Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WW3
on: April 09, 2004, 02:00:40 AM
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THE STRATFOR WEEKLY
08 April 2004
Gaming Out Iraq
The United States is involved in its greatest military crisis
since the fall of Baghdad a year ago. This is the convergence of
two separate processes. The first is the apparent re-emergence of
the Sunni guerrillas west of Baghdad; the second is a split in
the Shiite community and an internal struggle that has targeted
the United States. In the worst-case scenario, these events could
have a disastrous outcome for the United States, but there are
reasons to think that the worst case is not the most likely at
The United States is experiencing its greatest military crisis in
Iraq since the fall of Baghdad on April 9, 2003. On the one hand,
the Sunni guerrillas that the United States appeared to have
defeated after the Ramadan offensive of October and November 2003
have not been destroyed. Although their role in triggering the
March 31 attack against U.S. civilian contractors in Al Fallujah
is an open question, they have benefited politically from the
U.S. cordon around the city and have taken shots at distracted
U.S. forces in the area, such as the U.S. Marines in Ar Ramadi.
On the other hand, a Shiite militia led by young cleric Moqtada
al-Sadr has launched an offensive in Baghdad and in a number of
cities in Iraq's south. U.S. intelligence expected none of this;
L. Paul Bremer, the U.S. administrator in Iraq, had scheduled a
trip to Washington that he had to cancel hurriedly.
The offensives appear to challenge two fundamental strategic
assumptions that were made by U.S. planners. The first was that,
due to penetrations by U.S. intelligence, the Sunni insurgency
was deteriorating and would not restart. The second, much more
important assumption was that the United States had a strategic
understanding with the Shiite leadership that it would contain
anti-American military action south of Baghdad, and that -- and
this is critical -- they would under no circumstances collaborate
with the Sunnis.
It now appears that these basic premises are being rendered
Obviously, the Sunni guerrillas are still around, at least in the
Al Fallujah-Ar Ramadi corridor. U.S. efforts in that area of the
Sunni Triangle are aimed at finding those responsible for the
deaths and subsequent public mutilation of four U.S. civilian
contractors March 31. Current U.S. operations might be in
offensive mode -- suggesting that the Baathist guerrillas have
yet to fully regroup -- but as the siege of Al Fallujah drags on,
the potential grows for the insurgency to acquire sympathetic
recruits. Equally obviously, some of the Shia have taken up arms
against the United States, spreading the war to the region south
of Iraq. Finally, there are some reports of Sunni-Shiite
collaboration in the Baghdad area.
We might add that the outbreak west of Baghdad and the uprising
in the south could have been coincidental, but if so, it was one
amazing coincidence. Not liking coincidences ourselves -- and
fully understanding the contingent events that led to al-Sadr's
decision to strike -- we have to wonder about the degree to which
the events of the past week or so were planned.
If current trends accelerate, the United States faces a serious
military challenge that could lead to disaster. The United States
does not have the forces necessary to put down a broad-based
Shiite rising and crush the Sunni rebellion as well. Even the
current geography of the rising is beyond the capabilities of
existing deployments or any practicable number of additional
forces that might be made available. The United States is already
withdrawing from some cities. The logical outcome of all of this
would be an enclave strategy, in which the United States
concentrates its forces -- in a series of fortified locations --
perhaps excluding Iraqi nationals -- and leaves the rest of the
country to the guerrillas. That, of course, would raise the
question of why the United States should bother to remain in
Iraq, since those forces would not be able to exert effective
force either inside the country or beyond its borders.
That would force a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq. The consequences of
such a withdrawal would be catastrophic for the U.S. grand
strategy in the war against militant Islamists. One of the
purposes of the war was to disprove al Qaeda's assertion that the
United States was actually militarily weak and that it could not
engage in close combat in the Islamist world, certainly not in
the face of a mass uprising. An American withdrawal would prove
al Qaeda's claims and would energize Islamists not only with
hatred of the United States, but also -- and worse -- with
contempt for American power. It would create the worst of all
possible worlds for the United States.
It follows that the United States is going to do everything it
can to abort this process.
It also might well be that the process -- as we have laid it out
-- is faulty. The uprising in the Al Fallujah-Ar Ramadi corridor
might have peaked already. The al-Sadr rising perhaps does not
represent a reversal of Shiite strategic orientation, but is
primarily a self-contained, internal event about al-Sadr's
relationship with other Shiite clergy. The reports of
collaboration between Shia and Sunnis could be false or represent
a small set of cases.
These are the issues on which the conflict and the future of the
U.S. presence in Iraq turn. It is the hope of the guerrillas --
Sunni and Shiite -- to create a situation that compels a U.S.
withdrawal, either from the country or into fortified enclaves;
it is obviously the intention of the United States to prevent
The Sunni Threat
The Sunni part of the equation is the least threatening. If Sunni
guerrillas have managed to regroup, it is disturbing that U.S.
intelligence was unable to prevent the reorganization. But there
is a very real silver lining in this: One of the ways the
guerrillas might have been able to regroup without being detected
was by doing it on a relatively small scale, limiting their
organization to hundreds or even dozens of members.
Certainly, they have many more sympathizers than that, but a
careful distinction must be drawn -- and is not being drawn by
the media -- between sympathizers and guerrillas. Sympathizers
can riot -- they can even generate an intifada -- but that is not
the same as conducting guerrilla war. Guerrillas need a degree of
training, weapons and organization.
The paradox of guerrilla war is that the more successful a
guerrilla offensive, the more it opens the guerrillas to
counteraction by the enemy. In order to attack, they must
communicate, come out of hiding and converge on the target. At
that moment, they can be destroyed and -- more important --
captured. Throwing a large percentage of a guerrilla force into
an attack either breaks the enemy or turns into a guerrilla
The U.S. Marines west of Baghdad are not about to be broken.
Therefore, if our assumption about the relative size of the
guerrilla force and the high percentage that have been thrown
into this operation is correct, this force will not be able to
sustain the current level of operations much longer. If the
guerrilla force is large enough to sustain such operations, then
the U.S. intelligence failure is so huge as to be difficult to
comprehend. Protests and riots are problems and create a strain
on resources, but they do not fundamentally affect the ability of
the United States to remain engaged in Iraq.
The Shiite Threat
It is not the Sunni offensive that represents a threat, it is the
Shia. The question is simple: Does al-Sadr's rising represent a
fundamental shift in the Shiite community as a whole, or is it
simply a small faction of the Shia that has risen? The U.S.
command in Iraq has argued that al-Sadr represents a marginal
movement, at odds with the dominant Shiite leadership, lashing
out in a desperate attempt to change the internal dynamics of the
For this analysis to be correct, a single fact must be true: Ali
al-Sistani, the grand ayatollah of the Iraqi Shia, is not only
opposed to al-Sadr, but also remains committed to carrying out
his basic bargain with the United States. If that is true, then
all will be well for the Americans in the end. If it is wrong,
then the worst-case scenarios have to be taken seriously.
The majority Iraqi Shiite population suffered greatly under the
regime of Saddam Hussein, which was dominated by the Sunni
minority. After the fall of Hussein, the Shia's primary interest
was in guaranteeing not only that a Sunni government would not
re-emerge, but also that the future of Iraq would be in the hands
of the Shia. This interest was shared by the Shia in Iran, who
also wanted to see a Shiite government emerge in order to secure
Iran's frontier from its historical enemy, Iraq.
The first U.S. impulse after the fall of Baghdad was that
Americans would govern Iraq indefinitely, on their terms -- and
without compromising with Iranian sympathizers. That plan was
blown out of the water by the unexpected emergence of a Sunni
guerrilla force. The United States needed indigenous help. Even
more than help, it needed guarantees that the Shia would not rise
up and render the U.S. presence in Iraq untenable.
The United States and the Shiite elites -- Iranian and Iraqi --
reached an accommodation: The United States guaranteed the Shia a
democratic government, which meant that the majority Shia would
dominate -- and the Shia maintained the peace in the south. They
did not so much collaborate with the Americans as maintain a
peace that permitted the United States to deal with the Sunnis.
The end state of all of this was to be a Shiite government that
would permit some level of U.S. forces to remain indefinitely in
As the Sunni rising subsided, the United States felt a decreased
dependency on the Shia. The transitional Iraqi government that is
slated to take power June 30 would not be an elected government,
but rather a complex coalition of groups -- including Shia, Kurds
and Sunnis, as well as small ethnic groups -- that would be
constituted so as to give all the players a say in the future. In
other words, the Shia would not get a Shiite-dominated government
It was for this reason that al-Sistani began to agitate for
direct elections. He knew that the Shia would win that election
and that this was the surest path to direct Shiite power.
Washington argued there was not enough time for direct elections
-- a claim that was probably true -- but which the Shia saw as
the United States backpedaling on fundamental agreements. The
jury-rigged system the Americans wanted in place for a year would
give the Sunnis a chance to recover -- not the sort of recovery
the Shia wanted to see. Moreover, the Shia observed the quiet
romance between the United States and some key Sunni tribal
leaders after the capture of Hussein, and their distrust of long-
term U.S. motives grew.
Al-Sistani made it clear that he did not trust the transitional
plan and that he did not believe it protected Shiite interests or
represented American promises. The United States treated al-
Sistani with courtesy and respect but made it clear that it was
not planning to change its position.
In the meantime, a sea change had taken place in Iranian
politics, with a conservative government driving the would-be
reformers out of power. The conservatives did not object to the
deal with the United States, but they wanted to be certain that
the United States did not for a moment believe that the Iranians
were acting out of weakness. The continual hammering by the
United States on the nuclear issue with Iran convinced the
Iranians that the Washington did not fully appreciate the
position it was in.
As Iranian Expediency Council chief and former President Ali
Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani bluntly put it Feb. 24: "They continue
to send us threatening messages and continue to raise the four
questions," referring to Washington's concerns about Iran's
nuclear program, opposition to the Middle East peace process,
alleged support of militant groups and human rights. "But they
are stuck in the mud in Iraq, and they know that if Iran wanted
to, it could make their problems even worse."
Al-Sistani did not want the June 30 transition to go forward on
U.S. terms. The Iranians did not want the United States to think
it had Iran on the defensive. A confrontation with the United
States under these circumstances was precisely what was in both
al-Sistani and Iran's interests. Both wanted to drive home to the
Americans that they held power in Iraq and that the United States
was there at the sufferance of the Shia. The United States had
forgotten its sense of desperation during the Sunni Ramadan
offensive, and the Shia needed to remind them -- but they needed
to do so without a rupture with Washington, which was, after all,
instrumental to their long-term plans.
Al-Sadr was the perfect instrument. He was dangerous, deniable
and manageable. U.S. officials have expressed surprise that al-
Sadr -- who they did not regard highly -- was able to create such
havoc. Obviously, al-Sistani could have dealt with al-Sadr if and
when he wished. But for the moment, al-Sistani didn't wish. He
wanted to show the Americans the abyss they faced if they
continued on the path to June 30 without modifying the plan.
The Americans have said al-Sistani has not been helpful in this
crisis. He is not ready to be helpful and won't be until a more
suitable understanding is reached with the United States. He will
act in due course because it is not in al-Sistani's interests to
allow al-Sadr to become too strong. Quite the contrary: Al-
Sistani runs the risk that the situation will get so far out of
hand that he will not be able to control it either. But al-
Sistani is too strong for al-Sadr to undermine, and al-Sadr is,
in fact, al-Sistani's pawn. Perhaps more precisely, al-Sadr is
al-Sistani's ace in the hole. Having played him, al-Sistani will
be as interested in liquidating al-Sadr's movement as the United
States is -- once Washington has modified its plans for a postwar
The worst-case scenario is not likely to happen. The Sunni
guerrillas are not a long-term threat. The Shia are a long-term
threat, but their interests are not in war with the United
States, but in achieving a Shiite-dominated Iraqi state as
quickly as possible -- without giving the United States an
opportunity to double-cross them. Al-Sistani demanded elections
and didn't get them. What he really wants is a different
transition process that gives the Shia more power. After the past
week, he is likely to get it. And Washington will not soon forget
who controls Iraq.
This will pass. But the strategic reality of the U.S. forces in
Iraq is permanent. Those forces are there because of the
sufferance of the Iraqi Shia. The Shia know it, and they want the
Americans to know it. With Washington planning an offensive in
Pakistan, the last thing it needs is to pump more forces into
Iraq. In due course, al-Sistani will become helpful, but the
price will be even higher than before.
(c) 2004 Strategic Forecasting, Inc. All rights reserved.http://www.stratfor.com
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Political Rants
on: April 07, 2004, 12:18:30 PM
In defense of the Stars and Stripes
Anti-Americanism by Jean-Francois Revel, French-English translation by Diarmid Cammell
Reviewed by John Parker
All across the globe, from Sydney to Siberia, from Quebec to Patagonia, there is one sporting obsession that unifies the entire human race. Young and old, male and female, black, white and every shade in between, there is one pleasurable activity that unifies them all.
I'm speaking, of course, about America-bashing. (Why, did you think I was talking about something else?) By 2004, any remaining wisps of sympathy for the Americans who were forced to choose between jumping and burning alive in 2001 had long since dissipated, and the globe had returned to its former habit of treating the United States as the official whipping boy for all the world's ills.
Indeed, anti-Americanism has ascended from its former status as the preoccupation of a relative handful of Jurassic Marxists, professional victims, Third World whiners, and Islamo-fascist troglodytes to the level of a major new global religion. Like any religion, it has its saints (which include the likes of Che Guevara and Ho Chi Minh), its martyrs (the Rosenbergs, the Guantanamo Bay detainees and Saddam Hussein's sons), its high priests (Noam Chomsky, Michael Moore and Abu Bakar Ba'asyir), and its desperately over-eager wanna-bes (eg, Asia Times Online's very own Pepe Escobar, whose viewpoint on any issue can be predicted with absolute accuracy by simply asking "what interpretation of this situation will put the United States in the worst light?").
Curiously, however, while the religion has a hell (America), and a devil (George W Bush), it lacks both a heaven (the collectivist pipe dream having been found wanting) and a god (since the anti-Americans consider themselves as having evolved beyond the need for a deity - save their Islamist faction, which wants to impose its religion forcibly on everyone else). Still, the anti-American cult provides its legions of drooling adherents with the crucial element of any faith: the illusion of meaning in an otherwise meaningless existence. That priceless psychological salve, in this case, is the comforting delusion that, no matter how hypocritical, backward, bigoted, ignorant, corrupt or cowardly the cult's followers might otherwise be, at least they are better than those awful Americans.
Jean-Francois Revel is a distinguished French writer who has, for nearly all his working life, chosen the rockiest path any intellectual can choose: the path of true non-conformity (as distinct from the ersatz, self-described non-conformists one finds on any university campus in the Western world). Specifically, Revel has chosen to confront directly - not only in this volume, but in several earlier books that touched on the issue - the entrenched anti-Americanism of an entire generation of European intellectuals, particularly French ones. Like his countryman Emile Zola (whose explosive article "J'accuse" attacked French society's handling of the Alfred Dreyfus affair), he has dared to defend an unpopular scapegoat and, in so doing, has probably done more to earn the gratitude of Americans than any Frenchman since General Lafayette, who came to the aid of the American revolutionary cause.
The reason that Revel's attitude toward the US is so strikingly different from most of his compatriots is not difficult to find: indeed, one finds it on the very first page of this book, when the author reveals that he lived and traveled frequently in the US between 1970 and 1990. During this time, he had conversations with "a wide range of Americans - politicians, journalists, businessmen, students and university professors, Democrats and Republicans, conservatives, liberals and radicals, and people I met in passing from every walk of life". This simple action - talking to actual Americans and asking them what they think, as opposed to blindly regurgitating European conventional wisdom about what Americans think - was obviously the critical step in separating Revel from the smug, chauvinistic sheep who predominate in his intellectual class. It was a step that the vast majority of this class, then and now, have been unwilling to take: they simply cherish their prejudice against Americans too greatly to face the possibility that real, live examples might not conform to it.
In Monsieur Revel's case, these conversations led to his first book, Without Marx or Jesus, published in 1970. Thirty-four years ago, Revel was "astonished by evidence that everything Europeans were saying about the US was false"; sadly, this situation has not changed in the slightest in the intervening time. Indeed, if anything, the conventional wisdom about the United States is even more wrong today than it was then. Without Marx or Jesus made two main points: first, that major social/political developments taking place in the US in the late 1960s, such as the Vietnam War protests, the American Free Speech movement, and the sexual revolution, constituted a new type of revolution, distinct from the working-class uprising predicted by the Marxist theories then in fashion. Second, Revel predicted that the great revolution of the 20th century would turn out to be the "liberal revolution" - ie, the spread of multiparty democracy and market economics - rather than the "socialist revolution". The latter point may appear to be almost conventional wisdom today, but it was a bold assertion in 1970. Most of the book consisted of a point-by-point rebuttal of the reflexive anti-Americanism of the day, and correctly identified its main psychological wellspring: envious resentment due to Europe's loss of leadership status in Western civilization during the postwar era.
In this first book, Revel also described the definitive proof of the irrational origins of anti-American arguments: "reproaching the United States for some shortcoming, and then for its opposite ... a convincing sign that we are in the presence not of rational analysis, but of obsession". In the 1960s, the best example of this behavior was European attitudes toward US involvement in Vietnam. A startling number of French commentators developed a sudden amnesia about their country's own involvement in Indochina, and the fact that France, while embroiled in its ugly war with the Viet Minh, "frequently pleaded for and sometimes obtained American help". Thus the same French political class that begged president Dwight Eisenhower to send B-29s to save the Foreign Legion at Dien Bien Phu was only too quick to label the United States a "neo-imperialist", or worse, for subsequently intervening in the unholy mess that the preceding decades of French colonial misrule had largely created.
In Anti-Americanism, which is basically a sequel to Without Marx or Jesus, a more contemporary example of the same phenomenon is given: the nearly simultaneous criticism of the US for "arrogant unilateralism" and "isolationism". As Revel dryly observes, "the same spiteful bad temper inspired both indictments, though of course they were diametrically opposed".
Examples of this psychopathology are almost endless, but the Iraq crisis has certainly provided a profusion of new cases. For example, during the 12 years after 1991, the anti-American press was filled with self-righteous hand-wringing over what was billed as the terrible suffering of the Iraqi people under UN sanctions. But when the administration of President George W Bush abandoned the sanctions policy (a policy that, incidentally, had been considered the cautious, moderate course of action when it was originally adopted) in favor of a policy of regime change by military force - which was obviously the only realistic way to end the sanctions - did these dyspeptic howler monkeys praise the United States for trying to alleviate Iraqis' suffering? No, of course not - instead, without batting an eyelash, they simply began criticizing the United States for the "terrible civilian casualties" caused by bombing.
Innumerable cases like this have made it perfectly clear to Americans that they will automatically be despised no matter what policy option they select. Furthermore, the only rational reaction Americans could have to this situation is to keep their own counsel when it comes to foreign policy, and leave their fair-weather friends - or, more accurately, no-weather friends - at arm's length. Predictably, however, the anti-American cult has a third accusation pre-packaged and ready to go for this very reaction: the inexplicable reluctance of Americans to listen attentively to their perpetually peeved critics is the result of their "arrogant unilateralism"! (Naturally, the possibility that the anti-American cultists' own statements might have played a role in promoting this behavior is never even considered.)
The most notable characteristic of Anti-Americanism, as a text, is the blistering, take-no-prisoners quality of its prose. Even those diametrically opposed to Revel's views would be forced to acknowledge his skills as a pugnacious rhetorician who does not eschew sarcasm as a weapon.
A few examples will suffice: referring to anti-war banners that proclaimed "No to terrorism. No to war", Revel scoffs that this "is about as intelligent as 'No to illness. No to medicine'." Responding to the indictment of the United States as a "materialistic civilization", he says: "Everyone knows that the purest unselfishness reigns in Africa and Asia, especially in the Muslim nations, and that the universal corruption that is ravaging them is the expression of a high spirituality."
Addressing the claim of the Japanese philosopher Yujiro Nakamura that "American culture ignores [the] dark dimension" of human beings, the author observes: "Evidently, Nakamura has never read Melville, Poe, Hawthorne, Henry James, Faulkner, Tennessee Williams, [etc], to mention only a few explorers of the depths." And he is positively withering in his contempt for Japanese intellectuals who, in the wake of September 11, opined that America's wealth disqualifies it from speaking in the name of human rights: "Everyone knows that Japan has always been deeply respectful towards [human rights], as Koreans, Chinese and Filipinos can amply confirm." Revel opens his sixth chapter, "Being Simplistic", by recalling the "pitying, contemptuous sneers" that greeted president Ronald Reagan's characterization of the Soviet Union as an "evil empire", then retorts, "it is not apparent that subsequent progress in Soviet studies gives us grounds to call it the 'Benevolent Empire'." And he responds to the claim of conservative British writer Andrew Alexander that "the Cold War was an American plot" by saying: "Following a similar logic, one might build a case that the Hundred Years' War was a complete fabrication by Joan of Arc, who wanted star billing in a pseudo-resistance against the conciliatory, peace-loving English."
In general, Revel's barbs strike most accurately when aimed at his own country. For example, responding to the tired claim that the US is "not a democracy" because it has supported dictatorships in Third World countries, Revel notes: "The history of Africa and Asia swarms with dictatorships of every type ... supported by the French and the British ... But it would very much surprise French living [in that period] if you told them that they didn't live in a democratic country."
Another telling denunciation arises from the statements of Olivier Duhamel, a Socialist deputy in the European Union, who responded to the electoral success of French ultra-rightist Jean-Marie Le Pen by complaining that France was "catching up with the degenerate democracies [such as] the US, Austria and Italy". First, Revel comments on the idiocy of Duhamel's insinuation that the United States is degenerate because Frenchmen voted for an ultra-rightist, then concludes: "The strange thing is that it is always in Europe that dictatorships and totalitarian governments spring up, yet it is always America that is 'fascist'."
Of course, the danger of the author's biting approach is that it could alienate, rather than convince, his readers. But given that the hypocrisy of the anti-Americans has piled up so thickly in recent years that one practically needs a chainsaw to cut through it, there may be no other choice.
Many of Revel's observations about the anti-Americans, such as their amazingly recent advocacy (in many cases) of totalitarian communism, or the fact that many intellectuals in failed societies have sought to blame the US scapegoat instead of engaging in self-criticism, have been made before by other writers. He is at his most original, however, when analyzing the cultists' psychological motivations; for example, contrasting the motives of the anti-American left with the anti-American right. To wit, the left essentially regards the United States as a devil figure, one that it has clung to all the more tightly in the years since its former deity, Marxist collectivism, collapsed in an abyss of poverty and repression. The right, by contrast, resents the United States as a pretender to the throne of global leadership that rightfully belongs to Europe - conveniently ignoring the fact that World Wars I and II, communist ideology, and socialist-influenced economic policies, which are, in actuality, the main factors that resulted in US ascension, all originated entirely in Europe.
Revel also breaks new ground when he discusses the striking tendency of other countries to ascribe their own worst faults to the United States, in a curious "reversal of culpability". Thus the famously peace-loving Japanese and Germans excoriate the US for "militarism"; the Mexicans attack it for "electoral corruption" in the wake of the 2000 election; the British accuse it of "imperialism"; Arab writers condemn it after September 11 for "abridging press freedom" (of course, the Arab states have always been shining beacons of that freedom). The gold medal for jaw-dropping hypocrisy, however, goes to the mainland Chinese, whose unelected dictatorship routinely accuses the United States of "hegemonism". Having been the chief hegemon of Asia for most of the past 5,000 years, the Chinese are in a singularly weak position to condemn the practice. What they actually oppose, of course, is not "hegemonism" itself, but the possibility that any power other than China would dare to practice it.
France has been no exception to this universal rule. Former minister of foreign affairs Hubert Vedrine, in his book Les Mondes de Francois Mitterrand, wrote: "The foremost characteristic of the United States ... is that it has regarded itself ever since its birth as a chosen nation, charged with the task of enlightening the rest of the world." Of course, this was a wholly conventional allegation of US "arrogance", delivered to an adoring choir. But then, a discordant note - Revel alone has the temerity to observe: "What is immediately striking about this pronouncement, the obvious fact that jumps right out, is how perfectly it applies to France herself." The Gallic emperor proves embarrassingly unclothed, for virtually every "arrogant" assertion of uniqueness made by Americans has its uncannily similar counterpart made by Frenchmen: if Thomas Jefferson once said "the United States is the empire of liberty", then countless French politicians have asserted with equal megalomania, "France is the birthplace of the Rights of Man." If anything, Revel does not develop this point highly enough. For, to an American observer of countless anti-American diatribes, the most striking aspect of the United States they describe is how little it resembles the actual, physical United States, and how uncannily it resembles a doppelganger of the writer's own society.
Not every psychological trait of the anti-Americans is discussed by Revel. He does not go far enough, for example, in delineating the fundamentally onanistic character of their rhetoric; it is difficult to explain the obsessive, droning, almost pornographic quality of the criticism, and its deliberate ignorance of easily obtained contrary facts, without understanding that the primary motive of the critics is to obtain pleasure. After all, hasn't the main purpose of bigots and bullies since time immemorial been to build themselves up by tearing down their victims?
Another unmentioned aspect is the sheer adolescent pettiness of the criticism. This can be seen most clearly in international press coverage of the United States, which scarcely ever misses an opportunity to America-bash, even when reporting on areas that are in essence non-political, such as economic statistics and scientific discovery. Revel discusses the typical example of a story in the economics journal La Tribune, which gleefully announced "The End of Full Employment in the USA" when the US unemployment rate climbed to 5.5 percent in early 2001 (at the time, the French government was congratulating itself for reducing French unemployment to only twice this level). More recently, the British Broadcasting Corp gave exhaustive coverage to a technical problem with the US Mars Spirit Rover, but barely mentioned the successful effort to solve the problem. This spiteful editorial decision, and countless others like it, was typical of an organization in which balanced, accurate news coverage has become secondary to the holy task of denouncing Uncle Sam.
