DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / DVDs?
on: November 04, 2004, 07:38:35 AM
I went over Attacking Blocks with our editor Ron yesterday and gave him what should be the final changes yesterday. He says he will have them done and back to me by Monday.
Pretty Kitty has started on the cover for the "KK for DBMA" DVD. I hesitate to put a completion date on it, but I can say she has caught up on orders for the moment and has that I-gonna-finish-this-sucker glint in her eye.
Alex (or any of our Euro friends) you saying that DVDs of the US don't play in Euro players?!? If so, @#$%@$%)*)(+_++%$%)#$Uaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrggggggghhhhhhhhhh
PS: I had not considered the idea of multi-lingual DVDs. I know that Budo, for whom I've done two videos, does this in Europe. I wonder what it costs per language to translate it? If anyone can point me in the right direction on this please write me at Craftydog@dogbrothers.com
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Good luck at the Gathering
on: November 04, 2004, 07:27:52 AM
Good to hear from you.
You are now famous in Japan
That great foto of bloody you is the lead full-page foto of an article on the Dog Brothers in a Japanese magazine.
I've asked Pretty Kitty to scan it and post it here.
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Hello! (Women fighters at Gathering)
on: November 04, 2004, 12:26:24 AM
It was a pleasure meeting you at the seminar in Switzerland. I look forward to our training together-- you already have a very good skill base. I await your fights at our DB Gathering of the Pack with great interest-- as do Linda and Sherry
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / DVDs?
on: November 01, 2004, 02:02:17 PM
Thank you for asking. We have found an editor we are happy with and are moving forward in a steady way-- the editor and I get together once a week. All of our DVD conversions will have substantial new footage.
The "Krabi Krabong" DVD is already done and awaits Pretty Kitty's magic touch with artwork etc for the cover.
I should have what we hope will be a final of "Attacking Blocks" in my mailbox today.
And within 9 days "Combining Stick and Footwork" should be done too.
The Adventure continues,
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Help our troops/our cause:
on: October 31, 2004, 04:07:46 PM
This man seems like a fine "point of light" worthy of our support. See the website at the end of the article.
Dentist Sinks His Teeth Into Relief
Jim Rolfe has spent weeks and about $50,000 trying to fill a big void in Afghanistan. Now he is planning to set up his own clinic in Kabul.
By Steve Chawkins, Times Staff Writer
At 65, Jim Rolfe has been a dentist for a long time, but his practice in downtown Santa Barbara hardly prepared him for what he found in Afghanistan.
"There was a continuous flow of problems you couldn't imagine even existing in the U.S.," he said. "It's like coming onto an auto accident with bodies lying all over the street. That's how it is when a person opens his mouth to be treated."
Like numerous other medical professionals who pitch in at Third World clinics for brief periods, Rolfe wanted to spend a few weeks simply doing what he could. What he didn't count on was his spark of altruism turning into a full-fledged mission.
So far, Rolfe has spent more than $50,000 of his own money to provide dental care in Afghanistan. What he has in mind, though, is far grander in scope than simply writing a check.
Rolfe could be the only Santa Barbara dentist currently looking to buy land in Kabul. When he finds it, he will plunk down a used shipping container he purchased as the hub of his future clinic. He will rig it up with a generator and running water, outfit it with dental equipment, recruit U.S. professionals, train Afghan dental assistants, and, practically overnight, give Afghans in sore need of dental work an opportunity to get it.
Rolfe has a gray beard, rock-star-length hair, and a down-to-earth style. It's not hard to picture him as what he once was: the official dentist ? as well as goat tender and truck driver ? for a Santa Barbara commune called Brotherhood of the Sun.
Decades later, his office is as distinctive as his background. Conga drums and bongos sit in the waiting room for patients anxious to take the edge off their visit to the dentist. Patients recline to view TV sets mounted in the ceiling as a fountain cascades in the background. Designed and built by Rolfe, the treatment areas are cozy beige nooks with curved walls, a style Rolfe calls "Southwestern Eskimo."
Such comforts are a world away from the grim certainties of a country torn by war over the last 30 years. Sitting in his waiting room, Rolfe wearily reels off the statistics: The average male dies at 44. One in four children die by age 5. Ten percent of the population are orphans. Only one in seven people can read.
And the number of people in a land of 27 million who have ever seen a dentist is too small to measure.
"I'd look into mouths and just see a disaster," he said. "Instead of teeth, I'd see abscessed roots. These people had never had their teeth cleaned; I'd pull out tartar in huge rocks."
In 2002, Rolfe read about an orphanage in a remote mountain province and volunteered there for three weeks. He worked from 6:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., using the children he treated as his "assistants."
"When I saw how grateful they were, I cried," he said. "They couldn't wait to get treatment."
Two years later, he returned for another couple of weeks, this time setting up shop at a women's clinic in Kabul.
For this trip, Rolfe had made a portable wooden dental chair, pocked with a Swiss-cheese pattern of holes to reduce its weight.
He also had some help. A recent graduate of Kabul's medical university acted as translator for $20 a day. He was jobless, as were all of the other 314 graduates in his class. And one of Rolfe's Santa Barbara patients, yoga instructor Hayley Parlen, came along as well. She had hoped to teach yoga techniques to children in Kabul but wound up assisting Rolfe.
Parlen, 29, had learned about Rolfe's plans when she was getting her teeth cleaned. She had no idea that within months, she would be able to soothe frightened women by intoning, in the local dialect, standard dental bromides such as "Just breathe" and "It'll only hurt for a second."
"With one hand, I'd suction blood from their mouth and with the other, I'd squeeze their hands or massage their forehead," she said. "My calmness translated to them that they'd be OK."
Rolfe is looking for donations and volunteers to help him on his planned trip in April. Setting up a booth at a recent state dental conference in San Francisco, he already has recruited Ike Rahimi, an Afghanistan-born dentist who treats farm workers in the San Joaquin Valley.
"The need is enormous," said Rahimi, whose mother might accompany him on the trip to see sisters still in Afghanistan. "Life is not so forgiving there."
In January, the secondhand shipping container that Rolfe bought for $2,500 will be stuffed with equipment and placed on a freighter to Rotterdam. From there, it will travel by rail to southern Russia, and then by truck through Uzbekistan, and, finally, to Kabul.
When it's set up, it will house a lab and three dental chairs. Westerners now fly four hours to Qatar for dental treatment. With his new facility, Rolfe hopes to treat them for fees that will subsidize treatment of the poor.
He hopes to eventually add simple accommodations for visiting professionals and classrooms where Afghan hygienists and technicians can be trained.
His is not the first such plan in Afghanistan. Other dentists have volunteered as well, and the American military has worked on restoring the nation's only dental hospital. Still, Rolfe said he has to focus on not being overwhelmed.
"I feel like a drop of water in the desert," he said.
For more information, see Rolfe's Afghanistan Dental Relief Project website at http://www.adrpinc.org
An organization for Paralyzed veterans:http://www.pva.org/index.htm
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Political Rants
on: October 30, 2004, 12:02:06 AM
Why Muslims always blame the West
Husain Haqqani International Herald Tribune
Saturday, October 16, 2004
WASHINGTON When Pakistan's military ruler, General Pervez Musharraf, warned against the descent of an "iron curtain" between the West and the Islamic world, he appeared to put the onus of avoiding confrontation only on the West.
The Palestinian issue and the pre-emptive war in Iraq have undoubtedly accentuated anti-Western sentiment among Muslims from Morocco to Indonesia. But the conduct and rhetoric of Muslim leaders and their failure to address the stagnation of their societies has also fueled the tensions between Islam and the West.
Relations between Muslims and the West will continue to deteriorate unless the internal crisis of the Muslim world is also addressed.
After 9/11, General Musharraf switched support from Afghanistan's Taliban to the U.S.-led war against terrorism. He has since received a hefty package of U.S. military and economic assistance and spoken of the need for "enlightened moderation."
According to an opinion poll conducted by the Washington-based Pew Research Center as part of its Global Attitudes Survey, 86 percent of Pakistanis have a favorable view of General Musharraf while 65 percent also support Osama bin Laden. Bin Laden is viewed favorably by large percentages in other Muslim countries with "moderate" rulers.
Quite clearly, some Muslims find it possible to like Musharraf, who is regarded by the U.S. as the key figure in the hunt for bin Laden, while admiring his quarry at the same time. The contradiction speaks volumes about the general state of confusion in parts of the Muslim world, including Pakistan.
Instead of hard analysis, which thrives only in a free society, Muslims are generally brought up on propaganda, which is often state-sponsored. This propaganda usually focuses on Muslim humiliation at the hands of others instead of acknowledging the flaws of Muslim leaders and societies.
The focus on external enemies causes Muslims to admire power rather than ideas. Warriors, and not scholars or inventors, are generally the heroes of common people. In this simplistic "us vs. them" worldview, both Musharraf and bin Laden are warriors against external enemies.
Ringing alarm bells about an iron curtain between the West and the Islamic world without acknowledging the internal flaws of Muslim rulers and societies helps maintain the polarization as well as the flow of Western aid for the flawed rulers.
Ironically, a cult of the warrior has defined the Muslim worldview throughout the period of Muslim decline. Muslims have had few victories in the last two centuries, but their admiration for the proverbial sword and spear has only increased.
Textbooks in Muslim countries speak of the victories of Muslim fighters from an earlier era. Orators still call for latter-day mujahedeen to rise and regain Islam's lost glory. More streets in the Arab world are named after Muslim generals than men of learning. Even civilian dictators in the Muslim world like being photographed in military uniforms, Saddam Hussein being a case in point.
In the post-colonial period, military leaders in the Muslim world have consistently taken advantage of the popular fascination with military power. The Muslim cult of the warrior explains also the relatively muted response in the Muslim world to atrocities committed by fellow Muslims.
While the Muslim world's obsession with military power encourages violent attempts to "restore" Muslim honor, the real reasons for Muslim humiliation and backwardness continue to multiply. In the year 2000, according to the World Bank, the average income in the advanced countries (at purchasing price parity) was $27,450, with the U.S. income averaging $34,260 and Israel's income averaging $19, 320.
The average income in the Muslim world, however, stood at $3,700. Pakistan's per capita income in 2003 was a meager $2,060. Excluding the oil-exporting countries, none of the Muslim countries of the world had per capita incomes above the world average of $7,350.
National pride in the Muslim world is derived not from economic productivity, technological innovation or intellectual output but from the rhetoric of "destroying the enemy" and "making the nation invulnerable." Such rhetoric sets the stage for the clash of civilizations as much as specific Western policies.
Ironically, Western governments have consistently tried to deal with one manifestation of the cult of the warrior - terrorism - by building up Muslim strongmen who are just another manifestation of the same phenomenon.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WW3
on: October 29, 2004, 12:07:37 AM
A very long, very literate, and very thoughtful piece-- Crafty Dog
Towards the close of the twentieth century a metaphor entered circulation that compared the United States to Lemuel Gulliver at the start of his visit to Lilliput. Gulliver in Swift?s satire was, you recall, an English sea doctor who, having sunk exhausted on a foreign beach after his ship was wrecked, woke up to discover miniscule Lilliputians had tied him down with slender threads and tiny pegs. In this telling, the international community?that comfortable euphemism for the U.N., the WTO, the ICC, other U.N. agencies, and the massed ranks of NGOs?sought to constrain America?s freedom of action in a web of international laws, regulations, and treaties, such as the Kyoto accords.
It is a passably accurate account of the international status quo a decade after the fall of the Berlin Wall. That status quo looks somewhat different five years later. But the history of the intervening period is the story of how the United States and the international community continued to grapple with each other in the process of seeking to contain or defeat Islamist terrorism. It is the story of ?Gulliver?s Travails.?
Gulliver among the Tranzis
The first episode is the globalizing decade that ran from the final collapse of the Soviet Union to September 11th. This was a period in which trade walls were reduced, barriers to capital movements liberalized, and the factors of production loosened up to move around the world more freely than at any time since 1914. These economic changes brought political ones in their train. Governments had to introduce such reforms as market transparency and the rule of law in order to attract and keep the foreign investment they needed for sustained prosperity.
All this is well known. But two other global developments passed unnoticed under the radar of conventional politics.
The first was the spread of Islamist terrorism. In retrospect it is astounding that we failed to react more strongly to the first bombing of the World Trade Center, the bombings of the American embassies in East Africa, and the attack on the USS Cole. Maybe Americans were insulated from a sensible anxiety by their victory in the Cold War, their status as the sole remaining superpower, and the sedative effects of the long Reagan-Clinton prosperity. Whatever the reason, Islamist terrorism grew throughout the 1990s partly because it was ignored.
The second global development was the quiet revolution of transnationalism. Its exact lineaments are open to debate, but I would suggest that it consists of five overlapping developments:
First, the growing power and authority of international, transnational, and supranational organizations such as the U.N. and its various agencies, the European Union, and the World Trade Organization.
Second, the transformation of international law from the arbitration of disputes between sovereign states into laws that have a direct impact on individual citizens and private bodies through treaties and conventions that override domestic legislation.
Third, the dramatic increase in the number of non-governmental organizations (NGOs in the jargon) and their increasing influence on international politics both as pressure groups and as providers of services to governments and international agencies.
Fourth, the spread of economic, environmental, and social regulation from the national to the international level through laws, treaties, and ?standards? by, among other bodies, U.N. conferences on such topics as women?s rights and racism.
Finally, the emergence of common values, a common outlook, and even a class consciousness among the diplomats, lawyers, and bureaucrats in international organizations, NGOs, multinational corporations, and those academic centers that serve them.
Kenneth Minogue calls this structure of governance ?Acronymia? after the UNOs and NGOs that constitute it. He credits the present author with giving the name ?Olympians,? after the gods of Antiquity, to those who administer it. Ancient gods used to ?kill us for their sport,? but modern Olympians are content to regulate and preach at us. John Fonte has defined the common ideology they preach as ?transnational progressivism?: national sovereignty and the nation-state are disappearing in favor of a new structure of international organizations and rules that goes by the slippery name of ?global governance.? In domestic politics, it argues that liberal democracy?built upon majority rule, individual rights, and a common culture?is being replaced by ?post-democracy? that emphasizes group rights, multiculturalism, and politics as endless negotiations between ethnic groups. But the theory hardly distinguishes international from domestic politics and policy. The philosopher J?rgen Habermas coined the term ?global domestic policy? that erases a distinction hitherto important outside Germany.
As a term for those holding this ideology, ?transnational progressives? is too big a mouthful. Olympians is, well, too Olympian. A London lawyer, David Carr, of the libertarian blog Samizdata, compressed the former into ?the Tranzis,? now in common circulation.
The Tranzis had (and have) a very complicated relationship with Gulliver. Because of America?s overwhelming power, they hoped that the United States could be conscripted to serve the purposes of ?the international community? (i.e. themselves) in a series of humanitarian interventions. But they recognized dimly that the United States, as a constitutional liberal democracy, would never fit comfortably into the post-democratic structures of global governance they were constructing. Thus Jeremy Rabkin points out in Sovereignty that America stands out from almost all other advanced states in this regard:
Every state in the European Union now acknowledges that its constitution can be overturned by mere bureaucratic directives from the European Commission in Brussels; there is nothing like a fixed constitution to constrain the Commission itself. The arrangement is unthinkable in America but taken for granted in Europe.
Because the United States has a strong constitutional tradition, it regularly attaches a rider to treaties and U.N. conventions that forbids the overriding of the U.S. Constitution. These riders come under occasional attack from international lawyers and activist NGOs that would like, for instance, to override the First Amendment in order to outlaw ?hate speech.? These pressures are growing and, as Judge Robert Bork points out in his recent book Coercing Virtue, American judges have begun to cite foreign precedents in their legal reasoning.
Even so, the United States will always be an awkward irritant in post-democratic structures?just as the British, with their similar liberal tradition, are the awkward squad inside the E.U. And if the United States is going to be an irritant, then its superpower status would make it a very serious irritant indeed. Tranzis were busily wrapping it around with as many legal and regulatory threads as possible when Al Qaeda struck at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon?and Gulliver woke up.
It is often said that September 11 changed the United States dramatically?as no other country understands. There is some truth in this. A direct attack on American soil served to unite, if briefly, the four American traditions in foreign policy identified by Walter Russell Mead in his Special Providence?moralistic Jeffersonians, commercial Hamiltonians, evangelical humanitarian Wilsonians, and vengeful Jacksonians?in favor of a strong response. Wilsonians saw the attack as a chance to bring democracy to similar breeds without the law; Hamiltonians judged that a short war would be a prudent disincentive to future attacks; Jacksonians wanted to punish Osama, Saddam, and anyone else who had trodden on the United States, and Jeffersonians (who overlap heavily with Tranzis) sought a strong response blessed by the international community.
Such unity could not last. After Afghanistan, Jeffersonians reverted to type and became more pacific. But even now many of them are significantly more hawkish than European social democrats with whom they usually find common ground. Britain?s participation in Iraq is a reminder that Mead?s four traditions have substantial roots in the four British ?folkways? that the historian David Hackett Fischer identifies as the principal currents in American culture. Blair, who comes from the Borders, should be a Jacksonian but is actually a muscular Wilsonian?in Britain a Gladstonian.
In addition to shocking America into a strong response, September 11 was also the confirmation of a foreign policy analysis and set of proposals that had been laid out well in advance of the attack?but that seemed too robust in the previous intellectual climate. For instance, in her 1996 reprise of Churchill?s Fulton Speech, Lady Thatcher argued that the combination of rogue states and weapons of mass destruction was sufficiently threatening to justify the military overthrow of regimes like Saddam Hussein?s. But since this was unlikely to happen in the prevailing climate of opinion, she argued, then we should adopt the second-best solution of missile defense. September 11 changed that intellectual climate. The set of foreign policy concepts that justified ousting Saddam was retrieved from the files. Gulliver was suddenly unbound.
What was the new strategy that the Bush administration adopted? It begins with Lady Thatcher?s analysis that there were two linked dangers: the spread of WMDs and the existence of rogue states like Saddam?s Iraq or Gadaffi?s Libya. September 11th added two more threats: Islamist terrorists who seemed impervious to the rational logic of deterrence and ?failing states? like Afghanistan, where terrorist groups could operate with little or no state supervision. It was plausible in this new world to imagine a terrorist group, answerable to no one but itself, either being given or seizing WMDs and using them against the West. That was too dangerous a threat to be dealt with by waiting for the terrorists to attack and then pursuing them through the courts.
The Bush administration accordingly built a new strategy on four concepts. The first was preemption. If the United States could not wait for New York harbor to be destroyed by a nuclear bomb in a container ship, then it had to attack the attacker and disable his weapon before he could act. This right of preemption has recently been discussed as if it were a novelty just invented by some Doctor Strangelove in the Pentagon. In fact it has been recognized in international law since the 1837 when, ironically enough, the British in Canada launched a preemptive strike against an American privateer that they rightly suspected was about to supply arms to Canadian rebels. Terrorists armed with WMDs or states with terrorist links acquiring WMDs are much more terrible threats and thus far stronger justification for preemptive action. The United States asserted its right to take preemptive action to avert them.
But would the international community agree? No matter: if necessary, the United States would defend its national security without the authorization of the U.N. It would generally seek such authorization but it would not be deterred from acting in its compelling interests by a vote in the Security Council that might turn on less significant political considerations.
If the United States were prepared to go ahead with military action not approved by the U.N., however, would any other nation go along with it? America?s traditional allies would be (and were) divided. So the United States dusted down a third concept that had been kicking around NATO for several years to deal with such crises?namely, ?coalitions of the willing.? Such a coalition is a group of states that agree on three things: the nature of a threat; the solution to it; and the need of all to contribute real resources to carry it out. Its great merit is its practicality: every state that joins such a coalition is a useful ally. The United States found such allies first for Afghanistan and later for Iraq.
Extirpating terrorist groups was, however, only half of the solution. The Bush doctrine also incorporated the highly ambitious, even hubristic, aim of fostering the circumstances in which young Arabs and Muslims would not become terrorists in the first place. Terrorism, it was argued, was the response of young and often well-educated people to the failure, injustice, and oppression of the authoritarian societies of the Middle East. To prevent these societies from sowing dragons? teeth indefinitely, we would need to bring liberty and justice to them. President Bush therefore embarked on a fourth concept?a serious long-term strategy of encouraging Arab and Muslim democracy and, in the short term, of using a liberated Iraq as the laboratory of such democratic reform.
These four concepts were bold in themselves, boldly stated, and boldly implemented. Both traditional conservatives and ?realists,? among others, became nervous. They saw the first three policies as likely to cause division in the Atlantic alliance and the fourth as an ambitious social engineering project that was unlikely to succeed. But Gulliver had shaken off these hesitations and uncertainties and, deaf to their warnings, went forging ahead. Others were discomfited by this display of muscular unilateralism. Osama bin Laden and the Taliban, of course?but the Tranzis too.
For the Tranzis, September 11 had transformed the world in a very displeasing way. International organizations and NGOs were less important than before because they were not very helpful in fighting terrorists. Sovereign nation-states regained prestige because they had armies and intelligence services. At least three of the four concepts of foreign policy embraced by the Bush administration were in conflict with the international rules and codes of behavior laid down by the Tranzis in their courts, agencies, treaties, and NGO conferences. And the fourth?promoting democracy?was an intrusion on their turf.
These conflicts were relatively subdued over Afghanistan since the U.S. intervention was readily justifiable as self-defense under the U.N. Charter. But they burst forth violently when it became clear that President Bush intended to invade Iraq.
A minority of NATO governments opposed the intervention. Some genuinely felt it was an error that would damage America and the West. Many Europeans, especially in Germany, thought that concepts such as preemption were primitive ideas that a mature rule-driven Europe had left behind in its moral evolution. And French policy saw Iraq as an opportunity to rally Europeans against the U.S. ?hyper-power.? But these hostile reactions were countered by support for the United States from Britain, Italy, Poland, Spain, and other European states?and there was no possibility of building a common European opposition to the United States. The U.N. Secretary General and his bureaucracy opposed intervention on the grounds that military action lacking U.N. approval was, ipso facto, illegitimate. This argument is a legal novelty, according to Robert Bork, but it was treated as authoritative and binding by most commentators. It was the opposition of NGOs that was the most extreme, however, presumably because it was less trammeled by diplomatic considerations. It was leveled, moreover, against the Afghan intervention as well as that in Iraq. Their argument consisted mainly of predictions that there would be major starvation and environmental and refugee crises as a result of the U.S. interventions. In fact, all these situations actually improved in Afghanistan and Iraq. And that weakened them still further.
The influence of the Tranzis after September 11 was almost negligible. And by April 2003, Gulliver was in Baghdad placing an American flag over the toppling statue of Saddam Hussein. Gulliver was not merely unbound; he seemed unstoppable.
Even those who were supporters of the Iraqi liberation?as I was and remain?have to acknowledge that the war fell far short of our expectations. Large stockpiles of WMDs have not been found. Armed terrorist resistance has been stronger and more widespread than we anticipated. Popular feeling has turned against the American forces supporting the Coalition and the new Iraqi government?as a result of Abu Ghraib, and necessary military actions against the insurgents.
