Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan
on: March 22, 2007, 01:16:38 AM
Shaky Musharraf holds only the military card
By Syed Saleem Shahzad
KARACHI - As Pakistan's judiciary crisis deepens and a political storm escalates as daily developments spin the situation into new dimensions, maintenance of public order is uppermost in the minds of those in the corridors of power at military headquarters in Rawalpindi.
Should they leave the maintenance of public order to the civilian administration and the police, who have already failed to control violent protests over the "reference" of Chief Justice Iftikhar
Chaudhary for alleged abuse of power to the Judicial Council, given that further mishandling could easily be exploited by opposition politicians?
Even bigger questions are, what options would be left for President General Pervez Musharraf if military or paramilitary forces are used to confront the mobs, and where would this leave the army? Musharraf, who is also chief of army staff, will seek re-election in presidential polls this year.
While these questions are being pondered, the Judicial Council hearing on the Chaudhary reference has been deferred from March 21 to April 3, giving the authorities some breathing space.
Despite the deferment, the pace of developments is so rapid that anything could happen in the interim. Qazi Hussain Ahmed, president of the six-party opposition religious alliance Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal, has already announced that protests will continue. On Monday seven judges from Sindh and Punjab quit their posts and on Tuesday two more judges tendered their resignations.
The deferment also provides opposition political parties with an opportunity to mobilize their members to take advantage of the snowballing anti-Musharraf campaign.
Such developments leave plenty of potential for more mob violence, and many expect that the next hearing on April 3 will bring out the protesters in numbers not seen during the previous two hearings.
Nevertheless, Musharraf has dismissed the idea of declaring an emergency or deploying the army, despite the fact that all armed-forces intelligence agencies have reported the failure of the civilian administration and the police to handle the protests. The agencies say that probably the only way to contain the protests would be the deployment in sizable numbers of paramilitary forces such as the Pakistan Rangers.
The crisis is being compounded by other developments. According to latest reports, the Pakistani Taliban have seized control of settled areas such as Tank in North West Frontier Province, and the leader of the Awami National Party, Isfandyar Wali, revealed on television that the Taliban now control Frontier Region (FR) Kohat, just 15 kilometers from the provincial capital, Peshawar. "I am constantly saying that Taliban are very rapidly getting powerful in the North West Frontier Province, but nobody is listening to me," said Wali.
FR Kohat is hardly three hours from the national capital, Islamabad, and such a development will undoubtedly bolster the anti-Musharraf forces. As it is, Islamabad itself is home to many Taliban who have been preparing for Musharraf's ouster.
The police are also coming under increasing fire at a time when any missteps could touch off a wildfire of rioting. After failing to contain the protests in Islamabad and Lahore last Friday, they became embroiled in fresh controversy when they received an instruction to "fix" a senior journalist from a national newspaper. The instruction came at an individual level from an intelligence agency, under pressure from the minister for law, Wasi Zafar, whose elder brother was previously director general of internal security in the Inter-Services Intelligence agency.
Zafar had previously abused a journalist on a Voice of America talk show, and a local TV channel repeatedly broadcast a recording of the program. As soon as the police received the "advice" from the intelligence agency, they entered the offices of the largest media group of the country and ransacked them. Fortunately, the journalist was not present at the time and escaped being "fixed".
Thereupon, the government banned many talk shows that discussed Musharraf's action against the chief justice. In the ensuing media havoc, some TV channels announced the ban and at the same time openly defied it. Musharraf then personally appeared on TV and apologized to the nation and the media for the mishandling of the situation.
Countdown to chaos
This is the first judicial crisis of its kind in Pakistan's history. It began with the chief justice being referred by Musharraf to the Judicial Council, on the advice of Pakistan's Military Intelligence (MI).
MI is responsible for counterinsurgency operations in Balochistan, where Chief Justice Chaudhary comes from. Chaudhary had incurred the military's wrath by ruling in some cases in favor of those who were defined as "insurgents" by the military apparatus. He had also taken up the issue of people who had gone "missing" in the "war on terror".
The military establishment had misgivings about the whole modus operandi of the court. But getting rid of Chaudhary is doing nothing to help their cause. Rana Bhagwandas, the new acting chief justice who will preside over the Judicial Council, is a Hindu. He is well known for his integrity and professionalism, and could prove to be a sharp thorn in Islamabad's flesh.
Weakening the case against Chaudhary, all those named as "victims" in the reference against him have denied that they have any complaint against the chief justice. And retired justice Fakharuddin G Ibrahim, who was named as government counsel, refused to appear on behalf of the government and instead appeared on TV to appeal to the nation to stand against the high-handedness of the government.
The crisis has thus severely eroded the credibility of the Musharraf government, and when the dust settles, both he and the military will find themselves on shaky ground.
Compounding the situation are regional developments. The Taliban are about to launch an offensive in Afghanistan, and a US attack on Iran is not out of the question. These events could propel stronger Iraqi resistance to the US-led occupation there, and set shock waves in motion from Pakistan to Israel. As a major US ally in a region where anti-US forces are calling the shots, any weakening of the Pakistani leadership would have far-reaching ramifications.
It would seem that the military card is the only one Musharraf has left to play. He is truly between the proverbial rock and hard place.
Syed Saleem Shahzad is Asia Times Online's Pakistan Bureau Chief. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / IBD: American Beslan?
on: March 22, 2007, 01:15:16 AM
An American Beslan?
By INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY | Posted Tuesday, March 20, 2007 4:20 PM PT
Homeland Security: As Democrats hold more silly hearings to embarrass Republicans, the FBI is warning local police to be alert for Muslim extremists hijacking school buses. Reality check, please.
We wonder if any of the grandstanding politicians on Capitol Hill are thinking in terms of one of these nuts driving a fertilizer-filled yellow bus up to a government building — or, easier yet, a school. Of course not. They're too busy swooning over Valerie Plame to even notice we're still under threat from the Islamic terrorists they say we shouldn't be spying on.
The FBI and Homeland Security Department last week sent out a bulletin to law enforcement across the country warning that Muslims with "ties to extremist groups" are signing up to be school bus drivers. They also noted "recent suspicious activity" by foreigners who drive school buses or are licensed to drive them.
Recent events come on top of several other school bus-related incidents involving Mideast men that raise suspicion of terror activity.
They include last year's surprise boarding of a school bus in Florida by two Saudi men dressed in trench coats. Authorities suspect they were making a dry run to see how easy it would be to hijack or blow up a school bus filled with American children.
Previously, an Arab man from Detroit was caught trying to obtain a job as a school bus driver in New York using fake Social Security documents.
Authorities fear the school massacre that took place in Beslan, Russia, in 2004 may be a dress rehearsal for what al-Qaida plans to do here. Chechen terrorists tied to al-Qaida seized a building in Beslan on the first day of school and slaughtered 338, including 172 kids.
Three years later, schools and local police in this country are still unprepared to deal with such an assault. Most don't have response plans for handling a single active shooter, let alone a cell of trained terrorists.
Yet terror cells secreted inside America may be planning to use buses as a Trojan horse to infiltrate school campuses and murder students and teachers. Floor plans for schools in Virginia, Texas and New Jersey have been recovered from terrorist hands in Iraq. Videotapes confiscated in Afghanistan show al-Qaida terrorists practicing the takeover of a school.
Simultaneous attacks on schools in multiple states would follow Osama bin Laden's goal of crippling the U.S. economy. If multiple schools were hit, parents would drop out of the work force en masse to protect their children.
A prolonged labor disruption would cost businesses billions of dollars in lost revenue.
It's a grim picture. But don't think for a moment that al-Qaida is above targeting school children. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed said in his Gitmo confession that while he may not like killing kids, they're fair game in jihad. He claims U.S. forces bombed and killed the children of bin Laden's top deputy, Ayman Zawahiri, and arrested and "abused" his own children.
These people have nothing better to do than sit around and think of ways to kill us and our most precious resource, our children. They have many helpers placed inside U.S. cities who canvass targets and perform other logistics for such attacks. And these people will stop at nothing to pull them off. They're just waiting for the right time, when our guard is down.
Are we witnessing with Muslim men trying to obtain bus licenses what some alert (but ignored) agents witnessed before 9/11 when they noticed a number of Muslim men training to obtain pilot's licenses? Are schools and children the target of the next wave of terror attacks?
Parents should be outraged that Washington would continue to play politics with national security. Instead of using hearings to score partisan points, Congress would best serve constituents by using that power to investigate the terror threat to schools and how best to protect our children from attack.
DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Mexico
on: March 21, 2007, 07:35:33 PM
Mexico: The Cartel Responds to Calderon
Mexican President Felipe Calderon sent federal troops into the southern state of Tabasco on March 17, opening up the latest front in a crackdown on drug cartels Calderon initiated shortly after taking office in December 2006. Coming after recent intimidation efforts by criminal gangs operating in the area, the redeployment is part of a systematic effort to squeeze cartels -- and increases the likelihood of retaliatory violence.
Mexican troops searched houses and manned roadblocks in the southern state of Tabasco on March 19 after Mexican president Felipe Calderon dispatched more than 300 members of the Federal Preventive Police (PFP), as well as army units, to Villahermosa, the Gulf Coast state's capital, March 17.
The deployment followed a spate of violence in the area attributed to drug cartels. Since then, the former chief of state police and four of his current or former subordinates, including three police commanders, were detained on suspicion of collaborating with drug cartels and of trying to assassinate the current state chief of police, who was wounded in the attempt.
The escalation in violence began after retired Gen. Francisco Fernandez assumed office as the state's police chief Jan. 1. Fernandez, who has led anti-drug units in the states of Chihuahua, Durango and Sinaloa, aggressively combated drug traffickers and was investigating police ties to trafficking organizations. Two months into his tenure, gunmen fired more than 150 shots at Fernandez's Suburban shortly after he left a Villahermosa hotel, killing his chauffer. On March 15, a severed head was found in the parking lot of the Tabasco state security offices in Villahermosa. Hours later, the headless body of an alleged police informant was found across Tabasco's southern state line with Chiapas.
Police are not organized criminal gangs' sole targets. A reporter for the newspaper Tabasco Hoy disappeared Jan. 20 after naming alleged local drug traffickers in an article. Other journalists in the state also have received threatening phone calls and notes.
Following these incidents, Calderon deployed federal troops, who took over the state police headquarters, seized weapons from the police and searched the complex for evidence of police complicity in the assassination attempt. Federal police also arrested Fernandez's predecessor, Juan Cano Torres, in the town of Centla and raided his ranches, where authorities allege cartel assassins were allowed to hide out.
The seizure of weapons from police was similar to a January operation in the northwestern Mexican city of Tijuana, where federal police disarmed 3,000 police for several weeks while they investigated whether the weapons were tied to criminal acts. This and other operations initiated by Calderon since he took office Dec. 1, 2006, have involved approximately 30,000 federal forces in states such as Michoacan, Guerrero and Tamaulipas. They have effectively pressured the cartels, but also have caused them to shift trafficking operations in search of areas under less scrutiny.
The increase in cartel activity in Tabasco appears to be the result of pressure on Gulf cartel operations elsewhere in the country. The Gulf cartel and its enforcement arm, Los Zetas, operate on Mexico's Gulf Coast from Tabasco and Veracruz states up to the outskirts of the Tamaulipas city of Matamoros on the U.S. border. Los Zetas have deposited severed heads in public areas as an intimidation tactic outside of this territory, notably in Michoacan state and the city of Acapulco in Guerrero state. Another of Los Zetas' calling cards is replacing the letter "S" with a "Z" in threat notes, a scare tactic now in use against Tabasco journalists.
Both the Gulf cartel and Sinaloa cartel-affiliated organizations use Michoacan and Guerrero to import drugs from South America before they are transported through Mexico to the U.S. border. Recent federal anti-drug operations have targeted both of these states. Calderon's latest initiatives, combined with U.S. efforts in the Gulf of Mexico, likely prompted the Gulf Cartel to expand their use of areas like Tabasco as transit corridors.
Drug cartels in Mexico have shown a proclivity to respond violently to law enforcement operations and the flexibility to shift operations when they come under government pressure. New fronts in the efforts to combat drug cartels will continue to emerge as cartels seek the path of least resistance. These organizations are too well-equipped and ruthless to brook much interference, however, meaning conflict will escalate whenever they are pushed into a corner.
The cartels' tendencies to fight back and shift their operations will continue to manifest themselves as Calderon's anti-drug efforts proceed. But for all of Calderon's anti-cartel efforts in his short time in office, he has yet to encroach into the Sinaloa cartel's strongholds as effectively as he has other cartels' turf -- suggesting this game has much more room to play out.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / SPP: "Security and Prosperity Partnership"/United Nations
on: March 21, 2007, 07:33:16 PM
IMHO this subject bears very careful scrutiny. Certainly there are areas where coordination with our neighbors, Mexico and Canada, is to the benefit of all three of us. The very real danger though is that there are forces in our government which seek to transcend the limitations of our Constitution (e.g. neutering gun rights via the UN) and our sovereignty (e.g. as the bureaucrats of the EU in Brussels seek to do throughout Europe-- e.g. trying to tell the Irish that they should raise taxes to the higher levels of elsewhere or imposing the unlimited entry of undesired groups of people.
'Working groups led by DHS should now [be] driven by a single agenda: the SPP'
© 2007 WorldNetDaily.com
A memo signed by Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff implements a controversial program condemned by critics as a precursor to a European Union-style partnership with Mexico and Canada.
The document shows the Security and Prosperity Partnership, or SPP, is being directed at the highest level of the Bush administration, says the public interest group Judicial Watch, which obtained it and other documents through a Freedom of Information Act request.