Finally, one must mention the increasingly ill-disguised anti-Semitism of many America-bashers. Of course, such toxic ideas are to be expected of reactionary Islamist fanatics, who are so profoundly ignorant that they practically regard Americans and Jews as synonymous. But one increasingly hears grumbling about "neo-conservatives" from non-Muslim critics who really want to say "scheming Jews", but dimly sense that this choice of words is not permissible. How delicious the human comedy is - that European elites, whose greatest crime, the Holocaust, has not even passed from living memory, should begin to re-enact that demagogic crime in their increasingly poisonous anti-American rhetoric, as though absolutely nothing had been learned in almost 60 years of postwar struggle to advance freedom, human rights and democracy! It may be that those who don't learn from the past are doomed to repeat it; but the apparent inability of Europeans, and others, to avoid such self-destructive cultural patterns raises the question of whether learning from the past is even possible.
Without a doubt, however, the defining trait of the cultists is their moral (if not physical) cowardice. While using Latin Americans as an examplar of this quality, Revel quotes the Venezuelan writer Carlos Rangel: "For Latin Americans, it is an unbearable thought that a handful of Anglo-Saxons, arriving much later than the Spanish and in such a harsh climate that they barely survived the first few winters, would become the foremost power in the world. It would require an inconceivable effort of collective self-analysis [emphasis mine] for Latin Americans to face up to the fundamental causes of this disparity. This is why, though aware of the falsity of what they are saying, every Latin American politician and intellectual must repeat that all our troubles stem from North American imperialism." In fact, the Latins are hardly unique in cowering tremulously at the prospect of "collective self-analysis": with minor changes in specifics, Rangel's fundamental point could apply equally well to most of Africa, the Slavic societies of Eastern Europe, the nations of the South Asian sub-continent, and last (but definitely not least) the benighted Arab world, which has repeatedly shown itself to be the global champion of finger-pointing and denial (as if that could make up for its glaring backwardness in virtually every other respect).
It is ironic, however, that so many East Asians would be drawn to the cult, since they, out of all the regions of the developing world, have the least reason to feel inferior to the United States (after all, many societies in the region have already surpassed the US by various objective criteria). It may be that in the Asian "school" of anti-Americanism, a different psychological dynamic is at work: since Asians are as convinced of their innate cultural superiority as all the other critics (though with infinitely more justification than most), it must make them very uncomfortable that, in almost every case, their societies' escape from thousands of years of static, inward-looking despotism only began when US, or British, influence arrived. In addition, of course, need one really point out the massive, obvious US influence on the postwar economic development, political evolution, and even the popular cultures of Asian societies? Or the fact that virtually the entire governing class of the most successful Asian economies was educated in the United States? It appears that some Asians feel subconsciously belittled by how much they owe the US, and respond by petulantly attacking their historic benefactor.
So is anti-Americanism just an exercise in onanistic hypocrisy, or does it have a real-world cost? It does, but the cost is not primarily the hurt feelings, or terrorist-caused deaths, of Americans - even if this was the main consequence, no one would care, since most of the world (to judge by their own words) already regards Americans as a non-human species, somehow introduced, one assumes, to North America by alien spacecraft. (Of course, this calculated, malicious demonization of Americans as "the other" is hugely ironic, since the US, due to its diverse ethnic composition and immigrant origins, arguably represents the entire human race more fully than any other single nation-state.) For decades, the anti-Americans have compared the US to the Roman Empire in the fond hope that a similar "decline and fall" would someday materialize (given that what followed the Roman collapse was centuries of war, ignorance, and barbarism, one questions their motives). Regrettably for the cultists, though, the US is large enough, is self-assured enough, and its political stability and economic momentum are great enough, that it will only continue to prosper regardless of their actions. To illustrate, countless commentators have parroted the cliche that the "war on terrorism" is unwinnable, but how many have noted the obvious, undeniable corollary that Osama bin Laden's self-declared war on the United States is equally unwinnable?
Therein lies another exquisite irony: the costs of anti-Americanism will be borne not by Americans, but by others. And their numbers are vast: Cubans, North Koreans, Zimbabweans, and countless others suffer and starve under their respective tyrannies because the democratic world's chattering classes, obsessed with denouncing the United States, can't be bothered with holding their criminal regimes to account. Meanwhile, in Iraq, fascist rabble, with no discernible political program save a pledge to kill more Americans, try desperately to extinguish the slightest hope of democracy, economic growth, and stability for that long-suffering land; but the world, instead of helping to beat back the wolves at the door, basks in anti-American schadenfreude. How countless are the political problems, cultural pathologies, and humanitarian disasters that fester unnoticed, all over the globe, as the anti-American cult, wallowing in ecstatic bigotry, desperately scrutinizes every utterance of the Bush administration for new critical fodder.
Indeed, it is not the slightest exaggeration to say that in 2004, anti-American sentiment has become the biggest single obstacle to human progress. It sustains repressive dictatorships everywhere; excuses corruption, torture, the oppression of women, and mass murder; provides ideological oxygen for vile, stupid "revolutionary movements" like the Maoist insurgents in Nepal; and has even promoted the spread of disease (as when, for example, Europeans haughtily dismissed Bush's AIDS initiative as insincere - God forbid that they should concur with any policy of the wicked Bush, even at the cost of a few million more African lives). By focusing monomaniacally on "why America is wrong", instead of asking "what is right", the global anti-American elite has massively failed to fulfill the most fundamental responsibility of the intellectual class: to provide dispassionate, truthful analysis that can guide society to make proper decisions. And it has contemptuously cast aside the irreplaceable, post-Cold War opportunity to irreversibly consolidate the "liberal revolution" praised by Revel - in which inheres the only true hope of lasting, global peace and development - all in the name of redressing the gaping psychological insecurities of its members.
None of this is to say that criticism of specific US policies, or aspects of US culture, is not entirely legitimate (and of course, inside the US, the ability to speak out publicly against such things is a cherished, constitutionally guaranteed, and frequently exercised right). Indeed, one is struck, when reading this book, by Revel's repeated emphasis of this very point. The author is hardly a universal apologist for US actions; in fact, he gives many examples of areas in which he disagrees with US government policies. However, Revel's critiques of the US, especially for American readers, can be easily differentiated from those of the anti-American cultists: his criticisms are reasonable, fair-minded, and based on accurate information; whereas those of the professional anti-Americans are unreasonable, unfair, and based on the willful disgregard of all contrary evidence. Rather than legitimate criticism, what Monsieur Revel, and I, deplore is the quasi-religious, obsessive, fanatical brand of anti-Americanism: the kind that blames the United States for every problem, everywhere, first, always, and forever; the kind that automatically identifies with, and supports, any criminal political thug anywhere on the globe, just because he happens to declare himself opposed to the United States; the kind that in essence has no other values or priorities at all, save the insatiable need to denounce the United States; the kind that is congenitally incapable of self-criticism, but searches endlessly, with inexhaustible creativity, for additional evidence that it can use for its interminable, tendentious show trial of the US.
I am reluctant to point out the weaknesses of Anti-Americanism, since I am in such profound agreement with its basic thesis. Nonetheless, in the interests of balance, there are some weak points.
First, the book is somewhat repetitive. The chapters are largely devoted to rebutting particular claims of the anti-Americanists - eg, that the United States promotes the allegedly nefarious globalization process (Chapter 2), that US culture is "extinguishing" others (Chapter 5), that US government policy is "simplistic" (Chapter 6), or that the United States is just about the worst society that has ever existed anywhere (Chapter 4). Partly as a by-product of this organizational scheme, similar types of material, eg denunciations of Islamic extremism, reappear in several different chapters.
Another problem is that, since the book was written in French primarily for a French audience, many of its specific examples refer to domestic French political figures and situations, which may not be familiar to international readers.
Finally, this reviewer noted at least one factual error. In a discussion of European reaction to the contested US presidential election of 2000, Revel asserts that no presidential elector has selected the minority candidate in its state since the beginning of the 19th century. (The US constitution provides for an indirect "electoral college" system for presidential elections, such that when an individual voter selects, say, the Democratic candidate for president, he or she is not actually voting for that candidate directly, but rather for a slate of "democratic electors" who, if the candidate wins a plurality in that state, are supposed to cast all the state's "electoral votes" for the Democrats.) In fact, there have been seven cases of "faithless electors" since 1948, most recently in 1988, when a Democratic elector in West Virginia selected vice presidential nominee Lloyd Bentsen for president, and presidential nominee Michael Dukakis for vice president (presumably, he thought Bentsen would make a better president). However, this error does not contradict the author's point, which is that incidents of this type have been rare. Also, European critics of the electoral-college system are somewhat tardy: Americans have been arguing for electoral-college reform for at least 200 years, and recently, 75 percent of Americans, or more, have expressed in polls a desire to elect the president directly.
These admitted flaws do not reduce the importance, and value, of Anti-Americanism as a necessary antidote to the poisonous torrent of crude, atavistic anti-US hatred that spews forth daily from newspapers, magazines, and websites around the world. In the introduction, Revel recalls how Without Marx or Jesus, 34 years ago, was also greeted with strident denunciations from the baying jackals of the anti-American cult. But predictably, this hysterical response (Revel's Italian translator even attempted to rebut the book's arguments in his footnotes) only served to pique the public's interest: ordinary readers were quick to sense that any writer who had struck such a nerve obviously had something important to say, and Without Marx or Jesus became a smash hit.
It is hardly surprising that this pattern was repeated with Anti-Americanism, which has topped the French best-seller list. (Curiously, and completely contrary to what foreign stereotypes would lead one to expect, the book has been much less successful in the US - this is primarily because the anti-American obsession is entirely one-way; most Americans are barely even aware the cult exists.) The book's success shows conclusively that at least some Europeans sense the hypocrisy and intellectual vacuity of the anti-Americanists, and are once again developing an appetite for a balanced, truthful depiction of the US, as opposed to the spurious fiction they have largely been spoon-fed thus far.
Clearly, this book will not reach the committed fanatics. However, one hopes that at least a handful of fair-minded, reasonable people in Asia, Europe and elsewhere, who have the requisite moral courage to consider contrary views, will read it. I have really only scratched the surface of I>Anti-Americanism's virtues in this review: for example, Chapter 2, which critiques the anti-globalization movement, is probably the most devastating indictment of that incoherent, infantile crusade ever committed to paper.
In our time, anti-Americanism has become a crushing, Stalinist orthodoxy, an ossified system of bigoted dogmas that ruthlessly ostracizes all who would question it. It has become boring, even to the French. In this atmosphere, Monsieur Revel's book is truly a breath of fresh air. I only wish I had written it.
Anti-Americanism by Jean-Francois Revel, French-English translation by Diarmid Cammell. English edition copyright 2003 by Encounter Books. ISBN: 1893554856, 176 pages, price US$25.95.
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Wolves & Dogs
on: April 05, 2004, 01:29:57 PM
Justices: Are Dog Searches Police Searches?
By David G. Savage, Times Staff Writer
WASHINGTON ? Drug-sniffing dogs are among the most useful weapons in the government's war on drugs, but the Supreme Court said today that it will decide whether the use of a sniffing dog amounts to a search by the police.
The Constitution forbids "unreasonable searches" by the police, and the high court in the past has said officers may not search a car for drugs unless they have some reason to suspect the motorist is breaking the law.
In November, the Illinois Supreme Court threw out drug charges against a motorist who was stopped for speeding on Interstate 80. After one officer had stopped the car, a second police officer arrived and circled the car with a "drug detection dog." When the dog smelled something in the trunk, the officer opened it and found marijuana. The motorist, Ray Caballes, was convicted and sentenced to 12 years in prison.
In reversing his conviction, the Illinois court in a 4-3 decision said the "canine sniff" amounted to an unjustified search.
Today, however, the Supreme Court said it would hear the state's appeal in Illinois vs. Caballes.
State prosecutors asked the high court to rule that a dog sniffing the air does not amount to a search.
"A canine sniff is not a search under the 4th Amendment," said Illinois Atty. Gen. Lisa Madigan in her appeal.
She cited decisions involving luggage and highway checkpoints in which the justices said that the use of a drug-sniffing dog did not invalidate a legitimate search.
Moreover, a sniffing dog does not violate anyone's right to privacy, she said, because dogs simply detect odors in the air.
"Drug detection dogs have become an effective and widely used law enforcement tool," she said.
They have been used at airports to sniff baggage and in some high schools to detect drugs in lockers.
Despite approving comments in their past opinions, the justices have not ruled squarely on whether a sniffing dog amounts to a search by police.
In the Illinois case, the state judges said that while officers had the full authority to pull over a speeding motorist and to ask him questions, they did not have the authority to bring in a drug-sniffing dog to check the vehicle. "Calling in a canine unit unjustifiably broadened the scope of an otherwise routine traffic stop into a justification," the state Supreme Court said.
If the high court were to uphold that decision, it could limit the use of drug-sniffing dogs to situations where the police have reason to suspect that drug laws are being violated. However, if the high court disagrees and rules that the use of a drug-sniffing dog is not a search, the decision could give police greater leeway in using canines as drug detectors.
The case will be heard during the fall.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Libertarian themes
on: April 05, 2004, 01:13:15 PM
Is Military Creeping
Into Domestic Spying
By ROBERT BLOCK and GARY FIELDS
Staff Reporters of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
In a little-noticed side effect of the war on terrorism, the military is edging toward a sensitive area that has been off-limits to it historically: domestic intelligence gathering and law enforcement.
Several recent incidents involving the military have raised concern among student and civil-rights groups. One was a visit last month by an Army intelligence agent to an official and students at the University of Texas law school in Austin.
The agent demanded a videotape of a recent academic conference at the school so that he could identify what he described as "three Middle Eastern men" who had made "suspicious" remarks to Army lawyers at the seminar, according to the official, Susana Aleman, the dean of student affairs.
The Army, while not disputing that the visit took place, declined to comment, saying the incident is under investigation.
Last year, the Office of Naval Intelligence, the nation&s primary source of global maritime intelligence, demanded access to the U.S. Customs Service&s database on maritime trade, saying it needed information to thwart potential terrorist activity. Customs officials initially resisted the Navy&s demands but eventually agreed to give naval intelligence much of what it wanted.
In an interview earlier this month, U.S. Customs and Border Protection chief Robert C. Bonner said he shares data only after getting Navy assurances that the information won&t be abused. Navy spokesman Jon Spiers says the Office of Naval Intelligence first approached customs about sharing inbound foreign cargo information in December 2002, and he denies there is anything improper about the request. The agency "has not overstepped any authority or crossed the line dividing law enforcement from military operations," he says.
Lt. Spiers adds that when the Navy&s top spy agency gains access to data about American companies and individuals, the information will be "subjected to a meticulous legal review" and will be retained only if it is directly related to the agency&s mission to identify potential foreign threats.
In another sign of military interest in domestic information-gathering, the Defense Intelligence Agency&s new antiterrorism task force is looking to share information with law-enforcement officials in California and New York City, according to an August 2003 General Accounting Office report.
Historically, Americans haven&t trusted the military to do domestic police work. The 1878 Posse Comitatus Act, passed in response to abuses by federal troops in the South after the Civil War, prohibits the use of the military "to execute the laws" of the U.S. That&s been widely interpreted as a ban on searching, arresting or spying on U.S. civilians by federal troops.
But the law has been violated, notably during the Vietnam War, when Army operatives spied on antiwar activists on campuses. Meanwhile, Congress has eased the law&s limits to allow the military to help prosecute the war on drugs.
After the Sept. 11 attacks, the White House sought to further loosen restrictions to allow the military to take on a new domestic-security role. It has mostly been rebuffed. In May the House refused to approve a White House-backed proposal to give the Central Intelligence Agency and the military authority to scrutinize personal and business records of U.S. citizens. And the Senate last year blocked funding for a Pentagon project known as the Total Information Awareness program, which was supposed to collect a vast array of information on individuals, including medical, employment and credit-card histories.
The issue of an expanding military role in domestic affairs also surfaced last year with the Pentagon&s creation of the Northern Command, or Northcom, based in Colorado Springs, Colo. The new command, the first such military command designed to protect the U.S. homeland from a terrorist attack, has responsibility for the U.S., Canada, Mexico, portions of the Caribbean and U.S. coastal waters. Northcom&s commander, Gen. Ralph "Ed" Eberhart, is the first general since the Civil War with operational authority exclusively over military forces within the U.S.
Gen. Eberhart has stoked concern among civil-liberties advocates by saying that the military and civilians should be involved in developing "actionable intelligence" for the government. In September 2002, he told a group of National Guardsmen that the military and the National Guard should "change our radar scopes" to prevent terrorism. It is important to "not just look out, but we&re also going to have to look in," he said, adding, "we can&t let culture and the way we&ve always done it stand in the way."
Northcom officials and other military leaders play down his remarks. "No one ran out after that speech and started snooping," one official says. Gen. Eberhart echoed that last September on PBS&s "News Hour": "We are not going to be out there spying on people, " he said, though he added, "we get information from people who do."
Further evidence of the blurring of the lines between the civilian and military worlds comes in a job-vacancy notice for a senior counterintelligence advisor to Northcom. The duties, according to the notice, include providing advice that goes beyond potential terrorism to include "other major criminal activity, such as drug cartels and large-scale money laundering" -- work usually under the purview of the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Secret Service.
Another little-known Pentagon group, the Counterintelligence Field Activity, was set up two years ago. With 400 service members and civilians stationed around the globe, the CIFA was originally charged with protecting the military and critical infrastructure from spying by terrorists and foreign intelligence services. But in August, Paul Wolfowitz, the deputy defense secretary, issued a directive ordering the unit to maintain a "domestic law-enforcement database that includes information related to potential terrorist threats directed against the Department of Defense."
The CIFA also works closely with the FBI and is conducting some duties for civilian agencies. For example, according to Department of Agriculture documents, the CIFA is in charge of doing background checks on foreign workers and scientists employed by the department&s agricultural-research service. The group also provides information to the Information and Security Command, or Inscom, the Army&s main intelligence organization, based at Fort Belvoir, Md.
The Army intelligence agent who investigated the law-school conference was assigned to Inscom. Army officials reviewing the Texas incident are investigating whether the agent may have overstepped his boundaries and whether may have tried to win the voluntary cooperation of the faculty and students. But they say that he was reacting to a possible counterintelligence threat to the military. It isn&t clear why there were Army lawyers at the conference in the first place, though some officials say the attorneys wanted to learn more about Muslim traditions and Islamic law.
Civil-rights advocates are skeptical. Robert Pugsley, professor of law at the Southwestern University School of Law in Los Angeles, says the Texas incident is "a chilling example" of the military&s overreaching. "It&ll multiply like fleas on a dog" if left unchecked, he says.
"What we are starting to see is 50 years of legal refinement and revisions for oversight being quietly jettisoned," adds Steven Aftergood, an intelligence policy specialist at the Federation of American Scientists, a nonprofit, left-leaning think tank in Washington.
But James Carafano, a policy analyst with the Heritage Foundation in Washington, says he believes the military has honored posse comitatus. His concern is that hard distinctions have been created between who has jurisdiction in homeland defense versus homeland security. It's distinctions terrorists might exploit, he says. "We may potentially be creating vulnerabilities."
Write to Robert Block at firstname.lastname@example.org
and Gary Fields at email@example.com
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Howl of Respect to our Soldiers/Veterans
on: April 05, 2004, 11:49:17 AM
How a Marine
Lost His Command
In Race to Baghdad
Col. Joe Dowdy's 'Tempo'
Balance of Mission, Men
General's Call Name: 'Chaos'
By CHRISTOPHER COOPER
Staff Reporter of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
April 5, 2004; Page A1
Two weeks into the war in Iraq, Marine Col. Joe D. Dowdy concluded the crowning military maneuver of his life, attacking an elite band of Iraqi troops and then shepherding 6,000 men on an 18-hour, high-speed race toward Baghdad.
But no praise awaited the First Marine regimental commander as he pushed into the tent of his superior, Maj. Gen. James Mattis, on April 4, 2003. Instead, Col. Dowdy was stripped of his command, which effectively ended his 24-year Marine career. In a final blow, Col. Dowdy says, the general asked him to empty his sidearm and turn over the ammunition. "He thought I was going to try to kill myself," the colonel says.
Assuming a battlefield command is the pinnacle of a Marine's career. Being removed is near the nadir, exceeded only by a court martial. It's extremely rare for the modern U.S. military to relieve a top commander of duty, especially during combat. Col. Dowdy, 47 years old, was the only senior officer in any of the military services to be dismissed in Iraq. He says he would rather have taken an enemy bullet.
Col. Dowdy's firing was even more unusual because he didn't commit any of the acts that normally precipitate a dismissal: failing to complete a mission, disobeying a direct order, breaking the rules of war. "It was a decision based on operating tempo," says Lt. Eric Knapp, a spokesman for the First Marine Division. He wouldn't elaborate.
The colonel's removal sparked media coverage and intense speculation in the Marine Corps. The reasons for his firing weren't clear, mainly because the colonel and his superiors refused to talk about it. Now, interviews with Col. Dowdy and a score of officers and enlisted men show the colonel was doomed partly by an age-old wartime tension: Men versus mission -- in which he favored his men.
Gen. Mattis and Col. Dowdy personify all that is celebrated in Marine Corps culture. Gen. Mattis, 53, is a "warrior monk," as some of his men put it, a lifelong bachelor consumed with the study and practice of battle tactics. Col. Dowdy is beloved for the attention he pays to his men, from the grunts on up.
The qualities of these two Marines eventually tore them apart. Gen. Mattis, a Marine for 33 years, saw speed as paramount in the Iraq war plan. Col. Dowdy thought sacrificing everything for speed imperiled the welfare of his men.
The dispute was stoked by widespread but mistaken assumptions about how the Iraqis would fight. The desire for speed stemmed from the Pentagon's expectation of a fierce, protracted battle in Baghdad, with far less resistance in other areas. But it turned out that Baghdad fell easily, while the countryside continued to seethe with resistance.
Today, as U.S. forces tangle with an enemy they clearly underestimated, the military still is debating whether speeding to the Iraqi capital was the best way to proceed.
Gen. Mattis declined to be interviewed for this story. His chief of staff, Col. Joe Dunford, says a decision made during combat is impossible to explain now. "It's just one of those things when you try to put the pieces back together, there's no way you can."
Over a plate of chicken quesadillas near his home in Carlsbad, Calif., Col. Dowdy admits to making mistakes. But he doesn't believe any of them warranted his removal. He's proud that only one Marine died under his command. "At least I don't have a butcher bill to pay," he says.
Dust caked the 900 trucks and tanks in Col. Dowdy's regiment when they emerged from the desert March 22, 2003. Two days into the war, the regiment was headed to Nasiriyah, a sprawl of slums and industrial compounds where Col. Dowdy's problems would begin.
Since he was a boy in Little Rock, Ark., the colonel had dreamed of an assignment like this. Commander of the 6,000-man First Regiment for nearly a year before the war began, Col. Dowdy was deeply familiar with the plan for invading Iraq.
With his shaved head and powerful frame, Col. Dowdy looks like the archetypal Marine. His men praise him for treating them as equals, despite the Marines' stratified organization. Departing from custom, Col. Dowdy, a married father of three, invited enlisted men as well as officers to the annual Christmas party at his home. When the Marines were camped in Kuwait in the run-up to the war, Col. Dowdy declined an air conditioner when it became clear that only officers would get them, recalls Gunnery Sgt. Robert Kane.
"As a colonel, he was entitled to certain privileges, but he was the type of man, if his Marines didn't have it, he didn't have it," says Sgt. Kane, who served under Col. Dowdy in Iraq and in East Timor in 1999.
By several accounts, Col. Dowdy was destined to win a general's star after the war in Iraq. "I know people, supporters, peers who think Joe Dowdy is a water walker," says Anthony Zinni, a retired four-star Marine general. When Col. Dowdy served under him, "he was the finest lieutenant I had," Gen. Zinni says.
Like many in his regiment, Col. Dowdy lacked extensive battle experience. In 1983, he saw limited action in Beirut, where 241 Marines were killed in a suicide bombing. He served in Somalia in 1993 and 1994, where Marines were on the vanguard of what became a bloody humanitarian mission.
Gen. Mattis mapped the Marines' broad plan for Iraq, which many defense analysts consider tactically brilliant. Two 6,000-man regiments of the First Marine Division were to drive toward Baghdad. Col. Dowdy's regiment was to head to the city of al Kut -- where an 8,000-man contingent of Saddam Hussein's best Republican Guard soldiers were dug in.
It was presumed the Iraqis had chemical weapons, so the plan was to avoid engaging them directly. Col. Dowdy's unit was to act as a decoy, diverting Mr. Hussein's soldiers and allowing the other U.S. regiments to rush in from the northwest through a gap in Iraqi defenses to get to Baghdad.
Col. Dowdy's route would take him through the city of Nasiriyah. Another Marine unit, called Task Force Tarawa, was charged with keeping order there. Pentagon officials assumed the city would offer little resistance because it had long been oppressed by Mr. Hussein. That assumption turned out to be wrong.
Pushing North: The Marine war plan called for Col. Joe Dowdy to speed to the river town of al Kut on a lightly defended route before doubling back and joining the main attack. But Col. Dowdy and his men encountered far more resistance than anticipated, which slowed their progress considerably.
The plan began to unravel in Nasiriyah. When Col. Dowdy and his men arrived outside the city, they found their passage blocked by a massive firefight. Word filtered back that Task Force Tarawa had suffered casualties, including 18 dead. Adding to the confusion was a U.S. Army supply unit, which had mistakenly stumbled into Nasiriyah. Several soldiers in that unit were dead. Others, including Pvt. Jessica Lynch, had been taken prisoner.
Outside the city, Col. Dowdy and his staff debated what to do. Several hundred trucks in Col. Dowdy's train lacked armor, and squeezing through a fierce battle zone would be complicated, especially on Nasiriyah's narrow streets.