At the same time the intervention has had undeniably valuable benefits. The Iraqi people are free for the first time in almost fifty years. There is a free press, freedom of association, a multiplicity of political parties, and all the apparatus of a liberal democracy. Political prisoners have been freed from torture and captivity?an achievement that has received far less media coverage than the failure to find WMDs. And now an internationally recognized Iraqi government?not yet an elected one, but still the most representative government in the Arab world?has been established. If elections follow next January then the most important American promises will have been kept.
Of course, a final judgment on Iraq will not be possible for some years. If, in a decade, there is a flourishing democracy in Baghdad, then we will judge the U.S. intervention to be an unqualified success. We would even think it a worthwhile effort if, as Mark Steyn has speculated, the Iraqis end up with a moderate authoritarian regime that allows free speech, free markets and some kind of parliament?and that generally votes with Tunisia and Morocco at international forums. If Iraq has descended into a Lebanon-like chaos or a Taliban-like autocracy? either of which would provide a base for international terrorism directed against the United States?then the Iraqi intervention would have proved an actual setback in the war on terror. And that, alas, cannot be ruled out.
Gulliver in Iraq is Gulliver Agonistes, baffled that Iraq has not gone better, resentful that his good intentions are questioned, determined to keep the essence of his new strategy but willing to amend it in the light of experience, still very powerful but perhaps somewhat less blindly optimistic. He has to reassess four matters in particular in the light of his painful experiences?preemption, unilateralism, legitimacy, and democracy.
Preemption is as necessary as it ever was?which, given the linked threats of rogue or failed states, terrorism, and WMD proliferation, is very necessary indeed. Unfortunately, it is less credible as a policy option. Because Iraq has proved to be more troublesome than predicted, any future proposal for preemptive intervention will need to meet a far higher threshold of threat. The admitted intelligence failure over Iraqi WMDs has made it harder by discrediting an essential pillar of preemption. If we are likely to be wrong about the existence of such weapons, it is that much harder to make a convincing case for an intervention to disable them.
The most speedy and conclusive solution to the problem of a weakened case for preemption is one we must all hope to avoid: namely, a massively destructive attack on the U.S. Such a catastrophe would wipe away any emerging ?Iraq Syndrome.? Short of that, however, the United States has to establish the reasonableness of the preemptive approach. Outlining a credible threat and citing accurate legal precedents for preemption go a long way towards doing this. Improving intelligence should logically help too?though not with those who are opposed to intelligence services in the first place. But the United States may also need to soothe the anxieties both of the U.S. public and of those allies who see preemption as a mark of unilateralist arrogance. Earlier this year a blue-ribbon committee of the Council on Foreign Relations, chaired by Henry Kissinger, proposed that the United States should agree preemption is a last resort in return for European acceptance of its legitimacy on that basis. Since preemption is a last resort, that is a compromise well worth exploring. Whatever the diplomatic difficulties, however, the United States has to assert the principle that it is rightly entitled to strike at its enemies before they strike a near-mortal blow to it.
Unilateralism is a very different matter?the United States sustained serious wounds defending a policy it had never adopted. There was never a policy of ?going it alone? without allies. Indeed, most NATO and E.U. member states joined in the Iraq intervention. There was not even a policy of riding roughshod over international organizations such as the U.N.. In the Afghan and Iraq wars, the Bush administration strenuously sought the approval of the U.N. Security Council. One of its main arguments for intervention was that the U.N.?s authority would be undermined if its resolutions were flouted with impunity. And it justified its own eventual use of force as necessary to enforce those resolutions. (Doubtless such arguments cloaked decisions taken on other grounds of power politics. But so do almost all arguments at the U.N.)
All that unilateralism amounted to in reality was the assertion that the United States would defend its vital interests in the last resort by force if it could not win the approval of the U.N. Security Council for doing so. That assertion rests on a combination of national sovereignty and the right of self-defense under the U.N. Charter. It would be endorsed by most U.N. member-states. And its modest logic was established in a BBC radio debate between Richard Perle, the foremost neoconservative strategist, and Baroness Shirley Williams, a moderate social democratic peer. Perle argued that the liberation of Iraq was either right or wrong. If Baroness Williams thought it was wrong, she should oppose it. If she thought it was right, why would she subordinate her opinion to a Chinese, Russian, or French veto in the Security Council? The only riposte to Perle?s question is that a statesman might subordinate one aim to gain a larger one. But that cannot be a reason for subordinating one?s national interest to a Chinese or Russian veto in principle. Of course, for the Tranzis such subordination is the point. They see it as the central principle of global governance and treat the mildest resistance to it as ?unilateralism.?
Indeed, unilateralism had been originally placed in public debate by such critics of the Bush administration. In their lexicon, it was a wonderfully flexible term that transformed any expression of national sovereignty into a wholesale rejection of multilateral cooperation. Even the very limited unilateralism of the Bush doctrine (which repeatedly embraced multilateralism) was held to be sinful?the more so because it was explicit. If it had appeared in a footnote, a codicil, or the obscurity of an academic text rather than as one of the main arguments in an official document, it might have been seen as the qualification to multilateral diplomacy that it was. Instead it seemed to be a brash declaration of U.S. solipsism. And when the United States got into difficulties in Iraq, its enemies (including the Tranzis) could plausibly cite them as the inevitable fall that follows pride.
Here was where the Tranzis began to make a comeback from their slide into irrelevance after September 11. The rest of the world wanted to see the sole remaining superpower subject to some other authority when it intervened elsewhere. As a practical matter the United States was unable to confer legitimacy upon its own actions. But the Tranzis are partly in the business of conferring it on international actions from their various legal, charitable, and political perches in Acronymia. In revamping its Iraq policy, the United States bowed to this reality. Having initially excluded the U.N. from serious involvement in postwar Iraq, the United States brought the organization back in both to negotiate a new political order and to bestow international legitimacy on the new Iraqi government.
That may have been a reasonable accommodation to political necessity. But it raises a question: if the U.N. or other organization dominated by Tranzis either refuses to approve or vetos some vital American action, what should the United States then do?
For such eventualities Francis Fukuyama has proposed a strategy of ?overlapping multilateralism.? Recall that the intervention in Kosovo was undertaken without U.N. approval?indeed condemned as illegitimate by Kofi Annan. Yet it was accepted by the international community, including the Europeans, because it was endorsed by NATO. Other interventions have been similarly blessed by regional security organizations?the recent West African intervention by ECOWAS and the liberation of Grenada by the Organization of East Caribbean States. There are, of course, many other such bodies?and most of them are international bodies ultimately answerable to national governments rather than transnational or supranational bodies accountable largely to themselves. What international opinion asks is that the United States should pay a decent respect to the opinions of mankind. It recognizes that the U.N. is a very imperfect expression of that opinion since its membership contains despots, it treats states of very different sizes equally, and its decisions are sometimes distorted by the necessity of a great-power veto. So there is a willingness among serious nations to accept that other institutions might have the power to confer legitimacy to certain interventions.
Even if overlapping multilateralism is pursued it is likely to prove a very modest change in a largely unaccountable and?as the ?Oil for Food? scandal has demonstrated?very corrupt system. Some distinguished public figures propose an alternative organization that would exert moral authority within the international system by virtue of its democratic composition and liberal credentials. It would not have the full diplomatic role of the U.N., but it might pull the organization in the right direction, setting standards for good international behavior, encouraging states to meet them in order to qualify for membership, and itself conferring legitimacy on actions it deemed justified. In theory, the Community of Democracies, formed in Warsaw during the Clinton administration, might be such a body. In order for this to happen, however, the United States would have to put a great deal of diplomatic weight and energy behind it. There is no guarantee it would succeed?or that if it did, the Community would significantly improve matters.
That brings us to Bush?s project of spreading democracy. It has, of course, been much ridiculed in Europe. This ridicule is ignoble, but some of the criticisms it employs are not themselves unreasonable: Iraq, for instance, is the kind of ethnically and religiously divided society that has historically been difficult terrain for majority-rule government. Bringing democracy to the Arab and Islamic worlds is likely to be a long, difficult, and tortuous task. It is not certain to succeed. If it does, the Islamic democracy that would result will look very different from our Atlantic institutions. But it is in our interest to encourage the development of liberal, moderate, and decent governments in the Middle East that may become fully democratic over time. We would be well-advised to do so from outside?giving advice, technical assistance, and financial aid to sovereign states, and protecting friendly ones in extremis. In the case of Iraq, having taken over the country, we have to help establish a democratic government there?even if it later diverges from full democratic virtue in the interests of staying alive.
As these remarks show, I do not underestimate the difficulties of establishing democracy in the Middle East. But they are trivial compared to the difficulties of establishing post-democracy there. Yet as John Fonte points out, the Community of Democracies already shows signs of being bureaucratically captured by the ?Tranzis? who would seek to do just that. A conference of NGOs at Seoul in 2002, organized by the Community, proposed gender quotas to elect women in proportion to their numbers in the population. Not only are these ideas inconsistent with the bedrock democratic principle that the voters should have an unfettered choice of candidates, but they are also likely to outrage the traditional societies at which Bush?s democracy project is aimed.
If Gulliver is to foster democracy and to pursue the war against Islamist terrorism in the aftermath of the Iraq intervention without being frustrated by the Tranzis at every turn, he must set about dismantling the structure of transnational progressive power and demystifying its ideology. But a large baby seems to be blocking his way.
Gulliver Meets an Infant Brobdingnagian
It would be odd?and contrary to American interests?to focus entirely on spreading democracy in the Middle East and to ignore entirely the democratic deficit that exists across the transnational and supranational agencies of Minogue?s Acronymia. These bodies claim considerable powers over both national governments and the citizens of their countries. They issue directives with the force of law, fine corporations, prosecute individuals, and interrogate retired statesmen. The U.N. system in particular has spawned new treaties and conventions that propagate international norms on women?s rights, sustainable development, environmental standards, and so on?and U.N. monitoring bodies to ensure that national governments meet their supposed treaty obligations. These conferences set international political agendas that conscript governments, even when they have not ratified the treaties, and that make their way into domestic law via the courts citing customary international law. But they have not been elected by anyone. They are not accountable to any electorate. The laws and regulations they promulgate we cannot repeal or even amend. The U.N. conventions are often composed of special interest NGOs. And, almost comically, the monitoring bodies generally include inspectors drawn from the diplomatic services of despotic and authoritarian regimes.
The democratic deficit in these bodies is frequently admitted by the Tranzis running them, but their admission is then treated as a frank and manly acknowledgment that has solved the problem. In fact, they will not reform without firm pressure from outside. They have a class interest in maintaining their power. And they have ideological allies in most European political parties. Only the United States might lead the resistance to this growing nexus of unaccountable power, in part because its classical liberal U.S. Constitution forbids the Tranzi project of global governance and the loss of democratic sovereignty that it entails.
Like Lilliputians dealing with Gulliver, the Tranzis could not independently resist pressure from a determined United States. If, however, a giant inhabitant of Brobdingnag were to come to their assistance, Gulliver would be defeated. Can the Tranzis hope for similar assistance? Most rising powers?China, India, Japan, Indonesia, Brazil?have little sympathy with Tranzi ideology because it threatens the independent national power they are just beginning to enjoy. The exception is a rising power composed of declining ones?the European Union.
The E.U. sees itself, internally and externally, as the model of a new kind of postmodern superpower. In the accounts of its theorists such as Robert Cooper, the Eurocrat author of The Breaking of Nations, the world is divided like Gaul into three parts: premodern states like the failing despotisms of the Middle East; modern nation-states such as the United States that still exhibit the vital signs of democracy and patriotism, and postmodern polities that have moved into a future of overlapping jurisdictions, multiple national identities, and governance by treaty obligation. These features of the postmodern E.U. are not merely consistent with Tranzi ideology. They are Tranzi ideology, conforming to Fonte?s analsyis and exhibiting the aversion to clear lines of democratic accountability that are hallmarks of Tranzi institution-building.
In large measure the E.U. is a Tranzi project?though one still hobbled by scattered resistance from the voters and national governments. It has a missionary desire to export its distinctive postnational ideology to the rest of the world. It is increasingly driven by an ideological hostility to the United States as the classical liberal democratic alternative to its own post-democracy. And in particular it believes itself superior to the United States in dealing with premodern states and Islamist terrorism?preferring diplomacy to the war on terror and deferring to international bodies in principle.
If the United States is to defeat the terrorists in war or the Tranzis in international politics, it will have to take on the E.U. first. It is likely that this clash will occur most substantially over the war on terror. The United States and the leading E.U. powers have been drifting apart over how to conduct that war; it became an acute crisis over Iraq, and European skeptics have felt themselves vindicated, not wholly unreasonably, by the course of events since Baghdad fell. They will therefore want to conduct the war against Islamist terrorism on intelligence rather than military lines. They will be supported by Acronymia. But the United States?under Bush and probably under Kerry?will confirm the general lines of the Bush doctrine. And the clash will worsen.
Mark Steyn has argued in various venues that this process is likely to end in a complete breach. The NATO allies are inevitably drifting away from the United States and into a policy of appeasing Al Qaeda. Given Mr. Steyn?s fine record of prescience since September 11, only a rash man would gainsay him. But there is another possibility rooted in the fact that the first reactions of most people to a violent but distant revolution are generally appeasing?vide the reactions of almost everyone except Burke and Churchill to the French and Nazi revolutions respectively. Only when it becomes clear that the terrorists? aims are limitless and that nobody is safe does opinion turn harsher and more realistic: On both continents today opinion is divided between appeasers and resisters in proportions that reflect the fact that Americans know that they are the targets of Islamist terrorism while Europeans can think otherwise for a time. Madrid was not September 11 because Europeans still lack a common identity. For non-Spaniards it was a foreign affair. But with the murder of more than 300 Russian children in Beslan, the kidnapping of the two French journalists, and the bombing of the Australian embassy in Indonesia?all within a week of each other?it is plain that the Islamist terrorists have declared war on the entire non-Islamic world and apostate regimes in the Islamic world. Nobody is safe. And since such terrorism will continue to strike country after country, the political climate throughout Europe is likely to become harsher and more realistic?and so more receptive to the greater realism of American policy.
The recent poll on transatlantic attitudes conducted for the German Marshall Fund confirms both halves of this argument. It shows that Europeans increasingly reject American leadership and favor the rise of a European superpower?though not if it means spending more on defense. That certainly suggests an unrealistic mind set. But it also suggests that the divisions between the two continents are neither so virulent nor so clear as the debates between elites suggest. Thus, there are broad differences between European countries and America on such questions as the value of the war in Iraq and deference to international institutions. But divisions within Europe and America are important too. Majorities in some European countries, for instance, share the ?American? view that they would bypass the U.N. if their nations? vital interests were at stake. Perhaps the most significant finding may be that Democrats have an almost identical outlook to most Europeans. In other words, the division of opinion runs through every nation and both continents?and it is likely to react similarly to similar events: in this case, further attacks by Al Qaeda.
If that is so, then the value of the American alliance to European opinion will increase, not only because it is likely to share the views of most Americans (to become, so to speak, more Republican and less Tranzi), but also because in serious conflict any sane European wants to be on the American side. The war on Islamist terrorism would provide the solidarity once supplied by the Cold War; ?Europeanism? would decline, and Atlanticism revive. In those circumstances, the United States would be able to take a much more active role in alliance diplomacy. Until recently Washington has relied on Britain, Italy, Poland, and other Atlantic-minded powers to represent its interests in E.U. affairs. But Washington can no longer afford this passivity. That does not mean a Kerry-like anxiety to please the leading European states at the expense of our interests. Quite the contrary. We must intervene for such purposes in order to ensure that the proposed E.U. defense structure does not compromise NATO?s role as the monopoly supplier of European defense. Or to obstruct a common European foreign policy that seems likely to prevent old friends from joining the United States in some future coalition of the willing. Or, more broadly, to encourage the E.U. to develop along Atlanticist lines and away from any role as a ?counterweight? to the United States.
If that is to be accomplished conclusively, however, then the United States must also encourage those powers that share its distrust of postmodern structures?plainly Britain, Denmark, the Netherlands, and less plainly the Baltic states and some East European countries?to seek more liberal constitutional arrangements within the E.U. Until now, it has consistently discouraged any such resistance to whatever was described by Brussels as ?integration.? Even a modest version of such reforms in the E.U. would be a major setback for the Tranzis?their Grenada?and have knock-on effects on their other projects such as the International Criminal Court. And, of course, the mere fact that the E.U. and the U.S. were fighting the war on terror on more American terms would tend, as after September 11, to reduce Tranzi power and influence throughout Acronymia?just as the current Iraqi troubles have helped them. Gulliver would give some Yahoo energy to the overrefined Houyhnhnms of Europe?and maybe get some patience and subtlety in return. That in turn would speed the defeat of the Islamists.
If, however, Mr. Steyn is right in his pessimism?and that?s the way to bet?then the United States will face a difficult future as a military superpower continually frustrated in middling matters by the resistance of international bodies. Europe and America will divide into two separate civilizations?the Anglosphere (minus England, plus India) and the Holy Secular Empire?uncomfortably housing a growing Muslim minority. Even in America, liberal democracy will be gradually transformed into a politically correct judicial oligarchy on Tranzi lines. The political atmosphere of both sides of the Atlantic will obstruct and delay the inevitable defeat of Islamist terrorism. And Gulliver, undefeated and undefeatable, will nonetheless apply for entry into the new euthanasia program brought in following a Supreme Court decision that cited judicial opinions from the International Human Rights Court in Harare.
John O?Sullivan is the editor of The National Interest.
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / "Kali" player on trial for killing bouncer
on: October 28, 2004, 02:51:42 PM
I just skimmed your site-- very interesting. Delighted to have you with us.
You raise a very good question and I'm hoping people will take a stab at it
This catches me with only a few minutes to write, so please forgive my brevity:
Although diminished, the depth of secrecy in the FMA, especially with regard to knife, remains greatly underappreciated. Many systems that seem to be teaching knife are often only teaching disarms against angles of attack. I have heard it said that the art is being taught "culturally". Targeting is discussed only in simple, obvious ways and "sparring" is, as you say "prettied up as an innocent game of tag".
There is another side to the art however. It is incredible violent and efficient and the nature of this training is quite different.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WW3
on: October 28, 2004, 02:37:09 PM
THE MYTH OF THE 'MISSING EXPLOSIVES': A SHAMELESS LIE
BY RALPH PETERS
October 28, 2004 -- SHOULD the United Na tions decide who be comes our president? Sen. John Kerry wouldn't mind. He's shamelessly promoting the lies that the U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency is telling about Iraq.
A devious IAEA report suggests that 400 tons of explosives were spirited away by our enemies under the noses of our Keystone-Cops troops after the fall of Baghdad. The document just happened to be released in the closing days of our presidential election. Purely a coincidence, of course. Brought to you by those selfless U.N. bureaucrats who failed in Iraq and are now failing in Iran.
Since Kerry's willing to blame our troops for a scandal invented by America-haters, let's look at the story the military way, by the numbers.
One: The IAEA claims its inspectors visited the ammo dump at Al-Qaqaa on March 9, 2003, and found the agency's seals intact on bunkers containing sensitive munitions. Unverifiable, but let's assume that much is true.
Two: Faced with an impending invasion, Saddam's forces did what any military would do. They began dispersing ammunition stocks from every storage site that might be a Coalition bombing target. If the Iraqis valued it, they tried to move it. Before the war.
Three: Members of our 3rd Infantry Division ? the heroes who led the march to Baghdad ? reached the site in question in early April. Despite the pressures of combat, they combed the dump. Nothing was found. Al-Qaqaa was a vast junkyard.
Four: Our 101st Airborne Division assumed responsibility for the sector as the 3ID closed on Baghdad. None of the Screaming Eagles found any IAEA markers ? even one would have been a red flag to be reported immediately.
Five: At the end of May, military teams searching for key Iraqi weapons scoured Al-Qaqaa. They found plenty of odds and ends ? the detritus of war ? but no IAEA seals. And no major stockpiles.
Six: Now, just before Election Day, the IAEA, a discredited organization embarrassed by the Bush administration's decision to call it on the carpet, suddenly realizes that 400 tons of phantom explosives went missing from the dump.
Seven: Even if repeated inspections by U.S. troops had somehow missed this deadly elephant on the front porch, and even if the otherwise-incompetent Iraqis had been so skilled and organized they were able to sneak into Al-Qaqaa and load up 400 tons of Saddam's love-powder, it would have taken a Teamsters' convention to get the job done.
Eight: If the Iraqis had used military transport vehicles of five-ton capacity, it would have required 80 trucks for one big lift, or, say, 20 trucks each making four trips. They would have needed special trolleys, forklifts, handling experts and skilled drivers (explosives aren't groceries). This operation could not have happened either during or after the war, while the Al-Qaqaa area was flooded with U.S. troops.
Nine: We owned the skies. And when you own the skies, you own the roads. We were watching for any sign of organized movement. A gaggle of non-Coalition vehicles driving in and out of an ammo dump would have attracted the attention of our surveillance systems immediately.
Ten: And you don't just drive high explosives cross-country, unless you want to hear a very loud bang. Besides, the Iraqis would have needed to hide those 400 tons of explosives somewhere else. Unless the uploaded trucks are still driving around Iraq.
Eleven: Even if the IAEA told the truth and the Iraqis were stealth-logistics geniuses who emptied the site's ammo bunkers under our noses, the entire issue misses a greater point: 400 tons of explosives amounted to a miniscule fraction of the stocks Saddam had built up. Coalition demolition experts spent months destroying more than 400,000 tons of Iraqi war-making materiel.
Our soldiers eliminated more than a thousand tons of packaged death for every ton the United Nations claims they missed. Does that sound like incompetence? Why hasn't our success been mentioned? Can't our troops get credit for anything?
Twelve: The bottom line is that, if the explosives were ever there, the Iraqis moved them before our troops arrived. There is no other plausible scenario.
Sen. Kerry knows this is a bogus issue. And he doesn't care. He's willing to accuse our troops of negligence and incompetence to further his political career. Of course, he did that once before.
Lt. Col (ret) Ralph Peters is the author of "Beyond Baghdad: Postmodern War and Peace."
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / "Kali" player on trial for killing bouncer
on: October 27, 2004, 01:08:24 PM
The part on Malcolm X is all well and good-- and not on point.
What do you think communicates when your sig line is "It he touches you, kill him"?
And how does this pertain to these questions of yours:
"What can we do to change perceptions about the arts we study? More exposure to the public? More education to the public? Or do we go deeper underground and try to keep ourselves hidden from public view?"
Sorry to be such a bad dog, biting you on the butt about all of this, but my doggy nose has gotten a whiff of cognitive dissonance here , , ,
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / "Kali" player on trial for killing bouncer
on: October 27, 2004, 10:36:07 AM
Woof SB Mig:
Perhaps we can begin with distinguishing your tag line from what happened here , , ,
PS: Written on 3/22/05: I see Miguel has edited his posts to delete a quote that went like this "if someone puts his hand on you, send him to the cemetery." To know this is needed for our exchange to make sense.
