Dog Brothers Public Forum
Return To Homepage
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
May 30, 2015, 05:36:47 AM

Login with username, password and session length
Search:     Advanced search
Welcome to the Dog Brothers Public Forum.
86374 Posts in 2276 Topics by 1069 Members
Latest Member: ctelerant
* Home Help Search Login Register
  Show Posts
Pages: 1 ... 485 486 [487] 488 489 ... 666
24301  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / AQ in the Arabian Peninsula on: January 28, 2009, 03:13:16 PM
In the meantime would it make sense to remind folks he was Muslim?

Anyway, not to push this discussion off the radar screen, but adding this just in from Stratfor:

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula: Desperation or New Life?
January 28, 2009




By Fred Burton and Scott Stewart

Related Links
The Devolution of Al Qaeda
The media wing of one of al Qaeda’s Yemeni franchises, al Qaeda in Yemen, released a statement on online jihadist forums Jan. 20 from the group’s leader Nasir al-Wuhayshi, announcing the formation of a single al Qaeda group for the Arabian Peninsula under his command. According to al-Wuhayshi, the new group, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, would consist of his former group (al Qaeda in Yemen) as well as members of the now-defunct Saudi al Qaeda franchise.

The press release noted that the Saudi militants have pledged allegiance to al-Wuhayshi, an indication that the reorganization was not a merger of equals. This is understandable, given that the jihadists in Yemen have been active recently while their Saudi counterparts have not conducted a meaningful attack in years. The announcement also related that a Saudi national (and former Guantanamo detainee) identified as Abu-Sayyaf al-Shihri has been appointed as al-Wuhayshi’s deputy. In some ways, this is similar to the way Ayman al-Zawahiri and his faction of Egyptian Islamic Jihad swore allegiance to Osama bin Laden and were integrated in to al Qaeda prime.

While not specifically mentioned, the announcement of a single al Qaeda entity for the entire Arabian Peninsula and the unanimous support by jihadist militants on the Arabian Peninsula for al-Wuhayshi suggests the new organization will incorporate elements of the other al Qaeda franchise in Yemen, the Yemen Soldiers Brigade.

The announcement also provided links to downloadable versions of the latest issue of the group’s online magazine, Sada al-Malahim, (Arabic for “The Echo of Battle”). The Web page links provided to download the magazine also featured trailers advertising the pending release of a new video from the group, now referred to by its new name, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

The translated name of this new organization sounds very similar to the old Saudi al Qaeda franchise, the al Qaeda Organization in the Arabian Peninsula (in Arabic, “Tandheem al Qaeda fi Jazeerat al-Arabiyah”). But the new group’s new Arabic name, Tanzim Qa’idat al-Jihad fi Jazirat al-Arab, is slightly different. The addition of “al-Jihad” seems to have been influenced by the Iraqi al Qaeda franchise, Tanzim Qaidat al-Jihad fi Bilad al-Rafidayn. The flag of the Islamic State of Iraq also appears in the Jan. 24 video, further illustrating the deep ties between the newly announced organization and al Qaeda in Iraq. Indeed, a number of Yemeni militants traveled to Iraq to fight, and these returning al Qaeda veterans have played a large part in the increased sophistication of militant attacks in Yemen over the past year.

Four days after the Jan. 20 announcement, links for a 19-minute video from the new group titled “We Start from Here and We Will Meet at al-Aqsa” began to appear in jihadist corners of cyberspace. Al-Aqsa refers to the al-Aqsa Mosque on what Jews know as Temple Mount and Muslims refer to as Al Haram Al Sharif. The video threatens Muslim leaders in the region (whom it refers to as criminal tyrants), including Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, the Saudi royal family, and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. It also threatens so-called “crusader forces” supporting the regional Muslim leaders, and promises to carry the jihad from the Arabian Peninsula to Israel so as to liberate Muslim holy sites and brethren in Gaza.

An interview with al-Wuhayshi aired Jan. 27 on Al Jazeera echoed these sentiments. During the interview, al-Wuhayshi noted that the “crusades” against “Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia” have been launched from bases in the Arabian Peninsula, and that because of this, “all crusader interests” in the peninsula “should be struck.”

A Different Take on Events
Most of the analysis in Western media regarding the preceding developments has focused on how two former detainees at the U.S. facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, appear in the Jan. 24 video — one of whom was al-Shihri — and that both were graduates of Saudi Arabia’s ideological rehabilitation program, a government deprogramming course for jihadists. In addition to al-Shihri who, according to the video was Guantanamo detainee 372, the video also contains a statement from Abu-al-Harith Muhammad al-Awfi. Al-Awfi, who was identified as a field commander in the video, was allegedly former Guantanamo detainee 333. Prisoner lists from Guantanamo obtained by Stratfor appear to confirm that al-Shihri was in fact Guantanamo detainee No. 372. We did not find al-Awfi’s name on the list, however, another name appears as detainee No. 333. Given the proclivity of jihadists to use fraudulent identities, it is entirely possible that al-Awfi is an alias, or that he was held at Guantanamo under an assumed name. At any rate, we doubt al-Awfi would fabricate this claim and then broadcast it in such a public manner.

The media focus on the Guantanamo aspect is understandable in the wake of U.S. President Barack Obama’s Jan. 22 executive order to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility and all the complexities surrounding that decision. Clearly, some men released from Guantanamo, and even those graduated from the Saudi government’s rehabilitation program, can and have returned to the jihadist fold. Ideology is hard to extinguish, especially an ideology that teaches adherents that there is a war against Islam and that the “true believers” will be persecuted for their beliefs. Al Qaeda has even taken this one step further and has worked to prepare its members not only to face death, but also to endure imprisonment and harsh interrogation. A substantial number of al Qaeda cadres, such as al-Zawahiri and Abu Yahya al-Libi, have endured both, and have been instrumental in helping members withstand captivity and interrogation.

This physical and ideological preparation means that efforts to induce captured militants to abandon their ideology can wind up reinforcing that ideology when those efforts appear to prove important tenets of the ideology, such as that adherents will be persecuted and that the Muslim rulers are aligned with the West. It is also important to realize that radical Islamist extremists, ultraconservatives and traditionalists tend to have a far better grasp of Islamic religious texts than their moderate, liberal and modernist counterparts. Hence, they have an edge over them on the ideological battlefield. Those opposing radicals and extremists have a long way to go before they can produce a coherent legitimate, authoritative and authentic alternative Islamic discourse.

In any event, in practical terms there is no system of “re-education” that is 100 percent effective in eradicating an ideology in humans except execution. There will always be people who will figure out how to game the system and regurgitate whatever is necessary to placate their jailers so as to win release. Because of this, it is not surprising to see people like al-Shihri and al-Awfi released only to re-emerge in their former molds.

Another remarkable feature of the Jan. 27 video is that it showcased four different leaders of the regional group, something rarely seen. In addition to al-Wuhayshi, al-Shihri and al-Awfi, the video also included a statement from Qasim al-Rami, who is suspected of having been involved with the operational planning of the suicide attack on a group of Spanish tourists in Marib, Yemen, in July 2007.

In our estimation, however, perhaps the most remarkable feature about these recent statements from al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is not the appearance of these two former Guantanamo detainees in the video, or the appearance of four distinct leaders of the group in a single video, but rather what the statements tell us about the state of the al Qaeda franchises in Saudi Arabia and Yemen.

Signposts
That the remnants of the Saudi al Qaeda franchise have been forced to flee their country and join up with the Yemeni group demonstrates that the Saudi government’s campaign to eradicate the jihadist organization has been very successful. The Saudi franchise was very active in 2003 and 2004, but has not attempted a significant attack since the February 2006 attack against the oil facility in Abqaiq. In spite of the large number of Saudi fighters who have traveled to militant training camps, and to fight in places such as Iraq, the Saudi franchise has had significant problems organizing operational cells inside the kingdom. Additionally, since the death of Abdel Aziz al-Muqrin, the Saudi franchise has struggled to find a charismatic and savvy leader. (The Saudis have killed several leaders who succeeded al-Muqrin.) In a militant organization conducting an insurgency or terrorist operations, leadership is critical not only to the operational success of the group but also to its ability to recruit new members, raise funding and acquire resources such as weapons.

Like the Saudi node, the fortunes of other al Qaeda regional franchises have risen or fallen based upon ability of the franchise’s leadership. For example, in August 2006 al Qaeda announced with great fanfare that the Egyptian militant group Gamaah al-Islamiyah (GAI) had joined forces with al Qaeda. Likewise, in November 2007 al Qaeda announced that the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) had formally joined the al Qaeda network. But neither of these groups really ever got off the ground. While a large portion of the responsibility for the groups’ lack of success may be due to the oppressive natures of the Egyptian and Libyan governments and the aggressive efforts those governments undertook to control the new al Qaeda franchises, we believe the lack of success also stems from poor leadership. (There are certainly other significant factors contributing to the failure of al Qaeda nodes in various places, such as the alienation of the local population.)

Conversely, we believe that an important reason for the resurgence of the al Qaeda franchise in Yemen has been the leadership of al-Wuhayshi. As we have noted in the past, Yemen is a much easier environment for militants to operate in than either Egypt or Libya. There are many Salafists employed in the Yemeni security and intelligence apparatus who at the very least are sympathetic to the jihadist cause. These men are holdovers from the Yemeni civil war, when Saleh formed an alliance with Salafists and recruited jihadists to fight Marxist forces in South Yemen. This alliance continues today, with Saleh deriving significant political support from radical Islamists. Many of the state’s key institutions (including the military) employ Salafists, making any major crackdown on militant Islamists in the country politically difficult. This sentiment among the security forces also helps explain the many jihadists who have escaped from Yemeni prisons — such as al-Wuhayshi.

Yemen has also long been at the crossroads of a number of jihadist theaters, including Afghanistan/Pakistan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, the Levant, Egypt and Somalia. Yemen also is a country with a thriving arms market, a desert warrior tradition and a tribal culture that often bridles against government authority and that makes it difficult for the government to assert control over large swaths of the country. Yemeni tribesmen also tend to be religiously conservative and susceptible to the influence of jihadist theology.

In spite of this favorable environment, the Yemeni al Qaeda franchise has largely floundered since 9/11. Much of this is due to U.S. and Yemeni efforts to decapitate the group, such as the strike by a U.S. unmanned aerial vehicle on then-leader of al Qaeda in Yemen, Abu Ali al-Harithi, in late 2002 and the subsequent arrest of his replacement, Mohammed Hamdi al-Ahdal, in late 2003. The combination of these operations in such a short period helped cripple al Qaeda in Yemen’s operational capability.

As Stratfor noted in spring 2008, however, al Qaeda militants in Yemen have become more active and more effective under the leadership of al-Wuhayshi, an ethnic Yemeni who spent time in Afghanistan as a lieutenant under bin Laden. After his time with bin Laden, Iranian authorities arrested al-Wuhayshi, later returning him to Yemen in 2003 via an Iranian-Yemeni extradition deal. He subsequently escaped from a high-security prison outside the Yemeni capital, Sanaa, in February 2006 along with Jamal al-Badawi (the leader of the cell that carried out the suicide bombing of the USS Cole).

Al-Wuhayshi’s established ties with al Qaeda prime and bin Laden in particular not only provide him legitimacy in the eyes of other jihadists, in more practical terms, they may have provided him the opportunity to learn the tradecraft necessary to successfully lead a militant group and conduct operations. His close ties to influential veterans of al Qaeda in Yemen like al-Badawi also may have helped him infuse new energy into the struggle in Yemen in 2008.

While the group had been on a rising trajectory in 2008, things had been eerily quiet in Yemen since the Sept. 17, 2008, attack against the U.S. Embassy in Sanaa and the resulting campaign against the group. The recent flurry of statements has broken the quiet, followed by a Warden Message on Jan. 26 warning of a possible threat against the compound of the U.S. Embassy in Yemen and a firefight at a security checkpoint near the embassy hours later.

At this point, it appears the shooting incident may not be related to the threat warning and may instead have been the result of jumpy nerves. Reports suggest the police may have fired at a speeding car before the occupants, who were armed tribesmen, fired back. Although there have been efforts to crack down on the carrying of weapons in Sanaa, virtually every Yemeni male owns an AK-variant assault rifle of some sort; like the ceremonial jambiya dagger, such a rifle is considered a must-have accessory in most parts of the country. Not surprisingly, incidents involving gunfire are not uncommon in Yemen.

Either way, we will continue to keep a close eye on Yemen and al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. As we have seen in the past, press statements are not necessarily indicative of future jihadist performance. It will be important to watch developments in Yemen for signs that will help determine whether this recent merger and announcement is a sign of desperation by a declining group, or whether the addition of fresh blood from Saudi Arabia will help breathe new life into al-Wuhayshi’s operations and provide his group the means to make good on its threats.
24302  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: January 28, 2009, 03:12:01 PM
Fair enough cheesy

The point I am trying to raise though, and lets use the Lebanese invasion of a year or so ago as an example, is the possibility that this approach simply innoculates/immunizes the enemy.

When Israel went into Lebanon it had as green a light as I can remember from the US govt.  I was praying for Israel to go all the way through the Bekkaa Valley (sp?) and clean out that nest of vipers for once and for all.  Instead, having triggered the regretable civilian casualites, you guys quit before you finished.

Net result: Hez gets bragging rights AND doubles/triples the number of missiles it has.

Arguably a similar dynamic in play now with Gaza-- except that Iran now has fronts on both your north and south borders.  As soon as they can reach your nuclear reactor, what happens to your Osirak option for Iran's incipient nukes?

PS:  My apologies for President Bush vetoing your request to go after Iran.  I fear this was a historic error.
24303  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / CIA chief, convert to Islam, allegedly raped drugged women on: January 28, 2009, 02:16:46 PM
Exclusive: CIA Station Chief in Algeria Accused of Rapes

"Ugly American"? Spy Boss Allegedly Drugged Muslim Women, Made Secret Sex Videos

By BRIAN ROSS, KATE McCARTHY, and ANGELA M. HILL
January 28, 2009—


The CIA's station chief at its sensitive post in Algeria is under investigation by the U.S. Justice Department for allegedly raping at least two Muslim women who claim he laced their drinks with a knock-out drug, U.S. law enforcement sources tell ABC News.

Officials say the 41-year old CIA officer, a convert to Islam, was ordered home by the U.S. Ambassador, David Pearce, in October after the women came forward with their rape allegations in September.



The discovery of more than a dozen videotapes showing the CIA officer engaged in sex acts with other women has led the Justice Department to broaden its investigation to include at least one other Arab country, Egypt, where the CIA officer had been posted earlier in his career, according to law enforcement officials.

The U.S. State Department referred questions to the Department of Justice, which declined to comment.

"It has the potential to be quite explosive if it's not handled well by the United States government," said Isobel Coleman, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations who specializes in women's issues in the Middle East.

"This isn't the type of thing that's going to be easily pushed under the carpet," she said.

The CIA refused to acknowledge the investigation or provide the name of the Algiers station chief, but the CIA Director of Public Affairs, Mark Mansfield, said, "I can assure you that the Agency would take seriously, and follow up on, any allegations of impropriety."

It can be a crime for government officials to reveal the identity of a current covert intelligence officer, and CIA officials would not comment the status of the person under investigation.

One of the alleged victims reportedly said she met the CIA officer at a bar in the U.S. embassy and then was taken to his official station chief residence where she said the sexual assault took place.

The second alleged victim reportedly told U.S. prosecutors that, in a separate incident, she also was drugged at the American's official residence before being sexually assaulted.

Both women have reportedly given sworn statements to federal prosecutors sent from Washington to prepare a possible criminal case against the CIA officer.

Following the initial complaints, U.S. officials say they obtained a warrant from a federal judge in Washington, D.C. in October to search the station chief's CIA-provided residence in Algiers and turned up the videos that appear to have been secretly recorded and show, they say, the CIA officer engaged in sexual acts.

Officials say one of the alleged victims is seen on tape, in a "semi-conscious state."

The time-stamped date on other tapes led prosecutors to broaden the investigation to Egypt because the date matched a time when CIA officer was in Cairo, officials said.

Pills found in the CIA residence were sent to the FBI crime laboratory for testing, according to officials involved in the case.

"Drugs commonly referred to as date rape drugs are difficult to detect because the body rapidly metabolizes them," said former FBI agent Brad Garrett, an ABC News consultant. "Many times women are not aware they were even assaulted until the next day," he said.

A third woman, a friend of one of the alleged victims, reportedly provided a cell phone video that showed her friend having a drink and dancing inside the CIA station chief's residence in Algiers, which officials told ABC News provided corroboration the CIA officer had indeed brought the woman to his residence.

The officer in charge of the CIA station in Algiers plays an important role in working with the Algerian intelligence services to combat an active al Qaeda wing responsible for a wave of bombings in Algeria.

In the most serious incident, 48 people were killed in a bombing in August, 2008 in Algiers, blamed on the al Qaeda group.

The Algerian ambassador to the United Nations, Mourad Benmehid, said his government had not been notified by the U.S. of the rape allegations or the criminal investigation.

Repeated messages left for the CIA officer with his parents and his sister were not returned.

No charges have been filed but officials said a grand jury was likely to consider an indictment on sexual assault charges as early as next month.

"This will be seen as the typical ugly American," said former CIA officer Bob Baer, reacting to the ABC News report. "My question is how the CIA would not have picked up on this in their own regular reviews of CIA officers overseas," Baer said.

"From a national security standpoint," said Baer, the alleged rapes would be "not only wrong but could open him up to potential blackmail and that's something the CIA should have picked up on," said Baer. "This is indicative of personnel problems of all sorts that run through the agency," he said.

"Rape is ugly in any context," said Coleman who praised the bravery of the alleged Algerian victims in going to authorities. "Rape is viewed as very shameful to women, and I think this is an opportunity for the US to show how seriously it takes the issue of rape," she said.

http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/Story?id=6750266&page=1
24304  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / NYT: Dirt is good on: January 28, 2009, 02:07:18 PM
Personal Health
Babies Know: A Little Dirt Is Good for You
               E-Mail
Print
Reprints
Share
Linkedin
Digg
Facebook
Mixx
By JANE E. BRODY
Published: January 26, 2009

Ask mothers why babies are constantly picking things up from the floor or ground and putting them in their mouths, and chances are they’ll say that it’s instinctive — that that’s how babies explore the world. But why the mouth, when sight, hearing, touch and even scent are far better at identifying things?

When my young sons were exploring the streets of Brooklyn, I couldn’t help but wonder how good crushed rock or dried dog droppings could taste when delicious mashed potatoes were routinely rejected.

Since all instinctive behaviors have an evolutionary advantage or they would not have been retained for millions of years, chances are that this one too has helped us survive as a species. And, indeed, accumulating evidence strongly suggests that eating dirt is good for you.

In studies of what is called the hygiene hypothesis, researchers are concluding that organisms like the millions of bacteria, viruses and especially worms that enter the body along with “dirt” spur the development of a healthy immune system. Several continuing studies suggest that worms may help to redirect an immune system that has gone awry and resulted in autoimmune disorders, allergies and asthma.

These studies, along with epidemiological observations, seem to explain why immune system disorders like multiple sclerosis, Type 1 diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, asthma and allergies have risen significantly in the United States and other developed countries.

Training the Immune System

“What a child is doing when he puts things in his mouth is allowing his immune response to explore his environment,” Mary Ruebush, a microbiology and immunology instructor, wrote in her new book, “Why Dirt Is Good” (Kaplan). “Not only does this allow for ‘practice’ of immune responses, which will be necessary for protection, but it also plays a critical role in teaching the immature immune response what is best ignored.”

One leading researcher, Dr. Joel V. Weinstock, the director of gastroenterology and hepatology at Tufts Medical Center in Boston, said in an interview that the immune system at birth “is like an unprogrammed computer. It needs instruction.”

He said that public health measures like cleaning up contaminated water and food have saved the lives of countless children, but they “also eliminated exposure to many organisms that are probably good for us.”

“Children raised in an ultraclean environment,” he added, “are not being exposed to organisms that help them develop appropriate immune regulatory circuits.”

Studies he has conducted with Dr. David Elliott, a gastroenterologist and immunologist at the University of Iowa, indicate that intestinal worms, which have been all but eliminated in developed countries, are “likely to be the biggest player” in regulating the immune system to respond appropriately, Dr. Elliott said in an interview. He added that bacterial and viral infections seem to influence the immune system in the same way, but not as forcefully.

Most worms are harmless, especially in well-nourished people, Dr. Weinstock said.

“There are very few diseases that people get from worms,” he said. “Humans have adapted to the presence of most of them.”

Worms for Health

In studies in mice, Dr. Weinstock and Dr. Elliott have used worms to both prevent and reverse autoimmune disease. Dr. Elliott said that in Argentina, researchers found that patients with multiple sclerosis who were infected with the human whipworm had milder cases and fewer flare-ups of their disease over a period of four and a half years. At the University of Wisconsin, Madison, Dr. John Fleming, a neurologist, is testing whether the pig whipworm can temper the effects of multiple sclerosis.

In Gambia, the eradication of worms in some villages led to children’s having increased skin reactions to allergens, Dr. Elliott said. And pig whipworms, which reside only briefly in the human intestinal tract, have had “good effects” in treating the inflammatory bowel diseases, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, he said.

How may worms affect the immune system? Dr. Elliott explained that immune regulation is now known to be more complex than scientists thought when the hygiene hypothesis was first introduced by a British epidemiologist, David P. Strachan, in 1989. Dr. Strachan noted an association between large family size and reduced rates of asthma and allergies. Immunologists now recognize a four-point response system of helper T cells: Th 1, Th 2, Th 17 and regulatory T cells. Th 1 inhibits Th 2 and Th 17; Th 2 inhibits Th 1 and Th 17; and regulatory T cells inhibit all three, Dr. Elliott said.

“A lot of inflammatory diseases — multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and asthma — are due to the activity of Th 17,” he explained. “If you infect mice with worms, Th 17 drops dramatically, and the activity of regulatory T cells is augmented.”

In answer to the question, “Are we too clean?” Dr. Elliott said: “Dirtiness comes with a price. But cleanliness comes with a price, too. We’re not proposing a return to the germ-filled environment of the 1850s. But if we properly understand how organisms in the environment protect us, maybe we can give a vaccine or mimic their effects with some innocuous stimulus.”

Wash in Moderation

Dr. Ruebush, the “Why Dirt Is Good” author, does not suggest a return to filth, either. But she correctly points out that bacteria are everywhere: on us, in us and all around us. Most of these micro-organisms cause no problem, and many, like the ones that normally live in the digestive tract and produce life-sustaining nutrients, are essential to good health.

“The typical human probably harbors some 90 trillion microbes,” she wrote. “The very fact that you have so many microbes of so many different kinds is what keeps you healthy most of the time.”

Dr. Ruebush deplores the current fetish for the hundreds of antibacterial products that convey a false sense of security and may actually foster the development of antibiotic-resistant, disease-causing bacteria. Plain soap and water are all that are needed to become clean, she noted.