The Sept. 22, 2005, memo describes the agencies within the Department of Homeland Security responsible for executing the security agenda of the SPP.
Titled "Implementation Memorandum for the (SPP)," the document says the SPP "has, in addition to identifying a number of new action items, comprehensively rolled up most of our existing homeland security-related policy initiatives with Canada and Mexico, and ongoing action and reporting in the various U.S.-Canada and U.S.-Mexico working groups led by DHS should now be driven by a single agenda: the SPP."
"These new records prove the Security and Prosperity Partnership is being directed by officials at the very highest levels of the United States government," said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.
Fitton said Americans "should know that the SPP is a core policy initiative for many agencies in our government, including the Department of Homeland Security."
The records obtained by Judicial Watch also contain an information paper describing 10 "Prosperity Pillar Working Groups" and the organization of the "U.S.-Mexico Critical Infrastructure Protection Work Group."
Judicial Watch said that unlike previous records produced by other federal agencies, the DHS records are heavily redacted, blocking out names of the U.S., Mexican and Canadian government officials carrying out the partnership's agenda across all three countries.
The DHS also released a 10-page chart listing 36 "SPP Security High-Level Working Groups" that include the "Mexico-U.S. Repatriation Technical WG," the "Mexico-U.S. Intelligence and Information Sharing WG," and the "Canada-U.S. Cross Border Crime Forum."
In October, as WND reported, about 1,000 documents obtained in a FOIA request to the SPP showed bureaucrats from agencies throughout the Bush administration meeting regularly with their counterparts in the Canadian and Mexican governments to engage in a broad rewriting of U.S. administrative law and regulations.
WND first reported the SPP activity last summer, showing the Bush administration had launched extensive working-group activity to implement a trilateral agreement with Mexico and Canada.
The groups, working under the North American Free Trade Agreement office in the Department of Commerce, are to implement an agreement signed by President Bush, then-Mexican President Vicente Fox and then-Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin in Waco, Texas, March 23, 2005.
The trilateral agreement, signed as a joint declaration not submitted to Congress for review, led to the creation of the SPP.
An SPP report to the heads of state of the U.S., Mexico and Canada, -- released June 27, 2005 -- lists some 20 different working groups spanning a wide variety of issues ranging from e-commerce, to aviation policy, to borders and immigration, involving the activity of multiple U.S. government agencies.
The working groups have produced a number of memorandums of understanding and trilateral declarations of agreement.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in America and the rest of the western hemisphere
on: March 21, 2007, 05:15:40 PM
Rare to find a piece with something genuinely fresh to add to the conversation-- good find! It reminds me of the piece I saw-- I don't remember where, it might even be here on this forum-- saying that the issue was not Islam, but Arabic tribalism.
Apart from intellectual curiousity, what are the practical implications of this piece? Do any solutions come to mind?
PS: A friend from India whose comments have always impressed me as thoughtful and well-informed writes:
There are some nuances, which the author has missed and even a few inaccuracies. Hindu and Sikh Punjabis are the most outgoing and bold amongst Indians. Sikhism is a hinduism offshoot, where even in the same Hindu family it was common for one brother to become a sikh and the other remained hindu. Sikhs were the warriors historically speaking...that may explain their bold outgoing attitude. The reason for the lack of assimilation is characteristics of the religion/culture which Ballard talks about at the end of the article. Hindu Punjabi festivals are characterized by joy and energy ( e.g. Bhangra dance). Islam is a closed religion, where infidel is an everyday word. I am unaware of any celebratory muslim festival (music, dancing etc). Cousin marriage has nothing to do with it...
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Geo Political matters
on: March 21, 2007, 01:06:40 AM
Yet another fine read from Stratfor.com
Geopolitics and the U.S. Spoiling Attack
By George Friedman
The United States has now spent four years fighting in Iraq. Those who planned the conflict never expected this outcome. Indeed, it could be argued that this outcome represents not only miscalculation but also a strategic defeat for the United States. The best that can be said about the war at the moment is that it is a strategic stalemate, which is an undesired outcome for the Americans. The worst that can be said is that the United States has failed to meet its strategic objectives and that failure represents defeat.
In considering the situation, our attention is drawn to a strange paradox that has been manifest in American foreign policy since World War II. On the one hand, the United States has consistently encountered strategic stalemate or defeat in particular politico-military operations. At those times, the outcomes have appeared to be disappointing if not catastrophic. Yet, over the same period of time, U.S. global power, on the whole, has surged. In spite of stalemate and defeat during the Cold War, the United States was more in 2000 than it had been in 1950.
Consider these examples from history:
Korea: Having defeated the North Korean army, U.S. forces were attacked by China. The result was a bloody stalemate, followed by a partition that essentially restored the status quo ante -- thus imposing an extended stalemate.
Cuba: After a pro-Soviet government was created well within the security cordon of the United States, Washington used overt and covert means to destroy the Castro regime. All attempts failed, and the Castro government remains in place nearly half a century later.
Vietnam: the United States fought an extended war in Vietnam, designed to contain the expansion of Communism in Indochina. The United States failed to achieve its objectives -- despite massive infusions of force -- and North Vietnam established hegemony over the region.
Iran: The U.S. containment policy required it to have a cordon of allies around the Soviet Union. Iran was a key link, blocking Soviet access to the Persian Gulf. The U.S. expulsion from Iran following the Islamic Revolution represented a major strategic reversal.
Iraq: In this context, Iraq appears to represent another strategic reversal -- with U.S. ambitions at least blocked, and possibly defeated, after a major investment of effort and prestige.
Look at it this way. On a pretty arbitrary scale -- between Korea (1950-53), Cuba (1960-63), Vietnam (1963-75), Iran (1979-1981) and Iraq (2003-present) -- the United States has spent about 27 of the last 55 years engaged in politico-military maneuvers that, at the very least, did not bring obvious success, and frequently brought disaster. Yet, in spite of these disasters, the long-term tendency of American power relative to the rest of the world has been favorable to the United States. This general paradox must be explained. And in the course of explanation, some understandings of the Iraq campaign, seen in a broader context, might emerge.
Schools of Thought
There are three general explanations for this paradox:
1. U.S. power does not rest on these politico-military involvements but derives from other factors, such as economic power. Therefore, the fact that the United States has consistently failed in major conflicts is an argument that these conflicts should not have been fought -- that they were not relevant to the emergence of American power. The U.S. preoccupation with politico-military conflict has been an exercise in the irrelevant that has slowed, but has not derailed, expansion of American power. Applying this logic, it would be argued that the Soviet Union would have collapsed anyway under its own weight -- as will the Islamic world -- and that U.S. interventions are pointless.
2. The United States has been extraordinarily fortunate that, despite its inability to use politico-military power effectively and its being drawn consistently into stalemate or defeat, exogenous forces have saved the United States from its own weakness. In the long run, this good fortune should not be viewed as strategy, but as disaster waiting to happen.
3. The wars mentioned previously were never as significant as they appeared to be -- public sentiment and government rhetoric notwithstanding. These conflicts drew on only a small fraction of potential U.S. power, and they always were seen as peripheral to fundamental national interests. The more important dimension of U.S. foreign policy was statecraft that shifted the burden of potential warfare from the United States to its allies. So, regardless of these examples, the core strategic issue for the United States was its alliances and ententes with states like Germany and China. Applying this logic, it follows that the wars themselves were -- practically speaking -- insignificant episodes, that stalemate and defeat were trivial and that, except for the domestic political obsession, none were of fundamental importance to the United States.
Put somewhat differently, there is the liberal view that the Soviet Union was not defeated by the United States in the Cold War, but that it collapsed itself, and the military conflicts of the Cold War were unnecessary. There is the conservative view that the United States won the Cold War in spite of a fundamental flaw in the American character -- an unwillingness to bear the burden of war -- and that this flaw ultimately will prove disastrous for the United States. Finally, there is the non-ideological, non-political view that the United States won the Cold War in spite of defeats and stalemates because these wars were never as important as either the liberals or conservatives made them out to be, however necessary they might have been seen to be at the time.
If we apply these analyses to Iraq, three schools of thought emerge. The first says that the Iraq war is unnecessary and even harmful in the context of the U.S.-jihadist confrontation -- and that, regardless of outcome, it should not be fought. The second says that the war is essential -- and that, while defeat or stalemate in this conflict perhaps would not be catastrophic to the United States, there is a possibility that it would be catastrophic. And at any rate, this argument continues, the United States' ongoing inability to impose its will in conflicts of this class ultimately will destroy it. Finally, there is the view that Iraq is simply a small piece of a bigger war and that the outcome of this particular conflict will not be decisive, although the war might be necessary. The heated rhetoric surrounding the Iraq conflict stems from the traditional American inability to hold things in perspective.
There is a reasonable case to be made for any of these three views. Any Stratfor reader knows that our sympathies gravitate toward the third view. However, that view makes no sense unless it is expanded. It must also take into consideration the view that the Soviet Union's fall was hardwired into history regardless of U.S. politico-military action, along with the notion that a consistent willingness to accept stalemate and defeat represents a significant threat to the United States in the long term.
Resource Commitments and Implications
Let's begin with something that is obviously true. When we consider Korea, Cuba, Vietnam, Iran and even Iraq, it is clear that the United States devoted only a tiny fraction of the military power it could have brought to bear if it wished. By this, we mean that in none of these cases was there a general American mobilization, at no point was U.S. industry converted to a wartime footing, at no point were nuclear weapons used to force enemy defeat. The proportion of force brought to bear, relative to capabilities demonstrated in conflicts such as World War II, was minimal.
If there were fundamental issues at stake involving national security, the United States did not act as though that was the case. What is most remarkable about these conflicts was the extreme restraint shown -- both in committing forces and in employing available forces. The conservative critique of U.S. foreign policy revolves around the tendency of the American leadership and public to recoil at the idea of extended conflict. But this recoil is not a response to extended war. Rather, by severely limiting the force available from the outset, the United States has, unintentionally, designed its wars to be extended. From this derives the conservative view that the United States engages in warfare without intending victory.
In each of these cases, the behavior of the United States implied that there were important national security issues at stake, but measured in terms of the resources provided, these national security issues were not of the first order. The United States certainly has shown an ability to mount full-bore politico-military operations in the past: In World War II, it provided sufficient resources to invade Europe and the Japanese empire simultaneously. But in all of the cases we have cited, the United States provided limited resources -- and in some cases, only covert or political resources. Clearly, it was prepared on some level to accept stalemate and defeat.
Even in cases where the enemy was engaged fully, the United States limited its commitment of resources. In Vietnam, for example, the defeat of North Vietnam and regime change were explicitly ruled out. The United States had as its explicit goal a stalemate, in which both South and North Vietnam survived as independent states. In Korea, the United States shifted to a stalemate strategy after the Chinese intervention. So too in Cuba after the Cuban missile crisis; and in Iran, the United States accepted defeat in an apparently critical arena without attempting a major intervention. In each instance, the mark of U.S. intervention was limited exposure -- even at the cost of stalemate or defeat.
In other words, the United States consistently has entered into conflicts in which its level of commitment was extremely limited, in which either victory was not the strategic goal or the mission eventually was redefined to accept stalemate, and in which even defeat was deemed preferable to a level of effort that might avert it. Public discussion on all sides was apoplectic both during these conflicts and afterward, yet American global power was not materially affected in the long run.
The Spoiling Attack
This appears to make no sense until we introduce a military concept into the analysis: the spoiling attack. The spoiling attack is an offensive operation; however, its goal is not to defeat the enemy but to disrupt enemy offensives -- to, in effect, prevent a defeat by the enemy. The success of the spoiling attack is not measured in term of enemy capitulation, but the degree to which it has forestalled successful enemy operations.
The concept of a spoiling attack is intimately bound up with the principle of economy of force. Military power, like all power, is finite. It must be husbanded. Even in a war in which no resources are spared, some operations do not justify a significant expenditure. Some attacks are always designed to succeed by failing. More precisely, the resources devoted to those operations are sufficient to disrupt enemy plans, to delay an enemy offensive, or to create an opportunity for political disruption of the enemy, rather than to defeat the enemy. For those tasked with carrying out the spoiling attack, it appears that they are being wasted in a hopeless effort. For those with a broader strategic or geopolitical perspective, it appears to be the proper application of the "economy of force" principle.
If we consider the examples cited above and apply the twin concepts of the spoiling attack and economy of force, then the conversion of American defeats into increased U.S. global power no longer appears quite as paradoxical. In Korea, spoiling Communist goals created breathing space elsewhere for the United States, and increased tension levels between China and Russia. A stalemate achieved outcomes as satisfactory to Washington as taking North Korea would have been. In Cuba, containing Fidel Castro was, relative to cost, as useful as destroying him. What he did in Cuba itself was less important to Washington than that he should not be an effective player in Latin America. In Vietnam, frustrating the North's strategic goals for a decade allowed the Sino-Soviet dispute to ripen, thus opening the door for Sino-U.S. entente even before the war ended. The U.S. interest in Iran, of course, rested with its utility as a buffer to the Soviets. Being ousted from Iran mattered only if the Iranians capitulated to the Soviets. Absent that, Iran's internal politics were of little interest to the United States.
If we apply the twin concepts to Iraq, it is possible to understand the reasons behind the size of the force deployed (which, while significant, still is limited relative to the full range of options brought to bear in World War II) and the obvious willingness of the Bush administration to court military disaster. The invasion four years ago has led to the Sunnis and Shia turning against each other in direct conflict. Therefore, it could be argued that just as the United States won the Cold War by exploiting the Sino-Soviet split and allying with Mao Zedong, so too the path to defeating the jihadists is not a main attack, but a spoiling attack that turns Sunnis and Shia against each other. This was certainly not the intent of the Bush administration in planning the 2003 invasion; it has become, nevertheless, an unintended and significant outcome.
