I had actually wondered if his kids were going to be exposed to anti-American rhetoric and how that would sit with them. It had never entered my mind though to expect the anti-Semitic to be the dominant theme. Back then many of us believed the myth of the benevolent caliphate and the benign toleration of “Dhimmis” under Muslim rule. After all, I mused, Iran was at war with Iraq. And Israel had recently bombed the Osirac reactor thereby preventing Iraq from developing nuclear weapons.
In the light of everything that has transpired since then, it now seems hopelessly naïve of me but in the dim light of that historical moment I was amazed that what had surfaced first from this child’s sojourn in his homeland was genocidal anti-Semitism. As I lay awake in bed that night I found I couldn’t get the event out of my mind. The idea that a child could have such an idea in his head was staggering by itself. What kind of madness had he been exposed too? What infernal clatter of hatred and fear was there in the streets and media over there that could make it possible for a five year old say such a thing?

Read it all. And visit Yaacov's blog regularly. I personally can relate to everything he says. Whenever my 5-year old daughter has a friend of Arabic or Iranian descent, I have this nagging question in the back of my mind. So far no problem came up. I hope against hope that it stays that way. But I dread the day when this issue does come up.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Breaking news: Saddam is hanged!

This is from Fox News:

BAGHDAD, Iraq — Saddam Hussein, the shotgun-waving dictator who ruled Iraq with a remorseless brutality for a quarter-century, was taken to the gallows and executed Saturday, Iraqi state-run television reported.

It was a grim end for the 69-year-old leader who had vexed three U.S. presidents. Despite his ouster, Washington, its allies and the new Iraqi leaders remain mired in a fight to quell a stubborn insurgency by Saddam loyalists and a vicious sectarian conflict.

Also hanged were Saddam's half-brother Barzan Ibrahim and Awad Hamed al-Bandar, the former chief justice of the Revolutionary Court. State-run Iraqiya television news announcer said "criminal Saddam was hanged to death and the execution started with criminal Saddam then Barzan then Awad al-Bandar."
The hanging of Saddam, who was ruthless in ordering executions of his opponents, will keep other Iraqis from pursuing justice against the ousted leader.

At his death, he was in the midst of a second trial, charged with genocide and other crimes for a 1987-88 military crackdown that killed an estimated 180,000 Kurds in northern Iraq. Experts said the trial of his co-defendants was likely to continue despite his execution.

May he rot in hell.

Creedal nation

My friend George Mellinger, a. k. a. Rurik, of Old War Dogs wrote a commentary on the idea to recruit foreigners into our Armed Forces. The idea itself is a brain-dead idea, in my opinion. While there is nothing wrong with future Americans serving in the military, the key is that those serving in the Armed Forces should consider themselves Americans, even if they haven't gone through the formal process of naturalization yet. Just planting un-assimilated foreigners into the military is a bad idea. There will always be a question of loyalty. There were Germans serving in the French Foreign Legion when the World War 2 started. I always wondered what they did once the shooting started. So, I agree with George that going "French" and creating our own "Legion Etrangere" is a bad idea. However, there is something George brings up in his argument that I disagree with:

...To these folks America is not a country; it is an idea. A very abstract idea. And if the actual people are hesitant to swallow this idea, then, in the words of the Stalinist playwright Berthold Brecht, maybe we should elect a different people. We are a "creedal nation", defined not by our language, our culture, our history, holidays, or any thing else save an "idea". And they wish to proceed creedal to the metal. Their idea is based on a fragment of the second sentence of the Declaration of Independence, lifted out of context, though not an actual part of out Constitution or laws, cemented to the words of an immigrant poet Emma Lazarus, which were not given any official status either. For them America is a global boarding house, with as few social rules as possible, where the actions of the tenants are not to be judged, so long as they bend their knee to global equality, and personal interchangeability, and do not interfere with production. The people are valued not as individuals, or even as distinct groups - Vietnamese-Americans, or Hillbillies, or Scandie farmers, or Black Jazz singers, Cowboys, or anything else; just as economic production-consumption units. This is ominous. When Jack Kemp described the United States as the world’s first creedal nation, he was dead wrong, as evidenced by the recurring fundamental disagreements culminating in a civil war, and the many years of reconstruction and continued disagreement afterward. We became (if at all) a creedal nation only during the 1920s-1930s, under the influence of Carl Sandburg’s mythologized Lincoln, and FDR’s politicking. The first nation created explicitly on the basis of an abstract idea, a creed, was the Soviet Union, created at the beginning of the 1920s as the world’s First Proletarian Nation.

And this suggests the fundamental problem with creedal nations. A Frenchman or Italian may be a Communist or a Social Democrat, or a Conservative, a Christian or Atheist, and still remain a Frenchman or Italian. An individual may immigrate, and become a citizen of France, but to become a Frenchman requires maybe a generation or two of acculturation and assimilation. The same for other nations defined by ethnicity or culture. But in a creedal nation, if you disavow the creed, you disavow the nation. Lenin solved this problem in Russia by eliminating all those who would not, or could not, be proletarian Marxists. Though American dissenters are not yet shot (except Vickie Weaver and David Koresh), they are often harassed. A major reason is that the US Armed Forces still retain a tie to the American people, even if it is becoming attenuated. American soldiers may feel alienated from the assorted anti-military protesters and the civilians who do not serve, but they still recognize their brothers and cousins and neighbors. At the very least they can exchange understandable curses. They do not shoot fellow Americans; the brief exception at Kent State in 1970 occurred under exceptional circumstances where semi-trained National Guardsmen felt themselves threatened by a mob.

I happen to think that United States of America is an idea first and foremost, but not in the way George criticizes it. There are two possible kinds of nations: ethnic-based and values- or ideas-based. We are obviously not an ethnic-based nation. What bonds us together is the common set of values, or ideas. There is another important component that bonds us together: American culture and language. A nation cannot exist without either component. Thus, there are most definitely social rules for joining this American club. In order to join, one has to adopt American values, culture and language as one's own. Those disavowing either component are not Americans, even if they hold American passports. Indeed, they often don't even consider themselves Americans. They should be striped of their Citizenship and deported, as far as I am concerned, but that is another discussion all together. The comparison to the Soviet Union is flawed because the Soviet Union was never a country of immigrants. It was created out of Russian Empire, which was ethnic-based and where the Russian ethnicity dominated over everybody else. By "dominated" I don't necessarily mean "oppressed". But the Russian was the official language and Russian was the dominant culture. Under Communism it did not really change for the most part. They called the Russian language "language of international communication", but it pretty much was the official language of the Soviet Union. Unlike in the United States, ethnic origin was kept track of: the 5th line in a Soviet passport stated whether its holder was a Russian, a Ukrainian, a Jew or anybody else. Thus, the Soviet people was never this unified assimilated mass as the American people is. The multi-cultural idiots are trying to re-create this Soviet situation, and, if they succeed, they will get the same disastrous results. But my point is that the Soviet Union was never a creedal nation, but an ethnic nation, even though it included multiple ethnicities. And, just like any other multi-ethnic ethnic nation (Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia etc.), it dissolved. America, on the other hand, is a creedal nation. But as a nation it requires cultural and language components to survive. Thus, it seems that of three components required for a nation, ethnicity can be replaced by a common set of values. But common language and common culture still have to be maintained. And for that secure borders are still required, along with conditions that force the newcomers to assimilate. The bottom line, we are a creedal nation, defined not only by idea, but also by our language, our culture, our history, holidays, borders and everything else that defines a nation. Otherwise we would not be a nation.