“I certainly recommend washing your hands after using the bathroom, before eating, after changing a diaper, before and after handling food,” and whenever they’re visibly soiled, she wrote. When no running water is available and cleaning hands is essential, she suggests an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

Dr. Weinstock goes even further. “Children should be allowed to go barefoot in the dirt, play in the dirt, and not have to wash their hands when they come in to eat,” he said. He and Dr. Elliott pointed out that children who grow up on farms and are frequently exposed to worms and other organisms from farm animals are much less likely to develop allergies and autoimmune diseases.

Also helpful, he said, is to “let kids have two dogs and a cat,” which will expose them to intestinal worms that can promote a healthy immune system.
24305  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: January 28, 2009, 02:01:53 PM
How do you think/feel that approach is working for you?
24306  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / BO and so called "Fair Pay" on: January 28, 2009, 01:59:35 PM
This editorial from today's NY Slimes.  Some things BO said on the campaign trail in this regard got my spider sense tingling-- and unless I miss my guess this is an absolutely Orwellian Liberal Fascist play to get the government, particularly the courts, in the business of determining the comparative pay for different lines of work because some lines of work are more male or more female.

Lets keep our eye out for this one!

=========

Editorial
Progress on Fair Pay

Published: January 27, 2009
Congress has given a significant boost to civil rights by approving legislation to overturn a notorious 2007 Supreme Court decision that made it much harder for employees to challenge unlawful pay discrimination based on gender, race, age and disability. Following its passage with a final House vote on Tuesday, the measure goes to the White House where President Obama is expected to sign it this week.

The 5-to-4 decision involved Lilly Ledbetter, a supervisor at a Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company plant in Alabama. She received much smaller raises over several years than men in comparable positions. Overriding longstanding legal precedents and government practice, the court’s conservative majority decided she was entitled to nothing. In doing so, it imposed an unrealistic deadline for filing claims that rewarded employers who successfully disguise their discriminatory pay actions.

After signing the corrective measure, Mr. Obama ought to press Congress to continue the fight for equal pay for equal work by passing a second bill — the Paycheck Fairness Act — that would further strengthen current laws against gender-based wage discrimination. Among other things, this bill, which Mr. Obama co-sponsored while in the Senate, would make stronger remedies available under the existing Equal Pay Act; ensure that courts require employers to show that wage disparities are job-related, not sex-based, and consistent with business needs; and protect employees who discuss salary information from retaliation. 

These changes may not please some business interests. But women still make, on average, only 78 cents for every dollar earned by men for performing substantially the same work. To narrow that yawning wage gap, tighter rules are plainly in order.  (actually once the numbers are screened for age variables, this 78 cents number is horse excrement-- Marc)

The House, to its credit, passed both bills. But Democratic leaders in the Senate peeled off the Paycheck Fairness Act after determining that pairing the two measures could jeopardize the chamber’s approval of the more familiar Ledbetter bill.

The new president can play a useful role in helping to rally Senate Democrats not to rest on their Ledbetter laurels and to persuade Republicans to come on board. In the House, only three Republicans voted in favor of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. In the Senate, five did. By now, Republican opposition to civil rights and pay equity is not surprising. That makes it all the sadder.
24307  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / NYT: Iraqi journalists: free press and free land on: January 28, 2009, 01:48:59 PM
By CAMPBELL ROBERTSON
Published: January 27, 2009
BAGHDAD — At a recent meeting with the Iraqi journalists’ union, Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki made a pledge that would have scandalized the Iraqis’ American counterparts: the government would give plots of land to thousands of journalists, for a nominal price or possibly even free.

A campaign sign for Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki of Iraq. Mr. Maliki has pledged to give plots of land to journalists.
His timing, a month before provincial elections, as well as his admonition to journalists to focus on stories of progress and reconstruction, might be seen as an attempt to buy favorable news coverage.

But if it was, there were few objections from the journalists, who have been demanding the land giveaway for years.

“The resolution of distributing lands to journalists is part of several rights that the journalists should have,” said Moaid Allami, the president of the union. “These are social and legal rights to the citizen, to the journalist citizen.”

More than just free elections, policy analysts often say, democracy requires democratic civil institutions like a free press. But the popularity of the land-for-journalists program illustrates the challenges newfound democratic principles face when they clash with entitlements and cozy relationships that no one ever questioned before.

The government has been pledging to give land to journalists for years, and there are doubts as to when or whether it will really happen. Yassin Majeed, a government spokesman, said that the process was going forward and that the current plan was to offer plots all over the country to as many journalists in the union as possible.

But there are few doubts among journalists that they deserve it.

Mr. Allami, whose union represents 10,000 employees of state, party and independently owned media, said journalists were entitled to the state’s support given the hardships they faced in the line of duty. For six years running, Iraq has been declared the most dangerous place in the world for journalists by the Committee to Protect Journalists. Since the American-led invasion in 2003, 114 Iraqi journalists have been killed, the organization reports, victims of cross-fire, bombings or assassination.

Local press organizations say the number is much higher.

Shihab al-Tamimi, the former president of the union, was shot and killed in his car last February, and Mr. Allami was wounded in a bomb blast outside the union’s headquarters in September.

Before the American invasion, all journalists worked for the government and, like other government-employed professionals, including doctors and teachers, they were well paid and had secure jobs, pensions and other benefits.

But since then, the media have been largely privatized, and those benefits have disappeared. The vast majority of Iraqi reporters are paid salaries too low for them to accrue any savings. And unlike state employees, they have little job security and no health insurance, life insurance or pensions.

The journalists’ union has sought compensation in another program from the era of Saddam Hussein’s government: land patronage. For decades, land was given to soldiers, officers and favored government employees. The union has also asked for pensions, as well as reduced fares for journalists on the state-owned airline.

“Support from the government is not a right, but it’s a necessity,” said Maher Faisal, the managing editor of the independent newspaper Addustour. “The media and journalists have been marginalized in this country.”

Mr. Faisal said he hoped that the deal was not politically motivated. “But,” he said, “journalists need to eat.”

A few journalists, however, are worried about a different kind of survival — that of Iraq’s nascent free press.

Hadi Jalow Merei, a writer for the newspaper Azzaman, said the land distribution plan “would open the door to government interference.”

Ziad al-Ajili, the manager of a Baghdad-based advocacy group, Journalistic Freedoms Observatory, said of the land giveaway: “I would not take it even if I have to live in a tent. As soon as you do, it will be the end of Iraq’s independent journalism.”

He acknowledges the difficulties Iraqi journalists face; his organization keeps a tally of arrests, killings and beatings of journalists, as well as government violations of press freedoms. But the best way to address these problems, he said, is through more journalism, not government handouts.

“They’re not thinking about the future,” he said of his colleagues. “If they think about the future as independent journalists, we can do lots of things.”

===================
(Page 2 of 2)



Under Mr. Hussein, journalists walked a fine line. Those who went too far in their reporting were often arrested and tortured. But Mr. Hussein, whose son Uday was president of the journalists’ union, knew how to use the carrot, too.

Reporters who worked during those years said they were granted leeway to criticize government officials as long as Saddam Hussein, his sons and his special interests were left untouched. Those favored by Mr. Hussein were showered with money, cars and land.

Since his government was toppled in 2003, private news outlets have proliferated, some independent and many affiliated with political parties. A free press was enshrined in Iraq’s new Constitution, which guarantees the right “as long as it does not violate public order and morality.” Laws criminalizing certain types of speech have curtailed that right somewhat.

But the new authorities sometimes acted like the old ones. An American public relations firm hired by the Pentagon paid Iraqi journalists for favorable coverage. Both the American-led coalition and the Iraqi government have closed news outlets and arrested journalists, often without charge or on vague accusations of supporting terrorism.

Last year, Iraq ranked 158th out of 173 countries in the Press Freedom Index compiled by Reporters Without Borders, a media watchdog group.

But the old habits die hard for journalists, too.

“The union is still begging from the powerful and working hard to satisfy the government,” said Sadiq al-Moussaoui, who runs the Waael news agency. “When the politicians start becoming afraid of us, that will mean we are real journalists.”

But Mr. Majeed, the government spokesman, insisted that a simple benefit program did not mean that the government expected anything in return. Nor was Mr. Allami, the union president, concerned that the program could appear to compromise journalists’ integrity.

“I’m not afraid about the credibility of the journalism in Iraq after these resolutions,” he said. “On the contrary, I’m afraid of the government if we say something or write something honest against them in the future. They may take away our rights if we criticize them at some point. But once we get the lands and those lands are registered in our names, they aren’t going to be able to take them away.”
24308  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: January 28, 2009, 11:49:37 AM
Did anyone not Sec Def Gates's comments on Afg yesterday?  It read to me like he has been reading Stratfor.

Any comments? 

Also note the following from today's NY Slimes-- are BO's anonymous aides saying the same thing as Sec Def?  Are they channeling our Freki (or did he read this article before posting?  cheesy )

========================
Aides Say Obama’s Afghan Aims Elevate War
HELENE COOPER and THOM SHANKER
Published: January 27, 2009

WASHINGTON — President Obama intends to adopt a tougher line toward Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, as part of a new American approach to Afghanistan that will put more emphasis on waging war than on development, senior administration officials said Tuesday.

American soldiers conducted an operation along Afghanistan’s border with Pakistan last month. The Obama administration says it plans to send more troops to fight in Afghanistan this year.


President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan can expect a tougher line from the Obama administration, American officials said.
Mr. Karzai is now seen as a potential impediment to American goals in Afghanistan, the officials said, because corruption has become rampant in his government, contributing to a flourishing drug trade and the resurgence of the Taliban.

"The president has recently asked for a comprehensive review of Afghanistan policy, and no final decisions have been made," Michael A. Hammer, spokesman for the National Security Council, said Wednesday.

Among those pressing for Mr. Karzai to do more, the officials said, are Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Richard C. Holbrooke, Mr. Obama’s special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The officials portrayed the approach as a departure from that of President Bush, who held videoconferences with Mr. Karzai every two weeks and sought to emphasize the American role in rebuilding Afghanistan and its civil institutions.

They said that the Obama administration would work with provincial leaders as an alternative to the central government, and that it would leave economic development and nation-building increasingly to European allies, so that American forces could focus on the fight against insurgents.

“If we set ourselves the objective of creating some sort of Central Asian Valhalla over there, we will lose,” Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, who served under Mr. Bush and is staying on under Mr. Obama, told Congress on Tuesday. He said there was not enough “time, patience or money” to pursue overly ambitious goals in Afghanistan, and he called the war there “our greatest military challenge.”

Mr. Gates said last week that previous American goals for Afghanistan had been “too broad and too far into the future,” language that differed from Mr. Bush’s policies.

NATO has not met its pledges for combat troops, transport helicopters, military trainers and other support personnel in Afghanistan, and Mr. Gates has openly criticized the United States’ NATO allies for not fulfilling their promises.

Mr. Holbrooke is preparing to travel to the region, and administration officials said he would ask more of Mr. Karzai, particularly on fighting corruption, aides said, as part of what they described as a “more for more” approach.

Mr. Karzai is facing re-election this year, and it is not clear whether Mr. Obama and his aides intend to support his candidacy. The administration will be watching, aides said, to see if Mr. Karzai responds to demands from the United States and its NATO allies that he arrest associates, including his half-brother, whom Western officials have accused of smuggling drugs in Kandahar.

Shortly before taking office as vice president last week, Mr. Biden traveled to Afghanistan in his role as the departing chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He met with Mr. Karzai and warned him that the Obama administration would expect more of him than Mr. Bush did, administration officials said. He told Mr. Karzai that Mr. Obama would be discontinuing the video calls that Mr. Karzai enjoyed with Mr. Bush, said a senior official, who added that Mr. Obama expected Mr. Karzai to do more to crack down on corruption.

After his return from Afghanistan, Mr. Biden, who has had a contentious relationship with Mr. Karzai, described the situation there as “a real mess.”

An election is scheduled to be held no later than the fall, under Afghanistan’s Constitution. Zalmay Khalilzad, an Afghan-American who is a former United States ambassador to the United Nations and is viewed as a possible challenger to Mr. Karzai, warned that the Obama administration must tread carefully as it recalibrated its Afghanistan policy.

“If it looks like we’re abandoning the central government and focusing just on the local areas, we will run afoul of Afghan politics,” Mr. Khalilzad said. “Some will regard it as an effort to break up the Afghan state, which would be regarded as hostile policy.”

Mr. Obama is preparing to increase the number of American troops in Afghanistan over the next two years, perhaps to more than 60,000 from about 34,000 now. But Mr. Gates indicated Tuesday that the administration would move slowly, at least for now. He outlined plans for an increase of about 12,000 troops by midsummer but cautioned that any decision on more troops beyond that might have to wait until late 2009, given the need for barracks and other infrastructure.

With the forces of the Taliban and Al Qaeda mounting more aggressive operations in eastern and southern Afghanistan, administration officials said they saw little option but to focus on the military campaign. They said Europeans would be asked to pick up more of the work on reconstruction, police training and cooperation with the Afghan government. They also said much of the international effort might shift to helping local governments and institutions, and away from the government in Kabul.

“It’s not about dumping reconstruction at all,” said a senior administration official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the diplomatic delicacy of the subject. “What we’re trying to do is to focus on the Al Qaeda problem. That has to be our first priority.”

Mr. Gates said Tuesday that under the redefined Afghan strategy, it would be vital for NATO allies to “provide more civilian support.” In particular, he said, the allies should be more responsible for building civil society institutions in Afghanistan, a task that had been falling to American forces. He also demanded that allies “step up to the plate” and defray costs of expanding the Afghan Army, an emerging power center, whose leaders could emerge as rivals to Mr. Karzai.

Mr. Gates added that the United States should focus on limited goals. “My own personal view is that our primary goal is to prevent Afghanistan from being used as a base for terrorists and extremists to attack the United States and our allies, and whatever else we need to do flows from that objective,” he said.
24309  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / A Russian POV on: January 28, 2009, 11:40:29 AM
What follows is quite a bit different from our usual fare here-- but then our mission is to Search for Truth.  Not saying this piece doesn't have deception, misdirection, and outright lies too, but I do find it interesting.  Comments?
===============

http://www.russiatoday.com/guests/detail/1801


Dmitry Rogozin

American missiles to be deployed in Poland are capable of hitting Moscow in just four minutes, which makes them totally provocative weapons, says Russia’s envoy to NATO Dmitry Rogozin.

Dmitry Rogozin: I was a State Duma deputy for 11 years. I know very well the work of parliamentarians in the West. In the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, I was the leader of a political group. What is going on in the Parliamentary Assembly of NATO is something quite uncommon and not customary for western parliamentarianism. Usually, they try to invite both sides to discussions, even if it’s just for the sake of appearances. They might have concealed some aspects while emphasizing others, but flatly declining the presence of an official Russian representative at a discussion with Saakashvili on a matter they call the “Russian-Georgian conflict” is just plain wrong. This is why I considered it impossible to accept the invitation to attend the NATO Parliamentary Assembly in Valencia. In turn, I invited leaders of national delegations to the Assembly to our mission in Brussels. We’ll talk there.

Sometimes I get the impression that we and they live on different planets. At first, even before the dust had settled after the bombing of Tskhinval, we heard “It does not matter who attacked whom”. I wish they had tried to tell the same to the U.S. after 9/11.

A while later, when human rights activists such as Human Rights Watch started reporting military crimes, our Western counterparts slowly began to change their point of view. But even that is admitted only in their internal discussions, while they keep telling us that Russia’s intrusion in Georgia is unacceptable, as is Russia’s recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

It’s a Biblical situation: they are looking at a splinter in our eye while refusing to notice the log in theirs.

Frankly, I don’t believe it. We’ve discussed it repeatedly with many influential European politicians, and the picture looks as follows: Europe is a neighbor of Ukraine, Russia, and Georgia. Imagine that you live in an apartment next to a Ukrainian flat, where a girl called Yulia is running back and forth, yelling and shouting, between two men named Viktor. It’s a Brazilian soap opera, the several-hundredth episode of it.

In another apartment, an insane maniac is running around with a knife, threatening to stab everyone he sees. That’s the Georgian apartment. Hearing all this racket from behind a wall is one thing; breaking down the wall between apartments and inviting everyone to your place is quite different. There are different people in Europe, but they are not crazy, especially the politicians. I doubt they will take any such steps.

It is clear that neither Albania, nor Croatia, nor Macedonia, nor Bosnia and Herzegovina, nor Ukraine, nor Georgia can be considered powers in a military sense. Their military potential is zero. It’s even lower than that, I would say. So it’s not about acquiring valuable military allies, it’s purely a political matter. As the westerners themselves admit, it’s a matter of a new political identity for the newly admitted countries. And this is the anti-Russian thing. This is why, when anybody in the Ukraine tries to change identity, to change Ukraine’s historical choice, or, to put it simply, to tear Ukraine away from Russia, we are anxious. How else should we feel when there are so many ties with Russia? 40% of Russian families have immediate relatives in Ukraine, and 80% of Ukrainian families have relatives in Russia. This connection is impossible to break up. This is why such plans should be viewed as breakaway and aimed against Russia.

The same is true about Georgia. You see, guys like Saakashvili come and go, but there is still a history of relationships between our two countries, and it is far richer than what has happened over the last few years. Again, this breaking away from Russia is a strange attempt to legalise Georgia’s territorial gains in the form of Abkhazia and Ossetia, which were never part of the state of Georgia. I think that all this is just an attempt to isolate the Russian bear, to force it into its lair. There is one problem, though, and every hunter knows that. You can hunt a bear down, you can badger it, but it’s dangerous to come close to it. Therefore, NATO closing in on Russia is dangerous: any hunter can tell you that.

The chances are pretty low so far. It’s due to the inertia of the Cold War mentality. In general, what Russia is suggesting is very good. We suggest principles that are really hard to object to. Who is going to deny that security should be equal, indispensable and indivisible for all? Who could be against demilitarizing the entire centre of the European continent using military force solely to defend our common borders in the Pacific area? Who could be against ruling out military planning, especially nuclear planning, against each other? These things are totally reasonable; it’s a new world outlook. It’s a new vision of collective security for everyone. Therefore, what Medvedev is offering is hardly questionable.

The problem is a different matter altogether. The problem is that employees of all international organizations think, “What’s going to happen to me personally?” I refer to employees of the NATO Secretariat, employees of the European Commission, and employees of the OSCE headquarters in Vienna - they all think this. “Will I keep getting my several-thousand-euro paycheck if that Medvedev guy realizes his concept?” They are afraid that a moment will come when people will simply sweep those lardy European bureaucrats out of their cozy seats. It’s that selfish, small-minded, paltry psychology of Euro-Atlantic bureaucrats that can ruin such a great initiative. Well, I still believe this concept will win through sooner or later.

For example, what they are discussing now is the unacceptability of Russia’s plan to deploy its Iskander missile systems in the Kaliningrad Region. As for the fact that the U.S. has already began deploying its launch systems in Poland and is about to press the Czechs into approving the deployment of a radar station there, nobody in Europe seems to care about that. Everybody would rather believe the fairy-tales of bad Iranian guys or some Bin Laden having snatched a missile somewhere and running around with it, preparing to fire it at the civilized European world. This is rubbish. Nobody can steal a strategic missile. No Bin Laden can do that. But nevertheless, since this myth is being touted by America, Europe prefers to stay silent. That flaccid, spineless reaction of Europe to America’s actions and to Russia’s responses to them only proves one thing: Europe still doesn’t have its own political face. It’s wealthy, but politically spineless. It’s like a big, thick, but very flexible, pencil.

Let’s just hope Russia’s deployment of Iskander missiles in Kaliningrad will influence Europe’s attitude towards America’s missile defence plans. For us, it is important to have the military means to counterbalance those plans, which indeed threaten our security. You see, the thing is that the American missiles to be deployed in Poland can be used in several ways. They can not only shoot down descending ballistic missiles, but they can also engage surface targets. That is, they can be fired at Moscow from Poland, and they are so quick and accurate that a missile can get to Moscow in just four minutes and fly into Russian Prime Minister’s office through the window! I am not joking! This is a destabilising, misbalancing, and totally provocative weapon.

===========

How can we stand for that? Of course, we will find an adequate military response. That is, unless we find a political response first. Well, we so hope that they are sensible enough to realise that we are not like we used to be. If we are offended, we can hit back, and do it more than once.

Until things get really tough, they are going to keep pretending that Russia is their opponent. I think that in the XXI century, the real threat is posed by a certain bunch of people who think that you and I are second-class people. Those close-minded people simply don’t recognize our right to live. They don’t care who they are dealing with - Russians, Jews, Tatars, French, or British, or whoever, - they are all the same to them. To them, we are just a worthless civilization that must be destroyed. Let’s hope our Western counterparts realise that those guys threaten us all in equal measure and that this plague advancing on the European continent will engulf us while we are all arguing. Today, we talk about existing threats such as terrorism, extremism (political or religious), drug trafficking, and piracy.

As for piracy, there are pirates rampant in Somalia, and tomorrow, I think, the entire African coast will be swarming with pirates, and there will not be enough warships to keep them at bay. There is an enormous distance between Europe and the Third World. There is a new civilization emerging in the Third World that thinks that the white, northern hemisphere has always oppressed it and must therefore fall at its feet now. This is very serious

If the northern civilization wants to protect itself, it must be united: America, the European Union, and Russia. If they are not together, they will be defeated one by one.

Of course, the resumption of the work of the Russia-NATO council is possible. It will surely happen, because there are too many bureaucrats in NATO who are responsible for contact with Russia. They are afraid of losing their jobs after the freezing of the Russia-NATO council, so they are among the most zealous lobbyists for resuming our good relationship. Well, kidding aside, the scope of strategic matters that unites us is so vast that we can pretend as long as we want that we don’t communicate, but we can’t help communicating. In Brussels, I have regular meetings with the leaders of the NATO secretariat, political leaders, ambassadors, and so on. It’s just that they are afraid of meeting with me in what is called the Russia-NATO council. It will happen this December at the earliest, or next March at the latest. This is my forecast, and you will see that I am right.
24310  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Paine; Parsons on: January 28, 2009, 11:21:27 AM
"Beware the greedy hand of government, thrusting itself into every corner and crevice of industry." --Thomas Paine

"We have duties, for the discharge of which we are accountable to our Creator and benefactor, which no human power can cancel. What those duties are, is determinable by right reason, which may be, and is called, a well informed conscience."

--Theophilus Parsons, the Essex Result, 1778
24311  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Anti-semitism & Jews on: January 28, 2009, 11:16:19 AM
Woof NonKosherDog:

Welcome aboard!

I too noted the Pope's action in re-instating this turd (see my post on the "Organized Religion" thread on the SCH forum).  Very discouraging-- particularly after he began his papacy a few years back with his forceful statement that God is a god of Reason.

