Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants
on: September 02, 2006, 11:37:58 AM
September 1, 2006
The Waiting Game
Do we really need further convincing of the threat we face?
by Victor Davis Hanson
National Review Online
Hezbollah?s black-clad legions goose-step and stiff-arm salute in parade, apparently eager to convey both the zeal and militarism of their religious fascism. Meanwhile, consider Hezbollah?s ?spiritual? head, Hassan Nasrallah ? the current celebrity of an unhinged Western media that tried to reinvent the man?s own self-confessed defeat as a victory. Long before he hid in the Iranian embassy Nasrallah was on record boasting: ?The Jews love life, so that is what we shall take away from them. We are going to win because they love life and we love death.?
Iran?s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad trumps that Hitlerian nihilism by reassuring the poor, maltreated Germans that there was no real Holocaust. Perhaps he is concerned that greater credit might still go to Hitler for Round One than to the mullahs for their hoped-for Round Two, in which the promise is to ?wipe? Israel off the map.
The only surprise about the edition of Hitler?s Mein Kampf that has become a best seller in Middle Eastern bookstores is its emboldened title translated as ?Jihadi? ? as in ?My Jihad? ? confirming in ironic fashion the ?moderate? Islamic claim that ?jihad? just means ?struggle,? as in an ?inner struggle? ? as in a Kampf perhaps.
Meanwhile, we in the West who worry about all this are told to fret instead about being ?Islamophobes.? Indeed, a debate rages over the very use of ?Islamic fascism? to describe the creed of terrorist killers ? as if those authoritarians who call for a return of the ancient caliphate, who wish to impose of 7th-century sharia law, promise death to the Western ?crusader? and ?Jew,? and long to retreat into a mythical alternate universe of religious purity and harsh discipline, untainted by a ?decadent? liberal West, are not fascists. It is almost as if Alfred Rosenberg has returned in a kaffiyeh to explain why Jews really are apes and pigs, and why we must recapture the spirit of our primitive ancestors.
Next, in the manner that Hitler was to be understood as victimized by the Versailles Treaty, so too we hear the litany of perceived grievances against the Islamic fascists ? George Bush, the West Bank, Gaza, or now Lebanon. But does anyone remember that bin Laden quip, four years before 9/11, when Mr. Bush was still governor of Texas: ?Mentioning the name of Clinton or the American government provokes disgust and revulsion.?
Even as we split hairs over whether terrorists flocked to, or were created by, Iraq, the jihadists make no such distinctions between their theaters of operation. Listen to al Qaeda?s Aymin al-Zawahiri: ?The Jihad movement is growing and rising. It reached its peak with the two blessed raids on New York and Washington. And now it is waging a great heroic battle in Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, and even within the Crusaders? own homes.?
?Even within the Crusaders? own homes? would include, I think, the planned attacks against opponents of the Iraq war, such as Canada and Germany. Their often shrill, and sometimes blatantly anti-American, antagonism to the 2003 war still earned them no exemption from efforts to chop off the head of the Canadian prime minister or to blow up hundreds of Germans on passenger trains.
Here at home we witness ?al-Qaedism? ? fanatics shooting Jews in Seattle, murder at the Los Angeles airport, an SUV running over innocent pedestrians in San Francisco or driving over students in North Carolina, sniping in Maryland. And we shrug them all off. Surely such incidents can be explained, are not connected, occur at random ? anything other than the truth that the constant harangues of the Islamic fascists really do filter down, even if randomly and spontaneously, to a number of angry and alienated young Muslim males in the West.
Some cling to the notion that Islamic rage is not the manifestation of an elemental hatred, but is merely about land. That?s about what bin Laden said in 1998 when he urged all Muslims to murder all the Americans: ?to kill the Americans and their allies ? civilians and military ? is an obligation incumbent upon every Muslim who can do it and in any country ? this until the Asqa Mosque (Jerusalem) and the Holy Mosque (Mecca) are liberated from their grip.?
But the long overdue withdrawal of soldiers from Saudi Arabia (who were out in a godforsaken desert and nowhere near the ?Holy Mosque?) had no more effect on al Qaeda than did the Israeli departure from Gaza and Lebanon on Hamas and Hezbollah. As in the case of Hitler?s serial demands for return of the ?stolen? German Sudetenland and then Czechoslovakia, land was never the real issue. Perceived loss of pride and status, hatred of the Jews, and unbridled contempt for a liberal West were.
The truth is that we are in a pause, a lull in a great storm that broke upon us five years ago on September 11. We are waiting to see when and where and how ? not really if ? the Iranians test their envisioned bomb. ?Another 9/11? is now part of the lexicon, suggesting that most Americans accept that an amorphous enemy that tries to knock down the Sears Tower, to blow up the Holland tunnel, to explode airliners over the Atlantic, and to slaughter commuters from London to Madrid to the Rhine may finally get lucky once ? and that once could be a death warrant for thousands of Westerners.
After 9/11 we were at war with a fascist creed that had trumped any damage to the homeland wrought by all earlier enemies, whether Germans, Italians, Japanese, or Russians. But now, five years later, we are in a holding pattern, waiting in a classic bellum interruptum ? whether in exhaustion from this long war in Afghanistan and Iraq, or complacent due to our very success hitherto in preventing jihadists from enacting mass murder in the United States.
So we are in limbo ? a sort of war, a sort of peace. Lulls of this nature are not such rare things in history. The Athenians and the Spartans between 421-415, or the Western Europeans between October 1939 and May 1940, likewise thought the squall had passed ? the respite a sign that the enemy was satiated, or was occupied elsewhere, or had had a change of heart, or that times of transient calm might mean permanent peace
We all wish it were so, but in private also fear that the worst ? whether from al Qaeda, Iran, or their epigones ? is to come.
Our pundits and experts scoff at all this concern over Islamic fascism ? as crude propaganda, neo-conservative war mongering, a veiled agenda to do Israel?s bidding, conspiracies to finish turning America from a republic into an empire, or just old-fashioned paranoia.
Their argument for thinking the danger is slight is that either we have already won, or we don?t really have a credible enemy to defeat other than a few thugs better left to the FBI and federal attorneys: the jihadists may sound like Nazis; but they lack a nation-state and thus the means to harm the West to any great degree. Intent is irrelevant, if the means are absent. Sure, there is a Mein Kampf, but no Wehrmacht in the Middle East.
There are three rejoinders to this notion that the Islamic fascists are hardly serious enemies, and cannot be compared to the old-time fascists who once started a war that led to 50 million deaths.
First, Islamic fascism is already the creed of the government of an oil-rich and soon to be nuclear Iran. Secular authoritarians like Pakistan?s Pervez Musharraf could easily fall, and the nation?s nuclear arsenal with him, into the hands of the madrassa Islamists. It is not inconceivable to envision several nuclear bombs among one or more theocratic governments in the years to come.
Second, in an age of weapons of mass destruction, global terrorism, and culpable deniability, authoritarian Middle Eastern regimes can, without being traced, subsidize and sanction killers, who in turn, with the right weapons, can kill and maim tens of thousands.
Third, in an interconnected and often fragile world, the mere attempt to blow up trains, jets, and iconic buildings results anyway in millions of dollars in damage to the West: ever more expensive airline security, cancelled flights, and money-losing delays and interruptions in a general climate of fear.
Each time Mr. Ahmadinejad opens his mouth, or Mr. Nasrallah shoots off a primitive rocket, the global stock market can dip, and the price of petroleum spikes. A good dissertation is needed to ascertain how many billions of dollars Ahmadinejad has conned for his theocracy by means of his creepy rhetoric alone, through price hikes on the daily export of his oil. Since this war has progressed, oil has gone up from $25 a barrel to over $70, now adding an additional $500 billion per annum to the coffers of Middle East dictatorships.
Given Iraq, Afghanistan, and the acrimony at home ? so similar to the debate right before Pearl Harbor over the earlier discounted fascist threat to the United States ? we apparently are waiting for the enemy to strike again, before renewing the offensive.
So while we keep our defenses up at home, foster democracy in the heart of the Middle East in Afghanistan and Iraq, and hope the globalized march of modernity undermines jihadism faster than it can disrupt the 21st century, we also wait ? for the next blow that we know will come.
?2006 Victor Davis Hanson
DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Mexico
on: September 02, 2006, 10:15:59 AM
Del NY Times de hoy:
Protest Keeps Fox From Giving State of the Union Speech
Marcos Delgado/European Pressphoto Agency
Lawmakers from the Democratic Revolution Party took over the podium in the chamber of deputies before President Vicente Fox was to speak.
E-MailPrint Reprints Save
By JAMES C. McKINLEY Jr.
Published: September 2, 2006
MEXICO CITY, Sept. 1 ? Leftist lawmakers who have charged that fraud marred the presidential election in July staged a protest inside Congress that prevented President Vicente Fox from making his final state of the union speech to lawmakers on Friday, ending a tense day of political brinksmanship here.
Federal riot police officers and soldiers with water cannons had sealed off the Mexican Congress with miles of steel fence to protect Mr. Fox from thousands of leftist protesters camped out in the city?s center.
The president had vowed he would give his last state of the union message, despite threats from the leftist candidate, Andr?s Manuel L?pez Obrador, and his followers to stop him.
At the last minute, however, Mr. L?pez Obrador backed down. In front of at least 5,000 supporters in the capital?s central square, Mr. L?pez Obrador, the former mayor of this sprawling city, told his followers it would be a mistake to confront the barricades and the police surrounding Congress. He said the ?fascist? government of Mr. Fox would seize on any clashes between the police and the protesters to justify the brutal repression of his movement.
?We are not going to fall into any trap, we are not going to fall into any provocation,? he told the crowd, which had waited through a rainstorm to hear him speak. ?Only those who are not in the right resort to force and violence, and we are in the right.?
Still, lawmakers from Mr. L?pez Obrador?s Democratic Revolution Party protested inside the Chamber of Deputies, taking over the podium just before President Fox was to speak at 7 p.m. Several waved Mexican flags and signs calling Mr. Fox ?a traitor to democracy.? The president of the chamber, Deputy Jorge Zermi?o, was forced to call a recess.
Mr. Fox arrived 15 minutes later. As he entered the chamber, wearing the traditional red, white and green presidential sash, leaders of his party said it would be impossible for him to speak. He dropped off his yearly report, turned on his heel and left.
At 9 p.m., the government broadcast a recorded version of the president?s speech, complete with pictures of happy citizens to illustrate the gains his government has made in housing, education and health care.
Mr. Fox staunchly defended the balance of powers and the government institutions Mr. L?pez Obrador claims are corrupt, notably the Federal Election Institute and the electoral tribunal. He also stressed that the rule of law was the basis of democracy and he took a veiled shot at Mr. L?pez Obrador, saying ?no one should try to corral democracy through intransigence and violence.?
?Whoever attacks our laws and institutions, attacks our history, attacks Mexico,? he said.
Mr. L?pez Obrador claims he won the election, even though an official count, vetted by the country?s highest electoral tribunal, showed that the candidate from Mr. Fox?s National Action Party, Felipe Calder?n, eked out a razor-thin victory.
Rather than concede, Mr. L?pez Obrador has promised to convene his own national assembly and set up a parallel government this month. He has said that he will never recognize Mr. Calder?n?s victory and has declared that Mr. Fox violated Mexican election law by campaigning for Mr. Calder?n, as did various business leaders who spent millions on attack ads against Mr. L?pez Obrador in the last days of the campaign.
He also claimed that his opponents stuffed ballot boxes with votes for Mr. Calder?n and disposed of votes for him in some states, a charge Mr. Calder?n?s aides called absurd.
On Friday, at least 6,000 police officers in riot gear ringed the congressional building with steel barricades and blocked nearby subway stations to discourage demonstrations. Before the lawmakers? protest, the only demonstration occurred just before 6 p.m., when a small group from the Francisco Villa Popular Front, a militant group allied with Mr. L?pez Obrador, painted antigovernment slogans on the fence and threw rocks at the wall and at the police, who ignored them.
For more than a month, thousands of Mr. L?pez Obrador?s supporters have blocked the major avenue running through the city, Paseo de la Reforma, and camped out in the main square, Plaza de la Constitution.
Newly elected lawmakers from Mr. L?pez Obrador?s party arrived en masse at the legislative building about 1 p.m., broke through one of the barricades, marched into the chamber and denounced the presence of the president?s federal police.
?This is unforgivable,? announced Senator Carlos Navarette. ?The chambers should not be invaded by the federal police. This is the house of the deputies, not of the president.?
Mr. Navarette later led the protest among the lawmakers, denouncing the ring of police officers outside as an infringement on Mexicans? right to protest as his partisans rushed the dais and occupied it.
Earlier this week, an electoral tribunal charged with ratifying the election and resolving challenges threw out most of Mr. L?pez Obrador?s arguments that there was widespread fraud. The court still must rule on his request to annul the election on grounds that the president and private businesses interfered too much in the campaign.
Aides to Mr. L?pez Obrador said he had acknowledged privately that the court would probably name Mr. Calder?n president-elect next week.
What form Mr. L?pez Obrador?s protest movement will now take remains unclear, but it is certain to keep him in the public eye for the next six years and make it hard for Mr. Calder?n to govern.
?He?s saying to the government, ?Everything that I am going to do is going to give you trouble,? ? a close adviser said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
Antonio Betancourt and Marc Lacey contributed reporting for this article.
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Die Less Often: Interface of Gun, Knife and Emtpy Hand
on: September 02, 2006, 09:56:32 AM
A post from the Eskrima Digest:
From: "Kevin Davis" <
Subject: [Eskrima] Dogbrothers Die Less Often DVD
Just received my new (3) DVD set "Die Less Often: Intro to the interface of
gun, knife, and empty hand" from the Dogbrothers.
Forum member Marc "Crafty Dog" Denny has teamed with former LEO and firearms
instructor Gabe Suarez to produce an innovative program for interfacing empty
hand and pistol against a knife wielding assailant. As a full-time LEO and
firearms trainer as well as a FMA player, I can heartily endorse the product.
Too many officers or for that matter CCW permit holders believe their pistol
will solve all problems. What Crafty has reminded us and given concepts and
techniques for overcoming, is that the knife can be devastating at close range
and the threat must be neutralized prior to or while the handgun is accessed.
All handgun carriers should remember that a gunfight is first and foremost a
fight. Too often pistol training on a "flat range" looks more like
competition instead of the down and dirty close range "gunfight" it frequently
As Marc would say, a tail wag for a fine product from Crafty and Suarez. I
for one am looking forward to more in this regard.
Mabuhay ang Inayan Eskrima!
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Evolutionary Biology and Psychology
on: September 02, 2006, 09:33:12 AM
Looking for fear? It's in your eyes!
Seeing someone else'swide eyes will spark the brain?s ?Fear Central?even before you know it
By Kathleen Wren
Updated: 7:16 p.m. ET Dec 16, 2004
WASHINGTON - If you look into the eyes of someone who is frightened, your brain will pick up on the fear in a split second, well before you can consciously put a name to the emotion, scientists say.
Why such a hair-trigger response to what someone else is feeling? Recognizing a fearful expression on another person?s face might save your skin some day, because whatever has spooked your friend might also be a danger to you.
According to a new study in the journal Science, published by AAAS, the nonprofit science society, seeing the enlarged whites of fear-widened eyes is enough to activate a fear-related structure in the brain called the amygdala.
The amygdala, an almond-shaped nugget buried deep in the brain, is an ancient structure found in all vertebrates.
Scientists have learned much about the amygdala by studying human patients with damage to this part of the brain. These patients are remarkably normal in most respects. When they look at fearful facial expressions, however, they often have difficulty recognizing that fear is the emotion being expressed. Or they can?t distinguish between expressions of mild fright and sheer terror.
Some evidence suggests that faulty signaling by the amygdala may be involved in autism, a disorder that affects, in part, verbal and nonverbal communication abilities. Likewise, too much activity by this structure may play a role in anxiety disorders, according to Paul Whalen of the University of Wisconsin at Madison.
Because fear can help you avoid danger, it?s no surprise that the amygdala is ?Fear Central? for the brain. It?s involved in other emotions too, but it?s crucial for feeling fear and priming the body to respond physically to danger.
If an object comes flying at your head, ?you don?t need to know that it?s a brick or a tennis ball, you need to start buckling your knees,? said Whalen.
Whalen also thinks the amygdala is important for learning to avoid dangerous situations in the future, which would help explain why it?s so highly attuned to fearful and surprised facial expressions.
In response to these expressions, the amygdala basically says, ?That person has detected an important event close by and I should really find out what it is.?
The amygdala on autopilot
Whalen described the amygdala as somewhat like an idiot savant: It?s neither versatile nor flexible, but it does its job exceedingly well. It?s so good at its task, in fact, that it senses fear in others and responds automatically, perhaps even before parts of the brain involved in conscious thought have figured out what?s going on.
?People automate thousands of things, like driving. Sensing fear is important enough that we?ve automated it,? Whalen said.
Scientists have been investigating the automatic nature of the amygdala using a technology called functional magnetic resonance imaging, or fMRI, to measure the blood flow in specific regions of the brain.
Whalen and his colleagues, for example, have found that volunteers? amygdalae responded to images of fearful faces ? even though the faces appeared too quickly for the volunteers to be aware of them.
The reason for showing the images so quickly was to eliminate conscious thoughts that would confuse the results. With this subliminal-image approach, known as ?backward masking,? the researchers could be sure that the fMRI device wasn?t recording the brain activity associated with the volunteers? thinking ?Hey, that face looks like my Uncle Ed.?
As with other fMRI studies, more research will be needed to uncover the actual nature of the brain activity that the device picks up. The notion that the amygdala might be part of a circuit that could bypass detailed processing through the cortex in humans remains controversial.
The whites tell the story
Facial expressions can be extremely complex and subtle. Often it?s difficult to tell just what part of a face is sending a particular message, though the eye region of the face seems to be most important.
In order to determine what part of a fearful face was stimulating the amygdala, Whalen and his colleagues considered other facial expressions. Angry faces don?t activate the amygdala as strongly, for example, but surprised faces do.
The eyes ? specifically, the whites of the eyes ? were indeed the key.
For example, a pair of fearful or surprised eyes has larger whites than eyes from other expressions. Happy expressions tend to have eyes showing the smallest amount of white, according to Whalen.
In their new Science study, Whalen?s team examined whether eye whites alone were sufficient to trigger the amygdala. They used the backward-masking approach on their volunteers, interspersing pictures of fearful or happy eye whites for a split-second in between longer images of neutral faces.
The eye white stimuli were derived from actual photographs of actors making afraid and happy faces, developed by Paul Ekman at the University of California at San Francisco.
The volunteers? amygdalae responded only to the fearful eyes, the results suggested. Thus, instead of having to sort through many subtle variations in facial expression to locate a fear signal, the brain can just use information about eye-white size.
?We suspected that the amygdala was not all that bright. The eye-white finding offers a simple rule that the amygdala could handle,? Whalen said.
While some experts might be tempted to say this automatic fear-sensing ability is something we?re born with, Whalen said it?s too early to tell for sure.
Just because a brain response is automatic doesn?t mean it can?t be something we learn how to do with experience. Understanding facial expressions is essential for human communication, so Whalen thinks we may learn to do this very early on, even as infants staring into our parents? faces.
Interestingly, most monkeys and apes don?t have lighter-colored scleras (or ?eye whites?). So if this type of fear sensing is hard-wired in humans, it must have evolved relatively recently.
? 2006 American Association for the Advancement of Science
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Howl of Respect to our Soldiers/Veterans
on: September 02, 2006, 01:50:17 AM
Navy officer awarded Bronze Star for deft handling of deadly IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices)
By JACK DORSEY The Virginian-Pilot August 30, 2006
NORFOLK, Va. -- For the entire year he was in Baghdad analyzing more than 1,000 roadside bomb detonators, Benito Baylosis never took a day off.
No one did. And no one complained about it, he said, as they explored the electronic circuits of defused improvised explosive devices, or IEDs.
"What we did was that important. You get time off when you go home, or on R & R," he said. Baylosis, 41, a Navy lieutenant commander, came back to his hometown of Norfolk to receive the Bronze Star on Tuesday.
The award cited him for personally handling more than 1,000 IEDs, providing "critical countermeasures" and saving "countless coalition forces' lives."
"He developed and monitored over 136 bombmaker profiles," said the Army's citation, which added that "no one in the U.S. armed forces knows more about enemy IED initiators utilized in the Iraqi theater of operations."
Baylosis, who graduated from Old Dominion University with an undergraduate electrical engineering degree, will return soon to his regular duty station in Naples, Italy, where his family resides.
In Iraq, he headed a team of American, British and Australian military specialists, mainly engineers. He also worked with agents from the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, gathering forensic evidence for possible future court cases related to terrorism. The team, operating from Camp Victory near the international airport in Baghdad, examined IEDs, traced their origins and turned over information to help find the manufacturer.
"They are some of the most basic forms, from mechanical to electrical, to remote," he said in an interview. Because of the sensitivity of the work, he could not detail what his team found. Published reports say many devices use garage-door openers or cell phones to activate the explosives.
According to Michael White, who compiles casualty figures of Operation Iraqi Freedom on the Web site icasualties.org, and Defense Department figures, 904 of the 2,087 American service members killed in action in Iraq have died of injuries from IEDs.