A potential 150-mile bypass around Nasiriyah didn't seem feasible. Col. Dowdy wasn't sure he had enough fuel and didn't know what resistance he might face. The First Regiment was stuck.
The halt was anathema to Gen. Mattis, a devotee of a modern military doctrine known as "maneuver warfare." Though Marines have practiced the technique for years, the Iraqi war was its first large-scale test. Instead of following rigid battle plans and attacking on well-defined fronts, this tactic calls for smaller forces to move quickly over combat zones, exploiting opportunities and sowing confusion among the enemy. The technique is summed up in Gen. Mattis' radio call name: "Chaos."
Gen. Mattis had fought in Iraq before, in the first Gulf War. After that, he commanded the Seventh Regiment of the First Division, known as one of the most battle-ready units in the Marines. "I'd follow him again," says Gunnery Sgt. Kane, who fought under Gen. Mattis in Afghanistan. "His whole life is the Corps."
Slight in stature and fierce in demeanor, Gen. Mattis burnished his reputation in Afghanistan, where his men captured an airstrip outside Kandahar. The daring raid cut to the heart of the Taliban resistance. "The Marines have landed and we now own a piece of Afghanistan," Gen. Mattis told reporters there, just a few months after Sept. 11, 2001. The Pentagon scrambled to disavow the remark, but the Marines loved it.
To some in the military, the Iraq war promised the perfect test of maneuver warfare. At the time, the U.S. thought the fiercest fighting would begin near Baghdad and involve protracted urban fighting and chemical weapons. Speed was everything. The 1,000-mile journey to Baghdad, many thought, was just a warm-up.
Stopped outside Nasiriyah, Col. Dowdy says, he wasn't surprised when Gen. Mattis's top aide, Brig. Gen. John Kelly, showed up. The two stood talking on a bridge outside the city, watching the fighting. Gen. Kelly, 53, who has been a Marine for 33 years, had served mostly in academic and administrative posts. "I thought I knew what war was," he says. "It's difficult to imagine if you haven't been there."
Col. Dowdy's regiment had been stuck in Nasiriyah for more than 24 hours. In retrospect, he says he should have been more decisive about moving through the city.
One of the cardinal rules of maneuver warfare stipulates that generals should allow commanders in the field, such as Col. Dowdy, to make tactical decisions. Gen. Kelly says he never ordered Col. Dowdy to move through Nasiriyah and never threatened to remove him from his post. But Lt. Col. Pete Owen, Col. Dowdy's chief of staff, has a different recollection. "When we were stalled out in Nasiriyah, Gen. Kelly came up to me and said, 'If Col. Dowdy doesn't get this column moving, I'm gonna pull him.' "
Late that night, Col. Dowdy decided to move. He gave battalion commander Lt. Col. Lew Craparotta one hour to figure out how to form a cordon of soldiers that would shield the regiment as it passed through the city. Col. Craparotta wasn't pleased. "I don't think next time I want to plan something like that on the hood of my Humvee in the pitch black," he says.
The regiment rumbled through Nasiriyah, past blackened hulks of U.S. vehicles and bodies of dead Marines waiting to be recovered by Task Force Tarawa. It was a sight, Col. Dowdy says, that would remain with him throughout the campaign.
While the other regiments headed north on a four-lane highway, Col. Dowdy's group rolled up a two-lane country road that ran through dozens of villages, brimming with enemy forces. An official Marine account later called it a "running gunfight through the Mesopotamian mud."
The Iraq regime flooded the road with thousands of fighters. Soon Col. Dowdy's men were engaged in battle. A raging sandstorm mixed with rain cut the Marines' visibility to almost zero. The regiment suffered its first casualty when a rocket-propelled grenade blew through a Humvee door and severed a captain's hand, according to men on the scene.
As bullets flew and the captain was being hauled out by helicopter, Col. Dowdy, two days without sleep, slouched in his Humvee, with his staff around him. He fell asleep.
Making their way through Nasiriyah, Col. Dowdy's men passed by hulks of armored vehicles and bodies of Marines. Here, Lt. Harry Thompson of the First Regiment covers up a body until it can be retrieved by another Marine unit.
In wars, commanders fall asleep in meetings, on the radio, even during firefights. Col. Dowdy nodded off for about five minutes, his men say. But his timing couldn't have been worse. As he dozed, Gen. Mattis's top aide, Gen. Kelly, saw the colonel sleeping. Some of Col. Dowdy's men who were there say they believe that made a lasting impression.
Gen. Kelly declines to comment on Col. Dowdy's removal, saying such matters are "sacred ground" that only Gen. Mattis can address. In answer to general questions about the war, he says a battlefield commander's top priority is to "put it all aside and focus on the mission. I've seen a lot of people learn this the hard way."
Two days later, on March 27, 2003, the U.S. Army ordered an indefinite halt to the war to allow supply lines to catch up with American fighters.
Col. Dowdy's regiment was camped about 50 miles southeast of Kut. He had his men capture a nearby airfield so supplies could be airlifted in. The next day, Gen. Mattis dropped by to check on his men -- and was infuriated by what he saw: A cratered runway and a Marine captain sitting on a bulldozer reading a paperback book. The captain said he hadn't been given an order to fix the runway.
A few hours later, Col. Dowdy says, he got an earful from Gen. Mattis, who said he should have made sure the job of fixing the runway was done. Col. Dowdy now says he should have issued a written order. He considered stripping the bulldozer operator of his command, but thought better of it. "If you fire everyone who makes a mistake, pretty soon you're standing there all by yourself," he says.
Despite the misstep, Col. Dowdy was receiving daily praise from Gen. Mattis's staff, according to Col. John Toolan, who was then the general's chief of staff. Intelligence reports suggested that capturing the airport had drawn the attention of Mr. Hussein's Republican Guard soldiers. The Iraqis soon announced their presence by lobbing artillery shells at Col. Dowdy's regiment.
The decoy ploy was working. The other Marine regiments sped on the Iraqis' untended western flank, toward Baghdad, according to plan.
At this point, it could be argued that Col. Dowdy had fulfilled his mission. The war plan called for him to retreat and take a bypass around Kut. Gen. Kelly acknowledges this was the original plan.
But after seeing villagers in the area waving and cheering at the Marines, Gen. Kelly believed an enemy collapse was imminent. "There was so little resistance," he says. "I figured they either deserted or were so far into their holes that they didn't want to fight." On April 1, 2003, the Fifth Regiment seized a bridge near Kut. At that point, Gen. Kelly says, Hussein's once-feared Baghdad Division became "irrelevant."
In an unexpected move, Gen. Kelly ordered Col. Dowdy to head to Kut on a "limited objective" mission. Once Col. Dowdy got there, he was to decide if his regiment should go through the city, which could trim several hours of travel time.
Col. Dowdy didn't think pushing through Kut would be wise. It would be a quicker route to Baghdad, but he thought it would be dangerous. His men had seen fortified foxholes, sandbagged buildings, mines along road shoulders and several thousand Iraqi fighters. With its narrow bridges and urban tangle, Kut looked even more perilous than Nasiriyah. Was saving a few hours worth the risk?
"In war, you have competing demands between men and mission," Col. Dowdy says. "Which one wins out? There's no easy answer."
His superiors confirm that he wasn't ordered to take his regiment through the city. But an aggressive Marine could have chosen to plow through to get to Baghdad faster.
The generals were growing impatient. The U.S. Army had reached the outskirts of Baghdad. On the morning of April 3, 2003, the 15th day of the war, Gen. Kelly called Col. Dowdy to say he wanted the assault on Kut to begin immediately. Col. Dowdy said he was awaiting fresh ammunition and checking a report that the road to Kut was mined.
Gen. Kelly was furious, according to Col. Dowdy. "Those aren't considerations, they're excuses," Col. Dowdy recalls the general saying.
Col. Dowdy says the general continued: "Why aren't you driving through al Kut right now? You know what? I'm going to recommend that you be relieved of command. Maybe Gen. Mattis won't do it. Maybe he'll decide he can get along with a regiment that isn't worth a s-. But that's what I'm going to recommend."
Gen. Kelly says he doesn't recall that specific conversation. He says he appreciated the potential risk to life that driving through Kut would pose. In a recent e-mail from Iraq, where he is serving a second tour, he wrote, "The choice between mission and men ... is never an either-or, but always a balance."
Within an hour or so, Col. Dowdy and two of his battalions moved into Kut. They immediately met resistance, they say, with fighters popping out of doorways and alleys. "My machine gun was going crazy," says Warrant Officer Thomas Parks, a gunner riding in the lead.
The battalions ground to a halt in front of an Iraqi tank, which Gunner Parks hit with a rocket, prompting return fire from the two-story mud huts lining the road. The door of Gunner Parks' Humvee was blasted off its hinges, while lead filled the door of Col. Dowdy's vehicle, according to both men.
Moments later, Gunner Parks glanced back and saw Col. Dowdy sprinting toward a family of Iraqi civilians. The colonel swept up two children and shoved the family into a bomb crater for cover, Gunner Parks says. An Iraqi fighter moving up an alley aimed a machine gun at Col. Dowdy. Gunner Parks shot him in the head. "It took me three tries," he says.
The decision on whether to push through Kut was ultimately up to Col. Dowdy. But in the hours up to and during the fight, he and his staff say they received conflicting guidance. On the field telephone, Gen. Kelly was telling him to push through Kut. But on the radio, division command was urging withdrawal. "There was a lot of confusion," Col. Dowdy says. "Go. Don't go." Gen. Kelly agrees there was discussion about what the regiment should do.
So Col. Dowdy made a crucial decision: He decided not to go through the city. Getting to Baghdad early wasn't worth the risk, he says.
"At that point, maybe you're damned if you do and damned if you don't," says Sgt. Maj. Gregory Leal, the top enlisted man in Col. Dowdy's regiment. "There's no book out there that says, 'This is how you liberate and occupy a country.' "
Around sunset, the First Regiment started moving to rendezvous with the rest of the division via a 170-mile bypass around Kut. Col. Dowdy's men had collected 30 prisoners and, the colonel says, "I felt like taking them up to division and saying, 'Look, g-ddamn it, we hit resistance in Kut, and here's your proof.' "
Headlights on and ducking intermittent fire from Iraqi peasants, the regiment covered the miles in about half the 36 hours it was supposed to have taken. On April 4, 2003, the regiment rolled into Numaniyah, where the Marines had planned to meet. The regiment had completed its mission with ample time to join the assault on Baghdad.
But Col. Dowdy's career was dead.
A helicopter awaited when Col. Dowdy arrived in Numaniyah. Col. Dowdy and Sgt. Maj. Leal climbed aboard. Gen. Mattis had asked to see them. They were flown to the general's camp, about 50 miles away.
When they arrived, Sgt. Maj. Leal says Gen. Mattis took him aside. "How's your boss doing?" the sergeant-major recalls him saying. "I said, 'He's doing fine, sir.' " Then, according to Sgt. Maj. Leal, the general snapped: "You're not engaged enough. You've got four battalions and you're not pressing the attack.' "
"I told the general not to fire him," Sgt. Maj. Leal recalls. "I said, 'Tell me what we need to do and we'll do it.' "
Men under Gen. Mattis's command say he makes decisions quickly and never looks back. Sgt. Maj. Leal says he believes Gen. Mattis had already made up his mind.
Artillery shells screamed overhead and the tanks and trucks of the Fifth Regiment rumbled past as Col. Dowdy made his way to Gen. Mattis's tent. Inside, the colonel sat facing Gens. Mattis and Kelly as an aide served hot tea. The colonel says he knew in his gut that he was about to be fired. "It's like I'm someplace I've never been before," he recalls. "I'm failing miserably and I don't know why."
He says Gen. Mattis began with a sympathetic tone: "We're going to get you some rest." Gen. Mattis brought up the bulldozer incident. Then, according to Col. Dowdy, the general said Col. Dowdy worried too much about enemy resistance and noted his lack of battle experience.
Col. Dowdy says he replied: "I've been fighting my way up this m-f-ing road for the past two weeks." He recalls pleading with Gen. Mattis to reconsider. "Think of my family, my unit," he recalls saying.
It was not to be. When Gen. Mattis requested his ammunition, Col. Dowdy assured him that he still considered himself a Marine. The general relented. Soon Col. Dowdy got on a helicopter to Kuwait. He called his wife, Priscilla. She'd already seen the news on CNN.
Word of his dismissal quickly filtered back to his men. Marines who were there say there was fleeting talk of a mutiny. "I wanted to go with him," says Gunnery Sgt. Kane. "A lot of guys felt that way. If Col. Dowdy said, 'Get your gear, you're coming with me,' I would've gone, even if it meant the end of my career."
In ensuing days, media outlets and Marine Internet chat rooms speculated about the colonel's defrocking. A day or so after his dismissal, Col. Dowdy wrote a letter that was posted on a Web site catering to families of the First Marine Division.
"As all of you are aware ... I am no longer a member of the Regiment," the letter said. "Rest assured, no one, except me is responsible for the reassignment. Priscilla and I will remain loyal to the Marine Corps and to our Division and its very capable leaders." Col. Toolan, Gen. Mattis's chief of staff, took over the command. The regiment went on to Baghdad, setting up in a slum once known as Saddam City.
A few weeks later, Col. Dowdy ran into Warrant Officer Parks, who was heading back to the U.S. like most of the First Division. The colonel arranged for his subordinate to get civilian clothes so he could take a commercial airline and meet his wife in New York. "He called down to command for me and said, 'I got a hero coming, take care of him,' " Gunner Parks says. "Then he got a little choked up, I got a little choked up and I got on a helicopter and left."
Col. Dowdy says he took no joy in his next assignment, as head of personnel at the Marine Air Station in Miramar, Calif. In June, the First Division gave him a performance evaluation. It faulted him for "being fatigued beyond normal" and "not employing the regiment to its full combat potential," he says, quoting from the document. It also said he was "overly concerned about the welfare" of his Marines, according to Col. Dowdy. By policy, the Marines don't comment on performance evaluations.
Last November, for the first time in 25 years, Col. Dowdy and his wife skipped the Marine Corps Ball. The First Division returned to Iraq this spring. Col. Dowdy received permission to retire early, and left the Marines last month. "I think I'm a guy they probably didn't know what to do with," he says.
The issue of speed in Iraq remains in debate. Last fall, the Army War College, a Pentagon-financed school where officers analyze tactics, released a study saying there was little evidence that speed affected the outcome of the war. The stiff resistance outside Baghdad suggests U.S. forces may have done better by moving at a more measured pace, entering more cities, rooting out fighters and leaving more troops in the provinces to enforce order, the report said.
However, in another study yet to be finalized, the military's Joint Center for Lessons Learned says speed was integral to U.S. military success in Iraq. In a speech in February, Adm. E.P. Giambastiani, commander of the Joint Forces, said speed "reduces decision and execution cycles, creates opportunities, denies an enemy options and speeds his collapse."
Retired Gen. Zinni says that, for Col. Dowdy, speed was academic. "The boss is the boss," he says. "If Gen. Mattis feels you need to move faster, then you move faster." Still, he says Col. Dowdy's firing could haunt Gen. Mattis too. "This is not going to add to Jim Mattis's luster."
Sgt. Leal, now stationed in Texas, often tells Col. Dowdy that his reputation will be cleared one day. "I think he'll always be known as the guy who chose men over mission," Sgt. Leal says. "If that's how he's remembered, it's OK."
Write to Christopher Cooper at firstname.lastname@example.org
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / UFC Comments?
on: April 04, 2004, 07:56:23 AM
Comments on Friday night's UFC?
I may have more comments later when I have more time, but for the moment:
1) As for the headline fight of Tito Ortiz v. Chuck Liddell: Although both fighters are very good, for some reason I've never really cared for either of them. TO did not seem to have much problem solving CL's superior stirking skills and, having tried to close without much enthusiasm or luck, was dropped as he stood there trying to cover against a strong, well targeted barrage by CL.
2) I was looking forward to Tim Slyvia v. Andrei Andropov (or something like that): This fight I was looking forward to. In his previous fight, AA taken Vladimir Matyushenko well out of his game (and from training at the RAW Gym I knew just what a capable quality fighter Vlady is) and dropped him hard with striking skills. I haven't really seen much of TS, but his height hinted at the possiblity of an interesting matchup. However TS, who was stripped of the heavyweight title for steroids, again tested positive (only slightly positive they said, and perhaps due to residue from prior use they said) and so they through in "Cabbage" for a beating. That said AA again demonstrated patient and strong striking skills that suggest he is a very tough man to close.
3) Robbie Lawler vs. Nick Diaz (?) I enjoyed this fight a lot. RL is cobra quick and in the flush of a 22 year old's testosterone joy of fighting but ND surprised with sophisticated striking defense and striking skills of his own. Both men gave and took strong shots with good composure until a rocked ND surprised RL with a hook mid-barrage by RL and dropped him face first. A very alert referee made a fine stoppage here. This is the fight that I will be going back to watch again.
It was interesting to see how important striking has become in the UFC with most of the fights this night having little or no grappling.
That's all for now.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Howl of Respect to our Soldiers/Veterans
on: April 02, 2004, 01:21:26 PM
My second post of the day-Crafty
Race to Get Lights On
In Iraq Shows Perils
Despite Stumbles, Attacks,
Corps of Engineers' Team
Is Finally Making Progress
Col. Semonite's Travel Tips
By NEIL KING JR.
Staff Reporter of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
April 2, 2004; Page A1
BAGHDAD, Iraq -- When Col. Todd Semonite arrived here last fall to direct a massive push to restore Iraq's electricity grid, his orders were simple: Stress speed over all else.
Hauling in some key generators from overseas proved too slow on ships, so he flew them on cargo planes at several times the cost. He riled Pentagon auditors by allowing his contractors to buy millions of dollars in parts without competitive bids. His haste extended to his armed drivers, who careened along Iraq's clogged highways in sport-utility vehicles at extreme speeds -- both to get around the country faster and to avoid danger.
THE FIGHT FOR IRAQ
"The point is to always keep moving," Col. Semonite said on a recent trip north of Baghdad, as he chewed on a grape Tootsie-Pop, his typical lunch. "It is hard to trigger a bomb accurately to hit a Suburban going 100 miles an hour."
Col. Semonite's team is making significant progress in the race to rebuild Iraq's power system before the planned U.S. handover of power to Iraqis in June. But his experience shows how rebuilding Iraq is proving to be a far more dangerous and expensive task than the U.S. and its private contractors expected. That lesson was on gruesome display this week with the killing and mutilation Wednesday of four American contractors.
The U.S. originally tapped the engineering giant Bechtel Group Inc. to restore electricity in Iraq at a time when the military expected a swift victory and the administration foresaw a smooth reconstruction effort funded in large part by Iraqi oil revenue. Bechtel, like others, so misjudged the dangers of postwar Iraq that it set aside just $500,000 to hire six security guards, compared with the 169 it has today.
By last summer it was clear that the U.S. plan to rely on one civilian contractor with limited funding was not working. Thirteen aging power stations were in various states of disrepair, while looters and saboteurs undermined the system further.
In September, the U.S. sent in Col. Semonite of the Army Corps of Engineers to oversee three additional U.S. contractors armed with almost unlimited muscle and wads of cash -- mostly from Iraqi oil revenue. The group has since installed hundreds of megawatts of new power generation, erected 692 huge transmission towers and strung thousands of miles of high-voltage cable. The Corps' success on the electricity push is one reason the U.S. military, instead of the Agency for International Development, will now guide most of the $14 billion in additional rebuilding work slated for Iraq this year.
But that success has come at a high price. Attacks so far have killed 27 of the Army Corps' subcontractors and security guards, most in roadside ambushes similar to the one that killed the four American security guards in Fallujah on Wednesday. The Corps' work is costing about $900,000 per megawatt of production capacity, while Bechtel's more-deliberate power projects are costing about 30% less. Total spending on the power grid is expected to exceed $5 billion.
Bringing steady power to Iraq's cities is an urgent priority for the Bush administration, as thousands of new appliances pour into the country and factories come on line. For Bechtel, the job began just weeks after Baghdad fell on April 9, when dozens of the company's engineers streamed into Iraq to undertake a range of reconstruction work. It had a broad, $680 million contract from AID, the government agency the Bush administration picked to lead reconstruction.
Bechtel's first two months were devoted to compiling a detailed survey of Iraq's infrastructure, amid tussles with the country's barely functional ministries. Early lists of "vital needs" from the Electricity Ministry included demands for hundreds of Mercedes trucks with compact-disc players. "It was laughable," said Mike Robinson, head of the Bechtel electricity project in Iraq, who arrived in Baghdad May 15.
By late August, with tempers flaring across the country at the slow pace of rebuilding, Bechtel was still debating with the ministry and AID over which electricity projects to tackle. The company had ordered only $2 million in emergency spare parts for the country's dilapidated power stations. "We faced a big problem," said Randy Richardson, head of electricity for the Coalition Provisional Authority, the Pentagon-led organization that functions as Iraq's de facto government.
Bechtel says it stands by its work. "People think we were sent to rebuild all of Iraq," says Cliff Mumm, Bechtel's Iraq project manager. "We weren't. We came with a very small pot of money to do very limited work."
Bechtel's work was also hampered by overlapping bureaucracies within Baghdad. Worsening security and the company's own intense caution also kept many of its engineers hunkered down in Baghdad.
On Aug. 25, Gen. John Abizaid, the head of the Pentagon's Central Command, which oversees the Middle East, convened a two-day summit on Iraq's infrastructure at CentCom headquarters in Tampa, Fla. Iraq's electricity woes posed a serious security concern, the unhappy general told the assembled CPA officials and Army brass.
Gen. Abizaid proposed a new approach. "The idea was to move in as we would after a major disaster and throw money and people at the problem to fix it in a hurry," recalls Major Gen. Carl Strock, a senior Army Corps official who attended the meeting.
The new strategy called for boosting Iraq's power generation to at least 6,000 megawatts by June. That's about as much as Washington and its immediate suburbs consume in a day, but nearly twice the country's output at the time. Bechtel's assigned targets -- 445 megawatts of new power and the same amount in revamping of old plants -- wouldn't even come close to the target.
So the group turned to the Army Corps of Engineers. Col. Semonite, a 45-year-old West Point grad who had just returned to the U.S. from a three-year deployment in Europe, got the nod a week later to be the project's on-the-ground leader. Leaving his wife and four children behind in Virginia outside Washington, he landed in Iraq Sept. 15 with about a dozen men. His Iraq team soon gave a nickname to the former ski racer from Vermont: the Energizer Bunny.
While the Corps' effort was getting under way, U.S. officials decided to make an all-out push at plants around the country to boost production above the prewar level of 4,500 megawatts by Oct. 9, the six-month anniversary of the fall of Baghdad. Iraqis did most of the work with whatever they had on hand.
"We worked like crazy, but it was all too much," said Gazi Aziz, a plant manager at the Baghdad South power station, a huge, decrepit electricity plant on the edge of the capital. A few patches were made, and in early October all of the plant's six generators were revved to capacity for the first time in years. The rickety boilers spat out steam and water. Pipes sprang massive leaks. "It fell apart in five days," said Mr. Aziz.
? Despite dramatic progress, Iraqis will still suffer shortages in the hottest months.
? The Bush administration has hired four prime contractors to oversee a total of more than $5 billion in Iraq power work
? The companies, with dozens of subcontractors, have erected 794 huge 400-kilovolt transmission towers across Iraq and nearly 4,000 miles of high-voltage wire.
? Average power production nationwide this week still met only about 75% of the average demand.
? The biggest power gap is still in Baghdad, which may not have full-time electricity until sometime next year.
Source: U.S. Department of Defense; WSJ research
Still, on Oct. 9, a beaming Paul Bremer, President Bush's top envoy to Iraq, strode into a Baghdad press conference to tick off the accomplishments of the first six months. Topping the list was news that three days earlier, Iraq had produced 4,518 megawatts of power -- just above the country's estimated prewar level.
In reality, electricity production had hit what turned out to be a false peak and was falling fast.
About a mile from where Mr. Bremer made the announcement, Col. Semonite's team had set up shop in a white-marble mansion with a pool in the yard and gold fixtures in the bathrooms -- the former home of Saddam Hussein's spurned first wife.
To do the job, Col. Semonite's Restore Iraqi Electricity task force had $1.05 billion, most of it drawn from Iraqi oil revenue. The Corps also had three U.S. firms ready to go under open-ended contingency contracts signed before the war began. Eleven days after arriving in Baghdad, Col. Semonite issued orders for the companies to tackle 21 electricity assignments across the country, a list that soon jumped to 26.
Washington Group International Inc., a large Idaho-based engineering company, would handle projects in the north; Fluor Corp. of Aliso Viejo, Cal., the region around Baghdad; and Perini Corp. of Framingham, Mass., the southern third of the country.
Bob Spaulding, the wiry leader of Fluor's team in Iraq, said the pace from the start was unprecedented in his 15 years with the company. "We're being told to do work on a schedule that's twice as fast as we'd do it in the U.S.," he said.
Fluor's biggest job, the Qudas power station, lies at the end of a rutted road about 20 miles north of Baghdad. When the first Corps engineers arrived at Qudas on Oct. 18, it had two working Chinese-built power units producing 250 megawatts, or enough to power a town of about 50,000 people. Another two units sat in crates in the Jordanian port of Aqaba, bought in the late 1990s under the United Nations oil-for-food program but never delivered. Two days later, the engineers broke ground to dig foundations for four smaller units to add another 172 megawatts -- a $160 million project. Fluor's team arrived a week later.
The job would need nearly 12,000 tons of concrete, so Fluor had a concrete plant assembled that could churn out 800 tons a day and brought in a fleet of concrete trucks. The Electricity Ministry provided more than 200 Iraqi workers. The company leased five heavy cranes from Kuwait, including a massive 450-ton lifter that took 25 semitrailers to haul in.
Fluor then scoured the globe to find available generators and transformers for the four new units. The company tracked down two generators in Brazil and sent technicians to cut them off their foundations. Four huge transformers were found in Mexico. Fluor marshaled the rest of the heavy equipment from across the U.S. The company leased a ship, gathered all the equipment in Houston, and got it to the plant by early February.