Moreover, it is far from clear whether U.S. policymakers through history have been aware of this dimension in their operations. In considering Korea, Cuba, Vietnam and Iran, it is never clear that the Truman, Kennedy, Johnson/Nixon or Carter/Reagan administrations purposely set out to implement a spoiling attack. The fog of political rhetoric and the bureaucratized nature of the U.S. foreign policy apparatus make it difficult to speak of U.S. "strategy" as such. Every deputy assistant secretary of something-or-other confuses his little piece of things with the whole, and the American culture demonizes and deifies without clarifying.
However, there is a deep structure in U.S. foreign policy that becomes visible. The incongruities of stalemate and defeat on the one side and growing U.S. power on the other must be reconciled. The liberal and conservative arguments explain things only partially. But the idea that the United States rarely fights to win can be explained. It is not because of a lack of moral fiber, as conservatives would argue; nor a random and needless belligerence, as liberals would argue. Rather, it is the application of the principle of spoiling operations -- using limited resources not in order to defeat the enemy but to disrupt and confuse enemy operations.
As with the invisible hand in economics, businessmen pursue immediate ends without necessarily being aware of how they contribute to the wealth of nations. So too, politicians pursue immediate ends without necessarily being aware of how they contribute to national power. Some are clearer in their thinking than others, perhaps, or possibly all presidents are crystal-clear on what they are doing in these matters. We do not dine with the great.
But there is an underlying order to U.S. foreign policy that makes the apparent chaos of policymaking understandable and rational.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Dutch giving up on multi-culturalism?
on: March 21, 2007, 12:33:52 AM
Lessons for Britain as Fearful Dutch Turn Their Backs on Multi-Cultural Society
David Paul – The Sunday Express December 20, 2004
Beside a giant Christmas tree in Amsterdam's Dam Square last night a Rastafarian was cheerfully selling lumps of cannabis to passers-by.
A few hundred yards away dozens of almost naked girls from all around the world were standing in floodlit shop windows selling their bodies to any man with £30 in his wallet.
Drugs and sex openly on sale are familiar scenes to anyone who has visited Amsterdam, whose residents have long adhered to the maxim "Leven en laten leven" or "Live and let live".
But beneath the surface, Dutch society, hailed for many years as a model of liberalism and racial tolerance, is in crisis.
And there are some disturbing lessons for Britain in the alarming breakdown in the social order of a European nation just a one-hour flight from London or Manchester.
Rising religious and ethnic violence has erupted across Holland, with attacks on immigrants and revenge attacks by them in response.
In just one week last month, more than 20 mosques, churches, Islamic and Christian schools were either petrol bombed or vandalised.
Half a dozen Dutch politicians accused of being "enemies of Islam" have received death threats. Two are deemed to be in such danger they are living in police safe houses.
The Speaker of the Dutch parliament, Jozias van Aartsen, said: "Holy war has come to the Netherlands."
Holland's educated, white middle class fear for the future, despite having an income per head that is higher than in any major country in Europe, and they are leaving their homeland in droves.
Last year, more people left The Netherlands than arrived as migrants or asylum seekers, for the first time since the end of the Second World War. In the first six months of this year, the net loss to Holland's population was 13,313 people.
Those leaving are engineers, nurses, computer experts, lawyers, accountants and businessmen.
They have had enough of the multiculturalism of Holland and are heading for the wide open - and, though few will publicly admit it, almost exclusively white-populated - lands of Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
Just last month, Dutch immigration and integration minister Rita Verdonk, who is one of those to have received a death threat, admitted: "We were naive in thinking people would exist in society together." The chairman of the independent MigrationWatch UK pressure group , Sir Andrew Green, believes the Dutch "white flight" phenomenon may already have also begun in Britain, but because we have more space, people here still have the option to settle in different areas of the country, rather than move abroad.
"There is clear evidence from a recent survey by the London School of Economics that people are moving out of London at the rate of 100,000 a year, and people are leaving other city centres, " said Sir Andrew.
"It could be that this is a pattern similar to that developing in Holland.
We need more research into the reasons for these very significant movements."
The Office of National Statistics last month predicted a population boom in many areas of Britain, caused by immigrants. Numbers living in London and the South-east are forecast to swell by 15 per cent, to about 30million by 2028. The population of East Anglia will rise the most - by 16.8 per cent - with a 16.5 per cent increase in the South-west.
"Immigration now accounts for 85 per cent of our population growth, " Sir Andrew said. "These figures confirm there will be still further pressure on the south of England. London and the South are already twice as crowded as Holland, the most crowded country in continental Europe."
Home Office officials are monitoring the situation in Holland closely, while scores of British MPs have visited the Netherlands in recent months to see for themselves what has happened.
The wave of anti-Islamic violence in Holland is also being watched nervously in Germany, which is home to more than three million Muslims, most of them Turkish. Former German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt, caused outrage last month by saying that allowing the Turks who arrived in Germany as "gastarbeiter" or guest workers, to prop up the economy in the 1960s, had been a mistake.
The present Chancellor, Gerhard Schroder, has recently adopted a much tougher line on his country's immigrants, warning they must integrate better into German society.
But in the sleepy Dutch town of Alphen Aan Den Rijn, employment office worker Ibolya Fransen is not particularly interested in the debate about European states and multiculturalism. She just doesn't like having two mosques near her home.
"In some places 'white flight' is happening, " said Ibolya, a 35-year-old mother of two. "I don't live in an ethnic neighbourhood, but when you go to our big cities you think to yourself 'Where am I? I am the only person who speaks Dutch'.
"In Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague or Utrecht, there are places where immigration is out of hand.
They recreate their own country
They have their own shops, their own schools, their own places of worship.
"In my town, we have a population of 70,000, but we already have two mosques. In five years time it will be three or four. They will take over."
The facts back up Ibolya's argument to some extent. Dutch Government experts believe that by 2010 Rotterdam, Amsterdam, The Hague and Utrecht will have Muslim majorities.
Holland has a population of 16.2million, of which almost one in five is of foreign origin. White Dutch children are already the minority in four Dutch cities.
Fearful for their safety and convinced there is a better life to be had away from Holland, Ibolya, her oil engineer husband Marc, 37, and their two daughters Kinga, five, and eightmonth-old Odett, are emigrating to Alberta, Canada, in May next year.
Experts from the Buysse Immigration Consultancy are helping the Fransens to move abroad.
Last month the Buysse website had 13,000 inquiries from Dutch people seeking information on how to leave their country for good.
"I have seen what has happened to a civilised country like ours, and I think I will be happier somewhere else, " said Ibolya.
"If people in England believe they have the same problem, they should do the same as us.
"There is a growing intolerance of immigrants in Holland. It's a shame - the good ones will suffer because of the bad ones.
"The perception in Holland is that the immigrants are responsible for the increased violence."
The events of one Tuesday morning early last month convinced Ibolya she is right to quit her homeland.
Dutch artist and TV personality Theo Van Gogh, great-grandnephew of the painter Vincent Van Gogh, was cycling to work through the centre of Amsterdam when a Muslim extremist shot him eight times. As Van Gogh pleaded for his life, his attacker tried to chop off his head with a knife. The murder had seemingly been provoked by a film Mr Van Gogh had made, highlighting the treatment of women under Islam.
IBOLYA said: "After Van Gogh was murdered there were revenge attacks on mosques and Muslim schools. It has developed into a hate campaign.
"I don't want my daughters to end up in the middle of this fight.
The killers are attacking people in the streets, people are on the streets with knives and guns."
Van Gogh's murder followed the May 2002 assassination of Holland's firebrand homosexual politician Pim Fortuyn.
He was shot by a left-wing activist after denouncing the Netherlands' 30-year "experiment" with multiculturalism as a "disastrous error".
Mr Fortuyn launched a mass movement he said was to defend Holland's tolerant way of life from the radical Muslim clerics based in his country, who are often subsidised by Dutch taxpayers. He was killed just nine days before an election that might well have seen him become Prime Minister.
"When Pim Fortuyn was shot everyone said it was just a one off, " Ibolya said. "Now it's happening more and more. These Muslim extremists want their 15 minutes of fame. We've already got Dutch MPs living in hiding - this is crazy."
Ibolya is excited about the future she believes her family will enjoy 6,000 miles away from Holland.
"When you go to live in Canada as an immigrant you become part of the rest of the population there, " she said.
"But in Holland and elsewhere in Europe there is an Us and Them mentality. I think this is happening in England and Germany as well.
"People say we are turning our back on our country of birth, but we can't change things on our own.
The Netherlands has too many people and not enough space." http://www.thetruthseeker.co.uk/article.asp?ID=2693
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Military Science
on: March 20, 2007, 10:48:32 AM
Who Needs Nukes
Why the U.S. and other Western powers need to modernize their arsenals.
BY BRET STEPHENS
Tuesday, March 20, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT
The problem with nuclear weapons today can be summed up as follows: They are going out of fashion where they are needed most and coming into fashion where they are needed least.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair eked out what is likely to be the last significant legislative victory of his government on Thursday when parliament approved funds, over the objections of 88 Labour MPs, to begin design work on the next generation of ballistic missile nuclear submarines. Whether the subs and their missiles will actually be built remains a question for a future parliament to answer.
At nearly the same time, the Bush administration awarded a contract to the Lawrence Livermore Lab to design something called the Reliable Replacement Warhead--basically a retinkered version of the previously tested but never-deployed W89 warhead--to replace the current mainstays of the U.S. arsenal, particularly the 100-kiloton W76. But with Democrats in control of Congress, the RRW will surely face funding hurdles of its own. The New York Times has already chimed in with an editorial denouncing RRW as a make-work scheme for nuclear scientists based on the supposedly bogus rationale of " 'aging' warheads."
Too bad the Times didn't rely on its own fine reporting of the issue: "As warheads age," noted the paper's William J. Broad in a 2005 exposé, "the risk of internal rusting, material degradation, corrosion, decay and the embrittling of critical parts increases." Too bad, too, that British anti-nuclear activists fail to consider the dire consequences for their collective poodledom should they relinquish their independent deterrent.
Still, these ironies are of small account and at least the left maintains its scruples. No similar scruples inhibit the nuclear ambitions of other nations. Russia is fielding a new land-based missile called the Topol-M and building a new generation of ballistic-missile submarines. The Chinese are upgrading their land- and sea-based nuclear forces with multiple warheads and solid-fuel propulsion technology. Pakistan last month successfully tested its Shaheen-II ballistic missile, capable of lifting a nuclear payload to a range of 1,250 miles. Iran is reportedly within months of developing an industrial-scale uranium enrichment capacity of about 3,000 centrifuges, which in turn puts it on track to acquire a bomb's worth of fissile uranium by the end of 2008. The progress of North Korean arms is well known.
Why are the world's responsible powers in such doubt about the necessity of nuclear deterrence when the irresponsible are seeking as never before to enlarge or improve their store of weapons? One answer was offered in these pages in January by former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, who noted that the 1970 Non-Proliferation Treaty committed non-nuclear powers not to develop weapons in exchange for a promise by the nuclear powers to "reduce and eventually abolish their arsenals." "If this reciprocity is not observed," he wrote, "then the entire structure of the treaty will collapse."
As a matter of rhetoric, Mr. Gorbachev is surely right, and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad would be clever to press the point when he makes an appearance before the U.N. Security Council later this month. As a matter of reality, the argument is wrong on facts and dangerously solipsistic: Messrs. Kim and Ahmadinejad have better reasons to seek nuclear weapons than pique at American (or British) "hypocrisy." As it is, both Russia and the U.S. have reduced their arsenals from Cold War peaks by as much as 80%--much of the reduction being achieved by the current administration--yet that has done little to incent rogue actors not to seek their own weapons of mass destruction.
A more serious objection to the American and British modernization plans is that they offer no realistic security against terrorism. Suppose al Qaeda detonates a nuclear bomb in Times Square. Suppose that the weapon was stolen from an old Soviet depot, meaning no "return address" for purposes of retaliation. Suppose, also, that al Qaeda threatens to detonate five other bombs if the U.S. does not meet a list of its demands. What use would deterrence be then? Against whom would we retaliate, and where?
This scenario does not invalidate the need for a nuclear deterrent: There would still be conventional opponents to deter, and it's odd that the people who tell us we can "contain" a nuclear Iran are often the same ones who insist we can forgo the means of containment. But the question of what to do after a nuclear 9/11 is something to which not enough thought has been given. We urgently need a nuclear doctrine--and the weapons to go with it--for the terrorist age. The RRW, which simply prolongs a Cold War nuclear posture through the year 2050, amounts to a partial solution at best.
What would a sensible deterrence strategy look like? "Even nihilists have something they hold dear that can be threatened with deterrence," says Max Singer, a collaborator of the great Cold War theorist Herman Kahn. "You need to know what it is, communicate it and be serious about it."
Would it hinder Islamist terrorists if the U.S.'s declared policy in the event of a nuclear 9/11 was the immediate destruction of Mecca, Medina and the Iranian religious center of Qom? Would our deterrent be more or less effective if we deployed a range of weapons, such as the maligned "bunker buster," the use of which a potential adversary might think us capable? How would the deployment of a comprehensive anti-ballistic missile shield alter the composition of a credible deterrent? Does it make sense to adhere to the NPT regime when that regime is clearly broken?
One needn't have answers to these questions to know it requires something more than pat moralizing about the terribleness of nuclear weapons or declaring the whole matter "unthinkable." Nothing is unthinkable. But whether the unthinkable remains the undoable depends entirely on our willingness to think clearly about it, and to act on our conclusions.
