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27751  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: May 13, 2007, 04:29:56 AM

Iraq: Transforming Iran's Shiite Proxy, Assisting the United States

Iran's main Iraqi Shiite proxy announced May 11 it is about to undergo a process of "Iraqization." The move is part of Tehran's detailed offer to assist the United States in stabilizing Iraq. A fresh power-sharing agreement likely will emerge out of this process -- one that will lead to an increase in the Sunni share of the Iraqi political pie, but could upset the Kurds.


Officials from Iraq's largest and most pro-Iranian Shiite party, the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), on May 11 said the group will make significant changes to its platform. These include seeking greater guidance from the country's top cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani. This is a symbolic shift from SCIRI's current platform, under which the group primarily seeks guidance from the Velayat-e-Faqih, led by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in Iran.

Following the conclusion of a two-day meeting in Baghdad, an unnamed senior SCIRI official described the move as the "Iraqization" of the country's Shiite Islamist groups. The official added that "significant decisions" pertaining to domestic, regional and international issues were agreed upon during the meeting and will be announced May 12. Among the changes to the group will be changing its name to Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council -- removing the word "revolution" because of the negative connotations it entails, such as the Iranian connection. "There will be a change in two aspects -- the structure of the group and also in its political language, taking into consideration the political facts on the ground," another official said.

Given SCIRI's close alignment with Iran, this move likely has Iran's blessings, and does not represent a real split between SCIRI and its patrons in Tehran. In fact, these details very likely were finalized during Iranian national security chief Ali Larijani's April 30-May 2 visit to Iraq, during which he met with al-Sistani on May 1. Through this overhaul of SCIRI, Tehran and its main Iraqi Shiite proxy are trying to placate the Iraqi Sunnis, who have been clamoring that they have begun the purge of transnational jihadist allies and are worried about the attachment of the Iraqi Shia to Iran. The move to repackage SCIRI will likely be instrumental in steps toward a fresh power-sharing agreement. This will involve the Sunnis acquiring a larger stake in the political system, as is obvious from Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi's May 10 remarks that he is encouraged by recent developments -- just a few days after he threatened to pull out of the government.

But such a fresh social contract will not necessarily lead to security and stability in Iraq -- at least not any time soon. This is mainly because the move to reshape SCIRI is just one part of a much more detailed Iranian offer to work with the United States to stabilize Iraq. For example, though Abbas Araghchi, Iran's deputy foreign minister for legal and international affairs, says he has been misquoted, he has not denied saying Tehran is willing to assist Washington achieve an "honorable" exit from Iraq. It is this U.S.-Iranian cooperation that has the Iraqi Sunnis and their allies among the Arab states (especially Saudi Arabia) worried that even after making concessions to the Sunnis, Iraq will be dominated by Shia -- and, by extension, Iran.

According to the May 5 issue of the Saudi-owned Arabic daily Al Hayat, during the May 4 international meeting on Iraq in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki put forward a preliminary proposal on how to put Iraq back together. In this proposal, the Iranians for the first time offered to use their influence to rein in Shiite militia activity, a key Sunni demand. But in return, the Iranians have demanded that once the Iraqi military takes over security from U.S. forces, it should not be given any weapons affording it offensive capabilities -- an issue noted with great alarm in the May 10 issue of Al Hayat.

The Iranians also are in favor of constitutional amendments that would increase the Sunni share in government to as much as 40 percent while retaining 60 percent for the Shia. Furthermore, Tehran has expressed its willingness to hold fresh parliamentary elections. In other words, it has signaled a willingness to go beyond a mere Cabinet reshuffle, agreeing to alterations to the Iraqi state's current structure in order to accommodate the Sunnis -- which likely will upset the Kurdish side of the triangular ethno-sectarian arrangement.

Here again, the Iranians are motivated by their own interests. It is true that the current Iraqi state based on the constitution ratified Oct. 15, 2005, and the subsequent Dec. 15, 2005, elections did not produce the desired results from the Bush administration's viewpoint. And the outcome of the vote and the government did not jibe with Iranian expectations either. Iran knew it could bargain for more, hence it did not settle for the June 2006 deal under which Iraq's security ministries were finalized.

Another key aspect on which the Iranians are prepared to compromise is the future of the Baathists. This a sticking point for the Sunnis because the elements of the former regime constitute a significant portion of the Sunni insurgency and are the teeth of the Sunni community. Tehran is willing to allow a review of the de-Baathification law, but does not want to see a Baathist assume the premiership.

Here, Baathist does not just mean a Sunni political figure, because former President Saddam Hussein's ousted regime had no shortage of Shiite officials, and the Iranians remember how the Iraqi Shia fought against the Iranian army during the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war. Moreover, by using the word Baathist, the Iranians are saying they do not want any Shi'i to emerge as prime minister who is not a pro-Iranian Islamist because the Shiite south is replete with such individuals. This would explain the attempts at a SCIRI makeover.

In essence, the Iranians are prepared to make all these concessions to satisfy the Sunnis, and more important the United States, because the Iranians also relayed at Sharm el-Sheikh that it is in their interest to see a planned U.S. exit from Iraq as opposed to a rush job. Tehran knows that an abrupt U.S. departure from Iraq could spoil its gains there because Iran would be left to clean up the mess afterward.
27752  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: We the Unorganized Militia on: May 13, 2007, 04:00:34 AM

Franconia Police Officer Fatally Shot; Suspect Also Killed

Officials Say Officer Was Shot Four Times

POSTED: 3:48 pm EDT May 12, 2007
UPDATED: 5:31 pm EDT May 12, 2007
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FRANCONIA, N.H. -- A Franconia police officer was shot and killed during a routine motor vehicle stop on Friday.
The state attorney general's office says Cpl. Bruce McKay, 48, was shot four times and run over by the suspect's car on Route 116 in Franconia. McKay was a 12-year veteran of the Franconia Police Department.

The state attorney general's office says the incident began Friday night when McKay attempted to pull over Liko Kenney on Route 116. Kenney took off, leading McKay on a brief pursuit.
Investigators say when McKay stopped Kenney a second time a mile up the road, he used pepper spray to subdue him. According to police, that's when Kenney shot the officer four times and the proceeded to run the officer over with his car.

State Attorney General Kelly Attorney said a passer-by, Gregory Floyd, 49, witnessed the incident and rushed to the officer's aid. Investigators say Floyd grabbed McKay's gun and ordered Kenney to drop his weapon. According to Senior Assistant Attorney General Jeff Strelzin, Floyd fatally shot Kenney when he tried to reload his gun.
Ayotte said the state has decided Floyd's actions were justified and he will not be facing any charges.

According to police, there was a previous incident involving McKay and Kenney. Back in 2003, Kenney was convicted of simple assault and resisting arrest for an incident involving McKay.
Family members said Kenney was ski champion Bode Miller's cousin.

Back in September 2005, McKay pulled Bode Miller over on Route 116 for going 83 mph in a 40 mph zone.
As of Saturday afternoon, Miller did not return any calls to comment about the incident.

Friday night, Gov. John Lynch ordered all flags be lowered to half staff. He also visited with first responders in Franconia on Saturday who spent the night investigating McKay's death.
He said, "My thoughts and prayers, and those of my wife, Susan, are with the family of the New Hampshire police officer killed this evening while serving the people of our state."
The last police officer killed in the line of duty was Manchester Officer Michael Briggs, who was shot and killed in October 2006.
27753  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Yoga on: May 13, 2007, 03:53:53 AM
I too hope this thread will get some traction.

I know what you mean about women who do yoga smiley 0==8

GM Gyi is quite good at yoga and has solo practice and partner assisted practice with stick (a taste of which you now have) and with the staff-- which is a favorite of mine.

The sphinx position is an essential part of my alignment practice.  It is outstanding for releasing the psoas and related muscles, something which in my opinion is extraordinarily important.  My understanding of the position I learned from Sara Petitt, a yoga teacher of Guro Inosanto (I am quite proud to say that I introduced the two of them).  Squeeze the ankles and knees, draw up into the perineum, thrust hips into the mat, pull with the forearms, heart chakra foward, etc.  A variation upon which I have stumbled is, with all the aforementioned details in place, to bring the heels towards the butt (SLOWLY or cramping can result).  The idea is to put the hamstring/glutes in a postion of peak contraction, thus triggering peak release for the hip flexors.
27754  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in America and the rest of the western hemisphere on: May 12, 2007, 09:49:29 PM
In Defense of the Constitution

News & Analysis
013/07  May 12, 2007

CAIR: Partners With the Jihadist "Fort Dix Six"?   

The recent arrest of the "Fort Dix Six" has shocked (shocked!) the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), North America's premier defender of Islamist terrorism in North America.  CAIR, the only Muslim organization in North America certified by Allah to determine just who is and who is not a "True Muslim", is apparently upset that the Fort Dix Six, without permission from CAIR's Saudi taskmasters, dared to invoke Islam as justification for the planned attack on Fort Dix:

CAIR sent a statement to the press asking:   

"Media outlets and public officials refrain from linking (the Fort Dix) case to the faith of Islam."

One problem with CAIR's request is that the suspected terrorists weren't let in on CAIR's game plan.  Eljvir Duka, one of the six, was heard in an FBI recording saying: 

"In the end, when it comes to defending your religion, when someone attacks your religion, your way of life, then you go jihad."

"Jihad"?  What faith is most closely related to this concept?  Christians?  Jews?  Maybe the Buddhists?  How about the Hindu's? No, could it be that CAIR is upset because, once again, Muslim terrorists have "gone Jihad" and violated CAIR's copyright on the word?

Of course, far be it to let FACTS get in the way of CAIR's well Saudi-Oiled spin machine which put out a carefully crafted response to the arrests:

".it seems clear that a potentially deadly attack has been averted.we applaud the FBI for its efforts and repeat the American Muslim community's condemnation and repudiation of all those who would plan or carry out acts of terror while falsely claiming their actions have religious justification."

"FALSELY claiming their actions have religious justification?"

While it comes as a surprise to CAIR, 99.9% of North Americans, including non-CAIR-approved Muslims, realize that Islamic justification is not only a fact, but that it is a deadly fact that has not only murdered in the past, but that does so on a daily basis.with the blessings of CAIR's perverted version of "Allah".

CAIR's noxious propaganda falls flat on its face with the Fort Dix Six.  Investor's Business Daily details some of the charges in the FBI affidavit:

"It records the men saying they were willing to die killing infidels in the name of Allah. One asks who'll take care of his family. Not to worry, another responds, "Allah will take care of your wife and kids." They watched speeches by Osama bin Laden calling for
jihad, videos of jihadi attacks, and videotaped messages from two of the 9/11 "martyrs".

The mother of one accused, Fatem Shnewer said her son,  Mohamad Ibrahim Shnewer was targeted by the FBI, "because he's religious."

CAIR, once again, is trying doubly hard to cover up a huge, glaring fact: when some Muslims, like the Fort Dix Six, feel as if their religion is "under attack" they turn to violence as a remedy.

The larger question is why would some Muslims living in America, where the median income of Muslims is over $50,000 a year, freedom of expression, the right to peacefully assemble.the right to religious freedoms is guaranteed to all citizens, want to kill fellow Americans?  Just where did the Fort Dix Six get the idea that Islam in under attack in America?

One possibility is CAIR.  At every opportunity, since its inception, CAIR has set forth the imagery and perception that "Islam is under attack" in the United States of America.

CAIR has gone after numerous radio talk show hosts for daring to speak frankly about Islamic terrorism. They even launched a campaign called "Hate Hurts America" to stop these radio hosts. CAIR's effort was:

".based on the premise that the increasing attacks on Islam by talk-show hosts harm the United States by creating a downward spiral of interfaith mistrust and hostility."

When the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development was shut down for channeling funds to Hamas, CAIR asserted that freezing HLF assets could give the perception that ".there has been a shift from a war on terrorism to an attack on Islam."

Anti-CAIR revealed in court documents that CAIR was consistently banging the drum of Muslim oppression, discrimination, and victimization by Islamophobic Americans and an oppressive government. By painting American Muslims and Islam as being "under attack" in America, CAIR was, and is, intentionally playing a dangerous game:

The evidence will show that under Moslem law, "attacks against Islam" must be countered with violence. CAIR's intentional and repeated use of the "attack" imagery is, therefore a potential call to violence."

By warning the press not to equate the Fort Dix Six actions with religion, CAIR is trying to deflect the fact that it has been Islamist organizations like CAIR who have been fanning the flames for jihad in America, pushing the propaganda of "Islamophobia", and insisting that Muslims in America are treated unjustly and in huge numbers - as Nihad Awad recently asserted during a meeting at the Adams Center where he said:

"There were 196 cases reported by the Justice Department for Muslims in civil rights cases. There were over 1,008 cases reported by the Jewish faith. We need to do a much better job not only in recognizing our civil rights but also in reporting it to the government.  [It] is very critical and very important. ... We really feel our community is more targeted.  Fifty-four percent -- this is one of CAIR's surveys -- 54 percent of all Muslims surveyed said they had been subject to discrimination. Fifty-four percent, which if you put numbers down, we're talking about tens of thousands of cases, not dozens, as is reported in the Justice Department's annual report."

What Awad fails to mention is that it would be far more surprising if the survey showed less than 50% discrimination, considering the kinds of Muslims that associate with CAIR.

Dr. M.Zuhdi Jasser of the American Islamic Forum For Democracy makes it clear that CAIR and other radical, political Muslim groups like CAIR are a clear and present danger to America:

"Muslim organizations should understand that only Muslims hold the keys to the way to overwhelm and counter the ideology which fuels these radicals.  Muslim organizations should be clamoring to expose and infiltrate the ideology and sources which drove these traitors to sprout their radical cell.  We need an Islamic vaccine (the separation of spiritual Islam from political Islam) to the virus which afflicted these men.   Until Muslim anti-Islamists can defeat Islamism (political Islam) as an ideology, we will not make any headway at preventing the germination of the next cell.   We will only be left waiting, praying, for the FBI to help us, yet again, dodge the next bullet."

CAIR refutes all facts that "real" Muslims would commit violence in the name of the Islamic religion - even while CAIR insists that America is growing into a horrible place to be a Muslim.  So horrible in fact, that CAIR Officer and convert Ismail Royer, an original employee of CAIR, decided to wage Jihad  - while working for CAIR - by aiding and abetting terrorists:

CAIR's response to Royer's terrorist activities was that Royer was not an employee at the time.a lie exposed by Anti-CAIR.

Anti-CAIR unfortunately predicts more such plots by Muslims in America such as the Fort Dix Six as a result of CAIR's relentless propaganda on behalf of radical Islam.  Could radical Imam's and Islamist groups like CAIR be largely responsible for the Muslim terrorist attacks?  Is it possible that CAIR aids and abets Islamic terrorism by both failing to condemn Muslim terrorists and apologizing for them at the same time?

Is "Islam under attack" in America? 

No, it isn't; in our opinion, nothing CAIR says can change this fact that is making CAIR so uncomfortable.CAIR needs Americans to attack Islam, to burn down Mosque's, to attack peaceful Muslims and their customs in order to foment civil discourse that would further the Islamist agenda of world domination under the disgusting Wahhabi cult of Islam. 

The fact remains: there is no country on the planet more welcoming, understanding, and sympathetic to Islam than the United States.and CAIR knows this to be true.  No where on earth will Muslims find their civil rights better protected than here in America.and this is something that even CAIR, with all its oily millions, cannot change if we are willing to stand up to them.

Let's not allow CAIR to destroy Islam in America.

Andrew Whitehead


Effective immediately, Anti-CAIR will no longer use the term "ACAIR" to describe our group.  We use "Anti-Council on American-Islamic Relations" as our full name and "Anti-CAIR" as an abbreviation.  We ask anyone referencing our group to use these terms.

Subscribers are warned that the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) may contact your employer if CAIR believes you are using a work address to receive any material that CAIR believes may be offensive.  CAIR has been known to shame employers into firing employees CAIR finds disagreeable.  For that reason, we strongly suggest that corporate e-mail users NOT use a corporate e-mail account/address when communicating with ACAIR or CAIR.  We make every reasonable effort to protect our mailing list, but we cannot guarantee confidentiality. ACAIR does not share, loan, sell, rent or otherwise publicize our mailing list.  We respect your privacy!

All persons are invited to submit tips and leads.  ACAIR will acknowledge receipt of all tips/leads, but we will NOT acknowledge the source of ANY tip or lead in our Press Releases or on our web site. Exceptions are made for leading media personalities at the discretion of ACAIR and only on request of the person(s) submitting the tip or lead.

27755  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Health Thread (nutrition, medical, longevity, etc) on: May 12, 2007, 09:45:51 PM
Thank you Robert.

Here's this:

AFPA [American Fitness Professionals & Associates] May 2007 Health & Fitness Newsletter vol. 12 no. 5
A sense of humor is part of the art of leadership, of getting along with people, of getting things done.
- Dwight D. Eisenhower (1890 - 1969)


Table of Contents:
Plant Sources of Omega-3 Fatty Acids Beneficial to Bone Health
Red Meat Linked to Heart Disease in Women with Diabetes
Fiber Lowers Breast Cancer Risk
Cancer-Related Hormones Associated with Protein and Dairy Consumption
Broccoli Compound Helps Destroy Breast Cancer Cells
Simple Fat Change Radically Improves Mental and Physical Health
Who Would Have Thought This Fat Could Improve Your Bones?


Plant Sources of Omega-3 Fatty Acids Beneficial to Bone Health
A study at Pennsylvania State University showed that omega-3 fatty acids from plant sources (for example, walnuts and flaxseed) promote bone formation and inhibit bone loss. A randomized crossover study looked at 23 adult participants on three different diets with varying ratios of omega-6 to omega-3 acids. The group with the lowest omega-6-to-omega-3 ratio had significantly lower levels of a biomarker for bone loss compared with the other two groups. Experts often emphasize the ratio (with a smaller ratio being ideal) of omega-6 to omega-3 and not the total consumption of omega-3. Consumption of walnuts and flaxseed has also shown a beneficial effect on risk of cardiovascular disease.
Griel AE, Kris-Etherton PM, Hilpert KF, et al. An increase in dietary n-3 fatty acids decreases a marker of bone resorption in humans. Nutr J. January 16, 2007;6:2.


Red Meat Linked to Heart Disease in Women with Diabetes
A new study finds increased iron intake and red meat consumption add additional risk for heart disease among women with type 2 diabetes. Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health studied 6,161 women with type 2 diabetes from the Nurses' Health Study. Women with the highest intake of heme iron (iron found mainly in red meats, poultry, and fish) had a 50 percent greater risk of coronary heart disease than those with the lowest intake. Red meat in particular was associated with an increased risk. Adults with diabetes are already at least twice as likely as others to have heart disease or a stroke.
Qi L, VanDam RM, Rexrode K, Hu FB. Heme iron from diet as a risk factor for coronary heart disease in women with type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Care. 2007;30:101-106.


Fiber Lowers Breast Cancer Risk
A follow-up of the U.K. Women's Cohort Study involving more than 35,000 women found that pre-menopausal women who ate 30 grams of fiber a day had half the risk of breast cancer compared with those who ate less than 20 grams per day. In addition, high protein consumption and low vitamin C intake were associated with increased breast cancer risk among pre-menopausal women. Researchers suspect that since estrogen levels are higher in pre-menopausal women, dietary fiber earlier in life may be more important for regulating female hormones and lowering breast cancer risk. Fiber helps the body remove excess hormones, carcinogens, and toxic compounds. Fiber is not present in animal products, but is found in virtually all plant foods: whole grains, legumes, vegetables, and fruit.
Cade JE, Burley VJ, Greenwood DC. Dietary fibre and risk of breast cancer in the UK Women's Cohort Study. Int J Epidemiology. Advance Access published on January 24, 2007


Cancer-Related Hormones Associated with Protein and Dairy Consumption
A study recently published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that elevated insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I) levels were positively associated with the consumption of protein (mainly from animal sources), milk, cheese, calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, and vitamins B2 and B6. The study examined 2,109 women from eight European countries who had been subjects in a previous breast cancer study (the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition). Inverse relationships were found between IGF-I levels and the intake of vegetables and beta-carotene (found in orange-colored fruits and vegetables as well as dark leafy greens). Previous evidence has revealed that elevated IGF-I levels are associated with a variety of cancers, including colorectal, prostate, and premenopausal breast cancer.
Norat T, Dossus L, Rinaldi S, et al. Diet, serum insulin-like growth factor-1 and IGF-binding protein-3 in European women. Eur J Clin Nutr. January 2007; 61:91-98.


Broccoli Compound Helps Destroy Breast Cancer Cells
New research suggests that a specific compound in cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale, etc.) may be especially helpful in inhibiting breast cancer development. Researchers at the University of Leicester looked at the effect of indole-3-carbinol (I3C) on four different types of breast cancer cells. Previous studies have shown that foods rich in indoles may help to kill breast cancer cells by diminishing the expression of the epidermal growth factor receptor, which protects cancer cells. This study found that I3C helped to reduce these receptors in three of the four types of breast cancer cells. Consuming cruciferous vegetables daily may significantly lower breast cancer risk and increase survival.
Moiseeva EP, Heukers R, Manson MM. EGFR and Src are involved in indole-3-carbinol-induced death and cell cycle arrest of human breast cancer cells. Carcinogenesis 2007. Feb;28:435-45


Simple Fat Change Radically Improves Mental and Physical Health
A new study adds to the evidence suggesting that the imbalance of fatty acids in the typical American diet could be associated with a sharp increase in heart disease and depression over the course of the last century.
The more omega-6 fats people had in their blood compared with omega-3 fats, the more likely they were to suffer from depression, and the more likely they were to have higher blood levels of inflammation-promoting compounds.
Inflammation-promoting compounds, such as tumor necrosis factor alpha and interleukin-6, have been linked to heart disease, type 2 diabetes, arthritis and other ailments.
Omega-3 fats are found in foods such as fish, flax seed oil and walnuts. Omega-6 fats are found in refined vegetable oils, which in modern times are used in many products ranging from margarine to baked goods to snack foods.
The amount of omega-6 fats in the Western diet increased greatly when refined vegetable oils became part of the diet in the early 20th century.
Psychosomatic Medicine March 30, 2007
Reuters April 17, 2007


Who Would Have Thought This Fat Could Improve Your Bones?
A study about the role fatty acids play in building the bone mineral density of young men found that concentrations of omega-3 fats were associated with positive bone mineral densities.
Researchers evaluated the bone health (hip, spine and body) and measured the concentrations of fatty acids in 78 teenage men over an eight-year span. In addition to the other benefits, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) was linked to better total bone densities, particularly in the spine, as well as positive changes in the spine for men between the ages of 16 and 22.
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition March 2007; 85(3): 803-807 American Journal of Clinical Nutrition March 2007; 85(3): 647-648

27756  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Review of Brave, New War on: May 12, 2007, 08:14:20 PM


Review of Brave New War
By William S. Lind
[The views expressed in this article are those of Mr. Lind, writing in his personal capacity. They do not reflect the opinions or policy positions of the Free Congress Foundation, its officers, board or employees, or those of Kettle Creek Corporation.]
While the White House and the Pentagon continue their long vacation in Wolkenkuckucksheim, in the real world the literature on Fourth Generation war continues to grow. An important addition is John Robb’s new book, Brave New War: The Next Stage of Terrorism and the End of Globalization. As the title implies, this book dares to question the inevitability of the globalist future decreed by the internationalist elites, a one-world superstate where life is reduced to an administered satisfying of “wants.” Robb perceives, rightly, that the Brave New War of the Fourth Generation will put an end to the Brave New World.
Following a useful and well-written introduction to Fourth Generation war, Brave New War offers four observations of strategic importance. The first is that the “global gorillas” of 4GW will use “systems disruption” to inflict massive damage on states at little cost to themselves. Modern states depend on the functioning of numerous overlaid networks – fuel pipelines, electric grids, etc. – which have critical linkages that are subject to attack. Robb writes:
To global guerillas, the point of greatest emphasis is the systempunkt. It is a point in the system … that will collapse the target system if it is destroyed. Within an infrastructure system, this collapse takes the form of disrupted flows that result in financial loss or supply shortages. Within a market, the result is a destabilization of the psychology of the marketplace that will introduce severe inefficiencies and chaos.
Our problem is that the global guerillas we see in the long tail of this global insurgency are quickly learning how to detect and attack systempunkts.
Here, I think John Robb’s Air Force background may mislead him to an extent. Air Forces have long believed that the bombing of critical nodes in an enemy’s military, communications or economic systems can win wars; American air raids on German ball-bearing plants in World War II are a famous example. In reality, it seldom works because the enemy’s re-routing, redundancy and repair capabilities enable him to work around the destruction. Robb is right that such destruction can increase costs, but wartime psychology can absorb higher costs. War trumps peacetime balance-sheets.
Robb’s second strategic observation I think is wholly correct: 4GW forces gain enormous strength from operating on an open-source basis. Anyone can play, a shared vision replaces top-down control, and methods evolve rapidly through lateral communication.
A great description of the dynamics of OSW (Open Source Warfare) is a bazaar. People are trading, haggling, copying and sharing. To an outsider it can look chaotic. It’s so different from the quiet intensity and strict order of the cathedral-like Pentagon. This dynamic may be why Arab groups were some of the first guerilla movements to pick up on this new method and apply it to warfare.
The combination of post-modern open source warfare and pre-modern, non-state primary loyalties leads to the third observation, that 4GW turns globalization against itself.
My conclusion is that globalization is quickly layering new skill sets on ancient mind-sets. Warriors, in our current context of global guerillas, are not merely lazy and monosyllabic primitives. They are wired, educated, and globally mobile. They build complex supply chains, benefit from global money flows, travel globally, innovate with technology and attack shrewdly.
Finally, Robb correctly finds the antidote to 4GW not in Soviet-style state structures such as the Department of Homeland Security but in de-centralization. What Robb calls “dynamic decentralized resilience” means that, in concrete terms, security is again to be found close to home. Local police departments, local sources of energy such as roof top solar arrays – I would add local farms that use sustainable agricultural practices – are the key to dealing with system perturbations. To the extent we depend on large, globalist, centralized networks, we are insecure. Robb foresees that as state structures fail,
Members of the middle class will (take) matters into their own hands by forming suburban collectives to share the costs of security --- as they do now with education – and shore up delivery of critical services. These “armored suburbs” will deploy and maintain backup generators and communications links; they will be patrolled by civilian police auxiliaries that have received corporate training and boost their own state-of-the-art emergency response systems.
If this all sounds a bit like what happened as the Roman Empire fell, it should. The empire in this case is not America or even the West, but the state system and the force that produced the state, the modern age. Modernity shot itself in the head in 1914. How much longer ought we expect the body to live?
27757  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Sent to me by an officer friend on: May 12, 2007, 01:07:38 PM

Soldiers in Iraq do the State Department's job.
Missing in Action
by Lawrence F. Kaplan   
Only at TNR Online | Post date 02.20.07    Discuss this article (26) 
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 world away, the Senate was bracing for a solemn debate over whether to debate the war in Iraq. But, in Iraq the place, the soldiers of the Tenth Mountain Division's Second Brigade Combat Team (2-10 Mtn.) had a slightly more pressing concern. The sectarian mix in 2-10 Mtn.'s area of operations--which runs from the Shia-dominated city of Mahmudiyah south of Baghdad to the Sunni areas bordering Anbar Province to the west--offers a microcosm of Iraq and all of its problems. Not the least of these is that, until recently, Mahmudiyah's mayor--a plump Shia who favors Western attire and socialist literature--refused to talk to the Sunni sheiks who lord over the city's western outskirts. 2-10 Mtn.'s Captain Palmer Phillips, a young company commander who doubles as a liaison to the sheiks, had spent the better part of a month arranging for the mayor to visit with his Sunni counterparts. "Then the sheiks got upset," Phillips recounts, "and chaos ensued."