How to fight the Islamists: a lesson for us all

A couple of days ago I followed a link, either from Hot Air or from LGF, and found this article:

Why Ethiopia is Winning in Somalia
The keys to a surprising military campaign.

by Daveed Gartenstein-Ross for Pajamas Media
Edited by Richard Miniter

The startlingly rapid retreat of the Islamic Courts Union (ICU), a Taliban-like group linked to Osama bin Laden, surprised military intelligence officers who less than a week ago were predicting a total route of Somalia’s secular transitional federal government.

The intensity of air strikes by Ethiopia, which has long been allied with the transitional government, has helped turn the tide. Ethiopia’s ground forces, already based in Somalia, have also played a critical role.

Ethiopia’s success was not inevitable: This past week an American military intelligence officer told Pajamas Media that the ICU “will overrun Baidoa,” where the transitional government has been headquartered, and that the only question was when Baidoa would fall. Pajamas Media spoke with the same officer yesterday. He is now optimistic about the Ethiopians’ chances, with one caveat: “Unless you kill the ICU, it will come back. My worry is they’ll drive the ICU out and it will come back in a couple of months.”

There may be lessons for the United States in Ethiopia’s success. Abdiweli Ali, an assistant professor at Niagara University who is in contact with transitional government military commanders on the ground, says that Ethiopia has less concern than the U.S. about civilian casualties. There is no reliable estimate of civilian deaths, but the number is believed to be in the hundreds. “We’re fighting wars with one hand tied behind our backs,” Professor Ali says. “In Iraq we’re trying to be nice, thinking we’ll give candy to people on the streets and they’ll love us. But people will understand later on if you just win now and provide them with security.”

A second lesson relates to the media. The Ethiopian government is generally less sensitive to media criticism than the U.S. government—and is likely to encounter far less criticism in the first place, since the press traditionally gives short shrift to coverage of Africa.

The American intelligence officer who earlier predicted the transitional government’s defeat tells Pajamas Media that there are two major reasons why both he and the ICU underestimated the Ethiopian military.

First, Ethiopia’s air power was decisive. Over the weekend, Ethiopian jets attacked several airports used by the ICU, and struck recruiting centers and other strategic targets in ICU-run towns. Professor Ali reports that the ICU’s shoulder-fired anti-aircraft weapons are unable to hit Ethiopia’s aircraft at high altitudes. While the ICU may have some surface-to-air missiles, these devices would be quite old—and complex Soviet weaponry tends to degrade.

But even more important than the fighter jets, the intelligence officer said, is Ethiopia’s use of Mi-24 Hind helicopter gun ships that can target the ICU’s ground forces. While the ICU might use rocket-propelled grenades against helicopters, as we saw in the 1993 Black Hawk Down incident, thus far the ICU claims to have shot down a single Ethiopian helicopter.

Second, the military intelligence officer said that he underestimated Ethiopia’s willingness to commit to the fight against the ICU. “This campaign is far more far-sighted than we expected,” he said. “They didn’t just do this on the fly; they had to have been planning this for several weeks. This is a major commitment.”

So, there you have it, folks. Do read the whole thing. But the explanation for the Ethiopian success basically amounts to one thing: in order to win you have to fight with all you've got and not to be shy about it.

Saddam is about to meet his maker

Saddam Hussein's date with a hangman is close:

BAGHDAD, Iraq — Saddam Hussein's date with death appears to be just hours away. The former president of Iraq will be hanged "within a matter of hours," a Bush administration official told FOX News on Friday.

"The final meetings have taken places," the official said, adding in Iraqis have requested Saddam be turned over to them. "The process is now in the final stage."

Earlier, the Associated Press reported via a top Iraqi official that Saddam would be hanged before 10 p.m. ET Friday night (6 a.m. Saturday in Baghdad).

The official witnesses to the impending execution gathered Friday in Baghdad's fortified Green Zone in final preparation for his hanging, and state television broadcast footage of his regime's atrocities.

Saddam's chief lawyer said the U.S. had turned over custody of the mass murderer to Iraqi officials, one of the last steps necessary before the execution. An Iraqi parliamentarian, Methal Al Aloser, backed up the lawyer's claims. Al Aloser said not only had Saddam been handed over, but all papers and documents were finalized and the execution will be soon.

But Bush administration sources, apprised of Al Aloser's remarks, reaffirmed that Saddam Hussein remains in U.S. custody.
Two State Department officials also told FOX News Saddam was still being held by Americans. "We are absolutely certain he has not been handed over," one official said. The official said the handover might not happen for a few more hours — or possibly even for a few more days.

"There is no reason for delays," said Munir Haddad, an Iraqi judge on the appeals court that reviewed Saddam's case. He also said the execution will occur by Saturday.

Whatever his execution date might be, it must be pretty close. He is getting what he deserves. However, there are some unresolved issues (from the same Fox News report):

Iraq's highest court on Tuesday rejected Saddam's appeal against his conviction and death sentence for the killing of 148 Shiites in the northern city of Dujail in 1982. The court said the former dictator should be hanged within 30 days.

While Saddam's death for the Dujail massacre appears imminent, he's still facing trial for other atrocities. Saddam faces genocide charges related to a coordinated campaign that killed up to 100,000 Kurds, according to Human Rights Watch. During that campaign, Saddam used chemical weapons, which killed some 30,000 Iraqis and Iranians.

So, are we not going to see any trials for the rest of his crimes against humanity? I personally would prefer to try him for everything and then hang him. Why the rush? Are the Iraqis worried that with the new Congress coming to power in the new year we might abandon Iraq? Even with Saddam dead we should not abandon the place. I hope we won't.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Tony Blair: behind his naivete lies a good understanding of global struggle

I saw this post today on LGF, describing how Tony Blair praising Islam for tolerance:

To me, the most remarkable thing about the Koran is how progressive it is. I write with great humility as a member of another faith. As an outsider, the Koran strikes me as a reforming book, trying to return Judaism and Christianity to their origins, much as reformers attempted to do with the Christian church centuries later. The Koran is inclusive. It extols science and knowledge and abhors superstition. It is practical and far ahead of its time in attitudes toward marriage, women, and governance.

Under its guidance, the spread of Islam and its dominance over previously Christian or pagan lands were breathtaking. Over centuries, Islam founded an empire and led the world in discovery, art, and culture. The standard-bearers of tolerance in the early Middle Ages were far more likely to be found in Muslim lands than in Christian ones.

I initially dismissed this as just another bunch of politically correct platitudes about "religion of peace". But then I saw an update recommending reading Tony Blair's article in full. Charles is of course absolutely correct in recommending the complete article, for behind naive PC statements like "extremism is not the true voice of Islam" lies a very good understanding of our global struggle against a totalitarian political ideology based on religion. Consider these passages:

...It is also rubbish to suggest that Islamist terrorism is the product of poverty. Of course, it uses the cause of poverty as a justification for its acts. But its fanatics are hardly champions of economic development.

Furthermore, the terrorists' aim is not to encourage the creation of a Palestine living side by side with Israel but rather to prevent it. They fight not for the coming into being of a Palestinian state but for the going out of being of an Israeli state.

The terrorists base their ideology on religious extremism -- and not just any religious extremism, but a specifically Muslim version. The terrorists do not want Muslim countries to modernize. They hope that the arc of extremism that now stretches across the region will sweep away the fledgling but faltering steps modern Islam wants to take into the future. They want the Muslim world to retreat into governance by a semifeudal religious oligarchy.