Mr. Stephens is a member of The Wall Street Journal's editorial board. His column appears in the Journal Tuesdays.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Diner Owner kills would-be robber
on: March 20, 2007, 10:17:23 AM
Diner Owner Tells All After Killing Would-Be Robber
POSTED: 10:41 am EST March 9, 2007
A Philadelphia diner owner told all after he shot and killed a would-be robber and wounded another one on Thursday afternoon.
Jason Lee, 45, owner of Sunrise Breakfast in West Oak Lane, said he was not a hero, just a man trying to protect himself and those around him.
On Thursday morning, he shot and killed 20-year-old Cornell Toombs after he and 24-year-old Gary Williams pointed a gun at a diner employee, authorities said. The men demanded cash and threatened to open fire during the attempted robbery, Lee explained.
As the owner's wife stepped to action and started opening the cash drawer because the cashier was shaking too badly to do it, the store owner grabbed his registered gun and prepared himself for the worst.
One of the robbers fired at Lee, but missed. Lee shot Toombs in the head and pumped two bullets into Williams -- one in the face and another in the back, according to police.
Williams was listed in critical but stable condition on Friday morning, authorities said.
This wasn't the first time Lee was targeted. He was robbed twice in two others stores he owned. One of those times, he shot and killed a robber.
After shots were fired in his store on Thursday, a nearby witness grabbed his daughter's cell phone and captured the aftermath on the device's video recorder.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Evolutionary biology/psychology
on: March 20, 2007, 08:14:20 AM
Scientist Finds the Beginnings of Morality in Primate Behavior
Illustration by Edel Rodriguez based on source material from Frans de Waal
Social OrderChimpanzees have a sense of social structure and rules of behavior, most of which involve the hierarchy of a group, in which some animals rank higher than others. Social living demands a number of qualities that may be precursors of morality. More
By NICHOLAS WADE
Published: March 20, 2007
Some animals are surprisingly sensitive to the plight of others. Chimpanzees, who cannot swim, have drowned in zoo moats trying to save others. Given the chance to get food by pulling a chain that would also deliver an electric shock to a companion, rhesus monkeys will starve themselves for several days.
The Beginnings of Morality? Biologists argue that these and other social behaviors are the precursors of human morality. They further believe that if morality grew out of behavioral rules shaped by evolution, it is for biologists, not philosophers or theologians, to say what these rules are.
Moral philosophers do not take very seriously the biologists’ bid to annex their subject, but they find much of interest in what the biologists say and have started an academic conversation with them.
The original call to battle was sounded by the biologist Edward O. Wilson more than 30 years ago, when he suggested in his 1975 book “Sociobiology” that “the time has come for ethics to be removed temporarily from the hands of the philosophers and biologicized.” He may have jumped the gun about the time having come, but in the intervening decades biologists have made considerable progress.
Last year Marc Hauser, an evolutionary biologist at Harvard, proposed in his book “Moral Minds” that the brain has a genetically shaped mechanism for acquiring moral rules, a universal moral grammar similar to the neural machinery for learning language. In another recent book, “Primates and Philosophers,” the primatologist Frans de Waal defends against philosopher critics his view that the roots of morality can be seen in the social behavior of monkeys and apes.
Dr. de Waal, who is director of the Living Links Center at Emory University, argues that all social animals have had to constrain or alter their behavior in various ways for group living to be worthwhile. These constraints, evident in monkeys and even more so in chimpanzees, are part of human inheritance, too, and in his view form the set of behaviors from which human morality has been shaped.
Many philosophers find it hard to think of animals as moral beings, and indeed Dr. de Waal does not contend that even chimpanzees possess morality. But he argues that human morality would be impossible without certain emotional building blocks that are clearly at work in chimp and monkey societies.
Dr. de Waal’s views are based on years of observing nonhuman primates, starting with work on aggression in the 1960s. He noticed then that after fights between two combatants, other chimpanzees would console the loser. But he was waylaid in battles with psychologists over imputing emotional states to animals, and it took him 20 years to come back to the subject.
He found that consolation was universal among the great apes but generally absent from monkeys — among macaques, mothers will not even reassure an injured infant. To console another, Dr. de Waal argues, requires empathy and a level of self-awareness that only apes and humans seem to possess. And consideration of empathy quickly led him to explore the conditions for morality.
Though human morality may end in notions of rights and justice and fine ethical distinctions, it begins, Dr. de Waal says, in concern for others and the understanding of social rules as to how they should be treated. At this lower level, primatologists have shown, there is what they consider to be a sizable overlap between the behavior of people and other social primates.
Social living requires empathy, which is especially evident in chimpanzees, as well as ways of bringing internal hostilities to an end. Every species of ape and monkey has its own protocol for reconciliation after fights, Dr. de Waal has found. If two males fail to make up, female chimpanzees will often bring the rivals together, as if sensing that discord makes their community worse off and more vulnerable to attack by neighbors. Or they will head off a fight by taking stones out of the males’ hands.
Dr. de Waal believes that these actions are undertaken for the greater good of the community, as distinct from person-to-person relationships, and are a significant precursor of morality in human societies.
(Page 2 of 3)
Macaques and chimpanzees have a sense of social order and rules of expected behavior, mostly to do with the hierarchical natures of their societies, in which each member knows its own place. Young rhesus monkeys learn quickly how to behave, and occasionally get a finger or toe bitten off as punishment. Other primates also have a sense of reciprocity and fairness. They remember who did them favors and who did them wrong. Chimps are more likely to share food with those who have groomed them. Capuchin monkeys show their displeasure if given a smaller reward than a partner receives for performing the same task, like a piece of cucumber instead of a grape.
The Beginnings of Morality? These four kinds of behavior — empathy, the ability to learn and follow social rules, reciprocity and peacemaking — are the basis of sociality.
Dr. de Waal sees human morality as having grown out of primate sociality, but with two extra levels of sophistication. People enforce their society’s moral codes much more rigorously with rewards, punishments and reputation building. They also apply a degree of judgment and reason, for which there are no parallels in animals.
Religion can be seen as another special ingredient of human societies, though one that emerged thousands of years after morality, in Dr. de Waal’s view. There are clear precursors of morality in nonhuman primates, but no precursors of religion. So it seems reasonable to assume that as humans evolved away from chimps, morality emerged first, followed by religion. “I look at religions as recent additions,” he said. “Their function may have to do with social life, and enforcement of rules and giving a narrative to them, which is what religions really do.”
As Dr. de Waal sees it, human morality may be severely limited by having evolved as a way of banding together against adversaries, with moral restraints being observed only toward the in group, not toward outsiders. “The profound irony is that our noblest achievement — morality — has evolutionary ties to our basest behavior — warfare,” he writes. “The sense of community required by the former was provided by the latter.”
Dr. de Waal has faced down many critics in evolutionary biology and psychology in developing his views. The evolutionary biologist George Williams dismissed morality as merely an accidental byproduct of evolution, and psychologists objected to attributing any emotional state to animals. Dr. de Waal convinced his colleagues over many years that the ban on inferring emotional states was an unreasonable restriction, given the expected evolutionary continuity between humans and other primates.
His latest audience is moral philosophers, many of whom are interested in his work and that of other biologists. “In departments of philosophy, an increasing number of people are influenced by what they have to say,” said Gilbert Harman, a Princeton University philosopher.
Dr. Philip Kitcher, a philosopher at Columbia University, likes Dr. de Waal’s empirical approach. “I have no doubt there are patterns of behavior we share with our primate relatives that are relevant to our ethical decisions,” he said. “Philosophers have always been beguiled by the dream of a system of ethics which is complete and finished, like mathematics. I don’t think it’s like that at all.”
But human ethics are considerably more complicated than the sympathy Dr. de Waal has described in chimps. “Sympathy is the raw material out of which a more complicated set of ethics may get fashioned,” he said. “In the actual world, we are confronted with different people who might be targets of our sympathy. And the business of ethics is deciding who to help and why and when.”
Many philosophers believe that conscious reasoning plays a large part in governing human ethical behavior and are therefore unwilling to let everything proceed from emotions, like sympathy, which may be evident in chimpanzees. The impartial element of morality comes from a capacity to reason, writes Peter Singer, a moral philosopher at Princeton, in “Primates and Philosophers.” He says, “Reason is like an escalator — once we step on it, we cannot get off until we have gone where it takes us.”
That was the view of Immanuel Kant, Dr. Singer noted, who believed morality must be based on reason, whereas the Scottish philosopher David Hume, followed by Dr. de Waal, argued that moral judgments proceed from the emotions.
But biologists like Dr. de Waal believe reason is generally brought to bear only after a moral decision has been reached. They argue that morality evolved at a time when people lived in small foraging societies and often had to make instant life-or-death decisions, with no time for conscious evaluation of moral choices. The reasoning came afterward as a post hoc justification. “Human behavior derives above all from fast, automated, emotional judgments, and only secondarily from slower conscious processes,” Dr. de Waal writes.
Page 3 of 3)
However much we may celebrate rationality, emotions are our compass, probably because they have been shaped by evolution, in Dr. de Waal’s view. For example, he says: “People object to moral solutions that involve hands-on harm to one another. This may be because hands-on violence has been subject to natural selection whereas utilitarian deliberations have not.”
The Beginnings of Morality? Philosophers have another reason biologists cannot, in their view, reach to the heart of morality, and that is that biological analyses cannot cross the gap between “is” and “ought,” between the description of some behavior and the issue of why it is right or wrong. “You can identify some value we hold, and tell an evolutionary story about why we hold it, but there is always that radically different question of whether we ought to hold it,” said Sharon Street, a moral philosopher at New York University. “That’s not to discount the importance of what biologists are doing, but it does show why centuries of moral philosophy are incredibly relevant, too.”
Biologists are allowed an even smaller piece of the action by Jesse Prinz, a philosopher at the University of North Carolina. He believes morality developed after human evolution was finished and that moral sentiments are shaped by culture, not genetics. “It would be a fallacy to assume a single true morality could be identified by what we do instinctively, rather than by what we ought to do,” he said. “One of the principles that might guide a single true morality might be recognition of equal dignity for all human beings, and that seems to be unprecedented in the animal world.”
Dr. de Waal does not accept the philosophers’ view that biologists cannot step from “is” to “ought.” “I’m not sure how realistic the distinction is,” he said. “Animals do have ‘oughts.’ If a juvenile is in a fight, the mother must get up and defend her. Or in food sharing, animals do put pressure on each other, which is the first kind of ‘ought’ situation.”
Dr. de Waal’s definition of morality is more down to earth than Dr. Prinz’s. Morality, he writes, is “a sense of right and wrong that is born out of groupwide systems of conflict management based on shared values.” The building blocks of morality are not nice or good behaviors but rather mental and social capacities for constructing societies “in which shared values constrain individual behavior through a system of approval and disapproval.” By this definition chimpanzees in his view do possess some of the behavioral capacities built in our moral systems.
“Morality is as firmly grounded in neurobiology as anything else we do or are,” Dr. de Waal wrote in his 1996 book “Good Natured.” Biologists ignored this possibility for many years, believing that because natural selection was cruel and pitiless it could only produce people with the same qualities. But this is a fallacy, in Dr. de Waal’s view. Natural selection favors organisms that survive and reproduce, by whatever means. And it has provided people, he writes in “Primates and Philosophers,” with “a compass for life’s choices that takes the interests of the entire community into account, which is the essence of human morality.”
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / McCain and immigration
on: March 20, 2007, 08:08:22 AM
By ADAM NAGOURNEY
Published: March 20, 2007
DES MOINES, March 17 — Immigration, an issue that has divided Republicans in Washington, is reverberating across the party’s presidential campaign field, causing particular complications for Senator John McCain of Arizona.
The topic came up repeatedly in recent campaign swings through Iowa by Mr. McCain and Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas, another Republican who, like Mr. McCain, supports giving some illegal immigrants a path to citizenship, a position that puts them at odds with many other conservatives. Both candidates faced intensive questioning from voters on the issue, which has become more prominent in the state as immigrants are playing a larger and increasingly visible role in the economy and society.
“Immigration is probably a more powerful issue here than almost anyplace that I’ve been,” Mr. McCain said after a stop in Cedar Falls.
As he left Iowa, Mr. McCain said he was reconsidering his views on how the immigration law might be changed. He said he was open to legislation that would require people who came to the United States illegally to return home before applying for citizenship, a measure proposed by Representative Mike Pence, Republican of Indiana. Mr. McCain has previously favored legislation that would allow most illegal immigrants to become citizens without leaving the country.
Beyond whatever influence it has as the state whose caucuses kick off the presidential nominating contest, Iowa has become something of a laboratory for the politics of immigration. Not only is it a place where industries like meatpacking rely heavily on immigrant workers and where a once relatively homogenous population is confronting an influx of Hispanic residents, but the presidential candidates who are criss-crossing the state are also providing forums for Iowans to express their views and influence national policy.
On Saturday morning in Des Moines, Mr. Brownback stood for 30 minutes at a breakfast with Republicans as question after question — without exception — was directed at an immigration system that Iowans denounced as failing. “These people are stealing from us,” said Larry Smith, a factory owner from Truro and a member of the central committee of the state Republican Party.
Finally, Mr. Brownback, with a slight smile, inquired, “Any other topics that people want to talk about?”
“What are you going to do with illegal immigrants who come here and become criminals?” demanded Jodi Wohlenhaus, a Republican homemaker who lives outside Des Moines.
The debate on the campaign trail is both reflecting and feeding the politics of the issue in Washington. President Bush and the two parties in Congress have been engaged in a three-way negotiation that has pitted demands from many conservatives to concentrate first on improving border security against Mr. Bush’s call, backed by many Democrats, for a guest worker program that could include a right for some illegal workers to eventually get legal status.