The mayor, too, had second thoughts about the meeting, informing the U.S. battalion commander in Mahmudiyah that he had other plans. The officer replied that his boss, 2-10 Mtn. commander Colonel Michael Kershaw, would be displeased. To bolster the point, Kershaw rolled up behind the mayor on the highway, and had his soldiers escort the mayor directly to the sheiks. The meeting proved to be a modest success. But what really made it notable was, first, that it happened at all and, second, the occupation of the men who arranged it--all of them soldiers, none of them diplomats.
Tribal diplomacy is very much the business of civilian agencies that operate, or ought to operate, in Iraq. In the five months that 2-10 Mtn. has been maneuvering in and around Mahmudiyah, however, diplomatic officials from the nearest provincial reconstruction team (PRT)--housed in Baghdad's Green Zone--have shown up once. Which is more than in some places. In a counterinsurgency whose main thrust ought to be nonmilitary, the full force and expertise of the U.S. government is nowhere to be seen in Iraq. Were the combined resources of the State Department, the Justice Department, and other government agencies actually brought to bear in this war, things in Iraq might have turned out much differently. Instead, we have in Iraq an answer to the old question: What if they threw a war and nobody came?


he spectacle of young Army captains cajoling and corralling sheiks three times their age is an everyday staple in Iraq. Over the years, I've watched the same scene unfold at mosques and homes in Baghdad, Mosul, Ramadi, Tall Afar, and Sinjar. Typically, it unfolds well. The sheiks and the captains often develop close friendships (at a memorial service a couple of months ago for Captain Travis Patriquin--a young officer-cum-tribal diplomat in Ramadi--nearly every sheik in the city turned up). Tribal leaders know that, despite their age, their U.S. interlocutors can generate funds, infrastructure projects, bureaucratic shortcuts, firepower, and just about anything else. They know, too, that their own government cannot procure any of these things. For their part, the young American officers tend to be skilled professionals, well-versed in the techniques of warfare and much else besides.

But they are, first and last, military professionals. Few of the officers engaged in tribal diplomacy have the benefit of any formal training; most aren't even civil affairs officers. The best ones rely on their wits, but not every young officer boasts the wits of a Phillips or a Patriquin. Hence, the logic of the civilian-led PRTs--unveiled in 2005 to, in the words of a State Department cable, "assist Iraq's provincial government with developing a transparent and sustained capability to govern ... promoting political and economic development, and providing the provincial administration necessary to meet the basic needs of the population." That the PRTs have accomplished none of these things owes something to former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who initially objected to the military's role on the teams. But the Pentagon long ago reversed course--to the point that the Army now supplies most of the manpower for the PRTs. Persuading their civilian counterparts to show up is another matter.
Six months after they were unveiled, the PRTs had attracted all of twelve job applicants from the State Department, according to The Washington Post, and only one of those was qualified. Despite a flurry of memos pleading for recruits, guarantees of salary and career boosts, and a consensus about the importance of the teams that ran from the Iraq Study Group down to platoon leaders in Iraq, civilian agencies have declined to revive the Vietnam-era practice of compulsory war-zone assignments. According to The New York Times, federal employees have flatly refused requests that they go to Iraq. Others have been swayed by inducements yet have demanded that they be posted in the Green Zone. Outside Baghdad, "attracting civilians to serve at the PRTs in austere and dangerous locations has proved even more difficult," in the words of a report by the Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction.

o understand what a pitiful contribution civilian agencies have made in Iraq, just consider the prototype the PRTs were meant to replicate, the Civil Operations and Revolutionary Development Support (CORDS) program in Vietnam. With the same mandate assigned the PRTs in Iraq, CORDS director Robert Komer (the president's special assistant for pacification, a title that came with ambassadorial rank) dispatched nearly 8,000 civilian and military advisers to fan out across South Vietnam's provinces. Extrapolating from U.S. Census Bureau abstracts, one of every 25 State Department/USAID employees was deployed to Vietnam as part of CORDS, versus roughly one out of every 300 today in the Iraqi PRTs. According to its program reports from the era, USAID alone had nearly 2,000 of its civilian employees working in South Vietnam, where they served 12-18 month tours. Until recently, civilian agencies couldn't muster a fraction of that to serve 3-6 month tours in Iraq. Relative to the size of the Iraqi and Vietnamese populations, the U.S. government sent more than twenty times as many civilian federal employees to assist in the reconstruction of Vietnam as it fields today in Iraq.

The hallmarks of the civilian contribution to the CORDS program were, in the words of a U.S. Army Center for Military History study, "aggressive leadership, bureaucratic skill, real and perceived Presidential interest, and a degree of cooperation and tolerance that was remarkable among disparate U.S. foreign policy agencies." The hallmarks of the PRT program have been exactly the reverse. Nor, contrary to Condoleezza Rice's recent assertion that that the State Department was "ready to strengthen, indeed to 'surge,' our civilian efforts," has this latest commitment been matched by anything more than the usual disconnect between empty words and actual deeds. No sooner, indeed, had Rice issued the pledge than she reversed herself, telling congress that more than 40 percent of the State Department posts to be created as part of the surge would have to be staffed by military personnel. Never mind the government's well-chronicled failure to mobilize the public for war. The government can't even mobilize itself.
Lawrence F. Kaplan is a senior editor at The New Republic.
27758  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Spike TV, the Dog Brothers Gathering Webisodes; National Geographic on: May 11, 2007, 10:32:25 PM
Cool. Thank you.
27759  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Communicating with the Muslim World on: May 11, 2007, 05:10:22 PM
Although I suppose it would be accurate to call this piece propaganda, but we need to remember that this hatred is part of the landscape in the Muslim world and has been since before modern Israel.

27760  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Communicating with the Muslim World on: May 11, 2007, 12:31:40 PM

I will be posting more about this point, but it seems to me that we need to have a thread dedicated to how to communicate with the Muslim world.

I begin with a piece from the WSJ.


Boos for Al-Hurra
May 11, 2007; Page A10
We've been watching the debate over Al-Hurra, the U.S.-funded Middle East TV channel that has lately developed a reputation as a friendly forum for terrorists and Islamic radicals. A bipartisan group of Congressmen has called for Al-Hurra's news director, former CNN producer Larry Register, to resign -- and it's time he and his supervisors gave taxpayers some answers.

With an annual budget over $70 million, Al-Hurra is part of the long arm of America's public diplomacy in the Middle East. The network was established to provide a credible source of information in the region, in a market dominated by Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya. The goal was to help start a discussion about freedom and democracy. Instead, the network seems to have aligned itself with everyone else in pandering to the so-called Arab street.

The shift began when Mr. Register took over last November. As journalist Joel Mowbray has detailed in these pages, Al-Hurra has made a practice in Mr. Register's tenure of friendly coverage of camera-ready extremists from al Qaeda, Hamas and other terrorist groups. Most famously, the network gave more than 60 minutes of airtime to Hezbollah leader Hasan Nasrallah, who informed viewers that Hezbollah was "facing a strategic and historic victory." Under Mr. Register, Holocaust denial panels became "Holocaust existence panels." People like al Qaeda operative Muhammed Hanja received airtime to celebrate America's "defeat" on September 11.

Mr. Register's defense has been, in essence, that if Al-Hurra doesn't run anti-American content, no one will watch. He seems to have misunderstood his assignment: Al-Hurra is not meant to compete with Al-Jazeera but to offer an alternative view of the Middle East from those of either its dictators or jihadis.

But Al-Hurra is not alone in its failures. VOA and Radio Farda in Iran also stray into broadcasts that wax critical on U.S. policies. Here's betting those outlets see more scrutiny in coming days, and there's plenty of people besides Mr. Register to question -- starting with the Broadcasting Board of Governors that is charged with the network's oversight.

The BBG failed to investigate Mr. Register's change of journalism-marketing strategy when criticism began to emerge. After Mr. Mowbray's original article in March, Joaquin Blaya, chairman of the Board's Middle East Committee, wrote us a letter dismissing the criticism. Mr. Blaya was more accommodating in a second letter that we ran May 9 -- perhaps because he's feeling heat from Capitol Hill.

He certainly hasn't felt any heat from Undersecretary of State Karen Hughes, who sits on the board and has also preferred to see no evil. Ms. Hughes has conceded that the Nasrallah interview was "a violation of our policy." But in a speech to the Board of Governors and Freedom House last week, she missed an opportunity to clarify what is expected of Al-Hurra in return for taxpayer support. On Wednesday, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said Mr. Register is doing "a very good job."

Al-Hurra (which means "the free one") can be a useful tool in the battle of ideas that is crucial to the war on Islamic extremism. But if it and its sister broadcasts are merely going to provide one more outlet for anti-U.S. propaganda, who needs them? Dissidents in Soviet Russia and its satellites once looked to Radio Free Europe and VOA as sources of truth they weren't getting from local media. Nobody thinks the Cold War would have ended sooner if they had offered more airtime to the Kremlin.
27761  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Help our troops/our cause: on: May 11, 2007, 12:27:39 PM
Security Deposit
Want to support the war on terror? Pull out your checkbook.

Friday, May 11, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

WEST POINT, N.Y.--On a stormy night here a couple of weeks ago, a group of men and women gathered at the U.S. Military Academy to discuss the future of national security. Nothing unusual about that. The group included military brass, naturally, and a few scholars. But it also included--how to put this?--some rich people.

No, this wasn't a top-secret meeting of Halliburton executives. It was a conference called "National Security Studies and Military History: How Philanthropists Can Make a Difference." The point of the evening, sponsored by the Philanthropy Roundtable, wasn't to learn how to profit from government largess, Halliburton-style, but the other way around: to discuss how the government--or at least the Pentagon and its mission--might be helped by the efforts of America's philanthropic citizens.

As it happens, there is a long tradition of the private sector bolstering national security. Hayim Solomon, an 18th-century New York City merchant, invested $350,000 in government securities to pay for Gen. George Washington's Yorktown campaign. During World War II, Henry Ford transformed his factories to manufacture B-24 bombers. These days, no one is suggesting that private donors sponsor, say, the troop surge in Ramadi, Iraq, but as Mark Smith, the conference's director, told me later, such help makes perfect sense: "It is really the American way for the private sector to roll up their sleeves and get engaged."

But where to begin? Stephen Rosen, a professor at Harvard and a conference participant, believes that people in the national-security areas of government are focused too much on day-to-day "crisis management." They don't stop to think about the next decade or two. That is where philanthropists can step in, by sponsoring researchers who might think about--and write about and talk about--the long-term challenges we face: our relationship with, say the Islamic world, the use of nuclear weapons and the behavior of China. It is true that any number of scholars spend time thinking about the larger geopolitical dimensions of these questions and the diplomatic options for resolving them. But few devote themselves to the actual military issues involved.

It is futile to expect universities to produce such people, at least so the conference participants believed. "A number of subjects subsumed under the subject of national security are looked down on or ignored by academia," said Josiah Bunting, a retired officer and the president of the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation. In his keynote address, he contrasted the meager study of military history on university campuses with the shelves of Barnes & Noble, which are "groaning" under the weight of books on military subjects.

Mr. Bunting traces the current situation to the 1990s, with the retirement or death of the last college professors who served in World War II. "There was a much larger receptivity in that group toward military and strategic studies than in the generation that followed them." To revive that area of inquiry, Mr. Bunting recommends that patrons give money to a particular professorship or program that has a limited lifetime. Permanent endowments are likely to be misdirected.
Another possible focus for philanthropy is the Combating Terrorism Center, based at West Point itself. Started in February 2003, the center is headed by a military officer but most of the people who work there--about 20 in all--are civilians, specializing in everything from bioterrorism to intelligence-gathering. As Mr. Smith explains, the center can "serve as a bridge between the military and the academic community." It can, for example, thanks to its high security clearance, "take documents that Special Operations has and translate them."

Walter P. Stern, one of the conference participants, told me that he was interested in giving money to the center. "The resources are there in the private sector for this sort of thing." But aren't the resources there in the public sector as well? Yes and no. The Defense Department can spend millions of dollars on strategic studies, but the National Security Council and other agencies in the White House are more likely to rely on reports coming in from outside scholars and analysts.

I asked one senior administration official who knew about the conference just how he would like to see philanthropists direct their money. He offered a short list, beginning with strategies for "the war of ideas in the war on terror." He wants some positive suggestions, though. "I could find you 30 critiques of the way we're conducting the war of ideas."

Ms. Riley is The Wall Street Journal's deputy Taste editor.
27762  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Christianity on: May 11, 2007, 12:24:30 PM


Christianity Without Salvation
The legacy of the "Social Gospel"--100 years later.

Friday, May 11, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

Within a few years of its publication in 1907, "Christianity and the Social Crisis" swept through America's Protestant churches like a nor'easter, selling more than 50,000 copies to ministers and laypeople alike. In an age of social upheaval, Walter Rauschenbusch's jeremiad was meant to rouse the church from its pietistic slumber. "If society continues to disintegrate and decay, the Church will be carried down with it," he warned. "If the Church can rally such moral forces that injustice will be overcome . . . it will itself rise to higher liberty and life."

The summons found many converts. Reflecting on the mood a few decades later, preacher Harry Emerson Fosdick gushed with nostalgia: It "struck home so poignantly," he said, that it "ushered in a new era in Christian thought and action." The era of Rauschenbusch is far from over: His "Social Gospel" message continues to inspire activists and theologians of all stripes. The question now, though, is whether its influence is a desirable thing--or a distraction of the Christian church from its deepest objectives.

Many praise the reform efforts stirred in part by Rauschenbusch's appeal: the founding of settlement houses, literacy campaigns, help for refugees, and food and health care for the destitute. Politically, Rauschenbusch's book helped along Teddy Roosevelt's progressive agenda, notably his antitrust crusades. Social-gospel activists would later hail the creation of Social Security under the New Deal.

Surely there is much in the tradition for which to be grateful. Yet even a brisk reading of Rauschenbusch's work suggests crippling weaknesses, at least from the standpoint of faith. We're told that the larger social message of Jesus' teaching--especially his concern for the poor--was sidelined by the cultural assumptions of his followers. The culprits: the doctrine of sin and the "crude and misleading" idea of a coming apocalypse. Generations of believers wrongly came to regard earthly life as a snare and turned inward for personal salvation. "Such a conception of present life and future destiny," Rauschenbusch wrote chidingly, "offered no motive for an ennobling transformation of the present life."

Distorted ideas about heaven and hell have spawned great mischief in the name of Christianity, of course. Rauschenbusch must have seen plenty of it during a decade of ministry in New York City's "Hell's Kitchen" neighborhood. Indeed, the Christianity of his youth looked unfit to cope with the "industrial crises" of his day. Nevertheless, he seemed blithely unaware of others provoked by the very conceptions of sin and salvation he so despised--men such as William Wilberforce, John Wesley, John Jay, Lyman Beecher and William Booth--to champion reform efforts of all kinds.

Rauschenbusch's clever narrative of a faith held hostage was itself a captive of its cultural setting. It's no accident that phrases such as the "laws of social development," "scientific comprehension of society" and the "evolution of social institutions" litter his text. He presents not so much the teachings of Jesus, Paul and the Apostles as the dogmas of Darwin, Marx and Herbert Spencer. Richard Niebuhr called this "cultural Christianity," i.e., re-imagining the gospel according to secular nostrums about the march of human progress.

As such, Rauschenbusch's gospel had little need of a Savior. It merely displaced the problem of evil--the supreme tragedy of the human soul in rebellion against God--with the challenge of social iniquities. The Kingdom of Heaven would come soon enough, if only we put our hands to the plow.

Perhaps this earth-bound emphasis explains the social gospel's naïve embrace of morally dubious causes, including eugenics and abortion. We underwrite modern social programs with similar illusions about human nature. Thus drug "maintenance" programs, to take but one example, leave the scourge of addiction largely untouched because they do not address its moral and spiritual causes.

The centennial edition of "Christianity and the Social Crisis"--just published by HarperSanFrancisco--includes essays from various liberal and progressive admirers. Tony Campolo, a left-leaning evangelical, praises Rauschenbusch's "holistic gospel" for offering both eternal life and dramatic changes in the social order. Stanley Hauerwas calls him "an evangelist of the Kingdom of God." Jim Wallis likewise lauds Rauschenbusch's "Christian social ethic" as an "eloquent and necessary corrective" to privatized faith.
It is hard to see, though, how Rauschenbusch's theology could be called Christian in any meaningful sense of the term. It required no repentance or atonement and carried no fear of judgment or bracing hope of eternal life. He famously denied the doctrine of Christ's Second Coming--with its promise of perfect justice and enduring mercy. The result was a flattened view of the human condition. "It is not possible honestly to confess that Jesus is the Christ of culture," Niehbur wrote in "Christ and Culture" (1951), "unless one can confess much more than this."

The Christian confession of faith, by itself, offers no guarantee that either individuals or societies will be transformed. But, for believers, not even the smallest steps forward can be taken without it.

Mr. Loconte is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center and editor of "The End of Illusions: Religious Leaders Confront Hitler's Gathering Storm."

27763  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Race, religion, ethnic origin on: May 11, 2007, 11:26:06 AM
Boys on the Bus
A black school-bus driver lost her job "because she used the 'n-word' in front of a black student," the Des Moines Register reports:

Anita Anderson, 48, of Des Moines was fired two days after the incident on her bus. According to state records, Anderson was driving students from Monroe Elementary School when a boy became disruptive and belligerent.

Anderson testified at a state hearing on her request for unemployment benefits: "I kept asking him to sit down. And he kept on and on. He said he was going to bust me in my face."

After she told the boy he should not speak to her that way, Anderson muttered under her breath, she said.

"I was talking to myself," she testified. "I was driving, and I said the word. You know, the 'n-word.' But I wasn't talking to the student; I was just talking to myself."

Anderson testified that a girl behind her overheard the remark and told others on the bus. That prompted another outburst from the boy who had threatened her.

"That little boy kept saying, 'Oh, when we get to the bus stop my mom and dad is going to beat you down. Oh, we're going to bust you in your face,' " Anderson testified.

When she finished her route and returned to the bus garage, she was told that the student's mother had complained that the epithet was directed at her son.

There's no excuse for what Anderson said, and she said at an unemployment hearing that she regretted the remark:

"I just couldn't even explain to you how sorrowful I am that the word came out of my mouth," she said. "I'm a Christian. . . . I'm also an African American. I know how whites or Caucasians or different people perceive that word."

But the real question is, what are the authorities doing about the boy who repeatedly threatened a bus driver? Did his mother discipline him for his misconduct, and if not, why does she still have custody?

Opinion Journsl of the WSJ
27764  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: May 11, 2007, 06:12:45 AM
Posted because of who writes it.  From today's NY Times Op Ed page:

Give the Arab Peace Initiative a Chance
Published: May 11, 2007

ALMOST a year has passed since Israel’s bombardment of Lebanon, time enough to draw lessons from the conflict and reflect on its consequences.

Last week, Israel’s Winograd Commission published an interim report scrutinizing Israel’s conduct during what it called the country’s most recent military “campaign.” But the report failed to draw the most essential lesson from the July war and the wars that preceded it: military action does not give the people of Israel security. On the contrary, it compromises it. The only way for the people of Israel and the Arab world to achieve stability and security is through a comprehensive peace settlement to the overarching Arab-Israeli conflict.

It is in this vein that participants in the March Arab League summit in Riyadh called again for a peace proposal originally put forward at a similar gathering in Beirut in 2002. The Arab Peace Initiative, as it is called, was introduced by Saudi Arabia and endorsed by all the Arab countries. It offers Israel full recognition by the 22 members of the Arab League in exchange for an Israeli withdrawal to its pre-1967 borders, thus allowing the Palestinians to create a viable independent state on what is only 22 percent of historic Palestine.

This is a high price but one the Arabs are willing to pay, as it is the only realistic path to peace that conforms to all United Nations Security Council and General Assembly resolutions addressing the conflict, and ensures the right of return of the Palestinian people. The Arab states are not seeking to wipe Israel off the map. Rather, we are seeking the legitimate goals of an armistice, secure borders and the ability of all of the region’s people to live in peace and security.

Last summer’s war was only the latest eruption of violence in this enduring conflict, and hindered prospects for peace rather than creating opportunities for it. The Winograd interim report criticized the Israeli government’s war goals as being unclear and unachievable, yet the Israeli Army came dangerously close to achieving the stated goal of its chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Dan Halutz: to “turn Lebanon’s clock back 20 years.”

The report made no mention of the sheer damage inflicted. Lebanon’s airports, bridges and power plants were systematically ravaged. Villages were destroyed, and more than an eighth of its population displaced. The bombardment caused an estimated $7 billion in damage and economic losses while leaving behind 1.2 million cluster bomblets that continue to kill and maim innocent people.

Most important, the war took the lives of more than 1,200 Lebanese citizens, the vast majority of them civilians. This epitomizes the protracted injustice Arabs feel as a result of Israel’s record of destruction of their lives and livelihood, its oppression of the Palestinian people and its continued illegal occupation of Arab lands. The July war proved that militarism and revenge are not the answer to instability; compromise and diplomacy are.