Baylosis said he normally specializes in shipbuilding and program management in his job in Naples, but his electronics skills seemed a good match for what he was asked to do. "We felt that the job we were doing did save lives and will continue to save lives as long as we get to do it," said the father of three.
"I think we are making a difference. Obviously, we want to get ahead of the IED maker. We want to be a step ahead of them and with increased security, I think it will eventually get solved. I just don't know the time line."
DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Mexico
on: September 02, 2006, 01:37:51 AM
Uno mas de www.stratfor.com
In a pivotal Aug. 28 ruling, the Mexican electoral court settled all claims made by Democratic Revolution Party presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador about the July 2 presidential election, paving the way for National Action Party candidate Felipe Calderon to be declared president. Lopez Obrador has vowed to continue his protest, and his supporters have announced that they will prevent outgoing President Vicente Fox from delivering his final address to the nation in Mexico City on Sept. 1.
Mexico's Electoral Tribunal of the Federal Judiciary Power (TEPJF) ruled Aug. 28 to nullify about 237,000 votes from the partial recount that was called in August due to irregularities. The nullified votes affected candidates Felipe Calderon and Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador proportionately; the gap between them closed by only about 4,000 votes. The ruling effectively certified that there were no major voting irregularities -- disputing Lopez Obrador's contentions -- and that Calderon did, in fact, garner more votes in the election. The TEPJF did not confirm Calderon's win since it still needs to release the complete findings of the partial recount to prove Lopez Obrador's loss and rule on the general fairness -- a factor that has been strongly question by Lopez Obrador and his Democratic Revolution Party (PRD).
Since Lopez Obrador clearly did not win a majority of the votes, his -- and his party's -- ultimate objective is the nullification of the entire election. But nullification is extremely unlikely, given the rulings already made by the TEPJF. The final deadline for the TEPJF to make its unappealable ruling and declare the National Action Party's (PAN's) Calderon president is Sept. 6. The TEPJF is likely to wait until the deadline to make the announcement, though all eyes are focused on the court for an earlier ruling.
After the TEPJF's ruling, Lopez Obrador will have no more legal avenues for protest. He has called for a national convention Sept. 16, at which he will declare himself Mexico's "true" president and Calderon an "impostor." Lopez Obrador also will announce the continuation of his civil resistance campaign and will likely offer details for his planned resistance government. But without legal avenues, one question remains: Will Lopez Obrador's political coalition hold together? The answer is probably not.
Sept. 1 is a key day in the electoral conflict. Outgoing PAN President Vicente Fox will deliver his final State of the Nation address to the newly seated Congress from Mexico City at 7 p.m. local time. Lopez Obrador's supporters have promised to disrupt the speech at all costs. Though legislators from opposing parties have often interrupted presidential addresses, interruptions for the Sept. 1 speech are rumored to be unprecedented and involve much more than simple yelling; there could be confrontations with the Presidential Guard, an appearance by Lopez Obrador or a walkout by PRD legislators and their allies (who account for 159 of 500 lower seats and 36 of 128 senate seats). Though Mexico's federal government historically has been reluctant to use force to settle political protests, it recently broke this trend when federal forces used tear gas on Lopez Obrador supporters attempting to block the entrance to the Mexican Congress building. Security has been stepped up significantly for Fox's State of the Union speech -- an indication that the government may be less squeamish about sending in troops.
A walkout, with Lopez Obrador supporters facing off against security forces outside the congressional building, is the most likely scenario. By disrupting the president's speech in such a manner, the PRD intends to signal that the country is in chaos and that Fox is not in control. Though Fox is legally allowed to deliver his address via television or a written report, his camp has said he will publicly deliver his speech regardless of potential disruptions from Lopez Obrador supporters.
However impassioned his followers might be, and even if PRD Congress members are willing to stage a walkout during Fox's address, Lopez Obrador is not likely to be able to maintain a cohesive political coalition after the TEPJF announcement. Many moderates inside the PRD might feel the political costs of supporting Lopez Obrador after the TEPJF ruling are unbearable. Among those moderates are Gov. Amalia Garcia from Zacatecas, a frequent visitor to the United States who is in very good standing with many U.S. governors, and Gov. Lazaro Cardenas of Michoacan, son of historic PRD leader Cuauhtemoc Cardenas.
If the PRD divides after the TEPJF ruling, Lopez Obrador's movement will weaken, but his protest is not likely to end soon. Regardless of the loss of support from PRD moderates, Lopez Obrador still maintains support from radicals and control of Mexico City's streets; the city's current mayor, Alejandro Encinas, and incoming Mayor Marcelo Ebrard are both PRD members and strong Lopez Obrador allies. But if Lopez Obrador loses the support of Mexico City -- and the fiscal backing that comes with it -- his movement will almost certainly stall. Fox's speech and the conflict that is bound to arise will clarify where the PRD stands in relation to its allies and how significant Lopez Obrador's future protests will be.
DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Mexico
on: September 02, 2006, 01:04:34 AM
Mexico: Politics and the Potential for Unrest
Mexican President Vicente Fox is set to give his annual State of the Union speech at the Palacio Legislativo de San Lazaro on the evening of Sept. 1. This will be the first in a series of critical events coming up in Mexico over the next several weeks that could aggravate recent tensions caused by the July presidential election. Protests, along with political and social instability, could increase during this time.
Political tensions in Mexico rose after former Mexico City Mayor Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador lost the July 2 presidential election by a margin of 0.58 percent. Lopez Obrador's supporters claim the election was rife with fraud and voting irregularities. Thousands of his followers have been camped out along Mexico City's main avenues, Paseo de la Reforma, Juarez Avenue and Madero Avenue, from Chapultepec Park to the Zocalo, the city's main square. The camps are blocking traffic for five miles at the heart of the capital.
Fox's speech will be a rallying point for Lopez Obrador's supporters to voice their opposition to the election results. Though interruptions during presidential speeches are common in Mexico, the Sept. 1 address could see interruptions of an unprecedented degree. The intention would be to signal that the country is in chaos and that Fox -- who belongs to the same party as the apparent winner of the presidential election, Felipe Calderon -- cannot even deliver a State of the Union address. At least five protest marches are scheduled to converge on the Mexican Congress building the night of Fox's speech. If Lopez Obrador himself makes an appearance at the address, the assembly likely will descend into chaos. This could further destabilize the situation and raise tensions. To avoid this, Fox could submit his address to Congress in writing, as is permitted by the country's constitution, rather than risk being shouted down while trying to speak.
The next critical date is Sept. 6, the deadline for Mexico's election court to formally declare a winner in the presidential race. This announcement can come any time before that date, but the court is likely to wait until the last possible minute.
The third critical event will be Mexico's independence celebrations Sept. 15-16. Even if Lopez Obrador's supporters are no longer actively demonstrating by then, the large public gatherings in towns and cities all over Mexico will provide multiple opportunities for dissent to be stirred up. Starting Sept. 15, Mexicans will gather to celebrate the beginning of the country's struggle for independence from Spain. The celebrations are to begin at 11 p.m. local time, when Fox will re-enact Father Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla's 1810 call for independence by ringing the country's historic liberty bell at the Palacio Nacional in Mexico City's Zocalo, which could still be occupied by Lopez Obrador supporters.
The celebration culminates the next day with a military parade through the capital -- along the Paseo de la Reforma, which is currently blocked by protesters. Lopez Obrador's supporters previously threatened to block the parade but later backed down. In addition, Lopez Obrador has called for an opposition national convention Sept. 16 to declare himself the "true" president of Mexico and urge the country not to recognize the "impostor" Calderon. This would basically be calling for revolution.
If Lopez Obrador is willing to go that far, armed groups could enter the equation. In Mexico City, his party has effective control over some potentially violent groups, such as the Francisco Villa group, and others in Milpa Alta and Tlahuac on the southern outskirts of the capital, Iztapalapa in the Federal District and Atenco in Mexico state. When he resigned as mayor of Mexico City, Lopez Obrador designated his close political associate and friend, former Mexico City Police Chief Marcelo Ebrard, as his replacement. Based on old alliances and relationships, Lopez Obrador and Mayor-elect Ebrard could influence the municipal police to support his cause, or at least not to interfere with his movement.
At any point, Mexican federal authorities could react with force to attempts to further disrupt the capital, especially after the electoral court makes its official ruling. Police presence has increased in Mexico City. Municipal, state and federal police have taken up positions at the Palacio Legislativo and many of Mexico City's other important landmarks. Since a violent crackdown on student demonstrators in October 1968, Mexican authorities have been reluctant to use force against demonstrations. However, the size of the protests following the July 2 election -- an estimated 1.2 million people at one point -- is unprecedented, and could solicit an unprecedented response.
Mexico City and its outlying areas -- one of the world's largest urban areas, with a population in excess of 21 million -- is the center of gravity for this entire situation. The demonstrations and controversy have not taken on an anti-U.S. or anti-foreigner theme, but any large-scale demonstrations that elicit a heavy-handed response by federal security forces could result in chaos in the capital. If the situation erupts, foreign businesses could get caught in the turmoil. Businesses could suffer damage and employees might be unable to get to work. Sound contingency planning is the best way for multinational corporations to mitigate this disruption.
DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Mexico
on: August 31, 2006, 07:37:18 AM
Del primero plano (page one) del Wall Street Journal de hoy:
As Mexico Awaits Vote Decision,
Social Upheaval Is on the Rise
Calder?n, the Likely President,
Will Face Mass Protests,
Challenge to State Authority
Radical Takeover in Oaxaca
By DAVID LUHNOW and JOHN LYONS
August 31, 2006; Page A1
MEXICO CITY -- With conservative Felipe Calder?n now all but certain to become Mexico's next president, he faces a critical issue that will determine the success of his six-year term: How to prevent growing political confrontation from undermining the country's transition to democracy and free markets.
Mexico is coming off its version of the Florida 2000 election battle. Mr. Calder?n's narrow July 2 defeat of his leftist opponent Andr?s Manuel L?pez Obrador also landed in a court, which this week rejected Mr. L?pez Obrador's contention that the balloting was marked by fraud. The electoral court is now widely expected to name Mr. Calder?n the president by the legal deadline of Sept. 6. But unlike 2000, when former vice president Al Gore accepted the Supreme Court's ruling on the election, Mr. L?pez Obrador refuses to recognize judicial power. Instead, the former Mexico City mayor is promising to make the country ungovernable. It's as if Al Gore had called for revolution instead of calm.
On top of dealing with his election opponent, Mr. Calder?n faces other violent challenges. Radical leftist groups have taken control of Oaxaca, one of Mexico's most famous Colonial-era cities, shutting down the local government in an attempt to force out the elected governor. And in a sign of the growing reach of the drug trade, decapitated bodies turn up regularly in cities where frightened local authorities have largely given up police work.
The 44-year-old Mr. Calder?n promises to deal with these challenges through a combination of carrots and sticks. He wants to reach out to Mr. L?pez Obrador's supporters among the poor by promoting policies aimed at creating a more equal society, including expanding to poor urban areas a successful rural-welfare program that requires families to keep their children in school to receive aid. At the same time, he vows to strengthen a weakened Mexican state by confronting growing mob rule, using police to crack down on political and drug-related lawlessness around the country.
"I understand that people have the right to protest things, but only so long as they don't infringe upon the rights of others," Mr. Calder?n said this week in a speech to women business leaders. During his campaign, he promised he would not let groups of people "with machetes" interfere with his government.
Mr. Calder?n's first challenge will be simply getting to the presidential chair. Mr. L?pez Obrador's supporters have blockaded key roads in Mexico City for the past month, and plan to step up their campaign of civil disobedience. They pledge to block the country's annual armed forces parade during Independence Day celebrations on Sept. 16, and to prevent Mr. Calder?n from being sworn in at Congress on Dec. 1.
Mr. Calder?n's success in toning down political confrontation will shape his presidency, and determine whether he has the political skills to tackle some of the long-term problems that have stunted Mexico's development. Among them: reforming the energy sector, confronting monopolists and union bosses who have an iron grip on the country's largest industries, and asserting the rule of law in a country where police, courts and Congress are often dismissed as unjust or corrupt. The outcome will also determine whether the U.S. has a politically stable and prosperous neighbor next door or has yet another headache in its growing list of global problems.
Despite hard talk by the former energy minister, his camp is still debating how tough to get with Mr. L?pez Obrador's protest movement, according to people familiar with the discussions. One key issue on the table: Whether to urge President Vicente Fox to use force to clear Mr. L?pez Obrador's tent villages from Mexico City's main boulevard and the central square.
While some advisers think a crackdown could ease Mr. Calder?n's transition to government, others worry that confrontation would play into his rival's hands by inflaming a movement that is losing public support. Polls show support for the protest movement waning and moderates in Mr. Calder?n's camp believe Mr. L?pez Obrador's supporters in his Party of the Democratic Revolution, or PRD, are likely to distance themselves from the increasingly unpopular leader.
Meanwhile, Mr. Calder?n faces some political weakness himself. Polls show that a third of the voters believe he won through fraud. And ideological inclusiveness doesn't come naturally to his National Action Party, or PAN, a buttoned-down Catholic organization that's tight with the business elite and often criticized as out of touch with broader Mexico.
Before the vote, Mexicans and foreigners alike assumed that Mexico's peaceful transition to a democracy was a done deal, completed when President Fox ousted the former ruling party six years ago. The prevailing wisdom was that the next government's challenge was how to transform a sluggish economy to compete with more dynamic Asian rivals. Even with Mr. L?pez Obrador's ongoing challenge, the peso and stock markets remain firm and foreign investors don't seem overly concerned.
But the bitter post-electoral fight has revealed a side of Mexico that many assumed was the stuff of history books. Mexico's political transformation during the past decade is the country's third attempt to build a lasting democracy, says Enrique Krauze, one of Mexico's most prominent historians and a L?pez Obrador critic. The first attempt, by President Benito Ju?rez, lasted nearly a decade but didn't survive his 1872 death in office. The second was the brief tenure of Francisco Madero, which ended in 1913 with his assassination and a complete breakdown in order, sparking one of the most violent stretches of the period Mexicans now call their "revolution."
"There should be no doubt that Mr. L?pez Obrador represents a revolutionary threat," Mr. Krauze argues. "This is no joke. I hope that he will not succeed and democracy will prevail. But nevertheless, it's important that people realize what the stakes are."
Political analysts say the provincial politician from the rural state of Tabasco is looking to re-enact recent events in Latin American nations like Bolivia and Ecuador, where radical protest movements forced out democratically elected leaders. In Bolivia, the leader of those protests, Evo Morales, went on to win an election last year and is now that country's president.
Indeed, Mr. L?pez Obrador, 52, openly says Mexico "needs a revolution" and has vowed to keep his protest movement going until the nation's "simulated republic" is brought down. He has promised to use mass protests to prevent Mr. Calder?n from carrying out his agenda -- saying, for instance, that he will block moves to allow private industry to have a greater participation in everything from oil and electricity production to pension funds. According to polls, about 16% of Mexicans say they would be willing to take part in actions like blockading roads or airports to help Mr. L?pez Obrador.
C?sar Y??ez, a spokesman for Mr. L?pez Obrador, says the movement intends to use street protests to force Mr. Calder?n to respond to the leftist's goals, such as ensuring that natural resources like oil remain in the hands of the state. He rejected comparisons with Bolivia and said there are no plans to use violence to bring down the Calder?n government. "For us, the Calder?n government will be illegitimate, but that's not the same thing as saying there will be violence," he said.
Protest movements like Mr. L?pez Obrador's have flourished in recent years, finding fertile territory in a new democratic landscape swept clean of the harsh tactics of the old authoritarian regime. The graceful colonial city of Oaxaca offers a glimpse of the kinds of tactics available to Mr. L?pez Obrador. There, a protest movement is trying to force out a democratically elected governor. For the past three months, the 70,000-strong teacher union has laid siege to the city demanding a wage hike. It has occupied the downtown area with roadblocks and prevented all three branches of government from working by blocking government buildings with protesters armed with sticks, pipes and machetes.
Hotels in the one-time tourism magnet are largely empty and the city is lawless. Small gangs of student radicals, their faces covered in bandanas, roam the city center and question passersby whom they deem "suspicious." Taking photographs is now banned. Police don't dare work -- no one answers the local equivalent of 911 -- the state Congress meets secretly at a hotel, and judges stay at home.
Oaxaca state governor Ulises Ruiz, from the former ruling PRI party, tried to clear the protesters from the city in mid-June, but the mob easily beat back his police, several of whom were briefly taken hostage. After the attempted crackdown, the protesters got more radical, demanding the governor resign as a precondition for talks. They also burned buses and cars, stormed eight privately run radio stations to urge citizens to take to the streets, briefly blockaded the city airport and set a 10 p.m. curfew. Mr. Ruiz now wants federal police to intervene, but Mr. Fox has indicated he doesn't want to get involved.
"This place is no man's land," says Elpirio Vel?zquez, who owns a stall that sells school supplies in the city's central market. Mr. Vel?zquez says he supported the teachers' wage demands but thinks they've gone way too far in taking up violence and calling for the governor's ouster. "If they kick him out, then what happens? They just kick out any governor they don't like?"
The parallels are striking between the Oaxaca protests and Mr. L?pez Obrador's Mexico City sit-in. Mr. Ruiz won a 2004 gubernatorial race by a very narrow margin over his rival, a candidate of Mr. L?pez Obrador's PRD, which claimed the loss was due to fraud and threatened to organize street protests.
Mr. Calder?n's PAN party supported the PRD's candidate in the state race two years ago against Mr. Ruiz, but is now throwing its weight behind the embattled governor, arguing that his resignation would undermine the rule of law. Top PAN officials also argue allowing Mr. Ruiz to step down might encourage Mr. L?pez Obrador to continue his protests in the hopes of eventually forcing Mr. Calder?n from office. "What's happening in Oaxaca is a blueprint for the PRD to try to force Calder?n from office," says Dagoberto Carre?o, the PAN's secretary general in Oaxaca.
Mr. Calder?n will have to make some tough decisions about the use of public force that his recent predecessors have shied away from. The government's reluctance to use force is partly explained by history. A 1968 massacre of hundreds of protesters in Mexico City is the country's version of Tiananmen Square. Mexicans tend to view the use of force by the government as repression rather than law and order. When President Fox took power in 2000, polls showed that 80% of Mexicans were opposed to the government's use of force to put down dissent. That figure has since dropped, but is still high at 60%.
Under Mr. Fox, the government's unwillingness to consider force had its cost. Consider what happened to Mr. Fox's plans for a new six-runway airport near Mexico City, a glittering symbol of Mexico's climb into the global economy. Shortly after work on the project began in 2002, peasants who were due to be relocated to make room for the airport picked up machetes, blocked construction crews and took 15 state officials hostage, threatening to set them ablaze unless construction was halted. They won.
After Mr. Fox killed the project, the Mexican press was rich with debate about whether the move was a win for democracy or set a troubling precedent for mob rule. Emboldened by their win, the airport protesters next ran the mayor and police force out of the nearby town of Atenco, and started a regular campaign of highway blockades to demand goods and services. But when a newly elected governor, Enrique Pe?a, decided to end the airport group's road blockades with force this year, results were mixed. Ill-trained and under-equipped police battled protesters for two days in a bloody confrontation. The protest leaders were later jailed, but Mr. Pe?a's career suffered after he was forced to respond to charges of brutality and even sexual assaults by the police.
Mr. Calder?n hopes to set a different tone, starting in the interim period before his Dec. 1 inauguration. During that time, Mr. Fox remains as a lame-duck president but must work with a new Congress, which will be sworn in Sept. 1. Mr. Calder?n wants to work with Mr. Fox to pass some high-profile measures and show he can govern despite the turmoil on the streets. Among the possibilities are a reform of the state-owned oil company's corporate finances and a shake-up in the federal police.
Many political observers say he must go far beyond that to send strong signals that he is serious about addressing the core issues of poverty and scarce job opportunity that gave rise to Mr. L?pez Obrador's movement. In private conversations, some business executives are even urging Mr. Calder?n to go after some of the sacred cows of the Mexican economy, such as limiting the reach of the privately held Mexican monopolies. They argue that this would prove that he is not afraid to disappoint constituents in order to unblock logjams to entrepreneurship and growth.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Lebanon
on: August 29, 2006, 03:38:01 PM
What did you do in the war, UNIFIL?
You broadcast Israeli troop movements.
by Lori Lowenthal Marcus
09/04/2006, Volume 011, Issue 47
Increase Font Size
| Email a Friend
| Respond to this article
DURING THE RECENT month-long war between Hezbollah and Israel, U.N. "peacekeeping" forces made a startling contribution: They openly published daily real-time intelligence, of obvious usefulness to Hezbollah, on the location, equipment, and force structure of Israeli troops in Lebanon.
UNIFIL--the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, a nearly 2,000-man blue-helmet contingent that has been present on the Lebanon-Israel border since 1978--is officially neutral. Yet, throughout the recent war, it posted on its website for all to see precise information about the movements of Israeli Defense Forces soldiers and the nature of their weaponry and materiel, even specifying the placement of IDF safety structures within hours of their construction. New information was sometimes only 30 minutes old when it was posted, and never more than 24 hours old.
Meanwhile, UNIFIL posted not a single item of specific intelligence regarding Hezbollah forces. Statements on the order of Hezbollah "fired rockets in large numbers from various locations" and Hezbollah's rockets "were fired in significantly larger numbers from various locations" are as precise as its coverage of the other side ever got.