The Adventure continues!
Marc
24312  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Patriot Post on: January 28, 2009, 11:08:34 AM
Wednesday Chronicle
Vol. 09 No. 04
28 January 2009

THE FOUNDATION
"Beware the greedy hand of government, thrusting itself into every corner and crevice of industry." --Thomas Paine

UPRIGHT
"The stimulus package being discussed is politically smart but economically stupid. It's that bedeviling, omnipresent Santa Claus and Tooth Fairy problem again. ... A far more important measure that Congress can take toward a healthy economy is to ensure that the 2003 tax cuts don't expire in 2010 as scheduled. If not, there are 15 separate taxes scheduled to rise in 2010, costing Americans $200 billion a year in increased taxes. In the face of a recession, we don't need that." --economist Walter E. Williams

"Bashing Rush Limbaugh last week, Obama urged GOP lawmakers to ignore the voices of obstructionism and sign on to his behemoth stimulus package: 'We shouldn't let partisan politics derail what are very important things that need to get done.' ... History has shown us that 'Get Things Done' is mindless liberal code for passing ineffective legislation and expanding government for government's sake." --columnist Michelle Malkin

"More government spending by Hoover and Roosevelt did not pull the United States economy out of the Great Depression in the 1930s. More government spending did not solve Japan's 'lost decade' in the 1990s. As such, it is a triumph of hope over experience to believe that more government spending will help the U.S. today." --two hundred economists in an open letter disseminated by the Cato Institute

"We all know how we got into this economic mess. We spent too much, borrowed with abandon, and acted like the bills would never come due. So what's the prescription for getting out? Spending more, borrowing more, and acting like the bills will never come due." --columnist Steve Chapman

"For those of you not shouting hosannas, it might have occurred to you that we are suffering from a rampant sickness in American life that casts government as the author of your dreams and an Illinois politician as the linchpin of your hopes." --Denver Post columnist David Harsanyi

INSIGHT
"Employment gives health, sobriety and morals. Constant employment and well-paid labor produce general prosperity, content and cheerfulness." --American statesman Daniel Webster (1782-1852)

"Too bad all the people who know how to run the country are busy driving taxis and cutting hair." --comedian George Burns (1898-1996)

EDITORIAL EXEGESIS
"Ah, the dirty little secret is out. That $700 billion TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program) bill was in part simply a variation on congressional pork -- except this time the recipients were banks with friends in high places. One of those powerful friends was Rep. Barney Frank (D-[MA]), chairman of the House Financial Services Committee. And one of the recipients of a $12 million infusion of federal cash was the troubled OneUnited Bank in Boston -- a bank that had already been accused of 'unsafe and unsound banking practices.' Its CEO, Kevin Cohee had also been criticized by regulators for 'excessive' pay that included a Porsche. Frank admits he included language in the TARP legislation specifically designed to bail out OneUnited. He also acknowledges contacting officials at the Treasury Department about the bank's bailout application. 'I believe it would have been a very big mistake to put the only black bank (in Massachusetts) out of business,' Frank said. Besides, he insists, 'It was a case of the federal government causing the problem.' Causing the bad loans OneUnited made? Or would that go back to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which Frank so staunchly defended earlier on? Frank has never failed to amaze us with his ability to defend the indefensible and to staunchly uphold the double standard. It's his special talent." --Boston Herald

 

 
 

DEZINFORMATSIA
Not that there's anything wrong with that!: "n a meeting [last week] with senior White House staffers, President Obama showed a lot of love. That's right. The president is a man hugger. We counted nine man-to-man hugs. ... We think the president could be setting a new trend here." --CBS's Julie Chen

Just doesn't get it: "y far the lion's share of the [federal budget] surpluses went into the tax cuts. It was the most profoundly un-conservative act of the Bush presidency. Rather than pay down the debt or save in the good times for the inevitable bad times, Bush squandered it all, so that all of us, particularly the high-income earners, could indulge in a bit more consumption." --Newsweek editor Fareed Zakaria, who must have missed the fact that federal revenue increased faster than inflation because of the tax cuts

Right analysis, wrong goal: "As he has done so often, Obama pronounced debates about the size of government as irrelevant. What matters is 'whether it works.' Quietly but purposefully, he was overturning the Reagan revolution." --Washington Post columnist E. J. Dionne

Partisan divide: "Does President Barack Obama finally have the cajones, that some Democrats haven't had in the past, in saying to other Republicans 'you don't have to listen to Rush Limbaugh'?" --MSNBC's Norah O'Donnell

Wrong label: "Now, the [Kristen] Gillibrand pick [for U.S. Senate from New York] is not without controversy itself. She is a conservative Democrat, favoring gun rights. And the pick has upset some more liberal Democrats." --ABC's "Good Morning America" reporter John Berman **Gillibrand has an American Conservative Union rating of 8, and a NARAL endorsement. That's conservative?

And proud of it: "I'm a liberal, I was born a liberal, I'll be one 'til I die, what else should a reporter be when you see so much and when we have such great privilege and access to the truth?" --White House reporter Helen Thomas

On the inauguration crowd: "From above, even the seagulls must have been awed by the blanket of humanity." --ABC's Bill Weir **Yeah, awed by the amount of garbage dropped by the Obamaniacs and the huge feast they were about to make of it.

Newspulper Headlines:

Looks as if the Honeymoon's Over: "Rotten Canned Fish Linked to the Democrats" --Bangkok Post

And You Thought College Was Expensive: "Full-Day Kindergarten Will Cost Millions" --Muskegon (MI) Chronicle

News of the Tautological: "A New Day Dawns for America, World" --St. Petersburg Times

Everything Seemingly Is Spinning Out of Control: "Former French President Chirac Hospitalised After Mauling by His Clinically Depressed Poodle" --Daily Mail (London)

We Blame Global Warming: "As Challenges Mount, Ardor for Obama Cools Abroad" --Associated Press

Except for the Northern Hemisphere, Where It's Winter: "Study: Antarctica Joins Rest of Globe in Warming" --Associated Press

Bottom Stories of the Day: "Surveyed Scientists Agree Global Warming Is Real" --CNN.com

(Thanks to The Wall Street Journal's James Taranto)

THE DEMO-GOGUES
Translation: more government: "We begin this year and this administration in the midst of an unprecedented crisis that calls for unprecedented action. ...f we do not act boldly and swiftly, a bad situation could become dramatically worse." --President Barack Obama

It's all about retaining power: "If we don't get this done we [the Democrats] could lose seats and I could lose re-election. But we can't let people like Rush Limbaugh stall this. That's how things don't get done in this town." --Barack Obama, more concerned with re-election that America

Stumbling out of the gate: "What I told [Middle East 'envoy' George Mitchell] is start by listening, because all too often the United States starts by dictating. ... My job to the Muslim world is to communicate that the Americans are not your enemy." --Barack Obama in his first official presidential TV interview -- with Saudi-owned, Dubai-based Al Arabiya news channel Al Arabiya

The earth is renewed: "There is a great exhalation of breath going on in the world as people express their appreciation for the new direction that's being set and the team that is put together by the president. We have a lot of damage to repair. It not any kind of repudiation or indictment of the past eight years so much as an excitement and an acceptance of how we are going to be doing business." --the new secretary of state, Hillary Clinton

Says the kettle to the pot: "For too long, international family planning assistance has been used as a political wedge issue, the subject of a back and forth debate that has served only to divide us. I have no desire to continue this stale and fruitless debate." --Barack Obama on reversing the ban on federal funding for international "family planning" (read: abortion)

Non Compos Mentis: "[C]ontraception will reduce costs to the states and to the federal government." --House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) saying that fewer births would save the government money

Socialism 101: "Well, whatever you want to call it…. If we are going to put money into the banks, we certainly want equity for the American people. In other words, if we are strengthening [the banks], then the American people should get some of the upside of that strengthening. Some people call that nationalization. I'm not talking about total ownership.... Now how big that investment becomes is -- would we have ever thought we would see the day when we'd be using that terminology? Nationalization of the banks." --Nancy Pelosi when asked if it's a good idea to "have nationalization or partial nationalization of the banks"

Bursting with pride: "If there was no Martin Luther King Jr. and no Roland Burris, there would be no Barack Obama in the White House today." --Sen. Roland Burris, who was appointed to take Obama's Senate seat

VILLAGE IDIOTS
Social engineering: "I am concerned, as I'm sure many of you are, that these jobs not simply go to high-skill people who are already professionals or to white male construction workers. I have nothing against white male construction workers. I'm just saying that there are a lot of other people who have needs as well..." --former Labor Secretary Robert Reich

From the peacenik files: "I have believed for some time that military power is no solution to terrorism. ... So let me suggest a truly audacious hope for [the Obama] administration: How about a five-year time-out on war -- unless, of course, there is a genuine threat to the nation?" --former presidential candidate George McGovern advising Obama on appeasement

Mindless hope: "I know just coming back from Egypt and Abu Dhabi and other places in Europe that the world is so happy that we've changed direction. They're so hopeful. They are as hopeful as we are, and they are really impressed with the American people that they have taken on this guy and that uh, he's going to be -- they hope, managing things in a different way." --actress Susan Sarandon

Thugs for Obama: "He is a man with good intentions; he has immediately eliminated Guantanamo prison, and that should be applauded. I am very happy and the world is happy that this young president has arrived ... [We] welcome the new government and we are filled with hope." --Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez on Obama

Looking for a one-way plane ticket to Gaza: "Yes, I do. I think [Hamas can be trusted]. Because of their own self-interest. Not because they're benevolent or kind or that sort of thing. But yes, I do. I think they can. And they've never betrayed any commitment that they've made to me or publicly, as a matter of fact." --chief Village Idiot Jimmy Carter

 

 
 

SHORT CUTS
"More than 144 hours into Barack Obama's presidency, the economy is still in recession, the country is still at war, and in many parts of the country it's still cold outside. Citizens are growing impatient: Wasn't President Obama supposed to bring change?" --Wall Street Journal columnist James Taranto

"During his upcoming administration, Obama has promised to out-do FDR by putting an additional 2.5 million people on the federal payroll. He has also threatened -- I mean, promised -- to create some sort of civilian paramilitary group that sounds suspiciously like Hitler's brown shirts, but I could very well be mistaken. For all I know, Obama may dress them in blue." --columnist Burt Prelustsky

"This week the Left arrived in Washington, excited about the wonderful things it will do to us -- I mean, for us. They always do it for us." --ABC "20/20" co-anchor John Stossel

"Let's start a new group: PETT: People for the Ethical Treatment of Taxpayers." --political analyst Rich Galen

"If Nancy Pelosi wants fewer births, I have the way to do this, and it won't require any contraception. You simply put pictures of Nancy Pelosi in every cheap motel room in America. That will keep birth rates down, because that picture will keep a lot of things down." --radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh

Jay Leno:

President Obama said when it comes to passing the stimulus package we can't afford distractions and delays. You know who took offense to this in Congress? The head of the Senate Distractions and Delays Committee.

President Obama has signed an executive order closing Guantanamo Bay. Well, the big problem, how do you get these inmates back to their home countries? They're all on the "do not fly" list.

Well, I mean, what'll they do with them? I mean, look, most politicians don't want them in their state or their district. Other countries don't want them. Although, today, New York City's Yellow Cab Company said, "Hey, we'll take them."

Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich's impeachment trial got under way [Monday]. But he was not there. He didn't go. He went on "The View" instead, which is a pretty smart move, because it will help his case when he pleads insanity.

Former French President Jacques Chirac was rushed to the hospital after being mauled by his clinically depressed poodle. See that's how you know that the French are not fighters, okay -- when their leader is attacked by a maniacal poodle.
24313  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Surprise, surprise on: January 27, 2009, 10:22:17 PM
AP article pulled from JEMS.com

Hamas tried to hijack ambulances during Gaza war
Jason Koutsoukis
2009 Jan 26
GAZA STRIP, Palestine -- PALESTINIAN civilians living in Gaza during the three-week war with Israel have spoken of the challenge of being caught between Hamas and Israeli soldiers as the radical Islamic movement that controls the Gaza strip attempted to hijack ambulances.

Mohammed Shriteh, 30, is an ambulance driver registered with and trained by the Palestinian Red Crescent Society.

His first day of work in the al-Quds neighbourhood was January 1, the sixth day of the war. "Mostly the war was not as fast or as chaotic as I expected," Mr Shriteh told the Herald. "We would co-ordinate with the Israelis before we pick up patients, because they have all our names, and our IDs, so they would not shoot at us."

Mr Shriteh said the more immediate threat was from Hamas, who would lure the ambulances into the heart of a battle to transport fighters to safety.

"After the first week, at night time, there was a call for a house in Jabaliya. I got to the house and there was lots of shooting and explosions all around," he said.

Because of the urgency of the call, Mr Shriteh said there was no time to arrange his movements with the IDF.

"I knew the Israelis were watching me because I could see the red laser beam in the ambulance and on me, on my body," he said.

Getting out of the ambulance and entering the house, he saw there were three Hamas fighters taking cover inside. One half of the building had already been destroyed.

"They were very scared, and very nervous … They dropped their weapons and ordered me to get them out, to put them in the ambulance and take them away. I refused, because if the IDF sees me doing this I am finished, I cannot pick up any more wounded people.

"And then one of the fighters picked up a gun and held it to my head, to force me. I still refused, and then they allowed me to leave."

Mr Shriteh says Hamas made several attempts to hijack the al-Quds Hospital's fleet of ambulances during the war.

"You hear when they are coming. People ring to tell you. So we had to get in all the ambulances and make the illusion of an emergency and only come back when they had gone."

Eyad al-Bayary, 32, lost his job as a senior nurse at the Shifa Hospital, the largest in Gaza City, about six months ago because he is closely identified with Fatah, the rival political movement of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Twice last year Mr Bayary was arrested by Hamas, and once he was jailed for six days for flying the Fatah flag above his house in Jabaliya. He now works part-time as an English teacher at al-Azhar University.

"After the first day of the war, I go to the hospital to work, to help, but I was told to go away. They tell me 'you are not needed here' and they push me away," Mr Bayary said.

Since the ceasefire was declared on January 17, Hamas has begun to systematically take revenge on anyone believed to have collaborated with Israel before the war.

Israel makes no secret of the fact that it has a network of informants inside Gaza who regularly provide information on where Hamas leaders live, where weapons are being stored and other details that formed an important part of Israel's battle plan.

According to rumour, a number of alleged collaborators have already been executed. Taher al-Nono, the Hamas government's spokesman in Gaza, told the Herald that 175 people had been arrested so far on suspicion of collaborating.

"They will be dealt with by the court and the judge and we will respect the judge's decision," Mr Nono said.

And if the sentence is death?

"We will respect the decision."

But the breakdown between Hamas and Fatah over the last 18 months did not prevent some co-operation between the two sides during the war.

The commander of one al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade unit - the brigades are a coalition of secular militia groups which operate under the loose umbrella of Fatah - said the real enemy remains Israel.

The unit commander, who used the name Abu Ibrahim, invited the Herald into his home.

On the wall of his lounge room hung the portraits of George Habash, who founded the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a communist paramilitary organisation, and Abu Ali Mustafa, the man who succeeded Habash as leader of the PFLP and who was killed by Israeli forces in 2001.

"Of course we fought together with Hamas because we all have the same aim: to liberate our homeland," he said.

With his two-year old daughter on his knee, Mr Ibrahim, 30, said he would never accept peace or negotiation, even if it might lead to the creation of a Palestinian state.

"I believe in the existence of Israel because it exists on my land - but the war with Israel will only end when I liberate all of my land. This last war with Israel was not the first war, and it will not be the last."

Rebuilding the Strip
GAZA CITY: Hamas will begin a big reconstruction effort in the Gaza Strip today as the territory's 1.5 million people start to recover from the devastating three-week war with Israel that claimed more than 1300 lives and destroyed thousands of buildings, factories and farms.

Life was beginning to return to a relative state of normality yesterday, with schools, universities and businesses back open.

But with most government buildings destroyed during the war, and piles of concrete rubble on street corners, Gazans face a huge effort to return the Strip to the impoverished state that existed before the war began.

Thousands of Gazans who lost their homes are still living in temporary accommodation provided in United Nations Relief and Works Agency schools, and electricity is being rationed, with homes receiving power for just a few hours a day.

A Hamas spokesman in Gaza, Ayman Taha, said his organisation would observe a truce with Israel for 18 months on the condition all the crossing points with Israel were opened.

With Hamas's popularity apparently plummeting in as a result of the war, the movement's leadership is using financial handouts to boost morale.

Hamas leaders from Gaza and Damascus, Syria, travelled to Cairo yesterday to meet Egyptian intelligence leaders and leaders of the Palestine Liberation Organisation for talks aimed at resolving Hamas's dispute with the Fatah movement of the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

In Israel the appointment of George Mitchell as special envoy of the US President, Barack Obama, to the Middle East has met with caution and suspicion.

Israeli Foreign Ministry officials were scrambling to put together a brief for Mr Mitchell, who is due to visit Jerusalem and the West Bank city of Ramallah this week, as well as Egypt and Jordan.

Israeli officials believe Mr Mitchell's first step will be to recommend the "road map for peace" plan announced by the former president George Bush in 2002 be extended.

Israelis have also begun to turn their attention to the general elections on February 10. With polls indicating the right-wing Likud party leader Benjamin Netanyahu is on track to return to the Prime Minister's office he occupied in 1996, the centrist Kadima Party leader, Tzipi Livni, warned yesterday that if the far-right won government it would lead to an inevitable rift with the US. Get EMS news & articles delivered to your inbox!

Copyright Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Honesta Mors Turpi Vita Potior


lod.med@gmail.com
24314  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Surprising news on: January 27, 2009, 10:19:09 PM
By Peter Millard and Matthew Cowley
Of DOW JONES NEWSWIRES
NEW YORK (Dow Jones)--Petroleos Mexicanos's $2 billion bond sale on Tuesday was oversubscribed threefold, underscoring strong investor interest in Mexico's state oil company despite disappointing operating results last year.

Pemex originally planned to place $1 billion or more in 10-year paper on Tuesday. A syndicate banker familiar with the bond sale said around $6 billion in orders came in, allowing Latin America's largest oil producer to increase the size of the deal.

Pemex, which saw oil production drop 9% last year, said it will use the money for investments and to pay off debt coming due this year.

Pemex needs the money - oil production has plummeted 26% since peaking in 2004. The company plans to boost investments by 8% this year, to $19.4 billion, in an effort to develop new oil fields that will compensate for the giant Cantarell field, where output is falling at an alarming rate of 30% a year.

On Tuesday the company said in a filing that net losses in 2008 will surpass 2007 losses due to the sharp drop in oil prices and the depreciation of the local peso currency against the U.S. dollar.

Pemex has a heavy tax load and often has to sell imported fuel at a discount, eroding profits from oil exports.

Despite the ugly operating results, an energy reform approved last fall helped drive demand for the Tuesday bond sale, said the syndicate banker. The reform makes it easier for Pemex to issue debt and streamlines bureaucracy at the state-run oil monopoly.

The simple structure of the bond - it was issued by Pemex instead of its Project Funding Master Trust affiliate - also made it attractive to investors.

The bond carried a coupon of 8% and was sold at 98.313% of face value to yield 8.25%, equivalent to a spread of 570.70 basis points over U.S. Treasury notes of a similar maturity, according to a term sheet provided by a fund manager.

The strong demand for the issue is good news for both Pemex and the federal government, said UBS economist Gabriel Casillas, noting that Pemex and Mexican sovereign debt prices often move in synch.

"Perhaps after these good results, the federal government will try to issue some debt," said Mexico City-based Casillas.

On Dec. 18, Mexico's government sold $2 billion in 10-year global bonds with a 5.98% yield, raising enough money for about 32% of Mexico's 2009 foreign debt servicing needs.

Gianna Bern of Brookshire Advisory and Research, an energy, economics and consulting firm near Chicago, said Pemex probably hoped to sell at a lower yield, but noted that the company needs to raise cash when it can to help pay for its aggressive investment budget.

With much of the developed world selling debt to finance fiscal stimulus packages, emerging market issuers like Pemex risk getting crowded out of the market.

"A $2 billion issuance is a fiscal imperative given the size of their 2009 capital plan," said Bern. "Under the current market conditions, they need to take advantage of any opening."

The syndicated banker said the pricing came in at the tighter end of guidance, which was 8 1/4 to 8 3/8.

Moving forward Pemex will be competing with companies like Brazilian oil giant Petroleo Brasileiro (PBR), or Petrobras, for scarce liquidity in global markets.

On Tuesday Petrobras Chief Financial Officer Almir Barbassa said the company could sell more than $1.5 billion in bonds in the first quarter of this year to help pay off a $5 billion bridge loan. Petrobras will need to raise $8 billion to $9 billion in the capital markets over the next two years.

Pemex is expected to refinance around $5 billion of debt that comes due this year, and the company has said it will increase its total debt to the tune of $3 billion in 2009, reversing a two-year stretch of reducing its debt load.

As of the end of September, Pemex's total bonds and bank loans fell 3.1% on the year to $48.2 billion.

24315  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: January 27, 2009, 08:16:06 PM
Which makes sense to me-- Keynesian is wrong and does not work- and Scott is a stellar Supply Sider.  Artificially low interest rates are a huge part of how we get ourselves into this mess and continuing the foolishness is only going to take us down the road to Japan.
24316  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US-Russia on: January 27, 2009, 08:13:44 PM
Lets follow up on this at http://dogbrothers.com/phpBB2/index.php?topic=1673.0

 smiley
24317  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: January 27, 2009, 08:12:30 PM
Huss:

Please email me at Craftydog@dogbrothers.com

There is a long Indian intel piece I'd like to send you.
24318  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: January 27, 2009, 07:41:25 PM
What does "holding them responsible" mean?  Punishing them if someone in their tribe does something?  How do you think that will play?

What do you suggest we do about the drug trade?  Annoy all the people for whom it is the most profitable option by far and let the Taliban et al benefit too?  Or?

========================

By YOCHI J. DREAZEN
KABUL, Afghanistan -- A contingent of Army Rangers was moving toward a target in late October when it came under fire from machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades. Fearful the team would be wiped out, U.S. officers called in air strikes. When the dust settled, 22 Afghans lay dead and six American soldiers were wounded.

Just who these dead Afghans were is still unclear. Afghan and some U.S. officials say they were hired by an Afghan road-construction firm to protect nearby workers. The security company confirms their employment. But other U.S. military officials say the Afghans were militants who targeted American troops.

Armed private security companies are proliferating in Afghanistan -- hired in many cases to protect Afghan companies doing work for the U.S. And for the American forces who regularly encounter these armed men, it is perilously hard to discern their identities and their loyalties. Some of these guards may be linked to the militant leaders or drug traffickers who regularly battle U.S. troops.

View Full Image

Reuters
The aftermath of a firefight in November in which U.S. forces killed more than a dozen Afghan men said to be guards for a road-building project.
U.S. commanders and Afghan officials say there have been at least three significant firefights between American forces and Afghan guards in recent months, and a host of other violent incidents.