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / "Kali" player on trial for killing bouncer
on: October 27, 2004, 12:08:51 AM
Some newspaper articles from the time of the events in question.
April 18, 2003, 11:21:15 AM ?
New club slay suspect
Martial arts ace tried suicide after fatal fight
By BARBARA ROSS, MICHELE McPHEE and GREG GITTRICH
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITERS
Ching Chan, who cops said took part in club brawl that ended in bouncer's death Sunday, leaves Suffolk St. apartment yesterday. He was released from custody Tuesday.
Cops are close to arresting a new suspect - a martial arts expert - in the fatal stabbing of an East Village bouncer who died enforcing the city's smoking ban, sources said yesterday.
The suspect, who is a master of a vicious Filipino knife-fighting technique, attempted to kill himself after learning that the bouncer died Sunday, law enforcement sources told the Daily News.
The 31-year-old left a note to his parents confessing to the killing and saying he was drunk at the time, sources said.
"I was just trying to help out my friends," the note said, according to the sources.
The alleged killer is a pal of the Chinese brothers who were initially arrested in the slaying, but then released.
A law enforcement source said, "He was trained by martial arts experts to stab someone in one spot to kill."
The brothers are also schooled in the warrior art of Eskrima, in which knives are a key component, sources said. But the new suspect is believed to be the killer, and investigators were seeking search warrants last night to obtain more evidence, a source said. They were also looking to talk to his martial arts teacher.
Authorities told The News that the suspect was among 19 friends celebrating a birthday early Sunday at Guernica, a bar on Avenue B.
Dad ran Chinatown gang
The party included the children of notorious Chinatown gang leader Wing Yeung Chan.
The siblings - Ching Chan, 31, a medical student; Jonathan Chan, 29, a Wall St. banker, and Alice Ling Chan, 33, a bookkeeper - were arrested after the fatal stabbing but set free because of a lack of evidence.
Witnesses said members of the Chans' party repeatedly lit cigarettes inside the bar's downstairs club in violation of the city smoking ban. Several warnings from a deejay and a bouncer were ignored. So Dana Blake, 32, the bar's security chief and an imposing presence at 6-feet-5, 320 pounds, approached the group. When Blake attempted to remove Jonathan Chan from the bar, Chan's siblings and the knife-fighting ace pounced, law enforcement sources said. While the Chans were involved in the bloody scrum, sources said, it's now believed that the Eskrima expert was the one who plunged a knife into Blake's groin.
Blake, who lived in Astoria, Queens, died 11 hours after the attack despite surgeons' efforts to save his life.
No weapon was found. Investigators believe the suspect took the knife with him and rushed off to clean his blood-soaked clothing. He has been held in a psychiatric hospital since his suicide attempt, sources said.
Ivan Fisher, an attorney for the Chan brothers, has said his clients did not stab Blake.
The new details emerged as friends and relatives of Blake gathered for his wake in Queens. A chrome Cadillac hood ornament was attached to the outside of Blake's wooden coffin. "That's all he wanted was a Caddy," said St. Eyes Stroud, 27, a bouncer at Guernica.
While greeting friends of his slain brother, the Rev. Anthony Blake said, "We want justice."
Yesterday, Mayor Bloomberg called the Rev. Blake to express his condolences. Friends of Blake have blamed his death on Bloomberg's smoking ban.
At Guernica last night, more than 100 people showed up at a benefit to help Blake's family pay for the funeral. Club employees said they accepted at least $3,000 in donations.
With Nicole Bode and David Saltonstall
Originally published on April 18, 2003
Report to moderator 18.104.22.168
April 19, 2003
On the Day of Bouncer's Funeral, a Martial Arts Student Is Charged
By SHAILA K. DEWAN
he killing was strange from the start, and has gotten only stranger. A bouncer stabbed to death, some said, because of the city's new ban on smoking in bars. A missing weapon. Three siblings arrested, then released, then revealed to be the children of a Chinatown gangster.
And yesterday, a new suspect, whom the police described as a suicidal young Filipino-American trained in a vicious Filipino martial art in which even beginners learn lethal knife thrusts.
The suspect, Isaias P. Umali II, was arraigned yesterday on charges of killing the bouncer, Dana Blake, with a single stab wound early Sunday morning at a downtown nightclub after a fight broke out over a burning cigarette.
Mr. Umali tried to commit suicide on Monday after learning that Mr. Blake had died, said George F. Brown, the chief of detectives.
The police made the arrest after learning that Mr. Umali had told someone about the stabbing and was in the hospital, Chief Brown said. In what was apparently intended as a suicide note, Mr. Umali made reference to his involvement in the crime, investigators said. The note was destroyed ? it was not clear how ? but someone who read it described it to the police, they said.
The police announced the arrest of Mr. Umali just two hours after eight brawny men struggled to carry the 6-foot-5 bouncer's casket up the stairs of the Humble Way Church of God in Christ in South Ozone Park, Queens, for his funeral.
On Thursday night, friends donated nearly $20,000 at a fund-raiser to pay the funeral expenses of Mr. Blake, known to bartenders and other nightclub workers across town as Shazam, said Brooke Hammerling, a friend who helped organize the event.
The arrest brought some satisfaction to investigators caught in a frustrating whodunit, with an international spotlight but no weapon, no witnesses to the stabbing itself and multiple sets of blood-soaked clothing.
Mr. Umali, 31, left Mary Immaculate Hospital in Queens yesterday for his arraignment on a charge of second-degree murder, appearing in State Supreme Court in Manhattan. He was ordered held without bail, on suicide watch.
He was among a group of friends who gathered last Saturday night to celebrate a friend's birthday in the basement of Guernica, a sleek Lower East Side lounge, Chief Brown said.
After one of the friends, Jonathan Chan, 29, lighted a cigarette and passed it to a friend, whom the police identified as Meynard Leonardo, a fight ensued. Investigators have said that when Mr. Blake, 31, asked that the cigarette be put out, a rude response prompted him to eject Mr. Chan from the club.
Mr. Chan's lawyer has said that his client was polite but that the bouncer grabbed him around the neck anyway.
Either way, a struggle that involved Mr. Chan; his brother Ching; his sister, Alice; and other people left Mr. Blake on the floor, bleeding to death.
The police arrested the Chan siblings, but released them early Tuesday after the Manhattan district attorney declined to press charges. The police said the investigation was continuing and charges might still be brought against the Chans.
The siblings, a stockbroker, a medical student and a bookkeeper, are the children of a former Chinatown gang leader who is serving a murder and racketeering sentence in federal prison.
During the fight, Mr. Umali "came to the assistance of the Chans," Chief Brown said.
He said Mr. Umali left the club immediately after the stabbing and walked downtown to a subway station, discarding the knife as he walked. It has not been recovered.
Mr. Umali traveled to the Upper East Side, to the home of friends who, along with the Chan brothers, an investigator said later, studied kali, also called escrima or arnis, together at a martial arts studio on West 27th Street. At a studio on that street, the Fighthouse, there is a weekly escrima class, but an employee refused to provide the name of the teacher last night.
Kali is a martial art without a mystical side, according to its teachers. It was developed over hundreds of years in the Philippines, where it was sometimes forbidden and had to be practiced in secret, to help the underdog against a more powerful enemy, teachers said.
"It's based on this principle: do unto others before they do unto you," said Frank Ortega, a kali guro, or teacher, in Queens. "It's an aggressive art. You don't learn kali to show off or break watermelons, you learn kali to survive. It is more of a street art."
Mr. Umali spent the remainder of the night with his friends, and on Sunday went home to his house on 171st Street in Jamaica wearing fresh clothes they had provided, Chief Brown said. He lives there with his parents and younger sister, people who know the family said.
On Monday morning, he tried to slash his neck and wrists, the police said. "We believe he was distraught over learning of the death of Mr. Blake," Chief Brown said.
But unlike Mr. Blake's wound, which severed his femoral artery, Mr. Umali's wounds were not fatal. He was carried out of his house to an ambulance with his mother and girlfriend looking on, said a neighbor, Tom Bagasan, 57.
Mr. Umali, a slight man in a light blue T-shirt, appeared in court yesterday with bandages on his neck and wrists. His lawyer, David Krauss, said Mr. Umali had attended a Roman Catholic high school, completed some college and worked as a computer network administrator. "He's never had contact with the criminal justice system before," Mr. Krauss said.
The police said Mr. Umali was currently unemployed. Friends and neighbors described him as a quiet man who liked to play with paintball guns.
His parents, who friends said were both retired accountants, are well known among Filipino-Americans in Queens. Mr. Umali's father, Isaias Umali Jr., is a charter member and past president of Bayanihan, a Filipino community organization.
The senior Mr. Umali and his wife paused on their driveway last night to speak to a reporter.
"I have a great son, he's a great guy," he said. "He's very helpful and respectful to elders. We put the burden of the case in God's hands."
April 21, 2003, 03:35:02 PM ?
Say nabbed suspect tried to kill himself
MICHELE McPHEE and BARBARA ROSS
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITERS
Isaias Umali is under arrest for the murder of New York bouncer Dana Blake.
Cops arrested an out-of-work accountant trained in lethal knife-fighting techniques yesterday in the murder of an East Village bouncer who died enforcing the city's smoking ban.
Isais Umali, 31, was taken into custody at Queens' Mary Immaculate Hospital - where he was recovering from self-inflicted slashing wounds to his throat and wrists.
Police sources said Umali attempted suicide Monday - a day after he allegedly delivered a fatal stab wound to Dana Blake's groin as the hulking bouncer tossed the suspect's friends from a birthday party for smoking.
In the chaos after the stabbing, Umali fled from the Avenue B lounge Guernica, ditched the murder weapon and went to his fianc?e's apartment on the upper East Side to get rid of his bloody clothes, said NYPD Chief of Detectives George Brown.
"During the fight, Umali pulled out a knife and stabbed Blake," Brown said. "When Blake fell to the floor, Umali ran from the club, walked south and entered the subway station, discarding the knife along the way."
Umali's friends - Jonathan Chan, 29, and Ching Chan, 31, children of the leader of Chinatown's organized crime's Ghost Shadows - were arrested by patrol cops after Blake collapsed. They were splattered with the victim's blood. Their sister, Alice Chan, 33, was arrested the following morning, and her blood-soaked clothes were seized by cops.
But all three were freed Monday night after prosecutors in the Manhattan district attorney's office said they did not have evidence linking them to the fatal stabbing. That sparked outrage from cops and friends and family of the victim - until yesterday's arrest of a new suspect.
Trained in martial arts
Many of the party attendees - including the Chan brothers and Umali - are trained in the Filipino martial art of Eskrima, which uses precision knife blows and deadly weapons to fight enemies.
Detectives plan to interview a Manhattan martial arts expert who trained Umali how to kill with a single knife wound, sources said.
"Someone trained this guy [Umali] to hit someone in a fatal spot to kill them, and it worked. We want to find him," one police source said.
Umali's involvement in the bloody slaying became clear late Thursday, when a tipster called the NYPD's Crime Stoppers hotline to turn him in, according to authorities. Sources said the anonymous caller is believed to be his guilt-stricken fianc?e, who had bought Umali new clothes before he returned to his parents' home.
"I was just trying to help out my friends," Umali wrote in a suicide note found by his parents, who were there when their son began slashing himself inside his Hillside, Queens, bedroom, according to one law enforcement source.
Brothers not cleared
Umali's arrest does not completely clear the Chans, police told the Daily News.
"The Chans are definitely still under investigation," said one high-ranking police source. "They still have problems."
But the Chan brothers' lawyer, Ivan Fisher, said Umali's arrest "vindicates" his clients.
"I feel that the recent development strongly supports the accuracy of what my clients have been saying happened here from the beginning - that they had nothing whatsoever to do with the wounding of Mr. Blake," Fisher said.
Umali and the Chans were among 19 people at a birthday party in the hip bar Saturday night spilling into Sunday morning.
The skirmish between Blake and the Chan brothers began just after 2 a.m., when revelers at the party for a woman identified as Catherine Leonardo repeatedly lit cigarettes in the bar's downstairs club in violation of the city's new smoking ban.
After a heated argument with members of the party, Blake, 32, grabbed Jonathan Chan and tried to eject him from the bar.
As the 6-foot-5, 320-pound bouncer shoved the Wall Street banker out the door, he was pounced on by Chan's siblings, police said.
Umali then allegedly entered the scrum, stabbing Blake - who died 11 hours later.
Umali was released from the hospital yesterday afternoon and arraigned on two counts of second-degree murder at Manhattan Criminal Court.
He was brought into court wearing a blue hospital shirt and gray khaki pants, bandages swathing his throat and wrists.
Criminal Court Judge Deborah Kaplan ordered Umali held without bail and on suicide watch.
Umali's attorney, David Krauss, said his client is "traumatized" by the slaying. "He's traumatized by the whole thing," Krauss said. "It's sad. Sad all around. For him and his family."
With Greg B. Smith
Originally published on April 19, 2003
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Political Rants
on: October 25, 2004, 01:04:38 AM
THE FACES OF DENIAL
By RALPH PETERS October 24, 2004 -- EUROPEANS insist that the United States overreacted to 9/11. Conde scendingly, they observe that they've been dealing with terror ism successfully for three dec ades, that it can be
managed, that life goes on.
What Europeans fail to grasp - what they willfully refuse to face - is that
the nature of terrorism has changed.
The alphabet-soup terrorists of the past - the IRA, ETA, PLO, RAF and the
rest - were essentially political organizations with political goals. No
matter how brutal their actions or unrealistic their hopes, their common
intent was to change a system of government, either to gain a people's
independence or to force their ideology on society.
The old-school terrorists that Europe survived did not seek death, although they were sometimes willing to die for their causes. None were suicide bombers, although a few committed suicide in prison to make a political statement.
Crucially, their goals were of this earth. All would have preferred to
survive to rule in a government that they controlled.
Now we face terrorists who regard death as a promotion - who reject secular ideologies and believe themselves to be instruments of their god's will.
Indeed, they hope to nudge their god along, to convince him through their
actions that the final struggle between faith and infidelity is at hand.
While they'd like to see certain changes here on earth - the destruction of
Israel, of the United States, of the West, of unbelievers and heretics
everywhere - their longed-for destination is paradise beyond the grave.
THE new terrorists are vastly more dangerous, more implacable and crueler than the old models. The political terrorists of the 1970s and '80s used bloodshed to gain their goals. Religious terrorists see mass murder as an end in itself, as a purifying act that cleanses the world of infidels. They don't place their bombs for political leverage, but to kill as many innocent human beings as possible.
Yesteryear's murderers of European politicians and businessmen by the old crowd seem almost mannerly compared to today's religion-fueled terrorists, who openly rejoice in decapitating their living victims in front of cameras.
When political terrorists hijacked airplanes, they hoped to draw attention
to their cause. When Islamic terrorists seize passenger jets, they do it to
kill as many people as possible.
The old terrorists were sometimes so rabid that they had to be killed or
imprisoned. But others became negotiating partners for governments. From Yasser Arafat to Gerry Adams, some gained international respectability. (It even may be argued that Adams became part of the solution, rather than simply remaining part of the problem.)
For today's apocalyptic terrorists, negotiations are no more than a tool to
be used in extreme situations, to allow them to live to kill again another
day. And no promises made to infidels need be honored.
The Islamic terrorists we now face will never become statesmen. They wish to shed our blood to fortify their faith, to impose their beliefs upon the world, to placate a vengeful god.
That doesn't offer much room for polite diplomacy. Islamic terrorists have
reverted to the most primitive of religious practices: human sacrifice.
Their brand of Islam is no "religion of peace." They're Aztecs without the
art. And it takes a Cortez to deal with them.
Europeans' experience of negotiating with political terrorists has allowed
them to deceive themselves into a false sense of security. Forgetting the
pain inflicted on their societies by tiny bands of assassins (whether the
Baader-Meinhof gang, the Red Brigades or the IRA-Provos), Europeans refuse to imagine what tens of thousands of fanatics bent on destruction might do if not faced down with courage and resolution.
It wasn't the United States that didn't "get" 9/11. It was the Europeans,
anxious that their comfortable slumber not be disturbed. They insist that
terrorism remains a law-enforcement problem, refusing even to consider that we might face a broad, complex, psychotic threat spawned by a failed civilization.
EUROPE will pay. And the price in the coming years will be much higher than any paid by the United States. Europe, not North America, is the vulnerable continent. Our homeland-security efforts, unfairly derided at home and abroad, are making our country markedly safer. Yes, we will be struck again. But "Old Europe" is going to be hit again, and again, and again.
American Muslims not only become citizens - they become good citizens.
Despite the assimilation hurdles that face every new group of immigrants,
our Muslims have opportunity and hope. A disaffected few may make headlines, but American Muslims overwhelmingly support their new country and do not wish it harm. They see no contradiction between faith in their god and faith in America. Our worries are their worries, and their dreams are our dreams.
Europe is another, grimmer story. Not a single European state - not even the United Kingdom - has successfully integrated its Muslim minority into
While the United Kingdom has done the best job, countries such as France and Germany have time-bombs in their midst, large, excluded Muslim populations that the native majority regard as hopelessly inferior. If you want to see bigotry alive and well, visit "Old Europe."
It wasn't a random choice on the part of the 9/11 terrorists that led them
to do so much of their preparation in Europe. They know that American-Muslim communities won't offer hospitality to terrorists. But Germany, France, Spain and neighboring states contain embittered Islamic communities glad to see any part of the West get the punishment it "deserves."
As the United States becomes ever harder to strike - and as we respond so fiercely to those attacks that succeed - soft Europe, with its proximity to the Muslim world, its indigestible Muslim communities and its moral
fecklessness, is likely to become the key Western battleground in the
Islamic extremists' war against civilization.
Europeans don't want it to be so. But they are not going to get a choice.
Europeans are simply in denial. They've lived so well for so long that they
don't want the siesta from reality to end. One of the many reasons that
continental Europeans reacted so angrily to our liberation of Iraq was that
it made it harder than ever for them to sustain their myth of a benign world in which peace could be purchased and the government welfare checks would never stop coming.
America's crime was to acknowledge reality. It will be a long time before
Europeans forgive us.
IN many ways, the civilizations of North America and Europe are diverging. Eu rope has a crisis of values behind its failure of will. Their anxiety to tell everyone else what to do reflects their own uncertainty. Corrupt, selfish and cowardly, old Europe has fallen to moral lows not seen since 1945.
The one factor that will finally bring us closer again is terrorism.
In this horrid election year, we've heard endless complaints that Washington needs allies. Of course, we already have many allies. The old-thinkers just mean France and Germany. But the truth is that France and Germany - weak, blind, duplicitous and inept - will need us far more than we could ever need them.
The nature of terrorism has changed profoundly. It's no longer about
ideology, but about slaughter for its own sake. Nothing we could do would
placate these terrorists. They must be fought and destroyed, no matter how many decades that requires. For Europe to pretend otherwise harms the general counter-terror effort. But, above all, it sets Europe up for
Ralph Peters is the author of "Beyond Terror: Strategy in a Changing World."
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Stand-up Unarmed Video?
on: October 24, 2004, 08:25:49 AM
Concerning Stick versus Empty Hand:
Stick vs. EH is something that comes up not infrequently at DB Gatherings when someone loses their stick (e.g. after getting whacked in the hand). For most people what happens next is quite suprising. The now EH player usually succeeds in closing instantaneously.
The curriculum of DBMA includes this area, which looks at things from both sides of the equation-- when he has the stick and you don't, and when you have the stick (or close analog thereof) and he doesn't. I confess to be rather tickled with myself with this block of material and as I write find myself wondering if there would be interest in a DVD-video on it.
This certainly is an area of great interest to law enforcement (especially corrections officers!) and some military people. There is a special block of material for them (gun retention issues, lethal force issues, and some other things are also addressed)
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Stand-up Unarmed Video?
on: October 23, 2004, 12:00:52 PM
Tail wags for the kind words.
Some preliminary points:
*"The Dog Brothers" are a band of sweaty, smelly psychopaths with sticks." We come from a variety of teachers, systems and styles.
*"Dog Brothers Martial Arts" (DBMA) has as its mission statement to "Walk as a Warrior for all your days."
*A DB fight is a fight, not a stickfight. We often have situations where one or both fighters are weaponless.
*I certainly would not deserve the sobriquet "the Crafty Dog" were I to comment on other systems/styles! My clear preference is to always acknowledge from whence we receive ideas, techniques, training methods, etc. Guro Inosanto is my role model in this (as well as everything else)
OK, lets look at the matter of Empty Hand, which I have been researching the last year or so. Towards this end I have been traininig and researching certain ideas and theories at the RAW Gym in El Segundo. RAW is a very strong MMA gym. The Head Coach is Rico Chiapparelli -hope I spelled that right- and has many world class fighters such Frank Trigg (way to go last night in the UFC Frank!) Vladymir Matyushenko. Many world class fighters go to train there. It is fascinating and educational to watch them train and spar. Rico has been a great help, and FT and VM give me valuable pointers too.
I train/spar in Rico's class wherein virtually everyone is an active amateur or pro fighter. Some of the guys I have absolutely nothing to offer-- e.g. VM handles me like I handle my 5 year old son. Others I can give a good sweat to
Kali promises the movements of the empty hand are like those of the weapons and at RAW I have begun testing this premise. I fight like I fight with two sticks. This includes the bilateral triangles, attacking the limbs, and other things. This gets some strange looks from people the first time they see me waving my arms around
but I am not without results
especially when my sparring opponent does not overwhelm me with superior youth (typically there are in their 20s and I am 52) and conditioning. It puts a smile in my heart when I pull off these things that are so far outside of the current generic MMA paradigm.
The curriculum I have developed I call "Kali Tudo" (r) The foundation of DBMA KT is Inosanto Blend Kali-Silat which is a very, very broad term. There are hearty doses of Krabi Krabong (the military forerunner to Muay Thai) and BJJ-Vale Tudo and some other things too. It is worth noting that the material is constructed with 360 degree street criteria in mind.
The standing striking skill set is best manifested by someone with good grounding in our footwork and double and single stick approach to DB stickfighting.
I have begun teaching this material in depth to DBMA Guro Benjamin "Lonely Dog" Rittiner, DBMA Lakan Guro Jeff Brown and Chris Gizzi.
Lonely manifests this material in vigorous sparring against quality players with great skill and success.
Jeff Brown is a highly advanced silat man (in many other things too) in his own right (under Guro Inosanto and Pa Herman Suwanda) and as you read this we are looking to get him a fight at King of the Cage to put this material to a sterner test.
Chris Gizzi has what it takes to be a dominating world champion should he decide to go down this road.
We have already shot the first DVD of "Kali Tudo" (r) and will be editing it after the Gathering of the Pack is over (current editing efforts are on the conversion of the first and second series to DVD, and on "The Dog Brothers Greatest Hits.") It focuses on some of the angular crashing striking combinations of the system and some follow ups.
Anyway, it is time for breakfast so I will sign off for now. I will address the question(s) on knife soon.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Howl of Respect to our Soldiers/Veterans
on: October 21, 2004, 11:37:57 PM
Subject: FW: Statement of RADM William L. Schachte, Jr.]