Yet despite all of this, which I consider fairly obvious, many in Western countries listen to the propaganda of the extremists and accept it. (And to give credit where it is due, the extremists play our own media with a shrewdness that would be the envy of many a political party.) They look at the bloodshed in Iraq and say it is a reason for leaving. Every act of carnage somehow serves to indicate our responsibility for the disorder rather than the wickedness of those who caused it. Many believe that what was done in Iraq in 2003 was so wrong that they are reluctant to accept what is plainly right now.

Some people believe that terrorist attacks are caused entirely by the West's suppression of Muslims. Some people seriously believe that if we only got out of Iraq and Afghanistan, the attacks would stop. And, in some ways most perniciously, many look at Israel and think we pay too great a price for supporting it and sympathize with those who condemn it.

If we recognized this struggle for what it truly is, we would at least be on the first steps of the path to winning it. But a vast part of Western opinion is not remotely near this point yet.

This ideology has to be taken on -- and taken on everywhere. Islamist terrorism will not be defeated until we confront not just the methods of the extremists but also their ideas. I do not mean just telling them that terrorist activity is wrong. I mean telling them that their attitude toward the United States is absurd, that their concept of governance is prefeudal, that their positions on women and other faiths are reactionary. We must reject not just their barbaric acts but also their false sense of grievance against the West, their attempt to persuade us that it is others and not they themselves who are responsible for their violence.

Tony Blair is right when he says that there was a time when the Muslim countries were more progressive than the Christian countries in Europe. That was the time often called "the Dark Ages", not for nothing, I might add. But the times changed. In the end, it is irrelevant whether the Islamists represent true Islam or distorted Islam. Dennis Prager often says that he judges a religion by its practitioners. I couldn't agree more. However small the percentage of Islamists among Muslims in the world might be, the absolute numbers are large enough to be of global concern. What is relevant is the fact that in order to co-exist with all the other religion and philosophy in the world Islam needs to go through some sort of transformation, similar to what Christianity went through. Tony Blair can call it returning to true Islam if he wants. It doesn't really matter. What is also relevant is the fact that majority of people in the Muslim World (or any other group of people for that matter) are too preoccupied with their daily lives to act upon their beliefs. They might hate the Jews, Israel, America and the West, but it is irrelevant to their daily lives. So, if American or Israeli goods make their lives easier, given the opportunity, they will buy them. Their hatred will not go away, but they will not act on it, if the price of acting on it will be too great. Over time (generations) this hatred will simply be forgotten. That is why, along with carrot, stick is absolutely necessary in order to win "the hearts and minds". Tony Blair seems to understand that. I can forgive his PC platitudes. Again, do read the whole thing.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

This must be Israel's fault!

Of course! Queen of Sheba was from Ethiopia! And now Ethiopia is crashing Islamists in the neighboring Somalia (thank you, LGF):
MOGADISHU (Reuters) - Ethiopia said on Tuesday it was halfway to crushing Somali Islamists as its forces advanced on the religious movement's Mogadishu stronghold after a week of war in the Horn of Africa.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said his forces supporting Somalia's weak interim government had killed up to 1,000 Islamist fighters. There was no independent verification of that. The Islamists also say they have killed hundreds.

"We have already completed half our mission, and as soon as we finish the second half, our troops will leave Somalia," Meles told a news conference in the Ethiopian capital.

"We will not keep a single fighter in Somalia once our mission getting rid of the terrorists is completed."

He said a force of between 3,000 and 4,000 Ethiopians had "broken the back" of the Somalia Islamic Courts Council (SICC) around the government's south-central base Baidoa, and the Islamists were now in "full retreat."

Ethiopia backs Somalia's secular interim government against the Islamists who hold most of southern Somalia after seizing Mogadishu in June. Addis Ababa and Washington say the Islamists are backed by al Qaeda and by Ethiopia's enemy, Eritrea.
Analysts say Ethiopia's heavy arms and MiG jets saved the Somali government from being routed.

"This is the first stage of victory ... When this is all over, we will enter Mogadishu peacefully," government spokesman Abdirahman Dinari said by telephone from Baidoa.

The usual suspects of course shill for the enemy:
Somalia could be Ethiopia's quagmire;
In Somalia, a reckless U.S. proxy war.
Who comes up with the headlines for these a-holes? How can we tolerate the enemy propaganda in our media in the time of war? What would FDR do?


This is alarming:

Ethiopia's Meles said his goal is not to defeat the militias but severely damage their military power _ and allow both sides to return to peace talks on an even footing.

"The rank and file of the Islamic Courts militia is not a threat to Ethiopia," he said Tuesday. "Once they return to their bases, we will leave them alone."

Ethiopian troops will not enter Mogadishu, he said. Instead, he said, Somali forces would encircle the city to contain the militias that control it.

Who put pressure on Ethiopia to force them to stop fighting?

Why without blood there is no oil, or anything else, for that matter

A couple of days ago I found this brilliant article, thanks to Zero Ponsdorf of Old War Dogs. This article is really a review of the book titled "The Fall of Rome: And the End of Civilization", by Bryan Ward-Perkins. This review got expanded into a fine historical analysis, providing parallels to our times. The author of the article, Orson Scott Card, points out that the book shows that prosperity in the Roman Empire was based on high quality affordable goods and regional specialization, with safety provided by the Roman Army:

What people overlooked was that everything depended on the Roman Army. The army wasn't carrying the goods, it wasn't even actively protecting the trade. The army was mostly stationed at the border, while the economy boomed in an empire so safe that none of the cities had walls. But the economic system that offered so much prosperity could only last as long as merchants could trust in the safety of the goods they transported, and as long as people could remain in place to do their work instead of having to flee barbarian invaders.

It was a robust system. Ward-Perkins points out that there were lots of crises over the years, from plague to invasions to civil wars, and none of them brought the system down, except for local crashes from which the economy soon recovered.

Here is the parallel to the modern Western Civilization:

For a century, America has been the great cushion to absorb the shocks that might have brought down western civilization. In the Great War (WWI), Europe crashed its own population through war and then crashed further through the influenza epidemic. But the American economy provided the means for France and Britain -- but not Germany -- to recover. Arguably, it was the failure to include Germany in the recovery that led to repeated economic crises, and when America finally joined Europe with its own Depression in the 1930s, the stage was set for the next barbarian invasion.

It wasn't inappropriate for Hitler's Germans to be called "the Hun." They may have claimed to be conquering, but in fact they were destroying. Yes, they built factories in some of their conquered and allied lands, but they were chewing up the Slavic population by enslaving and slaughtering them, and they were eliminating much of their own intellectual and merchant class by killing the Jews, who had been disproportionately responsible for the German economy and culture.

In the aftermath of WWII, once again America was the economic cushion -- only this time the portion of Germany under western occupation was included in the economic recovery, as was Japan.

The result, over the past sixty years, has been a pax Americana covering much of the world. And the world has prospered fantastically wherever the American military sustained it.

Let me say that again: As with Rome, the American military has been the wall behind which a system of safe trade has allowed an extraordinary degree of specialization and therefore mutually sustained prosperity.

And here is how the possible collapse of our modern civilization is described:

Here's how it happens: America stupidly and immorally withdraws from the War on Terror, withdrawing prematurely from Iraq and leaving it in chaos. Emboldened, either Muslims unite against the West (unlikely) or collapse in a huge war between Shiites and Sunnis (already beginning). It almost doesn't matter, because in the process the oil will stop flowing.

And when the oil stops flowing, Europe and Japan and Taiwan and Singapore and South Korea all crash economically; Europe then has to face the demands of its West-hating Muslim "minority" without money and without the ruthlessness or will to survive that would allow them to counter the threat. The result is accommodation or surrender to Islam. The numbers don't lie -- it is not just possible, it is likely.