In Iraq, private security companies hired by the U.S. government, such as Blackwater Worldwide, also have been involved in violent incidents that have stirred controversy. But the situation in Afghanistan, in some ways, is more confusing and dangerous. Private security forces there don't work for the U.S. government, but for Afghan and foreign companies. And they employ native Afghans, not Westerners.

Last year was the bloodiest year yet for U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan, as well as for Afghan personnel and civilians. In recent months, militants from the Taliban and other extremist groups have launched a campaign to kill Afghans who work on U.S.-funded road and construction projects across the country. Those attacks have led many Afghan contractors to hire security firms or individual guards. Kidnapping rings that target wealthy Afghans inside major cities like Kabul also have contributed to the security industry's rapid growth.

View Full Image

Reuters
U.S. soldiers search an Afghan security guard whose firm escorts truck convoys, after they found illegal weapons in his vehicle last year.
President Barack Obama has characterized Afghanistan as a higher priority than Iraq. U.S. commanders are finalizing plans to deploy 30,000 additional troops to the nation by the summer, which would double the size of the American military presence.

American commanders acknowledge that security in much of the country remains poor, and that many construction projects would come to a halt without private security personnel. Most of the guards are legitimately trying to protect their employers, U.S. officials say.

"We authorize these guys to carry weapons in areas that need more security," says Capt. Mark Davis, an American commander in eastern Afghanistan. "But the risk is that you're allowing more people to walk around with guns who aren't part of the government and don't answer to it."

U.S. and Afghan officials believe some guards take orders from the Taliban or drug gangs. The officials also worry that the legitimate guards lack proper training or oversight, raising the chances of an accidental and potentially deadly run-in with U.S. or Afghan forces.

 "Private security companies are a new experience for Afghanistan, and they pose a huge threat to our country," said Lt. Gen. Abdul Manan Farahie, an Afghan Interior Ministry official charged with overseeing the companies, in a recent interview in his office in Kabul. "They recruit former fighters who answer to the Taliban, and they recruit criminals."

Late last year, Afghan President Hamid Karzai signed regulations requiring security companies to register with the government. Gen. Farahie said he had already registered 39, far more than he had expected. One of the biggest firms, which has an array of lucrative government contracts, is owned by a cousin of Mr. Karzai, according to the government office that licenses the firms.

Gen. Farahie estimates the companies employ at least 20,000 Afghans, while thousands of other Afghans work freelance security jobs. He said many of the guards have more powerful weapons than the national police and army, including rocket-propelled grenades and heavy machine guns. By comparison, in Iraq, there were roughly 40,000 private security personnel at the peak.

By law, the guards are supposed to carry nothing more powerful than AK-47 assault weapons, but the government is ill equipped to take away the heavier weaponry. "For security reasons, we can't collect all of their weapons," said Gen. Farahie. "We're not strong enough."

Private security is one of the few growth industries in Afghanistan, and it doesn't require workers to be literate or formally educated. Guards say they receive about $75 to $150 a month, a decent wage in a country with an unemployment rate of more than 50%. Security teams are usually hired locally. That means that any guards killed by U.S. forces tend to have many friends and relatives in the surrounding areas, which can exacerbate already high tensions.

In early November, a team of Navy Seals tracking a senior commander from an extremist group led by warlord and Taliban ally Jalaluddin Haqqani found itself in a firefight with a group of 15 armed men. The men were guarding a trio of sport-utility vehicles carrying the commander and his associates, according to U.S. officials.

During the battle, near Khost, one of the trucks exploded. The force of the blast led U.S. officials to conclude it was carrying explosives. All 15 of the fighters, including the main target, were killed.

Businessman Mohammad Arif said recently that the dead men were guards hired by his company, Rahim Road Building Construction Co., to protect a road crew, and that they weren't guarding an extremist commander. When the guards first saw the approaching U.S. helicopters, he said, they felt a sense of relief.

"We were happy at first that these helicopters came for our security," Mr. Arif said. The guards didn't shoot, he said, and the explosion was caused by U.S. weaponry. In the aftermath, he said, he briefly had trouble finding men willing to work as guards.

"At first, most people didn't want to work with security companies because it is too risky," he said. "But eventually they came back."

U.S. officials say surveillance footage from unmanned aerial drones supports their version of events.

In late December, an Afghan road-construction company that had hired local men to protect its workers said two guards were killed by a U.S. artillery shell in Seray, in eastern Afghanistan. The U.S. military says it's investigating the incident, which it believes might have been caused by an errant U.S. shell.

The deadliest known skirmish came in October. It began when a contingent of Army Rangers was moving toward a target near the town of Qarabagh, in the eastern province of Ghazni.

U.S. officials familiar with the incident say the troops came under machine-gun and rocket-propelled-grenade fire from four separate locations. Pinned down, the Rangers returned fire and called in air strikes.

A senior U.S. commander who monitored the firefight while it was happening says it was one of the only times in his career when he "worried about losing all or most of the force."

Shortly after sunrise, reinforcements from the 101st Airborne Division pushed into the area to assist the Rangers and help evacuate the wounded Americans. Those forces also came under fire, and a second firefight erupted. When the shooting stopped, 22 Afghans were dead, and six Americans, most of them Rangers, were wounded, according to U.S. and Afghan officials.

Maj. Pat Seiber, a spokesman for the 101st Airborne troops who took part in the second firefight, says U.S. soldiers found identification badges on some of the dead Afghans.

"From what we can tell, the badges were from a legitimate security company," he says. "What we don't know is whether or not the people with the badges were legitimate employees of the company."

Three officers from the military's Special Operations Command, which oversees elite units such as the Rangers, Delta Force and the Seals, disputed the notion that the dead Afghans were legitimate security personnel.

"Why they were awake at 0200 local, and firing accurately (on a moonless night) at a patrol, and their compound looked like an armed fortress -- all unanswered questions," a senior commander with U.S. Special Operations Command said via email. "The circumstances ... did not point to any actions in good faith."

Officials from the Afghan government and the company that hired the guards, Marouf Sharif Construction, blame the U.S. for the deaths of the Afghans. Abdul Latif Adil, an executive with Marouf Sharif, said the firm hired 40 guards to protect workers paving an 11-mile stretch of highway.

The governor of Ghazni and the provincial police chief both said in interviews that they knew about the guards and had given them permission to possess AK-47s while on duty. The two officials and the construction-company executive said that the American troops fired first, and that the Afghans were doing their jobs when they shot back.

"Our guards didn't fire on the U.S. forces in the beginning," Mr. Adil said. "We didn't start anything. It was all a horrible mistake."

The identities of the dead men are in dispute even within the U.S. military. Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Schloesser, the top U.S. commander in eastern Afghanistan, said they appeared to be legitimate guards.

"The fog of war certainly played a major role," he said in an interview. "The security companies use the same weapons and ammo as the insurgents, so it makes it extraordinarily hard to tell the difference."

In the aftermath of the incident, U.S. forces helped transport the bodies of the slain guards back to their families for burial, Gen. Schloesser said.
24319  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Eradicating the Little Satan part 2 on: January 27, 2009, 07:19:12 PM


Thus, a recent article in the daily Javan entitled "Post-Zionism and the Identity Crisis in Israel" pitted "extremist Jews," i.e., nationalists and settlers, against "religious Jews," i.e., ultra-Orthodox non-nationalists. Another piece described the supposedly large numbers of Russian immigrants who have not managed to integrate into the life of the country and have either left for good or else ended up joining the Jews for Jesus movement or various satanic and neo-Nazi cults. Still another report, devoted to the intricacies of recent Israeli political maneuvering, included a photograph of President Shimon Peres and former Defense Minister Amir Peretz conversing in an office. "Note that Peres is wearing a suit and tie," wrote the author, "whereas Peretz is not even wearing a jacket and has his shirt open. This is the traditional method of showing disrespect in Israel, whose politicians all hate one another with a vicious hatred."

And so forth. This, too, represents a volte-face of sorts: In the past, the prevailing tendency of the official Iranian press was to dismiss any distinctions among Jews as mere smokescreens, a mask behind which they plotted their diabolical conspiracies. But today's view is also not entirely new. None other than Ayatollah Khomeini portrayed the Jewish state as weak and divided. "If the Muslims were only unified," he declared, "and each one of them took a bucket of water and poured it out onto Israel, this straw state that is already eating itself alive would be washed away in no time."

In that light, it is not altogether surprising that the rise to power of Ahmadinejad, who paints himself as the renewer of Khomeini's revolutionary zeal, should have been accompanied by a resurgence of the belief that Israel is but a flimsy façade whose end is near. "The Zionist entity," proclaimed the president recently, "has reached a dead end and is in a process of precipitous decline. . . . All of the conditions are ripe for its removal" by means of an "explosion of Muslim rage." Elaborating on the same motif in the summer of 2006, Ayatollah Ahmad-e-Jannati, general secretary of the Guardian Council, whipped up the audience of his Friday sermon with the assertion—first uttered by Egypt's chief propagandist, Ahmad Said, on the brink of the Six Day War—that all the Muslims need do is spit, and Israel will drown.

The shifting Iranian line on the condition of the Jewish state—from Potemkin village, to potent nemesis, and now back again—is a salient illustration of a phenomenon noted by the historian Efraim Karsh. In Islamic tradition, Mr. Karsh writes, "the traits associated with Jews make a paradoxical mixture: they are seen as both domineering and wretched, both haughty and low." Such, he adds, is "the age-old Muslim stereotype—as it is, mutatis mutandis, the Christian." The differences encompassed in that "mutatis mutandis" are, however, pertinent to our discussion.

It has long (and correctly) been argued that major elements of modern Muslim anti-Semitism were imports into Islamic lands from Christian Europe. This holds especially true for the perception of the Jews as a powerful international cabal and a force to be not only hated but downright feared—an idea that held sway for centuries in the Christian West, and that in some locales continues to hold sway today. By contrast, this particular feature of the anti-Semitic creed, though introduced into Muslim collective consciousness relatively recently, is already waning in the Islamic world. Many factors may account for this, but to my mind one is paramount.

There is an uncanny correlation between Christian and Islamic holy scripture concerning the role played by Jews during the formative period of each religion. In the New Testament, the premier political-military enemies of Jesus were the pagan Romans. On the other hand, his increasingly meddlesome ideological-religious enemies were Jews: the scribes and Pharisees who would not cease peppering him with questions deliberately intended to trip him up and undermine his message. Similarly in Islamic historiography: Muhammad's political-military adversaries were the members of his disowned pagan Quraysh tribe back in Mecca, who launched three successive campaigns against the nascent faith-community in Medina. But the real trouble came from his pestering ideological-religious antagonists, the (genuine or imaginary) Jewish tribes of Medina itself who with their incessant legal and theological badgering made the prophet's spiritual life extremely difficult.

When it comes to the nature of Jewish subversive activity, the traditions of the two religions are thus almost eerily alike. But no less significant is a difference between them. In the Gospels, the Jews "win": They succeed in having Jesus crucified and most of his immediate followers executed or banished. In the Quran and hadith, by contrast, Muhammad wins, vanquishing his Jewish foes, executing some, and banishing the remainder from Medina and eventually, under his immediate successors, from Arabia altogether.

This formative Islamic experience was largely responsible for the disdain and scorn expressed toward Jews over most of Muslim history, as opposed to the fear and hatred characteristic of Christian attitudes. The same derisive contempt may be reflected in the surge of confidence felt by today's fundamentalists in their zealous resolve to eliminate the state of Israel from the map.

And that brings us to the larger, nontactical dimension of the fundamentalists' divergent attitudes toward the "Great Satan" and the "Little Satan"—a dimension deeply rooted in both Islamic ideology and centuries of Muslim historical experience.

Early on, after their first round of lightning victories along the Mediterranean littoral, Muslims came to realize that they would have to be satisfied with conquering only part of the Western world; the other part they would have to share with Christians. Islamic leaders and even Islamic clerics accepted and even enshrined the medieval status quo, according to which hegemony would be divided between Islam in the East and Christendom in the West. To be sure, cross-boundary encroachments were a constant menace and had to be repulsed—Saladin forced out the Crusaders, and the Ottomans were rolled back from Vienna—but on the whole an equilibrium was reached in which each side might even be said to have harbored a grudging respect for the other.

This political-military compromise benefited from an important theological underpinning, epitomized in a celebrated verse from the Quran whose contents simultaneously suggest why, in the idealized Islamic conception of balance and mutual tolerance, there is no room today for the state of Israel:

You [i.e., Muhammad and the Muslims] will certainly find the most violent of people in enmity against the believers to be the Jews and the idolaters; and you will find those who are nearest in friendship to the believers to be those who say: "We are Christians."
Thus, in addition to the fact that the Christian world was a massive fact of life that could not be ignored and would not go away, Christians occupied a special religious category and were mostly set apart from the age-old antipathetic strictures aimed at Jews. The name of Jesus appears a mere 25 times in the Quran; the name of Moses appears 131 times. Nevertheless, from the "first hijra" of Muhammad's followers to Abyssinia in 615 down to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's open letter to President Bush in March 2006, Muslims have forever invoked the common Christian and Islamic veneration of Jesus in order to promote good relations between members of the two faiths. Throughout all this time, Moses' ubiquity in the Quran has rarely if ever been exploited by Muslim exponents in order to foster coexistence with Jews.

Already in 1734, the English Orientalist George Sale wrote that Muhammad "used" the Jews "much worse than he did the Christians, and frequently exclaims against them in his Koran; his followers to this day observe the same difference between them and the Christians, treating the former as the most abject and contemptible people on earth." This traditional attitude was amplified a hundredfold after the rise of Zionism, finding expression in the adamant rejectionism that characterized the Arab position on Israel.

The distinction between the classical Islamic attitude toward Christians on the one hand, and toward Jews on the other hand, plays a greater role today than ever before in the formulation of "Islamic" foreign policy toward non-Muslims. The reasons for this include the fact that never before has there existed an actual Muslim theocracy capable of formulating such an "Islamic" foreign policy, together with the fact that never before has there existed a genuine Jewish polity toward which that Islamic policy could be formulated or implemented. The result is of major significance for the Iran-Israel standoff, as well as for any statesman or analyst who purports to understand it or hopes to influence its direction.

Among theorists of international conflict resolution, the belief is widely held that the removal of one party's "enclaves" or "outposts" from territory claimed by a rival party can not only help create mutually satisfactory borders but can inaugurate the kind of equilibrium that will eventually allow foes to become friends. In Europe, the great example is the post-World War II territorial adjustments that, however painful, put an end at last to the centuries-old enmity of France and Germany. In the Middle East, on a purely local scale, the same logic underlay Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's policy of evacuating Israel's Gaza settlements and handing over the territory to the Palestinians, as it did Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's projected "consolidation" of the Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria.

The specter that now haunts the state of Israel is that the West may some day adopt this logic, deeply problematic as it has proved to be locally, and apply it internationally vis-à-vis Iran and the "Little Satan" as a means of resolving the larger conflict between fundamentalist Islam and the "Great Satan." For no agenda is being pushed more energetically by today's Islamists worldwide than that, for the sake of Muslim-Christian rapprochement, and on pain of terrible consequences otherwise, America and Europe agree to offer up the Western imperialist enclave or outpost known as Israel on the altar of "accommodation."

This, indeed, was the implicit central theme of Ahmadinejad's 2006 letter to President Bush, as it is the menacing import of the Iranian president's most recent remarks on the subject:

Today, it has been proven that the Zionists are not opposed only to Islam and the Muslims. They are opposed to humanity as a whole. They want to dominate the entire world. They would even sacrifice the Western regimes for their own sake. I have said in Tehran, and I say it again here—I say to the leaders of some Western countries: stop supporting these corrupt people. Behold, the rage of the Muslim peoples is accumulating. The rage of the Muslim peoples may soon reach the point of explosion. If that day comes, they must know that the waves of this explosion will not be restricted to the boundaries of our region. They will definitely reach the corrupt forces that support this fake regime.
The Iranians and their allies throughout the Muslim world are bent on making the abandonment of Israel the price of "peace in our time." In a scenario that should ring frighteningly familiar, a charismatic leader of an ideological, totalitarian state is building upon an endemic anti-Semitism inculcated by centuries of religious indoctrination to create an atmosphere in which the massacre of large numbers of Jews and the destruction of their independent polity will be considered a tolerable if not indeed a legitimate eventuality.

That is ominous enough. Even more ominous is the apparent willingness of any number of leaders of the Western world, under the banner of a hoped-for "reconciliation" with a major Middle Eastern power and a world religion, to tilt dangerously toward appeasement, ignoring the requirements of rational decision-making and putting at risk the West's own abiding interests and deepest values.

As for Israel, if it takes today's challenges seriously and prepares to meet them with the requisite strength and creativity, this may yet turn out to be its finest hour. If not, we may be witnessing the prelude to its last.

Mr. Maghen is senior lecturer in Islamic history and Persian language and chair of the department of Middle East Studies at Bar-Ilan University in Israel. He is also a research fellow at Bar-Ilan's Begin-Sadat (BESA) Center for Strategic Studies, in whose series of policy papers a longer version of this essay appeared under the title, "From Omnipotence to Impotence: A Shift in the Iranian Portrayal of the 'Zionist Regime..' " This article appears in the January issue of Commentary.
24320  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Eradicating Little Satan on: January 27, 2009, 07:18:19 PM
By ZE'EV MAGHEN
The accession of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to the presidency of the Islamic Republic of Iran has been accompanied by a sharp transformation in the Iranian attitude to, and depiction of, the state of Israel. This change includes not only an amplification of the traditional hostility toward the Jewish polity, but also—most ominously—a new conception of that polity as weak and unstable, an easy target for a united Muslim (or united Shiite) offensive.


 The prevailing opinion among Middle East experts and Iran watchers, however, is that the revised rhetoric is just that—rhetoric—and that it harbors no significant ramifications for policy making on the part of Israel or any other states in the region or the world. Vociferous Iranian declarations about the need to erase Israel from the map are seen as nothing more than a means toward achieving certain pragmatic goals, such as eventual détente with the West.

This view is wrong. Iranian-Islamist threats to Israel's existence are sincere, and they signal the determined pursuit of tenaciously held ends.

In January 2006, the Iranian daily Jomhuriya Eslami carried the text of a speech delivered by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in Tehran's main mosque. Attempting to defuse the diplomatic tension occasioned by the call for Israel's destruction issued by the then-newly elected President Ahmadinejad at the previous month's "World Without Zionism" conference, Khamenei concluded his uncharacteristically moderate sermon with the following ringing remarks:

We Iranians intend no harm to any nation, nor will we be the first to attack any nation. We do not deny the right of any polity in any place on God's earth to exist and prosper. We are a peace-loving country whose only wish is to live, and to let live, in peace.
Without missing a beat, or evincing a discernible hint of irony, the reporter who covered the event continued:

The congregation of worshippers, some 7,000 in number, expressed their unanimous support for the Supreme Leader's words by repeatedly chanting, marg bar Omrika, marg bar Esra'il "Death to America! Death to Israel!"
This is not as strange as it sounds. Chanting "Death to America! Death to Israel!" has been the way Iranians applaud for over a quarter-century. When the soccer team from Isfahan scores a goal against the soccer team from Shiraz, its fans cheer wildly: "Death to America! Death to Israel!" At the end of an exquisitely performed sitar solo, the genteel audience in a concert hall in Tabriz shows its appreciation by loudly heaping imprecations upon "International Arrogance" (the USA) and "its Bastard Offspring" (the Jewish state). Even during the hajj, the annual Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca, Iranian participants have replaced their traditionally pious ejaculations of "I am at your service, O Lord, there is none like unto you!" with responsive Persian cursing sessions aimed at the Hebrew- and English-speaking enemies of everything that is holy. Like the daily "Two Minutes Hate" in George Orwell's "1984," this venom-spewing is the mantra upon which an entire generation of Iranians has been raised.

What does this persistent indoctrination, imbibed with mother's milk and drummed by rote into the consciousnesses of the Iranian citizenry, mean for the foreign policy of the Islamic Republic? In the eyes of many Western and non-Western experts, the answer is: Nothing. First of all, these experts urge, we must distinguish between image and reality, between ideology and strategy, between the fiery rhetoric of preachers or street mobs and the sober goals of an essentially pragmatic regime. Indeed, they insist, even the chest-beaters of mosque and madrassa are only repeating slogans that have long since lost all significance in their minds: They are just going through the motions.

"Sadly," writes the Asia Times columnist Kaveh Afrasiabi, too many Israelis ignore "the gap between mass-generated, largely symbolic rhetoric and [Iran's] actual policy." Nor, we are urged to believe, is such "mass-generated rhetoric" truly massive in scope. "The Iranians we should be listening to," explains Middle East specialist Mark LeVine, "are not the 100,000 or so marchers in support of Ahmadinejad's [anti-Israel] remarks, but the tens of millions who had something better to do that day." According to Paul Reynolds, a BBC world-affairs correspondent, President Ahmadinejad's vitriol is in any case intended primarily for domestic consumption, as a means of distracting the Iranian populace from the economic failures of the Islamic revolution, and no one should mistake it for a guide to foreign policy.

Ultimately, most analysts agree, Ahmadinejad's menacing proclamations are meant to serve as a bargaining chip: something to be given away in exchange for normalized relations with the West. After all, they stress, there is no rational reason for any eruption of hostilities between Iran and Israel. The two countries do not even share a common border, and their national and economic interests are not in conflict. To the contrary, both have traditionally conceived their "frontline" adversaries to be Arab states, and history has time and again thrown them into each other's arms, both before and even after the Islamic revolution of 1979. "Iran and Israel have no differences or occasions for getting into active hostilities, let alone a nuclear exchange," reassures Shahram Chubin, the director of the Geneva Center for Security Policy. To quote Afrasiabi again, "It is difficult to find any expert on Iran's foreign affairs today who actually shares the view [that there exists a basis for] strategic conflict between Iran and Israel."

Is the daily drill of Israel-damning in Iran only a tired exercise, a formalistic ceremony no longer accompanied by genuine passion or serious intent? Are the experts correct on this score? In a word: Yes. Oblivious to the content of their own words, thousands of mosque- and madrassa-goers calling for the demise of Israel are not, for the most part, expressing a bona fide, heartfelt hatred for the Jewish citizens or even the Jewish government of the state of Israel. About this the experts are quite right: it is ritual, and the Iranians do not really "mean it."

But therein lies the rub. In the end, it can often be far more dangerous not to mean what one is saying than to mean it—a point that may be illuminated by a brief detour into mass psychology. Fierce anger and hatred are highly intense, all-consuming emotions that subside quickly if the psyche is not to combust and collapse. Such emotions, moreover, are not only extremely intense but exceedingly unstable. People who truly hate are often just as capable of experiencing other intense emotions, including pity or empathy or remorse.