A new voice has been added to the debate over the
circumstances surrounding Sen. John Kerry's first Purple Heart.
William Schachte, who was a lieutenant in the Navy during Kerry's Vietnam tour - and who later rose to the rank of Rear Admiral - has released a statement describing the events of December 2-3, 1968, when Kerry received a minor shrapnel wound for which he was awarded the Purple Heart. What follows is Schachte's statement, in full.
Statement of RADM William L. Schachte, Jr. USN (Ret.)
August 27, 2004
As was true of all "Swiftees," I volunteered to serve in Vietnam and was assigned to Coastal Division 14 for a normal tour of duty. I was a Lieutenant serving as Operations Officer and second in command at Coastal Division 14 when Lieutenant (junior grade) John Kerry reported to us in mid-November, 1968. Lt. (jg) Kerry was an Officer-in-Charge (O-in-C) under training in preparing to be assigned as one of our Swift Boat O-in-C's.
At some point following President Johnson's announcement of the suspension of bombing in North Vietnam in March 1968, we were directed to become more aggressive in seeking to find and destroy or disrupt the enemy in our operating area. As part of this effort, I conceived a new operation that became known as "Skimmer OPS." The concept was simple. A 15-foot Boston Whaler was sent into an area where, based on coordinated intelligence, North Vietnamese cadre and Viet Cong were
expected to be meeting or where, for example, concentrations of enemy forces might be involved in the movement of arms or munitions. We were to draw fire and quickly get out of the area. This would allow more concentrated firepower to be brought against the enemy forces we had been able to identify.
These operations were carried out only in "hot" areas and well away from any villages or populated areas. A Swift Boat would tow the skimmer to the general area of operations, and the ambush team would then board the skimmer and proceed to the designated area of operations. The Swift Boat would be riding shotgun and standing off, occasionally out of sight, to provide fire support and long-range communications. The Skimmer was powered by an outboard motor, and we carried an FM radio, handheld flares, an M-60 machine gun with a
bipod mount, and an M-16 mounted with a starlight scope. If the night was heavily overcast, we brought an M-14 mounted with an infrared scope. We also carried an M-79 single-shot grenade launcher. In addition to our combat gear and flak jackets, we often carried .38-caliber pistols.
The operation consisted of allowing the skimmer to drift silently
along shorelines or riverbanks to look or listen for sounds of enemyactivity. If activity was identified, we would open fire with our automatic weapons, and if we received fire, we would depart the area as quickly as possible, leaving it to air support or mortar fire from a Swift Boat standing off at a distance to carry out an attack.
I commanded each of these Skimmer operations up to and including the one on the night in question involving Lt. (jg) Kerry. On each of these operations, I was in the skimmer manning the M-60 machine gun.
I took with me one other officer and an enlisted man to operate the outboard motor. I wanted another officer because officers, when not on patrol, were briefed daily on the latest intelligence concerning our sector of operations and were therefore more familiar with the current intelligence. Additionally, at these daily briefings, officers debriefed on their patrol areas after returning to port.
On the night of December 2-3, we conducted one of these operations, and Lt. (jg) Kerry accompanied me. Our call sign for that operation was "Batman." I have no independent recollection of the identity of the enlisted man, who was operating the outboard motor. Sometime during the early morning hours, I thought I detected some movement inland. At the time we were so close to land that we could hear water
lapping on the shoreline. I fired a hand-held flare, and upon it
bursting and illuminating the surrounding area, I thought I saw
movement. I immediately opened fire with my M-60. It jammed after a brief burst. Lt. (jg) Kerry also opened fire with his M-16 on automatic, firing in the direction of my tracers. His weapon also jammed. As I was trying to clear my weapon, I heard the distinctive sound of the M-79 being fired and turned to see Lt. (jg) Kerry holding the M-79 from which he had just launched a round. We received no return fire of any kind nor were there any muzzle flashes from the beach. I directed the outboard motor operator to clear the area.
Upon returning to base, I informed my commanding officer, Lt. Cmdr. Grant Hibbard, of the events, informing him of the details of the operation and that we had received no enemy fire. I did not file an "after action" report, as one was only required when there was hostile fire. Soon thereafter, Lt. (jg) Kerry requested that he be put in for a Purple Heart as a result of a small piece of shrapnel removed from his arm that he attributed to the just-completed mission. I advised Lt. Cmdr. Hibbard that I could not support the request because there
was no hostile fire. The shrapnel must have been a fragment from the M-79 that struck Lt. (jg) Kerry, because he had fired the M-79 too close to our boat. Lt. Cmdr. Hibbard denied Lt. (jg) Kerry's request.
Lt. (jg) Kerry detached our division a few days later to be
reassigned to another division. I departed Vietnam approximately three weeks later, and Lt. Cmdr. Hibbard followed shortly thereafter. It was not until years later that I was surprised to learn that Lt. (jg) Kerry had been awarded a Purple Heart for this night.
I did not see Lt. (jg) Kerry in person again for almost 20 years.
Sometime in 1988, while I was on Capitol Hill, I ran into him in the basement of the Russell Senate Office Building. I was at that time a Rear Admiral and in uniform. He was about 20 paces away, waiting to catch the underground subway. In a fairly loud voice I called out to him, "Hey, John." He turned, looked at me, came over and said, "Batman!" We exchanged pleasantries for a few minutes, agreed to have lunch sometime in the future, and parted ways. We have not been together since that day.
In March of this year, I was contacted by one of my former swift boat colleagues concerning Douglas Brinkley's book about Senator Kerry, "Tour of Duty." I told him that I had not read it. He faxed me a copy of the pages relating to the action on the night of December 2-3, 1968. I was astonished by Senator Kerry's rendition of the facts of that night. Notably, Lt. (jg) Kerry had himself in charge of the operation, and I was not mentioned at all. He also claimed that he was wounded by hostile fire.
None of this is accurate. I know, because I was not only in the boat, but I was in command of the mission. He was never more than several feet away from me at anytime during the operation that night. It is inconceivable that any commanding officer would put an officer in training, who had been in country only a couple of weeks, in charge of such an ambush operation. Had there been enemy action that night, there would have been an after action report filed, which I would have been responsible for filing.
I have avoided talking to media about this issue for months. But, because of the recent media attention, I felt I had to step up to recount my personal experiences concerning this incident.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WW3
on: October 19, 2004, 11:51:30 AM
Saddam's Specialty Was Terror Weapons
October 19, 2004; Page A19
John Kerry may or may not have been quoted correctly (he says not) in an Oct. 10 New York Times Magazine article in which he envisioned reducing terrorism to a mere "nuisance" level. But if author Matt Bai got it anywhere near right, as seems likely, the comment implies that the senator still doesn't understand why the U.S. is at war. Or maybe he did understand but has forgotten.
"Nuisances," like muggings and prostitution, can be managed by cops. Foreign countries harboring and sponsoring terrorists have to be subdued with armies to root out the terrorists before they can strike. Even the most limited effort, say, a lone fanatic uncorking a poison-gas canister in a crowded railway terminal or sports arena, could hardly be described as a "nuisance."
Most Americans clearly understood after 9/11 the need to go after terrorists where they live before they can get to that train station or arena. President George W. Bush set about to do just that in 2001 with the full support of Congress. Sen. Kerry fully approved before reverting to the pacifist mindset that has guided his career.
It is of course fair in this election year to challenge how well the president has conducted the war on terror. More accurately it is a war against Islamic jihadists, or "holy warriors," so indoctrinated with hatred of "infidels" that some will give up their own lives in murderous attacks.
For one man's opinion, try former Central Intelligence Agency director George Tenet, who said in New Orleans last week that the U.S. is winning the fight against al Qaeda. Three-quarters of its leaders are dead or detained and more than 3,000 terrorists have been "taken off the street," euphemistically speaking. The Afghan people were able to hold a presidential election Oct. 9 with little interference from either al Qaeda or the Taliban, who controlled most of the country three years ago. Clearly, both are now too weak to disrupt the movement toward democracy.
In Iraq, coalition and Iraqi troops are closing in on the foreign fighters in Fallujah who are believed to be led by Jordanian-born terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, an al Qaeda big shot. Prime Minister Ayad Allawi is trying to persuade the city fathers of Fallujah to surrender the city, give up the murderous Zarqawi and avoid further damage and bloodshed. Zarqawi is not a newcomer to Iraq. He was sheltered by Saddam Hussein, which disproves the now-frequent claim that Saddam had no ties to terrorism.
Which brings us to the issue now central to the U.S. political debate: whether the allied invasion of Iraq was justified. Mr. Kerry has now flip-flopped back to calling Iraq "the wrong war," etc. The failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq has given the senator and other nouveau antiwarriors a debating point. They have quickly seized on the conclusion that there are no WMDs in Iraq from the 1,000-page postmortem completed last month for the CIA by Charles Duelfer.
That non-news in the Duelfer report got most of the press coverage, but a member of the study team wondered on these pages last week if anybody had bothered to read anything else the report had to say. Richard Spertzel, a former U.N. biological weapons specialist, had just returned from Iraq. He wrote: "While no facilities were found producing chemical or biological agents on a large scale, many clandestine laboratories operating under the Iraqi Intelligence Services were found to be engaged in small-scale production of chemical nerve agents, sulfur mustard, nitrogen mustard, ricin, aflatoxin, and other unspecified biological agents."
He noted the report's disclosure of plans to produce and weaponize nitrogen mustard in rifle grenades and to bottle sarin and sulfur mustard in perfume sprayers and medicine bottles for shipment to the U.S. and Europe: "Are we to believe this plan existed because they liked us? Or did they wish to do us harm? The major threat posed by Iraq, in my opinion, was the support it gave to terrorists in general, and its own terrorist activity."
In other words, while Saddam was playing hide-and-seek with the U.N. over whether he had WMDs, his stealthy little spooks were focusing their efforts on weapons specifically designed for use by terrorists. Could it thus be said that Saddam was himself plotting foreign terrorism? Or at least that his secret service had something going along those lines while he was busy corrupting the U.N. oil-for-food program and bribing French and Russian politicians to gain the protection and influence of two permanent members of the U.N. Security Council?
Surely it must have occurred to the Saddam gang that lethal poisons were a perfect tool for terrorism. After the 9/11 attack a few letters filled with anthrax powder routed the U.S. Senate and spread consternation elsewhere. No one knows to this day -- at least no one is saying -- who sent the letters. But we do now know from the Duelfer report that Saddam's men had for years been experimenting with poisons, and we knew he had used poison gas against Iranians and the Iraqi Kurds. Russia, a longtime supplier of Saddam's military needs, goes back even further in the field of military chemistry. It is widely believed to have supplied the "yellow rain" aflatoxins dumped from aircraft on rebel Laotian tribesmen some 20 years ago. Where would a terrorist go looking for weaponized anthrax if he wanted to try it out? Maybe Russia or Iraq?
And please don't forget that the terrorists who pulled off the 9/11 attacks had earlier taken a great interest in the art of flying crop-duster airplanes. What could that have been all about? Were they contemplating making a "nuisance" of themselves by gassing the population of Miami?
In short, the invasion of Iraq shut off a potential threat to America. Poisons were far more likely to be used than nuclear weapons because they can be secretly deployed. So wiping out a source in Iraq was a large achievement. Senator Mark Dayton, a Minnesota Democrat, last week shut down his Washington office until after the election, citing a terrorism briefing he had received. Would he be any less concerned if Saddam Hussein were still in power?
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Wolves & Dogs
on: October 17, 2004, 11:02:06 AM
Sanctuary for the Wolf Orphans of Apartheid
The animals were imported for use as guard dogs but proved untamable. Now a lone facility struggles to care for the castoffs.
By Robyn Dixon, Times Staff Writer
STORMS RIVER, South Africa ? It is tough being an alpha wolf ? the pack leader ? as Michael McDonald knows too well. It means deciding when they eat, where they live and, sometimes, which ones have to die.
When he is near, the packs at Tsitsikamma Wolf Sanctuary, near the southern coast, jump up and start circling. They know he's the top wolf, but, he says, "I irritate them. I have to take all the harsh decisions. I am always the enemy."
In the apartheid era, scientists at Roodeplaat Breeding Enterprises imported the animals from North America in an attempt to create an attack dog that would have a wolf's stamina and sense of smell to track down insurgents in the harsh border regions. The secretive experiment failed because the wolf hybrids were stubborn and hard to train.
Today, these orphans of apartheid face a troubled future in a land where they will never be at home.
In crime-ridden South Africa, many people believe that no dog is a better deterrent than a hybrid or pure wolf. There's a cachet in owning one, and a brisk trade in wolf dogs advertised in newspapers and on the Internet.
"A lot of people are trying to get rich on these animals," said Colleen O'Carroll, the founder and director of the wolf sanctuary, who disputes breeders' claims that wolves and hybrids make good family pets. She said people were using an endangered species "to create something even more misunderstood than the original."
People who buy pure wolves seeking savage guard dogs are often surprised to find that they make terrible watchdogs.
"You have a supposedly ferocious wolf. But when a burglar comes, do you think it will attack? It will hide behind you, because you are the alpha in the pack. If someone rings the doorbell, they go and hide," O'Carroll said.
Breeders of wolf dogs, as the hybrids are known, publish glowing testimonials from happy clients.
But the wolf sanctuary gets hundreds of calls from wolf or wolf hybrid owners complaining about the odd behaviors of their pets: reducing the yard to a moonscape of holes, digging cavernous dens under the garage, chewing things to pieces, climbing fences and howling to the moon. One man shot his wolf dog after it ate his chickens. A woman telephoned in tears after her wolf hybrid ate her most valuable thoroughbred foal.
"You can't impose your will on it, because it's half wild animal. You can't expect it to act like a dog," O'Carroll said. "People buy them as a status symbol. It's like saying, 'I've got a Bengal tiger.' It's like a man buying a Porsche as opposed to a VW."
It's not clear how many wolves remain in South Africa, or how the original wolves survived after the projects were abandoned.
But the Tsitsikamma sanctuary cares for 35 wolves, has 23 on its waiting list and is expecting to take in a new litter of pure wolf pups next month from someone connected with one of the original breeding programs. The sanctuary estimates that there are about 200 pure wolves in South Africa and tens of thousands of hybrids.
O'Carroll opened the sanctuary in 2000 after tracing wolves left over from various state breeding projects. It accepts only pure wolves.
"I get asked every day, 'Why don't you just put the things down? They don't belong here,' " said O'Carroll, a sentimentalist with a core of steel.
She is the patron of a lost cause. Ask her or McDonald about the future of the wolves at Tsitsikamma, and both look sadly into the distance: "No future," they murmur.
"It's a very sad story," O'Carroll said. "There's nothing we can do with them. We can't send them back to North America. They're animals in exile."
Rescuing the wolves is an undertaking ruinous to one's bank balance: Conservation organizations and sponsors are not interested in helping to save animals in places where they don't belong, so the sanctuary survives on private donations.
O'Carroll emptied her bank account and sold off four apartments to keep the sanctuary going. It was built by hand: They couldn't afford power tools.
"I have to have a screw loose somewhere," she said. "But I have a passion for them."
She forgets the financial stress when she sits near her favorite enclosures in the evenings, watching her beloved wolves playing, swimming and racing around. At night, when the wolves howl, raising their eerie, beautiful music to the stars, nothing else matters.
McDonald, 42, used to work "in security" but won't be more specific. Now he cares for the wolves ? with no salary or even a pension ? often surviving on the same meat the wolves eat: unwanted cow and calf carcasses donated by dairy farmers. He has few belongings and no money for clothes or even a luxury as modest as a cookie. He once had to pawn a watch to pay for the sanctuary's gasoline, and other times walked to collect dead cows with a wheelbarrow.
"It's a seriously hard life," he said.
Ask him why he does it and he sidesteps the question with a flurry of self-deprecating banter: "There was no one else to do it." But he feels the wolves are his destiny, even if they don't always appreciate him.
The wolves, always ready to challenge the alpha, sometimes bite McDonald. But the day a female named Cleo nipped him on the rump, he felt a strange elation.
"It meant she had accepted me," he said. "We were equals."
Many of the sanctuary's wolves are former pets. Cleo, from a family in Durban, tore her former owner's fiberglass boat to pieces, ripped the drainpipes off his house and howled every night before her family ? in her eyes, her pack ? gave up on her.
Another owner handed over his pure wolf, Della ? the only socialized wolf at the sanctuary ? when it dawned on him what a complex, demanding animal she was and how much of his time she was going to need. Storm, one of the sanctuary's alpha males, was abandoned at the sanctuary.
O'Carroll and wolf experts in the United States, such as the Wolf Park in Battle Ground, Ind., warn that wolf dogs should not be seen as family pets, and even those socialized to humans can attack children, especially if a child falls and cries. O'Carroll's motive, apart from rescuing the wolves, is to educate the public about wolves and hybrids.
O'Carroll and McDonald feel they're on a mission, and when things get bad they keep each other going.
"At times when I absolutely despair and I cry and I say, 'There's no money, how are we going to make the payments?' he says, 'Look, woman, the spirit always provides,' " O'Carroll said. "And sure enough, someone makes a donation or something happens.' "
McDonald once led an ordinary materialistic life. He had good cars, a family, but now he does not want money or belongings. He wants only the wolves.
"If the wolves weren't here, I wouldn't be here," he said. "The wolves have literally become my life. There's nowhere to go."
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Two Long Reads
on: October 17, 2004, 09:06:44 AM
These two thoughtful articles came to my attention via a mailing group of which I am a member. I include the comments of one of the members at the end.
Radical Islam appeals to the rootless
It often is assumed that the spread of Islamic radicalism is a consequence of conflicts within the Middle East and their natural spillover effect on the global Muslim population, specifically on Muslims living in western societies. "Re-Islamisation", the radicalisation of westernised Muslim populations, is seen as the reaction of Muslim societies to western political and cultural encroachments.
But why, then, do so many young, "born again" second-generation Muslims in the western world embrace various brands of neo-fundamentalist or salafi Islam? Why are so many converts joining them? Curiously, why does the radical fringe of the west's Muslim population opt for peripheral and exotic jihad - from Bosnia to Afghanistan, Kashmir and Chechnya - instead of heading to Iraq? Evidence suggests that few, if any, among the children of Europe's Muslim immigrants return to wage jihad in the land of their ancestors - Algeria or Morocco, for example - while foreigners fighting alongside Iraqi Sunni insurgents tend to be Saudi, Syrian or Jordanian neighbours, not volunteers coming from the west.
In fact the spread of new forms of Islamic fundamentalism or salafism as is not a translation of original Muslim cultures and traditions but a recasting of new identities under religious terms.
The neo-fundamentalist view reduces Islam to a literalist and normative reading of the Koran. It rejects cultural dimensions of religion and replaces them with a code of Islamic conduct to suit any situation, from Afghan deserts to US school campuses. Consequently its first target is not so much the west as what it sees as distorted Islam, sullied from early days by traditional Muslim cultures and arts, literature and philosophy. The prime target of the Taliban, for example, was traditional Afghan culture, not the west. Salafism, therefore, is a tool for uprooting traditional cultures, not for enhancing them. It acknowledges without nostalgia the loss of original culture and sees a positive opportunity to build a universal religious identity, unlinked from any specific culture including western society, which is perceived as corrupt and decadent.
Re-Islamisation means that Muslim identity, self-evident as long as it belonged to an inherited cultural legacy, must explicitly express itself in a non-Muslim or western context. The construction of a "deculturalised" Islam gives rise to a religious identity not linked to any specific culture and therefore able to fit with every culture or, more exactly, transcend the very notion of culture. Globalisation has blurred the connection between a religion, an original culture and a territory. In this respect, globalisation provides an opportunity to dissociate Islam from specific cultures and develop a universal model that can work beyond cultural confines.
Neo-fundamentalism reveals that it is just as much a product as an agent of cultural loss. Islam, as preached by the Taliban, the Saudi Wahhabis and Osama bin Laden's radicals, is hostile to traditional culture, even those of Muslim origin. Whether Muhammad's tomb, the Bamiyan statues of the Buddha, or the World Trade Center, destruction of such symbols expresses the same rejection of civilisation or culture. The surge of "fundamentalism" in the west (whether Islamic or even Christian) does not express a clash of civilisations, because it has already deprived cultures and civilisations of their content and meaning.
This sort of fundamentalism does not target actual communities but individuals in doubt of their faith and identity. It appeals to an uprooted, disaffected youth in search of an identity beyond the lost cultures of their parents and beyond the thwarted expecta tions of a better life in the west. They dream of a universal and virtual Islamic community that could give religious meaning to the globalisation process. Converts, whether school drop-outs, racial minorities or rebels without a cause, may find in this imaginary ummah - or universal community of Muslim believers - a chance to build a new and positive identity.
Neo-fundamentalists are succeeding in adding Islamic content to the global market. When they indulge in consumerism they promote halal McDonald's or Mecca-Cola (a registered brand-name) rather than the refined delicacies of Ottoman or Moroccan cuisine. When they go for jihad they do not identify with the nationalist struggles of the Middle East, where activists, whether secular (such as the Ba'athists) or religious (such as Hamas) fight first for a territory and a nation state. The ummah that the fundamentalists are fighting for is not based on a territory: it is a dream that finds on the internet its virtual existence. Websites and chatrooms compensate for the lack of real social roots.
This neo-fundamentalism is not necessarily violent or politically radical. But when it does turn violent, it targets the usual suspects of the old western extreme left: imperialism, capitalism and "dominant ideology". Al-Qaeda in the west has Islamised a space that was filled by anti-imperialism and other such movements. The radical European extreme left, if it still exists, is no longer active in university campuses, depressed housing estates and degraded inner cities. Islamist preachers have replaced far-left militants and social workers. Many young people in these campuses and neighbourhoods find in radical Islam a way to recast and rationalise their sense of alienation. But they are experiencing isolation from real society, as did the radical Marxist left in the 1970s in Europe. Such radicalisation is a transitional and generational phenomenon, increasingly decoupled from the world of mainstream western Muslims, who find their own way to deal with globalisation.
The writer, professor at Ecoles des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Paris, is author of the forthcoming Globalised Islam: the Search for a New Ummah (C. Hurst & Co./Columbia University Press); he will speak tomorrow at Chatham House, London
The Arab Mind Revisited
by Norvell B. De Atkine
Editors' preface: In the spring of 2004, the Abu Ghraib prison scandal drove headlines in the United States and the Middle East. Journalist Seymour Hersh wrote a report in The New Yorker, entitled "The Gray Zone," describing the abuse of prisoners as the outcome of a deliberate policy. Hersh also made reference to a book, The Arab Mind, by the cultural anthropologist Raphael Patai (1910-96):
The notion that Arabs are particularly vulnerable to sexual humiliation became a talking point among pro-war Washington conservatives in the months before the March 2003 invasion of Iraq. One book that was frequently cited was The Arab Mind, a study of Arab culture and psychology, first published in 1973, by Raphael Patai, a cultural anthropologist who taught at, among other universities, Columbia and Princeton, and who died in 1996. The book includes a twenty-five-page chapter on Arabs and sex, depicting sex as a taboo vested with shame and repression.? The Patai book, an academic told me, was "the bible of the neocons on Arab behavior." In their discussions, he said, two themes emerged?"one, that Arabs only understand force and, two, that the biggest weakness of Arabs is shame and humiliation."