America doesn't crash right away, mind you. But we still have a major depression, because we have nowhere to sell our goods. And depending on what our desperate enemies do, it's a matter of time before we crash as well.

This article obviously has to be read in its entirety in order to understand how the Western Civilization cannot survive without US Military. On a related note, I am now reading "The Savage Wars of Peace: Small Wars and the Rise of American Power" by Max Boot. It essentially makes the same point, which is, as Thomas Friedman of New York Times wrote, "The hidden hand of the market will never work without a hidden fist". I've been thinking of starting to write reviews of the books I read on this blog, and this one might be the first, once I finish it. But for now, for those chanting "No blood for oil", let me make a quick point. Suppose you order something on line, let's say, a music CD. So, you sent your money and now expect your CD to come. What do you think ensures that the vendor will actually send you that CD? That is, besides the vendor's honor and reputation? If you don't get your CD, you'll contact the authorities. Now let's imagine for a second that the vendor decided to resist. So, when the cops show up at his door, he starts shooting and kills a cop. The same could happen, if the vendor sent that CD, but somebody intercepted it on the way. That cop has just died for your lousy CD. Still, the police action, even at the cost of officer's life, is necessary in order to ensure that a vendor sends the goods that were paid for, and those goods actually get to their intended destination. Now take it to the global level, and you will understand that the free flow of goods has to ensured by force, be it oil from the Middle East or Chinese-made soft toys. So, unless you are prepared to walk, barefoot and naked at that, stop chanting "no blood for oil" and instead thank the US Military for putting their lives on the line for oil, your pants and everything else you enjoy and take for granted, along with the freedom to bad-mouth those protecting you.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Another appeasement attempt by Israel

At least Chamberlain bargained away somebody else's country. Ehud "Adam Czerniakow" Olmert bargains away his own:

JERUSALEM — Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert agreed Saturday to release $100 million in frozen funds to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and ease West Bank travel restrictions — goodwill gestures that revived hopes for a resumption of peace talks after years of hostility and distrust.

Olmert made the promises in a two-hour meeting with Abbas at the Israeli leader's official residence, the first Israeli-Palestinian summit in 22 months.

The meeting is a "first step toward rebuilding mutual trust and fruitful cooperation," Olmert's office said in a statement. More meetings are planned, said Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat.


A key achievement for Abbas is the release of $100 million in funds frozen by Israel when Hamas came to power earlier this year. In addition, Israel will transfer 35 million shekels to Palestinian-run hospitals in Jerusalem, said Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat.

In disbursing the money, Abbas' office will increasingly take on the role of a shadow government. Hamas has been the target of an international aid boycott, and has had difficulty paying the salaries of 165,000 civil servants.

Olmert spokeswoman Miri Eisin said Israel plans to transfer the money soon, but that it wants to make sure the funds don't reach Hamas.

Israel also agreed to remove several roadblocks in the West Bank, Erekat said. In addition, Olmert promised to meet a quota of 400 trucks moving through the main cargo crossing between Gaza and Israel.

Stand by for more rockets falling on Israel: now they have money to build them. Stand by also for more kidnappings: it pays.

Got another one!

Well, there is at least some good news:

KABUL, Afghanistan — A top Taliban military commander described as a close associate of Usama bin Laden and Taliban leader Mullah Omar was killed in an airstrike this week close to the border with Pakistan, the U.S. military said Saturday. A Taliban spokesman denied the claim.

Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Osmani was killed Tuesday by a U.S. airstrike while traveling by vehicle in a deserted area in the southern province of Helmand, the U.S. military said. Two associates also were killed, it said.

There was no immediate confirmation from Afghan officials or visual proof offered to support the claim. A U.S. spokesman said "various sources" were used to confirm Osmani's identity.

Another watered down useless resolution on the race to the next world war

From Fox News:

UNITED NATIONS — The U.N. Security Council voted unanimously Saturday to impose sanctions on Iran for refusing to suspend uranium enrichment, increasing international pressure on the government to prove that it is not trying to make nuclear weapons. Iran immediately rejected the resolution.

The result of two months of tough negotiation, the resolution orders all countries to stop supplying Iran with materials and technology that could contribute to its nuclear and missile programs. It also freezes Iranian assets of 10 key companies and 12 individuals related to those programs.
The administration had pushed for tougher penalties. But Russia and China, which both have strong commercial ties to Tehran, and Qatar, across the Persian Gulf from Iran, balked. To get their votes, the resolution dropped a ban on international travel by Iranian officials involved in nuclear and missile development and specified the banned items and technologies.

Nothing new here. The Russians will wake up when the "Chechen Freedom Fighters" will explode a nuke in Moscow.

Wishing "Happy Hanukkah" to a jihadi

I found this story from Fox News:

WASHINGTON — How do you say "Season's Greetings" to an enemy combatant being held at Guantanamo Bay? It's only a guess, but maybe the cheeful holiday cards go like this:

Dear Avowed Enemy of America: Merry Christmas.

Dear I Yearn to Be a Martyr and Hook Up With 72 Virgins in Heaven: Happy Hanukkah.

Dear Friend of Usama Bin Laden: Happy New Year.

It's a well-established tradition for Americans at home to deliver Christmas cheer to U.S. soldiers stationed around the world, but it turns out that prisoners held in the War on Terror are getting good tidings of their own, too.

The 400 or so detainees at Joint Task Force detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, have received approximately 500 holiday greeting cards, said Army Col. Lora Tucker, a spokeswoman for the prison.

I actually like the idea: wishing those guys Merry Chrismas or Happy Hanukkah (especially Happy Hanukkah) is like giving them a finger.

Good Muslims, good Germans, good Russians etc.

My friend Rurik of Old War Dogs, an author and historian, wrote an excellent piece:

...The Moderate Muslim, by definition one without strong personal commitments, will bend with the breeze. If you behave charitably and mercifully toward him, he will know that the risk in opposing you is moderate - while the danger in opposing the Jihadis is certain and horrible. If you want the Moderate Muslim to reveal himself, you must demonstrate that you are more implacable than your enemies. If you make it clear that you seek to hurt your foes as little as possible, and hope soon to depart, while the foe reminds that he is vengeful, with a memory of centuries, and will be remaining forever, then who will the small, uninterested farmer support? It is very sad for such small men, trapped, born, in the middle. But they will do what they must.

How different was the situation in Germany? Only about a third of Germans voted to Hitler in the 1932 elections. But as he flexed his power, they accepted him, and after his great successes in the Rhineland, Austria, and elsewhere many more came to support him as a great leader. We found the "good Germans" only because we ignored their existence till we had blasted away all the bad Germans. Along the way, a few committed and courageous good Germans did side with the allies, and were not dissuaded by our bombing of Germany.

It is a sad fact, but you will find moderation amongst the enemy only if you yourself are first immoderate to him.

Do read the whole thing. Although there is very little left to add, I'd like to try to add my personal observations.
Many Germans who fought for the Nazis during World War 2 were not Nazis. Great Luftwaffe pilots, apart from Rudel and Nowotny, were not Nazis. Some, like Werner Molders, outright despised the Nazi regime. Yet, they fought for it. Why? The short answer is that that was the best chance to survive and go back to their families. Simply refusing to fight meant certain death. Joining the other side meant a great risk to their families. So, they just went with the flow and did the best they could to survive. Only at the very end, when it became very clear that the Nazi regime in Germany would not survive, it became possible for the Germans to stop fighting. And even then they did not necessarily stop because of loyalty to their comrades. Thus, it was impossible and counter-productive to look for good Germans in the middle of the war. Everybody on the German side was the enemy. They stopped being the enemy only after the war ended.
Finally, let me tell you about my personal situation. Those who know me or read my blog, know that I grew up in the former Soviet Union. By the time I graduated from high school I hated the Communist ideology and the Soviet system of government. Yet, what do you think I would do if I would end up as a Soviet soldier in Afghanistan? In the war that was fought for all the wrong reasons? I would fight, along with other draftees like myself, because this would be the best chance to survive and go home.
We will not win until we learn to treat everybody on the other side as an enemy. Only after the enemy is defeated, we will be able to look for friends among former enemies.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

What is to be done?