Getting the two oil-for-food units to the site posed another challenge. Each required its own U.S. military-protected convoy stretching 19 trucks long. Conducted under intense secrecy, the two trips each took six days.
"God, is this beautiful," Col. Semonite said, surveying the Qudas site one morning as Iraqi workers scurried amid a welter of cranes and cement mixers.
Fluor and the Army Corps have cut a few corners in the interest of time, he conceded. They poured foundations in a matter of hours without testing the ground conditions. If equipment had to be airlifted in, they did it, without worrying about cost. "But so far, no snags," said Col. Semonite, whose tour of duty in Iraq ended last month.
In all, the Corps has orchestrated 41 airlifts for power supplies, 20 of which used chartered Russian-built Antonovs, the world's biggest cargo planes.
The Corps team, in its haste, has made blunders. Both the General Accounting Office and Pentagon auditors are now evaluating whether the Corps' contractors stayed within federal procurement rules when buying big-ticket items without competitive bidding or obtaining proper documentation for sole-source subcontract awards. Col. Semonite's deputies gave the work final billing approval, despite strong objections from Pentagon auditors. Officials declined to provide additional specifics on the continuing investigations.
One of 68 towers, 200 feet or taller, replaced to reconnect the southern city of Basra to Baghdad.
In Col. Semonite's trip from Qudas site to the Beiji power station in tumultuous northern Iraq the next day, speed would be of the essence. Getting there meant skirting Samara and Tikrit and driving straight through the town of Beiji, among the most dangerous byways in Iraq.
Bundled in a flak jacket and helmet, Col. Semonite traveled in an unarmored Chevrolet Suburban with two machine-gunners in the front seat, another SUV leading, and three more in back. Six of his eight bodyguards were Iraqis with wooden-handled AK-47 assault rifles. Col. Semonite always made a point of leaving on day trips, even long ones, after 9 a.m. or so on the logic that most roadside bombs were detonated in the early hours of the day. The other rule was to avoid stopping at all costs, even if that meant driving up the wrong side of the freeway or cruising along the shoulder of the road to avoid traffic jams.
South of Tikrit, he pointed out where two Korean subcontractors, working for the Washington Group, were gunned down along the road at the end of November. On Jan. 5, two other Corps subcontractors, both French, died in an ambush near Fallujah west of Baghdad. The task force has also lost 23 Iraqi security guards to other attacks.
"It's a horrible loss," Col. Semonite said, gripping his seat as the Suburban, skirting a traffic jam, nearly veered off the road. "But we can't let the dangers slow us down."
Beiji is Iraq's largest power station, tucked against bare mountains in one of the most dangerous areas of the country. Operating out of a ramshackle trailer with 10 Iraqi employees and one computer on site, Bechtel began small-scale work on the belching, 20-year-old plant in January after months of squabbles with Iraq's Electricity Ministry. The $30 million job is dirty and intricate, involving hundreds of spare parts not easily found on the open market.
Adnan Bashir, a former Beiji plant manager who is now head of Bechtel's Iraqi team at the site, said security worries kept Bechtel's own engineers away for months. Difficulties in tracking down needed parts have impeded the work, too. "It's not much," he said, standing in the Bechtel warehouse in front of a few motors and pumps on a shelf and stacks of insulation.
A team of Iraqi welders had just started refurbishing one of the plant's leaking boilers. Another group in greasy overalls was busy taking apart a turbine inside the main plant.
Bechtel officials don't dispute that the Beiji work was slow to get started but insist that the work will be completed on time this summer.
Up a muddy lane a few minutes walk from the plant, the Army team bustled among 28 trailers housing more than 40 workers from Washington Group and five subcontractors. All had arrived since October. Despite the occasional mortar round from across the river, work hooking up eight mobile generators and transformers was well under way. All of the equipment had been airlifted in from abroad on 14 huge cargo jets.
Col. Semonite, though, would like to see more progress. "OK, when are these going to start coming on line? Tomorrow?" he said, tromping through puddles as three Washington Group engineers tagged along.
The engineers exchanged glances and then one of them said, "Eight to 10 days."
"Oh, come on. Faster," Col. Semonite shot back.
Write to Neil King Jr. at email@example.com
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Howl of Respect to our Soldiers/Veterans
on: April 02, 2004, 12:58:46 PM
Aaron Bank, 101; OSS Officer Became 'Father of the Green Berets'
By Dennis McLellan, Times Staff Writer
Retired Army Col. Aaron Bank, who led a number of daring missions during World War II but was best known for his postwar role in organizing and serving as the first commander of the Army's elite Special Forces, has died. He was 101.
Bank, who was known as "the father of the Green Berets," died Thursday of natural causes at his home in an assisted-living facility in Dana Point, said his son-in-law, Bruce Ballantine.
During World War II, Bank was a special operations officer for the Office of Strategic Services, the top-secret government agency formed to gather intelligence and organize resistance forces behind enemy lines.
The OSS, forerunner of the CIA, was disbanded soon after the war. But Bank and others were convinced that the Army should have a permanent unit whose mission would be to conduct unconventional operations.
In 1951, the chief of the Army's Psychological Warfare staff, who had been impressed by OSS Special Operations during the war, instructed Bank to staff and obtain approval for the creation of an OSS-style operational group.
In 1952, after Bank and other key staff members had made their case, the Army approved 2,300 spaces for men in a Special Forces unit ? the 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne) ? at Ft. Bragg, N.C.
"I wanted none but the best," Bank said in a 1968 interview with the Los Angeles Times. "First, they had to be double volunteers; that is, they had to volunteer for parachuting and behind-enemy-lines duties, which takes a special flair, a special type of personality. We had to work up all the manuals and training procedures for demolition, sabotage, new and different ways of handling weapons."
But most important, Bank said, "We had to teach them the classic aim and purpose of their service ? the organizing of civilian natives into guerrilla forces in enemy-held territory."
Bank later wrote a memorandum suggesting that Special Forces soldiers be allowed to wear berets as a mark of distinction. He listed three possible colors for the berets: purple, wine-red or green. But the Army didn't allow distinctive headgear at the time and the idea was turned down.
It wasn't until 1962, four years after Bank retired from the military, that President John F. Kennedy authorized Army Special Forces to wear berets. Kennedy, Bank later said, "picked the green because he was an Irishman."
Today there are about 7,700 soldiers in five active-duty and two National Guard Special Forces groups.
At Ft. Bragg, which is still the home of the Green Berets, Bank is considered a military icon.
"Col. Aaron Bank is a legend within the Special Forces community," Maj. Robert Gowan, spokesman for the U.S. Army Special Forces Command, said Thursday. "His commitment and service to our country is unsurpassed. He was a man far ahead of his time?. His vision and initiative allowed the Army to create Special Forces as we know them today."
Born in New York City, Bank began working summers in his teens as a lifeguard and swimming teacher. He liked the work so much, he later said, that by the late 1920s it had become something of a career.
"I'd go to Nassau in the Bahamas to work during the winter and then to Biarritz in southern France during the summer," he recalled in the 1968 interview. "It was a plush life."
He was in and out of Europe over the next decade and learned to speak French and German fluently. But in the late 1930s, sensing the inevitability of war, he returned home and joined the Army. By the time the United States entered the war, Bank had been commissioned a second lieutenant.
In 1943, the 40-year-old Bank was serving as a tactical training officer to a railroad battalion stationed at Camp Polk, La. when he saw a bulletin announcing that volunteers with foreign language capabilities would be interviewed for "special assignments."
Once in the OSS, he said, he began a long training course that taught him "to do all the things that regular branches of the service frowned on" ? guerrilla warfare, sabotage, espionage, escape and evasion tactics.
He also learned parachuting. As commander of one of the three-man teams that dropped into southern France before the Allied Mediterranean invasion in August 1944, he and his men posed as civilians and helped French Resistance leaders organize a guerrilla force that blew up bridges, power lines and railroad tracks, and ambushed German columns.
In December 1944, Bank received what he considered the most extraordinary assignment of his career: to recruit and train 170 anti-Nazi German POWs and defectors who would parachute with him into the Austrian Alps, where they would pose as a German mountain infantry company.
The primary goal of the top-secret mission, dubbed Iron Cross, was to capture high-ranking Nazi leaders, including Adolf Hitler, who were expected to seek refuge in the area as the war in Europe neared an end.
Had the operation gone through and had they been successful in capturing Hitler, Bank told The Times in 1987, "the war would have been over overnight." But in April 1945 ? after three months of training in France ? the mission was scrubbed.
"I never cried in my life, but I damn near cried when they told me it was aborted," Bank said in a 1993 Times interview.
Bank said he had heard two versions of why the mission was canceled. "One was that the American 7th Army was ready to crack into the Inn Valley. And it was a short time later that they did." And because many of the Germans on the mission were pro-communist, he said, he heard that "the State Department didn't want to drop a big team of party communists into Austria toward the latter part of the war."
Hitler, it turned out, was in Berlin at the time; he committed suicide on April 30, 1945.
After the aborted Iron Cross mission, Bank was parachuted into the jungles of Indochina to search for Japanese prisoner-of-war camps. His team located 165 French internees at three different locations in the Vientiane area of Laos.
Bank, who also served in the Korean War, retired from the Army in 1958 and moved to San Clemente.
In 1972, at age 70, he began working full time as chief of security at a private oceanfront community in Capistrano Beach, a job he held until he was 85.
Extremely fit and vigorous most of his life, the 5-foot-8, 140-odd-pound Bank swam around the San Clemente pier every day until he was 74. He then took to running 40 minutes a day on the hilly streets near his home.
Bank continued a daily regimen of lifting weights, riding a stationary bike, walking and participating in an exercise class at the assisted-living facility in Dana Point until he was hospitalized three weeks ago.
Over the years, Bank wrote two books: "From OSS to Green Berets: The Birth of Special Forces" (Presidio Press, 1987); and "Knights Cross" (Birch Lane Press, 1993), a novel co-written with E.M. Nathanson, author of "The Dirty Dozen."
"Knights Cross" was based, in part, on Bank's real-life exploits with the aborted Iron Cross mission, but the novel had a twist: The mission to capture Hitler is not aborted and Bank's fictional alter ego succeeds in capturing the German leader.
"I think of Aaron as a national treasure," Nathanson told The Times. "He was a gracious gentleman and a dedicated warrior. There would seem to be a conflict between those two phrases, but they went together very well with him."
Bank is survived by his wife, Catherine; their two daughters, Linda Ballantine of Dana Point and Alexandra Elliott of Anaheim; and a granddaughter.
A funeral service, with full military and Special Forces honors, will be held at 1 p.m. Monday at Riverside National Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be sent to the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, P.O. Box 14385, Tampa, FL 33690.
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / staff training (Sibat - Bangkaw)
on: April 02, 2004, 12:51:32 PM
Woof Hank, SG:
Hey, SG I was wondering who that anonymous post was-- pretty good!
Hank, I'm in the middle of a busy day and so for the moment will only add to SG's post that:
There is no Lameco staff in DBMA.
The part that SG discussed about being able to repeat a strike is in the context of establishing one's bubble.
Concerning our use of KK, most of it is in "thirds grip" with one palm up and one palm down and the two hands dividing the staff into three roughly equal parts. With in this context the hands do slide around to other positions, but this is the core position. As such this is more of a medio range structure and one suitable to heavier weapons.
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / a moment of silence...
on: April 02, 2004, 12:38:35 PM
A Sad Howl:
I met Elmer when he was assisting GM Luna Lema one night at the Inosanto Academy. He seemed like a fine man as well as eskrimador. Not only is this a great loss to his family, students and friends but also to the system which he inherited.
The wood is consumed, but the fire burns on.
On Behalf of the Dog Brothers and DBMA a sad howl of mourning,
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Bahala Na system
on: March 30, 2004, 05:53:23 PM
GM Leo's story is well known and familiar to readers of Guro Inosanto's book "The Filipino Martial Arts" -- in preparation for General MacArthur's return to the Philippines, LG was selected with a handful of men to unload from a submarine and row ashore in a rubber dingy to Luzon and radio back to Gen MacArthur on enemy troop movements and harass the enemy. This they did for a year or so and highly recommended is LG's remembrance of these events "Memories Ride the Ebb of Tide" which I would think can be found on their website http://www.gironarnisescrima.com/
I have an as-yet-unseen 40 minute interview with GM Leo in his basement which will see the light of day one of these days. GM Leo was one of my favorite people (a wonderful energy to him) and to me it was quite inspiring to see, for example, the scar on his hand as he told the story of how it came to be (roughly "I parried the Japanese soldier's bayonet and cut his arm off at the elbow and shoved him to the next man in our triangle formation to finish the kill because more were coming").
His Bahala Na Larga Mano Arnis/Eskrima comes from these experiences and GM Leo trained GM Tony Somera for many years to be his true heir and carry on his system.
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Current Events: Philippines
on: March 30, 2004, 08:23:21 AM
1239 GMT -- PHILIPPINES -- Philippines President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo said March 30 that government security forces seized 80 pounds of TNT and arrested four people who are believed to be members of the Abu Sayyaf Islamist militant group. Arroyo said the men planned to carry out Madrid-style bomb attacks against trains and shopping centers in the capital city of Manila. However, other government officials said the only evidence they had of any plans to carry out such attacks reportedly had come from some of the detained suspects during interrogation.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WW3
on: March 29, 2004, 01:41:40 PM
An Essential War
Ousting Saddam was the only option.
BY GEORGE P. SHULTZ
Monday, March 29, 2004 12:01 a.m. EST
We have struggled with terrorism for a long time. In the Reagan administration, I was a hawk on the subject. I said terrorism is a big problem, a different problem, and we have to take forceful action against it. Fortunately, Ronald Reagan agreed with me, but not many others did. (Don Rumsfeld was an outspoken exception.)
In those days we focused on how to defend against terrorism. We reinforced our embassies and increased our intelligence effort. We thought we made some progress. We established the legal basis for holding states responsible for using terrorists to attack Americans anywhere. Through intelligence, we did abort many potential terrorist acts. But we didn't really understand what motivated the terrorists or what they were out to do.
In the 1990s, the problem began to appear even more menacing. Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda were well known, but the nature of the terrorist threat was not yet comprehended and our efforts to combat it were ineffective. Diplomacy without much force was tried. Terrorism was regarded as a law enforcement problem and terrorists as criminals. Some were arrested and put on trial. Early last year, a judge finally allowed the verdict to stand for one of those convicted in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Ten years! Terrorism is not a matter that can be left to law enforcement, with its deliberative process, built-in delays, and safeguards that may let the prisoner go free on procedural grounds.
Today, looking back on the past quarter century of terrorism, we can see that it is the method of choice of an extensive, internationally connected ideological movement dedicated to the destruction of our international system of cooperation and progress. We can see that the 1981 assassination of President Anwar Sadat, the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, the 2001 destruction of the Twin Towers, the bombs on the trains in Madrid, and scores of other terrorist attacks in between and in many countries, were carried out by one part or another of this movement. And the movement is connected to states that develop awesome weaponry, with some of it, or with expertise, for sale.
What should we do? First and foremost, shore up the state system.
The world has worked for three centuries with the sovereign state as the basic operating entity, presumably accountable to its citizens and responsible for their well-being. In this system, states also interact with each other--bilaterally or multilaterally--to accomplish ends that transcend their borders. They create international organizations to serve their ends, not govern them.
Increasingly, the state system has been eroding. Terrorists have exploited this weakness by burrowing into the state system in order to attack it. While the state system weakens, no replacement is in sight that can perform the essential functions of establishing an orderly and lawful society, protecting essential freedoms, providing a framework for fruitful economic activity, contributing to effective international cooperation, and providing for the common defense.
I see our great task as restoring the vitality of the state system within the framework of a world of opportunity, and with aspirations for a world of states that recognize accountability for human freedom and dignity.
All established states should stand up to their responsibilities in the fight against our common enemy, terror; be a helpful partner in economic and political development; and take care that international organizations work for their member states, not the other way around. When they do, they deserve respect and help to make them work successfully.
The civilized world has a common stake in defeating the terrorists. We now call this what it is: a War on Terrorism. In war, you have to act on both offense and defense. You have to hit the enemy before the enemy hits you. The diplomacy of incentives, containment, deterrence and prevention are all made more effective by the demonstrated possibility of forceful pre-emption. Strength and diplomacy go together. They are not alternatives; they are complements. You work diplomacy and strength together on a grand and strategic scale and on an operational and tactical level. But if you deny yourself the option of forceful pre-emption, you diminish the effectiveness of your diplomatic moves. And, with the consequences of a terrorist attack as hideous as they are--witness what just happened in Madrid--the U.S. must be ready to pre-empt identified threats. And not at the last moment, when an attack is imminent and more difficult to stop, but before the terrorist gets in position to do irreparable harm.
Over the last decade we have seen large areas of the world where there is no longer any state authority at all, an ideal environment for terrorists to plan and train. In the early 1990s we came to realize the significance of a "failed state." Earlier, people allowed themselves to think that, for example, an African colony could gain its independence, be admitted to the U.N. as a member state, and thereafter remain a sovereign state. Then came Somalia. All government disappeared. No more sovereignty, no more state. The same was true in Afghanistan. And who took over? Islamic extremists. They soon made it clear that they regarded the concept of the state as an abomination. To them, the very idea of "the state" was un-Islamic. They talked about reviving traditional forms of pan-Islamic rule with no place for the state. They were fundamentally, and violently, opposed to the way the world works, to the international state system.
The United States launched a military campaign to eliminate the Taliban and al Qaeda's rule over Afghanistan. Now we and our allies are trying to help Afghanistan become a real state again and a viable member of the international state system. Yet there are many other parts of the world where state authority has collapsed or, within some states, large areas where the state's authority does not run.
That's one area of danger: places where the state has vanished. A second area of danger is found in places where the state has been taken over by criminals or warlords. Saddam Hussein was one example. Kim Jong Il of North Korea is another.
They seize control of state power and use that power to enhance their wealth, consolidate their rule and develop their weaponry. As they do this, and as they violate the laws and principles of the international system, they at the same time claim its privileges and immunities, such as the principle of non-intervention into the internal affairs of a legitimate sovereign state. For decades these thugs have gotten away with it. And the leading nations of the world have let them get away with it.
This is why the case of Saddam Hussein and Iraq is so significant. After Saddam Hussein consolidated power, he started a war against one of his neighbors, Iran, and in the course of that war he committed war crimes including the use of chemical weapons, even against his own people.
About 10 years later he started another war against another one of his neighbors, Kuwait. In the course of doing so he committed war crimes. He took hostages. He launched missiles against a third and then a fourth country in the region.
That war was unique in modern times because Saddam totally eradicated another state, and turned it into "Province 19" of Iraq. The aggressors in wars might typically seize some territory, or occupy the defeated country, or install a puppet regime; but Saddam sought to wipe out the defeated state, to erase Kuwait from the map of the world.
That got the world's attention. That's why, at the U.N., the votes were wholly in favor of a U.S.-led military operation--Desert Storm--to throw Saddam out of Kuwait and to restore Kuwait to its place as a legitimate state in the international system. There was virtually universal recognition that those responsible for the international system of states could not let a state simply be rubbed out.
When Saddam was defeated, in 1991, a cease-fire was put in place. Then the U.N. Security Council decided that, in order to prevent him from continuing to start wars and commit crimes against his own people, he must give up his arsenal of "weapons of mass destruction."
Recall the way it was to work. If Saddam cooperated with U.N. inspectors and produced his weapons and facilitated their destruction, then the cease-fire would be transformed into a peace agreement ending the state of war between the international system and Iraq. But if Saddam did not cooperate, and materially breached his obligations regarding his weapons of mass destruction, then the original U.N. Security Council authorization for the use of "all necessary force" against Iraq--an authorization that at the end of Desert Storm had been suspended but not cancelled--would be reactivated and Saddam would face another round of the U.S.-led military action against him. Saddam agreed to this arrangement.
In the early 1990s, U.N. inspectors found plenty of materials in the category of weapons of mass destruction and they dismantled a lot of it. They kept on finding such weapons, but as the presence of force declined, Saddam's cooperation declined. He began to play games and to obstruct the inspection effort.
By 1998 the situation was untenable. Saddam had made inspections impossible. President Clinton, in February 1998, declared that Saddam would have to comply with the U.N. resolutions or face American military force. Kofi Annan flew to Baghdad and returned with a new promise of cooperation from Saddam. But Saddam did not cooperate. Congress then passed the Iraq Liberation Act by a vote of 360 to 38 in the House of Representatives; the Senate gave its unanimous consent. Signed into law on October 31, it supported the renewed use of force against Saddam with the objective of changing the regime. By this time, he had openly and utterly rejected the inspections and the U.N. resolutions.
In November 1998, the Security Council passed a resolution declaring Saddam to be in "flagrant violation" of all resolutions going back to 1991. That meant that the cease-fire was terminated and the original authorization for the use of force against Saddam was reactivated. President Clinton ordered American forces into action in December 1998.
But the U.S. military operation was called off after only four days--apparently because President Clinton did not feel able to lead the country in war at a time when he was facing impeachment.
So inspections stopped. The U.S. ceased to take the lead. But the inspectors reported that as of the end of 1998 Saddam possessed major quantities of WMDs across a range of categories, and particularly in chemical and biological weapons and the means of delivering them by missiles. All the intelligence services of the world agreed on this.
From that time until late last year, Saddam was left undisturbed to do what he wished with this arsenal of weapons. The international system had given up its ability to monitor and deal with this threat. All through the years between 1998 and 2002 Saddam continued to act and speak and to rule Iraq as a rogue state.
President Bush made it clear by 2002, and against the background of 9/11, that Saddam must be brought into compliance. It was obvious that the world could not leave this situation as it was. The U.S. made the decision to continue to work within the scope of the Security Council resolutions--a long line of them--to deal with Saddam. After an extended and excruciating diplomatic effort, the Security Council late in 2002 passed Resolution 1441, which gave Saddam one final chance to comply or face military force. When on December 8, 2002, Iraq produced its required report, it was clear that Saddam was continuing to play games and to reject his obligations under international law. His report, thousands of pages long, did not in any way account for the remaining weapons of mass destruction that the U.N. inspectors had reported to be in existence as of the end of 1998. That assessment was widely agreed upon.
That should have been that. But the debate at the U.N. went on--and on. And as it went on it deteriorated. Instead of the focus being kept on Iraq and Saddam, France induced others to regard the problem as one of restraining the U.S.--a position that seemed to emerge from France's aspirations for greater influence in Europe and elsewhere. By March of 2003 it was clear that French diplomacy had resulted in splitting NATO, the European Union, and the Security Council . . . and probably convincing Saddam that he would not face the use of force. The French position, in effect, was to say that Saddam had begun to show signs of cooperation with the U.N. resolutions because more than 200,000 American troops were poised on Iraq's borders ready to strike him; so the U.S. should just keep its troops poised there for an indeterminate time to come, until presumably France would instruct us that we could either withdraw or go into action. This of course was impossible militarily, politically, and financially.
Where do we stand now? These key points need to be understood:
? There has never been a clearer case of a rogue state using its privileges of statehood to advance its dictator's interests in ways that defy and endanger the international state system.
? The international legal case against Saddam--17 resolutions--was unprecedented.
? The intelligence services of all involved nations and the U.N. inspectors over more than a decade all agreed that Saddam possessed weapons of mass destruction that posed a threat to international peace and security.
? Saddam had four undisturbed years to augment, conceal, disperse, or otherwise deal with his arsenal.
? He used every means to avoid cooperating or explaining what he has done with them. This refusal in itself was, under the U.N. resolutions, adequate grounds for resuming the military operation against him that had been put in abeyance in 1991 pending his compliance.
? President Bush, in ordering U.S. forces into action, stated that we were doing so under U.N. Security Council Resolutions 678 and 687, the original bases for military action against Saddam Hussein in 1991. Those who criticize the U.S. for unilateralism should recognize that no nation in the history of the United Nations has ever engaged in such a sustained and committed multilateral diplomatic effort to adhere to the principles of international law and international organization within the international system. In the end, it was the U.S. that upheld and acted in accordance with the U.N. resolutions on Iraq, not those on the Security Council who tried to stop us.
The question of weapons of mass destruction is just that: a question that remains to be answered, a mystery that must be solved. Just as we also must solve the mystery of how Libya and Iran developed menacing nuclear capability without detection, of how we were caught unaware of a large and flourishing black market in nuclear material--and of how we discovered these developments before they got completely out of hand and have put in place promising corrective processes. The question of Iraq's presumed stockpile of weapons will be answered, but that answer, however it comes out, will not affect the fully justifiable and necessary action that the coalition has undertaken to bring an end to Saddam Hussein's rule over Iraq. As Dr. David Kay put it in a Feb. 1 interview with Chris Wallace, "We know there were terrorist groups in state still seeking WMD capability. Iraq, although I found no weapons, had tremendous capabilities in this area. A marketplace phenomena was about to occur, if it did not occur; sellers meeting buyers. And I think that would have been very dangerous if the war had not intervened."
When asked by Mr. Wallace what the sellers could have sold if they didn't have actual weapons, Mr. Kay said: "The knowledge of how to make them, the knowledge of how to make small amounts, which is, after all, mostly what terrorists want. They don't want battlefield amounts of weapons. No, Iraq remained a very dangerous place in terms of WMD capabilities, even though we found no large stockpiles of weapons."
Above all, and in the long run, the most important aspect of the Iraq war will be what it means for the integrity of the international system and for the effort to deal effectively with terrorism. The stakes are huge and the terrorists know that as well as we do. That is the reason for their tactic of violence in Iraq. And that is why, for us and for our allies, failure is not an option. The message is that the U.S. and others in the world who recognize the need to sustain our international system will no longer quietly acquiesce in the take-over of states by lawless dictators who then carry on their depredations--including the development of awesome weapons for threats, use, or sale--behind the shield of protection that statehood provides. If you are one of these criminals in charge of a state, you no longer should expect to be allowed to be inside the system at the same time that you are a deadly enemy of it.