This mention of Patai's book (on the sole authority of "an academic [who] told me") sent journalists scurrying to read it?and denounce it. Brian Whitaker, writing in The Guardian, called it a "classic case of orientalism which, by focusing on what Edward Said called the ?otherness' of Arab culture, sets up barriers that can then be exploited for political purposes." He quoted an academic as saying, "The best use for this volume, if any, is for a doorstop." Ann Marlowe, in Salon.com, called it "a smear job masquerading under the merest veneer of civility." Louis Werner, in Al-Ahram Weekly and elsewhere, embellished Hersh's account with a made-up detail: The Arab Mind, he wrote, "was apparently used as a field manual by U.S. Army Intelligence in Abu Ghraib prison." (Hersh made no such claim.) Only Lee Smith, writing in Slate.com, suggested that critics had misread Patai, whom he described as "a keen and sympathetic observer of Arab society," a "popularizer of difficult ideas, and also a serious scholar."
No one took the trouble to crosscheck Hersh's academic source on the supposed influence of Patai's book as the "frequently cited ? ?bible of the neocons.'" A more accurate description of The Arab Mind would be a prohibited book. Edward Said had denounced Patai twenty-five years earlier, in Orientalism; in academe, The Arab Mind long ago entered the list of disapproved texts. It was easy to point an accusing finger at the book (again). Patai himself was also a convenient target. A Hungarian-born Jew and lifelong Zionist, he lived in British-mandated Palestine from 1933 to 1947, and in 1936, earned the first doctorate ever awarded by the Hebrew University. He edited Theodor Herzl's complete diaries and served as the first president of the American Friends of Tel Aviv University. For many antiwar conspiracy theorists, the idea of someone like Patai as intellectual father of the Abu Ghraib scandal proved irresistible.
The only concrete evidence for the book's use in any branch of government appeared in the foreword to the most recent reprint (2002) of The Arab Mind, by Col. (res.) Norvell B. De Atkine, an instructor in Middle East studies at the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare School. De Atkine wrote that he assigned the book to military personnel in his own courses because students found its cultural insights useful in explaining behavior they encountered on assignment.
While critics skimmed Patai's book for generalizing quotes, they skirted the book's premise, as restated by De Atkine: culture matters and cultures differ. The realization by Americans that culture counts explains the commercial success of several cultural handbooks, addressing the very issues that concerned Patai. And while there is no reason to believe that The Arab Mind had the specific influence Hersh attributed to it, the resulting publicity has sent its sales soaring, further extending the life of the book. The following is De Atkine's foreword to The Arab Mind, reprinted here in full.
It is a particular pleasure to write a foreword to this much-needed reprint of Raphael Patai's classic analysis of Arab culture and society. In view of the events of 2001?including another bloody year of heightened conflict between Palestinians and Israelis and the horrendous terrorist assault on the United States on September 11?there is a critical need to bring this seminal study of the modal Arab personality to the attention of policymakers, scholars, and the general public.
In the wake of the September 11 attack, there was a torrent of commentary on "why" such an assault took place, and on the motivation and mindset of the terrorists. Much of this commentary was either ill-informed or agenda-driven. A number of U.S. Middle East scholars attributed the attack to a simple matter of imbalance in the American approach to the perennial Arab-Israeli conflict. This facile explanation did nothing to improve the credibility of the community of Middle East scholars in the United States, already much diminished by their misreading of the Arab world and their reaction to the U.S. response to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990.
To begin a process of understanding the seemingly irrational hatred that motivated the World Trade Center attackers, one must understand the social and cultural environment in which they lived and the modal personality traits that make them susceptible to engaging in terrorist actions. This book does a great deal to further that understanding. In fact, it is essential reading. At the institution where I teach military officers, The Arab Mind forms the basis of my cultural instruction, complemented by my own experiences of some twenty-five years living in, studying, or teaching about the Middle East.
Raphael Patai prefaces his 1973 edition of The Arab Mind with the sentence, "When it comes to the Arabs, I must admit to an incurable romanticism." So it is with me. I first became interested in the Arab world in an elective course at the United States Military Academy many years ago, and my military career thereafter was divided between assignments with regular army artillery units and tours in the Middle East. It was during my preparatory study at the American University of Beirut that I was introduced to the writings of Raphael Patai. In a sociology class we used his book, Golden River to Golden Road: Society, Culture and Change in the Middle East. Since that time, I have read a number of his books and admired his careful scholarship, lucid writing style, and empathetic approach to his subject matter.
Over the past twelve years, I have also briefed hundreds of military teams being deployed to the Middle East. When returning from the Middle East, my students, as well as the members of these teams, invariably comment on the paramount usefulness of the cultural instruction in their assignments. In doing so they validate the analysis and descriptions offered by Raphael Patai.
The officers returning from the Arab world describe the cultural barriers they encounter as by far the most difficult to navigate, far beyond those of political perceptions. Thinking back on it, I recall many occasions on which I was perplexed by actions or behavior on the part of my Arab hosts?actions and behavior that would have been perfectly understandable had I read The Arab Mind. I have hence emphasized to my students that there must be a combination of observation and study to begin a process of understanding another culture. Simply observing a culture through the prism of our own beliefs and cultural worldview leads to many misconceptions. More often than not, this results in a form of cultural shock that can be totally debilitating to a foreigner working with Arabs. Less common, but equally non-productive, is the soldier who becomes caught up in a culture he views as idyllic and "goes native." Inevitably there will come a time (usually during a political crisis) when the cultural chasm will force unpleasant reality to resurface.
Mines and Warts
In writing about a culture, one must tread a sensibility minefield, and none is more treacherous than that of the Middle East. In pursuit of intellectual honesty and a true-to-life depiction of a people, some less-than-appealing traits will surface. All cultures and peoples have their warts. One trait I have observed in Arab society?which has become more pronounced over the years?is an extreme sensitivity to any critical depiction of Arab culture, no matter how gently the adverse factors are presented. In his postscript to the 1983 edition of The Arab Mind, Patai mentions a spate of self-critical assessments of Arab society by Arab intellectuals in the wake of the "new Arab" said to have emerged after the 1973 war; but this tendency to self-criticize proved to be illusory. While we in the United States constantly criticize our society and leadership, similar introspection is rarely seen in the Arab world today. When criticism is voiced, it is usually in terms of a condemnation of Arab acceptance of some aspect of Western culture. Criticism also often emanates from outside the Arab region and, despite the so-called globalization of communication, only the elite have access to it. This is particularly true when political systems or ideology are discussed.
In no small way, this tendency has led to the current state of affairs in the Arab world. For this reason, as well as the fact that Patai was not an Arab, some scholars are dismissive of The Arab Mind, terming it stereotyped in its portrayal of Arab personality traits. In part, this stems from the postmodernist philosophy of a recent generation of scholars who have been inculcated with the currently fashionable idea of cultural and moral relativism. Much of the American political science writing on the Middle East today is jargon- and agenda-laden, bordering on the indecipherable. A fixation on race, class, and gender has had a destructive effect on Middle East scholarship. It is a real task to find suitable recent texts that are scholarly and sound in content, but also readable.
In fact, some of the best and most useful writing on the Arab world has been by outsiders, mostly Europeans, especially the French and British. Many of the best and most illuminating works were written decades ago. The idea that outsiders cannot assess another culture is patently foolish. The best study done on American society?to take one famous example?was written some 160 years ago by the French visitor, Alexis de Tocqueville, and it still holds mostly true today.
The empathy and warmth of Raphael Patai toward the Arab people are evident throughout this book. There is neither animus nor rancor nor condescension. Arabs are portrayed as people who, like all people, have virtues and vices. Patai's description of his relationship with the Jerusalem sheikh, Ahmad Fakhr al-Khatib, is indicative of the esteem in which he held his Arab friends. It is a lamentable fact that friendships such as this one would be almost impossible to conceive of at the present time.
Along with his empathy for and understanding of Arab culture, Patai has a powerfully keen faculty for observation. In a passage in his autobiographical Journeyman in Jerusalem, he describes in minute detail an Arab date juice vendor and the way he dispenses his juice. It is this ability to observe and appreciate detail that enables Patai to grasp the significance of the gestures, nuances of speech, and behavior patterns of Arabs. To most Americans, the subtlety of Arab culture is bewildering and incomprehensible. Yet, if one is to work productively in the region, one must have an understanding of these cultural traits.
It might legitimately be asked how well Patai's analysis bears up in today's world. After all, it has been about thirty years since the majority of The Arab Mind was written. The short answer is that it has not aged at all. The analysis is just as prescient and on-the-mark now as on the day it was written. One could even make the argument that, in fact, many of the traits described have become more pronounced. For instance, Islamist demagogues have skillfully used the lure of the Arabic language, so carefully explained by Patai as a powerful motivator, to galvanize the streets in this era of the Islamic revival, in a way even the great orator Abdul Nasser could not achieve.
Patai devoted a large portion of this book to the Arabic language, its powerful appeal, as well as its inhibiting effects. The proneness to exaggeration he describes was amply displayed in the Gulf war by the exhortations of Saddam Hussein to the Arabs in the "mother of all battles." This penchant for rhetoric and use of hyperbole were a feature of the Arab press during the war. The ferocity of the Arab depiction of Iraqi prowess had American experts convinced that there would be thousands of American casualties. Even when the war was turning into a humiliating rout, the "Arab street" was loath to accept this reality as fact.
More recently, the same pattern has been seen in the Arab adoption of Osama bin Laden as a new Saladin who, with insulting and derogatory language in his description of American martial qualities, conveyed a sense of invincibility and power that has subsequently been shown to be largely imaginary. Saddam Hussein used similar bluster prior to the 1990 Gulf war. Patai traces this custom, which continues to the present era, back to pre-Islamic days. It is also an apt example of the Arab tendency to substitute words for action and a desired outcome for a less palatable reality, or to indulge in wishful thinking?all of which are reflected in the numerous historical examples Patai provides. This tendency, combined with Arabs' predilection to idealize their own history, always in reference to some mythic or heroic era, has present-day implications. Thus the American incursion into the Gulf in 1990 became the seventh crusade and was frequently referred to as another Western and Christian attempt to occupy the Holy Land of Islam?a belief galvanizing the current crop of Middle Eastern terrorists. Meanwhile, Israel is frequently referred to as a "crusader state."
Patai's discussion of the duality of Arab society, and of the proclivity for intra-Arab conflict, continues to be revalidated in each decade. The Arab-against-Arab division in the 1990 Gulf war is but one example of a continuing Arab condition. Juxtaposed against the ideal of Arab unity is the present reality of twenty-two divided states, each with the self-interest of its ruling family or elite group paramount in policy decisions. In the 1960s, it was the "progressive states" versus the "reactionary states," which pitted Iraq, Egypt, Syria, Algeria, and Libya against Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Morocco. Today it is secular forces versus the Islamists, a conflict to one degree or another being played out in every Arab state.
Even when facing a common enemy?usually Israel in this era, but also Iran or Turkey?mutual distrust and intra-Arab hostility prevail. In the Iraqi-Iranian war, for example, Arab support was generally limited to financial help?with provisions for repayment, as the angry Saddam Hussein learned after the war. In , when Turkey threatened Syria with armed conflict if the leader of the nationalistic Kurdish movement in Turkey continued to be supported by Syria, it was very clear that Syria would find itself standing alone. Thus the Asad regime was forced to make a humiliating submission to Turkish demands. Perhaps the most telling validation of Patai's insight into the conflictual nature of Arab society relates to the Palestinians. While their conflict with Israel has been a bloody one over the years, it cannot approach the level of death and destruction incurred in Palestinian wars against Lebanese, Syrians, and Jordanians. Despite this great violence, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict retains its place as the primary galvanizing issue for the "Arab street."
Perhaps the section of this book most relevant to today's political and social environment is the chapter on the psychology of Westernization. After centuries of certitude that their civilization was superior?a belief evolving from the very poor impression the European crusaders made on the Arabs and fully justified by the reality?the Arab self-image was rudely shattered by the easy French conquest of Egypt in 1798. A declining Middle East had been far surpassed by a revitalized Europe. The initial shock among the Arab elite was followed by a period of limited emulation, at least in the form of Western political and social values.
As the Western political hold on the Arabs receded, Western cultural influence increased, which in many ways was even more irritating to the Arab elite?particularly in terms of the technology invasion that at every level was a daily reminder of the inability of the Middle East to compete. Patai's assessment of the Arab view of technology has been amply supported over the last decades. Clearly enthusiastic users of technology, particularly in war weaponry, the Arabs nevertheless remain a lagging producer of technology. Partially, as Patai demonstrates, this is a reaction to the "jinn" (devil) of Western culture as it appears to the Arab of the twenty-first century. While recognizing the superiority of Western technology, the traditional Arab sees Western culture as destructive to his way of life; hence the ever-present battle between modernity and modernism: Can a society modernize without the secular lifestyle that appears to accompany the process? Adherents of the Islamist ideology, espousing a politicized, radical Islam, see no contradiction between a seventh-century theocracy and twenty-first century technology and would answer yes; however, history does not support such a view in the Middle Eastern context. As a Muslim coworker put it, "We want your TV sets but not your programs, your VCRs but not your movies." This will be the battleground of every Arab nation for the coming generation.
In his section on the "sinister West," Patai gets to the heart of the burning hatred that seems to drive brutal acts of terrorism against Americans. Despite its lack of a colonial past in the Middle East, America, as the most powerful representative of the "West," has inherited primary enemy status, in place of the French and British. Patai points out the Arabs' tendency to blame others for the problems evident in their political systems, quality of life, and economic power. The Arab media and Arab intellectuals, invoking the staple mantras against colonialism, Zionism, and imperialism, provide convenient outside culprits for every corrupt or dysfunctional system or event in the Arab world. Moreover, this is often magnified and supported by a number of the newer generation of Western scholars inculcated with Marxist teaching who, unwittingly perhaps, help Arab intellectuals to avoid ever having to come to grips with the very real domestic issues that must be confronted. The Arab world combines a rejection of Western values with a penchant for carrying around historical baggage of doubtful utility. At the same time, there is a simplistic, if understandable, yearning for return to a more glorious and pristine past that would enable the Arabs once again to confront the West on equal terms. This particular belief has found many Arab adherents in the past decade.
Patai also delves into the extremely sensitive issue of the nature of Islam in a particularly prescient manner. He views the fatalistic element inherit in Islam as an important factor in providing great strength to Muslims in times of stress or tragedy; in normal or better times, however, it acts as an impediment. Given their pervasive belief that God provides and disposes of all human activity, Muslims tend to reject the Western concept of man creating his own environment as an intrusion on God's realm. This includes any attempt to change God's plan for the fate of the individual. Certainly one can point to numerous exceptions. But, having worked for long periods with Arab military units, I can attest to their often cavalier attitude toward safety precautions, perhaps reflecting a Qur'anic saying, heard in various forms, that "death will overtake you even if you be inside a fortress." Just observing how few Arabs use seat belts in their automobiles can be a revelation. This manifestation of Arab fatalism is often misconstrued as a lesser value put on human life.
In the all-important area of Muslim relations with other religions, Patai sums up the differences between Christianity and Islam as being functional, not doctrinal. The proponents of fundamentalist Islam do not fear Christianity. They fear that Westernization will "bring about a reduction of the function of Islam to the modest level on which Christianity plays its role in the Western world." The quarrel is not so much with Christianity?which most Muslims see as a weak religion of diminishing importance?as with the secularism that has replaced it. Frequently in the Arab world one hears references to the [singer] "Madonna" culture and its manifestations of drugs and sexual promiscuity. Today, while Western military power has become much less of a threat, the inroads made by Western cultural values have become more of one.
My special area of interest has been the impact of culture on military structure, strategy, and operations, and in this regard the assessments of Patai, although not aimed at this area, are particularly informative. As he wrote, "despite the adoption of Western weaponry, military methods, and war aims, both the leaders and the people have kept alive old Arab traditions." The observations and studies of military specialists continue to support his conclusion. The Arab military establishment's ineffectiveness in the past century has never been a matter of lack of courage or intelligence. Rather, it has been a consequence of a pervasive cultural and political environment that stifles the development of initiative, independent thinking, and innovation. This has been commented on by a number of Middle East specialists, both Arab and non-Arab, but none explains it as well as Patai, who suggests that Arabs conform not to an individualistic, inner-directed standard but rather to a standard established and maintained rigidly within Arab society. As I noticed among the officers with whom I worked, there was a real reluctance to "get out front." The distrust of the military's loyalty to the regime reinforces a military system in which a young, charismatic officer with innovative ideas will be identified as a future threat to be carefully monitored by the ubiquitous security agencies.
Patai also carefully illuminates the many virtues of Arab society. The hospitality, generosity, and depth of personal friendships common in the Arab world are rarely encountered in our more frenetic society. The Arab sense of honor and of obligation to the family?especially to the family's old and young members?can be contrasted to the frequently dysfunctional family life found in our own country. Within Arab culture, old people are seen as a foundation for family cohesion, and children are welcomed as gifts from God rather than as burdens. Daughters?who traditionally are valued less than sons?remain the responsibility of their families, carrying their honor even after marriage (and it is this sense of family cohesion and honor that, in its negative aspect, results in the restrictions and controls placed on women). The idea that the state should bear responsibility for the welfare of their family would be considered insulting to most Arabs.
Finally, in his 1983 edition, Patai takes an optimistic view of the future of the Arab world but adds a caveat to his prediction with the comment that this could happen "only if the Arabs can rid themselves of their obsession with and hatred of Zionism, Israel, and American imperialism." In the eighteen years since those words were written, none of these obsessions has been put to rest. In fact, they have increased. The imported 1960s and 1970s Western ideologies of Marxism and socialism have given way to Islamism, a synthesis of Western-style totalitarianism and superficial Islamic teachings, which has resurrected historical mythology and revitalized an amorphous but palpable hatred of the Western "jinns." Nevertheless, many astute observers of the Arab world see the so-called "Islamic revival" with its attendant pathologies as cresting and beginning to recede.
Ultimately, the Arabs, who are an immensely determined and adaptable people, will produce leadership capable of freeing them from ideological and political bondage, and this will allow them to achieve their rightful place in the world.
Col. Norvell B. De Atkine (ret.) served eight years in Lebanon, Jordan, and Egypt (in addition to extensive combat service in Vietnam). A West Pointer, he holds a graduate degree in Arab studies from the American University of Beirut. He teaches at the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare School at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. The opinions expressed here are strictly his own. Reprinted from The Arab Mind (Hatherleigh Press, 2002), by permission, all rights reserved.
 Seymour Hersh, "The Gray Zone," The New Yorker, May 24, 2004.
 The Guardian (London), May 24, 2004. This, despite the fact that Whitaker himself, a year earlier, had quoted an authoritative Arab source on "the Arab mind." As coalition forces encircled Baghdad, he wrote a piece on the "sense of humiliation" among Arabs and brought a quote from a Kuwaiti spokesman that could have come straight from Patai's book: "In the Arab world, there is a classical, traditional enemy. This traditional enemy has always been the west or the Americans. This is one vision that always existed in the Arab mind." The Guardian, Apr. 9, 2003.
 Ann Marlowe, "Sex, Violence, and ?The Arab Mind,'" Salon.com, at http://www.salonmag.com/books/feature/2004/06/08/arab_mind/index_np.html
 Al-Ahram Weekly (Cairo), July 1-7, 2004.
 Lee Smith, "Inside the Arab Mind," Slate.com, at http://slate.msn.com/id/2101328/
 Edward W. Said, Orientalism (New York: Pantheon, 1978), pp. 308-9.
 Most notably, Margaret K. Nydell, Understanding Arabs: A Guide for Westerners (Yarmouth, Me.: Intercultural Press, 1996), reviewed in Middle East Quarterly, June 1997, p. 90.
 Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1962, and subsequent editions.
 Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1992.
 Norvell De Atkine, "Why Arabs Lose Wars," Middle East Quarterly, Dec. 1999, pp. 17-27
Thanks, guys, for your comments. I have Friedman's book on order from Amazon, but I think I made the mistake of asking for the free delivery (along with some more books) - that takes longer.
<<<<you explains in understandable format how this is a civil war within the Muslim world, with OBL's intention to drag the US and the West into it.
..this one I figured out long ago. Have been saying since late 2001, I believe, that we are being dragged in into someone else's religious conflict. The entire issue becomes as clear as day when you read Qutb. He finds that the majority of Muslims are as bad as the infidels, and just as they, those Muslims are livnig in a state of "Jahiliya", which is a particularly bad, soulless kind of an ignorance.
Their most important task is to "enlighten" those unobservant Muslims. We - the West - are more or less simply means to that end, and the conflict with us is needed to help create tensions, and to help radicalize the Muslim masses. Later, once the extremists are no longer the extremists, but already the "mainstream" - after they political capture power and become the rulers - then they can simply kill or imprison those Muslims who do not agree with them.
....Sooner or later the "moderate" Muslims will understand that we are fighting a war - in effect - for them. They better understand this soon, because if they do not take over the struggle, the extremists will eventually succeed.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Political Rants
on: October 14, 2004, 09:40:54 PM
To call this interesting read by Arthur Miller a "Political Rant" is an injustice, but I didn't know where else to put it
On politics and the art of acting
Here are some observations about politicians as actors. Since some of my best friends are actors, I don't dare say anything bad about the art itself. The fact is that acting is inevitable as soon as we walk out our front doors and into society. I am acting now; certainly I am not using the same tone as I would in my living room. It is not news that we are moved more by our glandular reactions to a leader's personality, his acting, than by his proposals or by his moral character. To their millions of followers, after all, many of them highly regarded university intellectuals, Hitler and Stalin were profoundly moral men, revealers of new truths. Aristotle thought man was by nature a social animal, and indeed we are ruled more by the social arts, the arts of performance--by acting, in other words--than anybody wants to think about for very long.
In our own time television has created a quantitative change in all this; one of the oddest things about millions of lives now is that ordinary individuals, as never before in human history, are so surrounded by acting. Twenty-four hours a day everything seen on the tube is either acted or conducted by actors in the shape of news anchormen and -women, including their hairdos. It may be that the most impressionable form of experience now for many if not most people consists in their emotional transactions with actors, which happen far more of the time than with real people. In the past, a person might have confronted the arts of performance once a year in a church ceremony or in a rare appearance by a costumed prince or king and his ritualistic gestures; it would have seemed a very strange idea that ordinary folk would be so subjected every day to the persuasions of professionals whose studied technique, after all, was to assume the character of someone else.