This war was fought on cable television and the Internet, and a lot of official information was available in real time. But the specific military intelligence UNIFIL posted could not be had from any non-U.N. source. The Israeli press--always eager to push the envelope--did not publish the details of troop movements and logistics. Neither the European press nor the rest of the world media, though hardly bastions of concern for the safety of Israeli troops,
provided the IDF intelligence details that UNIFIL did. A search of Israeli government websites failed to turn up the details published to the world each day by the U.N.
Inquiries made of various Israeli military and government representatives and analysts yielded near unanimous agreement that at least some of UNIFIL's postings, in the words of one retired senior military analyst, "could have exposed Israeli soldiers to grave danger." These analysts, including a current high ranking military official, noted that the same intelligence would not have been provided by the U.N. about Israel's enemies.
Sure enough, a review of every single UNIFIL web posting during the war shows that, while UNIFIL was daily revealing the towns where Israeli soldiers were located, the positions from which they were firing, and when and how they had entered Lebanese territory, it never described Hezbollah movements or locations with any specificity whatsoever.
Compare the vague "various locations" language with this UNIFIL posting from July 25:
Yesterday and during last night, the IDF moved significant reinforcements, including a number of tanks, armored personnel carriers, bulldozers and infantry, to the area of Marun Al Ras inside Lebanese territory. The IDF advanced from that area north toward Bint Jubayl, and south towards Yarun.
Or with the posting on July 24, in which UNIFIL revealed that the IDF stationed between Marun Al Ras and Bint Jubayl were "significantly reinforced during the night and this morning with a number of tanks and armored personnel carriers."
This partiality is inconsistent not only with UNIFIL's mission but also with its own stated policies. In a telling incident just a few years back, UNIFIL vigorously insisted on its "neutral ity"--at Israel's expense.http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/012/622bqwjn.asp
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants
on: August 26, 2006, 03:22:12 PM
Ben Stein on commitment.
Sunday, August 20, 2006
Looking for the Will Beyond the Battlefield - New York Times: "IT'S been a
bitter month or so."
Mighty Israel, the redeemer of faith in what free men and women can do with
arid desert if they are motivated, redeemer of faith that maybe there is a
place for the Jews as a sovereign people and technological superpower, has
been fought to a standstill by Hezbollah.
Can it possibly be that Hezbollah is better motivated, better led, better
dug in and better armed than the Israeli army, which is supposed to be the
best army, pound for pound, in the world? Can it be that Israel, which used
to beat whole armies of countries like Egypt and Syria, has been humbled by
a few thousand very well-motivated and well-armed men firing from between
Or could it be that what's different this time is the trumpet and,
specifically, its uncertain sound? Israel geared up for a huge offensive,
then called it off, then huffed and puffed, then called it off again, then
said, "Watch out, this time we're really going to blow your house down," and
then called it off again.
Now, Israel's very survival is on the line, and it is a tiny state, about
the size of New Jersey. If Israel cannot get it together to fight a serious
war against a group, Hezbollah, that the State Department identifies as a
terrorist organization, who will?
So, Israel, which was supposed to be the shining light of how peace is won,
is not shining as bright - despite President Bush's extreme support for a
good long time.
Terrorists are still hatching plots against the air traffic system of the
West, and this time bigger and worse than before.
Obviously, Al Qaeda is far from dead. We have much to fear from it still.
The fact that the suspects were almost all home-grown Britons makes the
situation that much more frightening and unpredictable. How long will it be
until American-born terrorists strike against American targets?
We are a big country and we have a lot of unhappy people. How long until
they organize themselves to kill? Not long, I am afraid.
While we're at it, yes, it's miraculous and wonderful that the plot was
foiled, if it was. But now the whole Western world will be seriously
inconvenienced in its travel for years, maybe decades. Isn't this already a
victory for our enemies? Isn't this already a blow against world business?
Might it be enough to push our already slowed growth into a recession?
But the worst is what is to come: I got a jolting hint of this when I read
the obituary for John L. Weinberg, who ran Goldman Sachs from 1976 to 1990.
Mr. Weinberg was 81 when he died this month in Greenwich, Conn., after a
lifetime of major achievement. I had the pleasure of dealing with him when
he and I were a lot younger and I was in law school, also studying finance,
My dear old father was a friend of his father, the venerable Sidney J.
Weinberg, who ran Goldman Sachs from 1930 to 1969. My dad wangled a job
interview for me with John Weinberg, an unprepossessing figure but obviously
a smart guy. After some talk, he offered me a job. I would start by spending
two years sitting at a desk until late at night going over spreadsheets.
"Really?" I asked. That did not seem to be so glamorous. "Yes, really," he
said. "That's how we all start."
I turned it down and became a poverty lawyer instead. But what I did not
know about John Weinberg was that even though he was rich and well
connected, as a young man he joined the Marines to fight the Japanese in the
Pacific, then fought again in Korea. That was America's ruling class then.
The scions of the rich went off to fight.
My longtime pal and idol, Peter M. Flanigan - a former high honcho of
Dillon, Read; a high aide to my ex-boss, Richard M. Nixon; and heir to a
large brewing fortune - was once a naval aviator. My father left a
comfortable job in Washington to join the Navy. The father of my pal Phil
DeMuth left a successful career to be an Army Air Corps pilot, flying
death-defying missions over Burma. Congressmen resigned to serve. Senators
resigned to serve. Professional athletes resigned to serve in the uniform.
Now, who's fighting for us in the fight of our lives? Brave, idealistic
Southerners. Hispanics from New Mexico. Rural men and women from upstate New
York. Small-town boys and girls from the Midwest. Do the children of the
powers on Wall Street resign to go off and fight? Fight for the system that
made them rich? Fight for the way of life that made them princes? Surely,
And that's the essence. The other side considers it a privilege to fight and
die for its beliefs. Those on the other side cannot wait to line up to blow
themselves up for their vision of heaven. On our side, it's: "Let the other
poor sap do it. I've got to make money." How can we fight this fight with
the brightest and best educated rushing off and working night and day to do
private equity deals and derivatives trading? How can we fight this fight
with the ruling class absent by its own sweet leave?
I keep thinking, again, that if Israel, with its back to the sea, cannot
muster the will to fight in a big way, then the fat, faraway U.S.A. will
never be able to do it. I keep saying this and it terrifies me.
We're in a war with people who want to kill us all and wreck our
civilization. They're taking it very seriously. We, on the other hand, are
worrying about leveraged buyouts and special dividends and how much junk
debt the newly formed private entity can support before we sell it to the
ultimate sucker, the public shareholder.
We're worrying whether Hollywood will forgive Mel Gibson and what the next
move is for big homes in East Hampton. We're rearranging the deck chairs on
the Titanic. The terrorists are the iceberg.
WHAT stands between us and the iceberg are the miraculously brave men and
women of the armed forces.
They're heroes and saints as far as I'm concerned. But can they do it
without the rest of us? Can they do it while we're all working on our tans
and trying to have our taxes lowered again? How can we leave them out there
all alone to die for us when we treat the war to save civilization as
something we can just wish away?
If we don't win this war against the terrorists, there's not
going to be business as usual ever again. If the terrorists get to their
goal, there's not going to be a stock exchange or hedge funds or Bain
Capital or the Carlyle Group or even Goldman Sachs. If the terrorists get
their way - and so far, they're getting their way - there's not going to be
Everyone with the really big money at stake is - again - bidding for the
best deck chairs as the iceberg looms, not so far, any longer, under the
surface, and very large and very cold and very solid.
Ben Stein is a lawyer, writer, actor and economist. E-mail:email@example.com
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Dog Brothers UK
on: August 26, 2006, 01:16:55 PM
Please allow me to distinguish:
a) "The Dog Brothers-- a band of sweaty, smelly psychopaths with sticks dedicated to higher consciousness thought harder contac"(c) and
b) Dog Brothers Martial Arts with the mission statement of "Walk as a Warrior for all your days".
To become a member of the DB tribe entails fighting at DB GAtherings and being well-regarded by members of the tribe as having good DB spirit. The upcoming DB Gathering in Bern, Switzerland would be a great way to get started!
DBMA has the DBMA Association-- membership application elsewhere on the website. DBMA in Europe is headed by Guro Benjamin "Lonely Dog" Rittiner of Bern, Switzerland. Please look up his contact on the DBMA Instructors Page and get in touch with him.
Guro Crafty Dog
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Unarmed Knife Defense
on: August 25, 2006, 09:45:52 AM
Fri, August 25, 2006
'I knew the knife was in me'
Teen stabbing victim writes an open letter to the judge who allowed his assailant to return to live across the street
By MIKE STROBEL
(Fred Thornhill, Sun)
I wrote yesterday of the unprovoked and nearly fatal stabbing of Markham teen Nicolas Lastoria.
Neighbour Peter Galanos, 32, was found "not criminally responsible" by Justice William Gorewich last week and sent home. Take your paranoia-schizophrenia meds, the man was told.
This, little more than three months after the attack.
Neither York Regional cops nor Nicolas' mom, paramedic Elsa Ferraro, 45, were forewarned that a ruling was nigh.
"There was some kind of breakdown," says police Chief Armand LaBarge, who is trying to wrest a remedy from the Crown's office.
"The matter was disposed of without any contact with York Regional Police," LaBarge tells me.
"We're extremely concerned about this individual being back in the community, in immediate proximity to the victim."
Galanos, by the by, was "known to police," as they say, before the knifing.
The sudden ruling also deprived young Nicolas of his right to submit a victim's impact statement to court.
So, I meet him at his mom's near McCowan and Hwy. 7 and we sit at a laptop for an hour.
Over to you, Nicolas ...
Dear Justice Gorewich:
I am writing this at my mom's kitchen table, across the street from the man who stabbed me.
I just turned 16. I was 15 when I was attacked while I was working on my pocket bike (that's a miniature motorcycle) in our garage.
When Peter Galanos came home last week, I saw him once, getting into his car, before my mom sent me out of town to stay with my dad.
I am going back there after I write this.
I would like to tell you how my life and my family have been affected since April 22 around 1:30 in the afternoon.
You probably know most of what happened. I could show you the five scars on my back, side and arm.
He never said a single word, just crossed the street and started stabbing.
I was confused and a little pissed off. I didn't know what was happening.
The thing I remember most was looking down once and seeing the knife go into my ribs.
I can't really explain to you what that was like. It didn't really hurt, but I knew the knife was in me.
I got away and ran up the street for help. I didn't want him to follow me into my house. My mom and two sisters were inside.
The air from my lung was leaking out of one of the holes from the knife.
I NEARLY DIED
I don't remember much about the first two days in hospital, but I know I nearly died and for two months after, I could hear my lung gurgling when I breathed.
Now it has stopped doing that. But I am still angry and afraid.
It's fear of not knowing what might come across the street and to the door.
A policeman came and told us he was back. I was so angry I paced the house. I didn't want to leave. I was afraid for my mother and sisters, but my mom said I had to go away for now. I will have to come back before school starts.
She's still the same mom, but much more anxious.
My sisters, too.
My mother is a paramedic and she says my lung is weak and more likely to collapse again, but she is mostly worried about emotional scars.
I have started going to counselling with a psychologist she knows through work.
My friends all think it's crazy that Peter is home so soon.
I think it was the wrong decision. Peter should be the one to go away. I don't want to move.
I like this house and this area and I want to stay at the same school. I'm going into Grade 11.
Before this, I used to think no one would hurt me.
I'm not the same kid I was.
Now, in my mind, I don't trust anyone. I get suspicious of people I meet walking and think of how I will defend myself if I have to.
I don't think we should have to live like this.
P.S. I want my jeans and my shoes back from that day. They took them for evidence. They were my favourite jeans and shoes. They probably still have blood all over them, but I want them back.
Man questioned after knife attack on three teenage girls
Friday August 25, 2006
Police were last night questioning a man over a "sustained and frenzied attack" in which three teenage girls were repeatedly stabbed with a long-bladed knife after being followed off a bus after an argument in Bridport, Dorset.
One of the girls, Charlotte Teague, 14, suffered "life-threatening" wounds to her chest and stomach and was treated in intensive care.
Her friend, Sophie Hyne, 15, was stabbed in the face and upper body, while Kirsty Edwards, 17, was wounded in her back and stomach. The three were later said to be stable in the Dorset County hospital in Dorchester.
The girls had spent Wednesday in Weymouth before taking the bus back to Bridport. Charlotte and Sophie live in Bridport, and Kirsty is from Staffordshire.
It is thought that they were laughing and joking during the journey and were told to shut up by a man who was sitting in front of them.
Chief Inspector Nick Maton said: "The bus arrived in Bridport shortly before 6pm and the three girls left the bus.
"What happened next can only be described as a sustained and frenzied attack on three friends who received serious stab wounds. The girls felt like they had been punched, then saw the puncture wounds and noticed that there was blood and realised they had actually been stabbed."
The girls will be interviewed once they are well enough.
Helen Choudhury, who works at the Taj Mahal restaurant near the scene of the attack, said the episode was like something out of a horror movie.
Alan McNamee, 39, who saw the aftermath, said: "One of the girls was saying they had been sat behind a man on the bus and were laughing and joking. The man turned round and told them to shut up."
Kay Taylor, the headteacher of Sir John Colfox school in Bridport, where Sophie and Charlotte are pupils, said: "The whole school is shocked by the attack on Charlie, Sophie and their friend. Both girls are loyal to their friends and caring towards others. It's terrible that this could happen in a small town like Bridport."
Police asked other passengers who were on the bus to come forward. They were also studying footage from CCTV cameras in Bridport.
The assault is the latest in a series of high-profile knife attacks. It follows the end of a national knife amnesty, during which 90,000 knives and other bladed weapons were handed in across the country.
A 20-year-old man from Bridport was arrested yesterday afternoon.
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Grandfathers Speak Vol. 2: Sonny Umpad
on: August 25, 2006, 01:39:34 AM
When we were done shooting, I kneeled at the edge of Maestro Sonny's bed and reassured him that we had gotten good footage-- which was the truth. One of his students commented to me afterwords that when the shooting was over that he seemed quietly at ease. I deeply would have loved for him to see the finished DVD, but at least he got to see a fairly polished rough edit which he relayed to us that he liked a lot.
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Dog Brothers Gathering in Switzerland October 1, 2006
on: August 24, 2006, 10:00:35 AM
The Coming of ?the Dog Brothers? to Europe
By Marc ?Crafty Dog? Denny
I am often asked about our name, "the Dog Brothers." It can be explained on many levels, but one of my favorite ways of looking at it can be found in a newspaper article by one Jeff McMahon:
"Most actions of men can be explained by observing a pack of dogs. Not wild dogs, just neighborhood dogs who all scurry under the fence on the same night and set off together to reclaim a glimmer of the glory their species possessed before domestication."
I think that's right. The dog is the interface of man and the wolf and we can connect so strongly because our dynamics are so similar. Even as we humans change the wolf into the dog to suit our purposes, we still need its glimmer as wolf. In some breeds, and in certain individual dogs, the glimmer is brighter than others, and that is why you see an Akita named Zapata in our logo.
I know the Dog Brothers have a good reputation for airing it out pretty well, but we know what we do is well short of death matches of yore in the Philippines, a policeman going into an abandoned building after a bad guy or those who step forward to stop hooligans, mobs, or religious fascists.? It is important not to take ourselves too seriously, and I like the way the quote captures a certain perspective-- we are not wolves, we are but human dogs.
Still, it is important to be aware of something else too. Yes we are but dogs, and just like dogs we have territory, hierarchy, and squabbles over females. But there is something more.? There is also the bond of the pack.? ?In humans we call this the tribe.
The bond and aggression go hand in hand. ALL animals with individual relationships (wolves, monkeys, geese, dogs, humans etc.) also have aggression. Animals lacking the ability to discriminate between other members of their species, e.g. minnows do not. The presence of aggression does not always mean that there is a bond with other individuals, but a bond with other individuals always means there is aggression.
Aggression is an instinct, even as sex is an instinct. And just as a man eventually will have a nocturnal emission in the absence of sex, so too aggression will discharge eventually even in the absence of suitable reason.? ?All efforts at eliminating aggression by removing its ?causes? and/or its triggers are inherently doomed.? ?Indeed, to the extent that the efforts to eliminate the eliciting stimuli of aggression succeed in delaying the discharge, the greater the eventual discharge becomes and the time and place of the discharge becomes less predictable and thus far more dangerous!? As is so often the case in life, the law of unintended consequences is the rule.? We need to understand aggression and to channel its expression in healthy, productive and moral ways.
Aggression exists throughout Nature.? Why?
Aggression has three purposes in nature. The first is to spread a species out over territory so as to not overload an eco-system.? In humans this is sometimes known as War.
The second is for rank within the hierarchy of a social group.? Unlike the Anonymous Horde of a school of minnows, individual members of the group can distinguish each other.? All social groups have hierarchy.?
And the third is for reproduction. Classically this means two males fighting over the female, but it also means the female defending her young.
If there is no social unit, e.g. Siamese fighting fish, it does not matter that the loser dies, only that the winner breeds. In contrast, in social animals, there is a strong biological benefit if the second and third types of aggression do not damage the loser. This is so that the social unit, (the pack/the tribe), which exists precisely because of its survival value for the species, remains strong.
Most martial arts are usually of the second type of aggression, with overtones of the third: Young males competing. In contrast, the Filipino Martial Arts originate in the first form of aggression, in war. Thus there is a quality of cooperation in the learning process of the FMA that can be distinctive.
How so? If, as a tribe we are going to defend our land, women and children, it is in our respective individual interests that the other warriors of the tribe become good fighters as well. If I push you too hard and break your spirit, it does not serve my interests. If I push you too little and you are soft, it also does not serve my interests. And the same applies with you for me.
The Dog Brothers are not a pyramid with one Alpha at the peak.? Instead the ?governing body? of the Dog Brothers tribe is ?The Council of Elders? which consists of the three founders now so-called because we are old: Top Dog (title: The Fighting Force); Salty Dog (title: The Silent Force) and yours truly (title: The Guiding Force).? No money is involved in the Dog Brothers.? Although many Dog Brothers train in Dog Brothers Martial Arts (DBMA), this is not necessary-- anyone of the right values from any background is eligible to become a Dog Brother.? ?We look for people who manifest that of which they are capable.? ?A person of ordinary gifts who manifests his gifts with Dog Brother spirit will be accepted whereas we will pass by someone who is genetically gifted but lacks the understanding of what we are about: ?Higher Consciousness through Harder Contact??.
Since our founding in 1988 with three consecutive day long days of fighting known in our lore as ?the Rumble at Ramblas? (each man there averaged 20 fights over the three days), the Dog Brothers tribe has grown gradually.? ?With our recognition we certainly could have grown much more and much faster but to do so would have risked dilution and diminishment of what we are about.? ?Our tribe is real and requires real human connection.
We?ve had many people fight with us and profess their desire to be one of us, yet after one or two days of fighting we don?t see them again.? We?ve had a few people fight with us and seek to use it as a vehicle of self-promotion.? These we don?t want?nor do we want those who do not understand our code of ?Be friends at the end of the day?.
This means we need time to get to know someone, time to smell him and get to know what he is about.? Over time we have come to use the following framework:? ?A minimum of fighting at two of our ?Dog Brothers Gathering of the Pack? is necessary before someone is eligible to become a member of the tribe when someone in the tribe speaks in his behalf to the Council of Elders.? If he is accepted in our parlance be becomes ?a Dog?.? When someone begins to manifest that special level we look for in a full ?Dog Brother?, then they become a ?Candidate Dog Brother?.? If he maintains this level for three Gatherings and expresses that of which he is capable, he becomes a Dog Brother.? Thus, the shortest amount of time it takes to be a Dog Brother is five Gatherings.? ?In that we hold our Gatherings twice a year this has meant the whole process requires a minimum of two and a half years-- which is a considerable amount of time to maintain this level of fighting.
Even with the financial burdens that travel to our home in Hermosa Beach (Los Angeles) California entails, the Dog Brother tribe can be found throughout the United States, Canada and even Europe (at present in Switzerland, Italy and Great Britain).? ?And because of this financial burden I have often heard requests from those who would dearly love to get involved that we hold ?Dog Brothers Gatherings? beyond our home.
I am pleased that our efforts in holding a DB Gathering make it look easy.? That said there is far more to holding one of our Gatherings than meets the eye.? (If I make it to old age perhaps I will tell some of the behind-the-scenes stories in my memoirs!)? ?To have that much testosterone from so many different groups (not just different martial arts groups, but also different social and ethnic groups) in one place with security a matter of an honor code is a really good trick.? And so, for reasons explainable and inexplicable, I have kept our Gatherings exclusively here where I live and can steer them to maintaining their special quality-- until now.
Benjamin Rittiner of Bern, Switzerland first came to me with two students for a week of training in 1997.? Since then he has trained with me diligently and sedulously in Europe and at my home in Hermosa Beach.? He has assisted me at countless seminars and assisted me in many of our DVDs.? He has brought character, integrity, and talent to the process and he has become a close friend (his Cornelia and son Robin too!) and I have taught him as a son and should something happen to me he will do the same for mine when the time comes should mine be so inclined.? ?He is the only man that I have promoted to ?Guro? in Dog Brothers Martial Arts.? He heads up DBMA in Europe and is the only person I have authorized to present seminars in Europe. And with my authorization he recently taught a DVD on DBMA for Budo International.? And now by unanimous vote of the Council of Elders (the governing body of the Dog Brothers) he has become a member of the Council of Elders.