Sept. 11 forced us to comprehend the extent and danger of the challenge. We began to act before our enemy was able to extend and consolidate his network.
If we put this in terms of World War II, we are now sometime around 1937. In the 1930s, the world failed to do what it needed to do to head off a world war. Appeasement never works. Today we are in action. We must not flinch. With a powerful interplay of strength and diplomacy, we can win this war.
Mr. Shultz, a former secretary of state, is a distinguished fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. This is adapted from his Kissinger Lecture, given recently at the Library of Congress.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Libertarian themes
on: March 28, 2004, 10:02:22 AM
Court Opens Door To Searches Without Warrants
POSTED: 3:55 pm CST March 26, 2004
UPDATED: 4:36 pm CST March 26, 2004
NEW ORLEANS -- It's a groundbreaking court decision that legal experts say will affect everyone: Police officers in Louisiana no longer need a search or arrest warrant to conduct a brief search of your home or business.
Leaders in law enforcement say it will provide safety to officers, but others argue it's a privilege that could be abused.
The decision was made by the New Orleans-based 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. Two dissenting judges called it the "road to Hell."
The ruiling stems from a lawsuit filed in Denham Springs in 2000.
New Orleans Police Department spokesman Capt. Marlon Defillo said the new power will go into effect immediately and won't be abused.
"We have to have a legitimate problem to be there in the first place, and if we don't, we can't conduct the search," Defillo said.
But former U.S. Attorney Julian Murray has big problems with the ruling.
"I think it goes way too far," Murray said, noting that the searches can be performed if an officer fears for his safety -- a subjective condition.
Defillo said he doesn't envision any problems in New Orleans, but if there are, they will be handled.
"There are checks and balances to make sure the criminal justce system works in an effective manor," Defillo said.
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Wolves & Dogs
on: March 25, 2004, 06:52:38 AM
For More Information, Contact:
Anne Robertson(602) 664-1218
VPL LAUNCHES CANINE PHEROMONE IN A SPRAY:
Portable D.A.P.? Now Available to Ease Travel Stress and More
Portable D.A.P.? Now Available to Ease Travel Stress and More
PHOENIX, Ariz. ? (Jan. 12, 2004) Veterinary Products Laboratories (VPL) will introduce the newest addition to its revolutionary canine behavior modification line, D.A.P.? (Dog Appeasing Pheromone) Spray at the North American Veterinary Conference January 17 - 21 in Orlando. VPL debuted its D.A.P.? diffuser and Feliway? cat pheromone spray and diffuser last year.
Owners seeking ways to calm their dogs during travel can look to this spray version of the anti-anxiety pheromone. Now, D.A.P. can be sprayed in the car, in the carrier, in the crate, on bedding and in kennels, or even on a bandana adorning the dog?s neck.
?Now there?s a pheromone for every occasion,? said Audra Boyd, marketing manager for VPL?s pheromone products. ?Dog owners who dread the trip to the vet because their pets become agitated, or who wonder whether their animal will stay calm during visits to friends and relatives, now have a spray that can come along for the ride. And today, with so many pet-friendly hotels and resorts offering options for travelers, more people are opting to bring their dogs along on vacation. The spray version of D.A.P. provides a versatile solution for pet owners.?
The pheromone therapy reduces or stops symptoms of stress that include: barking, house soiling, whining, whimpering, and chewing. It also helps comfort dogs that are newly adopted, moving to new homes, adjusting to new pets, visitors and environments, or those frightened of thunderstorms and fireworks.
Veterinarian-developed D.A.P is a synthetic pheromone that mimics the natural appeasing pheromone released by the lactating female to calm and reassure her puppies. D.A.P. has the same effect on adult dogs, providing a means for managing canine anxiety, fear, stress or phobias. Owners should spray D.A.P at least 20 minutes prior to loading the dog into the car or crate. Once owners arrive at their destination, they should spray D.A.P. twice a day in the area occupied by their pet. In addition to the spray, the D.A.P. diffuser plugs into an electrical outlet, delivering the pheromones 24 hours a day for approximately 30 days.
For more information about Veterinary Products Laboratories - Innovative Products in Veterinary Medicine?, call toll free at (888) 241-9545 or direct at (602) 207-2158 or go to vpl.com on the Internet.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Political Rants
on: March 24, 2004, 06:07:11 AM
Somewhere along the way, the Federal Courts and the Supreme Court have misinterpreted the U. S. Constitution. How could fifty States be wrong?
THIS IS VERY INTERESTING! Be sure to read the last two paragraphs.
America's founders did not intend for there to be a separation of God and state, as shown by the fact that all 50 states acknowledge God in their state constitutions:
Alabama 1901, Preamble. We the people of the State of Alabama, invoking the favor and guidance of Almighty God, do ordain and establish the following Constitution ...
Alaska 1956, Preamble. We, the people of Alaska, grateful to God and to those who founded our nation and pioneered this great land ....
Arizona 1911, Preamble. We, the people of the State of Arizona, grateful to Almighty God for our liberties, do ordain this Constitution...
Arkansas 1874, Preamble. We, the people of the State of Arkansas, grateful to Almighty God for the privilege of choosing our own form of government...
California 1879, Preamble. We, the People of the State of California, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom .....
Colorado 1876, Preamble. We, the people of Colorado, with profound reverence for the Supreme Ruler of Universe.
Connecticut 1818, Preamble. The People of Connecticut, acknowledging with gratitude the good Providence of God in permitting them to enjoy ...
Delaware 1897, Preamble. Through Divine Goodness all men have, by nature, the rights of worshipping and serving their Creator according to the dictates of their consciences ...
Florida 1885, Preamble. We, the people of the State of Florida, grateful to Almighty God for our constitutional liberty establish this Constitution...
Georgia 1777, Preamble. We, the people of Georgia, relying upon protection and guidance of Almighty God, do ordain and establish this Constitution...
Hawaii 1959, Preamble. We, the people of Hawaii, Grateful for Divine Guidance .. establish this Constitution.
Idaho 1889, Preamble. We, the people of the State of Idaho, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom, to secure its blessings ...
Illinois 1870, Preamble. We, the people of the State of Illinois, grateful to Almighty God for the civil, political and religious liberty which He hath so long permitted us to enjoy and looking to Him for a blessing on our endeavors.
Indiana 1851, Preamble. We, the People of the State of Indiana, grateful to Almighty God for the free exercise of the right to chose our form of government.
Iowa 1857, Preamble. We, the People of the State of Iowa, grateful to the Supreme Being for the blessings hitherto enjoyed, and feeling our dependence on Him for a continuation of these blessings . establish this
Kansas 1859, Preamble. We, the people of Kansas, grateful to Almighty God for our civil and religious privileges . establish this Constitution.
Kentucky 1891, Preamble. We, the people of the Commonwealth of Kentucky grateful to Almighty God for the civil, political and religious liberties...
Louisiana 1921, Preamble. We, the people of the State of Louisiana, grateful to Almighty God for the civil, political and religious liberties we enjoy.
Maine 1820, Preamble. We the People of Maine .. acknowledging with grateful hearts the goodness of the Sovereign Ruler of the Universe in affording us an opportunity ... and imploring His aid and direction.
Maryland 1776, Preamble. We, the people of the state of Maryland, grateful to Almighty God or our civil and religious liberty...
Massachusetts 1780, Preamble. We...the people of Massachusetts, acknowledging with grateful hearts, the goodness of the Great Legislator of the Universe ... in the course of His Providence, an opportunity ..and devoutly imploring His direction ..
Michigan 1908, Preamble. We, the people of the State of Michigan, grateful to Almighty God for the blessings of freedom ... establish this Constitution.
Minnesota 1857, Preamble. We, the people of the State of Minnesota, grateful to God for our civil and religious liberty, and desiring to perpetuate its blessings.
Mississippi 1890, Preamble. We, the people of Mississippi in convention assembled, grateful to Almighty God, and invoking His blessing on our work.
Missouri 1845, Preamble. We, the people of Missouri, with profound reverence for the Supreme Ruler of the Universe, and grateful for His goodness ... establish this Constitution .
Montana 1889, Preamble. We, the people of Montana, grateful to Almighty God for the blessings of liberty. establish this Constitution ...
Nebraska 1875, Preamble. We, the people, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom .. establish this Constitution ..
Nevada 1864, Preamble. We the people of the State of Nevada, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom establish this Constitution...
New Hampshire 1792, Part I. Art. I. Sec. V. Every individual has a natural and unalienable right to worship God according to the dictates of his own
New Jersey 1844, Preamble. We, the people of the State of New Jersey, grateful to Almighty God for civil and religious liberty which He hath so long permitted us to enjoy, and looking to Him for a blessing on our
New Mexico 1911, Preamble. We, the People of New Mexico, grateful to Almighty God for the blessings of liberty .
New York 1846, Preamble. We, the people of the State of New York, grateful to Almighty God for
our freedom, in order to secure its blessings.
North Carolina 1868, Preamble. We the people of the State of North Carolina, grateful to Almighty God, the Sovereign Ruler of Nations, for our civil, political, and religious liberties, and acknowledging our dependence upon Him for the continuance of those ...
North Dakota 1889, Preamble. We, the people of North Dakota, grateful to Almighty God for the blessings of civil and religious liberty, do ordain...
Ohio 1852, Preamble. We the people of the state of Ohio, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom, to secure its blessings and to promote our common ....
Oklahoma 1907, Preamble. Invoking the guidance of Almighty God, in order to secure and perpetuate the blessings of liberty ... establish this ..
Oregon 1857, Bill of Rights, Article I. Section 2. All men shall be secure in the Natural right, to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their consciences..
Pennsylvania 1776, Preamble. We, the people of Pennsylvania, grateful to Almighty God for the blessings of civil and religious liberty, and humbly
invoking His guidance.
Rhode Island 1842, Preamble. We the People of the State of Rhode Island grateful to Almighty God for the civil and religious liberty which He hath so long permitted us to enjoy, and looking to Him for a blessing...
South Carolina, 1778, Preamble. We, the people of he State of South Carolina, grateful to God for our liberties, do ordain and establish this Constitution.
South Dakota 1889, Preamble. We, the people of South Dakota, grateful to Almighty God for our civil and religious liberties ... establish this
Tennessee 1796, Art. XI. III. That all men have a natural and indefeasible right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their conscience...
Texas 1845, Preamble. We the People of the Republic of Texas, acknowledging, with gratitude, the grace and beneficence of God.
Utah 1896, Preamble. Grateful to Almighty God for life and liberty, we establish this Constitution ....
Vermont 1777, Preamble. Whereas all government ought to ... enable the individuals who compose it to enjoy their natural rights, and other blessings which the Author of Existence has bestowed on man...
Virginia 1776, Bill of Rights, XVI ... Religion, or the Duty which we owe our Creator ... can be directed only by Reason ... and that it is the mutual duty of all to practice Christian Forbearance, Love and Charity
towards each other ..
Washington 1889, Preamble. We the People of the State of Washington, grateful! to the Supreme Ruler of the Universe for our liberties, do ordain this Constitution .....
West Virginia 1872, Preamble. Since through Divine Providence we enjoy the blessings of civil, political and religious liberty, we, the people of West Virginia .. reaffirm our faith in and constant reliance upon God...
Wisconsin 1848, Preamble. We, the people of Wisconsin, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom, domestic tranquility ..
Wyoming 1890, Preamble. We, the people of the State of Wyoming, grateful to God for our civil, political, and religious liberties ... establish this Constitution...
After reviewing acknowledgments of God from all 50 state constitutions, one is faced with the prospect that maybe, just maybe, the ACLU and the out-of-control Federal Courts are wrong!
"Those people who will not be governed by God will be ruled by tyrants."
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Current Events: Philippines
on: March 24, 2004, 05:35:34 AM
Philippines: ID Cards For Muslims
March 23, 2004 2003 GMT
The Philippine government is supporting 30 leaders of Muslim communities in Manila who volunteered to distribute identification cards in Muslim areas of the city, the Philippine Inquirer News Service reported March 23. Of the city's 12 million people, nearly 800,000 are Muslim, most living in poor and crowded neighborhoods that draw criminals and militants fleeing fighting in the southern islands. In recent years, the Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) Islamist groups have targeted Manila. The proposed ID card system would reportedly be modeled on an ID card system already in place at Manila's Golden Mosque -- the largest mosque in the city -- which issues cards to residents and visitors in order to screen for potential troublemakers. The new ID system is expected to be implemented by the end of March.
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / DB in Mexico City
on: March 16, 2004, 12:40:57 PM
What a great idea! Years ago (1974? Ohmygod its been 30 years!) starting in Philadelphia my friend Bill and I wandered down to Mexico in his van. As a C- high school Spanish student, I was the "interpreter" of the expedition and 5 minutes after we crossed into Mexico from Laredo Bill made an illegal turn and the police stopped us. Uh oh. A couple of minutes later I had paid my first bribe (?No podemso pagar la propina
aqui?) and my fascination with Spanish and Mexico was born.
We continued on down to Cuernavaca (see, there was a point to the story) which is about an hour past Mexico City (a.k.a. "el DF/Distrito Federal") where we enrolled in one of the local language schools wherein pretty Mexican girls taught classes of 4 or less in the morning and in the afternoon we would go out and practice on the natives. What great fun!
I imagine Cuernavaca has grown in the 30 years since then, but it was a very pleasant small city at an altitude that gave it a very agreeable climate year round. About 4 hours futher south down a very winding road is Acapulco.
The DF, and DBMA Apprentice Mauricio of "Sistemas Integrados de Combate" is about an hour north of Cuernavaca. I was just with Mauricio for the second time a couple of weeks ago. He is doing good work getting DBMA off the ground in the DF and is working on developing a sparring/fighting group. I think you would add to your good times by checking him out.
Kalani es miembro del grupo de Dogzilla en Hawaii, buen peleador y amigo nuestro.
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Current Events: Philippines
on: March 15, 2004, 07:33:05 PM
Abu Sayyaf: How Fading Militant Groups Fight To Stay Alive
March 15, 2004 1502 GMT
Abu Sayyaf militants claimed responsibility for a fatal ferry attack Feb. 26. The failing militant Islamist group appears to be taking desperate measures to restore its image as a formidable adversary. The organization is dying: Its leaders are taken out one by one, leaving the group's continued existence and strength in question. The remaining members want to rally support -- and claiming an attack could attract recruits and financial sponsorship from other militant organizations. Abu Sayyaf's pattern of behavior can be seen as a case study of how other militant organizations might react over time as their leaders are removed.
Abu Sayyaf militants claimed responsibility for a fatal Philippine ferry attack Feb. 26, but the Philippine government disputes the claim. Whether Abu Sayyaf bombed the ferry -- or simply claimed to be behind the explosion -- the much-diminished militant group appears to be taking desperate measures to restore its image as a formidable adversary.
Recent interrogation of captured Abu Sayyaf leader Galib Andang, also known as "Commander Robot," revealed splintering within the group caused by power struggles between the leaders of various factions. Andang also mentioned an exchange between several of the Islamist group's leaders and foreigners offering them training in "demolition tactics." If Andang's statements are true, they confirm prior statements by Stratfor and the Philippine government that Abu Sayyaf is disintegrating, but trying to revitalize itself by carrying out attacks -- or claiming attacks. The group might serve as a model for what could happen to other militant organizations as they begin to deteriorate when their upper echelons are crippled or eradicated.
Abu Sayyaf has been in steady decline almost from its inception in the early 1990s, when the group was formed by members who split from the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) -- then involved in peace negotiations. The group was led by Abdurajak Janjalani, the first of many Abu Sayyaf chiefs. The group sought to establish an Islamic state in the southern region of the Philippines and employed tactics that included bombings, assassinations and extortion. The group's primary funding source was sympathizers. Abu Sayyaf has claimed affiliation with other groups such as al Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiyah, which might have provided financial support. It employed kidnap-for-ransom tactics to raise more money as well, but the profitability of such abductions lured some members away from the original ideological goal of establishing an Islamic regime.
Abu Sayyaf has suffered a series of setbacks as its numerous leaders have been killed or captured in the past several years. Janjalani was killed in December 1998 in a fight with Philippine police. To prove the group was still a powerful force after the loss of its leader, members carried out an attack less than a month later, throwing grenades into a crowd gathered at a shopping center, killing 10 and wounding 74. Janjalani's death, however, resulted in a division between the ideologically motivated and the monetarily motivated members of the group.
The group made another attempt to demonstrate its capabilities in April 2000 by taking 21 hostages from a scuba diving resort on Sipadan Island in Malaysia. The ensuing hostage negotiations further splintered the group: Some members wanted only ransom money; others believed the desire for cash contradicted Abu Sayyaf's Islamist ideology. The kidnapping also drew the attention of the Philippine government and eventually led to intervention by the U.S. military in an effort to eradicate Abu Sayyaf.
Attempts to rejuvenate the group have continued -- even as its leaders are on the run. Andang, who was captured in December 2003 in a government raid, provided details about splinter groups and the deterioration of Abu Sayyaf's leadership. He indicated that the Sulu-based segment of Abu Sayyaf is headed by Jumdail Gumbahali, or "Dr. Abu," and does not acknowledge any leadership by Khaddafi Janjalani, the brother of the organization's founding leader. Another division appeared between Janjalani and Hamsiraji Sali in a dispute over ransom money. In addition, military forces continue to kill and capture Abu Sayyaf members. Five militants were killed and several injured in a clash with soldiers on the island of Jolo on March 2. Andang said that only 300 members remain in the Sulu-based group. Other Abu Sayyaf members have fled with Janjalani out of fear of a U.S. offensive. Without clear leadership and mission, the shrinking organization appears to be in disarray.
The remaining members must develop a more unified and ideologically driven nucleus if they are going to regroup successfully. Abu Sayyaf must consider operations that offer a high return for a small investment, along with high-impact attack plans that can be carried out with few members. With the training in explosives and combat reported by Andang, such an attack could include a suicide bomber on a crowded ferry.
A spectacular attack -- or even claiming a spectacular attack -- would reaffirm the group's existence and indicate that they remain a force to be dealt with. Claiming responsibility for the February ferry attack is indicative of the group's attempt to portray itself as "not dead yet." Although the Philippine government originally downplayed the claim, such an attack is feasible. The alleged suicide bomber was listed on the passenger manifest.
Regardless, Abu Sayyaf has sent the message that it is alive and well to its enemies and potential friends. The March 5 arrest of an Abu Sayyaf member in the northern Philippines could give further credence to the group's efforts to resurface. In a search of the suspect's van, police found more than 20 rifle grenades, a number of firearms, mine parts and a couple of pounds of C4 explosive.
Because of Abu Sayyaf's ties to al Qaeda, the ferry attack claim might advertise to potential sponsors that the group is worth a financial investment in order to achieve the jihadist goals of Islamist extremist groups. Money trickling in to Abu Sayyaf could help finance further operations, perhaps even in tandem with other organizations. This also could engender further cooperative training operations.
Abu Sayyaf wants to attract new recruits to boost its numbers and bring in younger members. Also it might be able to draw on dissidents from the MILF, which is negotiating with the government; Abu Sayyaf splintered off during similar talks with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).
Abu Sayyaf is under pressure to prove it is not extinct. Claiming responsibility for events that could be perceived as attacks and structuring attacks for greater impact with fewer resources are the only ways to prove the group is still breathing. Abu Sayyaf's attempts at self-resuscitation could provide a case study for similar militant organizations -- such as al Qaeda -- that likely will follow as leaders are captured or killed, leaving the groups without direction.
Al Qaeda is under similar pressure to show it is still alive and well, especially in light of recent statements by the Bush administration that the capture of Osama bin Laden might be close at hand. Al Qaeda's patterns of attack have been to carry out significant strikes every few years with smaller attacks in the interim. Al Qaeda also might claim an attack that it did not perpetrate -- or one that was carried out by another group with only marginal al Qaeda affiliation. The recent claims of responsibility for the train bombings in Madrid by at least two Islamist militant groups reinforce this idea. Watching the slow deaths of groups like Abu Sayyaf might be the only way we will understand when other groups such as al Qaeda finally have been silenced for good -- and what we might expect from them as they fight to stay alive.
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Wolves & Dogs
on: March 15, 2004, 01:11:14 PM
Persevering After a Bloody Attack
An Orange woman, 91, lost her arms, but not her independent spirit, in a rampage by a family pit bull.
By Jean-Paul Renaud, Times Staff Writer
Her garden has wilted. The flowers Ruby Sharum tended so zealously outside her manila-colored stucco house in Orange have withered away.
And she will never again know the prick of a thorn or feel dirt through her fingers.
A month ago, Sharum, 91, was attacked by her great-grandson's pit bull while she put away groceries. She not only lost both arms, but also much of the independence that her friends and family say she has shown her entire life.
Sharum now lies in a hospital bed at St. Jude Medical Center in Fullerton, flanked by carnations in florists' vases. The great-grandmother of 13 ? who until recently not only took care of her garden but still drove a car ? now needs help for the most basic activities: walking, eating, drinking.
"It's the most terrible thing that can ever happen to a person that has so much independence," said her son Ken Sharum, 71. "I can't imagine ever existing that way."
Still, friends and family say they are amazed at how much she has improved. Her doctors credit her strong religious faith for her ability to cope and move on.
"She's the model for all the rehab patients we have, with the will and the strength that she has," said Sharum's doctor, Michelle Thai.
Sharum said she has accepted her new disability and is eager to learn how to adapt.
"Whatever comes, I feel you have to make the best of it," she said. "I kind of look forward to the therapy because I know it's necessary to help me."
But the memories of that cold night Feb. 13 still haunt her, no matter how much she tries to hide it from her family and friends. Thai said Sharum suffers post-traumatic stress, experiencing flashbacks to the day the pit bull, Zion, lunged at her.
"If I could forget, I would be better off," she said, with only the smallest tremor in her voice. "All I remember is that we were putting away groceries. The next thing I knew, he was tearing into me."
The attack was witnessed by Sharum's granddaughter, who ran to neighbors to summon help. Eventually, family members and neighbors were able to pull the dog away, but by the time police arrived, Sharum was badly hurt.
Sharum was rushed to UCI Medical Center in Orange, where her arms were amputated above the elbow. She remained there for three weeks before being transferred to St. Jude for rehabilitation. Pain medication kept her from understanding much of what had occurred, she said.
And when she regained consciousness and realized her injuries, "it was a terrible shock ? thinking that if I recover, what am I going to do without arms, hands," she said.
Her longtime friends say the stoic response is just like Sharum. They say she never indulges in self-pity and may be going through more pain than she will ever admit.
"Sometimes you visit people and they go on and on about their history, but with Ruby you don't know much," said June Watanabe, who has known Sharum through church for 14 years. "The quieter, the stronger. She'll sit there, grin and bear it."
And it is that reticence that kept friends and family from understanding the danger Sharum faced at home every day. She shared the house with her granddaughter. At times her great-grandson, who kept Zion and a Rottweiler at the address, also was there.
The week after the attack, Orange County Animal Care Services officials said it was not the first time Zion had caused trouble. Neighbors felt constantly threatened by the pit bull, and authorities said it had attacked other dogs in Sharum's house on several occasions. Zion was euthanized the day after the attack on Sharum.
Sharum doesn't acknowledge seeing any of that. Zion had "just been the perfect pet," she said. "We never thought that he'd wind up doing anything like that."
The Orange County district attorney's office has asked Orange police to investigate whether Sharum's great-grandson Ian Buckhard, who owned the dog, should be held criminally responsible. Buckhard could not be reached for comment.
Although Sharum doesn't blame anyone other than the dog for the attack, her son feels very differently.
"I was upset at the great-grandson for having the dogs," said Ken Sharum. He said the family holds Buckhard responsible.
"Maybe this is something I could've prevented, had I been more insistent," he said.
Doctors said they expect Sharum to recover. The family is already looking into getting her prosthetic arms. Doctors believe such devices will restore much of her beloved independence.
Sharum has agreed to move in with her son in southwest Riverside County and is already setting tasks for herself. "I think that carpet needs to be cleaned," she said.
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Spain's terrorist attack
on: March 12, 2004, 09:51:27 PM
Madrid Bombing: Evidence Points Away From ETA
March 12, 2004 2106 GMT
Spanish explosives experts have found an unexploded bomb they say leads them to conclude the Basque separatist group ETA did not build the device. This makes it more likely that a militant Islamist group is behind the multiple, nearly simultaneous attacks in Madrid on March 11.
Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar continued to insist March 12 that ETA is to blame for the most devastating attacks in his country's history. However, Spanish explosives experts examined an unexploded bomb found inside a backpack late March 11 and concluded the device was not manufactured by ETA bombers.
Within hours of the attack, European and Russian diplomatic and security sources told Stratfor that Islamist militants were the likeliest suspects. Those suspicions now have hardened. A highly placed U.S. source told Stratfor on March 12 that U.S. intelligence believes the attacks were carried out either by groups associated with al Qaeda or by al Qaeda sympathizers. The source confirmed that U.S. intelligence agencies are actively helping the Spanish government search for the guilty party.
The technical and design characteristics of the unexploded bomb significantly increase the likelihood that the attacks, which killed 199 and wounded nearly 1,500, are the work of al Qaeda or another militant group associated with Osama bin Laden's network. The unexploded bomb had a copper detonator; ETA habitually uses aluminum. The dynamite was not French-made Titadine, which ETA operatives frequently steal from French quarries; it likely was made in Spain by Explosivos Rio Tinto, Spanish government sources say.
Investigators are trying to determine whether the dynamite was stolen or an individual or company bought it legally. The unexploded dynamite has markers that will allow investigators to determine who manufactured it and the date it was made. Sales of explosives are tightly regulated in Spain, and the paper trail should help investigators more or less pinpoint where they came from and where they wound up. If the bombers are as sophisticated as Stratfor believes, however, Spanish investigators could identify the origin of the dynamite but still be unable to pin down the actual bombers.