For this reason, among others, genuine anger and hatred, of the kind that is really "meant" and strongly felt, are inefficient tools for creating or sustaining an atmosphere conducive to long-term persecution or mass murder. That is why the truly horrific atrocities in human history—the enslavements, the inquisitions, the terrorisms, the genocides—have been perpetrated not in hot blood but in cold: not as a result of urgent and immanent feeling but in the name of a transcendent ideology and as a result of painstaking indoctrination.

The vast majority of Germans in World War II did not personally and passionately hate the Jews: They had never even met the men, women, children and infants whom they would eventually butcher en masse. It was, for the most part, a methodically drilled-in ideology that powered the genocide machine, a machine that killed six million Jews despite the fact that the Germans did not hate them.

Similarly with the events of Sept. 11, 2001. Did Mohamed Atta, the ringleader of the terrorists who brought down the Twin Towers, genuinely and fervently hate every single individual working there on that fateful day, let alone all of the passengers on the plane he commandeered? How could he? He had never met them, and they had never personally done anything to him. What is more, Atta had spent many years in the United States preparing for his mission, during which time he rubbed elbows with all types of Americans. Is it plausible that he managed to maintain a constant boiling rage all day every day toward every one of these acquaintances and their fellow countrymen? How could such a creature survive, or master the self-control to carry out his assigned role?

What is true for Nazi storm troopers and al-Qaeda operatives is true for today's fundamentalist Shiites. It is not their genuine, vehement hatred that we have to fear; it is their endless, drone-like training. Their militant hostility to Israel is no more a function of immediate, genuine, blood-boiling rage than it is the result of some heinous act or other performed by the Jewish state, however frequently such purported crimes are exploited as triggers of "popular" protest. The hostility is, unfortunately, something far more durable and deeply implanted.

That Israel is the devil, the root of all evil, a criminal cancer that must be excised from the Muslim body politic—these propositions are not ephemeral feelings for most Iranian Muslims, but rather eternal truths that gradually, through endless, tantra-like repetition, have cloyed in the conscious mind while simultaneously installing themselves beneath the level of immediate emotion and awareness, in the place where basic instincts, automatic assumptions, and ontological verities reside. There they have taken root, to remain dormant until circumstances require their activation. When the time is right—and the rulers of Iran have made no secret of their conviction that the time is drawing ever nearer—decades of propaganda will serve the same function for them that centuries of Christian anti-Semitism in Europe performed for the Nazis.

The analysts and pundits are thus indeed correct in asserting that the Iranians do not really "mean it." They fail to realize, however, that this is the very reason why they may well "do it." By casting an entire people as a parasitic infestation, by demonizing, delegitimizing, and dehumanizing them at home, in school, in the mosque and in the media, the quarter-century-old routine of Israel-hatred, added to 1,400 years of traditional Islamic anti-Semitism, has prepared in the minds of Iranians and their neighboring coreligionists the moral ground for the eradication of the state of Israel.

What, then, of the second argument advanced by Iran specialists, to the effect that Iranian verbal belligerence toward Israel is really a means toward an entirely different end, something to be bartered in exchange for full relations with Washington and sundry other international benefits? Here, too, the analysts have it half-right. At least some elements within today's Iranian leadership are indeed interested in a rapprochement with the West and especially with America. But Tehran in no way intends to lessen its enmity toward Israel in exchange. To the contrary, the Islamic Republic is offering to diminish its enmity toward the West in exchange for the latter's abandonment of Israel.

In this connection, we must grasp a crucial distinction between Iranian attitudes to the "Great Satan" of the United States and to the "Little Satan" of Israel. Iranians may chant "Death to America" and "Death to Israel" with equal fervor, but from a tactical standpoint they well understand that the Great Satan is . . . great. The leaders of the Islamic Republic, even the fiercest ideologues among them, are under no illusion that the United States is about to be conquered by and for Islam in the near future.

Israel, however, is another matter. More and more Iranian Islamists today—together with their zealous coreligionists in other Muslim countries—believe that the erasure of the Jewish state from the map is a dream that can be realized in the here and now, whether in one fell swoop or through a relentless process of attrition and erosion. And one strong indication of this, beginning in 2005 and continuing and intensifying up to the present, is a major turnaround in government statements and published material about Israel and the Jews in the official Persian press.

Up until recently, the prevalent tendency of such coverage had involved the traditional exaggeration of the power and influence of the "Jewish lobby" and the long arm and entrenched tentacles of the government of Israel and the World Zionist Organization. This entailed everything from in-depth "analyses" of how the Jewish cabal that owns Hollywood has utilized the enormous potential of "the world's seventh art" to bolster Zionism and blacken the face of Islam, to "documentary evidence" that Zionist money and pressure are responsible for the anti-Iranian and anti-Shiite bent of the al-Jazeera television network, to in-depth "scholarly" exposés of the manner in which historically the Jews carved Protestantism out of Catholicism in order to reimpose on Christianity the ethos of the Hebrew Bible with its doctrine of the chosen people.

But these and hundreds of other portraits of Israel and world Jewry as the "hidden hand" undermining Islam at every turn have dwindled considerably of late, giving way instead to their opposite. The emphasis now is on every detectable crack, fault, and weakness in the Jewish national edifice, and on Israel as a polity teetering on the brink of collapse.

The new approach is epitomized by Ahmadinejad himself, with his repeated descriptions of Israel as a "rotten tree" and a "house of straw," as well as his pledge to his constituents and to the rest of the Muslim world that "this shameful stain on the face of the land of Islam will soon be cleansed." But the trend is far more widespread than the expostulations of one man. In the Iranian media, for instance, Israel's evacuation of its Gaza settlements in the summer of 2005 has become a major symbol of the decrepitude of the Jewish state. "The Zionist regime retreats in the face of the slightest resistance," the newspaper Hamshahri gloated in the wake of the disengagement process. "The willingness of the Zionists to leave behind their synagogues in Gaza demonstrates conclusively that they have no God, and therefore, of course, no religious connection to the Holy Land; they will now be easily ejected from all of occupied Palestine."

Soon after the Gaza pullout, the headline on a lengthy interview with Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Iranian-backed Hizballah, proclaimed: "We, Too, Drove Out the Israeli Cowards." The reference was to Israel's prior withdrawal from southern Lebanon in 2000—a retreat that in the eyes of Ayatollah Khamenei had similarly "proved the justness of the Islamic struggle" and demonstrated that if Muslims put their trust in God, "victory will be certain." As for Israel's July 2006 incursion into Lebanon in response to the kidnapping of Israeli soldiers, Iranians were initially shocked by the force of it. But by the end of hostilities in mid-August the Iranian press—like that of many other Middle Eastern countries—was pouncing on the lack of a clear Israeli victory as a sign that the Jewish state was even feebler than many had presumed.

The perceived military defeats of "the Jerusalem-occupying regime" are regularly coupled with still another alleged indication of Israeli weakness—namely, the security fence protecting Israel's civilian population from Arab terrorism. Ayatollah Khamenei recently described this barrier as "a symbol of the impotence of the Zionists and of their inability to rein in the intifada." So successful have suicide operations been in sowing "terror and panic" among Israelis, Khamenei declared, that, like their trembling forebears in Europe, they were now retreating behind a ghetto wall. "The Islamic nation," he added, "is fully capable of deciding the fate of Palestine here and now."

But it is not the actual wall but the metaphorical walls dividing the different sectors and camps within Israeli society that have received the fullest and most scornful coverage. The Iranian press delights in every instance—real, imagined or exaggerated—of internecine Jewish conflict: between Ashkenazim and Sephardim, religious Israelis and secular Israelis, new immigrants and old immigrants, right-wingers and left-wingers, Zionists, non-Zionists, anti-Zionists and post-Zionists.
24321  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: No blot on US honor on: January 27, 2009, 06:58:19 PM
President Obama's decision to close the detention facilities at Guantanamo Bay within a year is being hailed as a necessary step in restoring the good name and moral hygiene of America. Fundamentally, it tests the proposition that self-esteem can be a form of self-defense.

Nobody ever actually liked Guantanamo. It was a strange growth on the body of American law, made necessary by extraordinary circumstances that existing institutions were ill-prepared to handle. Even Donald Rumsfeld had reservations: In his excellent memoir, "War and Decision," former Defense Undersecretary Douglas Feith writes that his boss recoiled at turning his department into "the world's jailer."

The Opinion Journal Widget
Download Opinion Journal's widget and link to the most important editorials and op-eds of the day from your blog or Web page.
But the best case against Guantanamo was always inherently odd. It came down to the view that its benefits as a holding pen for the world's most dangerous men could not outweigh the inevitable PR disaster of removing such men to an exotic locale, a step removed from ordinary conventions of law, prone to lurid speculation about Papillon-like goings on, corroborated by the testimony of inmates trained to cry "torture" whenever incarcerated.

In other words, the smart case against Gitmo is that the stupid case against it was bound to prevail, with first-order consequences for America's image and self-image, and second-order ones for our ability to inspire, lead and be followed.

Is this true? Paradoxically, the case for Guantanamo is only becoming obvious as the clock ticks toward closure. Consider, for instance, the recent career of Said Ali al-Shihri.

Unclassified
Read the Department of Defense's summary of evidence against Said Ali al-Shihri.According to an unclassified June 2007 document from Guantanamo's Office for the Administrative Review of the Detention of Enemy Combatants, Mr. Shihri "was identified as an al Qaeda facilitator in Mashad, Iran, for youth traveling to Afghanistan"; "wanted two individuals to assassinate a writer based on a fatwa by Sheikh Hamud bin Uqla" (a favorite of Osama bin Laden); and "trained in urban warfare at the Libyan Camp north of Kabul, Afghanistan."

Charming résumé. But what's remarkable here is that the dark lords of Gitmo justice nonetheless found sufficient exculpatory evidence to release Mr. Shihri from detention. "The detainee stated that he was just a Muslim not a terrorist"; that he "denied any involvement or knowledge of assistance provided to jihadists traveling to Pakistan or Afghanistan"; and that, upon his release, "he would attempt to work at his family's furniture store, if it is still in business" in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Maybe the store had gone out of business. Last week, Mr. Shihri, who had undergone a "rehabilitation course" courtesy of the Saudi government, resurfaced as al Qaeda's deputy chief in Yemen, alongside an accomplice named Mohamed Atiq Awayd al-Harbi, a colleague of Mr. Shihri's from Guantanamo who was released the same day.

Mr. Shihri's role with al Qaeda hasn't been merely ceremonial. According to reports, he was involved in a September attempt to bomb the U.S. Embassy in the Yemeni capital of Sana'a. No Americans were killed, but 16 others died in the attack. It's a pity we don't know their names.

Yesterday, Reuters reported that the embassy had again "received a threat of a possible attack." Some such attack is probably bound to succeed in killing Americans one day, perhaps in a big way, and possibly with the fingerprints of one of the 60-odd Gitmo graduates the U.S. believes have "returned to the fight." What lessons shall we draw in that event?

In Today's Opinion Journal
 

REVIEW & OUTLOOK

Obama and IraqWorld Bank OmertaSpeaker Nancy Malthus

TODAY'S COLUMNISTS

Main Street: Obama Should Acknowledge His Roots
– William McGurn

COMMENTARY

Animal Spirits Depend on Trust
– Robert J. ShillerCorporate Tax Cuts Should Be Part of the Stimulus
– Stephen J. EntinLet's Have Flexible Armed Forces
– Mackubin Thomas OwensEconomic Policy Will Have to Be Very Agile
– Marina v.N. WhitmanNo doubt some will conclude that the Gitmo ordeal is what turned a random collection of Peshawar holiday-makers and itinerant Saudi carpet salesmen, who made their way to the Afghan frontier on the eve of 9/11, into raging jihadists. Similar arguments were heard a generation ago in favor of deinstitutionalization, on the theory that psychiatric institutions manufacture insanity.

There will also be those who argue that the death of innocents is the price free societies pay for freedom. They will argue, too, that the price is actually a bargain, since the moral stature gained by shutting down places like Guantanamo earns us the kind of moral and political credit we need to broaden America's appeal in the Muslim world.

In his inaugural address, Mr. Obama noted that "our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint." All this is obviously true.

Then again, our security also depends on doing what we can to keep the likes of Mr. Shihri -- far from the most dangerous of Gitmo's prisoners -- away from his would-be victims. To do so is neither a violation of conscience nor a blot on our national honor; it should not be a violation of the law. And a president sworn to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution should know this.
24322  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Scott Grannis! on: January 27, 2009, 06:25:28 PM
Scott Grannis's blog is a north star of clear headed economic and stock market analysis.  I'm over there every day the market is open.
24323  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US-Russia on: January 27, 2009, 06:22:41 PM
God, this sounds like the coldest days of the Cold War in conquered eastern Europe angry

Lets follow up on this at http://dogbrothers.com/phpBB2/index.php?topic=1673.0

PS:  Very glad to see your peregrinations bring you our way once again  cool
24324  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Daily Expression of Gratitude on: January 27, 2009, 06:04:32 PM
Profoundly grateful to have my son in a new school!  Wonderful teacher!!!

Grateful for continuing evolution of "Kali Tudo" subsystem.
24325  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / UK police scan web for knives on: January 27, 2009, 04:32:50 PM
http://www.facebook.com/ext/share.ph...=gowzF&u=HpTzs

Quote:
Police tackle internet knife gangs
By Dan Whitworth

Newsbeat technology reporter, Glasgow

Hundreds of weapons have been taken off the streets of Glasgow six months after police started using the web to crack down on gang violence.

Young trainee officers at Strathclyde Police search social networking sites for pictures of people posing with weapons, mainly knives.

Constable Holly McGee and Cadet Fraser Reed, both 18, carry out the work.
"We're looking for anyone who is brandishing offensive weapons or blades," Holly told Newsbeat.

"We take the date, the time, detail of what's in the photograph, [then] a copy of the photograph is printed out and thereafter it's all sent to the gangs task force unit." 

That's when more experienced officers in the Violence Reduction Unit at Strathclyde Police get involved.

'The law's been broken'

The man in charge of this, Superintendent Bob Hamilton, says there are two ways of dealing with people once they've been tracked down.  If they were posing in a public place, like on the street or a park, the law has been broken and they'll be arrested.  Even when pictures are taken in private, though, which isn't technically breaking the law, he says the weapons are so dangerous his officers pay a visit to the people involved.

"We have large kitchen knives, axes, samurai swords, baseball bats, a huge number and different type of weapons" said Superintendent Bob Hamilton "We show the parents their pictures," he explained, "recover the weapons and make sure they know that behaviour is unacceptable.  We have large kitchen knives, axes, samurai swords, baseball bats, a huge number and different type of weapons - in simple terms weapons that can kill."

Superintendent Hamilton says Operation Access has been a complete success.

"We've questioned more than 400 people, most of them teenagers, as part of it and it's worked so well it will carry on indefinitely," he said.

Other forces from across the UK have also been in touch about the possibility of setting up similar operations.  Social networking sites Facebook and Bebo both say they're committed to improving safety for their members as well as helping cut crime.
24326  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: January 27, 2009, 11:58:28 AM
I fear you are right.
24327  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Shrewd detective work!!! on: January 27, 2009, 11:47:29 AM
Teen Impersonator Completes Shift with Real Officer Before Being Discovered
7,206 Views 272 Comments Share Flag as inappropriate  Chicago Tribune via YellowBrix

January 26, 2009

CHICAGO – Chicago police arrested a 14-year-old boy for allegedly impersonating one of their own Saturday.

The boy, who has been charged as a juvenile for impersonating an officer, walked into the Grand Crossing District station, 7040 S. Cottage Grove Ave., dressed in a Chicago police uniform, police spokeswoman Monique Bond said. The boy, who reported for duty about 1:30 p.m., partnered with another police officer for about five hours.

The boy identified himself as an officer from another district but was detailed for the day to Grand Crossing and also was savvy enough to sign out a police radio and a ticket book, according to a source. The source also said the boy went on traffic stops with the officer he went on the street with.

Bond said the boy “did not write tickets” and said there was “no information to indicate that he [was] ever behind the wheel.”

At an afternoon news conference, police said the boy had no interaction with the public.

After his tour was over, a ranking officer became suspicious of the boy. Police said the officer discovered the teen was not a real police officer when he couldn’t produce any credentials. The boy was wearing police-issued pants, shirt, vest, sweater and skull cap, police said.  He was missing his police star, but that was not discovered until after he returned from traffic patrol. Police said the 14-year-old’s partner on the traffic assignment did not recognize the boy was underage. The source said the boy had an empty holster and a newspaper in place of a ballistic vest in his vest carrier.  Police described the boy as a former “police explorer,” which means he was part of a community program run through the Police Department’s Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy (CAPS) that allows youths to interact with Chicago police officers. He was part of the explorer program in 2008 in the Englewood District.

“The boy was not armed, and the matter is under investigation with Internal Affairs,” Bond said.

Bond also said that how the boy acquired the police uniform was under investigation. Police officers need to present identification while acquiring their uniforms, police said.

The boy “has identified an egregious breach in security,” Deputy Supt. of Patrol Dan Dugan said.

The boy, whom authorities did not identify since he’s a juvenile, is scheduled to appear in Juvenile Court at 10 a.m. Monday.

24328  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Progress ahead? on: January 27, 2009, 11:36:12 AM
Geopolitical Diary: More Progress Ahead for U.S.-Iranian Talks
January 27, 2009 | 0256 GMT

Susan Rice, the new U.S. envoy to the United Nations, on Monday echoed President Barack Obama’s campaign pledge to pursue a new approach in dealing with Iran, saying his administration intends to engage in direct diplomacy with Tehran.

Though relations between the countries have been pockmarked with “Death to America” slogans, trampled U.S. flags, militant proxy battles and nuclear plant centrifuges spinning in defiance, the U.S. occupation of Iraq gave Tehran and Washington many reasons to start talking again. Iran had a golden opportunity to consolidate Shiite influence in the heart of the Arab world, and the United States needed to deal with the Iranians to keep Iraq from tearing itself apart in a full-scale civil war.

Despite the long-standing tensions, the back-channel talks that had been taking place even before the United States invaded Iraq progressed, in the final phase of the Bush presidency, to the point that dialogue was able to break out into the public sphere, allowing the world to warm to the idea of the Great Satan talking to a member of the Axis of Evil. Now, after a year-long campaign filled with Iranian pledges to talk to the United States’ main adversaries, the sporadic and indirect negotiations are about to evolve into direct diplomatic talks. It’s been a rollercoaster relationship, but it is slowly and surely moving toward a more cooperative stance.

Signs of progress can already be seen: There are serious discussions about the U.S. State Department setting up a diplomatic office in Tehran, and hard-line Iranian ayatollahs are practically welcoming the Obama administration with open arms. We do not expect either Iran or the United States to rush the process, however. The Obama administration is still putting together a diplomatic team to develop an Iran strategy, and the Iranians have to get through presidential elections in June. That said, neither side is wasting time in laying the groundwork for a more constructive relationship.

The U.S. military drawdown in Iraq will be a significant confidence-building factor in these talks. With the world’s most powerful military force flanking them in both Iraq and Afghanistan, the Iranians have had more than a few sleepless nights over the past several years. The drawdown in Iraq has been made possible both by the success of the U.S. surge in stabilizing Iraq (which was also quietly facilitated to some extent by the Iranians) and a strategic need for the United States to refocus on Afghanistan, where a victory over al Qaeda and the Taliban is anything but assured.

The Iranians still will be faced with a residual U.S. military presence in Iraq over the longer term and a U.S.-Iraqi strategic partnership designed to counter Iranian influence, but they at least can be assured that within the next year, the United States will no longer be in an immediate offensive posture on their western frontier. In fact, the Pentagon is making contingency plans for the United States to complete the bulk of its withdrawal from Iraq by the end of 2010 — a year ahead of the deadline stipulated by the U.S.-Iraqi Status of Forces Agreement — pending Obama’s approval.

In addition to building confidence for U.S.-Iranian dialogue, moves toward an accelerated U.S. withdrawal also could open new doors for cooperation in Afghanistan. There is no love lost between Tehran and al Qaeda or the Taliban, but Iran has been heavily involved in arming the jihadist insurgency in Afghanistan – hoping to keep the United States too preoccupied to think about regime change in Tehran. The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) also has plenty of intelligence that the United States would appreciate concerning the movements of al Qaeda operatives who travel in and out of Iran under the IRGC’s watch. U.S. Central Command chief Gen. David Petraeus indicated recently that Afghanistan is an issue of mutual interest for Washington and Tehran. And with the U.S. military focus shifting from Iraq to Afghanistan, there is strong potential for a meeting of the minds between these two on how to contain the Taliban and eradicate al Qaeda.

Another test of U.S.-Iranian cooperation will concern the Mujahideen e-Khalq (MeK) — a cult-like Marxist-based group whose primary aim is to overthrow Iran’s clerical regime. Approximately 3,000 MeK members have been holed up in Camp Ashraf, in Iraq’s Diyala province, under the watch of the U.S. military throughout out the war. Tehran has worried that the United States and other Western powers could use the group as a tool to undermine the stability of the Iranian regime. Now that the United States is drawing down forces in Iraq, the Iranians want assurances from Washington that the MeK will not be able to reorganize. Mainly out of concern for human rights, the United States cannot simply extradite the MeK members to Iran or release them to authorities in Iraq, where they likely would be tortured and executed. For this reason, many of them are likely to find political asylum in the European Union, which voted Monday to remove the group from its list of terrorist organizations. The MeK threat might be a useful card for the United States and Europe to hold onto in their negotiations with Iran, but moving forward, Iran likely would demand some guarantees from the Obama administration that the group will be completely neutralized, in return for any potential cooperation on al Qaeda and the Taliban.

Of course, a number of significant challenges remain on the path toward rapprochement. In addition to the deep-set distrust that the United States and Iran have harbored for three decades, the nuclear issue — despite widely varying estimates on its threat value — remains a key sticking point in any diplomatic arrangement. This is especially true as the United States has to balance Iran against its relationship with Israel and the surrounding Arab states, which who all want to see Iran boxed in from all sides. While a full and imminent rapprochement might be wishful thinking, it is hard to deny these days that Iran and the United States are at least moving toward some sort of mutual understanding.
24329  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: January 27, 2009, 11:28:41 AM
I agree 100% concerning the remaining "satanic verses" within Islam.  Until these dark strands in Islam are rejected by Muslims, there is a fundamental problem.    One of the many thoughts I have on "all this" is that success/victory will come when the struggle is defined as Civilization vs. Barbarism instead of Civilization vs Islam.  Having kicked the butt of "AQ Prime", it strikes me that PART of a coherent strategy is to allow/encourage the Muslim world to define itself in a new way, so taken by themself we might finesse our way into saying that the President's words are not THAT bad.  Unfortunately the larger context is that President O seems determined to throw away success in Iraq and enable Iran to go nuke while meandering pointlessly in Afg-Pak, so I fear the net result will be a return to pre-Bush weak horse status-- which will be seen -- correctly?--  as an utter surrender of American will.
24330  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: ripleys martial arts question on: January 27, 2009, 11:13:14 AM
Let's ask this on the Martial Arts forum please.
24331  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / What life asks of us on: January 27, 2009, 10:59:43 AM
What Life Asks of Us

By DAVID BROOKS
Published: January 26, 2009
A few years ago, a faculty committee at Harvard produced a report on the purpose of education. “The aim of a liberal education” the report declared, “is to unsettle presumptions, to defamiliarize the familiar, to reveal what is going on beneath and behind appearances, to disorient young people and to help them to find ways to reorient themselves.”