The issue has become much more complicated as the presidential campaign has gotten under way, exposing the Republicans in particular to voters who are angry about what they see as porous borders, growing demands from immigrants on the social welfare and education systems and job losses that they link at least in part to a low-wage labor force coming over the border.
Mr. McCain, for example, appeared to distance himself from Senator Edward M. Kennedy, the Massachusetts Democrat with whom he formed an alliance last year on an immigration bill that stalled in Congress.
“What I’ve tried to point out is we couldn’t pass the legislation,” Mr. McCain said. “So we have to change the legislation so it can pass. And I’ve been working with Senator Kennedy, but we’ve also been working with additional senators, additional House members.”
Mr. McCain focused instead on the proposal by Mr. Pence, a conservative. “Pence has this touchback proposal,” Mr. McCain said at a news conference. “I said hey, let’s consider that if that’s a way we can get some stuff.”
Mr. McCain’s aides said his identification with Mr. Kennedy accounted for much of his political problem on the issue with conservatives. One of his rivals for the nomination, former Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts, has taken to attacking what he calls the McCain-Kennedy bill.
Mr. McCain has found himself particularly identified with this battle in no small part because he is from a border state that is deeply divided over immigration. The issue is not likely to recede, regardless of the outcome of the debate in Washington: The Republican field of presidential candidates includes Representative Tom Tancredo, a Colorado Republican who has based his campaign on an anti-immigration message and who will almost certainly participate in Republican presidential debates starting this spring.
(Page 2 of 2)
In a speech to conservatives in Washington two weeks ago, Mr. Romney said: “The current system is a virtual concrete wall against those who have skill and education, but it’s a wide open walk across the border for those that have neither. And McCain-Kennedy isn’t the answer.”
Mr. Romney did not always take that position. He was quoted in The Boston Globe in November 2005 describing Mr. McCain’s immigration initiatives as “reasonable proposals,” though he stopped short of endorsing them, the newspaper said.
A third major Republican contender, Rudolph W. Giuliani, former mayor of New York, has supported measures similar to the one Mr. McCain is pressing. Mr. Giuliani has yet to campaign in Iowa and has not been pressed on his views on immigration; he is scheduled to spend a week in Iowa at the beginning of April.
Mr. McCain’s aides said they were confident that he could overcome concerns among Iowa voters if he pointed to the enforcement mechanisms he supports, arguing that only about one-third of Republican primary voters have strong-line views on immigration. “How are we dealing with it?” said John Weaver, a senior adviser to Mr. McCain. “We’re facing it head-on. John’s position — and the president’s position — is widely supported by a vast majority of primary and caucus voters.”
Republicans have a tougher view than the general population on whether illegal immigrants should be deported, according to a New York Times/CBS News poll conducted this month. In that poll, 49 percent of Republican respondents said illegal immigrants who had lived in the United States for at least two years should be given a chance to keep their jobs and eventually apply for citizenship; 45 percent said they should be deported immediately. By contrast, among the general electorate, 59 percent said they should be allowed to apply for legal status, compared with 36 percent who said they should be deported.
The poll found that 31 percent of Republicans said immigration into the United States should be kept at its current level, 14 percent said it should be increased and a majority, 51 percent, said immigration should be decreased. Those figures were similar to the finding among the general population.
Other Republicans said they thought Mr. McCain’s identification with the push for easing immigration laws could prove to be among his greatest vulnerabilities. “Senator McCain will be hurt badly if he continues to support a bill like last time,” said Senator Jeff Sessions, Republican of Alabama. “I think he’ll have a hard time defending that piece of legislation. I think it would be important for him to demonstrate that his position on immigration is not defined by the bill that he introduced last time.”
Nowhere does that appear to be more the case than here, a state crucial to Mr. McCain’s hopes of winning his party’s nomination. A front-page article in The Des Moines Register after the first day of Mr. McCain’s bus trip here focused on his defending his efforts on changing immigration laws.
Mr. Smith, the Republican Party central committee member, said Mr. McCain’s views on immigration had eliminated him as a contender in the view of many state Republicans.
“I have a hard time appreciating McCain’s position at all on this issue,” Mr. Smith said. “I feel he’s been extremely weak.”
“When I go county to county visiting 29 counties in my area, I believe almost without exception that immigration is that issue that puts fire in their eyes,” he said. “They just really are livid that we have allowed this to happen to the point it has.”
Mr. Brownback was reminded of that throughout the day on Saturday, including during his march in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade up Locust Avenue in Des Moines. “We need to build a fence,” Mike Clark, 38, a pig farmer, told Mr. Brownback as he walked alongside him. “We need to get them stopped.”
Mr. McCain’s suggestion that he might be open to Mr. Pence’s legislation requiring most workers to return home risks alienating business, a powerful constituency in the Republican Party.
“The business community has always been skeptical about any requirement to make workers leave the U.S. to obtain legal status,” said Laura Reiff, of the Essential Worker Immigration Coalition, which represents service industries. “We haven’t ruled a Pence-like touchback completely out of the question, but it would need to be an efficient, functional process.”
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Our Troops in Action
on: March 20, 2007, 08:03:59 AM
I admit to feeling considerable anger with President Bush over his failure to up the size of the military several years ago. In political terms he easily could have done so during the 2004 Presidential campaign when Sen. Kerry was calling for an increase of 40,000 IIRC. Now, three years later, the increase he finally is asking for will be much harder to achieve and the hardship on the troops has been considerable.
The following is from the today's NY Times, always a suspect source, but the gist of the piece does not contradict my impressions from elsewhere.
FORT POLK, La., March 14 — For decades, the Army has kept a brigade of the 82nd Airborne Division on round-the-clock alert, poised to respond to a crisis anywhere in 18 to 72 hours.
Deployments, Brigade By Brigade Today, the so-called ready brigade is no longer so ready. Its soldiers are not fully trained, much of its equipment is elsewhere, and for the past two weeks the unit has been far from the cargo aircraft it would need in an emergency.
Instead of waiting on standby, the First Brigade of the 82nd Airborne is deep in the swampy backwoods of this vast Army training installation, preparing to go to Iraq. Army officials concede that the unit is not capable of getting at least an initial force of several hundred to a war zone within 18 hours, a standard once considered inviolate.
The declining readiness of the brigade is just one measure of the toll that four years in Iraq — and more than five years in Afghanistan — have taken on the United States military. Since President Bush ordered reinforcements to Iraq and Afghanistan in January, roughly half of the Army’s 43 active-duty combat brigades are now deployed overseas, Army officials said. A brigade has about 3,500 soldiers.
Pentagon officials worry that among the just over 20 Army brigades left in the United States or at Army bases in Europe and Asia, none has enough equipment and manpower to be sent quickly into combat, except for an armored unit stationed permanently in South Korea, several senior Army officers said.
“We are fully committed right now,” said Col. Charles Hardy of the Forces Command, which oversees Army training and equipping of troops to be sent overseas. “If we had a fully trained-up brigade, hell, it’d be the next one to deploy.”
The 82nd recently canceled its annual Memorial Day parade because most of its 17,000 soldiers are overseas. When the First Brigade, which got the rotating assignment as the ready brigade in December, leaves for Iraq over the summer, the 101st Airborne Division, at Fort Campbell, Ky., will take over responsibility for the ready brigade. But its soldiers are preparing to go to Iraq this year as well.
[Gen. Richard Cody, the Army vice chief of staff, told Congress in testimony on March 15 that with the demands of Iraq and Afghanistan, the Army does not have the time or the resources to prepare for most of the other missions it could potentially face.]
Military officials say that the United States, which has more than two million personnel in active and reserve armed forces, has a combat-tested force that could still emerge victorious if another major conflict arose. But the response would be slower, with more casualties, and would have to rely heavily on the Navy and Air Force, they said.
Despite tensions with Iran and North Korea, another crisis requiring troops does not appear imminent.
If ground forces were needed urgently, Army commanders said they could draw units quickly from Iraq and send them wherever they might be needed, rather than relying solely on the ready brigade to provide a fast reaction force.
The Pentagon can also draw on 28 combat brigades in the reserves, several of which the military is making plans to mobilize later this year or early next to relieve some of the strain. But those units face even deeper problems than the active duty brigades because of equipment and training shortfalls.
Altogether, Army officials said 23 brigades, including one National Guard brigade, are now deployed overseas. Once the reinforcements called for by the White House are in place, 17 Army combat brigades will be in Iraq and two in Afghanistan, Army officials said, along with four more deployed in various locations, including as peacekeepers in the Sinai desert.
In effect, the Army has become a “just in time” organization: every combat brigade that finishes training is sent back to Iraq or Afghanistan almost immediately. Equipment vital for protecting troops, like armored vehicles, roadside bomb jammers and night vision goggles, is rushed to Iraq as quickly as it is made, officials say.
The 2007 Pentagon budget includes $17.1 billion to reset Army equipment, with a separate fund of $13.9 billion in emergency funds to replace or repair gear damaged in combat. Even so, units at home preparing to deploy are facing equipment shortages and have all but given up preparing for anything other than their next tour in Iraq or Afghanistan.
Page 2 of 2)
[“We do have shortages in the nondeployed forces,” General Cody conceded in his unusually candid testimony to Congress. There were not enough vehicles, radios and night vision gear, and there are “spot shortages” in weapons, he said, noting that those units constituted the nation’s strategic reserve.]
Deployments, Brigade By Brigade Later this year, the Army will probably be forced to send its first brigades back to Iraq with less than a year at home resting and training, senior Pentagon officials said. Another alternative, they said, would be to lengthen the tours in Iraq to 18 months from a year.
Army officials said no soldiers were sent overseas without adequate training and equipment. And they point to continued strong recruiting and retention numbers as proof that morale remains high.
But after insisting for years that one year at home is a minimum amount of time necessary to prepare a unit to conduct counterinsurgency operations, commanders now say that, by speeding up equipment overhauls and compressing training, they can do the job in 10 months or less.
Over time, the shortened training schedules will inevitably begin to affect the performance of troops in the field, some officers said.
Senior Pentagon officials worry about those deepening strains. Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, sent a secret report to Congress last month that upgraded from “moderate” to “significant” the risk of failing in its mission that the military faces this year in carrying out tasks in Iraq, Afghanistan and any other hot spots that might emerge.
[“We have the best counterinsurgency army in the world, but they’re not trained for full-spectrum operations,” General Cody said in his testimony.]
The Marines, which are also heavily engaged in Iraq, are facing similar strains.
Fort Polk is one of the last stops many combat units make before deploying to Iraq. During the cold war, the installation trained soldiers to fight the Soviets in Europe. The 82nd, based in Fort Bragg, N. C., used to parachute into Louisiana to keep its airborne skills sharp, but that tradition has been abandoned.
Now, even though the terrain bears little resemblance to Iraq’s desertlike conditions, the emphasis is solely on preparing infantry units to handle the chaotic sectarian conflict and random violence they are likely to encounter there.
Within the 82nd’s current First Brigade, about 4 soldiers in 10 have done previous tours in Iraq, making preparations to go back easier, said Col. Charles Flynn, the brigade commander. Last week, the brigade was spread out throughout the wooded training area at Fort Polk, in an exercise that featured simulations of the kind of Iraqi villages and roadside bomb attacks that many soldiers had actually experienced in previous deployments.
But almost all are in new jobs. Lt. Col. Michael Iacobucci, now a battalion commander, had served as a battalion executive officer in the 82nd when it was in Iraq in 2003. After coming home, Colonel Iacobucci, who is from Albany, had moved with his family to Australia as part of a three-year military exchange program.
He rejoined the 82nd in August, eager to go back to Iraq, he said while driving in a Humvee through the mock Iraqi villages. Before units were actually preparing to go into combat, their performance at Fort Polk would be graded only when the two-week exercise was over, said Lt. Col. Arthur Kandarian, a trainer. Now, the lessons are frequently spelled out as they happen, to get soldiers ready faster.
“It was treated as more of a test, and it was a closed-book test,” he explained. “Now it’s a coaching situation because we’re in a war.”
Training is being compressed at almost every stage, Army officers said. Soldiers who before 2003 spent months in specialized courses and on firing ranges now take compressed classes taught by so-called mobile training teams and hone their weapons proficiency on simulators, Army officers said.
“The biggest problem I’m seeing is unfamiliarity with equipment,” said Capt. Christian Durham, an instructor at Fort Polk, who sees all the units that rotate through before heading to Iraq.
Meanwhile, the Army is struggling just to keep up with current troop demands. The five additional combat brigades ordered by President Bush in January will raise the total American force level in Iraq to 160,000 troops, including combat and support troops, by June. That has forced the Army to take steps to supply troops faster to maintain the higher force levels.
Two Army brigades, one at Fort Riley, Kan., and another at Ft. Hood, Tex., that were not scheduled to return to the combat rotation until 2008 were ordered in December to speed up preparations so they will be ready to deploy by October, said Lt. Col. Christian Kubik, a spokesman for the First Infantry Division.
The Pentagon also informed the 172nd Stryker Brigade, which returned in December from a 16-month tour in Iraq, that it had to be ready for possible deployment between October and December, according to Maj. Michael Blankartz, a brigade spokesman.
Normally, a brigade is given half a year to overhaul its equipment, but the Alaska brigade, now part of the 25th Infantry Division, has only four months, he said. The timetable for preparing its troops is even more accelerated.
Roughly two-thirds of the brigade’s 3,300 soldiers are rotating to other units around the Army, as is customary after a deployment, Major Blankartz said. Their replacements are not scheduled to arrive until July and August, he said, leaving only one or two months before the Army wants the brigade prepared.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iran
on: March 20, 2007, 07:55:08 AM
Russia's shift on this is a most welcome development.