During this time he has become one of the most highly respected of all the Dog Brothers.? He fights seemingly without fear and with tremendous technical excellence (no student applies more of what I have taught than him) and shows the highest levels of true Dog Brothers spirit in his fighting.? ?People often comment to me after a Gathering that they thought he was ?the best man there?.
I go into this detail to make clear the depth of the connection which I believe is necessary for the next step in the Adventure of the Dog Brothers?to have someone there capable on all the many levels necessary of anchoring an additional ?Dog Brothers Gathering of the Pack?.? This Gathering will be held once a year in Bern, Switzerland and will be held for the first time on Sunday October 1, 2006.? I will continue to be there to serve as Guiding Force and as ?ringmaster?.
In respect of the importance of this special moment in the history of the Dog Brothers tribe, also there to witness will be co-Founder Eric ?Top Dog? Knaus.? Arlan "Salty Dog" Sanford intended to come, but business matters have intervened.? Top Dog looks forward to the opportunity to use his German (and some Norwegian!)
?Higher Consciousness through Harder Contact?? !
Guiding Force of The Dog Brothers
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Grandfathers Speak Vol. 2: Sonny Umpad
on: August 23, 2006, 05:05:11 PM
Night Owl is moving this thing along quite quickly.? I've just watched his next pass on the edit.? Very nice, including a mini-segment with GM Tatang Ilustrisimo demoing on the stuntmen from "Cyborg 4".?
We wait on some additonal footage and then we will be done.
Current running time: 75 minutes.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Free Speech vs. Islamic Fascism (formerly Buy DANISH!!!)
on: August 22, 2006, 07:28:12 PM
From the Wall Street Journal
The Many Faces of Belgian Fascism
August 22, 2006; Page A13
BRUSSELS -- Belgium is the birthplace of Ren? Magritte. So perhaps it's not surprising that, in politics, even the fascism here is surreal.
Take Belgian Socialists, Flemish or Walloon. The hallmark of nearly every European socialist party has long been hostility to religion. In recent years, Belgium's ruling Socialist-Liberal coalition has antagonized Catholics by legalizing gay marriage and euthanasia, banning crucifixes from government buildings and abolishing the traditional Te Deum service previously held by the government to commemorate the inauguration of Leopold I, first king of the Belgians.
But then the Socialists began taking note of Belgium's Muslim community, some 500,000 strong. In Brussels, notes Jo?l Rubinfeld of the Atlantis Institute think tank, half of the Socialist Party's 26-member slate in the city's 75-seat parliament is Muslim. In the commune of Molenbeek, longstanding Socialist mayor Philippe Moureaux has made Halal meals standard in all schools; police officers are also barred from eating or drinking on the streets during Ramadan. The Socialist Party was also, improbably, the leading opponent of a bill that would have criminalized the denial of the Armenian genocide. This, too, is a product of burgeoning Muslim-Socialist alliance, as is the party's routine denunciations of Israel.
Now take the Vlaams Belang (Flemish Interest), the secessionist Flemish Party previously known as the Vlaams Blok until a court ruled it illegal in 2004. The Blok has longstanding links to Nazi collaborators. One of the party's founding members is Karel Dillen, who in 1951 translated into Flemish a French tract denying the Holocaust (possibly the only French text for which a Vlams Blok party member has ever shown sympathy.) For many years, the party's chief selling point was its call to forcibly deport immigrants who failed to assimilate. It also made plain its sympathies with other far-right wing European parties, such as Jean-Marie Le Pen's National Front in France.
But that's changing. Younger party leaders, realizing their anti-Semitic taint was poison, began making pro-Israel overtures. And the party's tough-on-crime, hostile-to-Muslims stance began to attract a considerable share of the Jewish vote, particularly among Orthodox Antwerp Jews who felt increasingly vulnerable in the face of the city's hostile Muslim community. Today, Vlaams Belang is the largest single party in the country.
Then there are the government's actual policies. In April, Belgians were shocked by the murder of a teenager named Joe Van Holsbeeck, who was stabbed to death in Brussels's central train station by two Gypsy youths, at the height of the afternoon rush hour, in broad view of dozens of onlookers. (Apparently, the killers wanted his MP3 player.)
Amid a pervasive and growing sense of lawlessness -- Belgium's per capita murder rate, at 9.1 per 100,000 is nearly twice that of the U.S. -- the murder became the occasion of much national soul-searching. When Jean-Marie Dedecker, a senator from the ruling Liberal Party, opined in an op-ed that "policemen look the other way in order to avoid being accused of racism," he was rebuked by Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt for "inciting hostilities."
There is also the amazing case of journalist Paul Belien, who edits the Brussels Journal, a pro-American, Euroskeptic, anti-Islamist blog. In February, the blog was one of the few news sources to republish the notorious Danish cartoons of the prophet Mohammad, thereby attracting some two million unique visits. It also attracted extraordinary scrutiny from the Flemish newsweekly Knack. Noting that Mr. Belien's blog had been cited by Middle East scholar Daniel Pipes, Knack described the link as "no coincidence," but rather a "deliberate provocation by the neocons," the ultimate aim of which was to make Americans and Europeans believe "that all Muslims are violent and dangerous, after which the clash in Palestine, Iran and Syria can really kick off."
But that was as nothing compared to the reaction Mr. Belien provoked by an article following the Van Holsbeeck murder, in which he described the killers as "predators" and called for Belgium to decriminalize the possession of self-defense weapons (pepper-spray is what he says he had mainly in mind).
Two weeks after the article appeared, Mr. Belien received a letter from the Center for Equal Opportunities and Opposition to Racism, a government-mandated body whose mission is to "assist victims of discrimination" and "sensitize the general public on anti-discrimination." (Belgium has one of the strongest anti-discrimination regimes anywhere.) Mr. Belien's article, according to the CEOOR, constituted an "incitement to violence"; he was ordered to remove it from his blog or face state prosecution. He complied. In the meantime, he says he received emails with pictures of burned corpses and messages reading, "This is what is going to happen to you."
Mr. Belien has since been questioned by the police for homeschooling his five children, four of whom have moved on to university or beyond. Part of Mr. Belien's problem, surely, is that his wife is a member in parliament for the Vlaams Belang. But whatever her politics, Mr. Belien is not a member of the party, and nothing on the Brussels Journal suggests that it is a party vehicle. His chief crime, rather, seems to be that he has laid bare, to an English-speaking audience, the lesser-known charms of the Belgian state.
Meanwhile, the real fascists in Belgium are gaining strength, largely protected from scrutiny by the country's "anti-racism" legislation. At Brussels's Imam Reza mosque, a preacher commemorated the 17th anniversary of the Ayatollah Khomeini's death: "The enemies cannot extinguish the light of the Islamic Revolution." And in Molenbeek, the newspaper Het Volk published a study of the local Muslim population: The editor, Gunther Vanpraet, described the commune as "a breeding ground for thousands of Jihad candidates."
The Belgian government may prefer not to notice. But as Magritte might have said, this is not a pipe.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: WW3
on: August 22, 2006, 07:05:27 PM
Perception shaping as art, not science: People in many regions of the world hate us. They have been led to these beliefs by an enemy whose perception-shaping effort is as brilliant as it is diabolical. If the center of gravity in World War IV is the perception of the people, then perhaps we should learn how the enemy manipulates the people. Information technology will be of little use in this effort. Damage is only amplified when inappropriate, culturally insensitive or false messages are sent over the most sophisticated information networks. Recent advances in the social psychology of leadership and persuasion can help train soldiers to win acceptance of local populations and obtain better intelligence from locals. Recent cognitive behavioral therapy has documented remarkably effective techniques for countering fear and abiding hatred such as we see in the Middle East. Our challenge is to create a human science intended specifically for shaping opinions, particularly among alien peoples. This task is too big for a single service or event for the Defense Department. It must be a national effort superintended by distinguished academics and practitioners in the human sciences who understand such things, rather than by policy-makers who have proven in Iraq that they do not.
Inculcate knowledge and teach wisdom: In Iraq and Afghanistan, junior soldiers and Marines today are asked to make decisions that in previous wars were reserved for far more senior officers. A corporal standing guard in Baghdad or Fallujah can commit an act that might well affect the strategic outcome of an entire campaign. Yet the intellectual preparation of these very junior leaders is no more advanced today than it was during World War III. However, the native creativity, innovativeness and initiative exhibited by these young men and women belie their woeful lack of psycho-social preparation.
Learning to deal with the human and cultural complexities of this era of war will take time. Leaders, intelligence officers and soldiers must be given the time to immerse themselves in alien cultures and reflect on their profession. Yet in our haste to put more soldiers and Marines in the field, we risk breaking the intellectual institutions that create opportunities to learn. Today, we are contracting out our need for wisdom by hiring civilians to teach in military schools and colleges. Educational science has long understood that reading and listening are the least effective means for retaining or increasing knowledge. Teaching is at least an order of magnitude more effective, while researching and writing are far better still.
Tactical intelligence: The value of tactical intelligence ? knowledge of the enemy's actions or intentions sufficiently precise and timely to kill him ? has been demonstrated in Iraq and Afghanistan. Killing power is of no use unless a soldier on patrol knows who to kill. We should take away from our combat experience a commitment to leverage human sciences to make the tactical view of the enemy clearer and more certain, to be able to differentiate between the innocents and the enemy by reading actions to discern intentions.
The essential tools necessary to make a soldier a superb intelligence gatherer must be imbedded in his brain rather than placed in his rucksack. He must be taught to perceive his surroundings in such a way that he can make immediate intuitive decisions about the intentions of those about him. His commanders must be taught to see the battlefield through the eyes of his soldiers. He must make decisions based on the gut feel and developed intuition that come from an intelligence gatherer's ability to see what others cannot. There is a growing science of intuition and gut feeling, and these capabilities might be enhanced by this new capability and its allied technology. Machines and processes might make intelligence easier to parse and read. But knowing the enemy better than he knows us is inherently a psycho-cultural rather than a technological, organizational or procedural challenge.
Psychological and physiological tuning: Life sciences offer promise that older, more mature soldiers will be able to endure the physical stresses of close combat for longer periods. This is important because experience strongly supports the conclusion that older men make better close-combat soldiers. Scientific research also suggests that social intelligence and diplomatic skills increase with age. Older soldiers are more stable in crisis situations, are less likely to be killed or wounded and are far more effective in performing the essential tasks that attend to close-in killing. Experience within special operations units also suggests that more mature soldiers are better suited for fighting in complex human environments. Science can help determine when soldiers are at their cognitive peak. Psychological instruments are available today to increase endurance and sustained attention on the battlefield. Today, conditioning science has succeeded in keeping professional athletes competitive much longer than even a decade ago. These methods should be adapted to prepare ground soldiers as well for the physical and psychological stresses of close combat.
Develop high performing soldiers and small units: Close combat has always been a personal and intimate experience. Close combat is the only skill that cannot be bought off the street or contracted out. In all of our world wars, success of campaigns has been threatened by a shortage of first rate, professional infantrymen. Inevitably, a protracted campaign drains the supply of intimate killers. Many infantrymen are sent into close combat with about four months' preparation. What little social science the research and development community has devote to understanding the human component in war has not been spent on close-combat soldiers. We know far more about pilot and astronaut behavior than we do about those who in the next world war will do most of the killing and dying, the close-combat soldiers. If dead soldiers constitute our greatest weakness in war, then we should, as a matter of national importance, devote resources to making them better.
The enemy has drawn us unwillingly into fighting him at the tactical level of war where the importance of technology diminishes in proportion to the value of intangibles. Thus, winning World War IV will require greater attention to the tactical fight. Technology will play a part, to be sure. Our small units, squads and platoons should be equipped with only the best vehicles, small arms, sensors, radios and self-protection. But more important to victory will be human influencers such as the selection, bonding, and psychological and physical preparation of tactical units.
As the battlefield expands and becomes more uncertain and lethal, it also becomes lonelier and enormously frightening for those obliged to fight close. Most recent American campaigns have been fought in unfamiliar and horrifically desolate terrain and weather. Modern social science offers some promising solutions to this problem. Recently, we have learned that soldiers can now be better tuned psychologically to endure the stresses of close combat. Tests, assessments, role-playing exercises and careful vetting will reduce the percentage of soldiers who suffer from stress disorders after coming off the line.
Cognitive sciences can be leveraged to enhance small-unit training in many ways, from speeding the acquisition and enhancing the retention of foreign languages to training soldiers in command decision simulators to sharpen the ability to make decisions in complex tactical situations. Cognitive sciences can be employed in the creation of highly efficient and flexible training programs that can respond to the ever-changing problems. Models of human cognition can also be used to diagnose performance failures during simulated exercises. These measures can assist in training soldiers to attend to hidden variables and to properly weigh and filter the many factors that determine optimal performance in complex decision-making tasks.
But the social sciences can accelerate the process for building great small units only so much. The one ingredient necessary for creating a closely bonded unit is time. The aging of a good unit, like that of a good wine, cannot be hurried. Platoons need at least a year to develop full body and character. Because the pipeline will be so long and the probability of death so great, the ground services must create many more close-combat units than conventional logic would demand. The lesson from Iraq and Afghanistan is clear: In future wars we can never have too many close-combat units. The performance of small ground units will be so critical to success on the World War IV battlefield that we should replace the World War III methods of mass producing small units and treat them more like professional sports teams with highly paid coaching and dedicated practice with the highest quality equipment and assessment methods.
Leadership and decision-making: World War IV will demand intellectually ambidextrous leaders who are capable of facing a conventional enemy one moment, then shifting to an irregular threat the next moment before transitioning to the task of providing humanitarian solace to the innocent. All of these missions may have to be performed by the same commander simultaneously. Developing leaders with such a varied menu of skills takes time. Unfortunately, World War IV will be long and will occupy ground leaders to the extent that time available to sharpen leadership skills will be at a premium.
There are precedents for developing these skills. In Vietnam, the air services developed "Top Gun" and "Red Flag" exercises as a means of improving the flying skills of new pilots bloodlessly before they faced a real and skilled opponent. Recent advances in the science of intuitive decision-making will give the ground services a similar ability to improve the close-combat decision-making skills of young leaders. Senior commanders will be able to use these tools to select those leaders with the intuitive right stuff. Over time, leaders will be able to measure and assess improvements in their ability to make the right decisions in ever more complex and demanding combat situations. They will have access to coaches and mentors who will pass on newly learned experiences with an exceptional degree of accountability and scientific precision.
Intuitive battle command: The Army and Marine Corps learned in Afghanistan and Iraq that operational planning systems inherited from World War III would no longer work against an elusive and adaptive enemy. They were forced to improvise a new method of campaign planning that emphasized the human component in war. Gut feel and intuition replaced hierarchical, linear processes. They learned to command by discourse rather than formal orders. Information-sharing became ubiquitous, with even the most junior leaders able to communicate in real time with each other and with their seniors. Dedicated soldier networks have fundamentally altered the relationship between leaders and led and have changed forever how the Army and Marine Corps command soldiers in battle.
Developing new and effective command-and-control technologies and procedures will do no good unless we educate leaders to exploit these opportunities fully. We have only begun to leverage the power of the learning sciences to battle command. Teaching commanders how to think and intuit rather than what to think will allow them to anticipate how the enemy will act. Convincing commanders to leave World War III-era decision-making processes in favor of nonlinear intuitive processes will accelerate the pace and tempo of battle. The promise is enormous. But we will only achieve the full potential of this promise if we devote the resources to the research and education necessary to make it happen.
Military leaders have had three world wars to establish comfortable relationships with chemists, physicists and information technologists. This was a marriage of necessity, but it has worked. The relationship between the military and human and behavioral scientists has, to date, been one of antipathy and neglect. Academics and behavioral practitioners have rarely violated the turf of the soldier. Many are turned off by the prospects of relating their professions to war. But most take the war against terrorism seriously. If the Army and Marine Corps give them the opportunity, they will gladly turn the best of their sciences to the future defense of our nation.
We are in a race, and the times demand change. World War IV can only be won by harnessing the social and human sciences as the essential amplifiers of military performance, just as the physical sciences were the amplifiers of past world wars. Such a shift in how the defense community approaches war will require a fundamental shift in military culture. Of course, new planes, ships and combat vehicles will have to be built to win World War IV, but building new social, cultural and learning structures will have to become the first priority for resources within the Defense Department. There is an old saying that the Navy and the Air Force man the equipment and the Army and Marine Corps equip the man. Surely those services that focus on the man rather than the machine should receive a disproportionate share of future defense budgets?
Beyerchen convinces me that we have moved from one world war to the next with little ability to predict how science and human circumstances will dictate our course. We can only imagine how the human and biological sciences will redirect the course of war. What will the new amplifiers be? Will breakthroughs in bioscience make the battlefield more lethal? Will new human and behavioral developments make us more effective in battle? Only time will tell. But none of these questions can be answered by speculation alone. The Defense Department must invest the resources now to realize the potential of psycho-cultural sciences to winning World War IV.
One thing is certain, however: We are in for decades of psycho-social warfare. We must begin now to harness the potential of the social sciences in a manner not dissimilar to the Manhattan Project or the Apollo Project. Perhaps we will need to assemble an A team and build social science institutions similar to Los Alamos or the Kennedy Space Center. Such a transformational change is beyond the resources of a single service, particularly the ground services.
Thus a human and biological revolution will have to be managed and driven by the highest authorities in the nation. I sincerely hope they are listening.
THE EVOLUTION OF WARFARE
THE CHEMISTS' WAR
The decisive strategic advantage on the World War I battlefield was driven by new applications of chemistry and chemical engineering. Germany, for example, exhausted its supplies of gunpowder nitrates in 1915, but the synthesis of nitrates by German scientists allowed the war to continue for another three years.
THE PHYSICISTS' WAR
The atomic bomb ended World War II, but exploitation of the electromagnetic spectrum in the form of wireless communications and radar won it for the allies.
THE INFORMATION RESEARCHERS' WAR
In World War III, intelligence and the ability to fully exploit it allowed the U.S. to defeat the Soviet Union. Information-age concepts of transformation and net-centrism mark the end of this epoch.
THE SOCIAL SCIENTISTS' WAR
To win World War IV, the military must be culturally knowledgeable enough to thrive in an alien environment. Victory will be defined more in terms of capturing the psycho-cultural rather than the geographical high ground. Understanding and empathy will be important weapons of war.
■Retired Maj. Gen. Robert H. Scales is a former U.S. Army War College commander and deputy chief of staff for doctrine.
You may not be interested in the global jihad, but the global jihad is interested in you.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: WW3
on: August 22, 2006, 07:04:08 PM
My second post of the afternoon:
Clausewitz and World War IV
BY Maj. Gen. ROBERT H. SCALES (ret.)
The essence of every profession is expressed in the writings of its unifying theorists: Freud for psychology, Adam Smith on economics, Justice Marshall on law, and ? depending on one's preferences ? Marx or Jefferson on governance. War is no exception. The 19th-century Prussian writer Carl von Clausewitz is regarded as a prophet whose views on the character and nature of war have held up best over the past two centuries.
Periodically, changes in the culture, technology, economics or demographics induce movements to revise the classic masters. After the Great Depression, Keynes amended Smith, behavioralists supplanted Freud, Marshall gave way to Oliver Holmes, who eventually surrendered to the revisionist doctrines of Hugo Black and Earl Warren. The profession of arms, perhaps more than any other profession, has been ? is "blessed" the right word? ? by intellectual revisionists more frequently perhaps because armed conflict is the most complex, changeable and unpredictable of all human endeavors. And history has shown, tragically, that failure to amend theories of conflict in time has had catastrophic consequences for the human race.
Changes in theories of war come most often during periods of historical discontinuity. Events after 9/11 clearly show that we are in such a period now. Unfortunately, contemporary revisionists to the classical master have not been well treated in today's practical laboratory of real war. In the moment before Sept. 11, 2001, the great hope was that technology would permit the creation of new theories of war. This view, influenced by the historical successes of the U.S. in exploiting technology, has been carried to extremes by some proponents of "effects-based and net-centric operations." These true believers visualized that sensors, computers and telecommunications networks would "lift the fog of war." They postulated that victory would be assured when admirals and generals could sit on some lofty perch and use networks to see, sense and kill anything that moved about the battlefield. Actions of the enemy in Iraq have made these techno-warriors about as credible today as stockbrokers after the Great Depression.
Theory abhors a vacuum as much as nature, so newer revisionists have popped up in profusion to fill the void left by the collapse of technocentric theories of war. One philosophy proposes to build a new theory of war around organizational and bureaucratic efficiency. Build two armies, so the proponents argue, one to fight and the other to administer, and the new age of more flexible and adaptive military action will begin. Another group of theorists seeks to twist the facts of history into a pattern that brings us to a fourth generation of warfare, one that makes all Clausewitzian theories of state-on-state warfare obsolete. Thus Western states are threatened by an amorphous, globally based insurgent movement. The inconvenience of Middle Eastern states collapsing and reforming in the midst of a state-dependent terrorist environment makes this fourth generationalist assault on the master difficult to sustain, if not actually embarrassing.