If an al Qaeda cell or an associated outrider group attacked Madrid, it would have major implications for Western Europe. Al Qaeda and associated groups have struck targets in Asia, Africa, the Middle East and the United States. The Madrid attack would be the first strike inside the European Union. More attacks of this nature should be expected in other EU countries, especially Britain, France and Italy -- and possibly also in Germany.
Britain is replete with zealous young unemployed Muslims who have dropped out of school, and there might be some among them willing to launch attacks in retaliation for Prime Minister Tony Blair's support of the war on Iraq. There also are groups that are "cheerleaders" of sorts for jihadists. These represent a potential pool of recruits. Some Muslims also could harbor longstanding grievances against Britain for perceived wrongs committed against Islam dating from the British colonial era.
France has a large Muslim population, and many are enraged by the government's ban on religious symbols that includes headscarves. Although the Chirac government bitterly opposed the U.S. invasion of Iraq, some militant Islamist groups could choose more forceful ways to express their repudiation of a ban many see as an insult to Muslim women and an offense to Islam.
The Italian people overwhelmingly opposed the Iraq war, more so perhaps than any EU population save that of Spain, but Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's support for the Bush administration also makes Italy a legitimate target. Germany also could be targeted for prosecuting Muslims charged with crimes related to Sept. 11.
The choice to target trains has horrifying implications for EU countries in which everyone travels by rail. Suicide bombers have attacked U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, a nightclub packed with foreigners in Bali and a U.S. warship anchored in a Yemen port. The bombers in Madrid chose a congested public transport system, and no suicide bombers appear to have been involved -- although this will not be confirmed beyond a doubt until forensics experts complete the autopsies, which could take weeks or even months.
Europe has a wealth of targets like Madrid's rail system; it is one of the world's most densely populated regions. Besides urban passenger rail systems, future attacks in Europe could target football stadiums, pedestrian promenades like the area near the Spanish Steps in Rome, shopping malls and other venues that tend to be heavily congested but do not have the security found in airports and near government buildings. The implications are that federal and local governments will have to ratchet up security significantly in the future, which will hinder broader efforts to contain the fiscal red ink in countries like France.
The Madrid bombers appear to be a highly autonomous group, which means they will be very difficult to locate. With U.S. and other anti-terrorism forces aggressively pursuing al Qaeda leaders Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, it is not likely the group had any contact with the chieftains. The bombers might have known they had bin Laden's blessing, but they most likely planned and executed the Madrid attacks autonomously without receiving orders from the top. If we are correct in this assumption, the group that carried out the Madrid attacks has already dispersed and gone deep undercover. It is even possible they have left Spain and are hiding elsewhere in the European Union.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Political Rants
on: March 12, 2004, 12:19:00 PM
* (no subject) wontondon 3/12/04 09:52
Thicker than Oil
Putting to rest the Left's Iraq deceptions.
By Victor David Hanson
It has now been almost a year since the liberation of Iraq, the fury
of the antiwar rallies, and the publicized hectoring of Michael Moore,
Noam Chomsky, Sean Penn, and other assorted conspiracy freaks ? and we have enough evidence to lay some of their myths to rest.
I just filled up and paid $2.19 a gallon. How can that be, when the
war was undertaken to help us get our hands on "cheap" oil? Where is
the mythical Afghan pipeline when we need it?
"No Blood for Oil" (never mind the people who drove upscale
gas-guzzlers to the rallies at which they chanted such slogans) was
supposed to respond to one of two possibilities: American oil
companies were either simply going to steal the Iraqi fields, or
indirectly prime the pumps to such an extent that the world would be
awash with petroleum and the price for profligate Western consumers
Neither came true. Iraqis themselves control their natural resources;
the price of gasoline, despite heroic restoration of much of Iraqi
prewar petroleum output, is at an all-time high.
So did Shell and Exxon want too much ? or too little ? pumping? Was
the Iraq conspiracy a messy crisis to disrupt production as an excuse
to jack up prices, or a surgical strike to garner Third-World
resources on the cheap to power wasteful American SUVs?
The truth is, as usual, far more simple. The United States never did
intend to steal or manipulate the oil market ? not necessarily because
we are always above such chicanery, but because it is nearly
impossible in a fungible market under constant global scrutiny, and
suicidal in the Byzantine politics of the Middle East.
Instead we have pledged $87 billion to secure and rebuild Iraq ? one
of the largest direct-aid programs since the Marshall Plan. Tens of
thousands of brave Americans risked their lives ? and hundreds have
died ? to end the genocide of Saddam Hussein, alter the pathological
calculus of the Middle East, and cease the three-decade support of
terrorism by Arab dictators.
The only credible critics on the left are those who make the argument
that Iraq never made any sense economically and "took away" money from health care, education, aid to poor, transportation, etc. (the litany
is familiar) at home ? although even this is a hard argument when
domestic spending has increased 8 percent per annum under the Bush
A year ago, almost no one claimed that we were far too na?ve,
idealistic, or stupid. No, Americans were forever conniving and
larcenous. Remember the invective about perpetual American
intervention? Tens of thousands of our troops poured into the Middle
East after the "excuse" of September 11. Right-wingers alleged that we
had turned from republic to a garrison empire in a new global ego
trip. Leftists assured us that we were greedy colonialists replicating
the British raj ? perhaps keen to corner the Iraqi date market or
exploit at slave wages the skilled workforce around Tikrit. Arab
fundamentalists prattled on about the American Crusaders and Zionists
out to steal holy lands and desecrate shrines ? no doubt convinced
that Billy Grahamites, if not blowing up ancient Buddhist statuary,
would soon be attaching crosses to minarets.
Yet since the very day the war started, the reality has been just the
opposite ? a constant desire for the bare-minimum amount of troops
abroad in as brief a deployment as possible. More sober military
observers have always fathomed that the dangers of the American
campaign were never that we were overrunning the Middle East in hope
of perennial occupation. Instead we ? as amateur interventionists who
have always had a very short attention span ? had too few troops to
fight the war, and fewer still to rebuild the country.
Even the chief, albeit private, worry of most Iraqis was mostly that
there were not enough American infidels to provide them security and
that we would leave too soon ? hardly the response one would expect to
old-style, foreign, pith-helmeted imperialists who had stayed too long.
Then there was the third-world exploited-peoples angle. At least, I
think that was one of the favorite themes of the peace rallies where
various groups ? from supporters of cop-killers to Puerto Rican
independence zealots ? spouted off about their shared racism,
victimhood, and oppression.
Surely one of the most astounding intellectual trends in our lifetime
has been this transmogrification of religious fascists and Middle East
autocrats ? the minions of Saddam, Arafat, Khaddafi, or the Iranian
mullahs ? into some sort of exploited peoples worthy of Western
forbearance for quite horrific dictatorships, theocracies, and all the
assorted pathologies that we have to come to associate with the modern
Middle East. The way things were going, belonging to Hamas or
Hezbollah soon might have earned one affirmative-action status on an
Let's examine, instead, what really happened. While fellow Arabs did
little or nothing to free the Iraqi people ? but apparently both
cheated on and profited from the U.N. embargoes ? Americans set up a
consensual government. And for our part, American casualties so far
mirror roughly the racial make-up of our general population. So much
for the old Vietnam-era myth that people of color always die in
disproportionate numbers fighting rich people's wars. Our three top
officers most visible the last year in Iraq ? Generals Abizaid,
Sanchez, and Brooks ? are an Arab American, Mexican American, and
African American. The national-security adviser and the secretary of
state are minorities as well. And so on. This was a war about values ?
not race, class, or ethnicity.
Another myth was that of the "noble European" ? promulgated here at
home by American shysters like Michael Moore, who cashed in overseas,
fawning over the likes of Jacques Chirac (the guy who sealed the
French nuclear-reactor deal with Saddam) and Dominique de Villepin
(who wept over the Christ-like Napoleon's demise at Waterloo).
The truth again is very different; and John Kerry should be wary about
bragging that unnamed European leaders ? if true ? tell him that they
favor his election. Each week we learn how European companies were
knee-deep in the foul stream of forbidden supplies that flowed to
Saddam in violation of their hallowed U.N. statutes. And the most
recent European tired chorus ? "We support the needed Afghan
multilateral operation, but not the Iraq aggression" ? is proven false
by the fact that there are about ten times more American troops right
now in Europe than there are NATO soldiers in Afghanistan.
Sorry, a few thousand troops in Afghanistan doesn't cut it from a
continent with a larger population than that of the United States,
which in turn does the dirty work to ensure Europe's security.
Unilateral, multilateral, U.N., no U.N., Balkans, Iraq ? it doesn't
matter: The Europeans are never going to risk lives and treasure for
much of anything. The predictable NATO rule: The stationing of troops
is to be determined in direct proportion to the absence of both need
But what about WMDs? Wasn't that a Bush fable? Forget that most ? from
Bill Clinton to John Kerry ? believed that they were there, and that
all the evidence about Saddam's arsenal is not yet in.
The truth is that almost everybody in the world believes that the war
had something to do with WMDs and nothing to do with Halliburton ?
except Western leftists. By going into Iraq we probably will find more
dangerous weapons in Libya than were stockpiled in Baghdad. The
president argued that we must depose Saddam Hussein to prevent scary
weapons from being used by rogue regimes. He did so, and suddenly Dr.
Khan, Khaddafi, and even a few mullahs seemed to wish to come clean.
The danger of promulgating the old mistruths about sacrificing blood
for oil, reviving colonialism, and suggesting the operation in Iraq
has led to disaster are manifold. First, ever-so-steadily, such
invective wears away support for an action that, by any historical
yardstick, was as successful as it was noble. The only peril to the
United States in Iraq would be a unilateral withdrawal before
stability and constitutional government are achieved. And the only
chance of that disaster happening would arise from our own continual
harping that wears down the will of the American people ? and those
asked to fight for us in the field.
The other worry is that there were, in fact, real concerns about the
entire campaign that have scarcely been addressed. While the media
hold conferences on university campuses about the morality of using
embedded reporters, they have simply refused to discuss the real
ethical crisis of the reporting of the war: that dozens of Western
journalists sent censored news accounts from Baghdad in the months
preceding the conflict and in fact during the actual fighting.
Unbeknownst to us, their dispatches always were monitored carefully by
"minders" and transmitted only through pay-offs and blackmail. None of
this was known at the time ? leading to the absurdity that on the day
Baghdad fell journalists suddenly came clean over uncensored mikes, as
if to say, "Oh, by the way, everything I sent out to you the last two
months was sort of censored by the Iraqi Ministry of Information."
So here we are a year later. We fuss about the WMD "myth"; enemies
scramble over its reality. We talk of our theft of third-world
resources ? and pay more for gas than ever before while the price of
Iraq's national treasure soars. We worry that we are too involved
abroad; those in Europe, Afghanistan, and Iraq claim there are not
enough of us over there. And we scream at each other that we are not
liked, even as those overseas express new respect for us.
No wonder, when asked for specific follow-ups about his general
criticisms of the Iraqi war in a recent Time magazine interview, a
resolute Kerry variously prevaricated, "I didn't say that," "I can't
tell you," "It's possible," "It's not a certainty," "If I had known,"
"No, I think you can still ? wait, no. You can't ? that's not a fair
question and I'll tell you why," ? employing the entire idiom and
vocabulary of those who are angry about Bush's removal of Saddam, but
neither know quite why nor what they would do differently.
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Current Events: Philippines
on: March 12, 2004, 09:47:32 AM
PHILIPPINES - COMMUNIST REBELS KILLED (MAR 12/DPA)
DEUTSCHE PRESSE-AGENTUR -- Government troops killed three communist rebels in a clash in the southern Philippines, reports Deutsche
Presse-Agentur. The fighting began when soldiers encountered about 30 militants in the town of Alegria, located in Surigao del Norte province.
The rebels were killed in the ensuing gunfight, reportedly including the
death of a local commander.
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Spain's terrorist attack
on: March 11, 2004, 09:18:20 PM
From the highly recommended www.stratfor.com
Guau Mi Amigo Alfredo:
Yo quisiera ofrecerle todo la simpatia de mi corazon por lo que se le paso' hoy a tu pais.
The Spanish government has been quick to blame ETA for the March
11 train bombings in Madrid, but the glove doesn't quite fit. If
it was ETA, it would indicate a shift in leadership and/or
operational methodology. It is possible, however, that another
group is behind the attacks.
Spanish Interior Minister Angel Acebes has blamed the March 11
Madrid train bombings on Basque separatist group ETA. ETA's
outlawed political wing, Batasuna, has denied the group was
responsible, blaming the "Arab resistance" reacting to Spain's
military participation in the Iraq war and occupation. Many
aspects of the attack do not fit with ETA's modus operandi, and
the attack could be counterproductive to the group's objective of
greater Basque autonomy or independence.
Although ETA -- or perhaps an offshoot -- certainly cannot be
ruled out as a prime suspect, it is far from clear that Basque
separatists staged the attack. In fact, a growing case can be
made that militant Islamists could be behind it.
But first for ETA: The Basque separatist group clearly has had
its eye on Madrid in recent months. In December 2003, Spanish
police foiled an ETA plot to detonate two bombs aboard two trains
in the Madrid railway station on Christmas Eve -- a plot eerily
similar to the March 11 attack. Two suspected ETA members were
arrested, and the bombs were defused before the trains reached
the station. In late February 2004, Spanish police intercepted a
van driven by an alleged ETA member bound for Madrid, carrying a
cargo of more than 1,100 pounds of explosives that authorities
said was part of a plan to detonate a bomb in the capital before
the March 14 national elections.
These interdictions could have had several results. They could
have demonstrated to ETA that the long-running crackdown by the
Aznar government resulted in critical operational leaks. ETA
might have identified those leaks and plugged them. The group
also might have decided to keep a much tighter grip on planning
for this operation and change its habit of offering advance
warning of attacks, which it might now consider too risky. ETA's
nonhierarchical structure -- with a diffuse collection of largely
self-sufficient cells -- could have prompted a certain cell to
launch the operation without the knowledge of the central
leadership to lessen the chance of interdiction.
Second, the interdictions and wider roundup of ETA operatives and
leadership over the past several years might have generated a new
group of younger, bolder and more radicalized Basque
nationalists, a new generation of ETA leadership or a new, more
radical cell working apart from the more traditional leadership.
More than 400 ETA members are in Spanish prisons, and more than
200 suspected ETA members have been arrested in the past two
years. However, ETA has continued to gain new recruits through
Batasuna. That could help explain the change of MO toward larger-
scale attacks that cause indiscriminate casualties.
ETA cells are not known to carry out attacks independently of
orders from above; the group has always been disciplined in this
regard. Cells haven't worked freelance in the past, but recent
victories by Spanish and French security forces might have forced
them to change tactics. Frustration with the interdictions and
perceptions among Basque extremists of a wider ETA failure in
recent years also could have broken down organizational
discipline, leading to splinter groups similar to the IRA and
Real IRA in Ireland.
Still, there is something not quite right about the ETA
explanation. If it is ETA, the Madrid attacks will fundamentally
damage the cause of Basque nationalists/separatists. In fact, the
attack could be so counterproductive as to ultimately undermine,
weaken and isolate ETA. If the attack can be pinned on the
Basques, it will give the current and future Spanish government
all the leeway it needs to crack down even more harshly on ETA.
Meanwhile, anyone who speaks out on behalf of the Basques or
their dream of greater autonomy likely would be labeled a
The nationalists want greater political autonomy, and Basque
leaders have been moving in that direction, absorbing Basques who
might support ETA politically into the Basque mainstream. They
were pushing among other things for a Basque referendum on
whether they should have more political autonomy or full
independence. Rather than galvanizing the Basque country around
those independence ambitions, the attacks will horrify most
Basques and will make the nationalist divisions in the region
even worse. This could bleed support away from radical
nationalist Basque groups and strengthen the Basque center, which
is pushing for full autonomy bordering on -- but not quite
reaching -- full independence. This also could cut into the
group's local financial support.
Finally, it could undermine any sympathies for Basque ambitions
among other mildly separatist regions in Spain, including
Catalonia and Galicia.
In its 45-year history, hundreds of ETA attacks have resulted in
only about 800 deaths. With the death toll from March 11 up to
186 (with more than 1,000 confirmed injured), that number has
jumped by 25 percent in one day. In short, these attacks went
much too far to support ETA's goals, undermining a historical
pattern designed to keep pressure on Madrid without completely
alienating itself from the rest of Spain, or at least the
nationalists in the Basque country. This attack will completely
undermine that pattern.
There are other suspects. The Islamist Web site Jihadunspun.com,
or JUS, reported March 11 that a previously unknown Islamist
group calling itself Lions of al-Mufridoon claimed responsibility
for blasts. The group is said to consist of Moroccan, Algerian
and Tunisian operatives linked to al Qaeda.
We should note that there is a discrepancy in the JUS report: The
name used in the body of the text is "Lions of al-Mufridoon," but
it was spelled "Lions of al-Muwahidoun" in the headline on the
JUS homepage. "Al-Muwahidoun" means "the Unitarians" (a typical
Wahhabi/Neo-Salafist term); it is a known group that was blamed
for the May 17, 2003, bombings in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Stratfor
has not confirmed this report and is looking into the
discrepancy, and the involvement of Islamists remains
Still, there is reason to believe Islamists could be behind the
attack. A Russian military intelligence source told Stratfor that
foreign Islamist fighters caught in Chechnya and interrogated by
Russian forces over the past three months have said repeatedly
that Islamists of North African origin who have received combat
and explosives experience in Chechnya were planning attacks in
Europe against Spanish and Italian targets. Among those captured
in Chechnya were a Moroccan and two Algerians -- similar to the
description of the Lions of al-Mufridoon.
Although Russian intelligence is known for seeing Chechen
connections in any number of places, the Morocco-Algeria-Tunisia
link makes sense on several levels. Spain's large ethnic Arab
population -- which originates from these three countries --
would make it easier for Islamist extremists to operate there.
Apart from the United Kingdom, Spain was the staunchest supporter
of the war against Iraq, raising its profile among Islamists
looking to strike back at the United States and its allies. On
Nov. 29, seven Spanish intelligence agents traveling in a convoy
near Baghdad were shot and beaten to death, and a Spanish
diplomat -- who was also an intelligence officer -- was
assassinated Oct. 9 near his residence in the Iraqi capital.
Spain also has been mentioned explicitly in the most recent
statements by Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri.
There are similarities between the Chechen attacks and the Madrid
bombing as well, suggesting a conceivable tactical/training
connection. Chechens often target trains, most recently in the
Moscow metro bombing Feb. 6. In addition to that attack, there
have been several regular and suburban trains bombed in Russia's
If trains become a target of choice for Islamists looking to
wreak havoc on Europe, it would spell real trouble for a
continent that depends on its rail network for travel and
commercial transport. The Spanish rail system will be disrupted
for weeks as Spain initiates new security procedures. Next door,
France also has a dark cloud hanging over its rail system as a
shadowy group calling itself AZF claims to have planted
underground bombs on French rail lines. Down the road, Europe has
the Greek Olympics to worry about: All trains to Athens run
through the less-than-secure Balkans.
New Claim for Train Bombings a Clue to Al Qaeda's Capabilities?
March 11, 2004 2359 GMT
The Abu Hafs al-Masri Brigades has claimed responsibility for the March 11 bomb attacks on trains in Madrid, which left nearly 200 dead and almost 1,500 wounded. The jury is still out on who is actually responsible, but if this group was behind them, it would mean al Qaeda retains the capability to launch attacks in the West. The letter claiming responsibility also mentions that an impending attack on the United States is "90 percent ready" for launch.
Kataib Abu Hafs al-Masri (the Abu Hafs al-Masri Brigades), a prominent group with known links to al Qaeda, sent a five-page e-mail and fax to the London-based newspaper al-Quds al-Arabi on March 11, claiming responsibility for the Madrid train bombings.
The claim is unverified, but if true it indicates that al Qaeda retains operational assets in the West -- of which the Brigades are a critical element. Perhaps coincidentally, the attack occurred exactly six months after Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri included Spain on their list of targets in separate statements.
Part of the al-Masri statement read, "We announce the good news for the Muslims in the world that the strike of the black wind of death, the expected strike against America, is now at its final stage -- 90 percent ready -- and it is coming soon, by God's will." The group threatened other U.S. allies and taunted Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar, saying, "Aznar, where is America? Who will protect you, Britain, Japan, Italy and the others from us?"
Al-Masra claimed its "death squad" had infiltrated "one of the pillars of the crusade alliance, Spain," and successfully executed "Operation Death Trains" in Madrid. The reason given was to settle "old accounts" with Spain -- a reference to the Spanish inquisition and Spain's contemporary alliance with the United States.
The group is named after al Qaeda military chief Mohammed Atef (also known as Abu Hafs), who was killed when a predator drone fired a Hellfire missile at a building in Jalalabad in November 2001. Abu Hafs was a former Egyptian police officer and a member of the group of Egyptians who joined al Qaeda in the mid-1990s under the leadership of al-Zawahiri. His daughter is married to one of bin Laden's sons. The group signs its statements as "Kataib Abu Hafs al-Masri (Tandheem al Qaeda)," meaning Abu Hafs al-Masri Brigades (al Qaeda Organization).
Stratfor predicted in summer 2003 that al Qaeda's management in the West remained intact, and that the group could still attack Western targets. Al-Masri has been either directly responsible for or affiliated with groups behind a string of attacks in Tunisia, Morocco, Iraq, Turkey and now possibly in Spain. It would appear to have an extended intercontinental reach and is perhaps the operational arm of al Qaeda, due to current circumstances -- namely the necessity for al Qaeda's leadership to remain hidden.
Spain: Jihadist Group Lays Claim to Train Attacks
March 11, 2004 2116 GMT
The Spanish government appears to be convinced that the Basque separatist group ETA is behind the train bombings in Madrid that left 193 dead and 1,430 injured. However, jihadunspun.com, a Web site sympathetic to militant Islamist causes, reported that a jihadist group has claimed responsibility for the attacks. The Web site is the only source of information about the group -- whose name appears to contain a discrepancy.
Jihadunspun.com's (JUS) news desk reported March 11 that a hitherto unknown group, "the Lions of al-Mufridoon," has claimed responsibility for the bomb attacks on trains in Madrid on March 11. JUS added that the militant Islamist group is said to be composed of operatives from three North African countries -- Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia -- and is suspected to have links to al Qaeda.
While Madrid seems determined to place the blame on the Basque separatist movement ETA, it cannot be ruled out that the deadly explosions could be the work of a European-based jihadist cell tied to al Qaeda. However, Stratfor has not detected the normal "chatter" on jihadist Internet chat sites that normally follows a militant Islamist attack.
JUS's report is important because it contains two separate names for the group claiming responsibility for the bombings.
On the JUS homepage, the name of the militant group is "Lions of al-Muwahidoun," but the name used in the body of the report on the bombings is "Lions of al-Mufridoon." This might be nothing more than a typographical error, but the fact that "al-Muwahidoun" is the name of a known al Qaeda linked group makes that unlikely.
The implications of the two names are interesting. The word "al-Mufridoon" is from the root word "f-r-d" and is a derivative of the word "fard," which means "obligation." This would indicate that "al-Mufridoon" are those who do their best to fulfill their (religious) obligations. There is no additional information available on this group.
"Al-Muwahidoun," on the other hand, means "The Unitarians" (a typical Wahhabi/Neo-Salafist term) and is the name of a group with a prior record of militant activity. It has been blamed for the May 17, 2003, blasts in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The group consists of militants who fought at Tora Bora, the cave complex in Afghanistan, in December 2001, and later made their way to Saudi Arabia. Based on its record of activity, al-Muwahidoun is a Saudi-specific group.
Despite the discrepancy in names, it remains possible that a militant Islamist group could be responsible for the train attacks. If this is the case, then it signals a shift of focus for al Qaeda-inspired jihadists. More attacks elsewhere in Europe could follow.
Spain Attacks Tied to Upcoming Elections?
March 11, 2004 2359 GMT
If Islamic militants perpetrated the March 11 attacks in Madrid -- the responsible party or parties have not been identified -- they might have been seeking to influence the outcome of the country's national elections set for March 14. If so, they miscalculated. If Spain's populace becomes convinced that the attackers were Muslims, whoever is elected likely will align Spain even more with the United States in the global war on terrorism.
Spain's main political parties suspended campaigning for the March 14 general elections after at least 10 bombs exploded on four Madrid commuter trains during the morning rush hour. They gave no indication the elections would be postponed, although Spain's central and regional governments likely will redouble security for weeks to come.
Leaders of the ruling conservative Popular Party (PP) and the Spanish Workers Socialist Party (PSOE) condemned the perpetrators of the worst attack since the end of Gen. Francisco Franco's dictatorship in 1975 as "scum and criminals." Leaders in both main parties also agreed the attacks likely were carried out by the Basque separatist group ETA, although two Islamist militant groups also have claimed responsibility and no official determination has yet been made.
If ETA was behind the attacks, it might have assured the re-election of the incumbent PP, which under departing Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar implemented a tough security policy against the Basque separatist group. If ETA's goal was to weaken the PP at the polls or uphold the separatist cause, it likely achieved the opposite results. PP -- and even the PSOE if it wins -- would adopt even harsher measures against ETA, and the cause of Basque independence would be buried for years.
While ETA is the Spanish government's principal suspect, a previously unknown group that calls itself the Lions of al-Mufridoon, or Lions of al-Muwahidoun, reportedly has claimed credit for the multiple bomb attacks. A second group, Abu Hafs al-Masri Brigade, also has claimed responsibility.
If Islamist militants were responsible, was the timing of the attack only three days before Spain's national elections a coincidence?
Islamic militant groups like al Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiyah have not shown any particular preference for attacking on symbolic dates. Instead, attacks have been launched based on expediency -- when everything came together at the right time for the attackers, who then immolated themselves with their victims. It is also possible that if Islamists carried out the bombings, one of their goals was to influence the elections.