The debate is on-going on how to win in Iraq. President Bush had a press conference on the subject today. The only thing that I find of importance in his press conference is that he is seriously considering increasing the number of troops in Iraq and the size of the Armed Forces overall. This is probably the right thing to do. But here is an interesting article I found, thanks to Steve Gardner of Old War Dogs:

Mission Possible: How the U.S. Will Win in Iraq.
By Robert Haddick
Here is what the President should say in his next speech on Iraq:

1. Yes, Iraq is in a civil war. Baathists, ex-army officers, and Al Qaeda are trying to overthrow the elected Iraqi government. These rebels are hiding in neighborhoods in mainly four provinces in Iraq.
2. Because it is a civil war, it is an internal affair of Iraq. The Iraqi government is and should be the lead principal to fight the insurgency. As an internal matter, and facing a national emergency, the Iraqi government will decide for itself the best tactics, techniques, and procedures to defend itself and its constitution.
3. The U.S. government will stand with its ally, the Iraqi government.
4. The U.S. will immediately turn all Iraqi army and police units under its command over to the control of the Iraq government. U.S. commanders will no longer direct the actions of any armed force of the Iraqi government.
5. U.S. teams embedded with Iraqi units will no longer act as advisers; Iraqi officers will plan their own operations and devise their own tactics Embedded U.S. teams will act as a liaison for logistics, intelligence, and fire support these Iraqi units may require from U.S. sources.
6. The U.S. military in Iraq will soon wind down its training program for Iraqi soldiers and police. The Iraqi government will train Iraqi soldiers and police to Iraqi standards and customs.
7. U.S. military units in Iraq will cease patrolling Iraq's cities and towns. U.S. forces will continue their world-wide hunt for Al Qaeda terrorist and cells, including inside Iraq.
8. U.S. military units will be available to provide humanitarian assistance to distressed areas inside Iraq, when it is reasonably safe for U.S. personnel to execute such missions.
9. The U.S. will transfer most of its forces currently in al-Anbar province and Baghdad to the Iraqi/Iranian border.
10. U.S. military forces not necessary to protect Iraq's eastern border or to support Iraqi forces in the civil war will return to their bases in the United States.

Is This Another Version of "Cut and Run"?

By taking these ten steps, would the U.S. be abandoning Iraq? Absolutely not. It would be abandoning Sunni reconciliation, a "national unity" government, and counterinsurgency. But taking these actions would empower America's friends (the Kurds) and those it should have as friends (the majority Iraqi Shi'ites). These Iraqi friends would then crush the Sunni Arab rebellion, an object lesson for all to witness.

The U.S. would have to impose itself on Iraqi sovereignty in one area, by becoming the border patrol on the Iranian frontier. Moving strong U.S. ground forces to the Iranian border would accomplish several things. First, it would intimidate the Iranians. Second, it would attempt to limit Iranian influence inside Iraq. Third, it would make the Shi'ite winners inside Iraq more dependent on the U.S. Fourth, it would reassure other Sunni Arab governments in the region that the U.S. will not abandon them to Iranian domination.
The U.S. can still achieve its strategic objectives in Iraq. And it can do so in way that reminds the world that the U.S. will defend its friends and punish its enemies. By following this plan, President Bush can serve America's interests, revive his legacy, and make life easier for his successors. For everything else, the Iraqis will have to work it out among themselves.

There is only one disagreement I have with this strategy: I don't think Iraqi Shias are our friends. Iran will still have influence there, unless Iranian agents (like Al-sadr) are crashed by us. And, short of a devastating bombing campaign, Iran is not going to be intimidated: they simply don't believe that we will do anything about them. That is basically what happened in 1938 and 1939: Hitler simply did not believe that England and France would go to war. Flooding the border with our troops is still useful: at least the terrorists from Iran and Syria would not be able to get through. But it will not intimidate the ayatollahs.

Was there any American administration that was more corrupt than Clinton's?

Here is what I found via Ian of Hot Air:

WASHINGTON (AP) - Former national security adviser Sandy Berger removed classified documents from the National Archives in 2003 and hid them under a construction trailer, the Archives inspector general reported Wednesday.
The report said that when Berger was reviewing the classified documents in the Archives building a few blocks from the Capitol, employees saw him bending down and fiddling with something white, which could have been paper, around his ankle.

However, Archives employees did not feel at the time there was enough information to confront someone of Berger's stature, the report said.

Brachfeld reported that on one visit, Berger took a break to go outside without an escort.

"In total, during this visit, he removed four documents ... .

"Mr. Berger said he placed the documents under a trailer in an accessible construction area outside Archives 1 (the main Archives building)."

Berger acknowledged that he later retrieved the documents from the construction area and returned with them to his office.

I don't understand why he was not thrown in jail. I am also very curious about what was in those documents.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

David Zucker is one of the few sane people in Holywood

OK, I am not the first guy to post this today, but it is too good to pass up:

The similarities are so glaring, anybody minimally familiar with history arrives to the same conclusion. Some people on the Left might say that we all have our talking points. I, however, insist that 2+2=4, and you don't have to have some sort of talking points to arrive to this correct answer. Similarly, in the case of this comparison we all have arrived to the same correct answer.

Hanukkah and Christmas

It is the holiday season, with all its usual excitement and controversy. The main holiday of this season is, of course, Christmas, which happens to be a federal holiday. For some reason Christmas keeps generating controversy. Some people lament commercialization of this holiday, while others (I call them "perpetually offended") complain that Christmas is not for everybody. But I don't see anything wrong with the excitement of giving and receiving presents: that is what the holidays are all about. It is like everybody gets birthday presents at once. As for Christmas not being for everybody, that is not entirely correct. Bill O'Reily of Fox News once suggested that Christmas is the celebration of birth and life of Jesus Christ, a philosopher on whos ideas this country was founded. Upon thinking about that, I decided that it made sense. This country is indeed founded on Judeo-Christian values. So, there is nothing wrong with celebrating a birthday of a Jewish philosopher. Indeed, the more observant Jews never object to that.
Still, I am Jewish. So for me "Christmas" comes a few days early, in the form of Hanukkah. As it happens, Hanukkah is the least religious of all the Jewish holidays. It is essentially a celebration of the victory of ancient Israelites over oppressive occupiers, who would not leave the Jews alone. So, Hanukkah is much closer to the Victory Day commemorating the victory over the Nazis or to American Independence Day than to any religious holiday. Hanukkah is the most American of all the Jewish holidays, since it celebrates the victory of freedom over oppression. Additionally, Dennis Prager mentioned the other day that Hanukkah is as important for the Christians, as it is for the Jews, since it preserved the idea of Monotheism. In my non-religious view the whole story of the miracle of one day supply of oil lasting 8 days is a side issue. What is often overlooked is the similarity between Christianity and Judaism. What was lit in the Temple after its liberation from the Greeks was the menorah, the same one that can be seen on the Israeli Coat of Arms.