To be generous, each of these revisions contains some elements of truth. But none satisfies sufficiently to give confidence that Clausewitz can be amended, much less discarded. To be sure, networks and sensors are useful, even against terrorists, particularly in ground warfare at the tactical level. Armies should be reorganized to fight irregular wars more efficiently. And the influence of the state in irregular war must be revised to accommodate the realities of nonstate threats or, perhaps more accurately, not-yet-state threats; Osama bin Laden's first desire is for his own caliphate, or even emirate. But at the end of the day ? and in light of the bitter experiences of recent years ? it's clear that none of these rudimentary attempts at revision possesses the intellectual heft or durability to challenge the tenets of the classic master of conflict theory.
The age of 'amplifiers'
Enter Alan Beyerchen, distinguished historian at Ohio State University. He's adopted a fundamentally different approach and by doing so has captured the intellectual high ground in the battle to amend theory in light of modern war's realities: Beyerchen would embrace rather than replace the master. Beyerchen has developed a taxonomy of war in the modern era in terms of four world wars. Each war was shaped by what he calls "amplifying factors." Amplifiers are not "multipliers" or "enablers" in that their influence on the course of war is nonlinear rather than linear; amplifiers don't simply accelerate the trends of the past, they make war different.
For example, World War I was a chemists' war in that the decisive strategic advantage on the battlefield was driven in large measure by new applications of chemistry and chemical engineering. The war should have ended for the Germans in 1915 when their supplies of gunpowder nitrates exhausted. But the synthesis of nitrates by German scientists allowed the war to continue for another three horrific years. World War II was a physicists' war. To paraphrase Churchill, the atom bomb ended the conflict, but exploitation of the electromagnetic spectrum in the form of the wireless and radar won it for the allies. "World War III" was the "information researchers'" war, a war in which intelligence and knowledge of the enemy and the ability to fully exploit that knowledge allowed the U.S. to defeat the Soviet Union with relatively small loss of life.
The information age
Most strikingly, Beyerchen places what is popularly known as "transformation" at the end rather than the beginning of an epoch in which the microchip accelerated the technology of the information age but only after the culmination point of the information age was reached and the war was substantially won. In other words, the value of net-centrism as an amplifier ? a factor that fundamentally shapes the nature of conflict ? has passed; its formative influence on the course of war is over. Al-Qaida's success in Iraq simply drives the last nail in its coffin.
Think of the shifts between world wars as tectonic rather than volcanic events. The physicists' war did not simply erupt to supplant the chemists' war. Their respective influences as amplifiers simply diminished over time. Amplifiers still retain influence: Armies still use chemistry and physics (and most certainly networks) to gain advantage on the battlefield. The danger is that a military force will remain devoted to an amplifier long after it can no longer offer truly decisive returns. Thus, by Beyerchen's logic, we may be spending trillions on old amplifiers, on better chemistry, better physics and better information technologies, only to gain marginal improvements, a few additional few knots of speed, bits of bandwidth and centimeters of precision. In doing so, the question that begs itself is: Are we ignoring the amplifying factor that promises to be truly decisive, that might win World War IV at very little cost?
In searching for this "emerging amplifier," Beyerchen returns to Clausewitz's basic insight: that war is influenced primarily by human beings rather than technology or bureaucracy. The problem in the past has been that the human factor could never be a significant amplifier simply because its influence was relatively fixed and difficult to exploit; humans have been considered constants more than variables. Yes, soldiers could be made better through conditioning, selection, psychological tuning and, since the last century, through education. But, ultimately, the human factor has usually come down to numbers. Bigger battalions make better armies. Clausewitz did allow for the amplifying factor of genius in war ? he fought repeatedly against Napoleon. But he conceded that human frailties made the identification and nurturing of genius problematic.
Winning World War IV
Beyerchen's idea is that the human and social sciences will change Clausewitz's perception of the constancy of the human influence in war. In effect, he argues that we are beginning the tectonic shift into World War IV, the epoch when the controlling amplifier will be human and biological rather than organizational or technological. From his theory we can postulate a new vision of the battlefield, one that shifts from the traditional linear construct to a battlefield that is amoebic in shape; it is distributed, dispersed, nonlinear, and essentially formless in space and unbounded in time. This war and all to follow will be what I would call "psycho-cultural" wars.
Let's come down from the clouds a bit: Experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan have convinced many in the military intellectual community of the value of psycho-cultural factors in war, but the idea that these factors are now decisive, that indeed they comprise the battle space, may be a tough sell. After all, American forces have won three world wars through the efficient application of technology. And we have grown generations of generals who have been taught and have learned by their own experience that victories come from building better things. Our fixation on technology ? our very technological success ? has led us to believe that the soldier is a system and the enemy is a target. Soldiers are now viewed, especially by this U.S. Defense Department, as an "overhead expense," not a source of investment. Viewing war too much as a contest of technologies, we have become impatient and detached from those forms of war that do not fit our paradigms. Technocentric solutions are in our strategic cultural DNA.
Moreover, even if we were not burdened with the baggage of our past successes, trying to divine the depths of the coming human and biological era of war would be as problematic today as anticipating the arrival of the digital age immediately after World War II. Wars, blessedly, are fought infrequently, and epoch-defining conflicts are even more rare. Our base of experience for anticipating future events is limited to experimenting in the laboratory of war; we only discover that tectonic plates are moving when we feel the ground shake. We can perhaps say that Korea and the first Afghan war are the alpha and omega of World War III but can only dimly begin to see the plates of our new world war.
And so let us stipulate that Iraq and the second Afghan war are the beginnings of a new era, but let's also be extremely cautious not to forecast so much as to anticipate what these wars portend from the human and cultural perspective. Let's not look for a level of precision or prediction that we cannot achieve and is likely to lead us astray.
Building on Beyerchen, here's what I anticipate current conflicts in the Middle East and elsewhere are telling us about what is to come. In a nutshell: World War IV will cause a shift in classical centers of gravity from the will of governments and armies to the perceptions of populations. Victory will be defined more in terms of capturing the psycho-cultural rather than the geographical high ground. Understanding and empathy will be important weapons of war. Soldier conduct will be as important as skill at arms. Culture awareness and the ability to build ties of trust will offer protection to our troops more effectively than body armor. Leaders will seek wisdom and quick but reflective thought rather than operational and planning skills as essential intellectual tools for guaranteeing future victories.
As in all past world wars, clashes of arms will occur. But future combat will be tactical, isolated, precise and most likely geographically remote, unexpected and often terribly brutal and intimate. Strategic success will come not from grand sweeping maneuvers but rather from a stacking of local successes, the sum of which will be a shift in the perceptual advantage ? the tactical schwerpunkt, the point of decision, will be very difficult to see and especially to predict. As seems to be happening in Iraq, for a time the enemy may well own the psycho-cultural high ground and hold it effectively against American technological dominance. Perceptions and trust are built among people, and people live on the ground. Thus, future wars will be decided principally by ground forces, specifically the Army, Marine Corps, Special Forces and the various reserve formations that support them.
Clausewitz tells us that the side that holds the initiative will ultimately prevail. In this new era, the initiative will be owned by the side that controls time. As retired Lt. Gen. David Barno, former commander of U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan, is fond of saying, "In Afghanistan, Americans have all the wrist watches but Afghans have all the time." The enemy will attempt to control the clock with the strategic intent of winning by not losing. He will use the clock to wear down American resolve. Management of the clock will allow him to use patience as a means to offset American superiority in killing power. His hope is to leverage our impatience to cause us to overreact with inappropriate use of physical violence. Perception control will be achieved and opinions shaped by the side that best exploits the global media. And there is another sense of the clock that is important to appreciate. We are in a race between the rogue states or nonstate terrorists acquiring and using nuclear weapons versus our acquiring and deploying enough psycho-cultural armament to beat them on the ground. But even without nukes, the enemy has a natural advantage. He presents a paradox that plays to his intrinsic strengths. You must support us, he says, in spite of our brutality, or support the outsider who may be more humane but who is not part of our religion, culture, clan, tribe or ethnicity. And, he can say, I will always be here; will the Americans?
The Elements of Victories
How can we discover the path to victory in these future wars? Chemistry had little practical wartime utility when the irreducible elements of knowledge were earth, air, fire and water. During World War I, chemists learned to analyze and design molecules for desired functions. Applications quickly emerged for explosives, propulsion and poison gas. Only in the past few decades have the foundations of the social sciences advanced to the point that they might become the elements for victory. And until the military intellectual community acknowledges that virtually all failures in Afghanistan and Iraq were human rather than technological ? perhaps still an open question ? will the social sciences attract much interest as amplifiers. Can we yet say we understand the enemy's culture and intent? The evidence thus far is that we have been intellectually, culturally, sociologically and psychologically unprepared for this kind of war. To me, the bottom line is clear: If the single most important objective for the first three world wars was to make better machines, then surely the fourth world war corollary will be to make better soldiers, more effective humans. To do so, soldiers need improved social science in nine areas:
Cultural awareness: In Iraq, a curtain of cultural ignorance continues to separate the good intentions of the American soldier from Iraqis of good will. Inability to speak the language and insensitive conduct become real combat vulnerabilities that the enemy has exploited to his advantage. The military of the future must be able to go to war with enough cultural knowledge to thrive in an alien environment. Empathy will become a weapon. Soldiers must gain the ability to move comfortably among alien cultures, to establish trust and cement relationships that can be exploited in battle. Not all are fit for this kind of work. Some will remain committed to fighting the kinetic battle. But others will come to the task with intuitive cultural court sense, an innate ability to connect with other cultures. These soldiers must be identified and nurtured just as surely as the Army selects out those with innate operational court sense.
Social science can help select soldiers very early who possess social and cultural intelligence. Likewise, scientific psychology can assist in designing and running cultural immersion institutions that will hasten the development of culturally adept soldiers and intelligence agents. Cultural psychology can teach us to better understand both common elements of human culture and how they differ. An understanding of these commonalities and differences can help gain local allies, fracture enemy subgroups, avoid conflicts among allies, promote beneficial alliances and undermine enemy alliances.
Building alien armies and alliances: World War IV will be manpower-intensive. The U.S. cannot hope to field enough soldiers to be effective wherever the enemy appears. Effective surrogates are needed to help us fight our wars. The Army has a long tradition of creating effective indigenous armies in such remote places as Greece, Korea, Vietnam, El Salvador and now Iraq. But almost without exception, the unique skills required to perform this complex task have never been valued, and those who practice them are rarely rewarded. Today's soldiers would prefer to be recognized as operators rather than advisers. This must change. If our strategic success on a future battlefield will depend on our ability to create armies from whole cloth ? or, as in Iraq, to remove an army that has been part of the problem and make it a part of the solution ? then we must select, promote and put into positions of authority those who know how to build armies. We must cultivate, amplify, research and inculcate these skills in educational institutions reserved specifically for that purpose. We must also do this pre-emptively or prophylactically by building the most suitable psycho-cultural infrastructures, both in the theater of war and at home.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: WW3
on: August 22, 2006, 06:42:22 PM
The Nuclear Deadlines and a Strengthening Iran
By Kamran Bokhari
For weeks now, Aug. 22 has been marked as a red-letter day: the day Iran would formally respond to the incentives offered by world powers in exchange for a halt to its nuclear program. Given all the other things that have been occurring in the region -- especially the psychological impact that Hezbollah's successful resistance to Israeli forces has had -- there was a good deal of speculation (and in some quarters, trepidation) about what the day would bring. On the extremes, there were those among our readers who suggested Iran would launch a nuclear strike against Israel; others spoke of the potential for a direct U.S. military strike against Iran's nuclear facilities.
We have not been among those predicting apocalyptic action. It is our view that, despite the presence of some extremists in both the American and Iranian camps, the nations and governments as a whole are rational actors that (rhetoric notwithstanding) will not take actions that threaten their own core interests or survival. In short, actions are governed by very real and practical limitations, regardless of what some may think about Mahmoud Ahmedinejad's mental state or George W. Bush's abilities as a leader.
That said, at least a little craziness surrounding the calendar date was to be expected. And the Iranians made sure to put on a good show.
The day began with reports that Iranian security forces had assaulted and briefly occupied an oil rig operated by Romania's Grup Servicii Petroliere (GSP) in Iran's territorial waters. The incident (which Iran described as a police action that disrupted a robbery attempt) lasted only a few hours but sent a clear signal that Iran is prepared to escalate matters if Washington moves toward punitive sanctions over the nuclear issue.
Shortly afterward, Tehran issued its formal response to the incentives package -- though details, at this writing, remain secret. Leaks likely will emerge in the coming hours or by evening in the United States. If our thinking is correct, Iran has not yielded to demands that it cease uranium enrichment (as Tehran steadfastly has said that it won't), but instead will have issued a response that plays to and widens political divisions among the five permanent U.N. Security Council (P-5) members and Germany. The complexity of the response will demand considerable deliberation and debate within the P-5+Germany -- inviting infighting and delaying any meaningful action, such as a vote for sanctions against Iran. At this point, it appears that U.N. Security Council resolutions and diplomacy may be reaching the limits of their usefulness.
Events of the coming days will warrant attention, certainly, but the underlying reality is this: The Iranians, correctly or otherwise, perceive that their moment in history has arrived. With the nuclear issue, through Hezbollah, and to some extent in Iraq, they are moving to secure their interests and extend influence -- seeing before them the opportunity to establish Persian, Shiite Iran as a hegemon in the Middle East and a power within the Muslim and wider worlds. And for the United States, like its Western allies, there are few meaningful options left to block it.
The Diplomatic Backdrop
To fully understand this, it's useful to review the recent buildup over the nuclear issue -- and to note that the 34-day Israel-Hezbollah war erupted precisely in the middle of that escalation.
On June 1, the P-5+Germany agreed to a package of incentives and penalties designed to force Iran to give up uranium enrichment. Javier Solana, the EU foreign policy adviser, delivered the terms to Tehran, and the White House urged Iran to study them thoroughly before issuing a formal response. No firm deadline was set, but the United States and its European allies indicated that one would be expected within a matter of weeks.
Details of the incentives were kept secret by both sides until July 13. The terms include greater investments in water-power reactors, provisions for Iran to join the World Trade Organization, and the possibility that U.S. and European restrictions on purchases of civilian aircraft and telecommunications equipment from Iran will be lifted if Iran suspends uranium enrichment. The package also lists a "catalog of sanctions" that countries might enact if Iran refuses to halt enrichment.
It was made obvious during this time that the P-5+Germany is less than united over the Iranian nuclear issue; Russia and China retained the right to opt out of U.N. sanctions for Iran, even if enrichment were to continue. In short, Russia and China reportedly could refuse to adopt sanctions of their own, but they would not block attempts by other U.N. members to sanction Iran.
Tehran several times rebuffed pressures to issue its response to the package, saying officials needed time to study the proposal. On June 29, the G-8 foreign ministers said they expected Iran's response to come on July 5, at a meeting between Solana and Iranian national security chief Ali Larijani. At that point, the Iranians made it clear that no response would come before mid-August. Finally, on July 21 (several days after the Israel-Hezbollah conflict had begun), they set the Aug. 22 date in stone.
Throughout all of this, Tehran has steadfastly stated that it will not suspend enrichment. Thus, in the midst of the Israeli-Hezbollah war, the U.N. Security Council passed legally binding Resolution 1696, setting Aug. 31 as the deadline for uranium enrichment to cease.
There has been no meaningful change in the Iranian stance since the resolution was passed. Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, on Aug. 16, did say Tehran was willing to negotiate about enrichment suspension, so long as Iran's right to pursue enrichment in the future remained unquestioned and world powers ceased to question Tehran's intentions for its nuclear program. Significantly, Mottaki called, on the same day, for Western states to re-evaluate their relations with Muslim countries in light of the emerging reality in the Middle East -- clearly referencing the outcome of the Israel-Hezbollah war.
A New Regional Paradigm?
The outcome of the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah has given Iran the opportunity to strengthen the influence it wields in the Levant, while also bolstering perceptions that any attempts to solve the nuclear issue militarily could be very costly.
The Israelis' mismanagement of the war effort worked to the advantage of the Iranians, who are intimating to other Muslim states that Israel not only is not an invincible military power, but now is a power in decline. At a higher level, the war also has divided Arab states into two camps -- pro- and anti-Hezbollah -- and, at the same time, allowed Iran, through its sponsorship of Hezbollah, to project itself as the leader of all Muslim groups in the struggle against Israel.
Given the psychological impacts that Hezbollah's successful resistance brings throughout the region, it is little surprise that Iran is surging forward with new, and probably excessive, confidence. From Tehran's standpoint, this is the perfect moment to press its advantage and establish itself as a regional hegemon and global player.
Events of the last few days should be viewed very much in this light.
For instance, during the weekend, a new round of Iranian military exercises -- the second this summer -- commenced, unveiling the country's new defense doctrine. The first stage of the war games -- code-named "Zarbat Zolfaghar," or "The Blow of Zolfaghar" (a reference to the double-pointed scimitar of Imam Ali) occurred in Sistan-Baluchistan, a province in the southeast, and will continue in 15 other provinces in the country over the next five weeks. During the battle drills, the military test-fired 10 surface-to-surface Saegheh missiles, which have a range of 50-150 miles.
Iran also unveiled what it calls a new "air mine system," which officials claimed could be used from low and high altitudes, and in general has upgraded its entire air defense system. These are attempts to mitigate Iran's vulnerability, since it lacks an air force. In fact, Brig. Gen. Mohammad Hassan Dadras, commander of Iranian ground forces, said on Saturday that no air force in the region would be capable of confronting the Iranian army. This seems to have excluded the United States, a non-regional power.
Along with that, the army's commander-in-chief, Maj. Gen. Ataollah Salehi, made the interesting statement that the Iranian military is prepared to meet any threat from Israel, which he described as an "insane enemy."
And if the situation wasn't highly charged enough, there was an apparently deliberate escalation of a commercial dispute involving Romania's GSP. This seemed designed to generate jitters in the oil markets without directly harming Iranian interests.
From all appearances, the Iranians and their Shiite allies in the region are quite confident that this is their moment. We do not expect this to lead to any of the more extreme outcomes that have been speculated -- distances, for instance, argue against a direct strike by Iran against Israel -- but the political and military dynamics of the region certainly are shifting.
The Iraq Angle
As a result, the situation in Iraq must be considered carefully. As the Israel-Hezbollah conflict drew to a close, U.S.-Iranian exchanges concerning Iraq began to take on a more confrontational tone. Larijani, for example, on Aug. 7 accused Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, of meeting with terrorist groups there and encouraging attacks against Iranian and Shiite targets. Khalilzad's retorts over the following days were rather ambiguous, but he essentially accused Iran of using agents to foment sectarian violence in Iraq and to stage attacks against U.S.-led forces -- in retaliation, he suggested, for Israeli strikes in Lebanon.
These statements were clarified a bit on Aug. 14: Maj. Gen. William Caldwell, the top U.S. military spokesman in Iraq, said there "is nothing that we definitively have found to say that there are any Iranians operating within the country of Iraq," though the Americans believe that "some Shia elements have been in Iran receiving training." Caldwell said it is not clear how much the government of Iran knows about or endorses such activity.
Ultimately, the American fear appears to be that Iran, if backed into a corner, would use the Shiite militias in Iraq against the United States. To an extent, this is a reasonable fear, but there also are reasons why Iran would not be willing to push things beyond the level of "managed chaos."
For one thing, it is not in Iran's interest for Iraq to descend into full civil war, since uncontrolled sectarian violence could lead to repercussions on the Iranian side of the border. In fact, the political and financial investments that Iran has been making in Iraq would indicate that Tehran wants to make sure the situation, though violent, does not spin utterly out of control.
The Iranians have realized that they will not be able to exert any more influence over Baghdad than they can now, through the Shiite-dominated government -- so the goal is to make sure that Tehran secures the gains it has made in Iraq. Moreover, Iran is well aware of the delicate ethnic and political balance that holds the government in Baghdad together and keeps the intra-Shiite rivalries within acceptable parameters.
If our assumption holds -- that Iran will escape any punitive consequences for its actions on the nuclear front -- this fear of uncontrolled chaos in Iraq could be one of the few points of leverage left for the United States. It is a weak card in what is certainly a bad hand for Washington, and poses great risks for the Bush administration itself. However, if the Americans are incapable of achieving their own goals in Iraq or in the nuclear issue, the next best option would be to ensure, through their own political maneuverings with the Sunnis, that the Iranians will not be able to achieve their goals either.
Latest Moves, Next Moves
As we issue this report, developments in the last 24 hours have been these:
Solana and Larijani spoke by phone on Aug. 21, saying they were open to "further contacts" about Tehran's nuclear ambitions.
The deputy director of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization said "suspension of uranium enrichment has now turned practically impossible."
Foreign Ministry officials said Tehran's response to the incentives package would be "multi-dimensional" and hopefully lead to a comprehensive negotiated settlement.
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Tehran will continue its pursuit of nuclear technology.
Tehran barred U.N. nuclear inspectors from an underground nuclear facility at Natanz, and the chairman of the parliament's National Security and Foreign Policy Commission said a bill is being drafted that would require inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency to cease immediately if sanctions are placed on Iran.
The Iranians delivered their point-by-point counteroffer to the P-5+Germany, saying they were offering a fresh approach and are ready for "serious negotiations," beginning Aug. 23.