Voter surveys conducted as recently as last week show the ruling PP headed for a third consecutive victory in national elections with Aznar's handpicked successor, Mariano Rajoy. PSOE candidate Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero is in second place. The PP is expected to capture approximately 44 percent of the vote and win between 162 and 172 seats in the 350-member National Assembly, compared to the 183 seats it won in the 2000 elections. It would not have an absolute majority and would have to negotiate coalitions, most likely with nationalist groups in Catalunia and Galicia. The PSOE is expected to capture about 38 percent of the vote and about 141 seats, up 16 seats from the 125 it won in 2000.
The PP and PSOE are not that far apart in terms of the programs they are offering Spanish voters. Rajoy has pledged to maintain Aznar's policies, except "slightly better." Rodriguez Zapatero also has promised more economic reforms and policies to attract foreign investment, create jobs and improve living standards. Both candidates have promised to give Spain a stronger voice in the European Union and continue the Spanish economic "reconquista" of Latin America.
The only issue on which Rajoy and Rodriguez Zapatero differ radically is Spain's alignment with the United States in the global war on terrorism. Rodriguez Zapatero has pledged to bring Spanish troops in Iraq home immediately if he is elected. Most Spaniards, even longtime PP supporters, bitterly opposed Aznar's support for the United States in the Iraq war. One of the reasons Aznar retired from Spanish politics was to prevent that bitterness from tainting the electoral prospects of Rajoy and the incumbant PP.
If Rajoy wins, Spain would remain aligned with the United States against Islamist militant groups. If Rodriguez Zapatero won, Spain would disengage from the U.S.-led war. If Islamists attacked Madrid deliberately only hours before national elections, perhaps they hoped it would collapse support for the PP and boost the PSOE's chances. If so, they committed a gross miscalculation.
The countries of the Arab Islamic world tend to be riven with fractures easily exploited by outsiders. This is not to belittle Arab societies, merely to point out that the West -- comprised of nation-states that have more social glue -- usually reacts to outside threats by closing ranks, not shattering into groups guided by ethnic or sectarian interests. The exceptions are states on the fringe of the West, such as in the Balkans, where the ideas of nation (ethnic identification) and state (political entity) do not coincide.
The popular response in Spain to the tragedy likely will be an intense -- and sustained -- burst of nationalism and unity. The PP's chances likely have improved following these attacks. However, even if the PSOE were to win, Rodriguez Zapatero likely would not disengage Madrid from the U.S.-led war on terrorism if the Madrid attacks were carried out by Islamists.
If the Spanish populace concludes they were attacked by external Islamist forces, the result will be a Spain even more committed to fighting global terrorism. Islamist groups in Spain will come under intense police and judicial scrutiny, with the National Assembly likely approving even tougher anti-terrorism laws. Anti-terrorism resources focused mainly on the Basque problem likely would be expanded to include covert intelligence operations aimed at ferreting out individuals or organizations that support or sympathize with Islamist militants.
It is also likely, if Islamists were responsible, that Spain's government would lead a forceful charge to compel the European Union to adopt a much tougher approach to battling terrorism. This could bring Madrid into more serious discussion with larger EU powers like France and Germany over the extent to which the EU should align with Washington. Madrid's position, likely to be embraced by the cCntral European countries about to join the union, will be that Brussels must cooperate more broadly with the United States.
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Spain's terrorist attack
on: March 11, 2004, 09:51:21 AM
Our hearts go out to our Spanish friends.
May the perps be nailed.
Carnage on morning commute: Terrorists bomb Madrid trains, kill 173
Scenes of carnage followed bomb attacks on at least three Madrid commuter trains, leaving at least 173 dead and more than up to 1,000 injured.
It is the worst terrorist incident in the history of Spain.
The government is blaming Eta, the Basque separatist movement designated as a terrorist organisation by the EU, for the bombings, although no one has yet claimed the attacks.
Two bombs exploded on one commuter train at the Atocha station in the heart of Madrid, blowing at least one carriage nearly in two. At least one other bomb on that train did not explode.
Several other bombs designed to explode as emergency workers arrived have been disarmed by police.
Very early reports said at least 18 died in a blast at El Pozo station in the city's southern suburbs and 15 at Santa Eugenia, but the death toll has been rising quickly as emergency crews work on the wreckage in all three sites.
In all, reports suggest that four trains were hit by explosions in the three train stations, all on trains heading into the city's main train terminal. All the trains were packed with commuters.
The bombs detonated without warning and nearly simultaneously at 7.35am local time.
According to the security minister for Madrid's regional government, at least 173 people were killed and more than 600, possibly up to 1,000, were injured in the attacks. Earlier estimates from various Spanish authorities had said numbers were much lower, but the toll keeps mounting as bodies are discovered in the wreckage.
Click here for a video report on the scene by the BBC (RealPlayer required)
"This is a massacre," government spokesman Eduardo Zaplana told the BBC.
He condemned what he called "an attack on Spanish democracy", calling Eta "a criminal gang of killers."
Ten days ago Spanish police seized a van carrying more than 1,100lbs -- 500 kilos -- of explosives, believed bound for an attack in Madrid by Eta.
The terrorist attack comes only three days before a hotly contested general election and the nation is now in a three day period of mourning. So far, the elections are said to be on track.
The country's political parties have suspended campaigning in the wake of the blasts.
Basque regional president, Juan Jose Ibarretxe, stressed that Eta does not represent the Basque people.
"When Eta attacks, the Basque heart breaks into a thousand pieces," he said.
Some early speculation by the Eta political arm that Islamic factions might have been responsible have been discounted by Spanish authorities.
Spanish authorities say that Eta operatives had been trying to stage a massive attack on the rail network.
According to the BBC, Spanish authorities foiled a Basque separatist plot to blow up a train at a Madrid rail station last September.
In that attack, a 25-kilo bomb had been placed on a train travelling from San Sebastian to Madrid, Interior Minister Angel Acebes said.
Eta has killed more than 800 people in its campaign since the late 1960s. In 1980, its bloodiest year, Eta killed 118 people.
In the wake of the bombings this morning, both the BBC and CNN have come under heavy criticism from Spanish authorities for continuing to call the Eta a "separatist" movement, rather than a terrorist operation.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Political Rants
on: March 10, 2004, 01:23:49 AM
The Threat of Global Terrorism
Why Sept. 11 made Iraq's liberation necessary.
BY TONY BLAIR
Saturday, March 6, 2004 12:01 a.m. EST
(Editor's note: Mr. Blair delivered this speech in his constituency yesterday morning.)
No decision I have ever made in politics has been as divisive as the decision to go to war to in Iraq. It remains deeply divisive today. I know a large part of the public want to move on. Rightly they say the government should concentrate on the issues that elected us in 1997: the economy, jobs, living standards, health, education, crime. I share that view, and we are.
But I know too that the nature of this issue over Iraq, stirring such bitter emotions as it does, can't just be swept away as ill-fitting the preoccupations of the man and woman on the street. This is not simply because of the gravity of war; or the continued engagement of British troops and civilians in Iraq; or even because of reflections made on the integrity of the Prime Minister. It is because it was in March 2003 and remains my fervent view that the nature of the global threat we face in Britain and round the world is real and existential, and it is the task of leadership to expose it and fight it, whatever the political cost; and that the true danger is not to any single politician's reputation, but to our country if we now ignore this threat or erase it from the agenda in embarrassment at the difficulties it causes.
In truth, the fundamental source of division over Iraq is not over issues of trust or integrity, though some insist on trying to translate it into that. Each week brings a fresh attempt to get a new angle that can prove it was all a gigantic conspiracy. We have had three inquiries, including the one by Lord Hutton conducted over six months, with more openness by government than any such inquiry in history, that have affirmed there was no attempt to falsify intelligence in the dossier of September 2002, but rather that it was indeed an accurate summary of that intelligence.
We have seen one element--intelligence about some WMD being ready for use in 45 minutes--elevated into virtually the one fact that persuaded the nation into war. This intelligence was mentioned by me once in my statement to the House of Commons on 24 September and not mentioned by me again in any debate. It was mentioned by no one in the crucial debate on 18 March 2003. In the period from 24 September to 29 May, the date of the BBC broadcast on it, it was raised twice in almost 40,000 written parliamentary questions in the House of Commons; and not once in almost 5,000 oral questions. Neither was it remotely the basis for the claim that Saddam had strategic as well as battlefield WMD. That was dealt with in a different part of the dossier; and though the Iraq Survey Group have indeed not found stockpiles of weapons, they have uncovered much evidence about Saddam's program to develop long-range strategic missiles in breach of U.N. rules.
It is said we claimed Iraq was an imminent threat to Britain and was preparing to attack us. In fact this is what I said prior to the war on 24 September 2002: "Why now? People ask. I agree I cannot say that this month or next, even this year or next he will use his weapons."
Then, for example, in January 2003 in my press conference I said: "And I tell you honestly what my fear is, my fear is that we wake up one day and we find either that one of these dictatorial states has used weapons of mass destruction--and Iraq has done so in the past--and we get sucked into a conflict, with all the devastation that would cause; or alternatively these weapons, which are being traded right round the world at the moment, fall into the hands of these terrorist groups, these fanatics who will stop at absolutely nothing to cause death and destruction on a mass scale. Now that is what I have to worry about. And I understand of course why people think it is a very remote threat and it is far away and why does it bother us. Now I simply say to you, it is a matter of time unless we act and take a stand before terrorism and weapons of mass destruction come together, and I regard them as two sides of the same coin."
The truth is, as was abundantly plain in the motion before the House of Commons on 18 March, we went to war to enforce compliance with U.N. resolutions. Had we believed Iraq was an imminent direct threat to Britain, we would have taken action in September 2002; we would not have gone to the U.N. Instead, we spent October and November in the U.N. negotiating U.N. Resolution 1441. We then spent almost four months trying to implement it.
Actually, it is now apparent from the Survey Group that Iraq was indeed in breach of U.N. Resolution 1441. It did not disclose laboratories and facilities it should have; nor the teams of scientists kept together to retain their WMD, including nuclear expertise; nor its continuing research relevant to CW and BW [chemical and biological weapons]. As Dr Kay, the former head of the ISG [International Survey Group] who is now quoted as a critic of the war, has said: "Iraq was in clear violation of the terms of Resolution 1441". And "I actually think this [Iraq] may be one of those cases where it was even more dangerous than we thought."
Then, most recently is the attempt to cast doubt on the attorney general's legal opinion. He said the war was lawful. He published a statement on the legal advice. It is said this opinion is disputed. Of course it is. It was disputed in March 2003. It is today. The lawyers continue to divide over it--with their legal opinions bearing a remarkable similarity to their political view of the war.
But let's be clear. Once this row dies down, another will take its place and then another and then another.
All of it in the end is an elaborate smokescreen to prevent us seeing the real issue: which is not a matter of trust but of judgment.
The real point is that those who disagree with the war, disagree fundamentally with the judgment that led to war. What is more, their alternative judgment is both entirely rational and arguable. Kosovo, with ethnic cleansing of ethnic Albanians, was not a hard decision for most people; nor was Afghanistan after the shock of September 11; nor was Sierra Leone.
Iraq in March 2003 was an immensely difficult judgment. It was divisive because it was difficult. I have never disrespected those who disagreed with the decision. Sure, some were anti-American; some against all wars. But there was a core of sensible people who faced with this decision would have gone the other way, for sensible reasons. Their argument is one I understand totally. It is that Iraq posed no direct, immediate threat to Britain; and that Iraq's WMD, even on our own case, was not serious enough to warrant war, certainly without a specific U.N. resolution mandating military action. And they argue: Saddam could, in any event, be contained.
In other words, they disagreed then and disagree now fundamentally with the characterization of the threat. We were saying this is urgent; we have to act; the opponents of war thought it wasn't. And I accept, incidentally, that however abhorrent and foul the regime and however relevant that was for the reasons I set out before the war, for example in Glasgow in February 2003, regime change alone could not be and was not our justification for war. Our primary purpose was to enforce U.N. resolutions over Iraq and WMD.
Of course the opponents are boosted by the fact that though we know Saddam had WMD, we haven't found the physical evidence of them in the 11 months since the war. But in fact, everyone thought he had them. That was the basis of U.N. Resolution 1441.
It's just worth pointing out that the search is being conducted in a country twice the land mass of the U.K., which David Kay's interim report in October 2003 noted, contains 130 ammunition storage areas, some covering an area of 50 square miles, including some 600,000 tons of artillery shells, rockets and other ordnance, of which only a small proportion have as yet been searched in the difficult security environment that exists.
But the key point is that it is the threat that is the issue.
The characterization of the threat is where the difference lies. Here is where I feel so passionately that we are in mortal danger of mistaking the nature of the new world in which we live. Everything about our world is changing: its economy, its technology, its culture, its way of living. If the 20th century scripted our conventional way of thinking, the 21st century is unconventional in almost every respect.
This is true also of our security.
The threat we face is not conventional. It is a challenge of a different nature from anything the world has faced before. It is to the world's security, what globalization is to the world's economy.
It was defined not by Iraq but by September 11th. September 11th did not create the threat Saddam posed. But it altered crucially the balance of risk as to whether to deal with it or simply carry on, however imperfectly, trying to contain it.
Let me attempt an explanation of how my own thinking, as a political leader, has evolved during these past few years. Already, before September 11th the world's view of the justification of military action had been changing. The only clear case in international relations for armed intervention had been self-defense, response to aggression. But the notion of intervening on humanitarian grounds had been gaining currency. I set this out, following the Kosovo war, in a speech in Chicago in 1999, where I called for a doctrine of international community, where in certain clear circumstances we do intervene, even though we are not directly threatened. I said this was not just to correct injustice, but also because in an increasingly interdependent world, our self-interest was allied to the interests of others; and seldom did conflict in one region of the world not contaminate another. We acted in Sierra Leone for similar reasons, though frankly even if that country had become run by gangsters and murderers and its democracy crushed, it would have been a long time before it impacted on us. But we were able to act to help them and we did.
So, for me, before September 11th, I was already reaching for a different philosophy in international relations from a traditional one that has held sway since the treaty of Westphalia in 1648; namely that a country's internal affairs are for it and you don't interfere unless it threatens you, or breaches a treaty, or triggers an obligation of alliance. I did not consider Iraq fitted into this philosophy, though I could see the horrible injustice done to its people by Saddam.
However, I had started to become concerned about two other phenomena.
The first was the increasing amount of information about Islamic extremism and terrorism that was crossing my desk. Chechnya was blighted by it. So was Kashmir. Afghanistan was its training ground. Some 300 people had been killed in the attacks on the U.S.S Cole and U.S. embassies in East Africa. The extremism seemed remarkably well financed. It was very active. And it was driven not by a set of negotiable political demands, but by religious fanaticism.
The second was the attempts by states--some of them highly unstable and repressive--to develop nuclear weapons programs, CW and BW materiel and long-range missiles. What is more, it was obvious that there was a considerable network of individuals and companies with expertise in this area, prepared to sell it.
All this was before September 11th. I discussed the issue of WMD with President Bush at our first meeting in Camp David in February 2001. But it's in the nature of things that other issues intervene--I was about to fight for re-election--and though it was raised, it was a troubling specter in the background, not something to arrest our whole attention.
President Bush told me that on September 9th, 2001, he had a meeting about Iraq in the White House when he discussed "smart" sanctions, changes to the sanctions regime. There was no talk of military action.
September 11th was for me a revelation. What had seemed inchoate came together. The point about September 11th was not its detailed planning; not its devilish execution; not even, simply, that it happened in America, on the streets of New York. All of this made it an astonishing, terrible and wicked tragedy, a barbaric murder of innocent people. But what galvanized me was that it was a declaration of war by religious fanatics who were prepared to wage that war without limit. They killed 3,000. But if they could have killed 30,000 or 300,000, they would have rejoiced in it. The purpose was to cause such hatred between Muslims and the West that a religious jihad became reality; and the world engulfed by it.
When I spoke to the House of Commons on 14 September 2001 I said: "We know, that they [the terrorists] would, if they could, go further and use chemical, biological, or even nuclear weapons of mass destruction. We know, also, that there are groups of people, occasionally states, who will trade the technology and capability of such weapons. It is time that this trade was exposed, disrupted, and stamped out. We have been warned by the events of 11 September, and we should act on the warning."
From September 11th on, I could see the threat plainly. Here were terrorists prepared to bring about Armageddon. Here were states whose leadership cared for no one but themselves; were often cruel and tyrannical towards their own people; and who saw WMD as a means of defending themselves against any attempt external or internal to remove them and who, in their chaotic and corrupt state, were in any event porous and irresponsible with neither the will nor capability to prevent terrorists who also hated the West, from exploiting their chaos and corruption.
I became aware of the activities of A.Q, Khan, former Pakistani nuclear scientist, and of an organization developing nuclear weapons technology to sell secretly to states wanting to acquire it. I started to hear of plants to manufacture nuclear weapons equipment in Malaysia, in the Near East and Africa, companies in the Gulf and Europe to finance it; training and know-how provided--all without any or much international action to stop it. It was a murky, dangerous trade, done with much sophistication and it was rapidly shortening the timeframe of countries like North Korea and Iran in acquiring serviceable nuclear weapons capability.
I asked for more intelligence on the issue not just of terrorism but also of WMD. The scale of it became clear. It didn't matter that the Islamic extremists often hated some of these regimes. Their mutual enmity toward the West would in the end triumph over any scruples of that nature, as we see graphically in Iraq today.
We knew that al Qaeda sought the capability to use WMD in their attacks. Bin Laden has called it a "duty" to obtain nuclear weapons. His networks have experimented with chemicals and toxins for use in attacks. He received advice from at least two Pakistani scientists on the design of nuclear weapons. In Afghanistan al Qaeda trained its recruits in the use of poisons and chemicals. An al Qaeda terrorist ran a training camp developing these techniques. Terrorist training manuals giving step-by-step instructions for the manufacture of deadly substances such as botulinum and ricin were widely distributed in Afghanistan and elsewhere and via the internet. Terrorists in Russia have actually deployed radiological material. The sarin attack on the Tokyo Metro showed how serious an impact even a relatively small attack can have.
The global threat to our security was clear. So was our duty: to act to eliminate it.
First we dealt with al Qaeda in Afghanistan, removing the Taliban that succored them.
But then we had to confront the states with WMD. We had to take a stand. We had to force conformity with international obligations that for years had been breached with the world turning a blind eye. For 12 years Saddam had defied calls to disarm. In 1998, he had effectively driven out the U.N. inspectors and we had bombed his military infrastructure; but we had only weakened him, not removed the threat. Saddam alone had used CW against Iran and against his own people.
We had had an international coalition blessed by the U.N. in Afghanistan. I wanted the same now. President Bush agreed to go the U.N. route. We secured U.N. Resolution 1441. Saddam had one final chance to comply fully. Compliance had to start with a full and honest declaration of WMD programs and activities.
The truth is disarming a country, other than with its consent, is a perilous exercise. On 8 December 2002, Saddam sent his declaration. It was obviously false. The U.N. inspectors were in Iraq, but progress was slow and the vital cooperation of Iraqi scientists withheld. In March we went back to the U.N. to make a final ultimatum. We strove hard for agreement. We very nearly achieved it.
So we came to the point of decision. Prime ministers don't have the luxury of maintaining both sides of the argument. They can see both sides. But ultimately, leadership is about deciding. My view was and is that if the U.N. had come together and delivered a tough ultimatum to Saddam, listing clearly what he had to do, benchmarking it, he may have folded and events set in train that might just and eventually have led to his departure from power.
But the Security Council didn't agree.
Suppose at that point we had backed away. Inspectors would have stayed but only the utterly naive would believe that following such a public climb-down by the U.S. and its partners, Saddam would have cooperated more. He would have strung the inspectors out and returned emboldened to his plans. The will to act on the issue of rogue states and WMD would have been shown to be hollow. The terrorists, watching and analyzing every move in our psychology as they do, would have taken heart. All this without counting the fact that the appalling brutalization of the Iraqi people would have continued unabated and reinforced.
Here is the crux. It is possible that even with all of this, nothing would have happened. Possible that Saddam would change his ambitions; possible he would develop the WMD but never use it; possible that the terrorists would never get their hands on WMD, whether from Iraq or elsewhere. We cannot be certain. Perhaps we would have found different ways of reducing it. Perhaps this Islamic terrorism would ebb of its own accord.
But do we want to take the risk? That is the judgment. And my judgment then and now is that the risk of this new global terrorism and its interaction with states or organizations or individuals proliferating WMD, is one I simply am not prepared to run.
This is not a time to err on the side of caution; not a time to weigh the risks to an infinite balance; not a time for the cynicism of the worldly wise who favor playing it long. Their worldly wise cynicism is actually at best naivet? and at worst dereliction. When they talk, as they do now, of diplomacy coming back into fashion in respect of Iran or North Korea or Libya, do they seriously think that diplomacy alone has brought about this change? Since the war in Iraq, Libya has taken the courageous step of owning up not just to a nuclear weapons program but to having chemical weapons, which are now being destroyed. Iran is back in the reach of the IAEA. North Korea in talks with China over its WMD. The A.Q. Khan network is being shut down, its trade slowly but surely being eliminated.
Yet it is monstrously premature to think the threat has passed. The risk remains in the balance here and abroad.
These days decisions about it come thick and fast, and while they are not always of the same magnitude they are hardly trivial. Let me give you an example. A short while ago, during the war, we received specific intelligence warning of a major attack on Heathrow. To this day, we don't know if it was correct and we foiled it or if it was wrong. But we received the intelligence. We immediately heightened the police presence. At the time it was much criticized as political hype or an attempt to frighten the public. Actually at each stage we followed rigidly the advice of the police and Security Service.
But sit in my seat. Here is the intelligence. Here is the advice. Do you ignore it? But, of course intelligence is precisely that: intelligence. It is not hard fact. It has its limitations. On each occasion the most careful judgment has to be made taking account of everything we know and the best assessment and advice available. But in making that judgment, would you prefer us to act, even if it turns out to be wrong? Or not to act and hope it's OK? And suppose we don't act and the intelligence turns out to be right, how forgiving will people be?
And to those who think that these things are all disconnected, random acts, disparate threats with no common thread to bind them, look at what is happening in Iraq today. The terrorists pouring into Iraq, know full well the importance of destroying not just the nascent progress of Iraq toward stability, prosperity and democracy, but of destroying our confidence, of defeating our will to persevere.
I have no doubt Iraq is better without Saddam; but no doubt either, that as a result of his removal, the dangers of the threat we face will be diminished. That is not to say the terrorists won't redouble their efforts. They will. This war is not ended. It may only be at the end of its first phase. They are in Iraq, murdering innocent Iraqis who want to worship or join a police force that upholds the law not a brutal dictatorship; they carry on killing in Afghanistan. They do it for a reason. The terrorists know that if Iraq and Afghanistan survive their assault, come through their travails, seize the opportunity the future offers, then those countries will stand not just as nations liberated from oppression, but as a lesson to humankind everywhere and a profound antidote to the poison of religious extremism. That is precisely why the terrorists are trying to foment hatred and division in Iraq. They know full well, a stable democratic Iraq, under the sovereign rule of the Iraqi people, is a mortal blow to their fanaticism.
That is why our duty is to rebuild Iraq and Afghanistan as stable and democratic nations.
Here is the irony. For all the fighting, this threat cannot be defeated by security means alone. Taking strong action is a necessary but insufficient condition for defeating. Its final defeat is only assured by the triumph of the values of the human spirit.
Which brings me to the final point. It may well be that under international law as presently constituted, a regime can systematically brutalize and oppress its people and there is nothing anyone can do, when dialogue, diplomacy and even sanctions fail, unless it comes within the definition of a humanitarian catastrophe (though the 300,000 remains in mass graves already found in Iraq might be thought by some to be something of a catastrophe). This may be the law, but should it be?
We know now, if we didn't before, that our own self-interest is ultimately bound up with the fate of other nations. The doctrine of international community is no longer a vision of idealism. It is a practical recognition that just as within a country, citizens who are free, well educated and prosperous tend to be responsible, to feel solidarity with a society in which they have a stake; so do nations that are free, democratic and benefiting from economic progress, tend to be stable and solid partners in the advance of humankind. The best defense of our security lies in the spread of our values.
But we cannot advance these values except within a framework that recognizes their universality. If it is a global threat, it needs a global response, based on global rules.
The essence of a community is common rights and responsibilities. We have obligations in relation to each other. If we are threatened, we have a right to act. And we do not accept in a community that others have a right to oppress and brutalize their people. We value the freedom and dignity of the human race and each individual in it.
Containment will not work in the face of the global threat that confronts us. The terrorists have no intention of being contained. The states that proliferate or acquire WMD illegally are doing so precisely to avoid containment. Emphatically I am not saying that every situation leads to military action. But we surely have a duty and a right to prevent the threat materializing; and we surely have a responsibility to act when a nation's people are subjected to a regime such as Saddam's. Otherwise, we are powerless to fight the aggression and injustice which over time puts at risk our security and way of life.
Which brings us to how you make the rules and how you decide what is right or wrong in enforcing them. The U.N. Universal Declaration on Human Rights is a fine document. But it is strange the United Nations is so reluctant to enforce them.
I understand the worry the international community has over Iraq. It worries that the U.S. and its allies will by sheer force of their military might, do whatever they want, unilaterally and without recourse to any rule-based code or doctrine. But our worry is that if the U.N.--because of a political disagreement in its Councils--is paralyzed, then a threat we believe is real will go unchallenged.
This dilemma is at the heart of many people's anguished indecision over the wisdom of our action in Iraq. It explains the confusion of normal politics that has part of the right liberating a people from oppression and a part of the left disdaining the action that led to it. It is partly why the conspiracy theories or claims of deceit have such purchase. How much simpler to debate those than to analyze and resolve the conundrum of our world's present state.
Britain's role is try to find a way through this: to construct a consensus behind a broad agenda of justice and security and means of enforcing it.
This agenda must be robust in tackling the security threat that this Islamic extremism poses; and fair to all peoples by promoting their human rights, wherever they are. It means tackling poverty in Africa and justice in Palestine as well as being utterly resolute in opposition to terrorism as a way of achieving political goals. It means an entirely different, more just and more modern view of self-interest.