The same menorah is lit in the Christian churches. The difference is that in the Jewish tradition the menorah is not lit until the Third Temple is rebuilt, while in Christian tradition the Messiah has arrived, so it's OK to light up the menorah. What commonly referred to as a menorah, is really a Hanukiah, a nine-branched candelabrum for 8 candles representing each day of Hanukkah and 9th to lit the other candles.
So, let's celebrate everything. Let's get excited about getting presents for everybody we care about. To my fellow Jews - Happy Hanukkah! To my non-Jewish friends - Merry Christmas! And to perpetually offended - get a life!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Quitting vs. winning

Baker-Hamilton-Chambelain-Daladier Commission Report was recently published, but I was in the process of setting up my blog at the new location, so I could not comment on it. Perhaps my view in regard to this report is obvious from the link I posted. James "F..k the Jews, they don't vote for us anyway" Baker is true to himself. Somehow he ties surrender in Iraq to surrendering Israel. Truth be told, American surrender in Iraq is not going to be good for Israel, simply because defeat of Israel's main (and sometimes only) ally is not good for Israel. But these guys find it acceptable, in addition to surrender, to appease the modern Nazis at the expense of Israel. Back in 1938 the apeasers bargained away other country's territory and security without that country's participation. Nothing good came out of it. Nothing good will come out of any appeasement again.
On the other hand, here is an idea on how to win (via Old War Dogs):

Most of our readers know the story of Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain at Gettysburg. Ordered to hold Little Round Top at all costs, Chamberlain's 20th Maine fended off one attack after another. Finally, Chamberlain's men were nearly out of ammunition and it was clear they would not be able to withstand another assault. Prudence counseled retreat, but Chamberlain's orders forbade it. The Maine regiment could neither fall back nor stay where it was, so Chamberlain took the only course open to him: he told his men to fix bayonets and prepare to charge.

It strikes me that you, President Bush, are in a similar situation in Iraq. You know (if many liberals do not) that retreat is out of the question. Yet the status quo is untenable. Support for your administration's policy is evaporating. Iraq is being pacified too slowly if at all, and minor tinkering around the edges--a few more men, some more training of Iraqis--won't make much difference. You need a decisive stroke. You need to tip the table over. You need to attack.

Here is how you can do it. In late November, U.S. military sources revealed that they had found irrefutable evidence that Iran is arming the militias who are killing American soldiers:

U.S. officials say they have found smoking-gun evidence of Iranian support for terrorists in Iraq: brand-new weapons fresh from Iranian factories. According to a senior defense official, coalition forces have recently seized Iranian-made weapons and munitions that bear manufacturing dates in 2006.

Iranian-made munitions found in Iraq include advanced IEDs designed to pierce armor and anti-tank weapons. U.S. intelligence believes the weapons have been supplied to Iraq's growing Shia militias from Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, which is also believed to be training Iraqi militia fighters in Iran.

So here is what you, President Bush, should do: take as a model the Cuban Missile Crisis. First John Kennedy, then Adlai Stevenson, laid before the world the evidence, in the form of aerial photographs, that the Soviet Union was installing nuclear arms in Cuba. The proof was taken as conclusive, and, consequently, the Kennedy administration's actions enjoyed universal support at home, and widespread support abroad.

Read the whole thing. Here is also the link to Old War Dogs post. While you are at it, don't miss this Michael Reagan's article.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Sasha Cohen tells PC idiots to get a life

I am paraphrasing: I wasn't there. But here is the story:

A school choir was told to stop singing carols at a show featuring a Jewish ice skater because officials feared she would be offended.

The Rubidoux High School Madrigals in Riverside, California, broke off in the middle of God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman at a rink where Sasha Cohen, a US Olympic medal winner, was performing in front of fans.

Staci Della-Rocco, the director of the choir, said she complied with the request by a city council employee and police officer to silence the children because "I didn't want to have a big old huge scene in front of my kids".
Cohen, 22, however, was "stunned" to learn the choir had been ordered to stop singing on her account, her mother said.

The 2006 Olympic silver medallist is half-Christian and "celebrates everything" at this time of year, said Galina Cohen. "Sasha was stunned. We both thought the voices were just lovely, they were doing such a wonderful job. Christmas carols are part of celebrating the holiday season."

The Telegraph in its typical biased fassion headlines the story: "Silent night for fear of offending Jew", making it look like somehow silencing the choir was Sasha's fault. But Sasha's and her mother's reaction is not really surprising to me: Sasha's mother grew up in Odessa, Ukraine, the same city I grew up in. Thus, she is immune to this leftist PC garbage. For Sasha's mother the term "political correctness" is probably associated with Communist ideology and Stalinist prosecutions of "enemies of the people". I know it is for me.
I hope Sasha and her mom were very blunt while telling those PC idiots what they think of them.

Blog update

Well, I finally copied my original blog to this one on Blogger, as well as to the one on Wordpress. My accidental forray into blogging is finally taking off. The original Microsoft blog had a lot of limitations: Microsoft always tries to create software that attempts to be smarter than its user. The Wordpress blog seems to be the most convenient to use and has all the features that I would like. The Blogger is the biggest and most likely to generate unsolicited traffic. I think I will be giving people the Wordpress address, but I am keeping all three blogs. It should be easy enough to post to all three blogs at the same time.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Optimistic look at the new Secretary of Defense

Originally posted on

Here is an optimistic article about incoming Secretary of Defense, by Michael Barone:

I've just finished reading Robert Gates's memoir, From the Shadows: The Ultimate Insider's Story of Five Presidents and How They Won the Cold War. It's a well-written, thoughtful book, leavened by occasional injections of nerdy humor.


The picture I get of Robert Gates from his book is that of a careful analyst, one who sees American foreign policy as generally and rightly characterized by continuity but one who sees the need for bold changes in response to rapid changes in the world — and doesn't look for answers from the government bureaucracies. He is very much aware that we have dangerous enemies in the world, and he was willing over many years to confront them and try to check their advance.

Basically, Michel Barone thinks that Robert Gates is a competent leader, not afraid to act and defend his point of view, without regard to political correctness.  Let's hope he is right.

Link to Michael Barone's article

MonaCharen analyzes defeatism of the "new course"

Originally posted on

Here is a great article by Mona Charen.  It is very pessimistic:

America is the world's hyperpower. No other nation or group of nations can challenge us militarily or economically. Unlike sickly Europe, we are growing, not contracting. But we are about to be defeated in Iraq by a few thousand cutthroats.
    How did this happen? It's simple: The only thing powerful enough to defeat us is ourselves, and we've done it.




The president's people continue to insist he will settle for nothing less than victory in Iraq. But look at the Iraq Study Group (Baker-Hamilton Commission), from whom the president so looks forward to hearing recommendations. As the American Enterprise Institute's Michael Rubin notes, the commission has claimed to be taking a fresh look but has already stacked its four subordinate expert working groups with committed opponents of the war.
    Mr. Rubin writes: "Raad Alkadiri, for example, has repeatedly defined U.S. motivation for Iraq's liberation as a grab for oil. Raymond Close, listed on the Iraq Study Group's Web site as a 'freelance analyst,' is actually a member of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, which, in July 2003, called for Vice President Dick Cheney's resignation for an alleged conspiracy to distort intelligence, which they said had been uncovered by none other than Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV. The following summer, Close posited that 'Bush and the neocons' had fabricated the charge 'that the evil Iranian mullahs inspired and instigated the radical Shia Islamist insurgency.' To Close, the problem was not Iranian training and supply of money and sophisticated explosives to terrorists, but rather neoconservatism."
    The rumors about the commission's report, due next month, suggest co-chairs James Baker III and former Rep. Lee Hamilton will recommend a "grand bargain" among the warring factions in Iraq and enlist cooperation of Iraq's neighbors in pacifying the country.
    Iraq's neighbors? Iran and Syria? The nations bankrolling and supplying the internecine violence? The nations that are the world's top sponsors of terror? Iran: the nation that boasts of its genocidal ambitions toward Israel and the United States even as it races -- against the express wishes of the entire civilized world -- to obtain nuclear weapons? The nations that have the most to gain from our failure?