This should be the impetus for Israel to seek a comprehensive solution based on the Arab Peace Initiative. The Winograd Commission’s failure to discuss the war’s implications for peace prospects leads one to wonder whether Israel would rather allow this conflict to fester as long as it is under relatively controlled conditions. Its goal should be regional peace and security, which can be realized only through a just resolution to the Arab-Israeli conflict. The inevitable alternative is increased extremism, intolerance and destruction.

Like the Israelis, the Arab people have legitimate security concerns, as evidenced by what Lebanon endured last summer. So often we have seen parties to the conflict use force in the name of self-defense and security, only to further aggravate the situation and compromise the very security they seek. These escalations also occur because there has never been full compliance with international law. Thus, illegal occupations, over-flights, detentions, house demolitions, humiliating checkpoints, attacks and counterattacks continue to heighten the anger and despair. Perpetuating hostility and distrust in this manner goes against the tide of confidence-building this region needs to foster stability. The conflict has persisted for so long, generating so many tangled consequences, that diplomacy remains the only option.

Because of its unique role in the world, the United States has a responsibility to display leadership and courage in helping the two sides achieve a just and lasting peace. The people of the Middle East aspire simply to live in freedom and dignity, without constant threats of violence, occupation and war. This is achievable if we demonstrate political will and learn the harsh lessons from the past. Leading these peace efforts is not only an American responsibility, it is in the United States’ interests: peace in the Middle East would offer a gateway to reconciliation with the Muslim world during these times of increased divisiveness and radicalism.

The Winograd Commission tried to draw conclusions about the Israeli political and military leadership from their actions during the July war. The correct lesson is that the only path to long-lasting peace is itself peaceful. With the support of the United States and its partners in the Quartet on the Middle East — the European Union, the United Nations and Russia — we hope to use the Arab Peace Initiative as the foundation to finally bring about a comprehensive peace to our troubled region. Only then will the people of the Middle East be able to finally realize their shared goal of living in freedom with security and lasting peace.

Fuad Siniora is the prime minister of Lebanon.
27765  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Pressed by Police, Even Innocent Confess in Japan on: May 11, 2007, 05:58:06 AM

Published: May 11, 2007
NY Times

SHIBUSHI, Japan — The suspects in a vote-buying case in this small town in western Japan were subjected to repeated interrogations and, in several instances, months of pretrial detention. The police ordered one woman to shout her confession out a window and forced one man to stomp on the names of his loved ones.

Shibushi was rocked by an inquiry into allegations of vote buying.
In all, 13 men and women, ranging in age from their early 50s to mid-70s, were arrested and indicted. Six buckled and confessed to an elaborate scheme of buying votes with liquor, cash and catered parties. One man died during the trial — from the stress, the others said — and another tried to kill himself.

But all were acquitted this year in a local district court, which found that their confessions had been entirely fabricated. The presiding judge said the defendants had “made confessions in despair while going through marathon questioning.”

The Japanese authorities have long relied on confessions to take suspects to court, instead of building cases based on solid evidence. Human rights groups have criticized the practice for leading to abuses of due process and convictions of innocent people.

But in recent months developments in this case and two others have shown just how far the authorities will go in securing confessions. Calls for reforms in the criminal justice system have increased, even as Japan is to adopt a jury-style system in 2009 and is considering allowing victims and their relatives to question defendants in court.

In Saga Prefecture in March, a high court upheld the acquittal of a man who said he had been coerced into confessing to killing three women in the late 1980s. The court found that there was no evidence against the man other than the confession, which had been extracted from him after 17 days of interrogations that went on more than 10 hours a day.

In Toyama Prefecture the police acknowledged early this year that a taxi driver who had served almost three years in prison for rape and attempted rape in 2002 was innocent, after they found the real culprit. The driver said he had been browbeaten into affixing his fingerprint to a confession drawn up by the police after three days of interrogation.

“I Just Didn’t Do It,” a new documentary by Masayuki Suo, the director of “Shall We Dance?” has also raised popular awareness of coerced confessions. The documentary is based on the real-life story of a young man who was falsely accused of groping a teenage girl on the Tokyo subway and imprisoned for 14 months. It portrays how the authorities extract confessions, whether the accused are guilty or not.

“Traditionally in Japan, confessions have been known as the king of evidence,” said Kenzo Akiyama, a lawyer who is a former judge. “Especially if it’s a big case, even if the accused hasn’t done anything, the authorities will seek a confession through psychological torture.”

The law allows the police to detain suspects for up to 23 days without an indictment. Suspects have almost no contact with the outside world and are subject to constant interrogation, a practice that has long drawn criticism from organizations like the United Nations Human Rights Committee and Amnesty International.

Suspects are strongly pressed to plead guilty, on the premise that confession is the first step toward rehabilitation.

The conviction rate in Japanese criminal cases — 99.8 percent — cannot be compared directly with that of the United States, because there is no plea bargaining in Japan and prosecutors bring only those cases they are confident of winning. But experts say that in court, where acquittals are considered harmful to the careers of prosecutors and judges alike, there is a presumption of guilt.

In Tokyo, the National Police Agency acknowledged mistakes in the vote-buying case here in Shibushi but defended the system. “We do not think that this is the kind of thing that happens all the time,” said Yasuhiro Shirakawa of the agency’s Criminal Investigation Bureau.

“It is not only about confessions,” he added. “We always inspect whether there is corroborating evidence and whether what the suspects said is true or not.”

In Shibushi, the authorities have gone unpunished, as have those in the two other cases. In a written reply, the police said they had followed the law in their investigation but seriously took the verdict to heart.

It remains unclear what set off the investigation in 2003 of the campaign of a local politician, Shinichi Nakayama, who was elected for the first time to the local assembly that year, beating the protégé of a longtime power broker.


Page 2 of 2)

The police started by accusing Sachio Kawabata — whose wife, Junko, is the assemblyman’s cousin — of giving cases of beer to a construction company in return for votes. Mr. Kawabata said he had given the beer because the company had sent guests to an inn that he owned.

Pressed by Police Mr. Kawabata soon found himself enduring nearly 15 hours of interrogation a day. Locked in a tiny room with an inspector who shouted and threatened, he refused to confess.

So on the third day, Mr. Kawabata recalled, the inspector scribbled the names of his family members on three pieces of paper. He added messages — “Grandpa, please hurry up and become an honest grandpa,” and “I don’t remember raising you to be this kind of person” — and told Mr. Kawabata to repent.

Drawing no confession after an hour, the inspector grabbed Mr. Kawabata by the ankles and made him trample on the pieces of paper.

“I was shocked,” recalled Mr. Kawabata, 61, who was hospitalized for two weeks from the stress of the interrogation. “Man, I thought, how far will the police go?”

Mr. Kawabata, who was never indicted, recently won a $5,000 judgment for mental anguish. Trampling the pieces of paper, it turned out, had its roots in a local feudal practice of ferreting out suspected Christians by forcing them to stomp on a cross.

The police then moved on to more potent alcohol. According to the trial’s verdict and interviews with 17 people interrogated by the authorities, the police concocted a description of events according to which the assemblyman spent $17,000 to buy votes with shochu, a popular distilled spirit, and gifts of cash.

One of the first to confess was Ichiko Fujimoto, 53, a former employee of the assemblyman. After a couple of days of interrogation she broke down and admitted not only to distributing shochu and cash to her neighbors, but also to giving four parties at her home to gather support for the assemblyman.

“It’s because they kept saying, ‘Confess, just confess,’ ” Ms. Fujimoto said in an interview at her home. “They wouldn’t listen to anything I said.”

Everything in her confession was made up, a court concluded. But it was enough for the police to start extracting confessions from others for supposedly receiving shochu and money at the parties. One neighbor, Toshihiro Futokoro, 58, began despairing on the third day of interrogation, even though he had yet to be formally arrested and was allowed to go home after each day’s questioning.

“They kept saying that everybody’s confessing, that there was nothing that I could do, no matter how hard I tried,” Mr. Futokoro said, adding, “I thought that nothing I said would ever convince them.”

At the end of the third day, Mr. Futokoro tried to kill himself by jumping into a river but was pulled out by a man out fishing. He then confessed.

Another man, Kunio Yamashita, 76, succumbed after a week of interrogation. The police told him that he was the lone holdout and that he could go home if he confessed. “I hadn’t done anything, but I confessed, and I told them I’d admit to whatever they said,” said Mr. Yamashita, who eventually spent three months in jail.

A woman, Eiko Hamano, 65, confessed after the police threatened to arrest her unless she cooperated. “They said that my grandson would be bullied at school, that my child would be fired from his company, that my whole family would suffer forever,” she recalled.

On the fourth day, feeling so sick that she could barely walk, Ms. Hamano confessed to accepting money. To prove that she had spent the money, the police told her to find a receipt for an $85 purchase, she said.

But when she presented the police an $85 receipt for adult diapers she had bought for her mother, they told her she was now confessing to having received $170 instead and needed a receipt for that amount. Luckily, she had just bought a sink for that amount.

“Now I can laugh about it,” said Ms. Hamano, who refused an order by the police to shout a confession out of a window. “But it was serious back then.”

Others never confessed, including the assemblyman, Mr. Nakayama, 61, who spent 395 days in jail, and his wife, Shigeko, 58, who spent 273 days.

The village postmaster, Tomeko Nagayama, 77, spent 186 days behind bars. She was held alone in a windowless cell that she was forced to clean every night after enduring a full day of interrogation.

The police said her refusal to confess was harming her family, she said. Her husband was sick and could not live alone; her daughter had to quit her job to take over the duties at the post office.

But Ms. Nagayama, a former schoolteacher, never once considered confessing.

“I felt I’d rather die,” she said. “This kind of thing just shouldn’t be tolerated in this world.”

27766  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: ESKRIMA COALITION TOURNAMENT July 14th 2007 on: May 10, 2007, 09:55:24 PM
Thank you very much!
27767  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security on: May 10, 2007, 10:31:13 AM
The Terrorists Next Door?
Plot Suspects Lived Quietly in Suburb

By Anthony Faiola and Dale Russakoff
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, May 10, 2007; A01

CHERRY HILL, N.J., May 9 -- From the front porch of her two-story home on Mimosa Drive, Susan DeFrancesco looked out on the neighborhood she calls "a little United Nations." Pointing from one house to the next, she said: "They're Asian; that family's from Poland. They're from Canada. She's from India. "

Living among those varied families for the past seven years were the Dukas, a three-generational clan of ethnic Albanians. Their Muslim religious garb, repeated minor run-ins with the law, and a brood of up to 20 children, grandchildren and other relatives made them unusual, but hardly unwelcome.

"You don't want to single out a family because of where they're from or what they believe," DeFrancesco said.

On Tuesday morning, it suddenly looked different when three of the Duka brothers -- young, bearded men in their 20s who had spent most of their lives in New Jersey -- were among the six men indicted in an alleged terrorist plot to attack nearby Fort Dix with assault weapons.

For this bedroom community in the shadow of the Philadelphia skyline, they would become the accused jihadists next door -- their arrest immediately shattering assumptions both here and beyond about who Islamic militants are.

Experts have warned that the next big terrorist threat will come from homegrown extremists, unaffiliated with al Qaeda but harboring resentments fostered by materials easily available from the Internet. In fact, the few who have shown themselves thus far prove that there is no stereotype.

Most of the men arrested Tuesday were European rather than Middle Eastern. They hail from one of the most pro-American and secular parts of the Muslim world -- the ethnic Albanian regions of Macedonia, where gratitude for U.S. assistance in Kosovo during the 1990s still runs high.
They live in a garden-variety subdivision like those on the outskirts of cities from Washington, D.C., to Seattle -- once-homogeneous communities now quickly becoming ethnically and racially mixed. Their children play soccer and video games with the neighbors' kids; they hawked their roofing business at Friday prayers.

Had they not offered up an alleged jihadist video to be duplicated at a nearby Circuit City, they might never have been spotted.
That is precisely what has shaken this tree-lined suburb, where residents and leaders have prided themselves on tolerance and unity in the face of significant demographic shifts. Only last Sunday, leaders from the Islamic, Jewish and Roman Catholic faiths united with Mayor Bernie Platt on a empty patch of land in a moving groundbreaking ceremony for the community's first mosque.

Farhat Biviji, 54, a founding member of the soon-to-be-built Anjuman-I-Fakhri Mosque in Cherry Hill, said: "My heart sank when we heard of these horrible men who claimed to be Muslims. They are testing us all. Testing our ability to retain that tolerance. I pray that they have not damaged the goodwill of our community."

Perhaps they already have.

As a reporter approached the Duka house on Wednesday evening, two young mothers across the street yelled out, "Don't go over there and talk to them -- you don't know what they'll do."

Then Zurata Duka, the mother of the three arrested brothers, proclaimed their innocence, asking why neighbors now run from her.

"My sons got caught saying nothing -- there is no proof, no words from them in that affidavit, only the other three," she said. Wearing a headscarf and long robe, she threw her arms out, gesturing at her sons' pickup truck. "Look, it's their roofing truck. They're hard workers. If they were really terrorists, would they take that tape to Circuit City?"

A teenager who declined to give his name but said he was their younger brother declared: "I'm with my brothers 24-7. They never talked like terrorists."

In their daily lives, according to dozens of interviews with neighbors, authorities and acquaintances, the six arrested men largely blended into the cultural patchwork of southern New Jersey, a region emblematic of the changing face of suburban America.

In the Cherry Hill School District, children now speak 62 native languages, compared with 53 in 1998. White children made up 92 percent of the school district in 1980 -- compared with 76 percent today.

Within 10 miles of Cherry Hill, two mosques have sprung up over the past 15 years. One is the South Jersey Islamic Center in Palmyra, about 11 miles northwest of Cherry Hill, where the Duka brothers -- whose brother-in-law, Mohamad Ibrahim Shmewer, was also arrested Tuesday -- regularly worshiped on Friday evenings.

U.S. Attorney Christopher J. Christie said in an interview that it was inside the South Jersey Islamic Center that the Duka brothers met and recruited Serdar Tatar, 23, a Turkish-born legal U.S. resident raised in the south Jersey area.

Members of the mosque remember the Dukas differently. The eldest brother, Dritan, 28, was described as a friendly, outgoing man who would use the center to drum up customers for his roofing business, often telling jokes and heartily slapping backs. But as ethnic Albanians in a mosque dominated by Pakistani and Arabs, many of whom did not speak fluent English, conversations with the Dukas were often cursory.

"How are we supposed to know what they are thinking? The brothers came to the mosque for Friday prayers, but did not seem overly religious or interested in Muslim teachings," said a 41-year-old Tunisian butcher and regular worshiper at the mosque who requested anonymity.
"The oldest brother was a funny guy, a joker. But he was not North African or Pakistani, and the language barriers often force us to talk among our own ethnic groups. But they certainly did not seem like people who hated this country."

The Dukas were living in America illegally, having entered two decades ago on now-expired visas. In almost every way, they were products of typical U.S. suburban life. Shain, 26, and Eljvir, 24, attended Cherry Hill West High School and often played soccer in their front yard.

They were also no strangers to the police. Tatar and the Dukas were habitual offenders, stopped dozens of times a year for speeding, illegal passing and driving without a license. Dritan Duka pleaded guilty in 2000 to possession of drug paraphernalia and Shain Duka to possession of marijuana -- low-level charges that at the time did not trigger immigration background checks.

Only one brother had a driver's license, and only briefly. But they drove anyway and were ticketed regularly by Cherry Hill police -- including four citations in one five-week period for Dritan Duka. The three had their driving privileges suspended -- meaning they could not even apply for a license -- 54 times in less than a decade. William Kushina, a Cherry Hill Police Department spokesman, said the department could do nothing about serial unlicensed driving except continue to issue tickets and suspend privileges. "You can't physically restrain a person from driving," he said.

The six men are scheduled for a bail hearing on Friday. But for Cherry Hill, the question is whether the town will sustain the tolerance that is a hallmark of community pride.

Mike Levine, 38, who lives two doors from the Dukas, said they were good neighbors: They gave him vegetables from their garden and were unfailingly pleasant.

"They were your everyday Muslims," he said. "The kids would be out front playing soccer. They seemed hardworking. I would have believed they were aliens before I'd think they were terrorists."

"Now some people on the block are feeling guilty we didn't pick up on something," he continued. "I don't want to worry what the people next door are doing behind closed doors. I don't want to think like that, but maybe now I have to."
27768  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Economics on: May 10, 2007, 07:26:12 AM
Two interesting reads on investment theory:

Few and Far Between: Black Swans and the Impossibility of Prediction
27769  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Mexico on: May 10, 2007, 06:37:24 AM

MEXICO: Michoacan Gov. Larazo Cardena Batel said in an interview with Excelsior that the Mexican army is the only force able to fight drug trafficking in Mexico. Batel cited a May 7 shootout, which involved soldiers killing four suspected drug smugglers in Apatzingan, Michoacan, as an example of the army's ability to combat criminal organizations. Batel also said violent organized crimes in the state have decreased as a result of military presence.
27770  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Vegan on: May 10, 2007, 06:34:38 AM

Vegan couple gets life over baby's death Malnourished baby was fed soy milk and apple juice, weighed 3 1/2 pounds
The Associated Press
Updated: 2:55 p.m. ET May 9, 2007

ATLANTA - A vegan couple were sentenced Wednesday to life in prison for the death of their malnourished 6-week-old baby boy, who was fed a diet largely consisting of soy milk and apple juice.

Superior Court Judge L.A. McConnell imposed the mandatory sentences on Jade Sanders, 27, and Lamont Thomas, 31. Their son, Crown Shakur, weighed just 3 1/2 pounds when he died of starvation on April 25, 2004.
The couple were found guilty May 2 of malice murder, felony murder, involuntary manslaughter and cruelty to children. A jury deliberated about seven hours before returning the guilty verdicts.

Defense lawyers said the first-time parents did the best they could while adhering to the lifestyle of vegans, who typically use no animal products. They said Sanders and Thomas did not realize the baby, who was born at home, was in danger until minutes before he died.

But prosecutors said the couple intentionally neglected their child and refused to take him to the doctor even as the baby’s body wasted away.
“No matter how many times they want to say, ‘We’re vegans, we’re vegetarians,’ that’s not the issue in this case,” said prosecutor Chuck Boring. “The child died because he was not fed. Period.”

Although the life sentences were automatic, Sanders and Thomas begged for leniency before sentencing. Sanders urged the judge to look past his “perception” of the couple.

“I loved my son — and I did not starve him,” she said.
When the judge told the defendants they could ask for a new trial, Thomas hung his head low.

“I’m dying every day in there,” he said, “and that could take three years.”

"A DEFICIENCY IN JUST ONE nutrient--vitamin B12--can halt the development of a baby's brain. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recently reported two cases of severe BI2 deficiency in toddlers who were breast-fed by vegan mothers. Vegans practice a strict form of vegetarianism, cutting all meat from their diet, as well as eggs, dairy and other animal by-products. The vitamin occurs naturally only in animal products and helps maintain nerve and blood cells.
The two mothers ( shocked ) who both lived in Georgia, were themselves deficient in B12. Although both morns said they intermittently took vitamin supplements, the deficiency caused developmental delays in the children, who were 15 months old and two and a half years old at the time of the study. Both had about half the language and motor skills of average kids their age. The rate of B12 deficiency in the general population is unknown, according to the CDC."

27771  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: June 2007 Gathering on: May 09, 2007, 06:19:54 PM
Woof All:

We are up to 40 registered fighters! cool grin cool
27772  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: ESKRIMA COALITION TOURNAMENT July 14th 2007 on: May 09, 2007, 06:10:14 PM
Traditionally there is a dinner for the fighters/Tribe.   When we have the deal settled with OP/NG we will work when and where the dinner will be and let everyone know.
27773  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Spike TV, the Dog Brothers Gathering Webisodes; National Geographic on: May 09, 2007, 06:06:22 PM
Waiting for test results can fcuk with one's mind  sad shocked huh angry tongue embarassed cry undecided grin

I trust all with be well. 

Did we say 90 second rounds?  evil  For you, no problem.  grin
27774  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: ESKRIMA COALITION TOURNAMENT July 14th 2007 on: May 09, 2007, 05:07:13 PM
I would LOVE to have my own copy of that!!!
27775  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Islamo-fascismo en Latino America on: May 09, 2007, 11:49:27 AM
Segundo post del dia:

Tehran Goes Latin
By Joseph Contreras
Newsweek International
Feb. 5, 2007 issue - When Iran's firebrand president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad,
chose to visit three Latin American capitals earlier this month, there's
little doubt he meant his trip to irritate the Great Satan to the north.
Sure enough, it had just that effect; "Iran's track record does not suggest
it wishes to play a constructive role in the hemisphere," said Eric Watnik,
a U.S. State Department spokesman. But U.S. officials are worried about more
than just Tehran's diplomacy these days. They fear that Iran might one day
help its terrorist proxy, Hizbullah, set up shop throughout the United
States' backyard. Indeed, Latin America could be emerging as a quiet new
front in the war on terror. So far, however, most regional governments
remain unmoved by Washington's requests that they clamp down, and the
controversy could further damage some already fragile relationships.

The lawless tri-border region, where Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay meet,
has long been a suspected locus for Hizbullah fund-raising, although the
State Department continues to rate the threat of terror strikes as low in
most of these countries. Last month U.S. Treasury officials issued a
statement describing in detail how an established Hizbullah network, based
in Ciudad del Este in eastern Paraguay, has sent millions of dollars to the
terrorist group over the past two years. The report also fingered nine
Lebanese men-most of whom hold Paraguayan or Brazilian passports-it claimed
were running the operation.

Latin America is home to between 3 million and 6 million Muslims, many of
whose forefathers came from Syria and Lebanon in the 19th century. They
settled largely in Brazil (which now has more than 1.5 million Muslims),
Argentina (which has 700,000), Venezuela and Colombia. The region is no
stranger to terror operations allegedly bearing Tehran's stamp.. In
November, an Argentine judge issued arrest warrants for Iran's ex-president,
Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, and eight of his associates for complicity in
the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires that killed 85
people. An Argentine prosecutor has traced the planning for that operation
to a 1993 meeting in the Iranian city of Mashhad. But Iran has denied the
charges and said it would ignore any extradition requests from the
government of President Néstor Kirchner. The case has yet to produce a
single conviction and remains a sore point with Kirchner, who two weeks ago
abruptly canceled plans to attend the Inauguration of Ecuador's new
president, Rafael Correa, when he learned that Ahmadinejad would be there.

Sources in U.S. military intelligence have also identified Islamic radicals
in the Brazilian cities of São Paulo and Curitiba, the Colombian town of
Maicao, the Dutch Antilles island of Curaçao and the Chilean free port of
Iquique, where one of Hizbullah's fund-raisers traveled frequently to raise
cash. The mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, spent some
time in Brazil in 1995, and another Qaeda operative named Adnan G.
al-Shukrijumah visited Panama in 2001 while traveling on a passport issued
by Trinidad and Tobago. Dozens of missionaries belonging to a
Pakistani-based Islamic organization called Jamaat al-Tabligh are dispatched
to the region each year in search of converts. "The bottom line is that
there are Islamic radical groups throughout Latin America and the Caribbean
and not just in the tri-border area," says a U.S. military intelligence
official, who asked not to be named for security reasons. "Latin America is
still an area where it's easy for people to move in and out of, and there
are communities in which terrorists can hide." Now Iran's increased outreach
may be making matters worse, say diplomats. Jaime Daremblum, a former Costa
Rican ambassador to the United States, called Iran's new activism "a very
explosive cocktail that's being mixed."

The State Department has credited Panama, El Salvador, Trinidad and Tobago,
Jamaica and Mexico with stepping up their antiterror activities. Yet to
Washington's dismay, other local governments seem less willing to address
the threat. The Brazilian Foreign Ministry responded to Washington's charges
last month by stating that Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay had found no
evidence to corroborate the U.S. allegations about terrorist financing
activity in the tri-border area. Brasília went on to complain that
"unilateral declarations that point arbitrarily to the triple border cause
undue damage to the region." Some regional governments have adopted a
see-no-evil attitude, treating Hizbullah fund-raising, for example, as
innocent cases of Arab immigrants' sending cash remittances back home. "It's
difficult sometimes to get these countries to talk about the presence of
terrorist organizations within their borders," says Patrick O'Brien,
assistant Treasury secretary for terrorist financing. "But Hizbullah is a
global organization, and we certainly think [their Latin operatives] are
major figures in [this] activity."