Is this persistent experience of any importance? I can't imagine how to prove this, but it seems to me that when one is surrounded by such a roiling mass of consciously contrived performances it gets harder and harder to locate reality anymore. Admittedly, we live in an age of entertainment, but is it a good thing that our political life, for one, be so profoundly governed by the modes of theater, from tragedy to vaudeville to farce? I find myself speculating whether the relentless daily diet of crafted, acted emotions and canned ideas is not subtly pressing our brains not only to mistake fantasy for what is real but to absorb this falseness into our personal sensory process. This last election is an example. Apparently we are now called upon to act as though nothing very unusual happened and as though nothing in our democratic process has deteriorated, including our claim to the right to instruct lesser countries on how to conduct fair elections. So, in a subtle way, we are induced to become actors, too. The show, after all, must go on, even if the audience is obligated to join in the acting.
Political leaders everywhere have come to understand that to govern they must learn how to act. No differently than any actor, Al Gore went through several changes of costume before finding the right mix to express the personality he wished to project. Up to the campaign he seemed an essentially serious type with no great claim to humor, but the presidential-type character he had chosen to play was apparently happy, upbeat, with a kind of Bing Crosby mellowness. I daresay that if he seemed so awkward it was partly because he had cast himself in a role that was wrong for him. As for George W. Bush, now that he is president he seems to have learned not to sneer quite so much, and to cease furtively glancing left and right when leading up to a punch line, followed by a sharp nod to flash that he has successfully delivered it. This is bad acting, because all the dire overemphasis casts doubt on the text. Obviously, as the sparkly magic veil of actual power has descended upon him, he has become more relaxed and confident, like an actor after he has had some hit reviews and knows the show is in for a run.
At this point I suppose I should add something about my own bias. I recall the day, back in the fifties, during Eisenhower's campaign against Adlai Stevenson, when I turned on my television and saw the general who had led the greatest invasion force in history lying back under the hands of a professional makeup woman preparing him for his TV appearance. I was far more naive then, and so I still found it hard to believe that henceforth we were to be wooed and won by rouge, lipstick, and powder rather than ideas and positions on public issues. It was almost as though he were getting ready to assume the role of General Eisenhower instead of simply being him. In politics, of course, what you see is rarely what you get, but Eisenhower was not actually a good actor, especially when he ad-libbed, disserving himself as a nearly comical bumbler with the English language when in fact he was a lot more literate and sophisticated than his public-speaking style suggested. As his biographer, a Life editor named Emmet John Hughes, once told me, Eisenhower, when he was still a junior officer, was the author of those smoothly liquid, rather Roman-style speeches that had made his boss, Douglas MacArthur, so famous. Then again, I wonder if Eisenhower's syntactical stumbling in public made him seem more convincingly sincere.
Watching some of our leaders on TV has made me wonder if we really have any idea what is involved in the actor's art, and I recall again a story once told me by my old friend the late Robert Lewis, director of a number of beautiful Broadway productions, including the original Brigadoon. Starting out as an actor in the late twenties, Bobby had been the assistant and dresser of Jacob Ben-Ami, a star in Europe and in New York as well. Ben-Ami, an extraordinary actor, was in a Yiddish play, but despite the language and the location of the theater far from Times Square, on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, one of its scenes had turned it into a substantial hit with English-speaking audiences. Experiencing that scene had become the in thing to do in New York. People who had never dreamed of seeing a Yiddish play traveled downtown to watch this one scene, and then left. In it Ben-Ami stood at the edge of the stage staring into space and, with tremendous tension, brought a revolver to his head. Seconds passed, whole minutes. Some in the audience shut their eyes or turned away, certain the shot was coming at any instant. Ben-Ami clenched his jaws. Sweat broke out on his face. His eyes seemed about to pop out of his head; his hands trembled as he strove to will himself to suicide. More moments passed. People in the audience were gasping for breath and making strange asphyxiated noises. Finally, standing on his toes now as though to leap into the unknown, Ben-Ami dropped the gun and cried out, "Ikh ken nit!" I can't do it! Night after night he brought the house down; Ben-Ami somehow compelled the audience to suspend its disbelief and to imagine his brains splattered all over the stage.
Lewis, aspiring young actor that he was, begged Ben-Ami to tell him the secret of how he created this emotional reality, but the actor kept putting him off, saying he would tell him only after the final performance. "It's better for people not to know," he said, "or it'll spoil the show."
Then at last the final performance came, and at its end Ben-Ami sat in his dressing room with the young Lewis.
"You promised to tell me," Lewis said.
"All right. I'll tell you. My problem with this scene," Ben-Ami explained, "was that I personally could never blow my brains out. I am just not suicidal, and I can't imagine ending my life. So I could never really know how that man was feeling, and I could never play such a person authentically. For weeks I went around trying to think of some parallel in my own life that I could draw on. What situation could I be in where, first of all, I am standing up, I am alone, I am looking straight ahead, and something I feel I must do is making me absolutely terrified, and finally that whatever it is I can't do it?"
"Yes," Lewis said, hungry for this great actor's key to greatness. "And what is that?"
"Well," Ben-Ami said, "I finally realized that the one thing I hate worse than anything is washing in cold water. So what I'm really doing with that gun to my head is, I'm trying to get myself to step into an ice-cold shower."
Now, if we translate this situation to political campaigns, who are we really voting for? The self-possessed character who projects dignity, exemplary morals, and enough forthright courage to lead us through war or depression, or the person who is simply good at creating a counterfeit with the help of professional coaching, executive tailoring, and that whole armory of pretense that the groomed president can now employ? Are we allowed anymore to know what is going on not merely in the candidate's facial expression and his choice of suit but also in his head? Unfortunately, as with Ben-Ami, this is something we are not told until the auditioning ends and he is securely in office. After spending tens of millions of dollars, neither candidate--at least for me--ever managed to create that unmistakable click of recognition as to who he really was. But maybe this is asking too much. As with most actors, any resemblance between the man and the role is purely accidental.
The Stanislavsky system came into vogue at the dawn of the twentieth century, when science was recognized as the dominating force of the age. Objective scientific analysis promised to open everything to human control, and the Stanislavsky method was an attempt to systematize the actor's vagrant search for authenticity as he works to portray a character different from his own. Politicians do something similar all the time; by assuming personalities not genuinely theirs--let's say six-pack, lunchbox types--they hope to connect with ordinary Americans. The difficulty for Bush and Gore in their attempts to seem like regular fellas was that both were scions of successful and powerful families. Worse yet for their regular-fella personae, both were in effect created by the culture of Washington, D.C., and you can't hope to be president without running against Washington. The problem for Gore was that Washington meant Clinton, whom he dared not acknowledge lest he be challenged on moral grounds. As for Bush, he was forced to impersonate an outsider pitching against dependency on the federal government, whose payroll, however, had helped feed two generations of his family. There's a name for this sort of cannonading of Washington; it is called i acting. To some important degree both gentlemen had to act themselves out of their real personae into freshly begotten ones. The reality, of course, was that the closest thing on the political stage to a man of the people was Clinton the Unclean, the real goods with the six-pack background, whom it was both dangerous and necessary to disown. This took a monstrous amount of acting.
It was in the so-called debates that the sense of a contrived performance rather than a naked clash of personalities and ideas came to a sort of head. Here was acting, acting with a vengeance. But the consensus seems to have called the performances decidedly boring. And how could it be otherwise when both men seemed to be attempting to display the same genial temperament, a readiness to perform the same role and, in effect, to climb into the same warm suit? The role, of course, was that of the nice guy, Bing Crosby with a sprinkling of Bob Hope. Clearly they had both been coached not to threaten the audience with too much passion but rather to reassure that if elected they would not disturb any reasonable person's sleep. In acting terms there was no inner reality, no genuineness, no glimpse into their unruly souls. One remarkable thing did happen, though--a single, split-second shot that revealed Gore shaking his head in helpless disbelief at some inanity Bush had spoken. Significantly, this gesture earned him many bad reviews for what were called his superior airs, his sneering disrespect; in short, he had stepped out of costume and revealed his reality. This, in effect, was condemned as a failure of acting. In the American press, which is made up of disguised theater critics, substance counts for next to nothing compared with style and inventive characterization. For a millisecond Gore had been inept enough to have gotten real! And this clown wanted to be president yet! Not only is all the world a stage but we have all but obliterated the fine line between the feigned and the real.
Was there ever such a border? It is hard to know, but we might try to visualize the Lincoln-Douglas debates before the Civil War, when thousands would stand, spread out across some pasture, to listen to the two speakers, who were mounted on stumps so they could be seen from far off. There certainly was no makeup; neither man had a speechwriter but, incredibly enough, made it all up himself. Years later, Lincoln supposedly wrote the Gettysburg Address on scraps of paper while en route to a memorial ceremony. Is it imaginable that any of our candidates could have such conviction and, more importantly, such self-assured candor as to pour out his heart this way? To be sure, Lincoln and Douglas were civil, at least in the record of their remarks, but their attack on each other's ideas was sharp and thorough, revealing of their actual approaches to the nation's problems. As for their styles, they had to have been very different than the current laid-back cool before the lens. The lens magnifies everything: one slight lift of an eyelid and you look like you're glaring. If there is a single, basic requirement for success on television it is minimalization: whatever you are doing, do less of it and emit cool. In other words--act. In contrast, speakers facing hundreds of people without a microphone and in the open air must inevitably have been broader in gesture and even more emphatic in speech than in life. Likewise, their use of language had to be more pointed and precise in order to carry their points out to the edges of the crowd. And no makeup artist stood waiting to wipe up every bead of sweat on a speaker's lip; the candidates were stripped to their shirtsleeves in the summer heat, and people nearby could no doubt smell them. There may, in short, have been some aspect of human reality in such a debate.
Given the camera's tendency to exaggerate any movement, it may in itself have a dampening effect on spontaneity and conflict. There were times in this last campaign when one even wondered whether the candidates feared that to raise issues and engage in a genuine clash before the camera might set fire to some of the more flammable public. They chose instead to forgo the telling scowl or the passionate outburst in favor of that which ran less risk of a social conflagration: benign smiles on a glass screen.
No differently than with actors, the single most important characteristic a politician needs to display is relaxed sincerity. Ronald Reagan disarmed his opponents by never showing the slightest sign of inner conflict about the truth of what he was saying. Simpleminded as his critics found his ideas and remarks, cynical and manipulative as he may have been in actuality, he seemed to believe every word he said. He could tell you that atmospheric pollution came from trees, or that ketchup was a vegetable in school lunches, or leave the impression that he had seen action in World War II rather than in a movie he had made or perhaps only seen, and if you didn't believe these things you were still kind of amused by how sincerely he said them. Sincerity implies honesty, an absence of moral conflict in the mind of its possessor. Of course, this can also indicate insensitivity or even stupidity. It is hard, for example, to think of another American official whose reputation would not have been stained by saluting a cemetery of Nazi dead with heartfelt solemnity while barely mentioning the many millions, including Americans, who were victims of that vile regime. But Reagan was not only an actor; he loved acting, and it can be said that at least in public he not only acted all the time but did so sincerely. The second best actor is Clinton, who does occasionally seem to blush, but then again he was caught in an illicit sexual act, which is far more important than illegally shipping weapons to foreign countries. Reagan's tendency to confuse events in films with things that really happened is often seen as intellectual weakness, but in reality it was--unknowingly, of course--a Stanislavskian triumph, the very consummation of the actor's ability to incorporate reality into the fantasy of his role. In Reagan the dividing line between acting and actuality was simply melted, gone. Human beings, as the poet said, cannot bear very much reality, and the art of politics is our best proof. The trouble is that a leader comes to symbolize his country, and so the nagging question is whether, when real trouble comes, we can act ourselves out of it.
The first obligation of the actor, just as with the politician, is to get himself known. P. T. Barnum said it for all time when a reporter asked if he wasn't ashamed at having tricked the public. He had originated the freak show, which had drawn an immense audience to his Bridgeport, Connecticut, barn to see the bearded lady and the two-headed calf. But the show was such a great hit that his problem was how to get people to leave and make room for new customers. His solution was to put up a sign, with an arrow pointing to the door, that read, "This way to the Egress." Since nobody had ever seen an "egress" before, the place emptied satisfactorily, and the audience found itself in the street. The reporter asked if this ploy wouldn't anger people and ruin his reputation. Barnum gave his historic reply: "I don't care what they write about me as long as they spell my name right." If there is a single rubric to express the most basic requirement for political or theatrical success, this is it.
Whether he admits it or not, the actor wants not only to be believed and admired but to be loved, and what may help to account for the dullness of this last campaign was the absence of affection for either man, not to speak of love. By the end it seemed like an unpopularity contest, a competition for who was less disliked by more people than the other, a demonstration of negative consent. Put another way, in theatrical terms these were character actors but not fascinating stars. Ironically, the exception to all this lovelessness was-Nader, whose people, at least on television, did seem to adore their leader, even after he had managed to help wreck Gore and elect Bush, whom they certainly despised far more than they did Gore. At this point I ought to confess that I have known only one president whom I feel confident about calling "the President of the United States," and that was Franklin Roosevelt. My impulse is to say that he alone was not an actor, but I probably think that because he was such a good one. He could not stand on his legs, after all, but he took care never to exhibit weakness by appearing in his wheelchair, or in any mood but that of upbeat, cheery optimism, which at times he certainly did not feel. Roosevelt was so genuine a star, his presence so overwhelming, that Republicans, consciously or not, have never stopped running against him for this whole half-century.
The mystery of the star performer can only leave the inquiring mind confused, resentful, or blank, something that, of course, has the greatest political importance. Many Republicans have blamed the press for the attention Bill Clinton continued to get even out of office. Again, what they don't understand is that what a star says, and even what he does, is incidental to people's interest in him. When the click of empathic association is made with a leader, logic has very little to do with it and virtue even less. Obviously, this is not very encouraging news for rational people who hope to uplift society by reasoned argument. But then, not many of us rational folk are immune to the star's ability to rule.
The presidency, in acting terms, is a heroic role. It is not one for comedians, sleek lover types, or second bananas. To be credible, the man who acts as president must hold in himself an element of potential danger. Something similar is required in a real star.
Like most people, I had never even heard of Marion Brando the first time I saw him onstage not long after the end of World War II. The play was Truckline Cafe, a failed work by Maxwell Anderson that was soon to close, hardly a promising debut for an ambitious actor. The set is a shabby cafe on some country highway. It is after midnight, the place miserably lit and empty. There is a counter and a few booths with worn upholstery. A car is heard stopping outside. Presently, a young man wearing a worn-leather jacket and a cap strolls in, an exhausted-looking girl behind him.
He saunters down to center stage, looking around for a sign of life. For a long time he says absolutely nothing, just stands there in the sort of slouch you fall into after driving for hours. The moment lengthens as he tries to figure out what to do, his patience clearly thinning. Nothing has happened, he has hardly even moved, but watching him, the audience, myself included, is already spellbound. Another actor would simply have aroused impatience, but we are in Brando's power; we read him; his being is speaking to us even if we can't make out precisely what it is saying. It is something like an animal that has slipped from its cage. Is he dangerous? Friendly? Stupid? Intelligent? Without a word spoken, this actor has opened up in the audience a whole range of emotional possibilities, including, oddly enough, a little fear. Finally he calls out, "Anybody here?!" What a relief! He has not shot up the place. He has not thrown chairs around. All he wanted, apparently, was a sandwich.
I can't explain how Brando, wordlessly, did what he did, but he had found a way, no doubt instinctively, to master a paradox--he had implicitly threatened us and then given us pardon. Here was Napoleon, here was Caesar, here was Roosevelt. Brando had not asked the members of the audience merely to love him; that is only charm. He had made them wish that he would deign to love them. That is a star. That is power, no different in its essence than the power that can lead nations.
Onstage or in the White House, power changes everything, even how the aspirant looks after he wins. I remember running into Dustin Hoffman on a rainy New York street some years ago; he had only a month earlier played the part of the Lomans' pale and nervous next-door neighbor, Bernard, in a recording session with Lee Cobb of Death of a Salesman. Now as he approached, counting the cracks in the sidewalk, hatless, his wet hair dripping, a worn coat collar turned up, I prepared to greet him, thinking that with his bad skin, hawkish nose, and adenoidal voice some brave friend really ought to tell him to go into another line of work. As compassionately as possible I asked what he was doing now, and with a rather apologetic sigh he said, after several sniffles, "Well, they want me for a movie." "Oh?" I felt relieved that he was not about to collapse in front of me in a fit of depression. "What's the movie?"
"It's called The Graduate," he said.
"Well, yeah, I guess it's the lead."
In no time at all this half-drowned puppy would have millions of people at his feet all over the world. And once having ascended to power, so to speak, it became hard even for me to remember him when he was real. Not that he wasn't real, just that he was real plus. And the plus is the mystery of the patina, the glow that power paints on the elected human being.
The amount of acting required of both President Bush and the Democrats is awesome now, given the fractured election and donation by the Supreme Court. Practically no participant in the whole process can really say out loud what is in his heart. They are all facing an ice-cold shower with a gun to their head. Bush has to act as though he were elected, the Supreme Court has to act as though it were the Supreme Court, Gore has to act as though he is practically overjoyed at his own defeat, and so on. Unfortunately, such roles generally require hard work ahead of time, and the closest thing I've seen so far to deliberately rehearsed passion was the organized mob of Republicans banging threateningly on the door of a Florida vote-counting office and howling for the officials inside to stop counting. I must confess, though, that as a playwright I would be flummoxed as to how to make plausible on the stage an organized stampede of partisans yelling to stop the count and in the same breath accusing the other side of trying to steal the election. I can't imagine an audience taking this for anything but a satirical farce.
An election, not unlike a classic play, has a certain strict form that requires us to pass through certain ordained steps toward a logical conclusion. When, instead, the form dissolves and chaos reigns, the audience is left feeling cheated and even mocked. After this last, most hallucinatory of elections, it was said that in the end the system worked, when clearly it hadn't at all. And one of the signs that it had collapsed popped up even before the decision was finally made in Bush's favor; it was when Dick Armey, the Republican majority leader in the House of Representatives, declared that he would simply not attend the inauguration if Gore were elected, despite immemorial custom and his clear obligation to do so. In short, Armey had reached the limits of his actor's imagination and could only collapse into playing himself. You cannot have a major performer deciding, in the middle of a play, to leave the scene without utterly destroying the whole illusion. For the system to be said to have worked, no one is allowed to stop acting.
The play without a character we can really root for is in trouble. Shakespeare's Coriolanus is an example. It is not often produced, powerful though it is as playwriting and poetry, no doubt because, as a totally honest picture of ambition in a frightening human being, the closest the play ever gets to love is Coriolanus' subservience to his mother. In short, it is a truthful play without sentimentality, and truthfulness, I'm afraid, doesn't sell a whole.tot of tickets or draw votes. Which inevitably brings me again to Clinton. Until the revulsion brought on by the pardon scandal, he was leaving office with the highest rating for performance and the lowest for personal character. People had prospered under his leadership, and, with whatever reluctance, they still connected with his humanity as they glimpsed it, ironically enough, through his sins. We are back, I think, to the mystery of the star. Clinton, except for those few minutes when lying about Monica Lewinsky, was relaxed on camera in a way any actor would envy. And relaxation is the soul of the art, because it arouses receptivity rather than defensiveness in an audience.
That receptivity brings to mind a friend of mine who, many years ago, won the prize for selling more Electrolux vacuum cleaners in the Bronx than any other door-to-door salesman. He once explained how he did it: "You want them to start saying yes. So you ask questions that they can't say no to. Is this 1350 Jerome Avenue? Yes. Is your name Smith? Yes. Do you have carpets? Yes. A vacuum cleaner? Yes. Once you've got them on a yes roll, a kind of psychological fusion takes place. You're both on the same side. It's almost like some kind of love, and they feel it's impolite for them to say no, and in no time you're in the house unpacking the machine." What Clinton projects is a personal interest in the customer that comes across as a sort of love. There can be no doubt that, like all great performers, he loves to act, he is most alive when he's on. His love of acting may be his most authentic emotion, the realest thing about him, and, as with Reagan, there is no dividing line between his performance and himself he is his performance. There is no greater contrast than with Gore or Bush, both of whom projected a kind of embarrassment at having to perform, an underlying tension between themselves and the role, and tension, needless to say, shuts down love on the platform no less than it does in bed.
On every side there is a certain amount of lamenting about the reluctance of Americans to condemn Bill Clinton, but rather than blaming our failed moral judgment I think we would do better to examine his acting. Clinton is our Eulenspiegel, the mythical arch prankster of fourteenth-century Germany who was a sort of mischievous and lovable folk spirit, half child, half man. Eulenspiegel challenged society with his enviable guile and a charm so irresistible that he could blurt out embarrassing truths about the powerful on behalf of the ordinary man. His closest American equivalent is Brer Rabbit, who ravishes people's vegetable gardens and, just when he seems to be cornered, charmingly distracts his pursuer with some outrageously engaging story while edging closer and closer to a hole down which he escapes. Appropriately enough, the word "Eulenspiegel" is a sort of German joke: it means a mirror put before an owl, and since an owl is blind in daylight it cannot see its own reflection. As bright and happy and hilariously unpredictable as Eulenspiegel is, he cannot see himself, and so, among other things, he is dangerous.
In other words, a star. Indeed, the perfect model of both star and political leader is that smiling and implicitly dangerous man who likes you.
In part because Gore and Bush were not threatening, their offer of protective affection was not considered important. Gore was so busy trying to unbend that he forfeited whatever menace he may have had. Bush did his best to pump up his chest and toughly turn down the corners of his mouth, but it was all too obviously a performance, and for too long his opponents failed to take him as anything more than the potential president of a fraternity. Risking immodesty, to say the least, he actually referred to himself as a "leader" and claimed that his forth-coming administration would fill the vacuum of "leadership." Caught time after time fouling up his syntax, thus shaking the image of manly command, he has improved since real power has descended upon him, and his sentences, saving on grammar, have gotten shorter and shorter--to the point where, at times, he comes close to sounding like a gunslinger in a Clint Eastwood film. He is, though, beginning to relax into his role and, like most presidents, may in the fullness of time come to seem inevitable.
The ultimate foundation of political power, of course, has never changed: it is the leader's willingness to resort to violence should the need arise. Adlai Stevenson may have seemed too civilized to resort to violence without a crippling hesitation, and Jimmy Carter was so clearly restrained by Christian scruple that a single military accident involving a handful of unfortunate soldiers destroyed all his credibility in one stroke. An American leader may deliver the Sunday lesson provided his sword is never out of reach, the two best examples being FDR and John Kennedy. But this type, which doesn't come along every day, is the aristocratic populist, and the aristocrat learns how to act at a very early age; it is part of his upbringing. A Nixon, on the contrary, has to learn as he goes along. Indeed, once he had ordered himself bugged, Nixon was acting during all his waking hours; his entire working life became a recorded performance.