The only alternative to the surrenders on offer by the Democrats and by the "realist" Republicans is a renewed determination to win. The assassins in Iraq pursue their dirty war despite the cost because it is succeeding. They know they are on the cusp of driving us out. But if, just to fantasize for a moment, we were to redouble our efforts, send more troops, kill the insurgents and convey our unflinching determination to win, the psychological effect would be enormous. And all wars are, to one degree or another, psychological.
    A few months ago, the Weekly Standard magazine asked, "Will We Choose to Win in Iraq?" Tragically, I think we have our answer.

I hope she is wrong.  But I am afraid she is 100% right.  If so, we are heading for the new World War.  Not the Cold War or War on Terror, but a full blown global conflict similar to World War 2, but with nukes going off all over the world.

Our intelligence might be ready for sale

Originally posted on

This is what I fouind at World Net Daily:

A Washington watchdog group is trying to make sure Democratic Rep. Alcee Hastings does not rise to the chairmanship of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence without the public knowing the full record surrounding his 1989 impeachment as a federal judge, including condemnation from a fellow black lawmaker and leading member of his party.

The non-profit CREW, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, has posted records of the congressional impeachment proceedings of Rep. Alcee Hastings, who was convicted by the Senate after the House impeached him on bribery and perjury charges.

The House transcript shows Rep. John Conyers of Michigan disputed allegations Hastings was a victim of discrimination because he is black.

Conyers said that while some suggested the House's decision might be affected by racism, "I do not believe that to be the case."

"A black public official must be held to the same standard as every other public official," Conyers said. "A lower standard would be patronizing. A higher standard would be racist. Just as race should never disqualify a person from office, race should never insulate a person from the consequences of wrongful conduct."

Hastings released a letter Wednesday to Democratic members of the House saying he deserves the job despite his conviction, the Los Angeles Times reported. The congressman lashed out at his critics, saying they were bent on "denying me a position I have certainly earned and am completely competent to perform."

Hastings argues he was acquitted in a 1983 criminal trial based on allegations he conspired to accept a $150,000 bribe for granting a lenient sentence to two defendants convicted in his court of racketeering.

Hastings, nevertheless, was impeached by the House by a 69-26 vote and convicted in the Senate on eight of 17 articles of impeachment. He has been in Congress since 1992.

If this is a representative of the "most ethical Congress", then we are in deep trouble.


Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving!

Originally posted on

Well, I finally got around to write a Thanksgiving post. Thanksgiving is a quintessentially American holiday. So, what am I thankful for? I am thankful for my family, for my wonderful wife and 2 beautiful girls. I am also thankful for the generally pretty good life I have. But who should thank for all this? The religious people thank G-d for all their blessings. But I am not religious enough in order to do that. And then it dawned on me. I should thank this wonderful country called United States of America and its wonderful people.

So, thank you, America, for existing, for being a beacon of freedom in the world where freedom is far from being commonplace. Thank you for making freedom your "national idea", if you will.

Thank you, America, for accepting me as your own. You welcomed me, my family and friends and made us all Americans, part of your great people. You accept anybody who is willing to be accepted. You made acceptance and tolerance part of your ideology too.

Finally, thank you, America, for defending "liberty and justice for all" all over the world. Your young people volunteer to go and fight for what's right and moral. If I were 20 years younger I would have joined them (lame excuse really, but that's the only one I have). Winston Churchill once said: "The Americans can always be counted on to do the right thing, after they had exhausted all other possibilities". He knew what he was talking about. It is only natural to try "all other possibilities": people always look for easy solutions. But in the end Americans do the right thing, no matter the cost, for doing the right thing is a part of American ideology too.

Thank you, America.

This is the modified WW2 poster. The modern American soldiers in Iraq were added to the original by the San Diego Chapter of Protest Warrior.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006 - Russia Sending Air Defense Missile System to Iran - International News | News of the World | Middle East News | Europe News

Originally posted on

MOSCOW —  Russia has begun delivery of Tor-M1 air defense missile systems to Iran, a Defense Ministry official said Friday, confirming that Moscow would proceed with arms deals with Tehran in spite of Western criticism.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the issue, declined to specify when the deliveries had been made and how many systems had been delivered.

Ministry officials have previously said Moscow would supply 29 of the sophisticated missile systems to Iran under a $700 million contract signed in December, according to Russian media reports.

The United States called on all countries last spring to stop all arms exports to Iran, as well as ending all nuclear cooperation with it to put pressure on Tehran to halt uranium enrichment activities. Israel, too, has severely criticized arms deals with Iran.


Russian media have reported previously that Moscow had conducted talks on selling even more powerful long-range S-300 air defense missiles, but Russian officials have denied that.

Moscow already has a lucrative, $800 million contract to build Iran's Bushehr nuclear power plant, which is nearly complete. Interfax reported Friday that the head of Russia's atomic energy program, Sergei Kiriyenko, was due to travel to Tehran on Dec. 11 for a meeting of the Russian-Iranian commission for trade and economic cooperation, which he co-chairs with Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki.

This has happened before:

This of course led to this:

Has anything changed since then?

Link to - Russia Sending Air Defense Missile System to Iran - International News | News of the World | Middle East News | Europe News

Iranian tourists south of the border?

Originally posted on

This should give you pause:

Tehran, 20 November 2006 (CHN Foreign Desk) -- Iran and Mexico will sign cooperation agreement for developing cultural heritage and tourism interactions between the two countries.

The agreement will be signed in the Mexican capital during the visit of Esfandiar Rahim Mashayi, president of Iran’s Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization (ICHTO) to Mexico. During his visit, Rahim Mashayi will meet with Mexico’s ministers of tourism and culture to discuss the terms of cooperation in detail.

Announcing this news, Mohammad-Kazem Kholdi-Nasab, director of ICHTO’s International Department said: “The protocol of cooperation has already been submitted to the Mexican cultural heritage authorities and Mashayi’s visit to Mexico aims at expanding mutual cooperation between the two countries in different fields related to cultural heritage and tourism industry.”

So, what kind of tourists should we expect to see south of the border?  Not that Northern border in any better shape.

Link to CHN | News

France moves its capital to Vichy

Originally posted on

No, not really.  But they might just as well (again, thanks to LGF):

French soldiers in Lebanon who feel threatened by aggressive Israeli overflights are permitted to shoot at IAF fighter jets, a high-ranking French military officer told The Jerusalem Post.

Wednesday, several days after meeting with an IDF general in Paris to discuss what he said was a "blatant violation of the cease-fire."

Last weekend, Maj.-Gen. Ido Nehushtan, head of the IDF Planning Directorate, traveled to Paris and met with military officials to explain why the IAF flies over Lebanon despite the UN-brokered cease-fire.

Nehushtan, new to his post and previously deputy commander of the air force, told his French counterparts that Israel was conducting the flights to collect intelligence on Hizbullah positions in southern Lebanon.


The French told Nehushtan they would view further aggressive flyovers as a violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1701.