Clearly, the Iranians have spent the past several weeks preparing not only the terms of their counteroffer, but also the international atmosphere in which those terms would be presented. Their goal has been to make sufficient positive gestures that not only Russia and China, but perhaps European powers as well, might be loathe to side with the United States over possible sanctions. At the same time, they have been sufficiently bellicose to ensure the world knows there will be international repercussions if things don't go their way.
The United States itself lacks political leverage over Iran, and the diplomatic process -- as it currently stands -- will not bring about the results Washington seeks. Therefore, the Bush administration's best option is to ensure that even if Tehran wins the current diplomatic battle, it will not win the entire war over uranium enrichment. We would expect Washington to argue that since there is no way to guarantee the Iranians will honor any deal they make on the nuclear issue, no deals can be made.
At most, the United States will open a new process to discuss the process of slapping eventual sanctions on Iran. Moreover, the pick-and-choose menu that was included in the June incentives package basically ensures that no meaningful sanctions will be enacted, even if U.N. Security Council members should eventually choose to go that route. All of the sound and fury over the incentives package will, in the end, signify next to nothing.
And Iran is well aware of this. So long as a military option is not on the table for the U.N. Security Council members -- and at this point, it is not -- it appears that Iran will emerge unscathed from this contest.
This should not be taken to mean that Iran will be on the fast track for acquiring nuclear weapons, since that is a function of technology rather than politics. But it does mean that Iran is growing stronger within a region where, on all sides, fundamental interests and assumptions are now being reassessed.www.stratfor.com
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Howl of Respect to our Soldiers/Veterans
on: August 22, 2006, 06:14:15 PM
Mystery 9/11 rescuer reveals himself
Unknown Marine steps forward as one who helped save two NYPD cops
Bebeto Matthews / AP
Jason Thomas of Columbus, Ohio, during visit to New York on Thursday.
View related photos
Did you know?
? Today in history: August 22
Celebrity birthdays, highlights in history, plus more facts about this day
? Take MSNBC.com's weekly news quiz
? Most Viewed ? Top Rated ? Most E-mailed
? Hurricane chief: Megadisaster 'is coming'
? Marines to issue involuntary call-ups
? Ramsey suspect OKs extradition to Colorado
? World?s oldest person turns 115
? At least 170 dead in Russian jet crash
? Most viewed on MSNBC.com
? Iwo Jima flag-raising photographer dies
? Proton therapy zeroes in on tumors, at a price
? Sophie's tale: A dog's long road from Katrina
? Big Sky Showdown
? The Gertie Effect
? Most viewed on MSNBC.com
? Marines to issue involuntary call-ups
? Hurricane chief: Megadisaster 'is coming'
? World?s oldest person turns 115
? Trends: All for the Love of the Game
? At least 170 dead in Russian jet crash
? Most viewed on MSNBC.com
Updated: 5:49 p.m. PT Aug 14, 2006
NEW YORK - For years, authorities wondered about the identity of a U.S. Marine who appeared at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, helped find a pair of police officers buried in the rubble, then vanished.
Even the producers of the new film chronicling the rescue, "World Trade Center," couldn't locate the mystery serviceman, who had given his name only as Sgt. Thomas.
The puzzle was finally solved when one Jason Thomas, of Columbus, Ohio, saw a TV commercial for the new movie a few weeks ago as he relaxed on his couch.
Story continues below ↓
His eyes widened as he saw two Marines with flashlights, hunting for survivors atop the smoldering ruins.
"That's us. That's me!" thought Thomas, who lived in Long Island during the attacks and now works as an officer in Ohio's Supreme Court.
Thomas, 32, hesitantly re-emerged last week to recount the role he played in the rescue of Port Authority police officers Will Jimeno and Sgt. John McLoughlin, who were entombed beneath 20 feet of debris when the twin towers collapsed.
Proof of identity
Back in New York to speak of his experience and visit family, Thomas provided the AP with photographs of himself at Ground Zero. As further proof of his identity, the movie's producer, Michael Shamberg, said Thomas and Jimeno have spoken by phone and shared details only the two of them would know.
Thomas, who had been out of the Marine Corps about a year, was dropping his daughter off at his mother's Long Island home when she told him planes had struck the towers.
He retrieved his Marine uniform from his truck, sped to Manhattan and had just parked his car when one of the towers collapsed. Thomas ran toward the center of the ash cloud.
"Someone needed help. It didn't matter who," he said. "I didn't even have a plan. But I have all this training as a Marine, and all I could think was, 'My city is in need.'"
Thomas bumped into another ex-Marine, Staff Sgt. David Karnes, and the pair decided to search for survivors.
?United States Marines!?
Carrying little more than flashlights and an infantryman's shovel, they climbed the mountain of debris, skirting dangerous crevasses and shards of red-hot metal, calling out "Is anyone down there? United States Marines!"
It was dark before they heard a response. The two crawled into a deep pit to find McLoughlin and Jimeno, injured but alive.
Jimeno would spend 13 hours in the pit before he was pulled free. Thomas stayed long enough to see him come up, but left due to exhaustion before McLoughlin, who remained pinned for another nine hours, was retrieved.
Click for related content
Remembering the World Trade Center on film
Review: ?World Trade Center? a waiting game
Thomas said he returned to Ground Zero every day for another 2 1/2 weeks to pitch in, then walked away and tried to forget.
"I didn't want to relive what took place that day," he said.
Shamberg said he apologized to Thomas for an inaccuracy in the film: Thomas is black, but the actor cast to portray him, William Mapother, is white. Filmmakers realized the mistake only after production had begun, Shamberg said.
Thomas laughed and gently chided the filmmakers, then politely declined to discuss it further. "I don't want to shed any negativity on what they were trying to show," he said.
As for his story, Thomas said he is gradually becoming more comfortable telling it.
"It's been like therapy," he said.
? 2006 The Associated Press.
DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Mexico
on: August 22, 2006, 06:09:13 PM
Texas Sheriffs Say Texas Sheriffs Say Terrorists Entering US from Mexico
By Kevin Mooney
CNSNews.com Staff Writer
August 21, 2006
(CNSNews.com) - The chief law enforcement officers of several Texas counties along the southern U.S. border warn that Arabic-speaking individuals are learning Spanish and integrating into Mexican culture before paying smugglers to sneak them into the United States. The Texas Sheriffs' Border Coalition believes those individuals are likely terrorists and that drug cartels and some members of the Mexican military are helping them get across the border.
Sheriff Sigifredo Gonzalez of Zapata County, Texas told Cybercast News Service that Iranian currency, military badges in Arabic, jackets and other clothing are among the items that have been discovered along the banks of the Rio Grande River. The sheriff also said there are a substantial number of individuals crossing the southern border into the U.S. who are not Mexican. He described the individuals in question as well-funded and able to pay so-called "coyotes" - human smugglers - large sums of money for help gaining illegal entry into the U.S.
Although many of the non-Mexican illegal aliens are fluent in Spanish, Gonzalez said they speak with an accent that is not native.
"It's clear these people are coming in for reasons other than employment," Gonzalez said.
That sentiment is shared by Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.).
"For years, Muslims and other 'Special Interest Aliens' from places other than Mexico have been streaming into the U.S. across our porous border," Tancredo told Cybercast News Service. "These people are not paying $50,000 or more a head just to 'take jobs no American will do.'
"Terrorists are working round the clock to infiltrate the United States," he added. "Congress and this administration must address this gaping hole in our national security and they must do it now."
Some of the more high profile pieces of evidence pointing to terrorist infiltration of the U.S. have been uncovered in Jim Hogg County, Texas, which experiences a high volume of smuggling activity, according to local law enforcement.
"We see patches on jackets from countries where we know al Qaeda to be active," Gonzalez explained.
The patches appear to be military badges with Arabic lettering. One patch in particular, discovered this past December, caught the attention of federal homeland security officials, according to Gonzalez and local officials familiar with the investigation.
Sheriff Wayne Jernigan of Valverde County, Texas, told members of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee in March about one patch that read "midnight mission" and displayed an airplane flying over a building heading towards a tower. Translators with DHS have said some of the various phrases and slogans on the items could mean "martyr," "way to eternal life," or "way to immortality."
Gonzalez told the House International Relations Subcommittee on International Terrorism and Nonproliferation in July that the terrorists are getting smarter.
"To avoid apprehension, we feel many of these terrorists attempt to blend in with persons of Hispanic origin when entering the country." Gonzalez stated. "We feel that terrorists are already here and continue to enter our country on a daily basis."
Sheriff Arvin West of Hudspeth County, Texas, told Cybercast News Service that he believes some Mexican soldiers are operating in concert with the drug cartels to aid the terrorists.
"There's no doubt in my mind," he said, "although the Mexican government and our government adamantly deny it."
Statistics made available through the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) show more than 40,000 illegal aliens from countries "Other Than Mexico," designated as OTMs, were apprehended by the U.S. Border Patrol in the period ranging from October 2003 to June 2004, as they attempted to cross the southwestern border. An overview of border security challenges produced through the office of Texas Gov. Rick Perry indicates that almost 120,000 OTMs were apprehended while attempting to cross into the state from January through July 2005.
Local authorities are particularly concerned about illegal aliens arriving from Special Interest Countries (SICs) where a radical version of Islam is known to flourish. Perry's office cites Iraq, Iran, Indonesia and Bangladesh among those countries. A Tancredo spokesperson said the list also includes Afghanistan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Somalia and Yemen.
As Cybercast News Service previously reported an internal audit of DHS that combines the number of illegal aliens arriving from SICs with the documented instances of illegal aliens arriving from countries identified as being state sponsors of terrorism (SSTs) yields a grand total of over 90,000 such illegal aliens who have been apprehended during the five year period from fiscal year 2001 to fiscal year 2005.
The border security report delivered by Perry's office focuses attention on the "Triborder region" of Latin America, which spans an area between Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay.
"The Triborder Region is a focal point of Islamic extremism," the report states. "Al Qaeda leadership plans to use criminal alien smuggling organizations to bring terrorist operatives across the border into the U.S."
Carlos Espinosa, a press spokesman for Tancredo, said his office is aware of a training camp in Brazil that actually teaches people from outside of Latin America how they can assimilate into the Mexican culture.
"They come up as illegal aliens and disguise themselves as potential migrant workers," Espinosa said.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: WW3
on: August 21, 2006, 08:22:44 AM
Secession Breeds Secessionism
Iraq's neighbors are just as fractured as Iraq itself. Should Iraq fragment, voices for secession elsewhere will gain strength. The dynamic is clear: One oppressed group with a sense of national identity stakes a claim to independence and goes to war to achieve it. As long as that group isn't crushed immediately, others with similar goals can be inspired to do the same.
The various civil wars in the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s provide a good example. Slovenia was determined to declare independence, which led the Croats to follow suit. When the Serbs opposed Croatian secession from Yugoslavia by force, the first of the Yugoslav civil wars broke out. The European Union foolishly recognized both Slovene and Croatian independence, hoping that would end the bloodshed. However, many Bosnian Muslims wanted independence, and when they saw the Slovenes and Croats rewarded for their revolts, they pursued the same course. The new Bosnian government feared that if it did not declare independence, Serbia and Croatia would gobble up the respective Serb- and Croat-inhabited parts of their country. When Bosnia held a March 1992 referendum on independence, 98 percent voted in favor. The barricades went up all over Sarajevo the next day, kicking off the worst of the Balkan civil wars.
It didn't stop there. The eventual success of the Bosnians -- even after four years of war -- was an important element in the thinking of Kosovar Albanians when they agitated against the Serbian government in 1997-98. Serbian repression sparked an escalation toward independence that ended in the 1999 Kosovo War between NATO and Serbia. Kosovo, in turn, inspired Albanians in Macedonia to launch a guerrilla war against the Skopje government in hope of achieving the same or better.
In Iraq's case, the first candidate for secession is obvious: Kurdistan. If any group on Earth deserves its own country, it is surely the Kurds -- a distinct nation of 25 million people living in a geographically contiguous space with their own language and culture. However, if the Iraqi Kurds declare their independence and are protected by the international community, it is not hard to imagine Kurdish groups in Turkey and Iran following suit.
Moreover, the Kurds are not the only candidates. Shiite leader Abdul Aziz Hakim has called for autonomy for Iraq's Shiite regions -- a likely precursor for demands of outright independence. If Iraqi Shiites try to split off, other Shiites in the Gulf region might agitate against their own regimes along similar lines. Moreover, if ethnic or sectarian self-determination begins spreading throughout the Middle East more generally, secessionist movements could also spread to unlikely groups such as Iran's minority Azeri and Baluch populations.
Beware of Neighborly Interventions
Another critical problem of civil wars is the tendency of neighboring states to get involved, turning the conflicts into regional wars. Foreign governments may intervene overtly or covertly to "stabilize" the country in turmoil and stop the refugees pouring across their borders, as the Europeans did during the Yugoslav wars. Neighboring states will intervene to eliminate terrorist groups setting up shop in the midst of the civil war, as Israel did repeatedly in Lebanon. They also may intervene to stem the flow of "dangerous ideas" into their country. Iran and Tajikistan intervened in the Afghan civil war on behalf of co-religionists and co-ethnicists suffering at the hands of the rabidly Sunni, rabidly Pashtun Taliban, just as Syria intervened in Lebanon for fear that the conflict there was radicalizing its Sunni population.
In virtually every case, these interventions brought only further grief to the interveners and to the parties of the civil war.
Opportunism is another powerful motive. States often harbor designs on their neighbors' land and resources and see the chaos of civil war as an opportunity to achieve long-frustrated ambitions. Much as Croatia's Franjo Tudjman and Serbia's Slobodan Milosevic may have felt the need to intervene in the Bosnian civil war to protect their ethnic brothers, it seems clear that a more important motive for both was to carve up Bosnia between them.
Many states attempt to influence the course of a civil war by providing money, weapons and other support to one side. In effect, they use their intelligence services to create proxies who can fight the war for them. But states find that proxies are rarely able to secure their interests, typically leading them to escalate to open intervention. Both Israel and Syria employed proxies in Lebanon, for example, but found them inadequate, prompting their own invasions.
Pakistan is one of the few countries to succeed in using a proxy force (the Taliban) to secure its interests in a civil war. However, the nation's support of these radical Islamists encouraged the explosion of Islamic fundamentalism in Pakistan itself -- increasing the number of armed groups operating from Pakistan and creating networks for drugs and weapons to fuel the conflict. Today, Pakistan is a basket case, and much of the reason lies in its costly effort to prevail in the Afghan civil war.
Covert foreign intervention is proceeding apace in Iraq, with Iran leading the way. U.S. military and Iraqi sources think there are several thousand Iranian agents of all kinds already in Iraq. These personnel have simultaneously funneled money, guns and other support to friendly Shiite groups and established the infrastructure to wage a large-scale clandestine war if necessary. Iran has set up an extensive network of safe houses, arms caches, communications channels and proxy fighters, and will be well-positioned to pursue its interests in a full-blown civil war. The Sunni powers of Jordan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Turkey are frightened by Iran's growing influence and presence in Iraq and have been scrambling to catch up.
Turkey may be the most likely country to overtly intervene in Iraq. Turkish leaders fear both the spillover of Turkish secessionism and the possibility that Iraq is becoming a haven for the PKK. Turkey has already massed troops on its southern border, and officials are threatening to intervene.
What's more, none of Iraq's neighbors thinks that it can afford to have the country fall into the hands of the other side. An Iranian "victory" would put the nation's forces in the heartland of the Arab world, bordering Jordan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Syria; several of these states poured tens of billions of dollars into Saddam Hussein's military to prevent just such an occurrence in the 1980s. Similarly, a Sunni Arab victory (backed by the Jordanians, Kuwaitis and Saudis) would put radical Sunni fundamentalists on Iran's doorstep -- a nightmare scenario for Tehran.
Add in, too, each country's interest in preventing its rivals from capturing Iraq's oil resources. If these states are unable to achieve their goals through clandestine intervention, they will have a powerful incentive to launch a conventional invasion.
* * *
Much as Americans may want to believe that the United States can just walk away from Iraq should it slide into all-out civil war, the threat of spillover from such a conflict throughout the Middle East means it can't. Instead, Washington will have to devise strategies to deal with refugees, minimize terrorist attacks emanating from Iraq, dampen the anger in neighboring populations caused by the conflict, prevent secession fever and keep Iraq's neighbors from intervening. The odds of success are poor, but, nonetheless, we have to try.
The United States, along with its Asian and European allies, will have to make a major effort to persuade Iraq's neighbors not to intervene in its civil war. Economic aid should be part of such an effort, but will not suffice. For Jordan and Saudi Arabia, it may require an effort to reinvigorate Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations, thereby addressing one of their major concerns -- an effort made all the more important and complex in light of the recent conflict between Hezbollah and Israel. For Iran and Syria, it may be a clear (but not cost-free) path toward acceptance back into the international community.
Saudi Arabia and Kuwait would be extremely difficult for the United States to coerce, and the best Washington might do is to convince them that their intervention is unnecessary because the United States and its allies will take great pains to keep Iran from meddling, which will be one of Riyadh's greatest worries.
When it comes to foreign intervention, Iran is the biggest headache of all. Given its immense interests in Iraq, some involvement is inevitable. For Tehran, and probably for Damascus, the United States and its allies probably will have to put down red lines regarding what is absolutely impermissible -- such as sending uniformed Iranian military units into Iraq or claiming Iraqi territory. Washington and its allies will also have to lay out what they will do if Iran crosses any of those red lines. Economic sanctions would be one possibility, but they could be effective only if the European Union, China, India and Russia all cooperate. On its own, the United States could employ punitive military operations, either to make Iran pay an unacceptable price for one-time infractions or to persuade it to halt ongoing violations of one or more red lines.
Don't Pick Winners
From Washington, it is tempting to consider ways to play one Iraqi faction against another in an effort to manage the civil war from within. The experiences of other powers, however, suggest how difficult this is. The Soviet Union tried to prop up President Najibullah when it left Afghanistan, and Israel used various Maronite militias as its proxies in Lebanon, but they all proved ineffective. Syria tried to use the Palestine Liberation Army to secure its interests in Lebanon, but its failure forced Damascus to invade instead. Washington tried to use a proxy force and intervene directly in Somalia, with equally disastrous results.
It is difficult, if not impossible, to determine a priori who will prevail in a civil war. The victor is rarely a key player in the country beforehand. Hezbollah did not exist in Lebanon at the start of the civil war there, nor did the Taliban in Afghanistan.
In Iraq, it is not clear which proxy would be the most effective militarily. Many communities are divided, fighting against one another more than against their supposed enemies. Iraq's Shiites may go the way of the Palestinians or the various Lebanese factions, who generally killed more of their own than of their declared enemies.
Manage the Kurds
Should chaos engulf Iraq, the Kurds will understandably want out, but this risks inspiring secessionists elsewhere in Iraq and throughout the region. In return for the Kurds agreeing to postpone formal secession, Washington should offer them extensive economic aid, assistance with refugees and security assurances (perhaps backed by U.S. troops) -- as well as promising support for their eventual independence when Iraq is more stable.
Buffer the Borders
One of Washington's hardest tasks would be to prevent the flow of dangerous people across Iraq's borders in either direction -- refugees, militias, foreign invaders and terrorists.
One option might be to create a system of buffer zones and refugee collection points inside Iraq staffed by U.S. and other coalition personnel. These collection points would be located on major roads, preferably near airstrips along Iraq's border -- thus on the principal routes that refugees would take to flee, providing a good logistical infrastructure to house, feed and otherwise care for tens or hundreds of thousands of refugees. Iraqi refugees would be gathered at these points and held there. In addition, coalition military forces would defend the refugee camps against attack, pacify and disarm them, and patrol large swaths of Iraqi territory nearby.
These zones would serve as "catch basins" for Iraqis fleeing the fighting, offering a secure place to stay within the nation's borders and thus preventing them from destabilizing neighboring countries. At the same time, they would serve as buffers between Iraq and its neighbors, preventing other forms of spillover -- such as militia movements, refugee flows out of Iraq and invasions into Iraq.
The catch-basin concept, while potentially useful, faces at least one big problem: Iran. Unlike Iraq's borders with Jordan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Syria, the Iranian border is too long and has too many crossing points for it to be policed effectively by smaller numbers of coalition troops. Iran will never allow the United States the access across its territory, let alone logistical support, that would be necessary to make catch-basins along the Iran-Iraq border realistic. Thus, this scheme could make it look as though the United States was turning Iraq over to the Iranians, with the catch-basins effectively preventing intervention by Iraq's Sunni neighbors while doing nothing to deter Iran. For this reason, the United States's clear red lines to Iran about not intervening (at least overtly) would have to be enforced assiduously.
Perhaps most important, the catch-basin proposal requires Americans to endure significant long-term costs -- both in blood and treasure -- in Iraq. The United States would still need to deploy tens of thousands of troops to the nation (albeit on its periphery), as well as supplies to feed and care for hundreds of thousands of refugees. The United States would still occupy parts of Iraq, and the U.S. presence would remain a recruiting poster for the jihadist movement. Finally, all of these costs would have to be endured for as long as the war rages; recall that refugees from the wars in Afghanistan lived away from their homes for more than 20 years.