Skip to next paragraph
 
David Brooks

Go to Columnist Page » Readers' Comments
Readers shared their thoughts on this article.
Read All Comments (124) »
The report implied an entire way of living. Individuals should learn to think for themselves. They should be skeptical of pre-existing arrangements. They should break free from the way they were raised, examine life from the outside and discover their own values.

This approach is deeply consistent with the individualism of modern culture, with its emphasis on personal inquiry, personal self-discovery and personal happiness. But there is another, older way of living, and it was discussed in a neglected book that came out last summer called “On Thinking Institutionally” by the political scientist Hugh Heclo.

In this way of living, to borrow an old phrase, we are not defined by what we ask of life. We are defined by what life asks of us. As we go through life, we travel through institutions — first family and school, then the institutions of a profession or a craft.

Each of these institutions comes with certain rules and obligations that tell us how to do what we’re supposed to do. Journalism imposes habits that help reporters keep a mental distance from those they cover. Scientists have obligations to the community of researchers. In the process of absorbing the rules of the institutions we inhabit, we become who we are.

New generations don’t invent institutional practices. These practices are passed down and evolve. So the institutionalist has a deep reverence for those who came before and built up the rules that he has temporarily taken delivery of. “In taking delivery,” Heclo writes, “institutionalists see themselves as debtors who owe something, not creditors to whom something is owed.”

The rules of a profession or an institution are not like traffic regulations. They are deeply woven into the identity of the people who practice them. A teacher’s relationship to the craft of teaching, an athlete’s relationship to her sport, a farmer’s relation to her land is not an individual choice that can be easily reversed when psychic losses exceed psychic profits. Her social function defines who she is. The connection is more like a covenant. There will be many long periods when you put more into your institutions than you get out.

In 2005, Ryne Sandberg was inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame. Heclo cites his speech as an example of how people talk when they are defined by their devotion to an institution:

“I was in awe every time I walked onto the field. That’s respect. I was taught you never, ever disrespect your opponents or your teammates or your organization or your manager and never, ever your uniform. You make a great play, act like you’ve done it before; get a big hit, look for the third base coach and get ready to run the bases.”

Sandberg motioned to those inducted before him, “These guys sitting up here did not pave the way for the rest of us so that players could swing for the fences every time up and forget how to move a runner over to third. It’s disrespectful to them, to you and to the game of baseball that we all played growing up.

“Respect. A lot of people say this honor validates my career, but I didn’t work hard for validation. I didn’t play the game right because I saw a reward at the end of the tunnel. I played it right because that’s what you’re supposed to do, play it right and with respect ... . If this validates anything, it’s that guys who taught me the game ... did what they were supposed to do, and I did what I was supposed to do.”

I thought it worth devoting a column to institutional thinking because I try to keep a list of the people in public life I admire most. Invariably, the people who make that list have subjugated themselves to their profession, social function or institution.

Second, institutional thinking is eroding. Faith in all institutions, including charities, has declined precipitously over the past generation, not only in the U.S. but around the world. Lack of institutional awareness has bred cynicism and undermined habits of behavior. Bankers, for example, used to have a code that made them a bit stodgy and which held them up for ridicule in movies like “Mary Poppins.” But the banker’s code has eroded, and the result was not liberation but self-destruction.

Institutions do all the things that are supposed to be bad. They impede personal exploration. They enforce conformity.

But they often save us from our weaknesses and give meaning to life.

24332  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Jefferson: limits on judicial power on: January 27, 2009, 10:46:24 AM
"[T]he opinion which gives to the judges the right to decide what laws are constitutional and what not, not only for themselves, in their, own sphere of action, but for the Legislature and Executive also in their spheres, would make the Judiciary a despotic branch."

--Thomas Jefferson, letter to Abigail Adams, 11 September 1804
24333  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Suppliments: Legal and Illegal on: January 27, 2009, 08:43:09 AM
Maxx:

Those names sound like steroids.  Are they?
24334  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Do Palestinians really want 2 state solution? on: January 27, 2009, 12:00:47 AM
Good one.  I will look into that site:

=========================

By JOSEF JOFFE | From today's Wall Street Journal Europe
What if there is no solution? With the war in Gaza slipping into an uneasy truce, peacemakers will now descend on the Middle East. That includes George Mitchell, President Obama's special envoy to the region.

But is peace possible? The real message of Gaza may be a bloody and cruel testimony to intractability. How shall we count the ways? Annapolis, Wye, Taba, Camp David, Oslo . . . all the way back to 1947 when the Arabs refused the original two-state solution. Looking at this tale of doom, the proverbial visitor from Mars would ask in all innocence: "Could it be that the Palestinians actually don't want two states?"

No, not if we listen to what Palestinian leaders say and write, especially in Arabic and with no CNN team around. It's one state from the "river to the sea," and the blood-curdling oratory is not just anti-Israel, it is eliminationist anti-Semitic echoing Hitler and Himmler. This is not hyperbole. Just read the daily compilation in English on www.memri.org and recoil in horror. But let's be statesmanlike about this ("you know, the flowery language of the Arabs") and look at the strategic games both sides play. Double-statehood is not the first prize in this game, alas.


In 2005, Israel withdrew from Gaza. Our man from Mars would have thought: Now is the time for the Palestinians to really build a state, as they couldn't previously when Yasser Arafat was in charge and the Israeli army in place. Instead, the Palestinians elected Hamas, which thrust the three no's at Israel: no recognition, no negotiation, no acceptance (of the Oslo Accords).

The "conversation" was not about statehood but about will. It was Kassam time, with Hamas firing the missiles and Israel tightening the blockade. This is known, in the media vernacular, as a "spiral of violence." But if the missiles were the answer to the blockade, why did Hamas target the border passages and the power plant next door that supplied Gaza with electricity?

So much irrationality makes perfect sense if we posit a different strategic game. Hamas's object is provoking Israel to prove that it doesn't care about the consequences. Indeed, it wants bad things to happen to its own people. This will mobilize the "Arab street" and the world's media against Israel while demonstrating its absolute imperviousness to pain and threats of more. "Bring it on," is great for Hamas's credibility, pride and honor, but for the purpose of statehood, it would behave very differently. It would wheel and deal, cajole and dissimulate. It would play quid pro quo, not Kassams against F-16s.

Naturally, Israel couldn't allow Hamas to dictate the rules, and so it began to ready a massive counterstrike by last summer. Hamas miscalculated in 2008 as Hezbollah did in 2006. Each thought it could humiliate and cow Mr. Big without triggering retaliation. Recall Hezbollah chief Nasrallah, who admitted that he never would have authorized forays into Israel if he had foreseen the reaction. Hamas was unluckier still, for Israel was a lot more successful in Gaza than in southern Lebanon in 2006.

For Israel, the object was "never again." Never again would it allow deterrence to lapse, or its reputation for swift and efficient military force to suffer. With the country's credibility restored, you might ask: Isn't this precisely the moment for another Annapolis or Taba, where Arafat extracted even better terms than at Camp David in 2000? Alas, the Abba Ebban cliché about the Palestinians never missing an opportunity to miss an opportunity is true.

The reason is that double-statehood is not their No. 1 priority. They want it all, and if they can't get it, they would rather nurse their honor, pride and sense of righteous victimhood than engage in the sordid business of compromise. At any rate, the simple two-state solution is now off the table. Most Israelis (minus the settlers and their supporters) have come around to two states. But never again will Israel vacate territory (as in Gaza) without making sure that it won't turn into a strategic springboard against the heartland. Never again will Israel relinquish control over a border like the Philadelphi Corridor that served as entry point for Iranian missiles into Gaza. It will insist on a strategic presence in the Jordan Valley.

Nor can Israel yield military control over the West Bank. What a twist of fate. Today, it is the Israeli Defense Force that guarantees the survival of Fatah and President Mahmoud Abbas against Hamas, Jihad and their Iranian sponsors. Here is the bitter irony. Fatah might want to make peace, but doesn't have the power to deliver; Hamas has the power, but it doesn't want peace, dreaming about a "final solution" that wipes Israel off this part of the map.

This is why the Obama administration is looking at yet another disappointment. The upside is that today Palestine is less than ever the "core" of the Middle East conflict. The real issue is Iran and its reach for regional hegemony. The conventional wisdom has it that peace for Palestine would weaken Tehran's mischief potential, robbing it of a rallying point for the Arab masses. Actually, it is the other way round. Iran will use its power, through its proxies, to demolish whatever deal might be hashed out by Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

For Iran's game is not a two-state solution, let alone peace. Rather, its object is to intimidate America's Arab supporters and to eliminate Israel as America's strongest regional ally. So for the Obama administration, Israel/Palestine has become an intractable sideshow on a vastly enlarged stage that extends from Haifa to Herat.

American (and European) good offices should be designed to manage rather than to solve a conflict that still defies solution. The object of intercession ought to be a stable truce. Preventing another eruption means closing off all conduits for offensive weaponry. The U.S. and the European Union can offer Hamas a benign tit for tat: Stop the terror and gain wondrous economic benefits like copious investments and easier movement of goods and people -- provided the money doesn't again disappear in the pockets of the Palestinian leadership, as it did in Arafat's days.

It took Israel 40 years to push Fatah from terrorism to teeth-gnashing acceptance. The Levant will be a lot happier place if Hamas turns out to be a faster learner.

Mr. Joffe is publisher-editor of Die Zeit, and a fellow at the Institute for International Studies and the Hoover Institution, both at Stanford University.
24335  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Snatching defeat from jaws of victory on: January 26, 2009, 11:46:35 PM
In a week of symbolic breaks with the ancien regime, President Obama called in U.S. war commanders last Wednesday to signal his desire to get out of Iraq. Then, meeting over, he issued a vague statement about planning "a responsible military drawdown" that omitted mention of his campaign promise to pull out within 16 months.

 
APFor Iraq's sake, long may such obfuscation reign. The country faces big tests in the coming year, starting with provincial elections on Saturday. Robust American engagement guided Iraq out of its bloodiest days in 2006. The military commanders who implemented the successful surge now counsel against hasty withdrawal, lest those gains be lost. This is a potential win-win for Mr. Obama. If Iraq emerges from 2009 as a stronger democracy, the White House could then reduce troop levels with little risk of relapse. The President, who prospered in the Democratic primaries thanks to his antiwar stance, will reap the strategic benefit. Let historians appreciate the irony.

The 146,000 U.S. troops still in Iraq today are needed less to end violence than as glue for a still fragile polity. The GIs are the honest brokers in an Iraq recovering from vicious sectarian fighting, and they are crucial to building a steadily improving Iraqi Army. To withdraw in 16 months, the U.S. would have to start immediately to rotate out a brigade roughly each month, taking its eye off those crucial missions.

Why take that risk now, of all times? After Saturday's local elections, the majority Shiites will willingly share power with Sunnis, who boycotted the last poll in 2005. Sunnis have chosen to come back into the fold through the ballot box, along the way helping to give birth to vibrant retail politics. Some 14,000 candidates from 400 parties battle for 440 seats on 14 (of 18) provincial councils. There will also be a referendum on the U.S.-Iraq Status of Forces Agreement this summer, and parliamentary elections by the end of the year.

American GIs can make sure these elections come off smoothly and are accepted broadly as legitimate. The current campaign has seen an uptick in suicide attacks and bombings, showing that diehard Sunni insurgents and Iran-backed militias still want to sabotage democracy in Mesopotamia. Iran lost its fight to stop the U.S. forces deal last year and is sure to try again. A Shiite democracy on its border is an existential rebuke to the mullahs. Military commanders are bracing for Iran to stir up trouble in the months ahead, particularly in the south. By helping Iraq resist this powerplay, Mr. Obama will only strengthen his hand for his promised diplomacy with Tehran.

General Ray Odierno, the commander in Iraq, says the U.S. will be able to pull out two, possibly three, of 14 brigades in 2009, assuming all goes well. Last year's forces agreement obliges cuts. By summer, American combat forces are supposed to be out of the cities, and out of the country by the end of 2011, well in time for the next U.S. Presidential election.

The new Administration may still be tempted to pull out in bigger numbers sooner -- both to appease its antiwar left and spend less on defense. Another argument is that the U.S. can't beef up in Afghanistan without quick reductions in Iraq. As a matter of arithmetic, that's broadly correct. But before a larger force can do much good in Afghanistan the U.S. needs a plan for deploying it.

Here's the lose-lose scenario: Allow Iraq to deteriorate by withdrawing too soon and push into Afghanistan without a better strategy. Mr. Obama has inherited a victory in Iraq that he can't afford to squander.

 
24336  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: January 26, 2009, 09:12:50 PM
Care to expound on that further?  Perhaps in the India-Pak thread?
24337  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Bifurcating the War on: January 26, 2009, 08:17:09 PM


At last a serious effort at answering my question!!!  No surprise that it comes from Stratfor.

Comments?

==================

Strategic Divergence: The War Against the Taliban and the War Against Al Qaeda
January 26, 2009




By George Friedman

Related Special Topic Page
The Devolution of Al Qaeda
Washington’s attention is now zeroing in on Afghanistan. There is talk of doubling U.S. forces there, and preparations are being made for another supply line into Afghanistan — this one running through the former Soviet Union — as an alternative or a supplement to the current Pakistani route. To free up more resources for Afghanistan, the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq probably will be accelerated. And there is discussion about whether the Karzai government serves the purposes of the war in Afghanistan. In short, U.S. President Barack Obama’s campaign promise to focus on Afghanistan seems to be taking shape.

We have discussed many aspects of the Afghan war in the past; it is now time to focus on the central issue. What are the strategic goals of the United States in Afghanistan? What resources will be devoted to this mission? What are the intentions and capabilities of the Taliban and others fighting the United States and its NATO allies? Most important, what is the relationship between the war against the Taliban and the war against al Qaeda? If the United States encounters difficulties in the war against the Taliban, will it still be able to contain not only al Qaeda but other terrorist groups? Does the United States need to succeed against the Taliban to be successful against transnational Islamist terrorists? And assuming that U.S. forces are built up in Afghanistan and that the supply problem through Pakistan is solved, are the defeat of Taliban and the disruption of al Qaeda likely?

Al Qaeda and U.S. Goals Post-9/11
The overarching goal of the United States since Sept. 11, 2001, has been to prevent further attacks by al Qaeda in the United States. Washington has used two means toward this end. One was defensive, aimed at increasing the difficulty of al Qaeda operatives to penetrate and operate within the United States. The second was to attack and destroy al Qaeda prime, the group around Osama bin Laden that organized and executed 9/11 and other attacks in Europe. It is this group — not other groups that call themselves al Qaeda but only are able to operate in the countries where they were formed — that was the target of the United States, because this was the group that had demonstrated the ability to launch intercontinental strikes.

Al Qaeda prime had its main headquarters in Afghanistan. It was not an Afghan group, but one drawn from multiple Islamic countries. It was in alliance with an Afghan group, the Taliban. The Taliban had won a civil war in Afghanistan, creating a coalition of support among tribes that had given the group control, direct or indirect, over most of the country. It is important to remember that al Qaeda was separate from the Taliban; the former was a multinational force, while the Taliban were an internal Afghan political power.

The United States has two strategic goals in Afghanistan. The first is to destroy the remnants of al Qaeda prime — the central command of al Qaeda — in Afghanistan. The second is to use Afghanistan as a base for destroying al Qaeda in Pakistan and to prevent the return of al Qaeda to Afghanistan.

To achieve these goals, Washington has sought to make Afghanistan inhospitable to al Qaeda. The United States forced the Taliban from Afghanistan’s main cities and into the countryside, and established a new, anti-Taliban government in Kabul under President Hamid Karzai. Washington intended to deny al Qaeda bases in Afghanistan by unseating the Taliban government, creating a new pro-American government and then using Afghanistan as a base against al Qaeda in Pakistan.

The United States succeeded in forcing the Taliban from power in the sense that in giving up the cities, the Taliban lost formal control of the country. To be more precise, early in the U.S. attack in 2001, the Taliban realized that the massed defense of Afghan cities was impossible in the face of American air power. The ability of U.S. B-52s to devastate any concentration of forces meant that the Taliban could not defend the cities, but had to withdraw, disperse and reform its units for combat on more favorable terms.

At this point, we must separate the fates of al Qaeda and the Taliban. During the Taliban retreat, al Qaeda had to retreat as well. Since the United States lacked sufficient force to destroy al Qaeda at Tora Bora, al Qaeda was able to retreat into northwestern Pakistan. There, it enjoys the advantages of terrain, superior tactical intelligence and support networks.

Even so, in nearly eight years of war, U.S. intelligence and special operations forces have maintained pressure on al Qaeda in Pakistan. The United States has imposed attrition on al Qaeda, disrupting its command, control and communications and isolating it. In the process, the United States used one of al Qaeda’s operational principles against it. To avoid penetration by hostile intelligence services, al Qaeda has not recruited new cadres for its primary unit. This makes it very difficult to develop intelligence on al Qaeda, but it also makes it impossible for al Qaeda to replace its losses. Thus, in a long war of attrition, every loss imposed on al Qaeda has been irreplaceable, and over time, al Qaeda prime declined dramatically in effectiveness — meaning it has been years since it has carried out an effective operation.

The situation was very different with the Taliban. The Taliban, it is essential to recall, won the Afghan civil war that followed the Soviet withdrawal despite Russian and Iranian support for its opponents. That means the Taliban have a great deal of support and a strong infrastructure, and, above all, they are resilient. After the group withdrew from Afghanistan’s cities and lost formal power post-9/11, it still retained a great deal of informal influence — if not control — over large regions of Afghanistan and in areas across the border in Pakistan. Over the years since the U.S. invasion, the Taliban have regrouped, rearmed and increased their operations in Afghanistan. And the conflict with the Taliban has now become a conventional guerrilla war.

The Taliban and the Guerrilla Warfare Challenge
The Taliban have forged relationships among many Afghan (and Pakistani) tribes. These tribes have been alienated by Karzai and the Americans, and far more important, they do not perceive the Americans and Karzai as potential winners in the Afghan conflict. They recall the Russian and British defeats. The tribes have long memories, and they know that foreigners don’t stay very long. Betting on the United States and Karzai — when the United States has sent only 30,000 troops to Afghanistan, and is struggling with the idea of sending another 30,000 troops — does not strike them as prudent. The United States is behaving like a power not planning to win; and, in any event, they would not be much impressed if the Americans were planning to win.

The tribes therefore do not want to get on the wrong side of the Taliban. That means they aid and shelter Taliban forces, and provide them intelligence on enemy movement and intentions. With its base camps and supply lines running from Pakistan, the Taliban are thus in a position to recruit, train and arm an increasingly large force.

The Taliban have the classic advantage of guerrillas operating in known terrain with a network of supporters: superior intelligence. They know where the Americans are, what the Americans are doing and when the Americans are going to strike. The Taliban declines combat on unfavorable terms and strikes when the Americans are weakest. The Americans, on the other hand, have the classic problem of counterinsurgency: They enjoy superior force and firepower, and can defeat anyone they can locate and pin down, but they lack intelligence. As much as technical intelligence from unmanned aerial vehicles and satellites is useful, human intelligence is the only effective long-term solution to defeating an insurgency. In this, the Taliban have the advantage: They have been there longer, they are in more places and they are not going anywhere.

There is no conceivable force the United States can deploy to pacify Afghanistan. A possible alternative is moving into Pakistan to cut the supply lines and destroy the Taliban’s base camps. The problem is that if the Americans lack the troops to successfully operate in Afghanistan, it is even less likely they have the troops to operate in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. The United States could use the Korean War example, taking responsibility for cutting the Taliban off from supplies and reinforcements from Pakistan, but that assumes that the Afghan government has an effective force motivated to engage and defeat the Taliban. The Afghan government doesn’t.

The obvious American solution — or at least the best available solution — is to retreat to strategic Afghan points and cities and protect the Karzai regime. The problem here is that in Afghanistan, holding the cities doesn’t give the key to the country; rather, holding the countryside gives the key to the cities. Moreover, a purely defensive posture opens the United States up to the Dien Bien Phu/Khe Sanh counterstrategy, in which guerrillas shift to positional warfare, isolate a base and try to overrun in it.

A purely defensive posture could create a stalemate, but nothing more. That stalemate could create the foundations for political negotiations, but if there is no threat to the enemy, the enemy has little reason to negotiate. Therefore, there must be strikes against Taliban concentrations. The problem is that the Taliban know that concentration is suicide, and so they work to deny the Americans valuable targets. The United States can exhaust itself attacking minor targets based on poor intelligence. It won’t get anywhere.

U.S. Strategy in Light of al Qaeda’s Diminution
From the beginning, the Karzai government has failed to take control of the countryside. Therefore, al Qaeda has had the option to redeploy into Afghanistan if it chose. It didn’t because it is risk-averse. That may seem like a strange thing to say about a group that flies planes into buildings, but what it means is that the group’s members are relatively few, so al Qaeda cannot risk operational failures. It thus keeps its powder dry and stays in hiding.

This then frames the U.S. strategic question. The United States has no intrinsic interest in the nature of the Afghan government. The United States is interested in making certain the Taliban do not provide sanctuary to al Qaeda prime. But it is not clear that al Qaeda prime is operational anymore. Some members remain, putting out videos now and then and trying to appear fearsome, but it would seem that U.S. operations have crippled al Qaeda.

So if the primary reason for fighting the Taliban is to keep al Qaeda prime from having a base of operations in Afghanistan, that reason might be moot now as al Qaeda appears to be wrecked. This is not to say that another Islamist terrorist group could not arise and develop the sophisticated methods and training of al Qaeda prime. But such a group could deploy many places, and in any case, obtaining the needed skills in moving money, holding covert meetings and the like is much harder than it looks — and with many intelligence services, including those in the Islamic world, on the lookout for this, recruitment would be hard.

It is therefore no longer clear that resisting the Taliban is essential for blocking al Qaeda: al Qaeda may simply no longer be there. (At this point, the burden of proof is on those who think al Qaeda remains operational.)

Two things emerge from this. First, the search for al Qaeda and other Islamist groups is an intelligence matter best left to the covert capabilities of U.S. intelligence and Special Operations Command. Defeating al Qaeda does not require tens of thousands of troops — it requires excellent intelligence and a special operations capability. That is true whether al Qaeda is in Pakistan or Afghanistan. Intelligence, covert forces and airstrikes are what is needed in this fight, and of the three, intelligence is the key.