      Juan Mabromata / AFP-Getty Images
      Muslims protested at the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires last summer

If some local governments appear reluctant to crack down on Iranian-backed
groups or sever ties with Tehran, it may be because Ahmadinejad has worked
hard to make himself an attractive friend. On his recent tour of the region,
he promised to open an embassy in Managua, build dams and housing, and
improve Nicaragua's drinking-water supplies. Meanwhile, Venezuela's
President Hugo Chávez has worked closely with Iran inside OPEC to boost oil
prices and has defended Ahmadinejad's nuclear ambitions. During the Iranian
president's latest visit to Caracas, Chávez announced that a $2 billion
investment fund previously established by the two countries would be used to
"liberate" other nations from what he called "the imperialist yoke."

It's no surprise, then, that U.S. concerns keep growing. The United States'
porous border with Mexico has long loomed as a tempting entry route for
terrorists, and Latin America itself has until recently been what one expert
calls a virtual "blind spot" in Washington's war against terror.
"Law-enforcement officials are very concerned about [South America's]
becoming a transit point [for terrorists], and [governments in the region]
have yet to demonstrate in any serious fashion their counterterrorism
capacity," says Magnus Ranstorp, a specialist in militant Islamic movements
at the Swedish National Defense College. "If I were a terrorist today, I'd
be hiding out in South America." If Washington's claims are right, some
Islamic radicals have done just that, and with an expanding Iranian presence
in the region, others may soon follow in their footsteps.

© 2007 Newsweek, Inc.

Al-Qaida said to recruit in Latin America
Region on alert amid growing evidence of terrorist presence

Updated: 3:46 a.m. PT Aug 22, 2004
MONTERREY, Mexico - Governments throughout Mexico and Central America are on
alert as evidence grows that al-Qaida members are traveling in the region
and looking for recruits to carry out attacks in Latin America - the
potential last frontier for international terrorism.

The territory could be a perfect staging ground for Osama bin Laden's
militants, with homegrown rebel groups, drug and people smugglers, and
corrupt governments. U.S. officials have long feared al-Qaida could launch
an attack from south of the border, and they have been paying closer
attention as the number of terrorism-related incidents has increased since
last year.

The strongest possible al-Qaida link is Adnan G. El Shukrijumah, a
29-year-old Saudi pilot suspected of being a terrorist cell leader. The FBI
issued a border-wide alert earlier this month for Shukrijumah, saying he may
try to cross into Arizona or Texas.

In June, Honduran officials said Shukrijumah was spotted earlier this year
at an Internet cafe in Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras. Panamanian
officials say the pilot and alleged bombmaker passed through their country
before the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States.

U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft in May singled out Shukrijumah as one of
seven especially dangerous al-Qaida-linked terrorist figures wanted by the
government, which fears a new al-Qaida attack. A $5 million reward is posted
for information leading to his capture.

'The alert has been sounded'
Mexican and U.S. border officials have been on extra alert, checking foreign
passports and arresting any illegal migrants. In a sign of a growing Mexican
crackdown, eight people from Armenia, Iran and Iraq were arrested Thursday
in Mexicali on charges they may have entered Mexico with false documents,
although they did not appear to have any terrorist ties.

Jose Luis Santiago Vasconcelos, Mexico's top anti-crime prosecutor, said
Mexican officials have no evidence that Shukrijumah - or any other al-Qaida
operatives - are in Mexico. But Mexican authorities are investigating and
keeping a close eye on the airports and borders.

"The alert has been sounded," Vasconcelos told The Associated Press last

In Central America, Honduran Security Minister Oscar Alvarez said officials
have uncovered evidence that terrorists, likely from al-Qaida, may be trying
to recruit Hondurans to carry out attacks in Central America. He did not
offer details.

El Salvador authorities last week reinforced security at the country's
international airport and along the borders after purported al-Qaida threats
appeared on the Internet against their country for supporting the U.S.-led
coalition in Iraq. President Tony Saca, undeterred, is sending the country's
third peacekeeping unit - 380 troops - to Iraq.

Terrorists have struck in Asia, Europe, Africa, the Middle East and the
United States. Latin America could be next, analysts say, especially as it
becomes harder to operate elsewhere.

"If there is a crackdown, they are going to pick up shop and move," said
Matt Levitt, a terrorism analyst and senior fellow at the Washington

Officials worry the Panama Canal could be a likely target. In 2003, boats
making more than 13,000 trips through the waterway carried about 188 million
tons of cargo.

Earlier this month, the United States and seven Latin American countries -
including Argentina, Chile, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Honduras, Peru
and Panama - carried out a weeklong anti-terror exercise aimed at protecting
the canal.

In South America, U.S. officials have long suspected Paraguay's border with
Brazil and Argentina as an area for Islamic terrorist fund-raising. Much of
the focus has fallen on the Muslim community that sprouted during the 1970s,
and authorities believe as much as $100 million a year flows out of the
region, with large portions diverted to Islamic militants linked to
Hezbollah and the Palestinian militant group Hamas.

But Mexico remains a concern for U.S.
The more immediate concern is Mexico, which shares a porous, 2,000-mile
border with the United States and is the home to widespread organized crime.

In December, Mexican officials canceled two Aeromexico flights from Mexico
City to Los Angeles, and a third was forced to turn around after takeoff
because of terrorism concerns.

At the time, the United States, Canada and Interpol told Mexico that
officials suspected terrorists might be using Mexican soil to plan an
attack, Vasconcelos said.

Concerns increased this summer about whether Mexico was doing enough to
screen international visitors after a 48-year-old South African woman
arrived in Mexico with a passport that was missing several pages and then
waded across the Rio Grande into Texas.

Farida Goolam Mahamed Ahmed was arrested July 19 while trying to board a
flight in McAllen, Texas. She pleaded innocent Friday to immigration
violations and was under investigation for links to terrorist activities or
groups. Court testimony indicated she traveled from Johannesburg on July 8,
via Dubai, United Arab Emirates, to London, then to Mexico City on or about
July 14. The countries she traveled through do not require South Africans to
have visas.

Mexican officials said Ahmed was not stopped upon entering Mexico because
her name did not appear on any international terrorist watch-lists.

Mexican officials say they are closely scrutinizing visa requests from the
Middle East and have heightened surveillance at the nation's largest
airports since Sept. 11.

"The requirements for a visa for people from the Middle East have not
changed, but all requests are being checked more thoroughly," said Mauricio
Juarez, a spokesman with Mexico's Migration Institute.

The country is a popular U.S. entry point for people trying to sneak into
the United States, and the majority - 46 percent - of all people arrested on
immigration violations in Mexico come from Brazil. The rest are largely from
the Americas, China or Singapore.

It has become nearly impossible for people from Muslim countries to get
visas to come to Mexico since the Sept. 11 attacks.

Fayesa Amin, a 37-year-old Pakistani, started the process to get a Mexican
visa two months before she was to attend a wedding in Mexico. The Mexican
consulate in Karachi asked her to fill out several forms and to turn in
copies of her credit card and bank statements for a full year.

Amin, who runs three beauty salons in Pakistan, said Mexican authorities
told her a visa had been approved and it could be picked up in London. But
Mexican officials there said her visa was being held in Ankara, Turkey. In
the end, she ended up spending her holiday stranded in London.

"I knew it would be hard to get to that part of the world and that
everything had become more difficult," Amin said in a telephone interview
from Islamabad. "But I didn't realize how hard it could be."

© 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be
published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

27776  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Islamo-fascismo en Latino America on: May 09, 2007, 11:48:01 AM
Hezbollah builds a Western base
From inside South America's Tri-border area, Iran-linked militia targets
By Pablo Gato and Robert Windrem
NBC News
Updated: 2 hours, 36 minutes ago
CIUDAD DEL ESTE, Paraguay - The Iranian-backed Hezbollah militia has taken
root in South America, fostering a well-financed force of Islamist radicals
boiling with hatred for the United States and ready to die to prove it,
according to militia members, U.S. officials and police agencies across the

From its Western base in a remote region divided by the borders of Paraguay,
Brazil and Argentina known as the Tri-border, or the Triple Frontier,
Hezbollah has mined the frustrations of many Muslims among about 25,000 Arab
residents whose families immigrated mainly from Lebanon in two waves, after
the 1948 Arab-Israeli war and after the 1985 Lebanese civil war.

An investigation by Telemundo and NBC News has uncovered details of an
extensive smuggling network run by Hezbollah, a Shiite Muslim group founded
in Lebanon in 1982 that the United States has labeled an international
terrorist organization. The operation funnels large sums of money to militia
leaders in the Middle East and finances training camps, propaganda
operations and bomb attacks in South America, according to U.S. and South
American officials.

U.S. officials fear that poorly patrolled borders and rampant corruption in
the Tri-border region could make it easy for Hezbollah terrorists to
infiltrate the southern U.S. border. From the largely lawless region, it is
easy for potential terrorists, without detection, to book passage to the
United States through Brazil and then Mexico simply by posing as tourists.

They are men like Mustafa Khalil Meri, a young Arab Muslim whom Telemundo
interviewed in Ciudad del Este, Paraguay's second-largest city and the
center of the Tri-border region. There is nothing particularly distinctive
about him, but beneath the everyday T-shirt he wears beats the heart of a
devoted Hezbollah militiaman.

"If he attacks Iran, in two minutes Bush is dead," Meri said. "We are
Muslims. I am Hezbollah. We are Muslims, and we will defend our countries at
any time they are attacked

Hezbollah builds a Western base
From inside South America's Tri-border area, Iran-linked militia targets

By Pablo Gato and Robert Windrem
NBC News
Updated: 2 hours, 36 minutes ago
CIUDAD DEL ESTE, Paraguay - The Iranian-backed Hezbollah militia has taken
root in South America, fostering a well-financed force of Islamist radicals
boiling with hatred for the United States and ready to die to prove it,
according to militia members, U.S. officials and police agencies across the

From its Western base in a remote region divided by the borders of Paraguay,
Brazil and Argentina known as the Tri-border, or the Triple Frontier,
Hezbollah has mined the frustrations of many Muslims among about 25,000 Arab
residents whose families immigrated mainly from Lebanon in two waves, after
the 1948 Arab-Israeli war and after the 1985 Lebanese civil war.

An investigation by Telemundo and NBC News has uncovered details of an
extensive smuggling network run by Hezbollah, a Shiite Muslim group founded
in Lebanon in 1982 that the United States has labeled an international
terrorist organization. The operation funnels large sums of money to militia
leaders in the Middle East and finances training camps, propaganda
operations and bomb attacks in South America, according to U.S. and South
American officials.
U.S. officials fear that poorly patrolled borders and rampant corruption in
the Tri-border region could make it easy for Hezbollah terrorists to
infiltrate the southern U.S. border. From the largely lawless region, it is
easy for potential terrorists, without detection, to book passage to the
United States through Brazil and then Mexico simply by posing as tourists.

They are men like Mustafa Khalil Meri, a young Arab Muslim whom Telemundo
interviewed in Ciudad del Este, Paraguay's second-largest city and the
center of the Tri-border region. There is nothing particularly distinctive
about him, but beneath the everyday T-shirt he wears beats the heart of a
devoted Hezbollah militiaman.

"If he attacks Iran, in two minutes Bush is dead," Meri said. "We are
Muslims. I am Hezbollah. We are Muslims, and we will defend our countries at
any time they are attacked


Straight shot to the U.S.
U.S. and South American officials warn that Meri's is more than a rhetorical

It is surprisingly easy to move across borders in the Triple Frontier, where
motorbikes are permitted to cross without documents. A smuggler can bike
from Paraguay into Brazil and return without ever being asked for a
passport, and it is not much harder for cars and trucks.

The implications of such lawlessness could be dire, U.S. and Paraguayan
officials said. Rep. Silvestre Reyes, D-Texas, chairman of the House
Intelligence Committee, said Hezbollah militiamen would raise no suspicions
because they have Latin American passports, speak Spanish and look like
Hispanic tourists.

The CIA singles out the Mexican border as an especially inviting target for
Hezbollah operatives. "Many alien smuggling networks that facilitate the
movement of non-Mexicans have established links to Muslim communities in
Mexico," its Counter Terrorism Center said in a 2004 threat paper.

"Non-Mexicans often are more difficult to intercept because they typically
pay high-end smugglers a large sum of money to efficiently assist them
across the border, rather than haphazardly traverse it on their own."

Deadly legacy of a lawless frontier
Since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the Tri-border has become a
top-level, if little-publicized, concern for Washington, particularly as
tension mounts with Iran, Hezbollah's main sponsor. Paraguayan government
officials told Telemundo that CIA operatives and agents of Israel's Mossad
security force were known to be in the region seeking to neutralize what
they believe could be an imminent threat.

But long before that, U.S. law enforcement and intelligence agencies
regarded the region as a "free zone for significant criminal activity,
including people who are organized to commit acts of terrorism," Louis
Freeh, then the director of the FBI, said in 1998.

Edward Luttwak, a counterterrorism expert with the Pentagon's National
Security Study Group, described the Tri-border as the most important base
for Hezbollah outside Lebanon itself, home to "a community of dangerous
fanatics that send their money for financial support to Hezbollah."

"People kill with that, and they have planned terrorist attacks from there,"
said Luttwak, who has been a terrorism consultant to the CIA and the
National Security Council. "The northern region of Argentina, the eastern
region of Paraguay and even Brazil are large terrains, and they have an
organized training and recruitment camp for terrorists."

"Our experience is that if you see one roach, there are a lot more," said
Frank Urbancic, principal deputy director of the State Department's
counterterrorism office, who has spent most of his career in the Middle

A mother lode of money
Operating out of the Tri-border, Hezbollah is accused of killing more than
100 people in attacks in nearby Buenos Aires, Argentina, during the early
1990s in operations personally masterminded by Hezbollah's military
commander, Imad Mugniyah.

Mugniyah is on the most-wanted terrorist lists of both the FBI and the
European Union, and he is believed to work frequently out of Ciudad del

For President Bush and the U.S.-led "war on terror," the flourishing of
Hezbollah in the Western Hemisphere demonstrates the worrying worldwide
reach of Islamist radicalism. In the Tri-border, Hezbollah and other radical
anti-U.S. groups have found a lucrative base from which to finance many of
their operations.

Smuggling has long been the lifeblood of the Tri-border, accounting for $2
billion to $3 billion in the region, according to congressional officials.
Several U.S. agencies said that Arab merchants were involved in smuggling
cigarettes and livestock to avoid taxes, as well as cocaine and marijuana
through the border with Brazil on their way to Europe. Some of the proceeds
are sent to Hezbollah, they said.

Many Arabs in the Tri-border openly acknowledge that they send money to
Hezbollah to help their families, and the man in charge of the local mosque
in Ciudad del Este, who asked not to be identified by name, declared that
Shiite Muslim mosques had "an obligation to finance it."

But the U.S. government maintains that the money ends up stained with blood
when it goes through Hezbollah, which is blamed for the bombings of the U.S.
Embassy and the Marine barracks in Beirut, Lebanon, in the 1980s, as well as
the kidnappings of Americans, two of whom were tortured and killed.

Patrick M. O'Brien, the assistant secretary of the Treasury in charge of
fighting terrorist financing, acknowledged flatly that "we are worried."

"Hezbollah has penetrated the area, and part of that smuggling money is used
to finance terrorist attacks," he said.


In Paraguay, looking the other way
The biggest obstacle in the U.S. campaign to counter Hezbollah close to home
is Paraguay, whose "judicial system remains severely hampered by a lack of
strong anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism legislation," the State
Department said in a "Patterns of Global Terrorism" report.

Since 2004, a draft bill to strengthen money laundering laws has been
stalled in the Paraguayan legislature, and the government of President
Nicanor Duarte has introduced no draft legislation of its own.

Hampering reform efforts is an endemic reluctance in Paraguay to acknowledge
the problem.

Interior Minister Rogelio Benitez Vargas, who supervises the national
police, claimed that Hezbollah-linked smuggling was a relic of the 1980s.
Today, he said, the Triple Frontier is a safe and regulated "commercial

But authorities from the U.S. State and Treasury departments to Interpol to
the front-line Paraguayan police agencies all paint a different picture.
Eduardo Arce, secretary of the Paraguayan Union of Journalists, said the
government was widely considered to be under the control of drug traffickers
and smugglers.

Without interference, thousands of people cross the River Parana every day
from Paraguay to Brazil over the Bridge of Friendship loaded with products
on which they pay no taxes. As police look the other way, he said, some
smugglers cross the border 10 to 20 times a day. Earlier this year,
Telemundo cameras were present as smugglers in Ciudad del Este loaded trucks
headed for Brazil. They could have been laden with drugs or weapons, but no
authorities ever checked.

Direct link to Iran alleged
José Adasco knows better than most why Hezbollah has the region in a grip of

In 1992 and 1994, terrorists believed to be linked to Hezbollah carried out
two attacks against Jewish targets in Buenos Aires, the Argentine capital.
In the first, a car bomb exploded at the Israeli Embassy, killing 29 people.
Two years later, a suicide bomber attacked the Argentine Israelite Mutual
Association, a Jewish community center, killing 85 more.

Adasco, who represents the Jewish association, has never been able to forget
that day and the friends he lost.

"Really, to see the knocked-down building, [to hear] the screams, the cries,
people running - it was total chaos. Chaos, chaos. It is inexpressible," he

An investigation by Interpol and the FBI found not only Hezbollah's
involvement, but Iran's, as well. The Argentine prosecutor's office said the
Iranian president at the time, Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, ordered the
attack to retaliate against Argentina for suspending nuclear cooperation
with Iran.

A warrant for Rafsanjani's arrest remains outstanding, and the prosecutor's
office continues its investigation 13 years later.

Hezbollah tells its story
Alberto Nisman, the Argentine district attorney leading the investigation,
said the connection between the Hezbollah attack and the Tri-border is
unquestionable. Among other things, he said, the suicide bomber passed
through the area to receive instructions.

In the intervening years, Hezbollah has spread throughout Latin America.

On their Web page, local Hezbollah militants in Venezuela call their fight
against the United States a "holy war" and post photographs of would-be
suicide terrorists with masks and bombs. There are also Web sites for
Hezbollah in Chile, El Salvador, Argentina and most other Latin American

"The Paraguayan justice [ministry] and the national police have found
propaganda materials for Hezbollah" across the hemisphere, said Augusto
Anibal Lima of Paraguay's Tri-border Police.

And it is not only propaganda. In October, homemade bombs were left in front
of the U.S. Embassy in Caracas, Venezuela, which is next to a school.

Police arrested a student carrying Hezbollah propaganda in Spanish. One of
the pamphlets showed a picture of children and said, "Combat is our highest
expression of love and the only way to offer a healthy and uncorrupted

Caracas police were able to detonate the bombs safely. Police Commissioner
Wilfredo Borras said they appeared to be "explosive devices made to make
noise and publicity" - very different from what would be used if the United
States attacked Iran.

"In [the] United States, there are many Arabs - in Canada, too," said Meri,
the Hezbollah member who spoke with Telemundo. "If one bomb [strikes] Iran,
one bomb, [Bush] will see the world burning.

"... If an order arrives, all the Arabs that are here, in other parts in the
world, all will go to take bombs, bombs for everybody if he bombs Iran."

Pablo Gato is a correspondent for Telemundo. Robert Windrem is an
investigative producer for NBC News.
27777  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: WW3 on: May 09, 2007, 09:19:17 AM
Geopolitical Diary: Cheney in a Sandstorm

U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney left Tuesday for a trip to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Jordan. The Cheney trip comes on the heels of U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's visit to Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt, where she attended a regional security conference on Iraq and interacted with the Syrian and Iranian foreign ministers.

Rice's meet-and-greets at Sharm el-Sheikh were all about putting a fresh, conciliatory face on the Bush administration in dealing with the Iranian and Syrian pariahs of the Middle East. By engaging the Syrians and Iranians in high-level talks, albeit brief ones, Washington took a small step toward bringing its back-channel negotiations over Iraq into the public realm. The forum allowed Rice to demonstrate a willingness by the United States to deal openly with Iraq's Sunni and Shiite neighbors in bringing stability -- and an eventual U.S. exit strategy -- to Iraq.

Cheney's visit to the region, however, has a starkly different purpose. Whereas Rice played the role of the engaging diplomat, Cheney will be playing the role of enforcer.

Cheney is notably visiting the main Sunni powerhouses of the region -- Riyadh, Abu Dhabi, Cairo and Amman. By intently focusing his trip on Washington's Arab allies, Cheney is sending a clear message to Tehran that the U.S. government is not about to allow Iran to sweep into Iraq and upset the regional balance by spreading Shiite influence into the heart of the Arab world. The Sunni Arab states are very concerned that any deal the United States makes with Iran would end up compromising the historical upper hand that the Sunnis have long maintained in containing their Shiite rivals.

Moreover, the Sunni powers are worried that the continuing sectarian conflict in Iraq will eventually spread beyond the country's borders and threaten political interests at home. Saudi King Abdullah expressed his exasperation at the U.S. lack of progress in Iraq quite bluntly at the Arab League summit in March, when he labeled the U.S. troop presence in Iraq as an "illegitimate foreign occupation." Though King Abdullah lambasted the United States in his speech, the reality of the situation is that Riyadh, as well as the other Sunni states, are not exactly keen on the idea of a U.S. troop withdrawal leaving a power vacuum in Iraq for the Iranians to fill. King Abdullah has doubtless given serious thought to a scenario down the line in which Iranian troops are sitting on the Iraqi-Saudi border within spitting distance of Saudi Arabia's prized oil fields.

In light of these concerns, Cheney will be delivering two very important messages to these Sunni governments. The first message will involve a number of reassurances that the United States is still a reliable ally to its Sunni friends in the region, and is not about to let Iraq transform into an Iranian satellite state. Cheney can pacify the Arab states by assuring them that U.S. troops are not on the verge of pulling out of Iraq (particularly as the Pentagon announced on Tuesday that it has earmarked 35,000 more troops for deployments there this year) -- but he will also tell these Arab leaders very bluntly that, with less than two years to go under the Bush administration and with a presidential race in which "withdrawal" has become practically every candidate's buzzword, he cannot promise U.S. troops will stay in Iraq for the long haul.

And this brings us to the second message that we expect Cheney to deliver. As we have outlined in depth in previous analyses, the United States is working toward a negotiated settlement on Iraq with the main power players in the region, most notably Iran and Saudi Arabia. For such a settlement to materialize, sectarian violence in Iraq must be brought down to manageable levels for the government in Baghdad to function. However, this strategy rests on faulty assumptions that Tehran and Riyadh have the leverage in Iraq to rein in the Sunni and Shiite militants responsible for the majority of the bloodshed. In other words, the United States cannot move forward in stabilizing Iraq until it knows who in Iraq it is dealing with -- and who can actually be dealt with in the first place.

This is where Iraq's Sunni neighbors come in.

Not coincidentally, Cheney is traveling to countries that house the Arab world's most sophisticated intelligence services. What Cheney is looking for is a commitment by Riyadh, Amman, Abu Dhabi and Cairo to step up and coalesce an Iraqi Sunni platform that can deliver in negotiations with Iraq's Shiite and Kurdish factions. These Arab states have the connections, the money and the coercive tools to bring the Sunni nationalist insurgents in line and close Iraq's doors to the foreign jihadists. Or so the United States would like to assume.

Whether the Sunni Arab powers will take action, or be successful in their efforts, depends on how seriously these states are considering the thought of U.S. troops withdrawing. U.S. President George W. Bush is in a very tricky position right now. By pursuing a surge strategy in Iraq, he is signaling to the Iranians that Washington has no intent to draw down its military presence in the region -- and that therefore it would be in the Persian ayatollahs' best interest to deal now, rather than wait out the administration. On the other hand, Bush also has to convince the Arab states that they had better start moving now to unite the Iraqi Sunni front, otherwise they will be dealing with the Iranians on their own in a couple of years.

Cheney has his work cut out for him during this trip -- getting the Sunni Arab powers to comply with Bush's strategy for Iraq is a bulls-eye that only the sharpest diplomatic marksman could hope to hit. We wonder whether, this time around, Cheney has improved his aim.
27778  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Classic Book About America’s Indians Gains a Few Flourishes as a Film on: May 09, 2007, 09:03:28 AM

LOS ANGELES, May 8 — When the historian Dee Brown published “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee” in 1971, it became an instant sensation. In an age of rebellion, this nonfiction book told the epic tale of the displacement and decline of the American Indian not from the perspective of the winners, but from that of the Indians.