The matter of the anti-aircraft missiles that they have sent/will send? seems to have fallen off the radar screen. Does anyone know the current status of this matter?
Russia Gives Iran Ultimatum on Enrichment
By ELAINE SCIOLINO
Published: March 20, 2007
PARIS, March 19 — Russia has informed Iran that it will withhold nuclear fuel for Iran’s nearly completed Bushehr power plant unless Iran suspends its uranium enrichment as demanded by the United Nations Security Council, European, American and Iranian officials say.
The ultimatum was delivered in Moscow last week by Igor S. Ivanov, the secretary of the Russian National Security Council, to Ali Hosseini Tash, Iran’s deputy chief nuclear negotiator, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because a confidential diplomatic exchange between two governments was involved.
For years, President Bush has been pressing President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia to cut off help to Iran on the nuclear power plant that Russia is building at Bushehr, in southern Iran. But Mr. Putin has resisted. The project is Tehran’s first serious effort to produce nuclear energy and has been very profitable for Russia.
Recently, however, Moscow and Tehran have been engaged in a public argument about whether Iran has paid its bills, which may explain Russia’s apparent shift. But the ultimatum may also reflect an increasing displeasure and frustration on Moscow’s part with Iran over its refusal to stop enriching uranium at its vast facility at Natanz.
“We’re not sure what mix of commercial and political motives are at play here,” one senior Bush administration official said in Washington. “But clearly the Russians and the Iranians are getting on each other’s nerves — and that’s not all bad.”
A senior European official said: “We consider this a very important decision by the Russians. It shows that our disagreements with the Russians about the dangers of Iran’s nuclear program are tactical. Fundamentally, the Russians don’t want a nuclear Iran.”
At a time of growing tensions between Washington and Moscow, American officials are welcoming Russian support on the situation with Iran as a sign that there are still areas in which the two powers can cooperate.
Russia has been deeply reluctant to ratchet up sanctions against Iran in the Security Council, which is expected to vote on a new set of penalties against the country within the next week.
But American officials have been trying to create a commercial incentive for Russia to put pressure on Iran. One proposal the Bush administration has endorsed since late 2005 envisions having the Russians enrich Iran’s uranium in Russia. That creates the prospect of tens or hundreds of millions of dollars in business for Russia, and a way to ensure that Iran receives only uranium enriched for use in power reactors, instead of for use in weapons.
Iran has rejected those proposals, saying it has the right to enrich uranium on its own territory.
The Russian Atomic Energy Agency, or Rosatom, is eager to become a major player in the global nuclear energy market. As Security Council action against Iran has gained momentum and Iran’s isolation increases, involvement with the Bushehr project may detract from Rosatom’s reputation.
In a flurry of public comments in the past month, Russian officials acknowledged that Russia was delaying the delivery of fuel to the reactor in the Iranian port city of Bushehr. It blamed the decision on the failure of Iran to pay what it owes on the project, not on concerns about nuclear proliferation.
But last month, Foreign Minister Sergey V. Lavrov informed some European officials that Russia had made a political decision not to deliver the fuel, adding that Russia would state publicly that the sole reason was financial, European officials said.
And then last week, a senior Iranian official confirmed in an interview that Mr. Ivanov had threatened Iran with an ultimatum: The fuel would be delivered only after Iran’s enrichment of uranium at Natanz was frozen.
Members of the Security Council are moving toward a vote this week on a draft resolution imposing further sanctions on Iran for its defiance of demands that it suspend enrichment activities and return to negotiations over its nuclear program.
The resolution focuses on the country’s arms exports, a leading Iranian bank and the elite Revolutionary Guards military force. It will reduce Iran’s access to foreign currency and isolate the bank, Bank Sepah, from international financing.
The United States State Department has granted visas to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran and a retinue of 38 aides and security staff so that he can address the Security Council meeting.
Page 2 of 2)
Throughout the negotiations, the Russians tried to water down the resolution, a reflection of both their desire to avoid a backlash in Iran and their strong skepticism about the effectiveness of sanctions.
The pending resolution follows a similar one passed in December that required four months of negotiations, in large part because of Russia’s resistance. Russia’s support came only after an initial proposal, which would have imposed curbs on Bushehr, was dropped.
Russian officials have gone out of their way to not publicly link the Bushehr project and the crisis over Iran’s decision to forge ahead with producing enriched uranium, which, depending on the level of enrichment, can be used to produce electricity or make weapons.
In remarks on Sunday, for example, Mr. Ivanov said there should be no linkage between discussions on Iran’s nuclear program and the Bushehr plant. “It is a separate issue,” he told a conference of Russia’s Foreign and Defense Policies Council. He added, “All the work being done is under strict control of the International Atomic Energy Agency,” the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog agency based in Vienna.
He also cautioned against using possible nuclear sanctions for other purposes, saying, “We oppose attempts to use this issue as an instrument of pressure or interference in Iran’s internal affairs.”
But Mr. Ivanov also called on Iran to resolve outstanding questions with the agency about its nuclear program and to stop enriching uranium. The Russians have been pressing Iran to take some sort of pause in its uranium enrichment that might allow the Security Council sanction process to halt and bring Iran back to the negotiating table.
“The clock must be stopped; Iran must freeze uranium enrichment,” Mr. Ivanov said. “The U.N. Security Council will then take a break, too, and the parties would gather at the negotiating table.”
The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed ElBaradei, has also called for a “pause,” noting that even a brief suspension of enrichment would be enough to get the United States to the negotiating table with Iran under an offer that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice made in May.
The Bushehr nuclear project has a long history. For more than a decade, Russia has been working under a $1 billion contract to complete the plant, which began with Germany during the time of Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi. After the 1979 revolution, the project was halted; then the site was bombed by Iraq during its eight-year war with Iran. When Iran decided to complete the facility after the war ended, Germany, under pressure from the United States, refused to finish it, or even provide Moscow with the original blueprints.
The project — already eight years behind schedule — is now almost complete. Last year, Russia agreed to ship low-enriched fuel to the plant by March 2007 and start it in September, with electricity generation to start by November.
But in mid-February, Russia said Iran had not made the last two $25 million monthly payments after insisting that it be allowed to pay in euros instead of dollars. Russian officials cited a delay in the delivery of safety equipment from an unspecified third country as another reason for the decision.
Iranian officials denied that payments had been delayed. “Iran has had no delay whatsoever in making payments for the Bushehr nuclear power plant,” Mohammad Saeedi, deputy head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, was quoted by Iran’s state-run news agency IRNA as saying after the Russian claim.
“We would be crazy at this late date to endanger the project by not paying,” the official said. “There is no financial problem. The Russians want to use this issue as a bargaining chip.”
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: June 2007 Gathering
on: March 20, 2007, 01:45:01 AM
In Dog Brothers lore, we speak of the founding of the Dog Brothers in Ramblas Park in San Clemente in 1988 (The Rumble in Ramblas). With one or two exceptions, everyone there fought about 7 fights a day for three consecutive days. On day one, it was hard sparring. By day three it was hard fighting. One fighter who showed up on the third day was definitely at a disadvantage. Salty has spoken of the importance of having a period where one does a lot of fighting and getting to the point where it seems normal.
Amongst the many things I have always admired about Top Dog was the number of fights he could take in a day. Back in 2001 in his seventh fight of the day he fought a very formidable man who had had only one easy fight.
Salty Dog too was capable of a very high number of fights in one day. He and Top Dog would go at it in Santa Fe NM or Long Beach CA for consecutive days. Very impressive.
For me, 4-5 was a good number, but this often dropped to 3 when Top and Salty were on sabbatical for several years and not only did I have to guide the Gathering (e.g. this group was feeling testy with that group, someone was sneaking videos, etc) but I was Ringmaster, coaching my students and fighting as the "name" fighter for the DBs.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam the religion
on: March 19, 2007, 05:28:08 PM
A More Islamic Islam
By Geneive Abdo
Saturday, March 17, 2007; Page A19
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- A small group of self-proclaimed secular Muslims from North America and elsewhere gathered in St. Petersburg recently for what they billed as a new global movement to correct the assumed wrongs of Islam and call for an Islamic Reformation.
Across the state in Fort Lauderdale, Muslim leaders from the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the Washington-based advocacy group whose members the "secular" Muslims claim are radicals, denounced any notion of a Reformation as another attempt by the West to impose its history and philosophy on the Islamic world.
The self-proclaimed secularists represent only a small minority of Muslims. The views among religious Muslims from CAIR more closely reflect the views of the majority, not only in the United States but worldwide. Yet Western media, governments and neoconservative pundits pay more attention to the secular minority.
The St. Petersburg convention is but one example: It was carried live on Glenn Beck's conservative CNN show. Some of the organizers and speakers at the convention are well known thanks to the media spotlight: Irshad Manji, author of "The Trouble With Islam," and Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the former Dutch parliamentarian and author of "Infidel," were but a few there claiming to have suffered personally at the hands of "radical" Islam. One participant, Wafa Sultan, declared on Glenn Beck's show that she doesn't "see any difference between radical Islam and regular Islam."
The secular Muslim agenda is promoted because these ideas reflect a Western vision for the future of Islam. Since the Sept. 11 attacks, everyone from high-ranking officials in the Bush administration to the author Salman Rushdie has prescribed a preferred remedy for Islam: Reform the faith so it is imbued with Western values -- the privatization of religion, the flourishing of Western-style democracy -- and rulers who are secular, not religious, Muslims. The problem with this prescription is that it is divorced from reality. It is built upon the principle that if Muslims are fed a steady diet of Western influence, they, too, will embrace modernity, secularism and everything else the West has to offer.
Consider the facts: Islamic revivalism has spread across the globe in the past 30 years from the Middle East to parts of Africa. In Egypt, it is hard to find a woman on the street who does not wear a headscarf. Islamic political groups and movements are on the rise -- from Hezbollah in Lebanon, to Hamas in the Gaza Strip and West Bank, to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. Even in the United States, more and more American Muslims, particularly the young, are embracing Islam and religious symbolism in ways their more secular, immigrant parents did not.
I traveled to Florida to serve as the keynote speaker at an annual convention hosted by CAIR. On my way to the event, I spoke with Imam Siraj Wahaj, a charismatic intellectual from the Masjid Al-Taqwa in Brooklyn who has thousands of followers here and abroad. His words summarized the aspirations of mainstream Muslims in the United States and around the globe: "What we need to do is borrow those attributes from the West that we admire and reject those that we don't. That is the wave of the future."
Already, signs support Imam Wahaj's words. Muslims living in the West and those in the Islamic world are searching for this middle ground -- one that fuses aspects of globalization with the Islamic tradition. For example, Muslim women have far greater access to higher education today than ever before. In Iran, there are more women than men in universities, a first in the country's history. But as increasing numbers of Muslim women become more educated, majorities are becoming more religious while also taking part in what are called Islamic feminist movements, which stretch from Egypt to Turkey and Morocco.
These women, who often wear headscarves to express their religiosity, have found this gray area between modernity and traditionalism. They are fighting for more rights to participate in politics and greater equality in "personal status" laws -- the right to gain custody of children or to initiate divorce -- but also view Islam as their moral compass.
Similarly, the political future of the Arab world is likely to consist of Islamic parties that are far less tolerant of what has historically been the U.S. foreign policy agenda in the region and that domestically are far more committed to implementing sharia law in varying degrees.
In Europe and the United States, where Muslims have maximum exposure to Western culture, they are increasingly embracing Islamic values. In Britain, a growing number of Muslims advocate creating a court system based upon Islamic principles.
What all this means is that Western hopes for full integration by Muslims in the West are unlikely to be realized and that the future of the Islamic world will be much more Islamic than Western.
Instead of championing the loud voices of the secular minority who are capturing media attention with their conferences, manifestos and memoirs, the United States would be wise instead to pay more attention to the far less loquacious majority.
Geneive Abdo is the author of "Mecca and Main Street: Muslim Life in America After 9/11."
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race
on: March 19, 2007, 05:18:42 PM
All the TV camera lights will be focused on Capitol Hill this Wednesday when Al Gore arrives to testify on global warming. He will make one solo star turn in the morning before a House committee and then address Senator Barbara Boxer's Environment committee in the afternoon.
More and more Democrats are becoming convinced Mr. Gore is running for president -- by not running for president. "It makes perfect sense -- get credit for being a noble crusader on behalf of the environment, build up volunteer lists and wait to see if Hillary and Obama stalemate the race in the next few months," is how one Democratic consultant put it to me yesterday.
Indeed, Newsweek magazine concludes in its latest issue: "Gore isn't running, but he is." It quotes a longtime Gore adviser who notes that Mr. Gore has been working out every day he can: "He has lost a few pounds, and Hillary can read into that what she wants."
Mr. Gore's plans for the next few months indeed resemble a nascent campaign. He will mark Earth Day next month with a college tour that ends with a giant rally in Washington. That day he will also address by satellite the 1,000 "climate messengers" he has trained to take copies of his global-warming film to civic groups and add their own commentary. In May, Mr. Gore's new book, "The Assault on Reason," will be published accompanied by a major publicity splash.
If all this goes well, Mr. Gore is positioned to wait for the big event. This fall, many Gore aides are convinced he will win the Nobel Peace Prize for this global warming crusade. "If that happens, you can bet the roof will come off in terms of pressure from the Democratic base for him to run," predicts Rich Galen, a former GOP consultant who now writes Mullings.com. "He can then enter the race and say the people drafted him into it."