So, basically the IAF is attempting to at least do part of what the useless UNIFIL is supposed to do in order to enforce UN Security Council Resolution 1701, and the French call it a violation of the said resolution.  But wait, there is more:

France's furor at the overflights was not divorced from French domestic political considerations, government officials in Jerusalem said Wednesday.

France is scheduled to hold the first round of presidential elections in April, and one of those reportedly considering tossing her hat into the ring is Defense Minister Michele Alliot-Marie.

According to these officials, taking a tough stance toward Israel on the issue - a position that grabs headlines in France - helps her raise her profile.

The officials said it didn't hurt Alliot-Marie politically to be seen as someone who needed to be "held back" from responding forcefully to the overflights.

So, there you have it.  During World War 2 the Nazis had a bunch of allies who were either indifferent or outright hostile to the Nazi persecution of the Jews.  Italian Jews were relatively safe under Mussolini, until Italy switched sides, and the Germans occupied the northern part of the country.  Bulgarian tsar Boris protected his Jewish subjects.  Jews even served in Finnish Armed ForcesHungarian Government resisted the Nazi policies toward the Jews.  In Romania majority of the Jews also survived the Holocaust.  Basically, in the instances when all these Nazi allies instituted anti-Semitic policies, they did so only to the minimum in order to satisfy the Germans.  Their main reason for joining the Germans in the first place was their fear (well founded, I might add) of Stalin's Soviet Union.  And only Vichy Government actively collaborated with Nazi policies and ran its own concentration camp in Drancy.  What has changed?

Exploding granny

Originally posted on

What did your grandma do?  Or, perhaps, still does?  My grandma baked yummy pies and cookies, occasionally stayed with me when I was little, so my parents could go out, and generally spoiled me, the only grandkid growing up close to her.  Most grandmothers do that.  But not all.  Here is what I found via Little Green Footballs:

JABALIYA, Gaza Strip (AFP) - A Palestinian grandmother blew herself up in the Gaza Strip, lightly wounding three Israeli soldiers, in the first suicide attack claimed by Hamas in almost two years.

The mother of nine and grandmother of 41 became the oldest Palestinian suicide bomber at the age of 57, selecting as her target troops operating near her northern Gaza home in Jabaliya, seeking to curb near-daily rocket attacks on Israel.

"Troops saw a woman approaching them in a suspicious manner and identified her carrying an explosive device," an army spokeswoman said.

"They then threw a stun grenade in her direction but she managed to blow herself up," she added, adding that three soldiers were lightly hurt.

Within minutes the armed wing of the Hamas claimed the bombing. This was the Islamist group's first suicide attack since January 2005, when a bomber wounded seven Israeli soldiers in Gaza.

"The Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades claims the martyr operation carried out by Fatima Omar Mahmud al-Najar, aged 57, in the middle of a group of Zionist soldiers," an online statement said.

This death cult granny did not think that raising her grandchildren was a worthy cause.  Instead, she proclaimed this:

"I am the martyr Fatima Najar from the town of Jabaliya. I work for the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades and I sacrifice myself for God, the nation, the Al-Aqsa."

Just for the record, it was not the first attack in two years.  It was the first attack that succeeded in getting far enough along to actually be carried out.  Thank G-d, nobody was killed.  Yes, I do mean "nobody": crazy old lady monster bent on genocide does not count.

One more thing.  For all intents and purposes Palestinians already have a state with its own government (Hamas) and the government military organizations (Hamas military wing being one them).  Thus, any attack on a neighboring country (Israel) constitutes an act of war, and should be treated as such.

Link to Exploding granny - Yahoo! News

Making the last mistake in Iraq

Originally posted on

by Tony Blankley

Here is an important article by Tony Blankley of Jewish World Review:

We have the most profound obligation to attempt to calculate the consequences of the impending American decision to wash our hands of the Iraq unpleasantness. In that regard, the words of President Kennedy come to mind: "There are risks and costs to a program of action. But they are far less than the long-range risks and costs of comfortable inaction."

If we, the most powerful force on the planet, in a fit of disappointment and anger at our bungling policies to date, decide to shrug off our responsibilities to the future — we will soon receive, and deserve, the furious contempt of a terrified world. In fact, even those Americans who today can't wait to end our involvement in the "hopeless" war in Iraq will — when the consequences of our irresponsibility becomes manifest — join the chorus of outrage.

Expedient Washington politicians, take note: Your public is fickle. They may cheer your decision today to get out of Iraq but vote you out of office tomorrow when they don't like the results.

Much of the world (and a fair portion of the American public) may hate us today for our alleged arrogance. But they will spit out our name with contempt through time if we permit to be released the whirlwind that will follow our exit.


We have only two choices: Get out and let the ensuing Middle East firestorm enflame the wider world; or, stay and with shrewder policies and growing material strength manage and contain the danger.

Those who call themselves realists are the least realistic. Their great unreality is that they can't imagine that the passions of the people — for good or ill — are to be reckoned with. Thus it was they who for half a century supported and exploited the Middle East dictators who caused the Islamist pathologies that threaten the world today. It is they who will do business with the corrupt dictators to the very minute that they are overthrown by the Islamist mobs. They will keep the cash register humming until it is flooded with blood. The "realists'" unjustified conceit is, today, the most dangerous pathology facing America.

As in all struggles, each side will make mistakes. We have certainly made several. But as the last century's great chess master Savielly Grigorievitch Tartakower once famously observed: "Victory goes to the player who makes the next-to-last mistake." Retreating from Iraq would be the last mistake.

Read the whole thing.

Link to Making the last mistake in Iraq

Useful idiots human shields - News from Israel, Ynetnews

Originally posted on

 Thanks to Little Green Footballs, I found this:

Priest, nun from Michigan join dozens of Palestinians gathered at Gaza houses in effort to prevent bombing, say ‘If Israel claims family member involved in violence, arrest them, don’t’ destroy home populated by entire family’


Sister Mary Ellen told Ynet, “We are here to find out the truth and to be with the family and these people, who are trying to prevent the demolition of a home where an entire family lives.”

The Sister continued, “We are against any type of violence, whether from the Palestinian side or the Israeli side, by we are here to be with a family that may have their house bombed and demolished because of the claim that one or two members are involved in violence.”

She explained, “We are against any type of collective punishment and feel this punishment is wrong, a complete mistake. If the Israelis claim a family member is involved in violence, then they can arrest them, but not destroy a home populated by an entire family.”

Meanwhile, here is a related story from World Net Daily:

TEL AVIV – The only way to stop the regular rocket fire on Sderot, an Israeli city of about 20,000 nearly three miles from the Gaza Strip border, is for the Jewish state to evacuate the entire city, Hamas announced in a statement today.

"Only the departure of residents from Sderot will stop the rocket fire," Abu Abaida, spokesman for Hamas' so-called military wing, said in a statement to reporters.

"There are no limits on our rocket attacks and we will prove that in coming days. We advise residents of Sderot to evacuate," the Hamas spokesman said.

Asked by WND if his statement was rhetoric or whether the Hamas leadership actually sanctioned a call for Israeli residents to evacuate, Abu Abaida replied, "We are very, very serious. The evacuation can be done in the next days or even up to several weeks, but it must be done. And after that, we will stop all rocket fire unless the Zionists continue more military operations in Gaza".

So far, no human shields came to Sderot.  As Charles of LGF noted, if they did, they could actually get killed: Palestinians will not have any problem killing them.  They routinely deliberately murder civilians anyway.

Link to New in Gaza: Priest, nun human shields - News from Israel, Ynetnews

and to Terrorists give order: Jews must evacuate from FROM WND'S JERUSALEM BUREAU