It means reforming the United Nations so its Security Council represents 21st century reality; and giving the U.N. the capability to act effectively as well as debate. It means getting the U.N. to understand that faced with the threats we have, we should do all we can to spread the values of freedom, democracy, the rule of law, religious tolerance and justice for the oppressed, however painful for some nations that may be; but that at the same time, we wage war relentlessly on those who would exploit racial and religious division to bring catastrophe to the world.
But in the meantime, the threat is there and demands our attention.
That is the struggle which engages us. It is a new type of war. It will rest on intelligence to a greater degree than ever before. It demands a difference attitude to our own interests. It forces us to act even when so many comforts seem unaffected, and the threat so far off, if not illusory. In the end, believe your political leaders or not, as you will. But do so, at least having understood their minds.
Mr. Blair is the British prime minister.
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Phases of combat
on: March 03, 2004, 01:03:35 PM
In Dog Brothers Martial Arts we have 7 ranges:
1) Snake Range: our name for what you apparently call "free movement". Our use of the term has nothing to do with the "snake disarms" of the FMA.
2) Weapon Range: Where the weapons strike each other.
3) Largo Range: Where one can strike the limb of the opponent with the weapon
4) Medio: Where one can strike the head/body of the opponent with the weapon
5) Corto: Where one can strike the head/body of the opponent with one's rear hand.
These ranges are conceived of as being like links of a chain-- overlapping.
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / street combat
on: March 02, 2004, 12:37:45 PM
Para nosotros que no hablen aleman, nos puede explicar un poco mas el fenomeno "futbal huligan" (soccer hooliganism)? No hablo aleman, pero si entendi' bien, se vende video de peleas entre 'hooligans'? ?Que es lo que quieres que entendamos viendo este sitio?
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / DBMA Los Angeles Class Notes
on: February 29, 2004, 09:29:17 PM
Based upon an idea from one of this week's privates, there is now "Single Triques Loop #2".
Whereas Single Triques Loop #1 is based principally upon where the opponent meets a "Salty Strike" and sets himself up for the rear thigh kick and follow ups, STL 2 is based more upon Bolo game countering the 4 basic lines leading into a crashing power backhand and follow ups.
I'm so tickled by this material that if I were ever to come out of retirement I would be tempted to use it.
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Getting caught with a blade: conversations with a cop
on: February 28, 2004, 01:12:37 PM
My status as an attorney is quite "de minimis"-- it was over 20 years ago in Washington DC and since that time I have been "inactive status". That said, as a CA resident I have tried to keep an eye on my legal environment.
The last time I looked was quite a while ago, but the way I remember it, the poorly written and internally inconsistent statute made the INTENT to carry the knife as a weapon illegal with no specification made as to the purpose of the intent (e.g. self-defense or criminal.) Similarly an intent to carry a baseball bat for self-defense is/can be illegal even though the bat is normally presumptively legal.
"For example, I have friends who have a concealed weapon permit. Obviously, when asked why they carry a .45 they will say "for self defense". Why can't they say the truth?"
Amongst the sundry inanities of CA law, illegal carry of a gun is a misdemeanor and illegal carry of a knife is a felony. Your example of the gun concerns something for which a permit has been granted for its natural purpose, whereas in the case of a knife that is not so.
I would interpret your experience at the courthouse thusly:
As a practical matter, your preemptive declaration of the knife puts you on the side of the angels. The question asked as to your purpose may not have had to have been answered, but you gave a "wrong answer" as did the sheriff in his justification. The Sgt. stated the law as I understand it properly-- a LEO may not simply walk up to citizens and start asking such questions-- but the right to question a citizen (and the obligation of the citizen to answer) varies according to the circumstances.
The fact that you gave the "wrong" answer was not enough to outweigh the practicalities of the situation-- in their eyes you clearly were respectful towards the law (e.g. the preemptive declaration, dressed nicely, line of work consistent with theirs etc etc) so there was absolutely no reason for fornicate with you for your slip of the lip. This, IMHO is really how the law works in this area.
For the future, if asked why you carry and you don't want to say "I don't have to answer that" just say "pocket knife" and if pressed further point out the uses of a pocket knife. In my case it includes: cutting articles out of magazines and newspapers; opening CD cases, opening cardboard boxes (which I often have to do wrt to boxes of videos, etc) etc. If the LEO cleverly asks "And it would serve for self-defense too?" I would inquire "What good would a knife be against a gun?"
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Violence against Women
on: February 26, 2004, 01:11:53 PM
Question: An example of the "same old thing" or an example of why its a poor idea to put women into certain environments?
Pentagon Faulted for Sex Attacks on Female GIs
Senators call for more action to stem assaults and improve treatment for victims.
WASHINGTON ? Alarmed by reports of sexual assaults on female service members in the Persian Gulf region, senators admonished the Pentagon on Wednesday to do more to halt the attacks and to improve treatment for the victims.
Appearing before a panel of the Senate Armed Services Committee, a group of senior Pentagon officials acknowledged that significant shortcomings remained in the handling of sexual assault cases but insisted progress had been made.
"No war comes without costs, but the costs should be borne out of conflict with the enemy, not by egregious violations by some of our own troops," said Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine).
David Chu, undersecretary of Defense for personnel, said new figures show the rate of sexual assaults against women in the military fell from 6% to 3% between 1995 and 2002.
The Pentagon officials said there have been 106 reports of sexual assault of troops deployed in the region ? including Iraq and Afghanistan ? over the past 14 months.
But the senators made it clear they were not satisfied either with the level of misconduct that persists or existing measures for treating victims of assault.
Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), chairman of the personnel subcommittee, called the percentage of sexual assaults suffered by women in uniform "shocking" and labeled some of the recent allegations "very frightening."
"I'm concerned because I don't feel a sense of outrage by military leadership, not at this point at least," added Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.).
"This committee is prepared to back the U.S. military to achieve zero tolerance" of sexual abuse incidents, said Sen. John W. Warner (R-Va.), who chairs the full committee. But, he warned, "if you don't carry it out, we're going to take over."
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld has ordered a high-level review of the handling of reports of sexual assaults and the care provided victims, particularly in cases arising from overseas deployments to combat zones. The review's findings are is due in May.
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Wolves & Dogs
on: February 26, 2004, 01:05:32 PM
IN BRIEF / ALASKA
A Month After Boat Sinks, Dog Found Alive
From Times Wire Reports
A Labrador retriever was found alive on an isolated cove of a southeast Alaska island more than a month after its owner was given up for dead when his boat sank in rough seas.
Two local fishermen found the dog named Brick on Heceta Island several miles from the accident. The men had known the dog's owner who went down with his boat in late January.
The dog swam to the men's boat and was hauled aboard ? underweight, with an injured leg and matted fur, but wiggling with joy, friends of the fishermen said.
Greg Clark was lost after his 32-foot boat broke apart Jan. 22 on rocks near the west side of the island, within the 17-million-acre Tongass National Forest.
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Letha/Dhanda Yoga
on: February 26, 2004, 01:02:26 PM
I meant to answer this when first posted, but somehow it slipped off my radar screen and I only spotted it just now when I went back to Page Two in search of the gun thread.
Letha and Dhanda, which we receive from GM Gyi, are indeed cool stuff and we absorb them into our system as best we can. Recently I was teaching US military and the Letha two man stick stretches were very well received. When our men are on the trail keeping tuned up is vital and a rifle serves nicely in lieu of a stick.
That said, I'm not sure if I have any specific answers to your question. We do have a vid-lesson of Letha Yoga featuring GM Gyi, but that is only for members of the DBMA Association (he says cleverly seeking to set a hook
I've been playing phone tag with GM recently but when next we speak will ask him about this.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / We the Well-armed People
on: February 26, 2004, 12:53:14 PM
Gun-Shy Democrats Are Giving the NRA Room to Maneuver
Some of the politicians who helped toughen weapons laws are now helping to soften regulations. Fear is called the motivator.
By Richard Simon and Mary Curtius, Times Staff Writers
WASHINGTON ? These are tough times for the gun control crowd.
After 13 people were shot to death in 1999 at Columbine High School in Colorado, Democrats led a stampede in Congress to pass tougher gun laws. Now some of those same politicians are lining up with the National Rifle Assn. to soften gun regulations.
Congress has voted this year to require speedier destruction of gun purchase records; the renewal of a 1994 law banning assault weapons faces an uphill battle; and on Wednesday, the Senate debated a measure shielding gun makers and sellers from lawsuits by gunshot victims.
Why the shift?
"Fear," said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), lead author of the assault weapons ban. "When I came to Washington, everybody said: 'You've got to watch out for Big Business and Big Oil. They're the big lobbies.' Wrong. It's Big Guns."
Sens. John F. Kerry of Massachusetts and John Edwards of North Carolina, the leading contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination, have supported gun control in the past. But they are not raising the issue on the campaign trail this year.
Many Democrats think Al Gore, the Democratic nominee in 2000, lost support in some pivotal rural states because he supported tough gun control. After the 2000 election, "common wisdom in the Democratic Party was that you had better not talk about guns," said Deborah Barron, spokeswoman for Americans for Gun Safety.
So Kerry, to connect with the gun lobby, frequently talks about his experience as a hunter. Edwards, when asked about gun issues, always begins his answer by saying that he supports the 2nd Amendment and that he believes in the right to bear arms.
Meanwhile, the NRA has moved from defense to offense.
It is supporting the gun liability bill ? which already has passed the House and is backed not only by President Bush and most Senate Republicans, but also by at least 10 Democrats, including Democratic Leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota.
"You can't deny that there has been a shift" by Democrats, said Kristen Rand, legislative director for the Violence Policy Center, a nonprofit organization that advocates gun control. "We can't deny the fact that a lot of [lawmakers] don't think being out front on gun issues is helpful to them. The NRA is very effective at their grass-roots organizing."
Wayne LaPierre, the NRA's executive vice president, said Daschle's support of the gun liability measure reflected his party's new stance. The Democratic leadership, LaPierre said, "decided the gun control issue was a dead end."
Daschle is also facing a potentially tough reelection race in his home state, where gun control could become an issue.
Sarah Brady ? whose husband, James, was disabled in the 1981 assassination attempt on President Reagan ? said she thought that Democrats were "misguided" in taking a more moderate approach on guns. The issue, in her opinion, did not hurt the party in 2000.
But a shift by Democrats may not be a bad thing for gun control advocates, said Robert Ricker, a former NRA official who now consults with gun control groups.
"Some of the tactics that have been used in the past by the gun control groups have come back to hurt them in areas like the South," Ricker said. "The idea of really seizing that middle ground, of not going to the extremes on the issue," is being followed by the party now.
Opponents of the gun liability measure hope to attach amendments that would strengthen gun laws. One would extend the nearly decade-old federal ban on assault weapons, due to expire in September; another would require background checks for purchases at gun shows.
The bill, dubbed the "Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act," has drawn opposition from the families of gunshot victims, as well as police chiefs and the mayors of Los Angeles, Chicago, New York and other big cities. Feinstein said the bill would "essentially give the gun industry blanket immunity from civil liability cases ? an immunity that no other industry has."
"We find ourselves today on the cusp of yet another NRA victory," Feinstein added. "And let me be clear ? not a victory for NRA members, most of whom are law-abiding gun owners who might someday benefit from the ability to sue a manufacturer that sold them a defective or dangerous gun. No, this will be a victory only for the cynical leaders of the NRA that have steadfastly turned their organization into a political powerhouse, unconcerned with the true needs of its members."
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Current Events: Philippines
on: February 25, 2004, 02:15:57 AM
Some charts accompanying this piece did not print-- Crafty
Philippines: Popular Politics and Instability in Manila
February 24, 2004 1715 GMT
The specter of another popular coup is in the air in Manila in the run-up to the May 10 elections, but another government predicated upon anything less than elections could prove disastrous for the Philippines.
The Philippine Stock Exchange composite index (PSI) closed down 0.37 percent Feb. 23, and the peso sank to a record low of 56.35 to the U.S. dollar the previous week. Both pieces of bad economic news are a response to fears of political instability in the run-up to elections.
As political forces in Manila jockey for position ahead of May 10 presidential elections, widespread concern is sweeping the Philippines that the next administration will maintain -- or seize -- power outside the electoral process. If upcoming national polls are canceled or overturned, the state risks losing substantial credibility in global markets and the confidence of world powers -- boosting the problem-status of the Philippines in the international arena.
A failed July 2003 mutiny and the tense political atmosphere in Manila are the most recent examples of Philippine woes. Rebel insurgencies by the communist New People's Army (NPA) and various groups in the restive Muslim-populated southern islands long have undermined domestic security. The rebels threaten the security of Philippine citizens and visiting investors, but the country's political leadership and their popular supporters are a much more frequent and powerful destabilizing force confronting the government.
The "People Power," or EDSA, movements that brought down Ferdinand Marcos's authoritarian regime in 1986 and swept current President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo into power after hounding Joseph Estrada out of office with corruption allegations in 2001 have become a liability for the Philippines. Regime change through extraconstitutional means is now institutionalized between rival factions and in the public consciousness. Three months before the polls, with the nation fixated on Ferdinand Poe's pedigree as a presidential candidate, Philippine editorials are forecasting the likelihood of another EDSA.
Analysts have good reason to suspect that another upheaval could be on its way. Poe supporters say they will not accept a Supreme Court ruling that disqualifies their candidate. Estrada, a staunch Poe ally, even has gone so far as to caution that a "civil war" would erupt if his fellow movie star were banned from contesting the polls.
Former Defense Secretary Fortunato Abat, a spokesman for the No Elections (No-el) campaign, has called on Arroyo to step down and for Vice President Teofisto Guingona Jr. to head a caretaker government until the political system is overhauled. Another group, the Citizens Committee on National Crisis, has called on the armed forces to temporarily take over the government.
A massive political disturbance of any kind will mean both opportunity and danger for political forces trying to gain or maintain control of the Philippines' highest office. Opposition candidates could hope to ride into office in the aftermath of mass demonstrations. Arroyo's critics fear that the president, who is trailing in the polls, will declare martial law and/or forestall elections in the face of an emergency.
If for any reason elections do not go forward, the Philippines's reputation as a democracy -- much less a functioning political system -- will take a devastating hit. It already is trailing behind its neighbors, who have risen from the ashes of the 1997 Asian financial crisis. Thai, Indonesian and South Korean currencies are all trending upward since bottoming out in 1998, but the peso continues to decline. The same three countries' stock markets also have recouped their losses and continue to rise; the PSI, however, is still just more than half of its 1997 level.
The Philippines' poor economic performance is due to its political instability, putting the country's citizens in the unenviable position of longingly looking at Indonesia's political cohesion and sound economic policies. The Indonesian archipelago is rife with ethnic and religious tensions that test its national unity, and after the fall of President Suharto, Indonesia rapidly devolved into a political and economic morass. The Philippines could find itself in the same situation.
One more major political disturbance will push the Philippines over the edge, sending investors scurrying as Manila's ability to implement policies at home and abroad is questioned.
Manila is in the nascent stages of free trade talks with Japan and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and is rebuilding a strategic alliance with the United States. It is unlikely that these goals will be realized as long as the government is under the constant threat of collapse.
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / guro crafty's seminar (jan 31-feb1)
on: February 25, 2004, 01:13:18 AM
I too had a great time and want to thank Joey and you and the rest of the crew for the warm reception amidst the Canadian cold.
The experience of having a small fixed group was a very positive one and is one I'm looking to explore further. For example, I was just in Mexico City where more than half the people were repeats and many of these and some of the newbies were students of my host. Several of these people are seriously interested in flying to Hermosa Beach for further training with me, but given the economics of Mexico the numbers were daunting for them. I mentioned what we did in Mississagua and they found the idea very appealing. They are now looking into a session with attendance being limited to 16.
Sorry for the delay in getting your info up on the DBMA Instructors page, (congrats again on the well deserved promotions btw) but with the server being changed/down/etc and all my travels, it fell by the wayside for a bit. I will get the info to Cindy in the next day or so. If there is any additional info or changes to the info you gave me, now would be the time to let me know.
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Current Events: Philippines
on: February 24, 2004, 03:00:42 AM
1719 GMT - Philippine and American troops will begin war games at various locations in the Philippines on Feb. 23. Designed to improve the armies' joint operation capabilities, Exercise Balikatan 2004 will last until March 7. The war games will include beach landings, night-flying, close-quarter fighting and discussions.
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Boxing Thread
on: February 16, 2004, 01:07:50 PM
This thread is for matters related to boxing.
Lenox Lewis Retires
Who'll be the new heavyweight champion(s)?
BY GORDON D. MARINO
Saturday, February 14, 2004 12:01 a.m. EST
Norman Mailer once quipped that the heavyweight champion is the toe of God. Although Mr. Mailer's remark rings a mite hyperbolic, there can be no doubt that the fate of public interest in boxing is largely decided by the heavyweights. After all, it is the battles between the big guys that bring in the crossover fans otherwise disinterested in seeing two people pummel one another. But there is tumult in the heavyweight kingdom today.
A week ago, champion Lennox Lewis, age 38, announced his retirement. There are bookmakers already taking odds that Mr. Lewis, like Muhammad Ali in 1979, will soon retire from this retirement and be back in the ring. If, however, he abides by his plans, Mr. Lewis will become only the third heavyweight champion in history to walk away with the title. Rocky Marciano and Gene Tunney were the others.
Since he conquered Mike Tyson in 2002, Mr. Lewis has fought only once. As a result of his inactivity, the heavyweight division has been in the doldrums. All the money is at the top in boxing, and with one loss a fighter's market value can crash through the canvas. And so a number of heavyweights in the championship mix have been biding their time hoping for a bonanza bout with either Mr. Lewis or Mr. Tyson. Now that Mr. Lewis has withdrawn and Mr. Tyson seems inclined to do the same, heavyweight business should again bustle. But there is no college of cardinals in boxing, so how does the sport go about selecting its new heavyweight king?
When Mr. Marciano abruptly retired in 1956, the IBC (International Boxing Club) organized an elimination tournament between Archie Moore, Floyd Patterson and Tommy Jackson. In the end, Mr. Patterson knocked out Mr. Moore to capture the vacated title. In the wake of Mr. Lewis's exit, however, it appears as though the championship, or at least a major portion of it, will be decided by a single contest.
The World Boxing Council is planning a championship box-off between Vitali Klitschko and Corrie Sanders. In a thrilling contest last June, Mr. Lewis was declared the winner by TKO after six rounds, because the referee deemed Mr. Klitschko's face too cut up for the fight to continue. But at the time the bout was halted, the Ukrainian-born Mr. Klitschko was ahead on points and there was enormous demand for a rematch. Mr. Klitschko's claim as the heavyweight prince-in-waiting was further legitimized by his recent knockout of Kirk Johnson, a top contender.
As for Corrie Sanders, Mr. Klitschko's possible opponent for the WBC title, the South African power-puncher's credentials were sealed last winter when he knocked Vitali's younger brother Wladimir senseless in two rounds. At the time, Wladimir was widely regarded as the heir apparent to Mr. Lewis's title.
The victor of the (Vitali) Klitschko-Sanders struggle may not have quite the same imprimatur as Patterson did when he succeeded Marciano. Although Mr. Lewis was the linear champion--that is, the man who beat Holyfield, who beat Douglass, who beat Tyson and so on back to John L. Sullivan--he was not the only card-carrying heavyweight king.
In contrast to the mid-'50s and the Marciano era, there is now an alphabet soup of sanctioning bodies in boxing: e.g., the IBF, WBA, WBC and WBO. These organizations--which many believe are driven by the ticket-selling interests of promoters--sanction bouts, establish rankings, and crown their own champions.
Chris Byrd is the International Boxing Federation heavyweight champ. A slightly built and diabolically crafty southpaw, Mr. Byrd claims a freakish victory over Vitali Klitschko. When they fought in 2000, Mr. Klitschko was far ahead on points but injured his shoulder and could not come out for the 10th round.
Then there is the World Boxing Association champ, Roy Jones Jr. Quicksilver fast and technically brilliant, Mr. Jones is widely considered the best pound-for-pound pugilist in the world today; however, his natural weight hovers at about 195 pounds, and he is about six inches shorter and 50 pounds lighter than both the Klitschko brothers and Mr. Sanders. In an era in which the heavyweight elite have the proportions of NBA centers, it is not surprising that Mr. Jones is strongly considering abandoning his heavyweight claims to defend his WBC light heavyweight title.
While most boxing aficionados pine for the days of one weight class, one champion, the Klitschkos are quite content to think of the title as divisible. The brothers, both of whom hold doctorates and speak four languages, have vowed never to fight one another. The only way that they can both realize their life's ambition of being heavyweight kings is to divide up the kingdom, with the WBC belt going to Vitali and the rest to Wladimir. Should Mr. Sanders win, however, he would probably seek to unify the title--unless, of course, Mike Tyson were again to feel the call of the arena, in which case all other bouts would be off. For there is no one who is better than Mr. Tyson at putting fans in seats and adding zeros to contract figures.
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Wolves & Dogs
on: February 16, 2004, 09:24:29 AM
February 15, 2004 E-mail story Print
Breeders Hope Court Will Defang New Shepherd's Critic
Germany's traditional working dog has been made weak by show standards, one expert says. Others call his argument all bark.
By Jeffrey Fleishman
BERLIN ? Helmut Raiser wants the German shepherd to be plebeian and muscular, not a lithe, curvy creature preening and prancing for blue ribbons at dog shows.
This aesthetic desire sparked a dog war when Raiser ? the beleaguered breed warden for the national German Shepherd Assn. ? criticized some kennels for turning out generations of shepherds that looked less like working dogs and more like weak-backed wimps with no calluses on their paws and no grit to their personalities.
This new shepherd, he said, "is a dog in the front and a frog in the back, walking around with a retracted backside as if a brick-stone is hanging from its testicles?. The worst is the emptiness in the heads of these dogs, and the boring and stupid expressions on their faces."
The ensuing growls have yet to quiet.
"Raiser's acting like a dictator," said Clemens Lux, manager of the German Shepherd Assn. based in Augsburg. "We are very sad about it."
In a sense, this dust-up of ego, politics and science reflects the stoicism and spirit with which many Germans define national identity. Like Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Richard Wagner and Martin Luther, the shepherd has a cherished meaning in the wider German culture. The dog ? used by police, rescue teams and the blind ? epitomizes a strict work ethic and shows how perseverance leads to excellence.
The debate has turned into a symbolic struggle of sorts between the working and the well-heeled classes. Wealthier shepherd owners, Raiser says, have flocked to the show dog market, even enticing east German breeders, who before the fall of the Berlin Wall bred utilitarian working dogs for border guards and armies. The result, he says, is a delicate, more urbane shepherd with a slanting back and bad hips that mocks the ideals of Max von Stephanitz, who first organized breeders in the late 1890s.
The most recent storm around the shepherd ? the dog's appearance has been argued over for years ? has veered in and out of court since December 2002, when Raiser was elected breed warden, a post that influences canine guidelines across Germany. Raiser's detractors ? whom he calls "that old show dog mafia" ? have twice attempted to unseat him. A court ruling on Raiser's fate is expected in May.
One of Raiser's critics is show dog breeder Juergen Wicht.
"My shepherds are obedient," said Wicht, manager of Team Fiemereck kennels in Bamberg. "They are good workers. They train hard for their titles. Raiser has no idea about breeding. He likes controversy, and he's hurting the image of the German shepherd around the world. If you have a product, you don't talk badly about it."
"There's a lot of money in show dogs," he said. "The show people want part of this big cake. They've destroyed a lot in the last 30 years. They're producing a lot of German shepherds not worthy of being called working dogs. These dogs have lost their drive and intellectual capacity."
He added: "The anatomy of this new dog has no function. It's handicapped?. It's like if your name was Mitsubishi or DaimlerChrysler. You can't ruin your product. We had the name of the best working dog in the world, then suddenly we had fashion."
Wicht bristles at the suggestion. "Raiser and his followers are envious. My dogs have no problems with their hips."
Lux said Raiser was exaggerating the problems and draping himself in canine righteousness. The German Shepherd Assn., Lux said, has 80,000 members and recognized in the late 1990s that breeding practices by some kennels had to be curbed because their methods were producing "unnatural" dogs. He said only 5% of breeders fit this category.
A top shepherd show dog can sell for about $250,000, compared with about $5,500 for a pedigree working dog.
"We are working against it," said Lux, adding that show dogs with exaggerated features no longer consistently win honors, which will in turn reduce their stud fees and eventually diminish the breed.
"We saw that these dogs can't go a long time with the severe angulations. In the hind section, they are very weak," he said.
The slanting dogs were a sensation years ago when pictures of them arrived from the U.S. and Britain.
"Germans like things from the outside," Lux said. "Germans said, 'That's wonderful. They're so good-looking.' Many didn't think that the shepherd is a working dog?. It's a question now of [how] to reverse the trend. Mr. Raiser's way is ridiculous and very radical. He wants to put dogs he doesn't like immediately out of breeding. But you have to go slowly with breeding cycles."
Raiser, who says the dog community considers him either the "messiah, or the devil," wants to purify the bloodlines and restore the pedigree in the 20,000 shepherd pups born each year in Germany.
"The danger is the health of the dog," he said. "Today's dogs are old by the time they're 4 or 5 years old. They have problems with their spines, skin and fitness. Ask a policeman. They'll tell you these new shepherds can't walk more than four hours. Blind people won't use them because they're unstable."
Seldom at a loss for words, Raiser summed up: "The old show dog camp hope they make me frustrated so I quit. This is war."
and from India one wonders about the offspring of the following alliance:
A five-year-old tribal boy gets married to a female puppy to ward off an evil spell in Kuluptanga Basti in Sarikela-Rajkharsawa district of Jamshedpur. The tribals believe that the ceremony will get rid of evil spell which is supposed to be plaguing the boy. The marriage was solemnised as per tribal-rituals by a female priest. (PTI)