* * *
No country in recent history has successfully managed the spillovers from a full-blown civil war; in fact, most attempts have failed miserably. Syria spent at least eight years trying to end the Lebanese civil war before the 1989 Taif accords and the 1991 Persian Gulf War gave it the opportunity to finally do so. Israel's 1982 invasion was also a bid to end the Lebanese civil war after its previous efforts to contain it had failed, and when this also failed, Jerusalem tried to go back to managing spillover. By 2000, it was clear that this was again ineffective and so Israel pulled out of Lebanon altogether.
Withdrawing from Lebanon was smart for Israel for many reasons, but it did not end its Lebanon problem -- as the latest conflict showed all too clearly. In the Balkans, the United States and its NATO allies realized that it was impossible to manage the Bosnian or Kosovar civil wars and so in both cases they employed coercion -- including the deployment of massive ground forces -- to bring them to an end.
That point is critical: Ending an all-out civil war typically requires overwhelming military power to nail down a political settlement. It took 30,000 British troops to bring the Irish civil war to an end, 45,000 Syrian troops to conclude the Lebanese civil war, 50,000 NATO troops to stop the Bosnian civil war, and 60,000 to do the job in Kosovo. Considering Iraq's much larger population, it probably would require 450,000 troops to quash an all-out civil war there. Such an effort would require a commitment of enormous military and economic resources, far in excess of what the United States has already put forth.
How Iraq got to this point is now an issue for historians (and perhaps for voters in 2008); what matters today is how to move forward and prepare for the tremendous risks an Iraqi civil war poses for this critical region. The outbreak of a large-scale civil conflict would not relieve us of our responsibilities in Iraq; in fact, it could multiply them. Unfortunately, in the Middle East, one should never assume that the situation can't get worse. It always can -- and usually firstname.lastname@example.org@brookings.edu
Daniel L. Byman is director of Georgetown University's Center for Peace and Security Studies. Kenneth M. Pollack is research director at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution.
? 2006 The Washington Post Company
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: WW3
on: August 21, 2006, 08:21:48 AM
By Daniel L. Byman and Kenneth M. Pollack
Sunday, August 20, 2006; B01
The debate is over: By any definition, Iraq is in a state of civil war. Indeed, the only thing standing between Iraq and a descent into total Bosnia-like devastation is 135,000 U.S. troops -- and even they are merely slowing the fall. The internecine conflict could easily spiral into one that threatens not only Iraq but also its neighbors throughout the oil-rich Persian Gulf region with instability, turmoil and war.
The consequences of an all-out civil war in Iraq could be dire. Considering the experiences of recent such conflicts, hundreds of thousands of people may die. Refugees and displaced people could number in the millions. And with Iraqi insurgents, militias and organized crime rings wreaking havoc on Iraq's oil infrastructure, a full-scale civil war could send global oil prices soaring even higher.
However, the greatest threat that the United States would face from civil war in Iraq is from the spillover -- the burdens, the instability, the copycat secession attempts and even the follow-on wars that could emerge in neighboring countries. Welcome to the new "new Middle East" -- a region where civil wars could follow one after another, like so many Cold War dominoes.
And unlike communism, these dominoes may actually fall.
For all the recent attention on the Israeli-Hezbollah conflict, far more people died in Iraq over the past month than in Israel and Lebanon, and tens of thousands have been killed from the fighting and criminal activity since the U.S. occupation began. Additional signs of civil war abound. Refugees and displaced people number in the hundreds of thousands. Militias continue to proliferate. The sense of being an "Iraqi" is evaporating.
Considering how many mistakes the United States has made in Iraq, how much time has been squandered, and how difficult the task is, even a serious course correction in Washington and Baghdad may only postpone the inevitable.
Iraq displays many of the conditions most conducive to spillover. The country's ethnic, tribal and religious groups are also found in neighboring states, and they share many of the same grievances. Iraq has a history of violence with its neighbors, which has fostered desires for vengeance and fomented constant clashes. Iraq also possesses resources that its neighbors covet -- oil being the most obvious, but important religious shrines also figure in the mix -- and its borders are porous.
Civil wars -- whether in Africa, Asia, Europe or the Middle East -- tend to spread across borders. For example, the effects of the Jewish-Palestinian conflict, which began in the 1920s and continued even after formal hostilities ended in 1948, contributed to the 1956 and 1967 Arab-Israeli wars, provoked a civil war in Jordan in 1970-71 and then triggered the Lebanese civil war of 1975-90. In turn, the Lebanese conflict helped spark civil war in Syria in 1976-82.
With an all-out civil war looming in Iraq, Washington must decide how to deal with the most common and dangerous ways such conflicts spill across national boundaries. Only by understanding the refugee crises, terrorism, radicalization of neighboring populations, copycat secessions and foreign interventions that such wars frequently spark can we begin to plan for how to cope with them in the months and years ahead.
Refugees Spread The Fighting
Massive refugee flows are a hallmark of major civil wars. Afghanistan's produced the largest such stream since World War II, with more than a third of the population fleeing. Conflicts in the Balkans in the 1990s also generated millions of refugees and internally displaced people: In Kosovo, more than two-thirds of Kosovar Albanians fled the country. In Bosnia, half of the country's 4.4 million people were displaced, and 1 million of them fled the country altogether. Comparable figures for Iraq would mean more than 13 million displaced Iraqis, and more than 6 million of them running to neighboring countries.
Refugees are not merely a humanitarian burden. They often continue the wars from their new homes, thus spreading the violence to other countries. At times, armed units move from one side of the border to the other. The millions of Afghans who fled to Pakistan during the anti-Soviet struggle in the 1980s illustrate such violent transformation. Stuck in the camps for years while war consumed their homeland, many refugees joined radical Islamist organizations. When the Soviets departed, refugees became the core of the Taliban. This movement, nurtured by Pakistani intelligence and various Islamist political parties, eventually took power in Kabul and opened the door for Osama bin Laden to establish a new base of operations for al-Qaeda.
Refugee camps often become a sanctuary and recruiting ground for militias, which use them to launch raids on their homelands. Inevitably, their enemies attack the camps -- or even the host governments. In turn, those governments begin to use the refugees as tools to influence events back in their homelands, arming, training and directing them, and thereby exacerbating the conflict.
Perhaps the most tragic example of the problems created by large refugee flows occurred in the wake of the Rwandan genocide in 1994. After the Hutu-led genocide resulted in the death of 800,000 to 1 million Tutsis and moderate Hutus, the Tutsi-led Rwandan Patriotic Front "invaded" the country from neighboring Uganda. The RPF was drawn from the 500,000 or so Tutsis who had already fled Rwanda from past pogroms. As the RPF swept through Rwanda, almost 1 million Hutus fled to neighboring Congo, fearing that the evil they did unto others would be done unto them.
For two years after 1994, Hutu bands continued to conduct raids in Rwanda and began to work with Congolese dictator Mobutu Sese Seko. The new RPF government of Rwanda responded by attacking not only the Hutu militia camps, but also its much larger neighbor, bolstering a formerly obscure Congolese opposition leader named Laurent Kabila and installing him in power in Kinshasa. A civil war in Congo ensued, killing perhaps 4 million people.
The flow of refugees from Iraq could worsen instability in all of its neighboring countries. Kuwait, for example, has just over 1 million citizens, one-third of whom are Shiite. The influx of several hundred thousand Iraqi Shiites across the border could change the religious balance in the country overnight. Both these Iraqi refugees and the Kuwaiti Shiites could turn against the Sunni-dominated Kuwaiti government, seeing violence as a means to end the centuries of discrimination they have faced at the hands of Kuwait's Sunnis.
Numbers of displaced people are already rising in Iraq, although they are nowhere near what they could be if the country slid into a full civil war. About 100,000 Arabs are believed to have fled northern Iraq under pressure from Kurdish militias. As many as 200,000 Sunni Arabs reportedly have been displaced by the fighting between Sunni groups and the American-led coalition in western Iraq. In the past 18 months, 50,000 to 100,000 Shiites have fled mixed-population cities in central Iraq for greater safety farther south. So far, in addition to the Palestinians and other foreigners, only the Iraqi upper and middle classes are fleeing the country altogether, moving to Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon or the Gulf States. As one indicator of the size of this flight, since 2004 the Ministry of Education has issued nearly 40,000 letters permitting parents to take their children's academic records abroad. If the violence continues to escalate, even those without resources will soon flee to vast refugee camps in the nearest country.
Terrorism Finds New Homes
The war in Iraq has proved to be a disaster for the struggle against Osama bin Laden. Fighters there are receiving training, building networks and becoming further radicalized -- and the U.S. occupation is proving a dream recruiting tool for young Muslims worldwide. As bad as this is, a wide-scale civil war in Iraq could make the terrorism problem even worse.
Such terrorist organizations as Hezbollah, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), the Armed Islamic Group (GIA), the Irish Republican Army (IRA) and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) were all born of civil wars. They eventually shifted from assaulting their enemies in Lebanon, Sri Lanka, Algeria, Northern Ireland and Israel, respectively, to mounting attacks elsewhere. Hezbollah has attacked Israeli, American and European targets on four continents. The LTTE assassinated former Indian prime minister Rajiv Gandhi because of his intervention in Sri Lanka. The IRA began a campaign of attacks in Britain in the 1980s. The GIA did the same to France the mid-1990s, hijacking an Air France flight then moving on to bombings in the country. In the 1970s, various Palestinian groups began launching terrorist attacks against Israelis wherever they could find them -- including at the Munich Olympics and airports in Athens and Rome -- and then attacked Western civilians whose governments supported Israel.
In Afghanistan, the anti-Soviet struggle in the 1980s was a key incubator for bin Laden's movement. Many young mujaheddin went to Afghanistan with only the foggiest notion of jihad. But during the fighting in Afghanistan, individuals took on one another's grievances, so that Saudi jihadists learned to hate the Egyptian government and Chechens learned to hate Israel. Meanwhile, al-Qaeda convinced many of them that the United States was at the center of the Muslim world's problems -- a view that almost no Sunni terrorist group had previously embraced. Other civil wars in Muslim countries, including the Balkans, Chechnya and Kashmir, began for local reasons but became enmeshed in the broader jihadist movement. Should Iraq descend into a deeper civil war, the country could become a sanctuary for both Shiite and Sunni terrorists, possibly even exceeding the problems of Lebanon in the 1980s or Afghanistan under the Taliban.
Right now, the U.S. military presence keeps a lid on the jihadist effort. There are no enormous training camps such as those the radicals enjoyed in Afghanistan. Likewise, Hezbollah and other Shiite terrorist groups have maintained a low profile in Iraq so far, but the more embattled the Shiites feel, the better the chance they will invite greater Hezbollah involvement. Shiite fighters may even strike the Sunni backers of their Iraqi adversaries, such as Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, or incite their own Shiite populations against them. And lost in the focus on Arab terrorist groups is the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK), an anti-Turkish group that has long fought to establish a Kurdish state in Turkey from bases in Iraq. The more Iraq is consumed by chaos, the more likely it is that the PKK will regain a haven in northern Iraq.
The Sunni jihadists would be particularly likely to go after Saudi Arabia given its long, lightly patrolled border with Iraq, as well as their interest in destabilizing the ruling Saud family. The turmoil in Iraq has energized young Saudi Islamists. In the future, the balance may shift from Saudis helping Iraqi fighters against the Americans to Iraqi fighters helping Saudi jihadists against the Saudi government, with Saudi oil infrastructure an obvious target.
Radicalism Is Contagious
Civil wars tend to inflame the passions of neighboring populations. This is often just a matter of proximity: Chaos and slaughter five miles down the road has a much greater emotional impact than a massacre 5,000 miles away. The problem worsens whenever ethnic or religious groupings also spill across borders. Frequently, people demand that their government intervene on behalf of their compatriots embroiled in the civil war. Alternatively, they may aid their co-religionists or co-ethnics on their own -- taking in refugees, funneling money and guns, providing sanctuary.
The Albanian government came under heavy pressure from its people to support the Kosovar Albanians who were fighting for independence from the Serbs. As a result, Tirana provided diplomatic support and covert aid to the Kosovo Liberation Army in 1998-99, and threatened to intervene to prevent Serbia from crushing the Kosovars. Similarly, numerous Irish and Irish American groups clandestinely supported the Irish Republican Army, providing money and guns to the group and lobbying Dublin and Washington.
Sometimes, radicalization works in the opposite direction if neighboring populations share the grievances of their comrades across the border, and as a result are inspired to fight in pursuit of similar goals in their own country. Although Sunni Syrians had chafed under the minority Alawite dictatorship since the 1960s, members of the Muslim Brotherhood (the leading Sunni Arab opposition group) were spurred to action when they saw Lebanese Sunni Arabs fighting to wrest a share of political power from the minority Maronite-dominated government in Beirut. This spurred their own decision to organize against Hafez al-Assad's regime in Damascus. By the late 1970s, their resistance had blossomed into civil war, but Assad's regime was not as weak as Lebanon's. In 1982, Assad razed the center of the city of Hama, a Muslim Brotherhood stronghold, killing 20,000 to 40,000 people and snuffing out the revolt.
Iraq's neighbors are vulnerable to this aspect of spillover. Iraq's own divisions are mirrored throughout the region; for instance, Bahrain, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia all have sizable Shiite communities. In Saudi Arabia, Shiites make up about 10 percent of the population, but they are heavily concentrated in its oil-rich Eastern Province. Bahrain's population is majority Shiite, although the regime is Sunni. Likewise, Iran, Syria and Turkey all have important Kurdish minorities, which are geographically concentrated adjacent to Iraqi Kurdistan.
Populations in some countries around Iraq are already showing dangerous signs of radicalization. In March, after the Sunni jihadist bombing of the Shiite Askariya shrine in Iraq, more than 100,000 Bahraini Shiites took to the streets in anger. In 2004, when U.S. forces were battling Iraqi Sunni insurgents in Fallujah, large numbers of Bahraini Sunnis protested. There has been unrest in Iranian Kurdistan in the past year, prompting Iran to deploy troops to the border and even shell Kurdish positions in Iraq. The Turks, too, have deployed additional forces to the Iraqi border to prevent any movement of Kurdish forces between the two countries.
Most ominous of all, tensions are rising between Shiites and Sunnis in the key Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia. As in Bahrain, many Saudi Shiites saw the success of Iraq's Shiites and are now demanding better political and economic treatment. The government made a few initial concessions, but now the kingdom's Sunnis are openly accusing the Shiites of heresy. Religious leaders on both sides have begun to warn of a coming civil war or schism within Islam. The horrors of such a split are on display only miles away in Iraq.
Secession Breeds Secessionism
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Invitation to dialog to Muslims
on: August 21, 2006, 07:25:56 AM
Kenneth Dickerman for The New York Times
Pakistani immigrants and their American-born children flock to Devon Avenue in Chicago because of its traditional restaurants and goods.
By NEIL MacFARQUHAR
Published: August 21, 2006
CHICAGO, Aug. 18 ? The stretch of Devon Avenue in North Chicago also named for Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, seems as if it has been transplanted directly from that country. The shops are packed with traditional wedding finery, and the spice mix in the restaurants? kebabs is just right.
Kenneth Dickerman for The New York Times
Businesses on Devon Avenue in Chicago, like an Islamic bookstore, attract a large Pakistani clientele.
Similar enclaves in Britain have been under scrutiny since they have proved to be a breeding ground for cells of terrorists, possibly including the 24 men arrested recently as suspects in a plot to blow up airliners flying out of London.
Yet Devon Avenue is in many ways different. Although heavily Pakistani, the street is far more exposed to other cultures than are similar communities in Britain.
Indian Hindus have a significant presence along the roughly one-and-a-half-mile strip of boutiques, whose other half is named for Gandhi. What was a heavily Jewish neighborhood some 20 years ago also includes recent immigrants from Colombia, Mexico and Ukraine, among others.
?There is integration even when you have an enclave,? said Nizam Arain, 32, a lawyer of Pakistani descent who was born and raised in Chicago. ?You don?t have the same siege mentality.?
Even so, members of the Pakistani immigrant community here find themselves joining the speculation as to whether sinister plots could be hatched in places like Devon (pronounced deh-VAHN) Avenue.
The most common response is no, at least not now, because of differences that have made Pakistanis in the United States far better off economically and more assimilated culturally than their counterparts in Britain. But some Pakistani-Americans do not rule out the possibility, given how little is understood about the exact tipping point that pushes angry young Muslim men to accept an ideology that endorses suicide and mass murder.
The idea of a relatively smaller, more prosperous, more striving immigrant community inoculating against terror cells goes only so far, they say.
?It makes it sound like it couldn?t happen here because we are the good immigrants: hard-working, close-knit, educated,? said Junaid Rana, an assistant professor of Asian-American studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and an American-born son of Pakistani immigrants. ?But we are talking about a cult mind-set, how a cult does its brainwashing.?
Yet one major difference between the United States and Britain, some say, is the United States? historical ideal of being a melting-pot meritocracy.
?You can keep the flavor of your ethnicity, but you are expected to become an American,? said Omer Mozaffar, 34, a Pakistani-American raised here who is working toward a doctorate in Islamic studies at the University of Chicago.
Britain remains far more rigid. In the United States, for example, Pakistani physicians are more likely to lead departments at hospitals or universities than they are in Britain, said Dr. Tariq H. Butt, a 52-year-old family physician who arrived in the United States 25 years ago for his residency.
Nationwide, Pakistanis appear to be prospering. The census calculated that mean household income in the United States in 2002 was $57,852 annually, while that for Asian households, which includes Pakistanis, was $70,047. By contrast, about one-fifth of young British-born Muslims are jobless, and many subsist on welfare.
Hard numbers on how many people of Pakistani descent live in the United States do not exist, but a forthcoming book from Harvard University Press on charitable donations among Pakistani-Americans, ?Portrait of a Giving Community,? puts the number around 500,000, with some 35 percent or more of them in the New York metropolitan area. Chicago has fewer than 100,000, while other significant clusters exist in California, Texas and Washington, D.C.
Pakistani immigration to the United States surged after laws in the 1960?s made it easier for Asians to enter the country. Most were drawn by jobs in academia, medicine and engineering. It was only in the late 1980?s and 90?s that Pakistanis arrived to work blue-collar jobs as taxi drivers or shopkeepers, said Adil Najam, the author of the book on donations and an international relations professor at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.
In Britain, by comparison, the first Pakistanis arrived after World War II to work in factories. Many were fleeing sectarian strife in Kashmir ? a lingering source of resentment ? and entire communities picked up and resettled together. This created Pakistani ghettos in cities like Bradford and Birmingham, whereas in the United States immigrants tended to be scattered and newcomers forced to assimilate. The trends intensified with time.
A decade ago, for example, a Pakistani in Chicago who wanted to buy halal meat, from animals butchered in a religiously sanctioned manner, could find it only on Devon Avenue. Now halal butchers dot the city and its suburbs.
Thousands of immigrants and their American-born offspring still flock to Devon Avenue because of its restaurants and traditional goods, including wedding saris for women and long, elaborate shirts and gilded slippers with curled toes for men. The avenue?s half-dozen rudimentary mosques have a reputation for being more conservative than those elsewhere in Chicago, with the imams emphasizing an adherence to Muslim tradition.
Published: August 21, 2006
(Page 2 of 2)
?They go to an area where they have a feeling of nostalgia, and even psychologically it is important for immigrant communities to feel that their home country is represented,? said Dr. Butt, an early member of the Association of Physicians of Pakistani Descent of North America, one of the oldest immigrant organizations here.
But immigrants are not mired in the Devon Avenue neighborhood; many move out once they can afford better. Unlike the situation in Britain, there is no collective history here of frustrated efforts to assimilate into a society where a shortened form of Pakistani is a stinging slur, and there are no centuries-old grievances nursed from British colonial rule over what became Pakistan.
Where such comparisons fail, however, is in providing a model to predict why some young Muslims turn to violence, although no religion is immune. In the United States there have been a few cases of young Pakistani men being arrested or tried in terror plots, in Atlanta and in Lodi, Calif., for example.
Ifti Nasim, a former luxury car salesman turned poet and gay rights advocate, greets a visitor with a slim volume of his works. The cover photograph shows him wearing a bright orange dress, ropes of pearls and a long blond wig. He has been in the United States since 1971.
Some shoppers crowding the sidewalks on Devon Avenue greet Mr. Nasim warmly, telling him they listen to his radio show or read his columns in a local Urdu-language newspaper. In Pakistan, Mr. Nasim says, his flamboyance would not be tolerated, but here he calls his acceptance ?the litmus test of the society.?
Like many, however, he has moments of doubt, saying, ?Pakistani society in Chicago has made a smooth transition so far, but you never know.?
A more important factor in determining who becomes a militant is most likely the feeling of being stigmatized as less than equal, community activists say, noting that such discrimination remains far more common in Britain. It is probably compounded by the fact that violence against Muslims in Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine and Lebanon feels so much closer there, they say.
Overt bigotry is rarer here, but it exists. For instance, Mohamed Hanis, a taxi driver who is a Pakistani immigrant, said that on the Friday night after the terror alert in London, a young white man climbed into his cab. Noticing the name Mohamed, the man threatened to report that Mr. Hanis had admitted to supporting terrorist attacks unless he could get a free ride. Instead, Mr. Hanis hailed a police officer who forced the passenger to pay.