But the fact that Mr. Brown’s work has been translated into 17 languages and has sold five million copies around the world was not enough to convince HBO that a film version would draw a sizable mainstream audience. When the channel broadcasts its two-hour adaptation of the book, beginning Memorial Day weekend, at its center will be a new character: a man who was part Sioux, was educated at an Ivy League college and married a white woman.

“Everyone felt very strongly that we needed a white character or a part-white, part-Indian character to carry a contemporary white audience through this project,” Daniel Giat, the writer who adapted the book for HBO Films, told a group of television writers earlier this year.

The added character is based on a real person: Charles Eastman, part Sioux and descended from a long line of Santee chiefs but who was sent away by his father to boarding school and then held up as a model of the potential assimilation of 19th-century Native Americans. But the film fictionalizes significant portions of his life. In the HBO version he dodges bullets at the Battle of Little Bighorn. In reality he was far away, in grade school in Nebraska.

Fictionalizing history has long been standard in Hollywood. But rarely do filmmakers directly hitch their historically inaccurate projects to revered works of nonfiction. Dick Wolf, an executive producer of the film who is best known for the “Law & Order” television franchise, defended the fabrications.

“This was not an attempt to do the Ken Burns version of the Indian experience,” Mr. Wolf said in an interview. “It is a dramatization, and we needed a protagonist.”

(The chief executive of HBO, Chris Albrecht, announced yesterday that he was taking a leave of absence after being charged with assaulting a girlfriend in a Las Vegas parking lot early on Sunday.)

At the time it was published, Mr. Brown’s epic, subtitled “An Indian History of the American West,” struck a chord in a country embroiled in a divisive war in Vietnam and still shuddering from the American military’s massacre in the village of My Lai. Segregation was dying hard in the South, and the American Indian Movement was ascending.

The story is a relentless tragedy, tracing the history of American Indian nations from 1860, shortly after the first new states extended into the “permanent Indian frontier,” through 1890 and the massacre at Wounded Knee, in what is now South Dakota. It became a blockbuster best seller and helped shape the way the history of the American Indians has been interpreted ever since.

For decades the book eluded attempts to turn it into a film, partly because of Mr. Brown’s distrust of Hollywood. At least two attempts by potential moviemakers to adapt the book failed. When the current producers optioned the book five years ago, Mr. Brown was in the last years of his life and, according to his grandson, did not believe anything would come of the project. (Mr. Brown died in 2002 at 94.)

Tom Thayer, the executive producer who originated the project, said the HBO team wrestled for months with how to boil down a book that spans 30 years and dozens of tribes into a 130-minute film.

“The book is basically an editorialized textbook,” Mr. Thayer said. “It doesn’t have a single narrative; it’s anthropological and episodic.” Therefore, he added, “we felt that to tell a story of that size, the Eastman character would be a great hand-holder for the audience.”

Many literary critics, and millions of readers, however, had little trouble following Mr. Brown’s story. Writing in The New York Times Book Review in March 1971, N. Scott Momaday, a Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist, emphasized that the book was a story, “a whole narrative of singular integrity and precise continuity; that is what makes the book so hard to put aside, even when one has come to the end.”

The film largely restricts itself to the late 1880s, the time of the Ghost Dance, a messianic movement that swept through the Plains Indian tribes. Within that period it weaves together three strands: the story of Sitting Bull, the legendary chief of the Sioux, who fought against Custer’s forces at Little Bighorn in 1876; that of Henry L. Dawes, the Massachusetts senator who pushed into law a plan to allocate portions of Indian land to individual tribe members; and Eastman, who was taken from his tribe by his father and attended Dartmouth and then Boston University School of Medicine.

It is in the last two stories that the film begins to bend history.

“Eastman was the most well-known, well-educated Indian at the beginning of the 20th century,” said Raymond Wilson, a professor of history at Fort Hays State University in Hays, Kan., who wrote what is considered to be the definitive biography of Eastman. “When I heard they were doing the film,” he said, “I joked with a couple of people that I hoped they didn’t have Charles Eastman shaking hands with Sitting Bull at Pine Ridge.

(Page 2 of 2)

Not quite, but almost. The film’s climactic scene has Eastman watching as Sitting Bull addresses a group of Sioux in Pine Ridge at a meeting of which Dawes is the chairman. Sitting Bull tells them not to accept the government land allotments. In fact, the chief lived 200 miles away at the Standing Rock agency, and the meeting never happened.

As for placing Eastman at the Battle of Little Bighorn, Mr. Giat, the screenwriter, defends that choice by noting that some members of Eastman’s tribe were there.

The film also shows Eastman courting Elaine Goodale, a Massachusetts poet and teacher who oversaw schools for Indians in the Dakota territory, over a period of years, beginning while he was in college. In fact, Eastman met her when he arrived at Pine Ridge less than two months before the Wounded Knee massacre. Nor was Goodale anywhere near the reservation in 1883 when Sitting Bull arrived, as shown in the film; she was in Virginia.

HBO executives said they saw no problem with the inconsistencies. “When we look at historical accuracy, we look at history as it plays in the service of a narrative,” said Sam Martin, a vice president at HBO Films in charge of production on the project. HBO has at times gone the opposite route; last year it publicized the pains it took to ensure the factual accuracy of its Emmy-winning miniseries “Elizabeth I.”

To its credit, HBO’s version of “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee” does not glamorize Sitting Bull, but rather portrays him as he was: an egotistical, often brutal leader whose pride endangered members of his tribe as they suffered through famine, drought and disease.

Some people who have seen advance screenings of the HBO version have praised it. “This is the first time I’ve seen a film so accurately portray the impact of federal policy on our people,” said Jacqueline Johnson, the executive director of the National Congress of American Indians, which is cooperating with HBO on educational projects featuring the film. “You see the beginning of issues and policies whose effects we are still dealing with today.”

But others are dismayed. Nicolas Proctor, Mr. Brown’s grandson and one of three people who oversees his estate, as well as an associate professor of history at Simpson College in Iowa, said that as a historian he was “always kind of shocked that history is not moving enough, is not evocative enough and rich enough to keep people from having to get in there and start monkeying around with it.” He said that the estate had no control over the film’s content.

Mr. Proctor said his grandfather wouldn’t necessarily be surprised by HBO’s tinkering. “I don’t think he ever thought anything historically accurate would come out of any film version,” he said. Still, before this, “nobody had ever before gone and gutted it and turned it into a love story.”

27779  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / India-US deal a non-starter on: May 09, 2007, 01:38:55 AM

Nuclear Non-Starter
May 9, 2007

The much-trumpeted 2005 civil nuclear deal between the United States and India always had one problem: the elastically worded accord itself. New Delhi, however, bears the brunt of the blame for the current deadlock. While the U.S. never hid its nonproliferation objectives, India's policy makers embraced the political deal without fully understanding its implications. Now that the technical rules of nuclear commerce are to be defined, they find it difficult to meet the demands set by the U.S. Congress.

The root of the current stalemate over the fine print rests in the new U.S. legislation, dubbed the Hyde Act, governing the deal. The U.S. wants the right to cut off all cooperation and secure the return of transferred nuclear items if India, in Washington's estimation, fails to live up to certain nonproliferation conditions, such as a ban on nuclear testing. The prohibition seeks to implicitly bind India to an international pact whose ratification the U.S. Senate rejected in 1999 -- the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. The Hyde Act also sets out conditions to block India from ending International Atomic Energy Agency inspections even if American fuel supplies are suspended or terminated.

While the political deal had promised India "full civil nuclear cooperation and trade," what is on offer now is restrictive cooperation, tied to the threat of reimposition of sanctions if New Delhi does not adhere to the congressionally prescribed stipulations. India, however, insists that cooperation encompass uranium enrichment, reprocessing of spent fuel and heavy-water production, given that all such activities would be under International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards and for peaceful purposes.

Under the deal inked in 2005, India agreed to "assume the same responsibilities and practices and acquire the same benefits and advantages as other leading countries with advanced nuclear technology, such as the U.S." It now complains that the Hyde Act denies it these "same benefits and advantages." However, New Delhi itself laid the groundwork for higher standards when months earlier it agreed to place 35 Indian nuclear facilities under permanent, legally irrevocable IAEA inspections -- not the token, voluntary inspections accepted by the U.S. on select facilities.

In any case, a growing perception that the U.S. was shifting the goalpost created outrage in India's Parliament. Why the shock and horror? It's simple: India embraced the U.S.-drafted deal hurriedly in July 2005 without fully grasping its significance. As Prime Minister Manhoman Singh admitted in Parliament on August 3, 2005, he received "the final draft from the U.S. side" only upon reaching Washington a day before signing. Until that point, India's negotiators had only discussed submitting "power reactors" to international inspections, not all civilian nuclear facilities. And they certainly didn't anticipate a test ban. Indeed, after signing the deal, Mr. Singh had assured Parliament that "our autonomy of decision-making will not be circumscribed in any manner."

The current deadlock could have easily been avoided. During the nine-month legislative drafting of the Hyde Act last year, India ought to have made it clear that it wouldn't allow its deal-related commitments to be expanded or turned into immutable legal obligations through the means of a U.S. domestic law. It was only after national outcry over the bill's approval by the U.S. House of Representatives that Prime Minister Singh grudgingly defined India's bottom-line: The "full" lifting of "restrictions on all aspects of cooperation" without the "introduction of extraneous" conditions. He went on warn that, "If in their final form, the U.S. legislation or the adopted Nuclear Suppliers' Group guidelines impose extraneous conditions on India, the government will draw the necessary conclusions, consistent with the commitments I have made to Parliament." That was too late to reverse the Congressional push for a tough law to govern the deal.

Last week, India's top diplomat, Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon, tried to repair some of this damage by sitting down with his U.S. counterparts in Washington. But the reality is that each government finds its negotiating space severely constricted. The Bush administration is bound by the Hyde Act passed by Congress last December, and Mr. Singh is stuck with the deal-related benchmarks he defined in Parliament last August.

Even if the follow-up bilateral agreement did not incorporate the controversial conditions, it would hardly free India from the obligations the Hyde Act seeks to enforce. The U.S. has always maintained that because such a bilateral agreement is a requirement not under international law but under U.S. law -- the Atomic Energy Act -- it cannot supersede American law. In fact, an earlier U.S.-India bilateral nuclear cooperation accord, signed in 1963, was abandoned by Washington in 1978 -- four years after the first Indian nuclear test -- simply by enacting a new domestic law that retroactively overrode the bilateral pact. That broke with impunity a guarantee to supply "timely" fuel "as needed" for India's U.S.-built Tarapur nuclear power plant near Bombay, forcing India to turn to other suppliers to keep the station running to this day. India cannot get a similar lifetime fuel-supply guarantee for the new commercial nuclear power reactors it wishes to import thanks to the Hyde Act, which also bars reprocessing and enrichment cooperation even under IAEA safeguards.

Another sticking point is India's insistence on the right -- under international safeguards -- to reprocess fuel discharged from imported reactors. The U.S. has granted such a reprocessing right to its European allies and Japan for decades. Given that the Tarapur spent fuel has continued to accumulate over the decades near Bombay, with the U.S. declining either to exercise its right to take it back or to allow India to reprocess it under IAEA inspection, New Delhi says it cannot get into a similar mess again. In fact, Washington has not compensated India for the large costs it continues to incur to store the highly radioactive spent fuel from Tarapur.

Faced with the Hyde Act's grating conditions, misgivings over the deal have begun to infiltrate the Indian establishment. The U.S. currently has 23 different bilateral nuclear cooperation agreements with partner-states but none is tied to such an overarching, country-specific domestic law. Even if the present hurdle were cleared, the deal faces more challenges in securing approval from the 45-state Nuclear Suppliers' Group and the 35-nation IAEA board.

New Delhi believes time is on its side. India's economic and strategic influence is growing, strongly positioning New Delhi to conclude a deal on terms that are fairer and more balanced than those on offer today. Its interests also demand a deal not just restricted to civil nuclear export controls, but encompassing the full range of dual-use technology controls in force against India.

The present deal, despite the good intentions behind it, seems doomed.

Mr. Chellaney, a professor of strategic studies at the privately funded Center for Policy Research in New Delhi, is the author of "Nuclear Proliferation: The U.S.-India Conflict" (Orient Longman, 1993).
27780  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Health Care Economics on: May 09, 2007, 01:36:15 AM

 Holman W. Jenkins Jr. is a member of the editorial board of The Wall Street Journal and writes editorials and the weekly Business World column.
Mr. Jenkins joined the Journal in May 1992 as a writer for the editorial page in New York. In February 1994, he moved to Hong Kong as editor of The Asian Wall Street Journal's editorial page. He returned to the domestic Journal in December 1995 as a member of the paper's editorial board and was based in San Francisco. In April 1997, he returned to the Journal's New York office. Mr. Jenkins won a 1997 Gerald Loeb Award for distinguished business and financial coverage.
Born in Philadelphia, Mr. Jenkins received a bachelor's degree from Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, N.Y. He received a master's degree in journalism from Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., and studied at the University of Michigan on a journalism fellowship.

Mr. Jenkins invites comments to

How the GOP Won Health Care
May 9, 2007; Page A16

How goes the cold war? We refer to the never-ending twilight struggle between advocates of socialized medicine in America and those who believe economically competent Americans should be required to budget and save for their own health care, as they do for the rest of their personal consumption.

Any cold war wouldn't live up to its name and reputation if the two sides didn't occasionally change uniforms and borrow each other's rhetoric and tactics. But from a squinty angle, Republicans might just be winning this one.

The latest flashpoint is "Medicare Advantage," a GOP initiative to entice beneficiaries to sign up for a private insurance option in lieu of traditional Medicare's direct payment of doctor's and hospital's bills. More than eight million Medicare beneficiaries now get their benefits this way, about 20% of the eligible population. Democrats like Rep. Pete Stark of California are alarmed. They accuse Republicans of seeking to "privatize" Medicare, turning it into a voucher program to buy health insurance, with most of the subsidies restricted to needy seniors.

They're right.

Republicans like Rep. Jim McCrery respond that Democrats want to eliminate the private insurance option for Medicare and bring the country "one step closer to a socialist-style government-run health care system." He's right.

That's where clarity ends in the twilight struggle.

Notice, for starters, that Medicare Advantage is thriving because of deliberate subsidies, over and above the cost of existing Medicare, directed at private insurers. Taxpayers shell out about 12% more for each beneficiary than they do for a traditional Medicare subscriber -- worth about $922 year. The extra money buys extra benefits not available in the traditional program, as well as reduced copays and deductibles.

As they did with the big new Medicare drug benefit, Republicans have usurped Democrats' role as Santa Claus to the middle class. Health insurers, once reliable bad guys who elicited boos in movie theaters, have been reborn as giant government contractors. NAACP, once a reliable Democratic ally, now lobbies to keep subsidies flowing to private insurers, saying the extra benefits are a godsend to poor seniors.

It gets worse. AARP, the old folks lobby, has been turning itself into the insurance industry's marketing arm. It recently signed deals with two of the biggest insurers, UnitedHealth and Aetna, to sell AARP-branded insurance to the over-50 crowd, who will then be ripe to be rolled into AARP-branded Medicare plans when they hit 65.

Insurers have been losing corporate business as companies cut back on health benefits and shoo their employees into Health Savings Accounts. The industry increasingly looks to government to fill up their book of business. Result: a growing compatibility of interests between insurers and the senior lobby. AARP, for one, expects to earn $4.4 billion over six years by lending its name to plans peddled to seniors.

Even the universal access issue is slipping from Democratic grasp as Republican governors experiment with mandates requiring all citizens to have private insurance (with insurance lobbyists cheering on). And Democrats are being checkmated on the electoral map. According to Blue Cross, any attempt to cut back on Medicare Advantage would mean reduced benefits for 196,000 voters in Ohio, 196,000 in Pennsylvania, 180,000 in Michigan, etc.

So far, the counterstrategy has been pitiful, pitiful. Led by Hillary Clinton, Senate Democrats suddenly discovered an urgent need to expand spending on children's health care by $50 billion over five years -- a sum conveniently equal to Medicare Advantage's subsidy over the same period. Dutiful newspaper columnists peddled the predictable oldie-moldy: By resisting cuts in Medicare Advantage, Republicans are favoring insurance industry CEOs. Democrats favor children.

The fallacy here is obvious. All federal dollars are created equal. If more spending on children's health care is such a good idea, the federal budget is a cornucopia of programs to cut: farm price supports, ethanol subsidies, the homeland security boondoggle. And Democrats control the purse strings these days.

No wonder Mr. Stark, one of his party's authoritative voices on health care, laments the good old days when Democrats and Republicans had the same agenda for Medicare, expanding it while trying here and there to make it more efficient. "But in no circumstance did [Republicans] feel that we should disband Medicare and I think that is the principle difference," he complained late last year.

His nostalgia is touching, but omits a key fact. With an unfunded liability of $70.5 trillion in present value, business-as-usual for Medicare is not a practical agenda.

Quietly, means-testing is already arriving to sully the program's image as a universal entitlement, starting this year with seniors earning more than $80,000 a year. Quietly, Medicare's trustees, under a new law, have been required to declare their first "funding warning" because dedicated taxes and premiums will meet less than 55% of the program's costs within seven years.

Republicans, however convoluted and spendthrift, have a strategy -- turning Medicare into a welfare program for poor seniors. Democrats have only a feckless hope that if they stall long enough, the problems will be so bad that the American people will vote for a universal government-run health system. That strategy is already a loser, however long the war drags on.
27781  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Boxing Thread on: May 08, 2007, 09:23:55 PM
IIRC a boxing welterweight is 147 pounds.
27782  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: ESKRIMA COALITION TOURNAMENT July 14th 2007 on: May 08, 2007, 09:22:32 PM
This announcement was posted with my prior approval.

I went to one of these many years ago and had a fine time.  It was wonderful meeting some of the masters and manongs of Stockton such as Gilbert Tenio (sorry don't know his proper title) Dentoy Revilar (sorry don't know his proper title), and others.
27783  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Race, religion, ethnic origin on: May 08, 2007, 11:37:55 AM
Political Journal WSJ

Thought Crime

Finally, George W. Bush has found his veto sword.

After vetoing the Democratic supplemental budget, he has now threatened a veto of the Hate Crimes bill passed by the House last week. Constitutional scholars are rightly celebrating Mr. Bush's intervention.

Democrats passed the legislation to federalize hate crimes at the bidding of civil rights groups, feminists and gay rights activists. The bill amends the federal criminal code to prohibit willfully causing bodily injury to any person because of their race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability.

The bill was inspired by detestable crimes like the murders of James Byrd and Matthew Shepard. But as Timothy Lynch, a legal expert at the Cato Institute, notes: "Every act of violence against a victim that would be protected by this new federal law is already a felony crime in every state in America. What's new here and inadvisable is the criminalization of the thought or motivation, not the deed itself."

The House bill creates a peculiar pecking order of victims, in which crimes against some groups in America are classified as more tolerable than crimes against others. As long as we're going down this road, some Republicans argued that Congress should at least make sure all definable groups receive hate crime protection -- not just those groups Democrats claim as their own voting blocs. Nonetheless, an amendment to protect members of the armed forces was defeated by the Democrats. An amendment to protect senior citizens was defeated, as was one to protect pregnant women. What about rich people? We know from the demented and hate-filled writings of Virginia Tech shooter Seung-Hui Cho that he loathed the wealthy.

For more than a decade the Federal Bureau of Investigation has been required to compile data on hate crimes. Curiously, although blacks are at least 30 times more likely to commit a violent crime against a white than vice versa, blacks are three to five times more likely to be classified as victims of racially motivated crimes than whites. And the greatest hate motivated crime in America in decades, the 9/11 attacks, was somehow not classified as a hate crime. Perhaps too many of the thousands of victims were straight, white, men.

During one exchange in a Judiciary Committee markup, Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas asked: "If a minister was giving a sermon, a Bible study or any kind of written or spoken message saying that homosexuality was a serious sin, and a person in the congregation went out and committed a crime against a homosexual, would the minister be protected from being charged with the crime of incitement?" Rep. Artur Davis of Alabama said "no." The Democrats voted down amendments protecting freedom of thought, religion, conscience and speech in America.

Mr. Gohmert notes that this legislation absurdly tells the criminal: "If you are going to shoot me, brutalize me or hurt me, please, please don't hate me. Make it a random, senseless act of violence."
27784  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Betrayal of the Military Father on: May 08, 2007, 11:16:38 AM
From a Glenn Sachs email:

Deployed Troops Battle for Child Custody
As I've discussed in numerous columns, deployed military parents face a variety of family law-related problems, including custody and child support. In my co-authored Veterans Day column Protect Deployed Parents' Rights (Various papers, 11/11/06) I explained:

"Divorced or separated military parents often lose custody of their children--and sometimes permanently forfeit any meaningful role in their lives--simply because they have served their country. Many married parents deploy overseas, never suspecting that their parenthood essentially ended the day they left home."

Associated Press reporter Pauline Arrillaga wrote an excellent piece on this issue this week--Deployed Troops Battle for Child Custody (5/5/07). Arrillaga narrates the stories of several deployed service personnel who lost their children as a result of family law machinations done in their absence:

"Army reservist Brad Carlson lived in Phoenix with his wife, Bianca, and three kids when he volunteered to deploy to Kuwait in 2003. His wife and children were spending that summer with her parents in Luxembourg and expected to remain there until he returned from duty.

"A year later, after his wife indicated she wanted to end the marriage and remain in Luxembourg, Carlson filed for divorce in an Arizona court, seeking custody of Dirk, Sven and Phoebe, all American citizens.

"The Arizona court dismissed the custody case after Bianca's lawyer argued that jurisdiction belonged in Luxembourg because the children had resided there for at least six months.

"Again citing the Servicemembers Act, Carlson's attorney argued that the time the kids spent in Luxembourg shouldn't count toward residency because it came during Carlson's deployment.

"A Luxembourg court awarded custody to Bianca, and the kids remain there to this day.

"They call him 'Bradley' now, he says, instead of 'Daddy.' They converse in German in stilted long-distance phone calls that provide few precious minutes for a father to absorb missed moments - soccer games, kindergarten, birthdays. On Dirk's 9th, Carlson stood beneath a rainbow-colored birthday banner and had a friend take a digital photo of him holding a sign: 'Happy 9th Birthday Dirk!'

"Tears fill his eyes when it hits him: 'That's how I celebrate.'

"'I feel really betrayed,' Carlson says. 'To be able to send me into harm's way... and my own country can't protect my child custody rights. Why aren't they looking out for me, when I'm looking out for the country?'"

Carlson's story is similar to that of Gary S., the subject of my column The Betrayal of the Military Father (Los Angeles Daily News, 5/4/03). Former California Senator Bill Morrow saw that column, and, with the enormous assistance of Sacramento lobbyist Michael Robinson, it led to AB 1082, a military parents' bill signed into law in California in 2005. Some of you participated in our campaign in support of that bill--to learn more, click here.

In the column I wrote:

"When Gary, a San Diego-based US Navy SEAL, was deployed in Afghanistan in the wake of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, he never dreamed that his service to his country would cost him his little son. Gary's son was not taken from him by a terrorist or a kidnapper. This 17-year Navy veteran with an unblemished military and civilian record was effectively stripped of his right to be a father by a California court."

Arrillaga also discusses the case of Lt. Eva Crouch of the Kentucky National Guard. When she was mobilized, her daughter Sara (pictured above) went to stay with her father. Arrillaga writes:

"A year and a half later, her assignment up, Crouch pulled into her driveway with one thing in mind - bringing home the little girl who shared her smile and blue eyes. She dialed her ex and said she'd be there the next day to pick Sara up, but his response sent her reeling. 'Not without a court order you won't.' Within a month, a judge would decide that Sara should stay with her dad. It was, he said, in 'the best interests of the child.'

"What happened? Crouch was the legal residential caretaker; this was only supposed to be temporary. What had changed? She wasn't a drug addict, or an alcoholic, or an abusive mother.

"Her only misstep, it seems, was answering the call to serve her country.

"Crouch and an unknown number of others among the 140,000-plus single parents in uniform fight a war on two fronts: For the nation they are sworn to defend, and for the children they are losing because of that duty.