Second, the current strategy in Afghanistan cannot secure Afghanistan, nor does it materially contribute to shutting down al Qaeda. Trying to hold some cities and strategic points with the number of troops currently under consideration is not an effective strategy to this end; the United States is already ceding large areas of Afghanistan to the Taliban that could serve as sanctuary for al Qaeda. Protecting the Karzai government and key cities is therefore not significantly contributing to the al Qaeda-suppression strategy.

In sum, the United States does not control enough of Afghanistan to deny al Qaeda sanctuary, can’t control the border with Pakistan and lacks effective intelligence and troops for defeating the Taliban.

Logic argues, therefore, for the creation of a political process for the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan coupled with a recommitment to intelligence operations against al Qaeda. Ultimately, the United States must protect itself from radical Islamists, but cannot create a united, pro-American Afghanistan. That would not happen even if the United States sent 500,000 troops there, which it doesn’t have anyway.

A Tale of Two Surges
The U.S. strategy now appears to involve trying a surge, or sending in more troops and negotiating with the Taliban, mirroring the strategy used in Iraq. But the problem with that strategy is that the Taliban don’t seem inclined to make concessions to the United States. The Taliban don’t think the United States can win, and they know the United States won’t stay. The Petraeus strategy is to inflict enough pain on the Taliban to cause them to rethink their position, which worked in Iraq. But it did not work in Vietnam. So long as the Taliban have resources flowing and can survive American attacks, they will calculate that they can outlast the Americans. This has been Afghan strategy for centuries, and it worked against the British and Russians.

If it works against the Americans, too, splitting the al Qaeda strategy from the Taliban strategy will be the inevitable outcome for the United States. In that case, the CIA will become the critical war fighter in the theater, while conventional forces will be withdrawn. It follows that Obama will need to think carefully about his approach to intelligence.

This is not an argument that al Qaeda is no longer a threat, although the threat appears diminished. Nor is it an argument that dealing with terrorism in Afghanistan and Pakistan is not a priority. Instead, it is an argument that the defeat of the Taliban under rationally anticipated circumstances is unlikely and that a negotiated settlement in Afghanistan will be much more difficult and unlikely than the settlement was in Iraq — but that even so, a robust effort against Islamist terror groups must continue regardless of the outcome of the war with the Taliban.

Therefore, we expect that the United States will separate the two conflicts in response to these realities. This will mean that containing terrorists will not be dependent on defeating or holding out against the Taliban, holding Afghanistan’s cities, or preserving the Karzai regime. We expect the United States to surge troops into Afghanistan, but in due course, the counterterrorist portion will diverge from the counter-Taliban portion. The counterterrorist portion will be maintained as an intense covert operation, while the overt operation will wind down over time. The Taliban ruling Afghanistan is not a threat to the United States, so long as intense counterterrorist operations continue there.

The cost of failure in Afghanistan is simply too high and the connection to counterterrorist activities too tenuous for the two strategies to be linked. And since the counterterror war is already distinct from conventional operations in much of Afghanistan and Pakistan, our forecast is not really that radical.
24338  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Woman uses taser to help officer on: January 26, 2009, 01:36:52 PM
http://www.officer.com/web/online/Top-News-Stories/Atlanta-Woman-Uses-Taser-Gun-to-Help-Officer-in-Distress/1$45111

Atlanta Woman Uses Taser Gun to Help Officer in Distress


Posted: Monday, January 26, 2009
Updated: January 26th, 2009 11:40 AM GMT-05:00

Story by wsbtv.com
LITHONIA, Ga. --

Tanisha Cross never thought the Taser stun gun she received for Christmas would come in handy so soon. Cross said she was headed to Wal-Mart in Lithonia with her mother when she noticed a DeKalb County police officer in distress.

"I just told my mom pull over, let's try to help," said Cross.

The 20-year-old mother, who received the taser as a gift from her husband, said she kept it in a diaper bag. Cross said while others gathered to watch, she sprung into action.

"I went straight for my kid’s diaper bag and I got it and asked it if he [officer] wanted me to do it and he said, 'Yea,'" said Cross.

Cross said the officer had a hard time defending himself because the attacker had taken the officer's radio and managed to rub pepper spray in the officer's face and eyes. Jolting the attacker, Cross' timing couldn't have been better. Cross said she tasered the suspect in his arms and legs. Cross said she stunned the attacker to where the officer regained his composure and fought back until a security guard came to their aid. "He's brave," she said. "He did his best to keep him from his gun. He handled the situation very well. I was just glad I could help him," said Cross. Cross doesn't consider herself a hero. "I'm just a bystander trying to help do the right thing," said Cross.

Copyright 2009 by . All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

24339  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Black Dynamite on: January 26, 2009, 12:37:44 PM
Black Dynamite!

http://www.blackdynamite.com/chilianddonuts
24340  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Humor/WTF on: January 26, 2009, 12:26:03 PM
 shocked shocked shocked

One suspects copious amounts of vodka were involved here , , ,
24341  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: The Dog Brothers Tribe on: January 26, 2009, 12:14:23 PM
Thanks for the reminder.  Once again I have reminded our webmaster about this.  Sorry for the extended delay.
24342  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Looking for fighters for stickfighting TV series on: January 26, 2009, 12:12:45 PM
Ummm, , , did you notice my post yesterday?  cheesy
24343  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Self Defense with Pistols on: January 26, 2009, 12:11:15 PM
We kick this thread off with a newsletter from Gabe Suarez:

===========

MAGAZINE CAPACITY FOR SELF-DEFENSE
 
 
Last time we discussed calibers due to some new discussions at warriortalk.  It seems some people are still thinking like it was 1911 in terms of terminal ballistics. I think the truth of the matter is that all self defense handgun calibers (excluding the pocket pistol category) are basically the same when it comes to dropping an adversary.  That being the case, should we carry a pistol that only holds seven marginal shots, or one that holds as many as twice that number?
 
I wrote this one a while back and it seems the discussion and emailed questions I got come back to this issue.
 
Magazine Capacity
 
I suppose this will be yet another highly controversial issue, but what the heck.  Controversy makes for interesting discussion, no?  The issue is to look at whether high magazine capacity gives you a tactical advantage, or if we are better served by carrying an equally sized weapon with a smaller capacity of bigger bullets.  Before I answer my own question, let me put forth some facts as seen both in force on force training and on the street.
 
Point One - Pistol bullets, regardless of caliber are all, what one colleague calls, "iffy".  None can be guaranteed to drop an adversary in his tracks reliably.  The notion of a  one shot stop  is an urban myth dreamed up by those with a vested  interest in such things.  I have seen 45s work and fail, and I have seen 9mm both work and fail.  For the record, the only one shot drop (excluding head shots) I have ever seen with a pistol was fired by a good friend as we entered a  crack house  during a SWAT raid.  He shot the bad guy squarely in the heart with 9mm +P+ out of a SIG P-226.  He only fired once because the bad guy fell before my friend could reset his trigger for the next shot!
 
If we look at the most prevalent calibers we see that there is very little difference between them.  A 9mm (also .38/.357) is only one little millimeter smaller than the 10mm (aka .40 S&W), and that is only one little millimeter less than the vaunted 11mm (aka .45 ACP).  And before we get into the high speed light bullet versus the heavy slow bullet argument, lets remember that you can only drive a pistol bullet so fast without drastically affecting its integrity.  Moreover, since penetration is affected by weight, sacrificing weight for speed will not yield good results.  Finally, you can only make a bullet so light or so heavy.  There are limits to what you can shoot out of a pistol.
 
I have seen every one of these calibers fail at one time or another.  There are those who disdain the 9mm as unsuitable for anything larger than squirrels.  With modern ammunition, this is simply not true.  There is also a myth and a cult grown up around the .45 ACP in this country.  Sadly, it is not the deadly hammer of god its proponents suggest.   This is not new.  Read Fairbairn's Shoot To Live.  He writes of two separate times when the .45 failed to work any better than anything else.  Although one millimeter may give you a slight edge in a less than optimum body hit, under most circumstances, there will be very little difference between the effectiveness of the various calibers when modern anti-personnel ammo is used.  Trauma injury doctors and reputable terminal ballistics experts tend to agree with this statement.
 
Point Two - Private Citizen CCW Operators do not go looking for trouble.  If they are called to fight it is either because they have inadvertently crossed paths with bad guys while they are doing  bad guy  stuff (walking in on a robbery in progress as an example), or because they have been specifically targeted and stalked (such as a carjack, or home invasion event).    They will have to use extreme violence to fight off the surprise attackers.  When we translate the conversion of fright and startle into a firearm application we wee that definition is high volume of fire.  You will shoot a lot, and until the threat is no longer there.
 
While these events share slightly different dynamics, the common thread often seen is that of multiple adversaries.  The lone criminal or terrorist is an urban myth.  If your fight only involves one, consider yourself lucky.  More often than not you will be outnumbered. 
 
Another point is the time frames in which these events take place.  Think three seconds.  After this, either you will be dead, or your adversaries will be dead.  Urban gunfights do not go for hours.  Unexpected, short duration, high intensity, extreme violence, multiple adversaries.  That is the back drop.
 
Point Three - Our staff has collectively been in a large number of gunfights ranging from police, citizen, and military events.   We draw on those experiences to set up mock gunfights in dynamic, unscripted force on force training drills.  Although the  surprise factor  is missing (you generally don t know you will be in a gunfight until it is upon you), the dynamics of its evolution do not change much.  Here are some other observations from watching hundreds of those drills.
 
1).  Defenders will fire their weapons until the threat disappears.  That means that until the role player falls down (simulating effective hits delivered), or runs away (removing the target), the good guy will keep firing.  The concept of  school solutions, controlled pairs, or otherwise artificially limiting the number of shots (as one does in a firing string on the range) does not hold up even in guys who've been extensively trained to do it.
 
2).  When a training gun stops firing (due to running out of pellets), the shooter is still in the fight and still trying to shoot his enemy as well as trying to not be hit by him.  We see them continue to try to work the trigger for one or two times before there is a realization that there has been a stoppage (malfunction or empty gun).  This is followed by a visual examination of the gun, and only then is remedial action taken. 
 
This can take upwards f a second and a half before anything is even attempted to fix the gun, and then the additional time needed to reload.  Thus the idea that one can  read the gun s feel  and immediately realize a need to  speed load  simply does not hold up.  Running out of ammo is usually a fight ender if there has been a failure to stop, or there are multiple adversaries at hand.
 
3).  Participants in these reactive mock gunfights are debriefed immediately to get a clear picture of what happened before any rationalization takes place.  Besides a shoot them to the ground  firing process, most shooters do not remember seeing the crystal clear sight pictures they learned on the shooting range.
 
We see a great deal of point shooting, and gun index shooting.  I have yet to see anyone strike a classic shooting posture and press off a carefully sighted pair in these room distance drills.   
 
The point to remember is that in a fight such as what are likely for the private citizen, one can easily develop  Bullet Deficit Disorder , and that this can have deleterious effects on the outcome of that fight. 
 
The idea that a pair or trio of  quality rounds  carefully delivered onto a  high scoring  target zone will stop the action fails both the terminal ballistics test as well as the applications test. 
 
A truth of gunfighting - Having more ammo immediately on board lessens the likelihood of ever needing to reload.  Not needing to reload translates into more time delivering lead and less time manipulating the weapon.  More trigger time increases likelihood of hitting, which increases survivability.
 
So the question is this.  Given that there is a limit to the size pistol one can carry, do I want that pistol to hold more rounds?  My answer is a strong YES! 
 
Consider the similarly sized Glock 36 in .45 ACP, and the Glock 23 in .40 S&W.  The latter holds nearly twice the ammo of the former in an almost identical package.  The Glock 19 is an even more drastic comparison with 15 shots available.  Of course there are also high capacity 45 pistols for those so inclined and for those who can wield them.  I would argue that if your choice is a 45, a gun holding 13 would be better than a gun holding 6.  And if your hand is too small for the 13 shooter, rather than decrease capacity, I d decrease caliber.
 
I have a colleague is South America who has been in High Risk Police Service for close to three decades.  He has been in over three dozen verified gunfight .   His weapon was originally a Browning Hi-Power and later a Glock 17. 
 
I was very interested in hearing more so I asked him about the load he used.  He said he had always used military ball full metal jacket.  Astounded I asked him why he chose that.   That is all we can get here.  Hollow points are illegal . 
 
I shook my head and told him that there was a belief in the USA that 9mm was an anemic caliber, especially in the load he d chosen.  He shrugged and said that his adversaries must not have gotten the word.  He said he fired a burst at the chest and if they didn't fall fast enough, he fired a burst at the face.   He never needed to reload and had enough on board so if he missed a shot or two he could  catch up  in the fight.  And before we hear the careful shooter versus the spraying prayer, this man is one of the best shots I have seen and competes on an international level.  Even so, he knows the chaos in a gunfight can play havoc with even the most gifted marksman.  Perhaps we need to take a lesson from him.
 
I still carry a Glock 17 with 17 rounds of Corbon DPX ammo in 9mm.



Gabe Suarez

One Source Tactical
Suarez International USA
Christian Warrior Ministries
 
24344  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: NATO- Central Asia on: January 26, 2009, 12:06:03 PM
The Russia-NATO Council will meet on Monday for its first gathering since the Russo-Georgian war in August 2008. The official agenda calls for discussions between the NATO ambassadors and Russian Ambassador to NATO Dmitri Rogozin on the fallout from the war. However, this topic is ancient history in the minds of most of the alliance members and Russia.

There is a much bigger and more important topic on the table: NATO needs supplementary routes to get supplies to troops to Afghanistan and is looking to create routes that transit Central Asia — an area where Russia is czar.

We have been closely following the actions of the United States, the Central Asian states and Russia over this issue. The recent moves began with a meeting in early December between two heavyweights, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and Henry Kissinger, an unofficial White House adviser. This meeting did not seem to go well: In the days following, Russia announced a number of defense deals with countries unfriendly to Washington, like Iran. But a shift occurred soon afterward, when the United States began to pursue negotiations with the Central Asian states — with a tour by U.S. Central Command chief Gen. David Petraeus — without Russia’s blessing. Russia began countering the United States’ moves this past week and will continue to do so, with a series of meetings in the same states over the next two weeks.

Negotiations have never moved so quickly on matters concerning Central Asia. This part of the world tends to move at a much slower pace, dragging out meetings and decisions — especially on security deals — for years. Security negotiations between the United States and Russia have rarely moved this fast either since the two powers divided up allies after World War II. But the moves are aggressive now, because Washington needs to lock down a new supply route leading from Central Asia to Afghanistan now rather than later.

Petraeus faces a deadline for submitting his team’s strategy on Afghanistan to U.S. President Barack Obama and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. This document is mainly a strategy piece laying out the core objectives for the year — everything from denying Pakistan leverage to undermining the Taliban’s support in key districts. The logistics and tactical details of alternate supply routes do not necessarily have to be included in this document, but having an alternate supply route plays into every other detail.

The other reason for accelerating negotiations for an alternative route is that the U.S. military’s plan to increase troops in Afghanistan is now in motion. The United States and NATO feel that they rely too heavily on routes through Pakistan, along which roughly 75 percent of supplies to Afghanistan travel. The immense logistical demands of the operations already under way — let alone the increased operations Washington has planned — are well beyond the capacity of aerial resupply alone.

By the time the spring thaw arrives, U.S. and NATO and Taliban offensives will be in full swing. The Pentagon will be surging troops into Afghanistan as fast as possible. That surge will require even more vehicles, more ammunition, more fuel, more food and supplies, spare parts and the like — some of which will need to begin arriving ahead of the troops that will be using them.

Simply to keep reliance on Pakistani routes from increasing, some alternative arrangement is necessary. Based on Petraeus’ recent trip and other maneuvers, a Central Asian route is the clear priority. And time is of the essence. But an arrangement with Russia almost certainly will be needed to secure acquiescence from states in that region.

The Americans and Russians are spending more time countering each other than finding a deal. They have not yet met with each other since the Central Asians were brought into the negotiations. They will meet at the Russia-NATO Council on Monday, but Moscow is not looking for talks that are not between those at the top. This means Russia wants to meet with either Obama or new Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Rumors have been flying of upcoming meetings, but every time the United States offers to meet, the Russians swerve as if the negotiations were a game.

This is because the Russians know that the Americans are in a hurry. The Russians feel they are in a position of strength and that they can keep drawing the matter out until the United States comes to the table with an enticing deal. This would involve much larger issues than Afghanistan: It means movement between Washington and Moscow over the future of all former Soviet turf. Until then, the Russians are going to savor having the upper hand while the United States scrambles.
24345  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / From a friend in Iraq on: January 26, 2009, 11:59:04 AM
I remember reading somewhere that Muslims may not like their photos taken.
 
Most Iraqis are Muslims.
 
But I have yet to meet one who did not want their photo taken when the option was offered.  They jump on it.  The only thing is you MUST give a  copy to each and every person in the photo.  If for no other reason than they will torment you to death over it.  And since e-mail is not big over here as far as the grunts doing all the work  go (remember computers and Internet access costs), that means you have to print them out a copy.
 
So far I have been real good about that.  And it has earned some good mileage.
 
Sometimes I think about seriously learning Arabic because all the Iraqis I have met so far seem to have a good sense of humor.  It's just that we can't laugh more  about sh!* because we cannot communicate.  If we were going to be in Iraq longer I would do it.  But it's hard to generate the energy to make such a commitment.
 
Oh, and almost all I have met seem to like Americans.  And if there were anyy issues they revolved more around they would prefer things to be different in an ideal world.  Remember, in straight up combat we have absolutely kicked their asses twice.  As a man it's a hard and bitter pill to swallow.  Any man, anywhere on this planet would feel the same.
 
So I just front myself off as being no better than them.  Equals.  I am not the infidel who is here to tell you how to stop dragging your knuckles on the ground and walk upright.  "Tell me what YOU think" about this and that (all translated of course).  Positive reinforcement.   "Dude your gun is cleaner than most guys I have worked with" (easy to say when it's true).
 
Iraq, contrary to Afghanistan, was a society with a long history of civilization before we got here.  They have had very strong legal institutions for a very long time.  Maybe not how we would do things, especially under the evil Saddam Hussein, but they had and still have their ways.  And these ways work for them.
 
One of the projects I see being floated around is an automated court administration system.  Frankly I have not personally seen a huge amount of interest in converting to that process.  They have their paper way, much like the Colombians did, of doing things.  And it works for them.  They walk into courthouses with huge court documents that look like the construction paper we used as kids.  Light blue.  Yellow.  Orange.  No rhyme or reason as far as I can tell between the colors, but it all works for them.
 
One final observation.  And this is just my opinion.  I more and more come to the conclusion that most Muslims could care less about the issues that drive the Jihadists.  But the Jihadists are the ones to use violence in support of their view.  The average person, for good reason, is punked out by that reality.  The Iraqis who have gotten sick and tired of that crap have proven that they will kick al-Qaeda's ass themselves.  And they have.  At great consequence to themselves.  But they ultimately prevailed in many places in Iraq.  I don't take the Michael Yon view that all is hunky dory and that there are not serious issues here.
 
I was against the invasion of Iraq back in 2003.  And I have been a harsh critic of our involvement here on many occasions.  But seeing things close up now makes me start to believe that some of the Bush administrations vision on how to deal with the greatest current threat to Western civilization (in afct to the entire non-Muslim world), the direct confrontation of the Jihadists, may have some very long term prospects.
 
 
 
24346  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Patriot on: January 26, 2009, 11:58:07 AM
FOR THE RECORD
"The other incontrovertible truth about this massive wealth transfer [plan to rescue the economy] is that Washington cannot stop the inevitable lard-up. The original concept of spending on 'roads and bridges' has morphed into spending on anything and everything that moves or can be moved. ... Public radio and public television -- already funded with your money to the tune of some $400 million in direct federal handouts and tax deductions for contributions made by individual viewers, not to mention untold state grants and subsidies -- are demanding a hugetastic chunk of the stimulus pie. That's right: Government-supported NPR and PBS want even more of a bailout than they've lived off of for the last 40 years. According to , which covers public TV and radio, the two entities along with the Corporation for Public Broadcasting have petitioned Obama for $550 million in funding to help create more workers suckling on the public teat. Watching TV is apparently critical to rescuing the American economy. Already stuffed into the Democrats' package is a $650 million bailout -- call it the Boob Tube boondoggle -- to pay for $650 million worth of digital TV upgrade coupons in the wake of the official, government-mandated transition to digital television next month. Not to be left out, the National Endowment for the Arts is on the Santa stimulus list for an additional $50 million cash injection. Oh, and there's another $50 million earmarked 'to make up for a lack of philanthropic support for the arts.' ... Wake up, taxpayers: This nearly $1 trillion plan is nothing but future-mortgaging ornaments and tinsel boxed in self-delusion. It is time, as President Obama lectured us, to put away childish things -- starting with this epic fail." --columnist Michelle Malkin

INSIGHT
"A wise prince will seek means by which his subjects will always and in every possible condition of things have need of his government, and then they will always be faithful to him." --Niccolo Machiavelli (1469-1527)

THE GIPPER
"We who live in free market societies believe that growth, prosperity and ultimately human fulfillment, are created from the bottom up, not the government down. Only when the human spirit is allowed to invent and create, only when individuals are given a personal stake in deciding economic policies and benefitting from their success -- only then can societies remain economically alive, dynamic, progressive, and free." --Ronald Reagan

GOVERNMENT
"Obama's faith in himself -- and by extension, faith in the government he leads -- is unshakeable. In his inaugural address, Obama dismissed the question of 'whether our government is too big or too small.' Instead, he suggested, we should focus on 'whether it works.' Yet there is apparently no situation in which Obama believes the government, led by Barack Obama, doesn't work. The free market requires 'a watchful eye'; 'a nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous.' The government must build us 'new roads and bridges,' 'restore science to its rightful place,' 'transform our schools and colleges and universities.' The government must bring about global equality via international redistribution: 'poor nations ... we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds.' In Obama's mind, the government he runs solves all problems and rights all wrongs. What will happen when government fails?" --columnist Ben Shapiro

POLITICAL FUTURES
"[M]ore than any predecessor except the first, the 44th president enters office with the scope of its powers barely circumscribed by law, and even less by public opinion. Obama's unprecedented power derives from the astonishing events of the last four months that have made indistinct the line between public and private sectors. Neither the public as currently alarmed, nor Congress as currently constituted, nor the Constitution as currently construed is an impediment to hitherto unimagined executive discretion in allocating vast portions of the nation's wealth. He acquires power just as the retreat of the state has been abruptly reversed." --columnist George Will