Opinion Journal WSJ
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: The English Language
on: March 19, 2007, 04:52:32 PM
> The Washington Post's Mensa Invitational once again asked readers to
> take any word from the dictionary, alter it by adding, subtracting, or
> changing one letter, and supply a new definition. Here are this year's
1. Intaxication: Euphoria at getting a tax refund, which lasts until you realize it was your money to start with.
2. Reintarnation: Coming back to life as a hillbilly.
3. Bozone (n.): The substance surrounding stupid people that stops
bright ideas from penetrating. The bozone layer, unfortunately, shows
little sign of breaking down in the near future.
4. Foreploy: Any misrepresentation about yourself for the purpose of
5. Cashtration (n.): The act of buying a house, which renders the
subject financially impotent for an indefinite period.
6. Giraffiti: Vandalism spray-painted very, very high.
7. Sarchasm: The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the
person who doesn't get it.
8. Inoculatte: To take coffee intravenously when you are running late.
9. Hipatitis: Terminal coolness.
10. Osteopornosis: A degenerate disease. (This one got extra credit.)
11. Karmageddon: It's like, when everybody is sending off these bad
vibes, right? And then, like, the Earth explodes and it's like, a
12. Decafalon (n.): The grueling event of getting through the day
consuming only things that are good for you.
13. Glibido: All talk and no action.
14. Dopeler effect: The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when
they come at you rapidly.
15. Arachnoleptic fit (n.): The frantic dance performed just after
you've accidentally walked through a spider web.
16. Beelzebug (n.): Satan in the form of a mosquito, that gets into
your bedroom at three in the morning and cannot be cast out.
17. Caterpallor (n.): The color you turn after finding half a worm in
the fruit you're eating.
And the pick of the literature:
18. Ignoranus: A person who's both stupid and an asshole.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Interrogation methods
on: March 19, 2007, 04:49:00 PM
PENTAGON: GITMO DETAINEE CONFESSES IN COLE BOMBING: Waleed bin Attash, a suspected key al Qaeda operative, confessed to plotting the bombings of the USS Cole and two U.S. embassies in Africa, according to a Pentagon transcript of a hearing at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. More than 200 were killed in the simultaneous attacks on the embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998. And 17 sailors were killed and dozens injured when suicide bombers steered an explosives-laden boat into the guided missile destroyer Cole on October 12, 2000.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Rescued Behind Enemy Lines
on: March 19, 2007, 04:48:03 PM
ELITE TEAM RESCUES TROOPS BEHIND ENEMY LINES: As a member of the U.S. Air Force's elite Combat Search and Rescue team, "Dan," a pararescueman, or PJ, is used to saving the lives of fellow U.S. and coalition troops in battlefield situations. But last month, he was the one in need of rescue. During a mission in southeastern Afghanistan, he was critically injured in a Chinook helicopter crash that killed eight service members, including U.S. Army Rangers and a fellow pararescueman. Before losing consciousness, Dan managed to give a medical assessment to a rescue team in another location.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Military Science
on: March 19, 2007, 04:25:38 PM
Iraq: The Fear Factor in Chlorine Bombs
Insurgents detonated three vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (VBIEDs) packed with chlorine in Iraq's Anbar province west of Baghdad on March 16. The initial blasts, which U.S. officials blamed on al Qaeda in Iraq, killed at least six people, while at least 350 Iraqi civilians and six U.S. troops fell ill as a result of chlorine exposure.
Although the deaths were caused by the blasts rather than the chlorine -- as in similar attacks involving chlorine bombs earlier in the year -- these latest attacks clearly demonstrate al Qaeda's fascination with combining chlorine and explosives to create crude chemical weapons. Causing mass casualties with chemical VBIEDs is extremely difficult, though the fear incited by such attacks makes these kinds of bombs increasingly popular among insurgents. Moreover, as the insurgents gain experience with the devices -- and increase their lethality -- the tactic likely will spread beyond Iraq.
Chlorine bombs are relatively easy weapons for the Iraqi insurgents to make. The devices used in the latest attacks involved a pickup truck and two dump trucks loaded with chlorine tanks and rigged with explosives. One of the dump trucks reportedly carried a 200-gallon chlorine tank. One truck detonated at a checkpoint near Ar Ramadi, while another killed two Iraqi policemen in Al Amiriyah. The most devastating attack occurred three miles south of Al Fallujah when a dump truck targeted the reception center of a tribal sheikh who had denounced al Qaeda.
The use of chlorine in chemical VBIEDs is attractive to militants because the chemical is widely available in Iraq and around the world. The problem, as Iraqi militants are finding, however, is dispersing the chemical with a VBIED while maintaining an effective concentration of the gas. As a result, the chlorine bombs seen to date in Iraq have been tremendously ineffective in inflicting mass casualties, especially when compared with traditional car bombs, which do kill large numbers of people when detonated in populous areas.
Regardless of these bombs' effectiveness as mass killers, however, insurgents like them because the immediate chlorine odor incites fear. Witnesses of the Iraqi attacks, for example, reported nasty smells and a white plume of smoke that turned black and blue. Furthermore, these attacks are valuable to insurgents as tests for future operations elsewhere. Whether this method of attack is the fixation of a particular insurgent leader or it represents an emerging doctrine by al Qaeda in Iraq, the attacks will allow the insurgents to gain tactical expertise and learn to construct more effective chemical bombs. The attackers also could be conducting these attacks to gauge security weaknesses or to divert attention from a different location where an operation is planned.
Chemical VBIED attacks are likely to continue in Iraq and to spread as those responsible for them export the knowledge gained throughout the region and beyond. Al Qaeda units in other locations followed the lead of al Qaeda in Iraq as it increased its use of tactics such as employing roadside bombs and conducting beheadings -- and the use of chlorine bombs could be next.
The Iraqi insurgency has proven to be an effective training ground for foreign jihadists, much as the Afghan resistance was two decades earlier. Al Qaeda sprang from the Afghan conflict, and today foreigners from Saudi Arabia, Syria, North Africa and elsewhere are honing their insurgent skills on the battlegrounds of Iraq -- and are then returning home to spread jihadist tactics. This has been seen most recently in the Maghreb, where the regional al Qaeda arm is increasingly employing improvised explosive devices in attacks, especially against foreign energy workers.
Because chlorine is so common, movement of the chemical cannot be severely restricted. This is especially true in areas where the state already has a weak hold on the security situation. Therefore, Iraqi insurgents are likely to continue refining their technique -- and their allies and sympathizers beyond the state will start to adopt the tactic themselves.
DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Mexico
on: March 19, 2007, 10:12:53 AM
Fly Me to Tijuana
By MARY ANASTASIA O'GRADY
March 19, 2007; Page A12
As President George Bush and President Felipe Calderón were meeting on the Yucatán Peninsula last week to discuss the disequilibrium in the North American labor market, a low-cost Mexican airline was celebrating its first anniversary 35 miles north of the capital in the city of Toluca. The presidential confab got the press, but the story of the new airline and others that have followed it in the domestic air travel industry is far more relevant to the future of Mexicans.
A big reason the Mexican economy is not growing fast enough to create the one million jobs per year it needs to satisfy its young work force -- and why migrants go north -- is a lack of competitiveness. Key sectors of the economy are controlled by monopolies; without consumer choice, prices are high, service is poor, the economy is inefficient and there is not much innovation.
Editorial Page columnist Mary O'Grady explains how an upstart low-fare airline is set to make traveling easier for many Mexicans.The international symbol for making a killing through monopoly privilege is now a Mexican, telecom tycoon Carlos Slim. Mr. Slim, who is the world's third-richest man, bought Teléfonos de México (Telmex) from the government in 1991 and was supposed to face competition in 1997. But he has famously used court injunctions and his own influence to block competitors and rake in a fortune. Telmex still controls 95% of the fixed-line market.
Mr. Slim's power play has cost the country dearly. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development notes in a recent report that Mexico has some of the highest telecom charges among OECD countries, and one of the lowest rates of telephony density. Its broadband prices are the highest in the OECD. In energy, transportation and cement -- vital components of the infrastructure -- a similar non-competitive environment impedes productivity growth and harms investment.
Mexicans have been discouraged by the slow pace of competition reform, but there are some glimmers of hope. The North American Free Trade Agreement brought competition to the retail sector and now the domestic airline industry is beginning to change.
For decades Mexicans had only two choices for domestic air travel, AeroMéxico and Mexicana Airlines. Both companies, once state-owned, were privatized in the 1990s, failed and were reabsorbed by the government. Mexicana has been privatized again.
Privatization did nothing to bring down sky-high airfares. Flying from Mexico City to Tijuana ran about $250, far above what most Mexicans could afford. Taking the bus costs about $80 and in 2005 bus companies carried some 250,000 passengers on the 33-hour trip.
Last year four business partners identified those tortured bus passengers -- and many other Mexicans who dared not venture from home on such grueling journeys -- as potential airline customers. They teamed up to launch Volaris Airlines.
It is no small irony that Mr. Slim is one of the four investors and another is television mogul Emilio Azcarraga, also known for his monopoly privileges. Their experience in Volaris shows that both are capable of competing if the regulatory environment demands it and there is money to be made. Former Finance Minister Pedro Aspe's Protego Discovery Fund owns another 25% of Volaris. The fourth investor is Roberto Kriete's Grupo Taca, which owns the Central American carrier Taca Airlines.
Competition drives innovation and Volaris proves the rule. The company came up with a number of creative solutions to problems that probably would not even been considered in a protected market.
Mr. Kriete told me by telephone from San Salvador that the economies of scale come from the decision to purchase identical planes. Volaris saves money because its mechanics and pilots are qualified to handle all planes and sourcing parts is uniform.
Mr. Aspe expanded on that point when I interviewed him in Mexico City two weeks ago, stressing the advantages of the brand-new Airbus A-319 fleet, which is more reliable and more fuel efficient than the industry average. The company also gains competitiveness, he said, with labor contracts that tie 50% of compensation to productivity. Another cost saver is the Toluca hub. Passengers traveling from Mexico City check in at what Mr. Aspe calls "the virtual terminal" in the northern suburb of Santa Fe and then travel 35 miles by bus, courtesy of Volaris, to Toluca's lower cost airport. Overhead costs are held down because 65% of reservations are made over the Internet and 20% are made through call centers.
Competition has put pricing pressure on traditional carriers but Mr. Kriete doesn't expect convergence. Volaris is "really a different product," targeting a different demographic. He says that some travelers are willing to pay more for business class and perks such as frequent flier miles but Volaris is going after price-sensitive flyers and people who never flew before.
At the time of its startup one year ago, Volaris had two planes and by the end of the year it had six. This year it says it will invest $560 million to add another eight. It is also doubling the number of cities it serves and adding a route between Tijuana and Los Cabos on the tip of the Baja Peninsula, which has the potential to capture the southern California market. The company expects to triple its sales this year.
The beauty of Volaris is the beauty of the market. Both the airline and its customers are happy and business is booming. Last year Volaris carried more than 922,000 passengers on almost 8,700 flights at less than half the price that the traditional carriers were charging prior to competition. Bus passengers bound for Tijuana from Mexico City who switched to Volaris paid $100 and shaved 30 hours off their travel time.
A number of other low-cost carriers such as Avolar, Interjet and Alma have also entered the field. According to airport operator OMA, domestic air travel was up 22% at its 13 airports last year thanks to the low-cost carrier business.
It is worth noting that the Volaris story is not entirely a free-market exercise. Mexico still limits foreign ownership in airlines to 25%. Also, Volaris took a subsidized loan from the International Finance Corporation, an arm of the World Bank that is engaged in promoting development in poor countries. It is highly doubtful that Mr. Slim and his partners needed government assistance but IFC bankers are always pushing money out the door and good capitalists don't turn down such offers.
Still, the lesson holds. If Mr. Calderón wants his legacy to be about curing low Mexican living standards, there is no better remedy than competition.
Write to O'Grady@wsj.com
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Intel Matters
on: March 19, 2007, 10:06:31 AM
Richard Posner is a very bright and thoughtful man and anything he writes deserves serious consideration.
TODAY'S MOST POPULAR
1. Lawyer's Busy Season: Spring Break
2. Google Phone Rumors Abound
3. '300' Reasons to Cry
4. Blackstone Group Plans IPO
5. ABN Plans Defense Against Suitors
Personalized Home Page Setup
Put headlines on your homepage about the companies, industries and topics that interest you most.
Time to Rethink the FBI
By RICHARD A. POSNER
March 19, 2007; Page A13
The FBI came under heavy criticism last week when it was reported that the agency had failed properly to supervise the issuance of national security letters, a form of administrative subpoena used in terrorist investigations. The bureau, it turns out, was unable even to determine how many such subpoenas it has issued.
Just weeks earlier, it was discovered that the FBI had been misreporting the statistics that it uses to track its intelligence activities. The bureau attributed that lapse to its continued struggle -- five and a half years after the 9/11 attacks -- to master modern information technology. The FBI also inflates its counterterrorist statistics by defining terrorism to include the acts of obnoxious but minor political criminals, such as white supremacists, animal-rights extremists and makers of idle (but frightening) phone threats.
Is it the case that the FBI is "incapable of effective counterterrorism," as an editorial in this newspaper wondered? Does the country need "to debate again whether domestic antiterror functions should be taken from the FBI and given to a new agency modeled after Britain's MI5"?
The answer to both questions is yes.
It is more than a decade since the then director of the FBI, Louis Freeh, tried to make the bureau take the terrorist threat to the United States seriously. He failed. His successor, the current director, Robert Mueller, has tried harder than Mr. Freeh, and has made some progress, but not enough. The cause lies deep in the bureau's organizational culture. The FBI is a detective bureau. Its business is not to prevent crime but to catch criminals. The Justice Department, of which the FBI is a part, knows only one way of dealing with terrorism, and that is prosecution. (Mr. Mueller is a former prosecutor.)