Mr. Mozaffar, the University of Chicago student, said he had grown up with revered Muslim role models like Muhammad Ali and Kareem Abdul-Jabar, but now there were none. He teaches religion classes for young Muslims, and the question inevitably arises whether the creed justifies using violence for political or religious aims. He emphasizes that Islam forbids killing innocent civilians, and community members here have said they will not tolerate a mosque prayer leader advocating violence.
Initial reports about the British suspects quoted neighbors as saying that some of the men had become more religious, adopting Islamic dress and praying five times a day. That kind of transformation happens in Chicago, too, but the idea that any such change should automatically arouse suspicion rather than be considered teenage rebellion or a religious conversion makes community activists bridle.
For the past eight years, Abdul Qadeer Sheikh, 46, has managed Islamic Books N Things on Devon Avenue, which sells items like Korans, prayer rugs and Arabic alphabet books. He says that since Sept. 11, he has seen signs of the bias that has existed in Britain for decades developing here. He describes a distinctive fear of being seen as Muslim, even along Devon Avenue. Before, a good 70 percent of the women who came into his shop were veiled, he said. Now the reverse is true, and far fewer men wear traditional clothes.
The attitude of the American government in adopting terms like ?Islamic fascists? and deporting large numbers of immigrants, he said, makes Muslims feel marked, as if they do not belong here. ?The society in the United States is much fairer to foreigners than anywhere else,? he said, ?but that mood is changing.?
DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Venezuela Pol?tica
on: August 21, 2006, 07:06:07 AM
NEW YORK TIMES
August 21, 2006
Venezuela Strengthens Its Relationships in the Middle East
By SIMON ROMERO
CARACAS, Venezuela, Aug. 20 ? Venezuela has long cultivated ties with Middle Eastern governments, finding common ground in trying to keep oil prices high, but its recent engagement of Iran has become a defining element in its effort to build an alliance to curb American influence in developing countries.
In a visit late last month to Tehran by President Hugo Ch?vez and his oil minister, Rafael Ram?rez, the two countries agreed to produce jointly nearly a dozen products, including crude oil and medicines. In a further sign that their ties have taken on a new dimension, the two countries are speaking in a more unified voice in their criticism of Israel and the United States.
The strengthening of ties has turned Iran into Venezuela?s closest ally outside Latin America, adding clout to Mr. Ch?vez?s efforts within OPEC to increase revenue through output limits by oil-exporting countries. Venezuela has also become the most vociferous defender of Iran?s nuclear program at a time when Iran feels increasingly isolated.
?We stand by Iran at every moment, in any situation,? Mr. Ch?vez said in Tehran, where he received the golden High Medallion of the Islamic Republic from President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Venezuela, Syria and Cuba were the only countries to oppose referring Iran to the United Nations Security Council at a meeting in February of the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Though Venezuela maintains close economic ties with the United States, relations have been strained by verbal sparring between the Bush administration and Mr. Ch?vez.
Mr. Ch?vez has also shown recent interest in strengthening ties with Syria, sending his deputy foreign minister, Alcides Rond?n, to Damascus last week. Mr. Ch?vez continues to push for tighter relations with close trading partners of the United States. He is scheduled to arrive in China on Tuesday for a six-day visit aimed at finding ways to ship more Venezuelan oil to Chinese refineries. He is also expected to visit Malaysia and Angola.
Now, with Iranian investment in Venezuela climbing fast, what began as a trickle of ventures has evolved into the most vivid example of Venezuela?s move to reshape its foreign policy and distance itself from the United States by reaching out to countries on the margins of American influence, including Belarus, Zimbabwe and Cuba.
Hundreds of Iranian tractors are already rolling off an assembly line at a plant in Venezuela?s interior, and Khodro, the Iranian car manufacturer, plans to produce 5,000 Samand sedans a year at factory near Caracas starting in November.
With Venezuela vying for a nonpermanent seat on the United Nations Security Council, the ties with Iran have led to additional friction with the United States.
In testimony last month before the House Subcommittee on International Terrorism and Nonproliferation, Frank Urbancic Jr., the principal deputy coordinator for counterterrorism in the State Department, said Venezuela?s close relations, including intelligence operations, with Iran and Cuba helped illustrate a ?near complete lack of cooperation? with American efforts to fight terrorism.
The Bush administration further irked Mr. Ch?vez last week by appointing J. Patrick Maher, a longtime Central Intelligence Agency official, to oversee intelligence-gathering operations on Venezuela and Cuba. A comparable post had existed previously only for Iran and North Korea. Mr. Ch?vez ridiculed the move and said he had captured four people accused of spying for the United States, though the American Embassy here said it had no knowledge of such apprehensions.
The Bush administration?s more aggressive stance has drawn sharp rebuttals from officials here, who contend the United States is planning military action against Venezuela with an eye to controlling the country?s petroleum resources, the largest conventional reserves outside the Middle East.
Petropars, the Iranian national oil company, said it could invest as much as $4 billion in petroleum ventures in Venezuela to produce crude oil and natural gas. ?We want to help them,? said Mohammad Ali Talebi, a Petropars representative in Venezuela and director of a venture that may extract sulfur-laden heavy oil in an eastern region there.
Venezuela has also supported Iran?s effort to price oil in euros instead of dollars, a move aimed at weakening the influence of American investment banks and hedge funds, and the creation of an oil exchange in Iran to trade such contracts.
?Geopolitically, the most important front for Ch?vez in the world at this moment is Iran,? said Alberto Garrido, a historian who is writing a book on Venezuela?s ties to Muslim countries. ?Ch?vez, together with his closest advisers, have defined the strategic alliance with Iran as a means with which to counter American power.?
The ties with Iran have fueled theories among Mr. Ch?vez?s fractious opponents ? though without any substantiation ? that Venezuela could be sending uranium from its Amazonas state to Iran in exchange for nuclear technology. There have also been unsubstantiated claims that Mr. Ch?vez wants eventually to replay the Cuban missile crisis.
Venezuela has repeatedly said it has no plans to develop nuclear weapons. Mr. Ch?vez said in Tehran that he would support an effort to develop a nuclear energy program by Mercosur, the South American trade bloc that Venezuela recently joined.
A strong relationship between Venezuela and Muslim countries is nothing new, dating to the formation of OPEC in Baghdad in 1960, largely the brainchild of a Venezuelan oil minister. An approximation with Iran may have gotten under way in the mid-1990?s by Norberto Ceresole, an Argentine sociologist known for his anti-Semitic views who was a Ch?vez adviser. Mr. Ch?vez later distanced himself from Mr. Ceresole, who died in 2003. After Mr. Ch?vez was elected in 1998, he made relations with Iran a priority in his push for OPEC to raise oil prices.
Recent statements by Mr. Ch?vez in Iran and other Muslim countries, however, are increasing concern here in Caracas that Mr. Ch?vez is aligning himself too closely with Muslim leaders who have little in common with Venezuela?s generally inclusive and pluralistic political system. While in Qatar, Mr. Ch?vez said in an interview with Al Jazeera that Israeli military actions in Lebanon were ?being carried out in the style of Hitler, in a fascist fashion.?
After the fighting between Israel and the Lebanese Hezbollah militia began, Mr. Ch?vez recalled his highest-ranking diplomat in Israel. Then, in his weekly television program, Mr. Ch?vez accused Israel of a ?new Holocaust.? The authorities in Jerusalem responded by recalling Israel?s ambassador in Venezuela, Shlomo Cohen, for consultations.
?We have to categorically reject the comments for attempting to make the Holocaust banal,? said Fred Pressner, president of the Confederation of Jewish Associations of Venezuela. But some Jewish leaders here also said earlier this year that comments by Mr. Ch?vez about the ?descendants of the same ones who crucified Christ? were too hastily interpreted as anti-Semitic.
Political analysts here said the comments about Israel and other recent moves, like the appointment of Nicolas Maduro as foreign minister, were evidence of a radicalization of foreign policy that had stronger ties with Iran at its center. Mr. Maduro, who has stepped down as speaker of the National Assembly to take the post, had traveled to Iran in February to show explicit support for its nuclear program.
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: The Tradition and Culture Thread
on: August 19, 2006, 09:34:00 AM
Please forgive the fragmented nature of my posting in fragments, but at the moment it is all I have time to do.
Concerning "selling" techniques to the general public via DVDs, here is my current thinking:
As noted in the two "Rumination" clips, and as discussed in greater detail in the interviews which are included in Disc three of the the "Die Less Often" DVD (the duplication house promises we will have our first ones by August 23rd) I seek to teach in a way that does not give bad guys additional bad ideas, but rather to communicate to what we call "the warriors of the Unorganized Militia" what I understand to be the reality of knife in our culture. IMHO a substantial portion of the attacks will be of the sort done by criminals/convicts in prison. That is to say that they will be done with primal killing frenzy with extreme forward pressure and multiple stabs and slashes principally from the forehand side-- the "prison sewing machine". (Of course there are other kinds of attacks! -- but in DBMA one of our general principles is to seek to deal with primal realities first.) By my addressing this in the DVD I am not telling criminals something they don't know already!!! Instread, IMHO I am making a point that many martial art people who train knife defense do not appreciate. My hope is that by appreciating this point and training with awareness of it with techniques that can work in the adrenal state against serious killing intention, that they will be better prepared to act effectively to defend themselves.
Does this make sense?
Next matter: I sense in the questioning of the teacher referenced by BataanVet a sense that we lack respect for the Art. The point is made graciously and with respect and so I am glad to answer.
I would point out our DVD "The Grandfathers Speak" is about allowing people to learn about where the Art came from and about those who brought and bring it to us. We put a lot of editing into this (translation-- we spent a lot of money to do this right) The 28 minute piece on Manong Giron in particular took a tremendous amount of time and work, but we wanted the story to be told as it deserves to be told. And now we work on "The Grandfathers Speak 2: Maestro Sonny Umpad". These DVDs are not big sellers. They do not make us money. We lose money on them. We do them because we are in a position to give back to the Art something (creating a good DVD of this sort of thing) that not many people can do-- and so we do it.
Normally I would not mention this and I do not mention it now to seek applause, but in that the question has been asked, I answer.
My next post on all this will come as I have time.
Time for breakfast and then a full day of teaching/training. The Adventure continues,
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Guro Saltys Training in thailand
on: August 18, 2006, 10:36:08 PM
Thank you for that info Porn Star Dog (That's because his last name is "JungwiwattanattaPORN" or "Jung" for short).
Ajarn Salty's life now requires his attention elsewhere. We'll be glad for him and for ourselves when the wheel rolls around and he can join us once again.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Lebanon
on: August 17, 2006, 07:48:40 PM
HASSAN NASRALLAH and Ehud Olmert both say they won. But in asymmetrical warfare, the test of victory is asymmetrical too. Israel's prime minister set himself an absurd aim?the complete demolition of Hizbullah's power in Lebanon?and failed to achieve it. The shrewder Mr Nasrallah said victory would consist merely of surviving, and Hizbullah, however battered, did survive. On the last day it was not just standing, it also fired a record 246 rockets into Israel.
Hizbullah being what it is, Mr Nasrallah lost no time claiming that this was ?a strategic, historic victory?; crowds in Tehran chorused that Israel had been ?destroyed?. Did Hizbullah not kill 159 Israelis, including 116 Zionist soldiers? Israel being what it is, Mr Olmert's political foes lost no time denouncing the prime minister's failings as Israelis sank into a collective despond about the disappointing showing of their army and the blunting of their country's long-term deterrent power.
Mr Olmert, echoed by George Bush, says that Israel won because it has transformed Lebanon. Under Security Council Resolution 1701, which brought the fragile ceasefire, Hizbullah is to withdraw north of the Litani river, make way for the Lebanese army plus a strengthened UN force, and disarm. That would, Israel says, put an end to Hizbullah's ?state within state?. And so it would?if it happened. But it may not. Within days of the ceasefire, Mr Nasrallah said it was ?too early? to discuss disarming. Syria's president, Bashar Assad, said so too. And the likelihood of the Lebanese army or a UN force trying to disarm Hizbullah against its will is zero. Two years ago, the UN passed a splendid resolution, 1559, demanding the disarmament of all militias in Lebanon. If Hizbullah did not comply then, why should it do so now, flushed with self-declared victory and with Israel's army still inside Lebanon?
Lebanon could lose too
The plain fact is that if Hizbullah is ever to give up its weapons and become just another political party, it will be through the pressure of the other Lebanese, not as a direct result of Israel's war. The diplomacy should therefore not be built on the pretence that Israel won a war it didn't. The more that Israel and America claim otherwise, the less able the caught-in-the-middle Lebanese government of Fouad Siniora will be to extract favours from Mr Nasrallah. A better idea would be to deprive Hizbullah of the pretexts it has invented for keeping up its war. It would be useful, for example, if Israel gave up the Shebaa Farms, the bit of Syrian territory Hizbullah says is Lebanon's, and accepted a prisoner swap.
However, Israel needs to save face too. Mr Olmert has no interest in concessions that reinforce the idea that he led his warrior nation to defeat. Israelis feel they dare not let their country look weak. And now come ominous signs that it does. Mr Assad has started talking again about liberating the Golan Heights. Having previously denied arming Hizbullah, Iran this week started to boast about the weapons it sent. If Israel is to give up Shebaa at such a time it must have something big in return, such as the actual removal of Hizbullah's arms?not just their concealment?in the south at least. Since America is not seen as an honest broker, closing such a deal may well require some new mediator. France? Turkey? Germany? Without an agreement, the war could resume at any moment.
When will they ever learn?
If a deal is done, what lesson will Israel take from this war? Probably something along the lines of: more infantry, fewer tanks. Those who preach sagaciously from afar that Israel should learn something bigger?the necessity of making peace instead of relying on force?have not been paying attention.
The hubris that blinded Israel after its great victory of 1967 cleared decades ago. Since the 1980s at least two prime ministers, Yitzhak Rabin and Ehud Barak, gave their all in the search for peace. The first paid with his life and the second with his job. Even the hawkish Ariel Sharon budged. He pulled Israel out of Gaza and knocked the legs from under Israel's settler movement. The trouble for Israel is that in peacemaking, as well as in war, the enemy gets a vote. What the well-meaning protesters who have been marching in Europe in praise of Hizbullah refuse to acknowledge is that today, as in the 1940s, Israel still has some neighbours who continue to deny its very right to exist as a Jewish state.
This is not to say that Israel is blameless. It has made mistakes aplenty down the years. This war was probably just that: a mistake after a provocation and not a plot cooked up either by Israel and America against Iran, or by Iran against Israel and America, as the rival conspiracy theories go. It followed a bigger blunder: Israel's failure after Yasser Arafat's death to work seriously with his moderate successor, Mahmoud Abbas.
But peace does not depend only on Israel. Six years ago Israel withdrew from Lebanon to a border painstakingly demarcated by the UN. Hizbullah fought on anyway. Like Iran, it says its aim is Israel's destruction. Though an authentic political movement with a domestic agenda in Lebanon, it is also blatantly anti-Semitic. Mr Nasrallah once reflected that collecting the Jews in Palestine made them easier to wipe out. Its al-Manar TV station is a beacon of hate: one series purported to show Jews murdering Christian children to use their blood for Passover bread. Whether Hizbullah and Iran seriously propose to destroy Israel is hard to tell, but it is what they keep saying?and they have imitators. The Palestinians' ruling Hamas movement has not yet dared to say out loud that it accepts even the principle of sharing Palestine with a Jewish state.
Following Mr Sharon's withdrawal from Gaza, Mr Olmert hoped to follow his example by uprooting Israeli settlements from much of the West Bank. Hizbullah has now killed stone dead the idea of Israel giving up territory again without cast-iron security assurances. So there will be no leaving any of the West Bank until there is a deal. Israel must find some way to re-engage with the Palestinians. But right now it is not even talking to Hamas?and Hamas, after the Lebanon war, is in danger of subscribing anew to the old illusion that Palestine can be liberated by force. Black days ahead for the Middle East.
?Victory? for Hizbullah is not quite the same as victory for Lebanon, whatever its divided politicians feel they have to say
?DIVINE Victory?No Trespassing.? So says the message, in English and Arabic, printed on the yellow crime-scene tape that cordons off bomb sites in Haret Hreik, the Beirut suburb that is Hizbullah's firmest stronghold. The speed with which the Shia party, emerging bruised but triumphant in spirit after a month-long war, produced its own jaunty tape for this particular purpose says much about its efficiency. As the shaky ceasefire that started on August 14th took hold, party workers stole a march on the Lebanese government, fanning out across the country to give away victory sweets, clear debris, pull bodies from the rubble, and process claims for compensation from the estimated 15,000 householders who lost their homes to Israel's bombing.
Impressive in peace as in war, Hizbullah's tenacity carries heavy costs, however. The main one is that it is preventing the government of Lebanon from implementing the terms of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701, which it gratefully accepted in order to bring the fighting to an end. The core of this resolution is that Hizbullah should no longer operate as a military force in southern Lebanon, of which it was undisputed master before the war erupted. In its place, under the resolution and in the imagination at least of Fouad Siniora, Lebanon's prime minister, the official Lebanese army is supposed now to hold sway?assisted by a new international force that will give some bite to the toothless UNIFIL force that has been deployed ineffectually in the south for years.
As a part of the government, Hizbullah too has notionally accepted 1701. But now that the guns are silent and it has declared itself the victor, the organisation is in no hurry to implement its part of the deal. Hassan Nasrallah, the leader who evaded Israel's bombs for a month, is riding high on a region-wide wave of enthusiasm. In a typically soft-spoken but caustic television address, he called his Lebanese critics ?immoral? in their haste to see Hizbullah defanged. ?At this emotionally difficult and fateful time, some individuals speaking with wooden tongues sit behind desks in their air-conditioned offices and talk about these issues,? he said. One could virtually feel Lebanon's other politicians and grandees, none of whom now rivals him in popular standing, squirm.
If Mr Nasrallah refuses to disarm, even in the south, who can make him? He has the support of Iran, his chief armourer, which denounced 1701 as ?a Zionist document?. He also has the support of Syria. Its president, Bashar Assad, made this clear in a speech celebrating Hizbullah's ?victory?. Those Lebanese who were demanding that the group lay down its arms were ?Israeli creations? who wished to provoke civil war, he said in a fire-breathing peroration. The ramshackle Lebanese army is no match for Hizbullah, and the parts of the army recruited from the Shias of south Lebanon would probably refuse to fire on Hizbullah even if they were ordered to. The new international force may have robust rules of engagement, but it will not try to finish Israel's job for it.
That leaves Israel. Since the fighting ended, it has withdrawn many of its soldiers from Lebanon. But many remain?and may stay on for months, according to Israel's top general, if Lebanon's government fails to disarm Hizbullah or assert its authority in the south. Israel may also keep up the air and sea blockade that has throttled Lebanon's import-dependent economy. However, beyond its strenuous insistence that the Lebanese government has a duty to honour the agreement it signed, Israel does not seem eager to resume the war. For the present, its soldiers and Hizbullah's remain edgily intermingled in the south. There have been some lethal skirmishes. But neither army seems to relish another round just yet.
The man who is in the toughest predicament of all is Mr Siniora. Lebanon's prime minister is in a fix. Lebanese patriotism obliges him to celebrate Mr Nasrallah's great victory. But most of the coalition government over which he presides wants to seize the opportunity, enshrined in 1701 (and made possible by Israel's deplorable bombs), to turn Lebanon into a normal country, not one in which Iran and Syria maintain the Hizbullah fief. Behind the victory talk, many non-Shia Lebanese are appalled by the cost to Lebanon of Mr Nasrallah's war. They would love to use 1701 as a tool to strip Hizbullah of its arms and power.
Which is precisely why Mr Nasrallah is unlikely to oblige. In the eyes of many Shias, who were until recently Lebanon's most downtrodden sect, military strength is a guarantor of influence against the historically dominant and wealthier Christians and Sunni Muslims. Hizbullah's own leaders hold an even more paranoid worldview, regarding their fighting strength as a buffer that protects not just Lebanese Shias, but Arabs and Muslims at large, from American hegemony.
On paper, Mr Siniora's coalition of Sunni, Druze and right-wing Christian parties commands a strong parliamentary majority. His government, a product of the ?cedar revolution? that resulted last year in the eviction of Syria's army and looked set to recapture Lebanon for the West, enjoys the backing of the oil-rich Arab Gulf states, the United States and Lebanon's former colonial master, France. Yet its street-level power is hardly a match for Hizbullah's. Though pro-government businessmen have pledged to pay for rebuilding bridges across the country, their efforts are likely to be eclipsed by the door-to-door thoroughness of Hizbullah charities, augmented by the deep pockets of Iran.
At best, it seems, Mr Nasrallah will allow the Lebanese army to deploy to the south, aided later perhaps by the new international force. But his consent will be based on an agreement to conceal Hizbullah's weapons, not actually to remove or hand them over. He will pretend to comply with 1701, and the world may pretend to believe him. This fictitious construct may give Israel the cover it needs to withdraw its own army. But all the conditions will exist for a resumption of the war.
DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Mexico
on: August 17, 2006, 02:43:16 PM
MEXICO: Mexico's highest electoral court rejected complaints about the July congressional elections, which gave conservative candidate Felipe Calderon's party, the ruling National Action Party (PAN), the largest stake in the legislature. PAN will have 52 seats in the senate and the rival Institutional Revolutionary Party will have 33 seats. Defeated presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador's Democratic Revolutionary Party will have 28 seats.