The case of President Truman and the atom bomb is particularly rich in its references to acting and power. When several of the scientists who had built the first bomb petitioned Truman to stage a demonstration off the Japanese coast rather than dropping it on an inhabited city, he chose the latter course; the fear was that the first bomb might fail to work, encouraging the Japanese to refuse peace overtures even more resolutely. However frightful the consequences, it was better to bomb a city and in one flash bring the war to an end. The weakness in this reasoning is that if the bomb was so uncertain to explode, why drop it on a city, where Japanese scientists might examine and maybe even copy it? A more persuasive argument, I'm afraid, is that if the Japanese had been warned to expect a demonstration of a terrible new weapon, and it had been a dud, a dead iron ball splashing into the sea, Truman's unwillingness to kill would have threatened his leadership, and he, personally and symbolically, would have lost credibility. I'm not at all sure what I would have done in his position, confronted with the possibility of terrible American losses in a land invasion of Japan. But the issue is not Truman so much as the manifestations of power that people require their leaders to act out. Jesus Christ could not have beaten Hitler's Germany or Imperial Japan into surrender. And it is not impossible that our main reason for cloaking our leaders with a certain magical, extra-human, theatrical aura is to help disguise one of the basic conditions of their employment--namely, a readiness to kill for us.
Whether for good or for evil, it is sadly inevitable that all political leadership requires the artifices of theatrical illusion. In the politics of a democracy the shortest distance between two points is often a crooked line. While Roosevelt was stoutly repeating his determination to keep America out of any foreign war, he was taking steps toward belligerency in order to save England and prevent a Nazi victory. In effect, mankind is in debt to his lies. So from the tragic necessity of dissimulation there seems to be no escape. Except, of course, to tell people the truth, something hat doesn't require acting but may damage one's own party and, in certain circumstances, the human enterprise itself. Then what?
Then, I'm afraid, we can only turn to the release of art, to the other theater, the theater-theater, where you can tell the truth without killing anybody and may even illuminate the awesomely durable dilemma of how to lead without lying too much. The release of art will not forge a cannon or pave a street, but it may remind us again and again of the corruptive essence of power, its tendency to enhance itself at the expense of humanity. The late director and critic Harold Clurman called theater "lies like truth." Theater does indeed lie, fabricating everything from the storm's roar to the lark's song, from the actor's laughter to his nightly flood of tears. And the actor lies; but with all the spontaneity that careful calculation can lend him, he may construct a vision of some important truth about the human condition that opens us to a new understanding of ourselves. In the end, we call a work of art trivial when it illuminates little beyond its own devices, and the same goes for political leaders who bespeak some narrow interest rather than those of the national or universal good. The fault is not in the use of the theatrical arts but in their purpose.
Paradox is the name of the game where acting as an art is concerned. It is a rare, hardheaded politician who is at home with any of the arts these days; most often the artist is considered suspect, a nuisance, a threat to morality, or a fraud. At the same time, one of the most lucrative American exports, after airplanes, is art--namely, music and films. But art has always been the revenge of the human spirit upon the shortsighted. Consider the sublime achievements of Greece, the necrophilic grandeur of the Egyptians, the glory of the Romans, the awesome power of the Assyrians, the rise and fall of the Jews and their incomprehensible survival, and what are we left with but a handful of plays, essays, carved stones, and some strokes of paint on paper or the rock cave wall--in a word, art? The ironies abound. Artists are not particularly famous for their steady habits, the acceptability of their opinions, or their conformity with societal mores, but whatever is not turned into art disappears forever. It is very strange when you think about it, except for one thing that is not strange but quite logical: however dull or morally delinquent an artist may be, in his moment of creation, when his work pierces the truth, he cannot dissimulate, he cannot fake it. Tolstoy once remarked that what we look for in a work of art is the revelation of the artist's soul, a glimpse of God. You can't act that.
This essay was adapted from the 2001 Jefferson Lecture, sponsored annually by the National Endowment for the Humanities. Established in 1972, the Jefferson Lecture is the highest honor bestowed by the federal government for distinguished achievement in the humanities. Arthur Miller is the author of numerous plays, including Death of a Salesman and The Crucible. His memoir "A Line to Walk On" appeared in the November 2000 issue of Harper's Magazine.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WW3
on: October 13, 2004, 01:39:26 PM
IRAQ - FALLUJAH CAMPAIGN TAKES TOLL ON ZARQAWI (OCT 13/NYT)
NEW YORK TIMES -- The U.S. bombing campaign in Fallujah has killed about half of the foreign terrorist leadership in that Iraqi city in the last month, the New York Times reports.
Airstrikes in Fallujah have reportedly killed at least six senior members of the network led by Al-Qaida lieutenant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
Military officials did not disclose how they have tracked casualties among Zarqawi's followers in Fallujah, but indicated they are relying on intercepted communications and information from informants.
"His network is hurting," said a senior Defense Depart. official.
"Everything I've seen suggests we're having a measurable impact on him. It's disrupting his operation, though he's still able to use Fallujah as a sanctuary, and that's a problem."
IRAQ - LOCAL INSURGENTS TURN AGAINST FOREIGN FIGHTERS (OCT 13/WP)
WASHINGTON POST -- Residents in Fallujah said local Iraqi insurgents are starting to turn against the foreign fighters who have been allies against the U.S. military and Iraqi interim government, the Washington Post reports.
Local insurgents are negotiating with the government in order to avoid a U.S.-led offensive in the city, but foreign fighters continue to press the attack.
At least five foreign fighters were killed in recent weeks after their dispute with Iraqis turned violent.
Local insurgent leaders say they want the foreign fighters to leave, particularly Abu Musab Zarqawi, a Jordanian who has strong ties to Al-Qaida.
"He is mentally deranged, has distorted the image of the resistance and defamed it. I believe his end is near," said Abu Abdalla Dulaimy, leader of an Iraqi insurgent group called the First Army of Mohammad.
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Women fighters at DB Gathering
on: October 12, 2004, 03:23:47 PM
Does this mean your ankle is healed and that you will be fighting?
I met the woman in question, Verushka, at my seminar in Bern this weekend. Her skills are a lot better than her English (WEKAF experience too) but I can tell you that she is serious about coming and that I think the two of you would be a good match. Just let me know, either here or via email and I will have one of our people in Italy take care of translating the message. As soon as she has word of there being an opponent for her, she can book her flight.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WW3
on: September 21, 2004, 05:52:23 PM
Text of Bush's Speech to the U.N.
Sep 21, 1:43 PM (ET)
By The Associated Press
Mr. Secretary General, Mr. President, distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen: Thank you for the honor of addressing this General Assembly. The American people respect the idealism that gave life to this organization. And we respect the men and women of the U.N., who stand for peace and human rights in every part of the world. Welcome to New York City, and welcome to the United States of America.
During the past three years, I've addressed this General Assembly in a time of tragedy for my country, and in times of decision for all of us. Now we gather at a time of tremendous opportunity for the U.N. and for all peaceful nations. For decades, the circle of liberty and security and development has been expanding in our world. This progress has brought unity to Europe, self-government to Latin America and Asia, and new hope to Africa. Now we have the historic chance to widen the circle even further, to fight radicalism and terror with justice and dignity, to achieve a true peace, founded on human freedom.
The United Nations and my country share the deepest commitments. Both the American Declaration of Independence and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights proclaim the equal value and dignity of every human life. That dignity is honored by the rule of law, limits on the power of the state, respect for women, protection of private property, free speech, equal justice, and religious tolerance. That dignity is dishonored by oppression, corruption, tyranny, bigotry, terrorism and all violence against the innocent. And both of our founding documents affirm that this bright line between justice and injustice - between right and wrong - is the same in every age, and every culture, and every nation.
Wise governments also stand for these principles for very practical and realistic reasons. We know that dictators are quick to choose aggression, while free nations strive to resolve differences in peace. We know that oppressive governments support terror, while free governments fight the terrorists in their midst. We know that free peoples embrace progress and life, instead of becoming the recruits for murderous ideologies.
Every nation that wants peace will share the benefits of a freer world. And every nation that seeks peace has an obligation to help build that world. Eventually, there is no safe isolation from terror networks, or failed states that shelter them, or outlaw regimes, or weapons of mass destruction. Eventually, there is no safety in looking way, seeking the quiet life by ignoring the struggles and oppression of others.
In this young century, our world needs a new definition of security. Our security is not merely found in spheres of influence, or some balance of power. The security of our world is found in the advancing rights of mankind. These rights are advancing across the world - and across the world, the enemies of human rights are responding with violence.
Terrorists and their allies believe the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the American Bill of Rights, and every charter of liberty ever written, are lies, to be burned and destroyed and forgotten. They believe that dictators should control every mind and tongue in the Middle East and beyond. They believe that suicide and torture and murder are fully justified to serve any goal they declare. And they act on their beliefs.
In the last year alone, terrorists have attacked police stations, and banks, and commuter trains, and synagogues - and a school filled with children. This month in Beslan we saw, once again, how the terrorists measure their success - in the death of the innocent, and in the pain of grieving families. Svetlana Dzebisov was held hostage, along with her son and her nephew - her nephew did not survive. She recently visited the cemetery, and saw what she called the "little graves." She said, "I understand that there is evil in the world. But what have these little creatures done?"
Members of the United Nations, the Russian children did nothing to deserve such awful suffering, and fright and death. The people of Madrid and Jerusalem and Istanbul and Baghdad have done nothing to deserve sudden and random murder. These acts violate the standards of justice in all cultures, and the principles of all religions. All civilized nations are in this struggle together, and all must fight the murderers.
We're determined to destroy terror networks wherever they operate, and the United States is grateful to every nation that is helping to seize terrorist assets, track down their operatives, and disrupt their plans. We're determined to end the state sponsorship of terror - and my nation is grateful to all that participated in the liberation of Afghanistan.
We're determined to prevent proliferation, and to enforce the demands of the world - and my nation is grateful to the soldiers of many nations who have helped to deliver the Iraqi people from an outlaw dictator. The dictator agreed in 1991, as a condition of a cease-fire, to fully comply with all Security Council resolutions - then ignored more than a decade of those resolutions.
Finally, the Security Council promised serious consequences for his defiance. And the commitments we make must have meaning. When we say "serious consequences," for the sake of peace, there must be serious consequences. And so a coalition of nations enforced the just demands of the world.
Defending our ideals is vital, but it is not enough. Our broader mission as U.N. members is to apply these ideals to the great issues of our time. Our wider goal is to promote hope and progress as the alternatives to hatred and violence. Our great purpose is to build a better world beyond the war on terror.
Because we believe in human dignity, America and many nations have established a global fund to fight AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria. In three years the contributing countries have funded projects in more than 90 countries, and pledged a total of $5.6 billion to these efforts. America has undertaken a $15 billion effort to provide prevention and treatment and humane care in nations afflicted by AIDS, placing a special focus on 15 countries where the need is most urgent. AIDS is the greatest health crisis of our time, and our unprecedented commitment will bring new hope to those who have walked too long in the shadow of death.
Because we believe in human dignity, America and many nations have joined together to confront the evil of trafficking in human beings. We're supporting organizations that rescue the victims, passing stronger anti-trafficking laws, and warning travelers that they will be held to account for supporting this modern form of slavery. Women and children should never be exploited for pleasure or greed, anywhere on Earth.
Because we believe in human dignity, we should take seriously the protection of life from exploitation under any pretext. In this session, the U.N. will consider a resolution sponsored by Costa Rica calling for a comprehensive ban on human cloning. I support that resolution and urge all governments to affirm a basic ethical principle: No human life should ever be produced or destroyed for the benefit of another.
Because we believe in human dignity, America and many nations have changed the way we fight poverty, curb corruption, and provide aid. In 2002 we created the Monterrey Consensus, a bold approach that links new aid from developed nations to real reform in developing ones. And through the Millennium Challenge Account, my nation is increasing our aid to developing nations that expand economic freedom and invest in the education and health of their own people.
Because we believe in human dignity, America and many nations have acted to lift the crushing burden of debt that limits the growth of developing economies, and holds millions of people in poverty. Since these efforts began in 1996, poor countries with the heaviest debt burdens have received more than $30 billion of relief. And to prevent the build-up of future debt, my country and other nations have agreed that international financial institutions should increasingly provide new aid in the form of grants, rather than loans.
Because we believe in human dignity, the world must have more effective means to stabilize regions in turmoil, and to halt religious violence and ethnic cleansing. We must create permanent capabilities to respond to future crises. The United States and Italy have proposed a Global Peace Operations Initiative. G-8 countries will train 75,000 peacekeepers, initially from Africa, so they can conduct operations on that continent and elsewhere. The countries of the G-8 will help this peacekeeping force with deployment and logistical needs.
At this hour, the world is witnessing terrible suffering and horrible crimes in the Darfur region of Sudan, crimes my government has concluded are genocide. The United States played a key role in efforts to broker a cease-fire, and we're providing humanitarian assistance to the Sudanese people. Rwanda and Nigeria have deployed forces in Sudan to help improve security so aid can be delivered. The Security Council adopted a new resolution that supports an expanded African Union force to help prevent further bloodshed, and urges the government of Sudan to stop flights by military aircraft in Darfur. We congratulate the members of the Council on this timely and necessary action. I call on the government of Sudan to honor the cease-fire it signed, and to stop the killing in Darfur.
Because we believe in human dignity, peaceful nations must stand for the advance of democracy. No other system of government has done more to protect minorities, to secure the rights of labor, to raise the status of women, or to channel human energy to the pursuits of peace. We've witnessed the rise of democratic governments in predominantly Hindu and Muslim, Buddhist, Jewish and Christian cultures. Democratic institutions have taken root in modern societies, and in traditional societies. When it comes to the desire for liberty and justice, there is no clash of civilizations. People everywhere are capable of freedom, and worthy of freedom.
Finding the full promise of representative government takes time, as America has found in two centuries of debate and struggle. Nor is there any - only one form of representative government - because democracies, by definition, take on the unique character of the peoples that create them. Yet this much we know with certainty: The desire for freedom resides in every human heart. And that desire cannot be contained forever by prison walls, or martial laws, or secret police. Over time, and across the Earth, freedom will find a way.
Freedom is finding a way in Iraq and Afghanistan - and we must continue to show our commitment to democracies in those nations. The liberty that many have won at a cost must be secured. As members of the United Nations, we all have a stake in the success of the world's newest democracies.
Not long ago, outlaw regimes in Baghdad and Kabul threatened the peace and sponsored terrorists. These regimes destabilized one of the world's most vital - and most volatile - regions. They brutalized their peoples, in defiance of all civilized norms. Today, the Iraqi and Afghan people are on the path to democracy and freedom. The governments that are rising will pose no threat to others. Instead of harboring terrorists, they're fighting terrorist groups. And this progress is good for the long-term security of us all.
The Afghan people are showing extraordinary courage under difficult conditions. They're fighting to defend their nation from Taliban holdouts, and helping to strike against the terrorists killers. They're reviving their economy. They've adopted a constitution that protects the rights of all, while honoring their nation's most cherished traditions. More than 10 million Afghan citizens - over 4 million of them women - are now registered to vote in next month's presidential election. To any who still would question whether Muslim societies can be democratic societies, the Afghan people are giving their answer.
Since the last meeting of this General Assembly, the people of Iraq have regained sovereignty. Today, in this hall, the Prime Minister of Iraq and his delegation represent a country that has rejoined the community of nations. The government of Prime Minister Allawi has earned the support of every nation that believes in self-determination and desires peace. And under Security Council resolutions 1511 and 1546, the world is providing that support. The U.N., and its member nations, must respond to Prime Minister Allawi's request, and do more to help build an Iraq that is secure, democratic, federal, and free.
A democratic Iraq has ruthless enemies, because terrorists know the stakes in that country. They know that a free Iraq in the heart of the Middle East will be a decisive blow against their ambitions for that region. So a terrorists group associated with al Qaeda is now one of the main groups killing the innocent in Iraq today - conducting a campaign of bombings against civilians, and the beheadings of bound men. Coalition forces now serving in Iraq are confronting the terrorists and foreign fighters, so peaceful nations around the world will never have to face them within our own borders.
Our coalition is standing beside a growing Iraqi security force. The NATO Alliance is providing vital training to that force. More than 35 nations have contributed money and expertise to help rebuild Iraq's infrastructure. And as the Iraqi interim government moves toward national elections, officials from the United Nations are helping Iraqis build the infrastructure of democracy. These selfless people are doing heroic work, and are carrying on the great legacy of Sergio de Mello.
As we have seen in other countries, one of the main terrorist goals is to undermine, disrupt, and influence election outcomes. We can expect terrorist attacks to escalate as Afghanistan and Iraq approach national elections. The work ahead is demanding. But these difficulties will not shake our conviction that the future of Afghanistan and Iraq is a future of liberty. The proper response to difficulty is not to retreat, it is to prevail.
The advance of freedom always carries a cost, paid by the bravest among us. America mourns the losses to our nation, and to many others. And today, I assure every friend of Afghanistan and Iraq, and every enemy of liberty: We will stand with the people of Afghanistan and Iraq until their hopes of freedom and security are fulfilled.
These two nations will be a model for the broader Middle East, a region where millions have been denied basic human rights and simple justice. For too long, many nations, including my own, tolerated, even excused, oppression in the Middle East in the name of stability. Oppression became common, but stability never arrived. We must take a different approach. We must help the reformers of the Middle East as they work for freedom, and strive to build a community of peaceful, democratic nations.
This commitment to democratic reform is essential to resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict. Peace will not be achieved by Palestinian rulers who intimidate opposition, tolerate corruption, and maintain ties to terrorist groups. The long-suffering Palestinian people deserve better. They deserve true leaders capable of creating and governing a free and peaceful Palestinian state.
Even after the setbacks and frustrations of recent months, goodwill and hard effort can achieve the promise of the road map to peace. Those who would lead a new Palestinian state should adopt peaceful means to achieve the rights of their people, and create the reformed institutions of a stable democracy. Arab states should end incitement in their own media, cut off public and private funding for terrorism, and establish normal relations with Israel. Israel should impose a settlement freeze, dismantle unauthorized outposts, end the daily humiliation of the Palestinian people, and avoid any actions that prejudice final negotiations. And world leaders should withdraw all favor and support from any Palestinian ruler who fails his people and betrays their cause.
The democratic hopes we see growing in the Middle East are growing everywhere. In the words of the Burmese democracy advocate, Aung San Suu Kyi: "We do not accept the notion that democracy is a Western value. To the contrary; democracy simply means good government rooted in responsibility, transparency, and accountability." Here at the United Nations, you know this to be true. In recent years, this organization has helped create a new democracy in East Timor, and the U.N. has aided other nations in making the transition to self-rule.
Because I believe the advance of liberty is the path to both a safer and better world, today I propose establishing a Democracy Fund within the United Nations. This is a great calling for this great organization. The fund would help countries lay the foundations of democracy by instituting the rule of law and independent courts, a free press, political parties and trade unions. Money from the fund would also help set up voter precincts and polling places, and support the work of election monitors. To show our commitment to the new Democracy Fund, the United States will make an initial contribution. I urge other nations to contribute, as well.
Today, I've outlined a broad agenda to advance human dignity, and enhance the security of all of us. The defeat of terror, the protection of human rights, the spread of prosperity, the advance of democracy - these causes, these ideals, call us to great work in the world. Each of us alone can only do so much. Together, we can accomplish so much more.
History will honor the high ideals of this organization. The charter states them with clarity: "to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war,""to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights,""to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom."
Let history also record that our generation of leaders followed through on these ideals, even in adversity. Let history show that in a decisive decade, members of the United Nations did not grow weary in our duties, or waver in meeting them. I'm confident that this young century will be liberty's century. I believe we will rise to this moment, because I know the character of so many nations and leaders represented here today. And I have faith in the transforming power of freedom.
May God bless you. (Applause.)
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Real contact stickfighting, injuries and recovery
on: September 21, 2004, 12:30:10 AM
I'm familiar with the Gripmaster from my days as a musician wannabe, but the second one is the first I've seen combining flexion and extension. Very clever.
Years ago Guro Inosanto showed me encircling a "crane's beak" with with a rubber band and spreading the fingers rapidly many times until exhaustion. GREAT exercise! It often cures mysterious elbow pains which are actually caused by pain at the origin of the underused extensor muscles of the fingers.
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Seminar with Guro Benjamin"Lonely Dog" RITTINER
on: September 20, 2004, 08:58:13 AM
In the interest of thread coherence, I move these welcome posts over to this thread-- Crafty
As we said, here the news for the second days:
It's crazy what he is able to do with pencils, news papers and ashtrays...
It's a little thing about what we see during the day...
As yesterday it was great...
Good training to everybody...
Roger and St?phanie
Back to top
Joined: 08 Sep 2004
Location: State College, PA
Posted: Sun Sep 19, 2004 5:36 pm Post subject:
Thanks for the update, I was wondering this morning of how it was going! I wonder how the camp is going in LA too, anyone who went please give us some feedback on it!
"Sticks and stones may break your bones." www.ryangruhn.com
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WW3
on: September 20, 2004, 08:53:40 AM
In the interests of thread coherency I move the following thread over to this one.-- Crafty
I am that wayward student, living in Istanbul, Turkey, who trained with Dave and Arlan, back at Warrior-Priest Art (Pandorf) of Santa Fe, NM-- while studying at St. John's College.
Sorry to chime in our your WW3 posting-- but just wanted to add my two cents and, humbly, correct you-- technically World War III was popularily known as the "Cold-War" (see CollinGray's "The Geopolitics of Superpower).
Before I digress and lose myelf in a maze of semantics and pointless intellectual machinations-- technically the US and her Allies have embarked upon WWIV, but lack the "political will" in a classical sense declare it as such. The issue of political will being the "sticking point" of the issue.
As to your citing of Paul Johnson and its attached article-- I would ask anyone who enjoyed the article to pick up "Modern Times" by that same author at your local bookstore. This is a most enjoyable history and describes how the rise of "moral relativism" is interwoven with the violence of the 20th centry (Fascism, National Socialism, Marxism-Lenisim and Maosim) and of the 21st century (to date: Religiosity-Islamic Fundamentalism).
For all of you who have subsribed to STRATFOR, please also consider checking out Daniel Pipe's website and "free weekly" at www.danielpipes.org--
Mr. Pipes is one of the best thinkers on the subject of Islamic Fundamentalism, Terrorism and the Middle East-- a definite must read!
Hey whom amongst you only walks arround with only one weapon these days?
Daniel (IstanbulBlue) the Aviation Consultant.
Glad for your imput and glad to hear from you. Pipes is excellent and I will look into your citiation.
I'm for bed shortly, but may I ask that you post this on the WW3 thread? Thread continuity, as versus starting lots of new threads, helps with the coherence of the Forum. With a forum as diverse as this one, every little bit helps.
PS: Concerning the name "WW3", I am aware that the Neocons consider the Cold War to have been WW3 and consider the current war to be WW4, but outside of their circle there are other definitions used.
Sorry about the posting's position on the board-- I am not used to using it, yet. I will work out the kinks for the sake of consistency.
I will send you a personal message-- in regards to my training and some questions I had in regards to starting up a "study group" in the future, in Istanbul. Though, currently, it looks like I might be out of work and back in the US by Jan 2005. I might end up moving to Lebanon or Cairo to learn some Arabic-- but that's another story, another world (grad school).
As to your comment-- about NEOCONS-- heck, I thought I was playing my cards close to my chest. I guess the fact that one of my academic/personal mentors include Seth Cropsey-- Joseph Cropsey's son (Levi Strauss Chair professor at U Chicago).