"A federal law called the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act is meant to protect them by staying civil court actions and administrative proceedings during military activation. They can't be evicted. Creditors can't seize their property. Civilian health benefits, if suspended during deployment, must be reinstated.

"And yet service members' children can be - and are being - taken from them after they are deployed.

"Some family court judges say that determining what's best for a child in a custody case is simply not comparable to deciding civil property disputes and the like; they have ruled that family law trumps the federal law protecting servicemembers. And so, in many cases when a soldier deploys, the ex-spouse seeks custody, and temporary changes become lasting."

Crouch did eventually get her daughter back--after all, she is a woman in family court--and now the father is only allowed a few days a month with the girl. The better solution would have been shared parenting and a rough 50-50 time split, with one or more parent(s) moving to accommodate the other one. Eva Crouch was treated unfairly, but her case pales in comparison to many others.
27785  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: May 08, 2007, 11:10:19 AM

PAKISTAN: Pakistan has enlarged its military presence along the Afghan border, increasing the number of troops from 80,000 to 90,000 and increasing the number of military posts from 100 to 110, Pakistani Foreign Minister Khurshid Kasuri said. Kasuri also said Pakistan expects Afghanistan to increase its efforts to secure the border. The increases are aimed at stopping Taliban militants from crossing the border.

PAKISTAN: NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer visited Pakistan to meet with Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf and Foreign Minister Khurshid Kasuri. They are expected to discuss regional security with a special focus on Afghanistan, where militant violence has recently increased. There has been pressure on Pakistan to stop militants from using the country as a base to stage attacks inside Afghanistan.

PAKISTAN: Rustam Shah Mohmand, head of the Pakistani delegation for the Pakistani-Afghan Peace Jirga Commission, said he does "not have much hope" that the commission will succeed against the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan. The commission is scheduled to hold its first meeting in August.

AFGHANISTAN: The upper house of the Afghan parliament voted to hold direct talks with Taliban members and other opposition forces. Parliament members also voted to advise coalition forces to stop pursuing militants in the country. The resolution will go to President Hamid Karzai for approval.
27786  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Islamic Countries: on: May 08, 2007, 11:04:01 AM
Trouble in Turkey
May 8, 2007; Page A19

ISTANBUL -- There is a perfectly logical temptation to take the position of much of the non-native press on the current political crisis in Turkey. The argument goes something like this: Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his "mildly Islamic" Justice and Development Party (AKP) are good for the country. They proposed Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul for president. Under the current constitution, parliament elects the president. Thus the AKP has a freely elected majority in parliament and represents the will of the people, therefore Mr. Gul should be president.

The rest, observers argue, is just loud noise, such as the two massive demonstrations in 10 days in Ankara and Istanbul (the latter of a million or more people) in tandem with grim warnings by the military against any AKP violation of secularist principles. AKP, the argument goes, has played by the rules and democracy is all about due process, which produces stability over time.

Turkey must accept that it is culturally Eastern but politically Western. Otherwise the EU will never take it, foreign investment will dry up and the country will remain excluded from the Western world. So goes the argument in favor of Mr. Erdogan as well as Mr. Gul, who withdrew his candidacy on Sunday.

There are a number of critical flaws in this argument, the first being that such a country will ultimately neither belong to an Eastern nor a Western club. It might serve, distantly, as an example to other Muslim countries, but the EU will certainly not accept it because the EU considers itself as much a civilization as a political alliance.

The pro-AKP argument suffers from other critical flaws. Mr. Erdogan's party won only 35% of the vote, but under a constitution rigged to create a two-party system, AKP has 65% of parliamentary seats. Besides, even that 35% derived in part from voters disgusted by the corrupt incompetence of the secular parties, not from pro-Muslim sentiment.

The results in no way suggest that a majority of the country regards itself as politically Islamic or nonsecular, and under such conditions AKP has no mandate for foisting a partisan figure onto the presidency, an office that is supposed to rise above party dogma and represent the country and constitution. This is why most nominees for the presidency rarely survive the painstaking but necessary business of consultation and compromise between parties. It's a somewhat uncodified process but it works to ensure a unifying, rather than divisive, outcome.

Mr. Erdogan did the exact opposite. He pushed the system's limits for his own ends until it gave way at the seams. He didn't select a compromise candidate but tried to impose his choice on the country through his technical parliamentary majority. In the event, the other parties simply didn't turn up for the vote on Mr. Gul's confirmation. They then appealed to the Constitutional Court which held that without them the numbers would be inquorate, leaving Mr. Gul unelected. The Court intentionally sent the country to a June or July national election which is, surely, the best place to settle the entire matter.

Mr. Erdogan has responded with predictable acuity, proposing new parliamentary term-lengths and direct elections for presidency, thus offering his AKP as the party that most trusts in the ballot box. If he wins, he simply rewinds to the beginning. With prime minister, president and house speaker all AKP figures, he can make such structural changes as to shift the national polity for a several generations.

So what, some say, Mr. Erdogan is hardly a fundamentalist. Sure, he and Mr. Gul have said hair-raising things in the past -- an old Gul remark made in the 1990s that "the Republic is over" recently surfaced in the press -- but politicians become pragmatic once in power. What have he and Mr. Gul done concretely in the last four years to be alarmed about? One hears this question particularly from foreign observers who don't understand or can't credit the Islamic concept of "Takkiye," meaning dissimulation.

The answer, of course, is that they have palpably tried to influence the army, universities and the Constitution itself, only to have their efforts stymied by those same institutions. Even so, disturbing incidents abound. In the city of Van a university dean is sacked because he resisted the request of a fully veiled female student for a go-between to deal with male teachers. He is later reinstated. In Istanbul's Uskudar district the municipality treats beer bars like a red-light zone and you can barely get alcohol anywhere. The national newspaper Sabah is taken over by state officials and soon the political commentators are being told what to write. Yasin El Kadi, a Saudi sought by the U.S. for financial links to terrorism, is publicly supported by Mr. Erdogan. Everywhere, barely qualified madrassa graduates replace more qualified secular technocrats in the civil service.

But the headscarf controversy and the bogeyman of military intervention eclipse such incremental dangers. Mr. Erdogan knows how to play the symbols and polarize for political ends. One side effect, no doubt unintended but predictable, is the spike in Islamic political violence: the murder of a Catholic nun near the Black Sea, of Protestant missionaries in the town of Malatya and so on. Pulled on either side by Europe and the Middle East, both Turkey and Turkish identity are as constantly in flux as its institutions are in danger of drifting out of control. That this never quite happens is in part due to the military threatening to step in periodically to restore democracy, a very Turkish paradox.

A military coup is always a disastrous option, but without past coups would there even be a Turkey today? One need only look at Iraq, a democracy without an effective army, or indeed Lebanon, to imagine the possibilities.

Turkey's democratic history shows that politicians can too easily lead the country, whether by drift or design, to such dangerous political extremes as to threaten national stability. It's wise to judge the merit of a Turkish politician by asking where his policies will ultimately lead.

Does Mr. Erdogan's populism suggest stability or a hidden drift to extremes? The voters will decide soon enough. They have got it wrong before. With such leaders, who can blame them?

Mr. Kaylan is an Istanbul-born writer living in New York.
27787  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: May 08, 2007, 10:55:37 AM

Jerusalem Before Israel
At the twilight of empire, the origins of conflict.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

Editor's note: The roots of Arab-Israeli enmity are usually traced to Palestine's administration as a British Mandate (1920-48). But in "Jerusalem 1913," Wall Street Journal reporter Amy Dockser Marcus--the paper's former Middle East correspondent (1991-98) and the winner of a Pulitzer Prize in 2005 for her coverage of improving cancer-survival rates--finds that the conflict's origins lie deeper in the past, in the Ottoman Empire before World War I. She begins by noting a long period of mutual accommodation that would vanish with the rise of modern nationalism. Some excerpts:

The Ottoman occupation of Jerusalem in the 16th century until the early 20th was often marked by peaceful coexistence: "Twice a year, Jews, Muslims, and Christians celebrated together at the shrine of Simon the Just, a popular biblical figure. For a single coin, you could buy a ride to the tombs on a camel or donkey. Their owners would lead the animals from café to café soliciting business, the colored rocks worn around the beasts' necks to protect them from the evil eye clicking rhythmically as they made their way down the street. During the monthlong Muslim holiday of Ramadan, nighttime shows featured entertainers who would make shadow puppets against the walls of the café, often using the puppets' dialogue to poke fun at local officials or make veiled political commentary on the latest events. During the Jewish holiday of Purim, children from all over the city dressed up in colorful costumes to celebrate and exchange sweets. The Arabs even had a name for Purim in their own language, which translated as 'the sugar holiday.' "

Theodor Herzl, the author of "The Jewish State," which called in 1897 for a Jewish homeland, visited Palestine after the first Zionist Congress that same year had settled on it as the best site for a Jewish home: "Herzl was everywhere greeted as a kind of prophet. Children lined up at the village gates to sing to him, dressed in white, freshly laundered linen and bearing gifts of chocolate. Old men rushed to his side clutching bread and salt, a traditional gesture of hospitality. Groups of farmers left their fields and rode out to meet him on horseback, cheering him on and shooting their rifles in the air as he approached.

"During an appearance at one Jewish settlement, three elderly men trailed behind him as he walked, falling to their knees to kiss the tracks he left in the sand. That incident so unsettled Herzl that afterward he made certain never to be seen riding a white donkey while in the country, for fear that people would think he considered himself the Messiah and turn him in to the Ottoman authorities."

World War I dissolved the Ottoman Empire, leaving Palestine, the nascent Jewish homeland, in the hands of British administrators for nearly 30 years. After gaining its independence in 1948, the country newly named Israel joined the United Nations the following year: "After the state of Israel had been founded and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was well under way, many looked back, trying to pinpoint the moment when they realized that that conflict was inevitable. David Ben-Gurion, who became Israel's first prime minister, said it was the day in 1915 that he sat on a train waiting to leave Jerusalem at the order of [Ahmed Djemal, the city's Ottoman ruler], who banished many known Zionist activists from the city.

"Ben-Gurion had tried to turn himself into an Ottoman--studying Turkish, attending law school in Constantinople, trying to organize a Jewish legion to fight on behalf of the Ottoman Empire in the war, and even donning a red fez. But all these gestures had been to no avail, for at the end of the day, Djemal had looked at him and seen not an Ottoman but an advocate for a future Jewish state, and had him jailed in Jerusalem. . . . Upon his release from jail, he was exiled to Alexandria. Later, in his books and memoirs, he recalled vividly a particular moment on the train, when an Arab acquaintance of his, whom he called Yeya Effendi, walked by and saw him waiting to leave. The men embraced, exchanged news and greetings, and then Yeya Effendi asked him where he was going.

"Ben-Gurion told him that he was being exiled, ordered never to return to Jerusalem. Yeya Effendi held him in the embrace of a true friend, mourning his loss of their shared city. Then he looked at Ben-Gurion and said something that Ben-Gurion pondered for the entire train ride to Alexandria. 'As your friend, I am sad,' Yeya Effendi told him. 'But as an Arab, I rejoice.' "

You can buy "Jerusalem 1913" from the OpinionJournal bookstore.
27788  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Paul's girl (the Wolfowitz affair) on: May 08, 2007, 10:54:54 AM
The Whistleblowers' Tale
The real disgrace at the World Bank.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

In the summer of 1997, two senior World Bank officials published an academic article under the cheerful title, "Africa on the Move: Attracting Private Capital to a Changing Continent." The authors, Jean-Louis Sarbib of France and Callisto Madavo of Zimbabwe, were responsible for the bank's work in Africa, and they took an optimistic view. "A new spirit of social and economic progress has energized much of the region," they wrote, "and gradually the rest of the world is beginning to take notice."

Among the bank's own contributions to this African Renaissance, as it was then being billed, was something called the Niger Health Sector Development Program. It had been approved by Mr. Sarbib the year before with the stated objectives of improving the quality and coverage of basic health services, expanding the population's access to generic drugs and reforming the health sector. The plan anticipated expenditures of $275 million over five years, starting with an initial grant of $40 million--big sums for a small, highly indebted and politically unstable country.

Months before the project was formally approved by the bank's board, however, doubts about its size, nature and prospective efficacy were being raised by a midlevel bank officer named Bahram Mahmoudi. An Iranian-born economist with extensive field experience in Africa, Mr. Mahmoudi had been in Niger in April 1996 on a separate project. But he had seen enough of the health program to share his misgivings about it with its manager.

Why, for instance, were most of the program funds being allocated to construction projects when the World Bank's own "assistance strategy" to Niger emphasized rural and preventive care? Why were 13 staff members--more than double the usual size--assigned to the program? Why--despite two years and nearly $1 million worth of "concept development"--had there been no adequate financial and economic analysis of the program's feasibility? Did Niger have the institutional capacity to handle such large investments? And was it appropriate for team members to be using their time in Niger to take their spouses on sightseeing tours?

None of these observations went down well with the management. Mr. Mahmoudi made himself even more of a nuisance at the bank in 1998, when he raised a flag with Messrs. Madavo and Sarbib over the dismissal, ostensibly on budgetary grounds, of a dozen employees, mostly from developing countries, and their subsequent replacement with a dozen mostly European ones. In July 1999, an independent investigation by the law firm Dewey Ballantine concluded this was not, as Mr. Mahmoudi believed, a case of racial discrimination, although it did cite "significant management problems."
Yet by the time that conclusion was reached Mr. Mahmoudi had left the bank, having ended a 20-year career with a sharp downward turn in his performance reviews and a pink slip. A review given a year prior to his criticism of the Niger program praised Mr. Mahmoudi's work in Africa for its "dynamism and perspicacity." By contrast, a review from 1997 notes that his work in Niger, "which initially received favorable comments from peer reviewers . . . was not endorsed by the management team which felt he had moved too quickly without carrying out sufficient dialogue."

Convinced he had been sacked for his whistleblowing, Mr. Mahmoudi appealed his termination to the bank's administrative tribunal. In May 2000 the tribunal agreed he had been wrongfully dismissed--albeit on procedural grounds--and ordered his reinstatement. In an extraordinary step, the bank cited presidential discretion to refuse reinstatement and instead offer compensation of 18 months salary.

Given usual bank practices, Mr. Mahmoudi was lucky to have gotten even that much. "Keep in mind that nobody is truly independent at the Word Bank," says former bank official Anthony Van Vugt. "Not the ethics officers, not the judges, not the staff association. The managers are very severe about anyone who speaks out."

The Dutch-born Mr. Van Vugt has his own bitter experience as a whistleblower. In 1995, he discovered that $100,000 had been misappropriated by his managers from a trust fund intended to finance water-sector reform in the Philippines. At his retirement that year, he submitted an audit certificate for the project making note of the misused money. Several months later he requested a copy of the certificate. "What I found," he recalls, "was a substitute statement that was signed in my name. The qualification [regarding the $100,000] that I had included in the original statement had disappeared."

Mr. Van Vugt then filed an ethics investigation. "I made the point to quite a few people that $100,000 had been used improperly, and that made people uncomfortable. Eventually, I find a piece of paper that says that Tony Van Vugt mismanaged his project and for that reason he shall be denied any future employment with the bank." The ethics investigation went nowhere.

For Mr. Van Vugt, that note foreclosed the often lucrative consulting opportunities many retired bank officials enjoy. For midcareer officials, the bank's hex can be absolutely devastating. It can make its enemies unemployable. A foreign national who loses his job can have his U.S. visa revoked. The result is a culture of conformity, silence and fear. "As soon as you're seen blowing the whistle," says Mr. Van Vugt, "your own colleagues won't even sit next to you in the cafeteria."

As for Mr. Mahmoudi, a vindication of sorts came several years later when the bank quietly released a report assessing the Niger health program. The program, on which $50 million was ultimately spent, was rated as "unsatisfactory" for bank performance, borrower performance, sustainability and "quality at entry." A comparative analysis of project performance across six regions shows that during the tenure of Messrs. Sarbib and Madavo, Africa had the highest number of projects yet the lowest likely sustainability percentage, the lowest satisfactory percentage for bank performance and the lowest satisfactory borrower performance at implementation.
Mr. Sarbib was subsequently promoted to senior vice president before retiring last year. Mr. Madavo is a visiting professor at Georgetown. Both men recently signed a public letter calling on Paul Wolfowitz to resign for damaging the bank's reputation.

Mr. Stephens is a member of The Wall Street Journal's editorial board. His column appears in the Journal Tuesdays.

27789  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Nuclear War? on: May 08, 2007, 08:58:55 AM
Today's NY Times:


WASHINGTON, May 7 — Every week, a group of experts from agencies around the government — including the C.I.A., the Pentagon, the F.B.I. and the Energy Department — meet to assess Washington’s progress toward solving a grim problem: if a terrorist set off a nuclear bomb in an American city, could the United States determine who detonated it and who provided the nuclear material?

So far, the answer is maybe.

That uncertainty lies at the center of a vigorous, but carefully cloaked, debate within the Bush administration. It focuses on how to refashion the American approach to nuclear deterrence in an attempt to counter the threat posed by terrorists who could obtain bomb-grade uranium or plutonium to make and deliver a weapon.

A previously undisclosed meeting last year of President Bush’s most senior national security advisers was the highest level discussion about how to rewrite the cold war rules. The existing approach to deterrence dates from the time when the nuclear attacks Washington worried about would be launched by missiles and bombers, which can be tracked back to a source by radar, and not carried in backpacks or hidden in cargo containers.

Among the subjects of the meeting last year was whether to issue a warning to all countries around the world that if a nuclear weapon was detonated on American soil and was traced back to any nation’s stockpiles, through nuclear forensics, the United States would hold that country “fully responsible” for the consequences of the explosion. The term “fully responsible” was left deliberately vague so that it would be unclear whether the United States would respond with a retaliatory nuclear attack, or, far more likely, a nonnuclear retaliation, whether military or diplomatic.

But that meeting of Mr. Bush’s principal national security and military advisers in May 2006 broke up with the question unresolved, according to participants. The discussion remained hung up on such complexities as whether it would be wise to threaten Iran even as diplomacy still offered at least some hope of halting Tehran’s nuclear program, and whether it was credible to issue a warning that would be heard to include countries that America considers partners and allies, like Russia or Pakistan, which are nuclear powers with far from perfect nuclear safeguards.

Then, on Oct. 9, North Korea detonated a nuclear test.

Mr. Bush responded that morning with an explicit warning to President Kim Jong-il that “transfer of nuclear weapons or material” to other countries or terrorist groups “would be considered a grave threat to the United States,” and that the North would be held “fully accountable.”

A senior American official involved in the decision, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was discussing private national security deliberations, said, “Given the fact that they were trying to cross red lines, that they were launching missiles and that they conducted the nuclear test, we finally decided it was time.”

Mr. Bush was able to issue a credible warning, other senior officials said, in part because the International Atomic Energy Agency has a library of nuclear samples from North Korea, obtained before the agency’s inspectors were thrown out of the country, that would likely make it possible to trace an explosion back to North Korea’s nuclear arsenal. The North Koreans are fully aware, government experts believe, that the United States has access to that database of nuclear DNA.

But when it comes to other countries, many of that library’s shelves are empty. And in interviews over the past several weeks, senior American nuclear experts have said that the huge gap is one reason that the Bush administration is so far unable to make a convincing threat to terrorists or their suppliers that they will be found out.

“I believe the most likely source of the material would be from the Russian nuclear arsenal, but you shouldn’t confuse ‘likely’ with ‘certainty’ by any means,” said Scott D. Sagan, co-director of Stanford University’s Center for International Security and Cooperation, who has studied the problem known in Washington and the national nuclear laboratories as “nuclear attribution.”

Mr. Sagan noted that nuclear material in a terrorist attack might also come from Pakistan, home of the network run by Abdul Qadeer Khan, who sold nuclear technology to Iran, North Korea and Libya.

The Bush administration is also finding a skeptical audience when it warns of emerging nuclear threats, since its assessments of Saddam Hussein’s nuclear capacity in advance of the 2003 invasion proved wildly off the mark. On Sunday, defending his new book during an interview on the NBC News program “Meet the Press,” George J. Tenet, the former director of central intelligence, made the case that any past errors should not blind the public to the threat of nuclear attack posed by Al Qaeda today.

“What I believe is that Al Qaeda is seeking this capability,” Mr. Tenet said.

Pakistani officials have been visiting Washington recently offering assurances that their nuclear supplies and weapons are locked down with sophisticated new technology. During a presentation at the Henry L. Stimson Center, a nonprofit organization here that studies nuclear proliferation, Lt. Col. Zafar Ali, who works in the arms control section of the Pakistani Strategic Plans Division, said that while Al Qaeda and other groups may want a nuclear weapon, “there are doubts that these organizations have the capability to fabricate a nuclear device.”

He bristled at the continuing questions about Pakistan’s nuclear security, arguing that “there is no reported case of security failure subsequent to A. Q. Khan’s case” in 2004, and suggested that American concerns would be better directed at Russia.

But few experts in the Bush administration are reassured, saying that their fear is not only leakage from Pakistan, but a takeover of the government of the president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf. It is a subject they will never discuss on the record, but one that is the constant topic of study and assessment.

The issue of shaping a new policy even presents difficulties when dealing with a country like Iran, which, like North Korea, was once described by President Bush as a member of an “axis of evil.” Tehran does not yet possess nuclear weapons, and inspectors believe that it has produced only small amounts of nuclear fuel, not enough to make a bomb, and none of it bomb grade.

In the cabinet-level discussion last May, Mr. Bush’s top advisers concluded that issuing a warning to Iran might signal that the United States was preparing for the day when Iran becomes a nuclear-armed state, an impression that one former senior administration official said “is not the message we want to send.” As a result, Iran did not receive a warning similar to the one issued to North Korea, whose test made clear that it is edging into the nuclear club.

Mr. Sagan said he supported that approach, saying that if Mr. Bush issues a declaration specifically aimed at Iran, it may be heard among the most radical leaders in Tehran as a tacit acknowledgment that the United States has accepted the possibility that Iran is going to go nuclear.

“We need to distinguish between the leakage problem, where it would be inadvertent, and the provider problem, where it would be an intentional act,” said Robert S. Litwak of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and the author of “Regime Change: U.S. Strategy Through the Prism of 9/11.”

“To the provider we should say, ‘Don’t even think about it,’ and this more explicit declaratory policy can get us traction because these regimes value their own survival above all else,” Mr. Litwak said. “For the leakage problem, we don’t want to be trapped into a question of how we retaliate against Russia or Pakistan. But through calculated ambiguity, we can create incentives for the Russians and the Pakistanis to do even more in the area of safeguarding their weapons and capabilities.”

The weekly meeting of the interagency group dealing with nuclear attribution is just one part of a governmentwide effort to prepare for what might happen after a small nuclear device was detonated in an American city, just as Washington once gamed out a nuclear exchange with the Soviet Union.

But it is a subject Mr. Bush and his aides have rarely referred to in public. In private, officials say, the Department of Homeland Security is trying to plan for more than a dozen scenarios — including one in which a bomb goes off, and terrorist groups then claim to have planted others in cities around the country.

While most of that planning takes place behind locked doors, officials responsible for it appeared at a workshop last month sponsored by the Preventive Defense Project, a research collaboration sponsored by Harvard and Stanford Universities.

The daylong discussion revealed major gaps in the planning. But it also demonstrated that while the first instinct of government officials after an explosion would be to figure out retaliation, “that would probably give way to an effort to seek the cooperation of a Pakistan or Russia to figure out where the stuff came from, what else was lost, and to hunt down the remaining bombs rather than punish the government that lost them,” said one of the conference’s organizers, Ashton B. Carter of the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.

27790  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / How the Incas leapt Canyons on: May 08, 2007, 08:50:00 AM
I saw that shirt when Chester, my host at my Albuquerque seminar took me to the Navajo Reservation.  Tough to be the butt of the joke, but it had to be acknowledged  smiley

Anyway, here's this from today's NY Times:

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Conquistadors from Spain came, they saw and they were astonished. They had never seen anything in Europe like the bridges of Peru. Chroniclers wrote that the Spanish soldiers stood in awe and fear before the spans of braided fiber cables suspended across deep gorges in the Andes, narrow walkways sagging and swaying and looking so frail.

Yet the suspension bridges were familiar and vital links in the vast empire of the Inca, as they had been to Andean cultures for hundreds of years before the arrival of the Spanish in 1532. The people had not developed the stone arch or wheeled vehicles, but they were accomplished in the use of natural fibers for textiles, boats, sling weapons — even keeping inventories by a prewriting system of knots.