OPINION IN BRIEF
"I was talking to Peter Robinson, who helped write the immortal 'Tear Down This Wall, Mr. Gorbachev' speech delivered in Berlin by my dad, Ronald Reagan. He told me he went back to the archives for 1981 and pulled out a couple of my dad's quotes from the 1981 inaugural address and compared them with a couple of quotes from Barack Obama's inaugural address. He noted that while my dad said it was 'morning in America,' with Obama it almost went back in tone to Jimmy Carter's infamous 'malaise' speech, which pictured an America down in the dumps. For Obama it was more like 'mourning' in America. You can hear echoes of that malaise speech in Obama's inaugural address when he said, 'These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics. Less measurable but no less profound is a sapping of confidence across our land -- a nagging fear that America's decline is inevitable, and that the next generation must lower its sights.' There were, however, striking similarities between Ronald Reagan's speeches and those of both Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, Robinson said, because the Democrats have long been big students of my dad's speeches, going back time and again to the archives to read the words of the Great Communicator and learn from his techniques in communicating. If you listen to Barack Obama you hear his programs and policies described the way Ronald Reagan would have described them had they been his agenda. The difference between the two men was that my dad believed everything he said all the way to the core of his being, while Barack Obama and his fellow Democrats use speeches to mask what they really believe." --radio talk show host Michael Reagan

RE: THE LEFT
"It will not be easy for President B. Hussein Obama. More than half the country voted for him, and yet our newspapers are brimming with snippy remarks at every little aspect of his inauguration. Here's a small sampling of the churlishness in just The New York Times: -- The American public is bemused by the tasteless show-biz extravaganza surrounding Barack Obama's inauguration today. -- There is something to be said for some showiness in an inauguration. But one felt discomfited all the same. -- This is an inauguration, not a coronation. -- Is there a parallel between Mrs. Obama's jewel-toned outfit and somebody else's glass slippers? Why limousines and not shank's mare? -- It is still unclear whether we are supposed to shout 'Whoopee!' or 'Shame!' about the new elegance the Obamas are bringing to Washington. Boy, talk about raining on somebody's parade! These were not, of course, comments about the inauguration of the angel Obama; they are (slightly edited) comments about the inauguration of another historic president, Ronald Reagan, in January 1981. Obama's inaugural address tracked much of Reagan's first inaugural address -- minus the substance.... Obama was also not as fulsome in his praise of his predecessor as Reagan was. To appreciate how remarkable this is, recall that Reagan's predecessor was Jimmy Carter. Under Carter, more than 50 Americans were held hostage by a two-bit terrorist Iranian regime for 444 days -- released the day of Reagan's inauguration. Under Bush, there has not been another terrorist attack since Sept. 11, 2001. But I gather that if Obama had uttered anything more than the briefest allusion to Bush, that would have provoked yet more booing from the Hope-and-Change crowd, which moments earlier had showered Bush with boos when he walked onto the stage. That must be the new tone we've been hearing so much about. So maybe liberals can stop acting as if the entire nation could at last come together in a 'unity of purpose' if only conservatives would stop fomenting 'conflict and discord' -- as Obama suggested in his inaugural address. We're not the ones who booed a departing president. ... Liberals always have to play the victim, acting as if they merely want to bring the nation together in hope and unity in the face of petulant, stick-in-the-mud conservatives. Meanwhile, they are the ones booing, heckling and publicly fantasizing about the assassination of those who disagree with them on policy matters. Hope and unity, apparently, can only be achieved if conservatives would just go away -- and perhaps have the decency to kill themselves. Republicans are not the ones who need to be told that 'the time has come to set aside childish things' -- as Obama said of his own assumption of the presidency. Remember? We're the ones who managed to gaze upon Carter at the conclusion of his abomination of a presidency without booing." --columnist Ann Coulter

CULTURE
"Those who doubted that a black man could be elected to the highest office in the land no longer have a leg to stand on. That can be a force for good, when young blacks can no longer be told that there is no point in their trying to get ahead in this society because 'the man' is going to stop them. In another sense, the Obama presidency may not be nearly as big a change in the country as some might think. Colin Powell could probably have been elected eight years ago. But you don't know it can happen until it happens. No doubt the race-hustling industry will continue, and no doubt their chief victims will be blacks, especially young blacks, who buy the paralyzing picture of victimhood and the counterproductive resentments which sap energies that could be better used to improve their own lives. Now that we have the first black President of the United States, maybe we can move ahead to the time when we can forget about 'the first' whatever to do what. There is too much serious work to do to spend more time on that." --Hoover Institution economist Thomas Sowell


 

LIBERTY
"President Obama can be forgiven for celebrating the hypocrisy of Abraham Lincoln because the victors of wars write their history and glorify the winners. The recognition that slavery is a despicable institution does not require hero worship of a president who made the largest contribution to the unraveling of our Constitution. After all when it is settled by brute force that states cannot secede, as they thought they had the right to in 1787, then the federal government can ride roughshod over states and their people's right -- in a word make meaningless the Ninth and Tenth Amendments." --George Mason University economics professor Walter E. Williams

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
(To submit reader comments visit our Letters to the Editor page.)

"My family had the privilege and blessing of being on the Mall when President Reagan's horse-drawn caisson and coffin, slowly came up Constitution Avenue to lie in state at the Capitol. What a thrilling spectacle! The large numbers of people lining Constitution Avenue were incredibly courteous and friendly. The remarkable thing about this huge crowd was how tidy it was. Every trash receptacle was overflowing, however, there was no litter. All the overflow trash was neatly stacked around the full bins. On the other hand, the litter on the mall after Obama's coronation does not surprise me. The two crowds are very different dimensions of America. One crowd was very sensitive to its personal duty of stewardship, and the other was a crowd of socialists who believe in letting someone else clean up after it. This is classic and predictable." --Sacramento, California

"Is it just me being cynical or is there nothing to the White House 'pay freeze?' These guys just started and shouldn't be expecting a raise quite yet. My guess is that the pay freeze will be rescinded six or eight months hence we won't hear a word about it." --Springfield, Virginia

"I do not think you can include Colin Powell any longer in the list of black conservatives as you did in the 09-03 Brief." --Jackson, Mississippi
Editor's Reply: We agree, but were just checking to see that readers were paying attention! We have cleansed the Colin from our list to prevent any future references.

Editor's Note: A correction for the 09-03 Digest: Kirsten Gillibrand is a U.S. Representative, not a New York state representative as we said Friday.

THE LAST WORD
"From the New York Times: 'The local food movement has been all about buying seasonal food from nearby farmers. Now, thanks to the Web, it is expanding to include far-away farmers too. A new start-up, Foodzie, is an online farmers market where small, artisan food producers and growers can sell their products. Foodies in Florida, say, can order raw, handcrafted pepperjack cheese from Traver, Calif., or organic, fair-trade coffee truffles from Boulder, Colo.' What a great idea! And why not take it one step further? Farmers could band together and form large organizations -- call them 'corporations' -- to grow and distribute mass quantities of food. Retail operations could be set up in every town; they would be sort of super farmers markets, or 'supermarkets' for short. Soon everyone everywhere would be able to buy local food from all over the world!" --The Wall Street Journal's James Taranto
24347  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Madison; Reagan on: January 26, 2009, 11:49:27 AM
"I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on the objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents." --James Madison

"We who live in free market societies believe that growth, prosperity and ultimately human fulfillment, are created from the bottom up, not the government down. Only when the human spirit is allowed to invent and create, only when individuals are given a personal stake in deciding economic policies and benefitting from their success -- only then can societies remain economically alive, dynamic, progressive, and free." --Ronald Reagan
24348  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / WSJ on: January 26, 2009, 07:56:32 AM
Por Joel Kurtzman

México actualmente está en medio de una salvaje guerra del narcotráfico. Policías están siendo sobornados y, especialmente cerca de la frontera con Estados Unidos, asesinados a tiros. Los secuestros y la extorsión son habituales. Y, lo más alarmante de todo, un nuevo estudio del Pentágono concluye que México está en riesgo de convertirse en un estado fallido. Planificadores del Departamento de Defensa de EE.UU. comparan la situación a la de Pakistán, donde es posible un colapso total del gobierno civil.

Uno de los epicentros de la violencia es Tijuana, donde el año pasado murieron 600 personas a causa de violencia relacionada al narcotráfico. A muchos les dispararon con rifles de asalto en las calles y los dejaron morir allí. A algunos los mataron en discotecas frente a testigos demasiado atemorizados para hablar.

Puede ser sólo cuestión de tiempo antes de que la guerra de las drogas se extienda al otro lado de la frontera e ingrese a EE.UU. Para enfrentar esa amenaza, Michael Chertoff, el saliente secretario de Seguridad Nacional, hace poco anunció que EE.UU. tiene un plan de "aumentar" las fuerzas del orden civiles y posiblemente militares en la frontera en caso de que sea necesario.

El problema es que en la más reciente erupción de violencia en México, es difícil distinguir a los buenos de los malos. El zar antidroga de México, Noé Ramírez Mandujano, fue acusado hace poco de aceptar US$450.000 de capos narco a quienes se suponía que estaba persiguiendo. Esta fue la segunda vez en los últimos años que uno de los jefes antidrogas fue arrestado por aceptar presuntas coimas de líderes narco. Existen muchas sospechas de que jefes policiales, alcaldes y militares también reciben sobornos.

En el pasado, la forma en que México se ocupaba de la corrupción era con los ojos completamente cerrados. Todos sabían que una gran cantidad de funcionarios del gobierno estaban aceptando sobornos, pero nadie hizo nada al respecto. Se establecieron comisionados de transparencia, pero sin capacidad de acción.

Y los narcotraficantes de México usaban el laxo orden público que conseguían con sus coimas para convertirse en grupos altamente organizados. Una vez organizados, han podido llenar el vacío de poder en el mundo criminal que dejó la exitosa ofensiva del presidente colombiano, Álvaro Uribe, contra los carteles de la droga de su país.

El resultado es que los narcotraficantes se están volviendo ricos, mientras que México paga un alto precio en vidas humanas perdidas y en actividad económica que, de lo contrario, podrían traer una pizca de prosperidad al país.

En 2008, México se ubicó en el puesto número 31 entre 60 países en el índice de opacidad del Instituto Milken/Kurtzman Group. El costo de tener instituciones de pobre funcionamiento ha sido enorme para los mexicanos comunes. Mi colega Glenn Yago y yo calculamos que si México redujera la corrupción y elevara sus estándares legales, económicos, contables y de regulación a los niveles de los de EE.UU. (EE.UU. se encuentra en el puesto número 13 y Finlandia está primero), el PIB per cápita nominal aumentaría en aproximadamente US$18.000 a cerca de US$28.000 al año. También recibiría mucha más inversión extranjera directa que crearía puestos de trabajo.

Y esto impacta a EE.UU. Gracias al retrasado crecimiento económico, millones de mexicanos han cruzado ilegalmente a EE.UU. para buscar trabajo. A menos que la violencia pueda ser detenida, EE.UU. puede anticipar que el flujo a través de la frontera continuará.

Hay que darle crédito al presidente de México, Felipe Calderón, por desplegar 45.000 miembros del ejército y 5.000 policías federales para enfrentar a los narcotraficantes. Esto sugiere que está tomando seriamente la violencia y la amenaza al gobierno civil.

Sin embargo, el camino por adelante será arduo. México no sólo debe luchar contra sus capos narco, sino que tiene que hacerlo mientras pone su casa institucional en orden. Eso significa despedir empleados estatales que son corruptos o que no estén dispuestos a hacer el trabajo necesario para eliminar la corrupción. Probablemente también requerirá meter a cientos, o incluso miles, de oficiales de policía en la cárcel.

Por más de un siglo, México y EE.UU. han tenido relaciones amistosas y cierto grado de integración económica. Pero si la epidemia de violencia continúa en México, esa relación podría terminar si EE.UU. se ve forzada a aumentar su personal en la frontera.

Joel Kurtzman, un miembro senior del Instituto Milken, es coautor de Global Edge: Using the Opacity Index to Manage the Risk of Cross-Border Business (algo así como "Ventaja Global: usando el índice de opacidad para gestionar el riesgo de los negocios internacionales") (Harvard Business School Press, 2007).

24349  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Drug gangs have Mex on the ropes on: January 26, 2009, 07:55:52 AM
A murder in the Mexican state of Chihuahua last week horrified even hardened crime stoppers. Police Commander Martin Castro's head was severed and left in an ice cooler in front of the police station in the town of Praxedis with a calling card from the Sinoloa drug cartel.

According to Mexico's attorney general, 6,616 people died in drug-trafficking violence in Mexico last year. A high percentage of those killed were themselves criminals, but many law enforcement agents battling organized crime were also murdered. The carnage continues. For the first 22 days of this year the body count is 354.

The Opinion Journal Widget
Download Opinion Journal's widget and link to the most important editorials and op-eds of the day from your blog or Web page.
President Felipe Calderón began an assault on organized crime shortly after he took office in December 2006. It soon became apparent that the cartels would stop at nothing to preserve their operations, and that a state commitment to confrontation meant that violence would escalate.

As bad as the violence is, it could get worse, and it is becoming clear that the U.S. faces contagion. In recent months, several important American voices have raised concerns about the risks north of the border. This means there is hope that the U.S. may begin to recognize the connection between American demand for prohibited substances and the rising instability in Mexico.

The brutality of the traffickers is imponderable for most Americans. Commander Castro was not the first Mexican to be beheaded. It is an increasingly popular terror tactic. Last month, eight soldiers and a state police chief were found decapitated in the state of Guerrero.


There is also plenty of old-fashioned mob violence. As Agence France Presse reported on Jan. 19 from Chihuahua, 16 others -- besides Commander Castro -- died in suspected drug-related violence across the state the same night. Six bodies were found, with bullet wounds and evidence of torture, in the state capital. Five of the dead were police officers. On the same day, Reuters reported that Mexican vigilante groups appear to be striking back at the cartels.

Tally all this up and what you get is Mexico on the edge of chaos, and a mess that could easily bleed across the border. The U.S. Joint Forces Command in Norfolk, Va., warned recently that an unstable Mexico "could represent a homeland security problem of immense proportions to the United States." In a report titled "Joint Operating Environment 2008," the Command singles out Mexico and Pakistan as potentially failing states. Both "bear consideration for a rapid and sudden collapse . . . . The Mexican possibility may seem less likely, but the government, its politicians, police, and judicial infrastructure are all under sustained assault and pressure by criminal gangs and drug cartels."

The National Drug Threat Assessment for 2009 says that Mexican drug-trafficking organizations now "control most of the U.S. drug market," with distribution capabilities in 230 U.S. cities. The cartels also "maintain cross border communication centers" that use "voice over Internet Protocol, satellite technology (broadband satellite instant messaging), encrypted messaging, cell phone technology, two-way radios, scanner devices, and text messaging, to communicate with members" and even "high-frequency radios with encryption and rolling codes to communicate during cross-border operations."


A report by retired Gen. Barry McCaffrey, the former drug czar, makes similar observations. "The malignancy of drug criminality," he writes, "stretches throughout the U.S. in more than 295 cities." Gen. McCaffrey visited Mexico in December.

Here is how he sees the fight: "The outgunned Mexican law enforcement authorities face armed criminal attacks from platoon-sized units employing night vision goggles, electronic intercept collection, encrypted communications, fairly sophisticated information operations, sea-going submersibles, helicopters and modern transport aviation, automatic weapons, RPG's, Anti-Tank 66 mm rockets, mines and booby traps, heavy machine guns, 50 cal sniper rifles, massive use of military hand grenades, and the most modern models of 40mm grenade machine guns."

How is it that these gangsters are so powerful? Easy. As Gen. McCaffrey notes, Mexico produces an estimated eight metric tons of heroin a year and 10,000 metric tons of marijuana. He also points out that "90% of all U.S. cocaine transits Mexico" and Mexico is "the dominant source of methamphetamine production for the U.S." The drug cartels earn more than $25 billion a year and "repatriate more than $10 billion a year in bulk cash into Mexico from the U.S."

To put it another way, if Mexico is at risk of becoming a failed state, look no further than the large price premium the cartels get for peddling prohibited substances to Americans.

Write to O'Grady@wsj.com
24350  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / WSJ: Philip Howard: How Modern Law makes us powerless on: January 26, 2009, 07:50:09 AM
Calling for a "new era of responsibility" in his inaugural address, President Barack Obama reminded us that there are no limits to "what free men and women can achieve." Indeed. America achieved greatness as the can-do society. This is, after all, the country of Thomas Paine and barn raisings, of Grange halls and Google. Other countries shared, at least in part, our political freedoms, but America had something different -- a belief in the power of each individual. President Obama's clarion call of self-determination -- "Yes We Can" -- hearkens back to the core of our culture.

 
David KleinBut there's a threshold problem for our new president. Americans don't feel free to reach inside themselves and make a difference. The growth of litigation and regulation has injected a paralyzing uncertainty into everyday choices. All around us are warnings and legal risks. The modern credo is not "Yes We Can" but "No You Can't." Our sense of powerlessness is pervasive. Those who deal with the public are the most discouraged. Most doctors say they wouldn't advise their children to go into medicine. Government service is seen as a bureaucratic morass, not a noble calling. Make a difference? You can't even show basic human kindness for fear of legal action. Teachers across America are instructed never to put an arm around a crying child.

The idea of freedom as personal power got pushed aside in recent decades by a new idea of freedom -- where the focus is on the rights of whoever might disagree. Daily life in America has been transformed. Ordinary choices -- by teachers, doctors, officials, managers, even volunteers -- are paralyzed by legal self-consciousness. Did you check the rules? Who will be responsible if there's an accident? A pediatrician in North Carolina noted that "I don't deal with patients the same way any more. You wouldn't want to say something off the cuff that might be used against you."

Here we stand, facing the worst economy since the Great Depression, and Americans no longer feel free to do anything about it. We have lost the idea, at every level of social life, that people can grab hold of a problem and fix it. Defensiveness has swept across the country like a cold wave. We have become a culture of rule followers, trained to frame every solution in terms of existing law or possible legal risk. The person of responsibility is replaced by the person of caution. When in doubt, don't.

The Opinion Journal Widget
Download Opinion Journal's widget and link to the most important editorials and op-eds of the day from your blog or Web page.
All this law, we're told, is just the price of making sure society is in working order. But society is not working. Disorder disrupts learning all day long in many public schools -- the result in part, studies by NYU Professor Richard Arum found, of the rise of student rights. Health care is like a nervous breakdown in slow motion. Costs are out of control, yet the incentive for doctors is to order whatever tests the insurance will pay for. Taking risks is no longer the badge of courage, but reason enough to get sued. There's an epidemic of child obesity, but kids aren't allowed to take the normal risks of childhood. Broward County, Fla., has even banned running at recess.

The flaw, and the cure, lie in our conception of freedom. We think of freedom as political freedom. We're certainly free to live and work where we want, and to pull the lever in the ballot box. But freedom should also include the power of personal conviction and the authority to use your common sense. Analyzing the American character, Alexis de Tocqueville, considered "freedom less necessary in great things than in little ones. . . . Subjection in minor affairs does not drive men to resistance, but it crosses them at every turn, till they are led to sacrifice their own will. Thus their spirit is gradually broken and their character enervated."

This is not an ideological point. Freedom in daily choices is essential for practical reasons -- necessary for government officials and judges as well as for teachers, doctors and entrepreneurs. The new legal order doesn't honor the individuality of human accomplishment. People accomplish things by focusing on the goal, and letting their instincts, mainly subconscious, try to get them there. "Amazingly few people," management guru Peter Drucker observed, "know how they get things done." Most things happen, the philosopher Michael Polanyi wrote, through "the usual process of trial and error by which we feel our way to success." Thomas Edison put it this way: "Nothing that's any good works by itself. You got to make the damn thing work."

Modern law pulls the rug out from under all those human powers and substitutes instead a debilitating self-consciousness. Teachers lose their authority, Prof. Arum found, because the overhang of law causes "hesitation, doubt and weakening of conviction." Skyrocketing health-care costs are impossible to contain as long as doctors go through the day thinking about how they will defend themselves if a sick person sues.

The overlay of law on daily choices destroys the human instinct needed to get things done. Bureaucracy can't teach. Rules don't make things happen. Accomplishment is personal. Anyone who has felt the pride of a job well done knows this.

How do we restore Americans' freedom in daily choices? Freedom is notoriously malleable towards self-interest. "We all declare for liberty," Abraham Lincoln observed, "but in using the same word we do not all mean the same thing."

Freedom, however, is not just a shoving match. Freedom has a formal structure. It has two components:

1) Law sets boundaries that proscribe what we must do or can't do -- you must not steal, you must pay taxes.

2) Those same legal boundaries protect an open field of free choice in all other matters.

The forgotten idea is the second component -- that law must affirmatively define an area free from legal interference. Law must provide "frontiers, not artificially drawn," as philosopher Isaiah Berlin put it, "within which men should be inviolable."

This idea has been lost to our age. When advancing the cause of freedom, law today is all proscription and no protection. There are no boundaries, just a moving mudbank comprised of accumulating bureaucracy and whatever claims people unilaterally choose to assert. People wade through law all day long. Any disagreement in the workplace, any accident, any incidental touching of a child, any sick person who gets sicker, any bad grade in school -- you name it. Law has poured into daily life.

In Today's Opinion Journal
 

REVIEW & OUTLOOK

The Stimulus Time MachineStates of Distress

TODAY'S COMMENTARY

Information Age: Bad News Is Better Than No News
– L. Gordon CrovitzThe Americas: Drug Gangs Have Mexico on the Ropes
– Mary Anastasia O'Grady

COMMENTARY

Geithner Is Exactly Wrong on China Trade
– Bret SwansonWatch Out for Stimulus 'Leaks'
– George MelloanCongress Needs to Help the Economy Fast
– John Kerry and Kent ConradThe solution is not just to start paring back all the law -- that would take 10 lifetimes, like trying to prune the jungle. We need to abandon the idea that freedom is a legal maze, where each daily choice is like picking the right answer on a multiple-choice test. We need to set a new goal for law -- to define an open area of free choice. This requires judges and legislatures to affirmatively assert social norms of what's reasonable and what's not. "The first requirement of a sound body of law," Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. wrote, "is that it should correspond with the actual feelings and demands of the community."

The profile of authority structures needed to defend daily freedoms is not hard to imagine. Judges would aspire to keep lawsuits reasonable, understanding that what people sue for ends up defining the boundaries of free interaction. Schools would be run by the instincts and values of the humans in charge -- not by bureaucratic micromanagement -- and be held accountable for how they do. Government officials would have flexibility to meet public goals, also with accountability. Public choices would aspire to balance for the common good, not, generally, to appease someone's rights.

Reviving the can-do spirit that made America great requires a legal overhaul of historic dimension. We must scrape away decades of accumulated legal sediment and replace it with coherent legal goals and authority mechanisms, designed to affirmatively protect individual freedom in daily choices. "A little rebellion now and then is a good thing," Thomas Jefferson wrote to James Madison, "and as necessary in the political world as storms are in the physical . . . ." The goal is not to change our public goals. The goal is make it possible for free citizens to achieve them.

Mr. Howard, a lawyer, is chair of Common Good (www.commongood.org), and author of the new book "Life Without Lawyers," published this month by W.W. Norton & Co.

 
Pages: 1 ... 485 486 [487] 488 489 ... 666
Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.19 | SMF © 2013, Simple Machines Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!