I have read some interesting things about Levi Strauss and his influence over those who became the Neocons. Some have accused him of saying, and the Neocons of believing, that the people need to be lied to sometimes to get them to go along with what must be done. Is this true in your opinion?
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Howl of Respect to our Soldiers/Veterans
on: September 20, 2004, 08:45:31 AM
There was a foto of the President with Mike McNaugton on a run together which came with the following email but I don't know how to post the foto.
Subject: Fw: A promise kept]
Attached is a picture of one of my best friends in the Army, Mike McNaughton. We were privates together in 1990-1994. He stepped on a landmine in Afghanistan Christmas 2002. President Bush came to visit the wounded in the hospital. He told Mike that when he could run a mile, that they would go on a run together. True to his word, he called Mike every month or so to see how he was doing. Well, last week they went on the run, one mile with the president. Not something you'll see in the news, but seeing the president taking the time to say thank you to the wounded and to give hope to one of my best friends was one of the greatest/best things I have seen in my life. It almost sounds like a corny email chain letter, but God bless him.
CPT Justin P. Dodge, MD
Flight Surgeon, 1-2 AVN RGT
Medical Corps, U.S. Army
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Political Rants
on: September 16, 2004, 01:28:15 PM
If you liked that, try this rant from Ann Coulter
September 15, 2004
Why do TV commentators on CBS' forgery-gate insist on issuing lengthy
caveats to the effect that of course this was an innocent mistake and no one is accusing Dan Rather of some sort of "conspiracy," and respected newsman Dan Rather would never intentionally foist phony National Guard documents on an unsuspecting public merely to smear George Bush, etc., etc.?
I'll admit, there's a certain sadistic quality to such overwrought decency
toward Dan Rather. But how does Bill O'Reilly know what Dan Rather was
thinking when he put forged documents on the air? I know liberals have the paranormal ability to detect racism and sexism, but who knew O'Reilly could read an anchorman's mind just by watching him read the news?
What are the odds that Dan Rather would have accepted such patently phony documents from, say, the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth?
As we now know, CBS' own expert told them there were problems with the documents -- the main one being that they were clearly fakes dummied up at a Kinko's outlet from somebody's laptop at 4 a.m.
According to ABC News, document examiner Emily Will was hired by CBS to vet the documents. But when she raised questions about the documents' authenticity and strongly warned CBS not to use the documents on air, CBS ignored her. Will concluded: "I did not feel that they wanted to investigate it very deeply."
Within hours of the documents being posted on CBS' Web site, moderately observant fourth-graders across America noticed that the alleged early '70s National Guard documents were the product of Microsoft Word. If that wasn't bad enough, The New York Times spent the following week hailing Rather for his "journalistic coup" in obtaining the documents that no other newsman had (other than Jayson Blair).
By now, all reputable document examiners in the Northern Hemisphere dispute the documents' authenticity. Even the Los Angeles Times has concluded that the documents are fraudulent -- and when you fail to meet the ethical standards of the L.A. Times, you're in trouble.
In Dan Rather's defense, it must be confessed, he is simply a newsreader. Now that Walter Cronkite is retired, Rather is TV's real-life Ted Baxter without Baxter's quiet dignity. No one would ever suggest that he has any role in the content of his broadcast. To blame Dan Rather for what appears on his program would be like blaming Susan Lucci for the plot of "All My Children."
The person to blame is Ted Baxter's producer, Mary Mapes. Mapes apparently decided: We'll run the documents calling Bush a shirker in the National Guard, and if the documents turn out to be fraudulent we'll:
a) Blame Karl Rove;
b) Say the documents don't matter.
But if the documents are irrelevant to the question of Bush's Guard duty,
then why did CBS bring them up? Why not just say: "The important thing is for you to take our word for it!"
Interestingly, the elite (and increasingly unwatched) media always make
"mistakes" in the same direction. They never move too quickly to report a story unfavorable to liberals.
In 1998, CNN broadcast its famous "Tailwind" story, falsely accusing the
U.S. military of gassing American defectors in Laos during the Vietnam War. (This was part of liberals' long-standing support for "the troops.") The publishing industry regularly puts out proven frauds such as: "I, Rigoberta Menchu" (a native girl's torture at the hands of the right-wing Guatemalan military), "Arming America: The Origins of a National Gun Culture" (a liberal fantasy of a gun-free colonial America), "Fortunate Son: George W. Bush and the Making of an American President" (a book by a convicted felon with wild stories of George Bush's drug use), and the unsourced nutty fantasies of Kitty Kelley.
In a book out this week, Kelley details many anonymous charges against the Bush family, such as that Laura Bush was a pot dealer in college, George W. Bush was the first person in America to use cocaine back in 1968, and he also regularly consorted with a prostitute in Texas who was then silenced by the CIA.
Kelley backs up her shocking allegations with names of highly credentialed people -- who have absolutely no connection to the events she is describing. No one directly involved is on the record, and the people on the record have never met anyone in the Bush family. In other words, her stories have been "vetted" enough to be included on tonight's "CBS Evening News" with Dan Rather.
The New York Times review blamed Kelley's gossip mongering on "a cultural climate in which gossip and innuendo thrive on the Internet." Kelley has been writing these books for decades, so apparently, like the Texas Air National Guard, Kelley was on the Internet -- and being influenced by it -- back in the '70s. As I remember it, for the past few years it has been the Internet that keeps dissecting and discrediting the gossip and innuendo that the major media put out.
Curiously, all this comes at the precise moment that speculation is at a
fever pitch about whether Kitty Kelley is in the advanced stages of
syphilis. According to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious
Diseases: "Approximately 3 percent to 7 percent of persons with untreated syphilis develop neurosyphilis, a sometimes serious disorder of the nervous system.
Dr. Jonathan Zenilman, M.D., associate professor of medicine at Johns
Hopkins University, has found there is an "inter-relationship" between STDs and truck routes in Baltimore. I'm not at liberty to reveal the names of my sources, but there are three or four highly placed individuals in the publishing industry who say Miss Kelley or someone who closely resembles her is a habitue of truck routes in Baltimore.
While opinions differ as to whether Miss Kelley's behavior can be explained by syphilis or some other STD, people who went to Harvard -- and Harvard is one of the top universities in the nation -- say her path is consistent with someone in the advanced stages.
Amid the swirling dispute over her STDs, there is only one way for Kelley to address this issue: Release her medical records. As someone who would like to be thought of as her friend said anonymously: "For your own good, Ms. Kelley, I would get those medical records out yesterday." This doesn't have to be public. She may release her medical records to me, or if she'd be more comfortable, to my brothers.
Since TV commentators have assured me that Dan Rather is an equal
opportunity idiot, Kelley had better clear all this up before someone slips
this column to CBS. As a precaution I've written this on a 1972 Selectric
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Political Rants
on: September 16, 2004, 11:24:17 AM
I can't get the video to open but this is horrendous:
"Americans must be able to trust the facts in political ads. Every voter has the right to truthful advertising. Free speech is no defense to massive, purposeful fraud.
"You, the FCC, have an obligation to ensure that broadcast stations around the country do not transmit misleading, deceptive and fraudulent advertising.
"We, the undersigned American citizens, demand that you require proof of fact before airing political advertisements. Laws must change to protect our democracy. "
Said with love, but are you crazy?!? You have to prove truth to a government agency before engaging in political speech?!?!?!?!?!? Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, Naderian, whatever-- this is profoundly ass-backwards.
McCain-Feingold is one of the most pernicious pieces of legislation to pass in a long, long time and shame on President Bush for signing it, and shame on the Supreme Court for upholding it. Our First Amendment has taken a serious blow with this.
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / UFC Letter.
on: September 12, 2004, 06:52:25 PM
The starting impulse came from the UFC looking for something to give the winner of the second semi-finals a chance to rest before going in against the winner of the first semi-finals and who had had a chance to rest during the second semi-finals
In that the original impulse of the UFC was to be an infomercial for Gracie JJ, they were very much into something they could present as "style versus style" and someone had the idea to do the same things with martial arts weapons.
They asked around and apparently everyone sent them to us.
Promoter Art Davie came over to my house and I showed him lots of fight footage. He was VERY excited.
We discussed various possibilities:
1) Top Dog vs Salty Dog;
2) Top Dog, Salty Dog, and I against three stick players from other groups;
3) Top Dog vs Salty Dog and Sled Dog versus me;
4) Top, Salty, and I against other weapons (e.g. a nun-chux group from France.)
These possibilities were discussed within the context of the gear that we currently use or no gear at all.
Art facillated amongst various concerns:
1) That no one would be in our league (I assured him that such was not the case, but he replied "You haven't seen the footage I've seen") and that the fights would be slaughters;
2) That if we fought amongst ourselves that the audience would doubt the integrity of the fight;
3) That someone would get killed;
4) That by putting us on, he would get the entire UFC shut down.
With regard to this last concern, at that point (this would be around UFC 2 or 3) and for much time thereafter the UFC had tremendous legal problems with various authorities.
I remember much later when I was judge for UFC 10 that the location (Birmingham AL?) was a last minute substitution for NY (I think) because the authorities in NY had nixed it at the last minute. It was like that for the UFC in those days-- they always had to have alternate venues. Art told me that Ref. Big John McCarthy, who was also an LEO accustomed to testifying in court, saved the event more than once by impressing a judge with his presence-- the judge felt that this was a responsible man, capable of maintaining order in the cage (I've seen him deadlift 605 for 5 reps btw)
At the time that they approached us though, they were having tremendous problems with US Senator John McCain who saw the event as "human cockfighting" and was on a personal mission from God to stop it. Thus the problem was federal, not a matter of finding a particular State in which to host an event.
And so he told us "Next time". To make a long story short, each "next time" became another "next time". Art and the rest of the crew at the UFC really wanted to do it, but then as the legal environment of the event became more secure, they didn't want to risk upsetting the apple cart by throwing us into the mix.
Art broke the news to me that it wasn't going to happen. I asked him for the letter which now graces our website and he graciously agreed.
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Three years later , , ,
on: September 09, 2004, 11:57:09 PM
A Howl of Respect to All:
It is natural to use anniversaries for taking stock of things and we approach the third anniversary of Flight 93.
Those of you who read the WW3 thread know that from time to time I post things from www.stratfor.com
It is not cheap, but I recommend it highly. What follows is one of their ongoing "freebies" that they use to show the level that they are at.
In my humble opinion, this is a superb analysis that all of us of all tendencies will find well worth the read.
THE GEOPOLITICAL INTELLIGENCE REPORT
September 11: Three Years Later
September 9, 2004
By George Friedman
The U.S.-jihadist war is now nearly three years old. Like most
wars, its course has been an unfolding surprise. It is a war of
many parts -- some familiar, some unprecedented. Like all wars,
it has been filled with heroism, cowardice, lies, confusion and
grief. As usual, it appears to everyone that the levels of each
of these have been unprecedented. In truth, however, very little
about this war is unprecedented -- save that all wars are, by
definition, unprecedented. Only one thing is certain about this
war: Like all others, it will end. The issue on the table on the
third anniversary is: What is the current state of this war, and
how will it end?
The war was begun by al Qaeda, and therefore its state must be
viewed through al Qaeda's eyes. From that standpoint, the war is
not going well at all. Al Qaeda did not attack the United States
on Sept. 11 simply to kill Americans. Al Qaeda wanted to kill
Americans in order to achieve a political goal: the recreation of
at least part of the caliphate, an empire ruled by Islamic law
and feared and respected by the rest of the world.
Al Qaeda's view was that the real obstacles to such a caliphate
were the governments of Muslim countries. These governments
either were apostates, were corrupt or were so complicit with
Christian, Jewish or Hindu regimes that not only did they not
represent Islamic interests, but they had sold out the immediate
interests of their own people.
From al Qaeda's point of view, the power of these regimes resided
in their relationship with foreign powers. Moreover, the
perception of these foreign powers -- particularly the United
States, which had become the latest edition of Christianity's
leading foreign power -- was that they were irresistible. Muslim
countries had not defeated a Christian power in war for
centuries. Hatred ran deep, but so did impotence. Al Qaeda was
far less interested in increasing hatred of the United States
than in showing that the United States was vulnerable -- that it
could be defeated. Al Qaeda argued that the mujahideen had
demonstrated this in Afghanistan against the Soviet Union, and
the Soviet Union collapsed as a result. If al Qaeda could
demonstrate America's vulnerability, a sense of confidence would
infuse the Islamic world and regimes would fall or change their
The Sept. 11 attacks were designed to demonstrate the
vulnerability of the United States. They also were designed to
entice the United States to wage multiple wars in the Islamic
world while pursuing al Qaeda directly and indirectly, further
opening the United States up to attack and attrition. Al Qaeda
did demonstrate American vulnerability, and the United States did
surge into the Muslim world. It did encounter resistance and took
But al Qaeda completely failed to achieve its strategic goals.
There was no rising in the Islamic street. Not a single Muslim
regime fell. Not a single regime moved closer to al Qaeda's
position. Almost all Muslim regimes moved to closer cooperation
with the United States. Viewed through the lens of al Qaeda's
hopes and goals, therefore, the war so far has been a tremendous
failure. In various tapes and releases, al Qaeda officials --
including Osama bin Laden -- have expressed their frustration and
their commitment to continue the struggle. However, it is
essential to realize that from al Qaeda's strategic point of
view, the last three years have been a series of failures and
This is the objective reality. It is not the American perception.
The first reason for this perception gap is the definition the
administration has given the war: It is a war on terrorism. If
the goal of the war has been to deny al Qaeda strategic victory,
then the United States is winning the war. If, on the other hand,
the goal of the war is to protect the homeland against any
further attacks by al Qaeda or other groups, then that goal has
not been achieved.
Al Qaeda's primary operational capability is its ability to evade
U.S. intelligence capabilities. This is not a trivial capability.
Three years into the war, the precise shape and distribution of
al Qaeda and related organizations are still not transparent to
U.S. intelligence. However much more the United States knows
about al Qaeda, it does not appear that its abilities are
sufficient to guarantee the security of the United States or
allied countries against enemy attacks. There are too many
potential targets, and al Qaeda remains too invisible to
Therefore, on a purely operational level, the United States does
not see itself as winning the war. During World War II, for
example -- by 1943 or even earlier -- the United States was
secure from German or Japanese attacks against the homeland. That
is not the case in this war. Therefore, there is an interesting
paradox built in. On the strategic side, al Qaeda is losing --
and thus the United States is winning -- the strategic war, and
this, of course, is the decisive sphere. On the operational side,
even though there has thus far been no repeat of the Sept. 11
attacks in the United States, the war is at a stalemate. Public
perception is more sensitive to the operational stalemate than to
the strategic success.
This has led to a crisis of confidence about the war that has
been compounded by a single campaign -- Iraq -- which has dwarfed
the general war in apparent importance. As readers of Stratfor
know, our view of the Iraq campaign has been that it was the
logical next step in the general war and that the Bush
administration knew that by February 2002, when it became
apparent that U.S. intelligence could not strike globally to
destroy al Qaeda. It has also been our view that the Iraq
campaign was marred by extremely poor intelligence and planning.
We have also argued that such failures are not only common in war
but inevitable, and that these failures, however egregious, were
to be expected.
We have also argued, and continue to be amazed, that the single
greatest failure of the Bush administration in this war has been
its inability to give a coherent explanation of why it invaded
Iraq. The public justification -- that Iraq had weapons of mass
destruction -- was patently absurd on its face. You do not invade
a country with a year's warning if you are really afraid of WMD.
The incoherence of the justification was self-evident prior to
the war, and the failure to find WMD was merely icing on the
cake. The consequence was a crisis of confidence that was a very
unlikely outcome after Sept. 11 and which the administration
built for itself. In other words, the decision to invade Iraq
was, from our point of view, inevitable following the failure of
the covert war. What was not inevitable was the catastrophic
failure to explain the invasion and the resulting crisis of
The clearest explanation for this failure has to do with Saudi
Arabia and the U.S. relation to the kingdom -- a relationship
that goes far beyond the Bush family or either political party.
Saudi Arabia was one of the reasons for the invasion. The U.S.
intent was to frighten the Saudis into policy change,
demonstrating (a) that the Saudis were now surrounded by U.S.
troops and (b) that the United States was no longer influenced by
the Saudis. The goal was to force the Saudis to change their
behavior toward financing al Qaeda. Stating this goal publicly
would have destabilized the Saudi regime, however, and the United
States wanted policy change, not regime change. Therefore,
Washington preferred to appear the fool rather than destabilize
If this is the explanation -- and we emphatically do believe,
from all analysis and sources, that the administration did have a
much more sophisticated strategy in place on Iraq than it has
ever been able to enunciate -- then it was one with severe costs.
Apart from the specific failures in the war, the generation of a
massive crisis of confidence in the United States over the Iraq
campaign has become a strategic reality of the wider war. To the
extent that this is a war of perception -- and on some level, all
wars are -- the perception that the United States is deeply
divided is damaging. The actual debate is over the Iraq campaign
and not the war as a whole, but this has increasingly been lost
in the clamor. There is much more consensus on the war as a whole
than might appear.
Therefore, we can say that al Qaeda has failed to achieve its
strategic goals. At the same time, the United States is facing
its own strategic crisis. Since Vietnam, the fundamental question
has been whether the United States has sufficient will and
national unity to execute a long-term war. One of the purposes of
the Iraq invasion was to demonstrate American will. The errors in
what we might call information warfare -- or propaganda -- by the
Bush administration have generated severe doubts. The
administration's management of the situation has turned into a
strategic defeat -- although not a decisive one as yet.
Massive dissent about wars has been the norm in American history.
We tend to think of World War II as the norm, but, quite the
contrary, it was the exception. The Revolutionary War, Mexican
War, Civil War, Vietnam War and others all contained amazing
levels of rancor among the American public. The vilification
among the citizenry of Washington's generalship or Lincoln's
presidency during the action was quite amazing. Thus, it is not
the dissent that is startling, but the perception of U.S.
weakness that it generates in the Islamic world. And the
responsibility does not rest with the dissidents, but with the
president's failure to understand the strategic consequences of
public incoherence on policy issues. Keeping it simple works only
when the simple explanation is not too difficult to understand.
Let us therefore consider the salient points:
Al Qaeda has failed to reach its strategic goals.
The United States has not secured the homeland against attack.
There has been a major realignment in the Muslim world's
governments, due to U.S. politico-military operations that have
favored the United States.
There has been no mass uprising in the Islamic world as a result
of the Sept. 11 attacks.
The Iraq campaign has involved massive failures, but the casualty
rate remains less than 2 percent of the total killed in Vietnam.
That places the problem in perspective. In addition, the
political situation is increasingly manageable in Iraq.
The strategic management of information operations has been the
major U.S. failure. It is serious enough to threaten the
strategic thrust of the war against al Qaeda. The inability to
provide a coherent explanation for Iraq has substantially harmed
the war effort.
At the same time, this should not be overestimated. It is
interesting to note the problem that John Kerry is having in
articulating his own challenge to the president over Iraq and the
war in general. He has three potential strategies:
Reject the war in general
Reject the Iraq campaign but embrace the rest of the war
Accept Iraq and the war and argue that he would be more competent
in executing both
Kerry vacillates between the last two positions for a reason. If
he takes the first position, he risks alienating the center,
where voters are uncomfortable with any anti-war position but
want superior leadership and execution. If he accepts the third
position, he can take the center but risks the possibility that
hard-core anti-war leftists will stay home on Election Day.
Therefore, he is avoiding a strategic decision between the last
two positions -- shifting tactically between the two, hoping to
bridge the gap. This is a difficult plan, but it seems the only
one open to him. It is also the factor that will limit the extent
of strategic damage stemming from Bush's presentation of the Iraq
campaign. Kerry won't be able to effectively exploit that damage
because of his own political problems.
Therefore, at this moment, we would argue that the war, on the
whole, is being won by the United States or, more precisely, is
being lost by al Qaeda. The purely military aspects of the war
are going better for the United States than is the politico-
military effort, primarily due to the complexity of coercing
allies without causing them public humiliation. But that is also
the weak point of the U.S. campaign and the point at which al
Qaeda will try to counterattack. That covert coercion could, al
Qaeda hopes, energize a political movement it is trying to
The war is far from over. The snapshot of the moment does not
tell us what either side may do in the future. The United States
clearly intends to move into Pakistan to find bin Laden's command
center. Al Qaeda clearly intends to destabilize Saudi Arabia and
any other target of opportunity that might open up -- Pakistan or
Egypt. And in the end, as in all wars, there will be a
negotiation. It is impossible to really envision what that
negotiation would look like or who the parties would actually be,
but -- returning to the point that this war, like all others,
will end -- complete victory by either side is the least likely
Whatever the outcome, this much must be understood. On Nov. 8,
the United States will have a president who will never again
stand for re-election. He may have the office for four more years
or for only two more months. In either case, we can expect that
an attempt at decisive action will occur. Win or lose, Bush will
be looking for his place in history. A Bush acting without
political constraints will be the wild card in the next phase of
(c) 2004 Strategic Forecasting, Inc. All rights reserved.http://www.stratfor.com
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Has anyone ever seen a real Kali fight?
on: September 08, 2004, 01:05:59 AM
You seem to speak English very well, yet for some reason my words are not registering.
I make no claims concerning mother art or any of the rest of it. Have you bothered to go back in the thread as I suggested so that you may have the proper context for my remarks, and thus for the remarks of Guro Inosanto?
"If the word, with the definition it has been given (not its muslim/arabic sounding cognate), does not exist in the Philippines now within a span of 50 to 100 years, we must hold this word (with its meaning) suspect."
Again, words offered in conversation seem to fail to register. Are we to be dogs barking at each other across a fence or are we men communicating? There is the Mirafuentes introduction, and there is Guro Inosanto's recounting of what he learned from Manong LaCoste. If you think him a liar, then say so.
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Has anyone ever seen a real Kali fight?
on: September 07, 2004, 11:59:38 PM
Who in FMA wants to categorize their art as sport? Kali, the mother art, and Arnis and Eskrima, her bastard Spanish children are all combative. However as time passed some of them became dance or sport.
I watched a dogbrothers movie and Leo Giron specifically expresses his interest in turning the art into a sport.
That would be the video "The Grandfathers Speak" with which we open the series "Dog Brothers Martial Arts". My purpose was to begin the series showing respect to some of the grandfathers who brought the Art to us here in America.
IIRC, we begin the video with GM Giron saying "Eskrima is the science of bolo knife fighting, but we use sticks so nobody gets killed."
Again IIRC his comments about turning the Art into a sport were in the context of operating in America without getting shut down. Few men appreciated the martial realities as deeply as GM Giron.
Forgive me the advertising, but I would not be worthy of my sobriquet if I failed to mention that we are in the process of converting our videos to DVD and look to have goodies in each DVD not present in the video version. For the "Grandfathers" conversion I'm thinking to use a goodly portion of a 35 minute interview I did with GM Giron is his training hall in the basement of his house.
I admired this man greatly and treasure the occasions I had with him.