So bridges made of fiber ropes, some as thick as a man’s torso, were the technological solution to the problem of road building in rugged terrain. By some estimates, at least 200 such suspension bridges spanned river gorges in the 16th century. One of the last of these, over the Apurimac River, inspired Thornton Wilder’s novel “The Bridge of San Luis Rey.”

Although scholars have studied the Inca road system’s importance in forging and controlling the pre-Columbian empire, John A.Ochsendorf of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology here said, “Historians and archaeologists have neglected the role of bridges.”

Dr. Ochsendorf’s research on Inca suspension bridges, begun while he was an undergraduate at Cornell University, illustrates an engineering university’s approach to archaeology, combining materials science and experimentation with the traditional fieldwork of observing and dating artifacts. Other universities conduct research in archaeological materials, but it has long been a specialty at M.I.T.

Students here are introduced to the multidisciplinary investigation of ancient technologies as applied in transforming resources into cultural hallmarks from household pottery to grand pyramids. In a course called “materials in human experience,” students are making a 60-foot-long fiber bridge in the Peruvian style. On Saturday, they plan to stretch the bridge across a dry basin between two campus buildings.

In recent years, M.I.T. archaeologists and scientists have joined forces in studies of early Peruvian ceramics, balsa rafts and metal alloys; Egyptian glass and Roman concrete; and also the casting of bronze bells in Mexico. They discovered that Ecuadoreans, traveling by sea, introduced metallurgy to western Mexico. They even found how Mexicans added bits of morning-glory plants, which contain sulfur, in processing natural rubber into bouncing balls.

“Mexicans discovered vulcanization 3,500 years before Goodyear,” said Dorothy Hosler, an M.I.T. professor of archaeology and ancient technology. “The Spanish had never seen anything that bounced like the rubber balls of Mexico.”

Heather Lechtman, an archaeologist of ancient technology who helped develop the M.I.T. program, said that in learning “how objects were made, what they were made of and how they were used, we see people making decisions at various stages, and the choices involve engineering as well as culture.”

From this perspective, she said, the choices are not always based only on what works well, but also are guided by ideological and aesthetic criteria. In the casting of early Mexican bells, attention was given to their ringing tone and their color; an unusually large amount of arsenic was added to copper to make the bronze shine like silver.

“If people use materials in different ways in different societies, that tells you something about those people,” Professor Lechtman said.

In the case of the Peruvian bridges, the builders relied on a technology well suited to the problem and their resources. The Spanish themselves demonstrated how appropriate the Peruvian technique was.

Dr. Ochsendorf, a specialist in early architecture and engineering, said the colonial government tried many times to erect European arch bridges across the canyons, and each attempt ended in fiasco until iron and steel were applied to bridge building. The Peruvians, knowing nothing of the arch or iron metallurgy, instead relied on what they knew best, fibers from cotton, grasses and saplings, and llama and alpaca wool.

The Inca suspension bridges achieved clear spans of at least 150 feet, probably much greater. This was a longer span than any European masonry bridges at the time. The longest Roman bridge in Spain had a maximum span between supports of 95 feet. And none of these European bridges had to stretch across deep canyons.

Published: May 8, 2007
(Page 2 of 2)

The Peruvians apparently invented their fiber bridges independently of outside influences, Dr. Ochsendorf said, but these bridges were neither the first of their kind in the world nor the inspiration for the modern suspension bridge like the George Washington and Verrazano-Narrows Bridges in New York and the Golden Gate in San Francisco.

In a recent research paper, Dr. Ochsendorf wrote: “The Inca were the only ancient American civilization to develop suspension bridges. Similar bridges existed in other mountainous regions of the world, most notably in the Himalayas and in ancient China, where iron chain suspension bridges existed in the third century B.C.”

The first of the modern versions was erected in Britain in the late 18th century, the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. The longest one today connects two islands in Japan, with a span of more than 6,000 feet from tower to supporting tower. These bridges are really “hanging roadways,” Dr. Ochsendorf said, to provide a fairly level surface for wheeled traffic.

In his authoritative 1984 book, “The Inka Road System,” John Hyslop, who was an official of the Institute of Andean Research and associated with the American Museum of Natural History, compiled descriptions of the Inca bridges recorded by early travelers.

Garcilasco de la Vega, in 1604, reported on the cable-making techniques. The fibers, he wrote, were braided into ropes of the length necessary for the bridge. Three of these ropes were woven together to make a larger rope, and three of them were again braided to make a still larger rope, and so on. The thick cables were pulled across the river with small ropes and attached to stone abutments on each side.

Three of the big cables served as the floor of the bridge, which often was at least four to five feet wide, and two others served as handrails. Pieces of wood were tied to the cable floor. Finally, the floor was strewn with branches to give firm footing for beasts of burden.

More branches and pieces of wood were strung to make walls along the entire length of the bridge. The side covering, one chronicler said, was such that “if a horse fell on all fours, it could not fall off the bridge.”

Still, it took a while for the Spanish to adjust to the bridges and to coax their horses to cross them. The bridges trembled underfoot and swayed dangerously in stiff winds.

Ephraim G. Squier, a visitor to Peru from the United States in the 1870s, said of the Apurimac River bridge: “It is usual for the traveler to time his day’s journey so as to reach the bridge in the morning, before the strong wind sets in; for, during the greater part of the day, it sweeps up the Canyon of the Apurimac with great force, and then the bridge sways like a gigantic hammock, and crossing is next to impossible.”

Other travelers noted that in many cases, two suspension bridges stood side by side. Some said that one was for the lords and gentry, the other for commoners; or one for men, the other for women.

Recent scholars have suggested that it was more likely that one bridge served as a backup for the other, considering the need for frequent repairs of frayed and worn ropes.

The last existing Inca suspension bridge, at Huinchiri, near Cuzco, is virtually rebuilt each year. People from the villages on either side hold a three-day festival and gather stiff grasses for producing more than 50,000 feet of cord. Finally, the cord is braided into 150-foot replacement cables.

In the M.I.T. class project, 14 students met two evenings a week and occasional afternoons to braid the ropes for a Peruvian bridge replica 60 feet long and 2 feet wide. They were allowed one important shortcut: some 50 miles of twine already prepared from sisal, a stronger fiber than the materials used by the Inca.

Some of the time thus gained was invested in steps the Inca had never thought of. The twine and the completed ropes were submitted to stress tests, load-bearing measurements and X-rays.

“We have proof-tested the stuff at every step as we go along,” said Linn W. Hobbs, a materials science professor and one of the principal teachers of the course.

The students incorporated 12 strands of twine for each primary rope. Then three of these 12-ply ropes were braided into the major cables, each 120 feet long — 60 feet for the span and 30 feet at each end for tying the bridge to concrete anchors.

One afternoon last week, several of the students stretched ropes down a long corridor, braiding one of the main cables. While one student knelt to make the braid and three students down the line did some nimble footwork to keep the separate ropes from entangling, Zack Jackowski, a sophomore, put a foot firmly down on the just-completed braid.

“It’s important to get the braids as tight as possible,” Mr. Jackowski said. “A little twist, pull it back hard, hold the twist you just put in.”

No doubt the students will escape the fate of Brother Juniper, the Franciscan missionary in Wilder’s novel who investigated the five people who perished in the collapse of the bridge of San Luis Rey.

Brother Juniper hoped to discern scientific evidence of divine intervention in human affairs, examples of “the wicked visited by destruction and the good called early to Heaven.”

Alas, he could not; there is some of both good and evil in people. So his written account was judged heretical. He and his manuscript were burned at the stake.

If the students’ bridge holds, they will have learned one lesson: engineering, in antiquity as now, is the process of finding a way through and over the challenges of environment and culture.

27791  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Boxing Thread on: May 08, 2007, 08:31:40 AM
I won't be seeing the fight until it is on for free, but I suspect you are right Keith.

As for Lampley, I met him several times (bit of a story there) and never cared for him at all.

Anyway, a bit off subject, but here's this:

Boxer Corrales dies in crash
The former IBF super-featherweight and WBC lightweight champ is killed on motorcycle in Las Vegas. He was 29.
By Lance Pugmire, Times Staff Writer
May 8, 2007

Former champion
 click to enlarge
Former world champion boxer Diego Corrales was killed in a motorcycle accident Monday night in Las Vegas.

A Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department source confirmed Corrales was killed in the evening crash and was "traveling at a high rate of speed" before impact. The spokesman said at least one other vehicle was involved and that one person in an automobile at the scene had sustained minor injuries.

Another police spokesman, Blake Quackenbush, confirmed there was a fatal collision involving a motorcycle near the intersection of South Fort Apache Road and Hacienda Avenue in southwest Las Vegas.

Boxing trainer Joe Goossen and Jin Mosley, a close friend of the boxer, said the victim was Corrales, 29.

"It's confirmed, he's dead," said Mosley, the wife of Pomona boxer Shane Mosley. "Details are sketchy. We were told he was going over 100 mph. We're in absolute shock, this is tragic. He has a baby on the way."

Corrales' boxing promoter, Gary Shaw, said the fighter's manager told him he saw Corrales "under the sheets with his helmet on," with a "new racing bike" nearby. "We're being told he ran into the back of a car and was struck by another from behind," Shaw said.

Corrales (40-5, with 33 knockouts), a former International Boxing Federation super-featherweight and World Boxing Council lightweight champion, reached what Goossen called "the pinnacle" of his career in 2005, when he rallied from two 10th-round knockdowns to knock out Jose Luis Castillo.

"In my 35 years, that was the greatest fight I've ever seen," said Goossen, who was Corrales' trainer.

Castillo failed to make weight in two scheduled rematches, however, and a third meeting in June 2006 was scrapped, costing Corrales a $1.2-million payday, Goossen said.

The fighter's career began to spiral. He showed up overweight for an October 2006 lightweight title defense against Joel Casamayor, then lost by split decision. Last month, Corrales lost a unanimous decision to Joshua Clottey in a welterweight bout.

Shaw said Corrales' life "was in a tailspin" after that loss, and "we were trying to put his life back together." Corrales had also negotiated to join Oscar De La Hoya's Golden Boy Promotions, but the deal never materialized, boxing sources said.

"The guy was a true warrior; simply by the way he fought, he should be in the hall of fame," Shaw said. "Believe me, if he could've got off that cold pavement, he would."

Jin Mosley said Corrales was suffering marital and financial difficulties with his wife, Michelle, six months pregnant.

"Diego was not immune to the pitfalls of life, especially as a young man surrounded by the fame and fortune of this game," Goossen said. "His better times in boxing were behind him. I'm sure he felt he was in a bad spot. It's too bad Diego couldn't stay in the top place he once was. Now, we'll all say prayers for him."

Corrales discussed his motorcycle riding last summer in a Las Vegas Review-Journal story.

"I'm only young once and, unless someone hasn't told me something yet, I only get to live once," said Corrales. "If I couldn't do this stuff now, stuff I always wanted to do, I would never get a chance to do it."

Corrales is survived by his wife and five children, Jin Mosley said.
27792  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security on: May 08, 2007, 07:12:31 AM
Six Arrested in Fort Dix Murder Plot

Tuesday , May 08, 2007

Six people were arrested on Monday night in connection with a plot to murder as many soldiers as possible at Fort Dix, reports.

The six ethnic Albanians attempted to purchase automatic weapons from an arms dealer working with the FBI and were arrested in New Jersey after officials learned of the plot, a law enforcement source said.

The undercover investigation followed the men, three of whom are brothers, from New Jersey to the Poconos, where they allegedly practiced firing automatic weapons.

Officials raided the homes of the men, described as Islamic radicals, and said there is video showing some of the planning.

NEW YORK -- Six men from New Jersey have been arrested in an alleged terror plot against soldiers at Fort Dix, according investigators.

Investigators said the men planned to use automatic rifles to enter Fort Dix and kill as many soldiers as they could at the N.J. base. Fort Dix was just one of several military and security locations allegedly scouted by this group, authorities said.

Investigators told Newschannel 4's Jonathan Dienst that these arrests are the result of a tip to the FBI and use of an informant to track the suspects. Authorities were alerted in January 2006 after the terror suspects traveled to the Pocono’s for a training exercise where they practiced firing automatic weapons, investigators said.

Sources have told Newschannel 4's Brian Thompson that the suspects tried to have a their training video tape converted to DVD at a store in Cherry Hill, N.J., but the store owner alerted authorities.

Authorities then inserted a cooperating witness into the alleged terror cell to be a go between in their attempt to purchase M16 and AK-47 semi-automatic rifles. Arrests were made Monday night after the informant delivered dummy weapons paid for by the alleged terror cell suspects.

Investigators said the group discussed targeting numerous locations like Dover Air base, Fort Monmouth, a Coast Guard building in Philadelphia, and the Philadelphia Federal building before deciding on Fort Dix as their intended target. Fort Dix is run in part by the Army and is a reserve-training center, but active units take part in training, including some which focuses on counter-terrorism.

Sources tell Newschannel 4's Brian Thompson that the family of one of the suspects owns a pizzeria near Fort Dix and claimed to know the base "like the back of his hand." The same suspect told the alleged terror group it would be easy to penetrate to "get the most soldiers killed."

Investigators said the group of suspects have been discussing and planning for much of the last year. They allegedly pooled their savings to pay for the operation targeted at soldiers stationed here at home.

The six suspects arrested Monday night will face terror conspiracy charges. Three of the men are brothers, all believed to be Islamic radicals. Authorities have told Newschannel 4 that some of the men were born in Albania and the former Yugoslavia. Investigators said most of the suspects have spent several years here in the U.S.

Some of the group's alleged planning was caught on videotape, investigators said. On the videotape there is significant discussion of Martyrdom.

"Who is going to take care of my wife and kids," one suspect asks. Another responds, "Allah will take care of your wife and kids." The alleged terror cell is described by investigators as disciples of Osama Bin Laden. Among the evidence seized was the downloaded will and testament of two Sept. 11 hijackers.

Spokesmen for U.S. Attorney Chris Christie and the FBI in New Jersey and Philadelphia could not be reached for a comment.
The suspects will be arraigned this afternoon in front of a Federal Magistrate at 1 PM.
27793  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: May 07, 2007, 09:33:04 PM
I think he IS running and doing so in a manner to avoid the stupdities of McCain-Feingold Act (Shame on McCain and the US Supreme Court!  angry )  Also, he gets to be on TV lots and lots without triggering the obligation to air other candidates.

Newt is the only one I could support with considerable enthusiasm. 
27794  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Free Speech vs. Islamic Fascism (formerly Buy DANISH!!!) on: May 07, 2007, 09:25:05 PM
Not exactly within the subject of this thread, but worth noting. 

Dhimmitude wins again:
Little Green Footballs blog
Tuesday, March 06, 2007
France Bans Citizen Journalists from Reporting Violence

The French government, in inimitable French fashion, have decided that they can prevent more riots like the intifada that tore apart French suburbs in 2005 by cracking down on free speech: France bans citizen journalists from reporting violence. (Hat tip: LGF readers.)

The French Constitutional Council has approved a law that criminalizes the filming or broadcasting of acts of violence by people other than professional journalists. The law could lead to the imprisonment of eyewitnesses who film acts of police violence, or operators of Web sites publishing the images, one French civil liberties group warned on Tuesday.

The council chose an unfortunate anniversary to publish its decision approving the law, which came exactly 16 years after Los Angeles police officers beating Rodney King were filmed by amateur videographer George Holliday on the night of March 3, 1991. The officers’ acquittal at the end on April 29, 1992 sparked riots in Los Angeles.

If Holliday were to film a similar scene of violence in France today, he could end up in prison as a result of the new law, said Pascal Cohet, a spokesman for French online civil liberties group Odebi. And anyone publishing such images could face up to five years in prison and a fine of €75,000 (US $98,537), potentially a harsher sentence than that for committing the violent act.

Riot coverage ‘excessive’, says French TV boss. (Hat tip: Ralph.)

One of France’s leading TV news executives has admitted censoring his coverage of the riots in the country for fear of encouraging support for far-right politicians.
Jean-Claude Dassier, the director general of the rolling news service TCI, said the prominence given to the rioters on international news networks had been “excessive” and could even be fanning the flames of the violence.

Mr Dassier said his own channel, which is owned by the private broadcaster TF1, recently decided not to show footage of burning cars.

“Politics in France is heading to the right and I don’t want rightwing politicians back in second, or even first place because we showed burning cars on television,” Mr Dassier told an audience of broadcasters at the News Xchange conference in Amsterdam today.

“Having satellites trained on towns across France 24 hours a day showing the violence would have been wrong and totally disproportionate ... Journalism is not simply a matter of switching on the cameras and letting them roll. You have to think about what you’re broadcasting,” he said.

27795  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Newt Gingrich on: May 07, 2007, 07:18:29 PM
Newt Gingrich

A French Lesson for Republicans

BERLIN, Germany, May 7 -- Callista and I are in Europe this week for a conference on innovation in health care. More about our trip to Berlin in a minute, but first the big news in Europe this week isn't in Germany but in France.

I know this will seem strange to those of us who like to make jokes about the French, but the fact is that there is a great deal to be learned from the victory of Nicolas Sarkozy (a member of the ruling party) in last weekend's "change" election in France -- and Republicans had better learn it.

For those of you who haven't followed it closely, here is some background on the election.

The Background: An Unpopular Incumbent President and a Desire for Change

Incumbent French President Jacques Chirac had been twice elected, has served a total of 12 years in office, and is very unpopular. Coming into this election, people were very tired of the Chirac government and there was a sense that there had to be change.

But the opposition on the left, the Socialist Party, failed completely to capitalize on this desire for change. They nominated a candidate of great achievement, Ségolène Royal, but she proved herself to be the candidate of the status quo, not the candidate of change. She was actually committed to keeping all the bureaucracies that were failing and all the policies that were creating unemployment. She was committed to avoiding the changes necessary for a French future of prosperity, opportunity and safety.

Normally, with the incumbent conservative government so unpopular, the left would have been expected to win the election, probably by a significant margin. But the conservative candidate, Nicolas Sarkozy, won decisively because he is an aggressive, different kind of French political leader. He is a member of the Chirac government -- the Minister of the Interior. But not only is he a man who is willing to stand up and fight for what he believes in, but Sarkozy is also a man who hasn't followed the normal French path to success by going to an elite university, becoming part of the ruling elite and fitting in.

Sarkozy: A Different Kind of Frenchman

Instead, Sarkozy is just the opposite. He was born of Hungarian parents who had fled communism in Eastern Europe. That makes him the first president of France who is a first-generation immigrant. It also means his name doesn't sound very French. And his style certainly isn't very French. He is a tough, confrontational leader -- a man who has been preaching things that don't sound very much like the French establishment.

In the campaign, Sarkozy argued that the French have to work longer hours and, in order to give them an incentive to do so, that they shouldn't pay taxes if they work overtime. He called for tax cuts to encourage investment so the private sector can create jobs. And critically, Sarkozy has said that the people must obey the law, that the creation of law and respect for the law is a central part of any civilized society.

Remember, this is a jarring message for a country that routinely accepts the burning of up to 15,000 cars a year by hooligans who, according to the elites, are simply "expressing their desire to disrupt society." It's jarring for a country that was very proud a few years back to have the first mandatory 35-hour work week in history. Yet an increasing majority of the French believes that without the kind of changes Sarkozy is calling for, France's stature will disappear in a wave of lawlessness and economic decay.

A Royal Commitment to the Status Quo and a Candidate of Change

As for the opposition in the French election, much like the American Democratic Party, it is trapped by its commitment to big labor, big bureaucracy, high taxes and social values people don't believe in. Every time French voters seriously looked at Ségolène Royal and the kind of politics she represents, she lost ground. She simply couldn't make the case that left-wing Socialist policies would work.

The result was a surprising and powerful upset by Sarkozy -- a victory by a center-right reformer, a member of the unpopular ruling party, who came to personify change.

And here's where American Republicans really need to pay attention: In France, voting for change meant voting for the party in office, but not the personality in office. And voting to keep the old order meant voting for the opposition, not for the incumbent party.

If Republicans hope to win the presidency next year, they better find a candidate who is prepared to stand for very bold, very dramatic and very systematic change in Washington. Not only that, but they had better make the case that the left-wing Democrat likely to be nominated represents the failed status quo: the bureaucracies that are failing, the social policies that are failing, the high tax policies that are failing, and the weakness around the world that has failed so badly in protecting America.

Only if we have that kind of campaign do we have a reasonable chance to expect the American people will vote for effective change for a better, safer and more prosperous future -- and that they will see that effective change as being Republican.

A Franco-American Alliance for 'Green Conservatism'?

In the meantime, Sarkozy has pledged to repair relations between France and America, and we should take him seriously in his pledge. In particular, he has called on America to lead the world in addressing climate change.

This gives President Bush a unique opportunity to change the perception of his attitude toward both Europe and the environment. The President should take up Sarkozy's call for U.S. leadership on global warming by proposing a bold new initiative on market-based, entrepreneurial incentives to help in the environment. As I outline in an op-ed that appeared in Sunday's Atlanta Journal-Constitution, using new technology to dramatically increase energy independence and reduce reliance on carbon isn't giving in to the left -- it's resisting the big government solutions that the left routinely imposes under the guise of protecting the environment and instead finding a more effective way forward to protect and renew the natural world.

Solutions Watch

In the news here at home, I wanted to take a moment to congratulate former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani for his call in a speech [video, audio] at the Citadel last week for the creation of a special force to specifically handle post-combat operations in places like Iraq.

In 1999, I served on the United States Commission on National Security/21st Century (also known as the Hart-Rudman Commission) to examine our national security challenges as far out as 2025. One of the reforms we called for was the creation of a post-combat force.

In addition, I have long argued for the creation of a much larger military. Rudy Giuliani, John McCain, Mitt Romney, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are all on record calling for a bigger army. The White House should answer their calls now. We can't wait until 2009.

Environmental Polar Opposites

While we are here in Berlin, Callista and I plan to stop by the zoo to see my namesake, Knut the polar bear. He's getting bigger these days, but you probably remember him from a few months ago when he was a cub recently abandoned by his mother. Some animal rights activists had declared that he should be put to death rather than be raised by humans. I'm going to see Knut, not only because of my great love of zoos and the natural world, but because I think he is a symbol of a growing divide on man's relationship with the environment. The activists who wanted Knut killed represent the radical view that humans are only destroyers of the natural world and that human needs and wants shall always be a distant second to the environment.

My view is that we are stewards of the natural world. We have an obligation to preserve and protect it, not only for future generations of human beings, but for all living things.

So long for now from Berlin. I'll report again next week on the launch of my new novel, Pearl Harbor, and the national security lessons it contains for America today.

27796  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Yoga on: May 07, 2007, 08:43:21 AM
This article from today's NYTimes leads me to open this thread.

A Big Stretch
Published: May 7, 2007

I GREW up watching my father stand on his head every morning. He was doing sirsasana, a yoga pose that accounts for his youthful looks well into his 60s. Now he might have to pay a royalty to an American patent holder if he teaches the secrets of his good health to others. The United States Patent and Trademark Office has issued 150 yoga-related copyrights, 134 patents on yoga accessories and 2,315 yoga trademarks. There’s big money in those pretzel twists and contortions — $3 billion a year in America alone.

It’s a mystery to most Indians that anybody can make that much money from the teaching of a knowledge that is not supposed to be bought or sold like sausages. Should an Indian, in retaliation, patent the Heimlich maneuver, so that he can collect every time a waiter saves a customer from choking on a fishbone?

The Indian government is not laughing. It has set up a task force that is cataloging traditional knowledge, including ayurvedic remedies and hundreds of yoga poses, to protect them from being pirated and copyrighted by foreign hucksters. The data will be translated from ancient Sanskrit and Tamil texts, stored digitally and available in five international languages, so that patent offices in other countries can see that yoga didn’t originate in a San Francisco commune.

It is worth noting that the people in the forefront of the patenting of traditional Indian wisdom are Indians, mostly overseas. We know a business opportunity when we see one and have exported generations of gurus skilled in peddling enlightenment for a buck. The two scientists in Mississippi who patented the medicinal use of turmeric, a traditional Indian spice, are Indians. So is the strapping Bikram Choudhury, founder of Bikram Yoga, who has copyrighted his method of teaching yoga — a sequence of 26 poses in an overheated room — and whose lawyers sent out threatening notices to small yoga studios that he claimed violated his copyright.

But as an Indian, he ought to know that the very idea of patenting knowledge is a gross violation of the tradition of yoga. In Sanskrit, “yoga” means “union.” Indians believe in a universal mind — brahman — of which we are all a part, and which ponders eternally. Everyone has access to this knowledge. There is a line in the Hindu scriptures: “Let good knowledge come to us from all sides.” There is no follow-up that adds, “And let us pay royalties for it.”

Knowledge in ancient India was protected by caste lines, not legal or economic ones. The term “intellectual property” was an oxymoron: the intellect could not be anybody’s property. You did not pay your guru in coin; you herded his cows and married his daughter, and passed on the knowledge to others when you were sufficiently steeped in it. This tradition continues today, most notably in Indian classical music, none of whose melodies have been copyrighted.

Perhaps it is for this reason that Indians do not feel obligated to pay for knowledge. Pirated copies of my book are openly sold on the Bombay streets, for a fourth of its official price. Many of the plots and the music in Bollywood movies are lifted wholesale from Hollywood. I have sat in on Bollywood script meetings where we viewed American films and decided that replication was the sincerest form of flattery.

Still, Indians get upset every time they hear reports — often overblown — of Westerners’ stealing their age-old wisdom, through the mechanism of copyright law. They were outraged by a story last year of some Americans trying to copyright the sacred Hindu syllable “om” — which would be like trade-marking “amen.”

The fears may be exaggerated, but they are widespread and reflect India’s mixed experience with globalization. Western pharmaceutical companies make billions on drugs that are often first discovered in developing countries — but herbal remedies like bitter gourd or turmeric, which are known to be effective against everything from diabetes to piles, earn nothing for the country whose sages first isolated their virtues. The Indian government estimates that worldwide, 2000 patents are issued a year based on traditional Indian medicines.
27797  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: May 07, 2007, 08:36:49 AM

How to Sink a Newspaper
Free news for online customers is a disastrous business plan.
Monday, May 7, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

One has to wonder how many of the newspaper industry's current problems are self-inflicted. Take free news. News has become ubiquitous, free, and as a result, a commodity. Anytime you are trying to sell something that becomes a commodity, you have lost much of the value in providing that product or service.

Not many years ago if someone wanted to find out what was in the newspaper they had to buy one. But not anymore. Now you can just go to the newspaper's Web site and get that same information for free.

The newspaper industry wonders why it is losing young readers. Those readers might be young, but many of them are smart, not to mention computer-savvy. Why would they buy a newspaper when they can get the same information online for free?

Newspapers initially created their Web sites with the best of intentions. After all, newspapers are in the information business. And rather than fight the new medium, the Internet, why not embrace it? Wanting to be the leading information providers and thereby have the most popular Web site in the community, they posted all of their news online for free.

Exacerbating the problem with free news was the decision by the newspaper industry, which owns the Associated Press, to sell AP copy to news aggregators like Yahoo, Google and MSN. These aggregators created lucrative news portals where the world could get much of the news that was in newspapers. So readers could now get free news not only on newspaper Web sites, but also from portals and aggregators that had a chance to monetize the content, most of which was created and financed by the newspaper industry.

With local radio and television stations also creating Web sites and posting their news for free, newspapers soon realized that much of the news on the broadcast Web sites had been created by the local newspaper. So, whereas before the newspapers were selling print ads while radio and TV were selling air time, now they were all selling the same medium: their Web sites. Since newspapers share their content with the Associated Press so other members can use it, radio and TV members are using much of that content to compete against the newspapers that created it.

Newspapers have for years been frustrated by radio stations which merely read the stories which are printed in that morning's edition. TV stations often get much of their news from the newspapers, too. But reading it on the air is clearly different from posting it online, placing them in direct competition with newspapers' Web sites.
All of this would be fine if newspapers generated lots of additional revenues from offering free news. But the fact is newspapers generate most of their online revenues from classified advertising, not from news. Gordon Borrell, CEO of Borrell Associates, estimated that newspaper Web sites generated 78% of their revenues from classifieds in 2006.

It turns out that a Web site is a very different medium from a newspaper. While consumers often find pop-up ads a distraction and banner ads as more clutter, readers often seek out the advertising in newspapers.

The Inland Cost and Revenue Study shows that newspapers will generate between $500 and $900 in revenue per subscriber per year. But a newspaper's Web site typically generates $5 to $10 per unique visitor per year. It may be that newspaper Web sites as an advertising medium, and free news, just can't generate the revenue to sustain a valued news operation.

In fact, online revenues for the publicly traded newspaper companies in 2005 varied from 1.7% at Journal Register Co. to 5.7% at Belo Corp. The only company higher was the Washington Post Co. at 8.4%. Yet newspapers typically spend 12% or more of their revenues on their news and editorial operations.

The Wall Street Journal Online now has 931,000 paying subscribers, more than the paying subscribers to all but three U.S. newspapers: USA Today, The Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. Our newspaper, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in Little Rock, does not offer our news for free on the Web site. We offer free headlines. On a few selected stories, we offer a few free paragraphs, designed to get people to read our paper. We also offer free classifieds.

Recently I had the opportunity to compare our Web site policy with the free news policies of other papers. For the six months ending March 31, 2007, the newspaper industry's circulation was down 2.1% daily and 3.1% Sunday. By contrast, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's circulation was up 1.24% daily and up less than 1% Sunday.

I was able to make another interesting comparison, too, with the Columbus, Ohio, Dispatch. Columbus and Little Rock are both state capitals. Columbus is a larger market, and the Columbus Dispatch's circulation of 217,291 compares with 176,172 for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Up until Jan. 1, 2006, both our paper and the Columbus Dispatch offered news content only by subscription. We even charged the same price, $4.95, for an online monthly subscription, and both of us offered the same style electronic editions.

But Columbus dropped its subscription model on Jan. 1, 2006, and began offering most of its news for free. Its Web traffic and revenues certainly increased. But what happened to its paid circulation?

The six months ending Sept. 30, 2006 was a good comparison, since it compared six months in 2006 when the Columbus Dispatch had free news on its Web site compared with six months in 2005 when it did not offer free news. The Columbus Dispatch's daily circulation was down 5.8% while Sunday was down 1.1% for the six-month period. This compared with our loss of less than 0.4% daily and 1% Sunday.

When I looked at this comparison with Columbus, as well as the newspaper industry's larger losses, it didn't encourage me to change our Web policy to free news.

So what are we doing with our Web site? We have hired a videographer to complement our text coverage in the newspaper. We have added photo galleries to increase the number of photographs beyond what we can publish. We offer an electronic edition where you can search the entire edition by keywords, something you can't do in the print edition. And we offer breaking news email alerts, something else you can't do in print. In other words, we are offering value on our Web site that complements, rather than cannibalizes, our print edition.
Collectively, the American newspaper industry spends $7 billion on news and editorial operations. This includes everything from copy editor salaries to sports travel expenses. In addition, the Associated Press spent about $600 million world-wide in editing and creating news. By offering this news for free, and selling it to aggregators like Google, Yahoo and MSN for a small fraction of what it costs to create it, newspaper readership and circulation have declined.

These declines are accelerating. In 2004 and prior years, industry circulation declines were usually less than 1%. Since March 2005, these declines have been 2%-3% per year. With declining readership comes declining ad revenues, which are followed by layoffs.

The newsroom layoffs are most troubling, as less news with less quality, context and details results in more declines in readership and later, declines in advertising. If the $7 billion spent covering news becomes $6 billion, and later $5 billion, it is not just the newspaper industry that gets hurt. Journalism will be diminished in America with less investigative and enterprise reporting; indeed, less reporting of state houses, city halls, school boards, business and sports. Clearly a lot is at stake.

It is time for newspapers to reconsider the ultimate costs and consequences of free news.

Mr. Hussman is publisher of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

27798  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: May 07, 2007, 08:29:14 AM
May 6, 2007 -- EACH time I visit Israel, I come home more pro-Israeli - and more worried about Israel's future.

The nation has been a stunning success, as close to a miracle as humanity achieved over the last, horrid century. But Israel is also a victim of that success. Built - like the United States - by the "old country's" rejects and outsiders, Israel's triumph is a slap in Europe's face. Europe was comfortable with its image of the Jew as a narrow-shouldered rabbinical student the local toughs could bully. But Europeans don't like Jews with muscles.  As for Israel's neighbors, they had 13 centuries to make a go of "Palestine." Instead, they turned the Land of Milk and Honey into a desert.

The ecological reclamation of the land of Israel is nearly as dramatic as the creation of a Jewish state. (Indeed, environmentalists of real integrity should count among Israel's strongest advocates.) That return to the garden is as humiliating to feckless Arab cultures as their military defeats.

And we won't even talk about Israel's introduction of rule-of-law democracy into the wretchedly governed Middle East.

The point is that, whatever Israel does or doesn't do, it will always have plenty of enemies. No matter how self-destructive and murderous Palestinian behavior may be in Gaza, how nakedly corrupt Palestinian leaders are, or how hypocritical Arab governments remain, the global left will always make excuses for them, while blaming Israel for every boil on a terrorist's backside.

SO why should Israel surren der any land to its enemies, if it gets in return nothing but empty promises and more security problems?

The reason has nothing to do with justice or sense, but with one of those oddities of the international system, "world opinion." I wish Israel could keep every inch of ground it now holds. But the reality is that global leaders who don't know Gaza from Giza will demand that Israel give up turf.

Some of those pressures can be shrugged off. But not all.

In this unjust world, Israel will be forced to make very difficult choices. Some of the toughest will have to do with the land it must surrender to thugs who'll turn it into yet another patch of self-made Arab misery. And there's a very real danger that, for internal political reasons, a future Israeli government will make faulty decisions.

ISRAEL must be severely prag matic, distinguishing between strategic terrain and evocative terrain - between those stretches of land critical to security and those whose appeal is purely emotional.

Sounds sensible and easy, but it isn't.

Israel's internal enemies are the rogue, extremist settlers who invoke a real-estate-magnate god to occupy West Bank territory that the state doesn't need and can't digest - and whose seizure plays into the hands of Israel's foes and complicates the support of her all-too-few friends.

Yet the fateful evolution of the Israeli parliamentary system has made those who return the least benefit to Israel - who drain its resources and give nothing back - into political kingmakers.

Jews who insist that their god cares more about a plot of bedeviled dirt than the reverence in their hearts are behaving like Arab militants (complete with the intolerance). No religious text is a valid deed.

Don't get me wrong: Jerusalem belongs to Israel. Christians have a stronger claim to Alexandria, Antioch and Istanbul than Muslims do to Jerusalem.

But when it comes to strategic terrain, forget about Hebron - the West Bank town that's home to less than 1,000 Israeli settlers, and well over 100,000 Palestinians. It's just one of the many settlements that hurt Israel's security instead of helping it.

SO what land truly matters to Israel's survival (assuming, for a moment, that Iran won't be permitted to build a nuclear arsenal)?

Israel can never surrender the Golan Heights. We might as well be honest about it. Syria repeatedly - three times - attacked Upper Galilee from the Golan. Three strikes and you're out.

Syria's a phony state, anyway, its borders drawn to please France. Israel has administered the Golan longer - and far better - than post-independence Damascus did.

Borders change. Get over it.

Elsewhere, though, traditional strategists have it wrong. They claim that whoever holds the mountainous "spine" running down through the West Bank controls the land that now comprises Israel. But Israel's survival and victorious wars disprove that "law."

What matters is control of the lines of communication - the roads - that enable Israel to shift military forces rapidly, and the control of foreign borders across which weapons can be infiltrated.

Thus, control of the Jordan Valley and its vital north-south highway is essential. The string of hilltop settlements east of Jerusalem that dominate the direct route to Jordan can never be given up.

And the recently floated scheme to swap Arab towns in northern Israel for part of the West Bank is madness - it would cost Israel control of a militarily vital highway from the coast into Galilee.

IN short, there are vital loca tions within the West Bank. They're just not the ones obsessing the fanatics who shame their faith.

If Israel doesn't do a cold- blooded analysis of what it truly needs to retain, the world will ask too much, its government will make decisions based upon political pressure rather than military necessity - and the result will be a far-worse mess than the withdrawal from the Gaza Strip created.

Israel must do what its survival requires. As the interim Winograd Report made clear on Monday, last summer's duel with Hezbollah was disastrous. Now Israel's enemies smell blood. Instead of the longed-for era of peace, we'll see no end of violence in the Middle East.

THERE'S no good solution to the region's problems. There may not even be any bad solutions that work. The failed civilization surrounding Israel may be hopeless - a possibility we pretend away because we cannot bear the implications.

But Israel can't pretend anything away. In a world in which so many openly seek its destruction - while others secretly long for the same thing - Israel is going to have to play flawless political chess. That means giving up the spaces on the board that don't help it checkmate its enemies.

Ralph Peters' most recent book is "Never Quit The Fight."
27799  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Boxing Thread on: May 06, 2007, 10:48:14 AM
Well, we passed on spending $55 for boxing  rolleyes

BTW, my seven year old and I were watching the promo clips yesterday and he said he thought Mayweather was going to win.  I asked why.  "Because he seems to do more hard training and the other guy seems to mostly be talking."  grin
27800  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Assessing Blame for Iraq front of WW3: on: May 05, 2007, 12:46:42 PM

Failures of Generalship in Iraq

America's generals have repeated the mistakes of Vietnam in Iraq. First, throughout the 1990s our generals failed to envision the conditions of future combat and prepare their forces accordingly. Second, America's generals failed to estimate correctly both the means and the ways necessary to achieve the aims of policy prior to beginning the war in Iraq. Finally, America's generals did not provide Congress and the public with an accurate assessment of the conflict in Iraq.

Despite paying lip service to "transformation" throughout the 1990s, America's armed forces failed to change in significant ways after the end of the 1991 Persian Gulf War. In "The Sling and the Stone," T.X. Hammes argues that the Defense Department's transformation strategy focuses almost exclusively on high-technology conventional wars. The doctrine, organizations, equipment and training of the U.S. military confirm this observation. The armed forces fought the global war on terrorism for the first five years with a counterinsurgency doctrine last revised in the Reagan administration. Despite engaging in numerous stability operations throughout the 1990s, the armed forces did little to bolster their capabilities for civic reconstruction and security force development. Procurement priorities during the 1990s followed the Cold War model, with significant funding devoted to new fighter aircraft and artillery systems. The most commonly used tactical scenarios in both schools and training centers replicated high-intensity interstate conflict. At the dawn of the 21st century, the U.S. is fighting brutal, adaptive insurgencies in Afghanistan and Iraq, while our armed forces have spent the preceding decade having done little to prepare for such conflicts.

Having spent a decade preparing to fight the wrong war, America's generals then miscalculated both the means and ways necessary to succeed in Iraq. The most fundamental military miscalculation in Iraq has been the failure to commit sufficient forces to provide security to Iraq's population. U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) estimated in its 1998 war plan that 380,000 troops would be necessary for an invasion of Iraq. Using operations in Bosnia and Kosovo as a model for predicting troop requirements, one Army study estimated a need for 470,000 troops. Alone among America's generals, Army Chief of Staff General Eric Shinseki publicly stated that "several hundred thousand soldiers" would be necessary to stabilize post-Saddam Iraq. Prior to the war, President Bush promised to give field commanders everything necessary for victory. Privately, many senior general officers both active and retired expressed serious misgivings about the insufficiency of forces for Iraq. These leaders would later express their concerns in tell-all books such as "Fiasco" and "Cobra II." However, when the U.S. went to war in Iraq with less than half the strength required to win, these leaders did not make their objections public.

Given the lack of troop strength, not even the most brilliant general could have devised the ways necessary to stabilize post-Saddam Iraq. However, inept planning for postwar Iraq took the crisis caused by a lack of troops and quickly transformed it into a debacle. In 1997, the U.S. Central Command exercise "Desert Crossing" demonstrated that many postwar stabilization tasks would fall to the military. The other branches of the U.S. government lacked sufficient capability to do such work on the scale required in Iraq. Despite these results, CENTCOM accepted the assumption that the State Department would administer postwar Iraq. The military never explained to the president the magnitude of the challenges inherent in stabilizing postwar Iraq.

After failing to visualize the conditions of combat in Iraq, America's generals failed to adapt to the demands of counterinsurgency. Counterinsurgency theory prescribes providing continuous security to the population. However, for most of the war American forces in Iraq have been concentrated on large forward-operating bases, isolated from the Iraqi people and focused on capturing or killing insurgents. Counterinsurgency theory requires strengthening the capability of host-nation institutions to provide security and other essential services to the population. America's generals treated efforts to create transition teams to develop local security forces and provincial reconstruction teams to improve essential services as afterthoughts, never providing the quantity or quality of personnel necessary for success.

After going into Iraq with too few troops and no coherent plan for postwar stabilization, America's general officer corps did not accurately portray the intensity of the insurgency to the American public. The Iraq Study Group concluded that "there is significant underreporting of the violence in Iraq." The ISG noted that "on one day in July 2006 there were 93 attacks or significant acts of violence reported. Yet a careful review of the reports for that single day brought to light 1,100 acts of violence. Good policy is difficult to make when information is systematically collected in a way that minimizes its discrepancy with policy goals." Population security is the most important measure of effectiveness in counterinsurgency. For more than three years, America's generals continued to insist that the U.S. was making progress in Iraq. However, for Iraqi civilians, each year from 2003 onward was more deadly than the one preceding it. For reasons that are not yet clear, America's general officer corps underestimated the strength of the enemy, overestimated the capabilities of Iraq's government and security forces and failed to provide Congress with an accurate assessment of security conditions in Iraq. Moreover, America's generals have not explained clearly the larger strategic risks of committing so large a portion of the nation's deployable land power to a single theater of operations.

The intellectual and moral failures common to America's general officer corps in Vietnam and Iraq constitute a crisis in American generalship. Any explanation that fixes culpability on individuals is insufficient. No one leader, civilian or military, caused failure in Vietnam or Iraq. Different military and civilian leaders in the two conflicts produced similar results. In both conflicts, the general officer corps designed to advise policymakers, prepare forces and conduct operations failed to perform its intended functions. To understand how the U.S. could face defeat at the hands of a weaker insurgent enemy for the second time in a generation, we must look at the structural influences that produce our general officer corps.

The Generals We Need

The most insightful examination of failed generalship comes from J.F.C. Fuller's "Generalship: Its Diseases and Their Cure." Fuller was a British major general who saw action in the first attempts at armored warfare in World War I. He found three common characteristics in great generals — courage, creative intelligence and physical fitness.

The need for intelligent, creative and courageous general officers is self-evident. An understanding of the larger aspects of war is essential to great generalship. However, a survey of Army three- and four-star generals shows that only 25 percent hold advanced degrees from civilian institutions in the social sciences or humanities. Counterinsurgency theory holds that proficiency in foreign languages is essential to success, yet only one in four of the Army's senior generals speaks another language. While the physical courage of America's generals is not in doubt, there is less certainty regarding their moral courage. In almost surreal language, professional military men blame their recent lack of candor on the intimidating management style of their civilian masters. Now that the public is immediately concerned with the crisis in Iraq, some of our generals are finding their voices. They may have waited too long.

Neither the executive branch nor the services themselves are likely to remedy the shortcomings in America's general officer corps. Indeed, the tendency of the executive branch to seek out mild-mannered team players to serve as senior generals is part of the problem. The services themselves are equally to blame. The system that produces our generals does little to reward creativity and moral courage. Officers rise to flag rank by following remarkably similar career patterns. Senior generals, both active and retired, are the most important figures in determining an officer's potential for flag rank. The views of subordinates and peers play no role in an officer's advancement; to move up he must only please his superiors. In a system in which senior officers select for promotion those like themselves, there are powerful incentives for conformity. It is unreasonable to expect that an officer who spends 25 years conforming to institutional expectations will emerge as an innovator in his late forties.

If America desires creative intelligence and moral courage in its general officer corps, it must create a system that rewards these qualities. Congress can create such incentives by exercising its proper oversight function in three areas. First, Congress must change the system for selecting general officers. Second, oversight committees must apply increased scrutiny over generating the necessary means and pursuing appropriate ways for applying America's military power. Third, the Senate must hold accountable through its confirmation powers those officers who fail to achieve the aims of policy at an acceptable cost in blood and treasure.

To improve the creative intelligence of our generals, Congress must change the officer promotion system in ways that reward adaptation and intellectual achievement. Congress should require the armed services to implement 360-degree evaluations for field-grade and flag officers. Junior officers and noncommissioned officers are often the first to adapt because they bear the brunt of failed tactics most directly. They are also less wed to organizational norms and less influenced by organizational taboos. Junior leaders have valuable insights regarding the effectiveness of their leaders, but the current promotion system excludes these judgments. Incorporating subordinate and peer reviews into promotion decisions for senior leaders would produce officers more willing to adapt to changing circumstances, and less likely to conform to outmoded practices.

Congress should also modify the officer promotion system in ways that reward intellectual achievement. The Senate should examine the education and professional writing of nominees for three- and four-star billets as part of the confirmation process. The Senate would never confirm to the Supreme Court a nominee who had neither been to law school nor written legal opinions. However, it routinely confirms four-star generals who possess neither graduate education in the social sciences or humanities nor the capability to speak a foreign language. Senior general officers must have a vision of what future conflicts will look like and what capabilities the U.S. requires to prevail in those conflicts. They must possess the capability to understand and interact with foreign cultures. A solid record of intellectual achievement and fluency in foreign languages are effective indicators of an officer's potential for senior leadership.

To reward moral courage in our general officers, Congress must ask hard questions about the means and ways for war as part of its oversight responsibility. Some of the answers will be shocking, which is perhaps why Congress has not asked and the generals have not told. Congress must ask for a candid assessment of the money and manpower required over the next generation to prevail in the Long War. The money required to prevail may place fiscal constraints on popular domestic priorities. The quantity and quality of manpower required may call into question the viability of the all-volunteer military. Congress must re-examine the allocation of existing resources, and demand that procurement priorities reflect the most likely threats we will face. Congress must be equally rigorous in ensuring that the ways of war contribute to conflict termination consistent with the aims of national policy. If our operations produce more enemies than they defeat, no amount of force is sufficient to prevail. Current oversight efforts have proved inadequate, allowing the executive branch, the services and lobbyists to present information that is sometimes incomplete, inaccurate or self-serving. Exercising adequate oversight will require members of Congress to develop the expertise necessary to ask the right questions and display the courage to follow the truth wherever it leads them.

Finally, Congress must enhance accountability by exercising its little-used authority to confirm the retired rank of general officers. By law, Congress must confirm an officer who retires at three- or four-star rank. In the past this requirement has been pro forma in all but a few cases. A general who presides over a massive human rights scandal or a substantial deterioration in security ought to be retired at a lower rank than one who serves with distinction. A general who fails to provide Congress with an accurate and candid assessment of strategic probabilities ought to suffer the same penalty. As matters stand now, a private who loses a rifle suffers far greater consequences than a general who loses a war. By exercising its powers to confirm the retired ranks of general officers, Congress can restore accountability among senior military leaders.

Mortal Danger

This article began with Frederick the Great's admonition to his officers to focus their energies on the larger aspects of war. The Prussian monarch's innovations had made his army the terror of Europe, but he knew that his adversaries were learning and adapting. Frederick feared that his generals would master his system of war without thinking deeply about the ever-changing nature of war, and in doing so would place Prussia's security at risk. These fears would prove prophetic. At the Battle of Valmy in 1792, Frederick's successors were checked by France's ragtag citizen army. In the fourteen years that followed, Prussia's generals assumed without much reflection that the wars of the future would look much like those of the past. In 1806, the Prussian Army marched lockstep into defeat and disaster at the hands of Napoleon at Jena. Frederick's prophecy had come to pass; Prussia became a French vassal.

Iraq is America's Valmy. America's generals have been checked by a form of war that they did not prepare for and do not understand. They spent the years following the 1991 Gulf War mastering a system of war without thinking deeply about the ever changing nature of war. They marched into Iraq having assumed without much reflection that the wars of the future would look much like the wars of the past. Those few who saw clearly our vulnerability to insurgent tactics said and did little to prepare for these dangers. As at Valmy, this one debacle, however humiliating, will not in itself signal national disaster. The hour is late, but not too late to prepare for the challenges of the Long War. We still have time to select as our generals those who possess the intelligence to visualize future conflicts and the moral courage to advise civilian policymakers on the preparations needed for our security. The power and the responsibility to identify such generals lie with the U.S. Congress. If Congress does not act, our Jena awaits us.

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