For prosecutors and detectives, success is measured by arrests, convictions and sentences. That is fine when the object is merely to keep the crime rate within tolerable limits. But the object of counterterrorism is prevention. Terrorist attacks are too calamitous for the punishment of the terrorists who survive the attack to be an adequate substitute for prevention.
Detecting terrorist plots in advance so that they can be thwarted is the business of intelligence agencies. The FBI is not an intelligence agency, and has a truncated conception of intelligence: gathering information that can be used to obtain a conviction. A crime is committed, having a definite time and place and usually witnesses and often physical evidence and even suspects. This enables a criminal investigation to be tightly focused. Prevention, in contrast, requires casting a very wide investigative net, chasing down ambiguous clues, and assembling tiny bits of information (hence the importance of information technology, which plays a limited role in criminal investigations).
The bureau lacks the tradition, the skills, the patience, the incentive structures, the recruitment criteria, the training methods, the languages, the cultural sensitivities and the career paths that national-security intelligence requires. All the bureau's intelligence operations officers undergo the full special-agent training. That training emphasizes firearms skills, arrest techniques and self-defense, and the legal rules governing criminal investigations. None of these proficiencies are germane to national-security intelligence. What could be more perverse than to train new employees for one kind of work and assign them to another for which they have not been trained?
Every major nation (and many minor ones), except the United States, concluded long ago that domestic intelligence should be separated from its counterpart to the FBI. Britain's MI5 is merely the best-known example. These nations realize that if you bury a domestic intelligence service in an agency devoted to criminal law enforcement, you end up with "intelligence-led policing," which means orienting intelligence collection and analysis not to preventing terrorist attacks but to assisting in law enforcement.
MI5 and its counterparts in other nations are not law-enforcement agencies and do not have arrest powers. Their single-minded focus is on discovering plots against the nation. Knowing that arrest and prosecution should be postponed until a terrorist network has been fully traced and its methods, affiliates, financiers, suppliers and camp followers identified, they do not make the mistake that the FBI made last year in arresting seven Muslims in Miami on suspicion of plotting to blow up buildings there, along with the Sears Tower in Chicago.
The bureau had been able to plant an informant in the group. Yet as soon as it had enough evidence to prove a criminal conspiracy, it pounced. Because the group had no money or backers (except the FBI's informant!) and no skills or experience, and had been penetrated, it was not an imminent threat, so there was no urgency about arresting its members. The group had wanted to get in touch with foreign terrorists but had been unable to do so.
The informant might have helped them do so -- might even have helped them become part of a serious terrorist network, enabling the bureau to ascertain the network's scope and membership, methods and tradecraft, even goals and specific plans. The opportunity to exploit the penetration in this fashion was lost by the arrests -- about which the Attorney General boasted to an extent that, given the ineptness of the defendants, evoked ridicule.
A senior Justice Department official said: "We can't afford to wait . . . [The suspects in Miami] were of significant concern, and we're not going to allow them to run into somebody who has the means to carry out what they were talking about."
That is the wrong attitude. Finding a "somebody who has the means" to carry out a terrorist attack is more important than prosecuting plotters who pose no immediate threat to the nation's security. The undiscovered "somebody" is the real threat. Small fry are easily caught, but upon their arrest any big shots who might be linked to them scatter. The arrests and prosecutions serve mainly to alert terrorists to the bureau's methods and targets, as well as to bolster its arrest statistics and provide fodder for its public affairs office.
Experts on terrorism, noting the fortunately thwarted terrorist plots of British and Canadian citizens (thwarted in major part through the efforts of the British and Canadian domestic-intelligence services), warn of the homegrown terrorist threat against the U.S. Against that threat, most of our security apparatus is helpless. When a foreign terrorist wants to strike us here, our security forces have three bites at the apple: seize him abroad, seize him at the border, and if all else fails, seize him inside the U.S. In the case of U.S. citizen terrorists, there is only the one bite; and the FBI does not have the right set of teeth.
Improving domestic intelligence is not a partisan issue. The critics of the FBI's performance include former members (among them the co-chairmen) of the bipartisan 9/11 Commission; the advocates of creating a separate agency include Democratic Congressman Rahm Emmanuel.
Civil libertarians worry about abuses of domestic intelligence. But an agency that had no powers of arrest or prosecution, and that conceived its primary role to be to prevent the alienation of Americans who have religious or family ties to nations that harbor terrorists, rather than to run up arrest statistics, would be less likely than the FBI to engage in the promiscuous issuance of administrative subpoenas.
In 2004, Congress created the post of Director of National Intelligence, hoping to plug the gaps in our multi-agency intelligence system. The biggest gap is domestic intelligence, yet the FBI director and his staff have largely ignored it. They have no background in domestic intelligence. No senior official is assigned full time to it. So turf wars between the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security have been allowed to rage, and the nation's hundreds of thousands of local police have not been knitted into a comprehensive national system of domestic intelligence collection.
We need an agency that will integrate local police and other information gatherers (such as border patrol police, customs officials and private security personnel) into a comprehensive national intelligence network, as MI5 has done in Britain -- and as the FBI has failed to do here, in part because of deeply rooted tensions that have long inhibited cooperation between the bureau and the rest of the law enforcement community. The bureau does not want the local police to steal its cases, and vice versa. Moreover, it is a self-consciously elite institution whose stars -- the special agents -- look down on local police and are reluctant to share information with them. Lacking police powers or a law enforcement function, a domestic intelligence agency separate from the FBI would be an honest broker among all the institutions that gather information of potential significance for national intelligence.
The Director of National Intelligence has not evaluated the FBI's performance. Nor has he explored the feasibility and desirability of creating a separate agency. The FBI staggers and stumbles; the managers of the intelligence community are content to avert their eyes from the unedifying spectacle.
Mr. Posner, a federal circuit judge and a senior lecturer at the University of Chicago Law School, is the author of "Uncertain Shield: The U.S. Intelligence System in the Throes of Reform" (Rowman & Littlefield, 2006).
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Legal issues
on: March 19, 2007, 09:34:56 AM
In Defense of the Constitution
News & Analysis
010/07 March 19, 2007
Americans: We Were All on US Airways Flight 300
On 13 March, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) announced that six imams who had disrupted a US Airways flight by engaging in suspicious behavior, have filed a lawsuit against US Airways and the Minnesota Metropolitan Airport Commission (MAC) claiming a laundry-list of civil rights violations:http://www.cair.com/default.asp?Page=articleView&id=2615&theType=NR
In addition to suing the airline and the MAC, the "Magnificent Six" are going after unknown gate agents, other unknown employees of US Airways, and "John Does"; currently unidentified passengers who, according to the complaint, had the effrontery to dare to report the suspicious activities of the Magnificent Six to authorities:http://www.cair.com/pdf/usairwayscomplaint.pdf
The following was written by Katherine Kersten on 14 March and appeared in the StarTribune.com:
"The imams' attempt to bully ordinary passengers marks an alarming new front in the war on airline security. Average folks, "John Does" like you and me, initially observed and reported the imams' suspicious behavior on Nov. 20. Such people are our "first responders" against terrorism. But the imams' suit may frighten such individuals into silence, as they seek to avoid the nightmare of being labeled bigots and named as defendants."
"Ironically, on the day the imams filed their suit, a troubling internal memo came to light at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. The memo revealed that our airport is at particular risk of terrorist attack because of its proximity to the Mall of America, its employment of relatively few security officers and other factors. The memo advised heightened vigilance to counter "this very real and deliberate threat." http://www.startribune.com/191/story/1055656.html
All non-Muslim Americans have been officially put on notice by CAIR that they report the suspicious activities of Muslims at risk of legal action.
However, what about the role of the federal and state governments, which routinely ask citizens to report "suspicious activity" even if they are not quite sure it is dangerous on the presumption that "it's better to be safe than sorry? Who do we listen to, an Islamist terrorist supporting "civil rights" group, or our governments?
Let us ask ourselves, what is the ultimate goal of this lawsuit? Could it possibly be to make citizens second-guess themselves when they witness a possible terrorist act or precursor probe and to err on the side of not reporting under threat of lawsuit? Why does CAIR apparently support the ending of this "first line of defense"?
One thing we are certain of: it has absolutely nothing to do with civil rights, Muslim or otherwise.
As this case moves to trial, we hope all Americans will stand in solidarity with the passengers, US Airways, and its employees who were terrorized that day.
When the trial opens, we should all remember that we were passengers on US Airways Flight 300 that day.because if the Magnificent Six win their case, what person in their right mind will want to travel by air within the United States, knowing that security personnel are under orders to ignore Middle Eastern passengers, no matter how suspicious their activities?
Opinion Journal WSJ
A Hitchhiker's Guide to Village Idiocy
In the opening chapter of Douglas Adams's "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy," the protagonist, Englishman Arthur Dent, awakes to find bulldozers poised to knock down his home to make room for a highway bypass. An added irony, the Earth is about to be demolished by the Vogons to clear a path for a hyperspace bypass. In both instances, the agents of bureaucratic destruction defend their actions by claiming they had given ample notice to any who might want to lodge a challenge.
New Yorker Bill Brody must know how the fictional Mr. Dent felt. In the late 1990s, he purchased four buildings in the New York suburb of Port Chester. The village issued him permits to renovate the buildings, which he did, and filled them with business tenants. What the village didn't tell Mr. Brody at the time it issued the renovation permits was that it intended to take his property under the law of eminent domain, not for a highway or school, but to give to another private entity, G&S Investors, to build a convenience store and parking lot as part of a larger development plan that included a Costco and a multiplex.
Under state law at the time, government agencies were not required to notify property owners directly of their plans to seize their land. All that was required was for a legal classified ad to be published in a newspaper, which didn't even have to inform the potential victims that they would be waiving their rights to challenge the decision in court if they didn't file a lawsuit within 30 days of the ad's publication. (The state legislature has since amended the law, though New Yorkers still bear a heavy onus in defending their rights.)
Represented by the Institute of Justice, which has a history of defending property owners in eminent-domain cases, Mr. Brody struck a blow for property rights when the Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in late 2005 that the Village of Port Chester had violated his 14th Amendment right to due process by condemning his property for private development without notifying him of his one opportunity to challenge the plan. That decision sent the case back to the district court where Mr. Brody can try to receive damages for the confiscated property that was demolished in 2004.
This week his case will be heard again in New York. Let's hope justice prevails for this real-life Arthur Dent.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues
on: March 19, 2007, 09:13:15 AM
U.S.-financed Al-Hurra is becoming a platform for terrorists.
BY JOEL MOWBRAY
Sunday, March 18, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT
Fighting to create a secular democracy in Iraq, parliamentarian Mithal al-Alusi had come to rely on at least one TV network to help further freedom: U.S. taxpayer-financed Al-Hurra.
Now, however, he's concerned. The broadcaster he had seen as a stalwart ally has done an about-face. "Until now, we were so happy with Al-Hurra. It was taking stands against corruption, for human rights, and for peace. But not anymore."
Stories that he believes cry out for further investigation, such as recent arrests of those accused of supporting the terrorists in Iraq, are instead getting mere news-ticker mentions at the bottom of the screen. And Arab voices for freedom, which used to have a home on Al-Hurra, are noticeably absent. "They're driving out the liberals," he complains.
Mr. Alusi is not the only one concerned about the recent changes at Al-Hurra. Ken Tomlinson, the chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors--the congressionally-created panel charged with overseeing Al-Hurra, among other government-funded broadcasters--is currently demanding answers about the network's decision last December to broadcast most of a speech by Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hasan Nasrallah.
Sitting up straight and raising his index finger, he states emphatically, "It's the single worst decision I've witnessed in all my years in international broadcasting."
The airing of the Nasrallah speech is a sign of the network's new direction since it was taken over by a longtime CNN producer, Larry Register, last November. Launched in February 2004, Al-Hurra broadcasts three separate feeds: to Europe, Arab nations and one for Iraq. The network is supposed to be a key component of our public diplomacy to the Arab world. Its mission statement calls for it to showcase the American political process, and just as important, report on things that get little attention on other Arabic networks, such as human-rights abuses and government corruption.
Within weeks of becoming news director, Mr. Register put his own stamp on the network. Producers and on-air talent quickly understood that change was underway. Investigations into Arab government wrongdoing or oppression were no longer in vogue, and the ban on turning the airwaves over to terrorists was lifted. For those who had chafed under Mr. Register's predecessor--who curbed the desire of many on staff to make Al-Hurra more like al-Jazeera--the new era was welcomed warmly.
"Everybody feels emboldened. Register changed the atmosphere around here," notes one staffer. "Register is trying to pander to Arab sympathies," says another.
The cultural shift inside the newsroom is evident in the on-air product. In the past several months, Al-Hurra has aired live speeches from Mr. Nasrallah and Hamas leader Ismail Haniya, and it broadcast an interview with an alleged al Qaeda operative who expressed joy that 9/11 rubbed "America's nose in the dust."
While a handful of unfortunate decisions could be isolated, these actions appear to be part of Mr. Register's news vision. Former news director Mouafac Harb, a Lebanese-born American citizen, was not shy about his disdain for terrorists and had a firm policy against giving them a platform. But Mr. Register didn't wait long to allow Hamas officials on the air to discuss Palestinian politics.
At a staff meeting announcing the reversal of the ban on terrorists as guests, Mr. Register "bragged" about his personal relationship with Palestinian Foreign Minister Mahmoud al-Zahar, a top Hamas official, according to someone who was present. Contacted on his cell phone for comment, Mr. Register declined, indicating that he couldn't spare even two minutes anytime in the coming days.
Perhaps it is because Mr. Register is so casual in his attitude to terrorists that interviewers now toss softball questions to fiery anti-Western guests, while also taking digs at one of America's closest Middle Eastern allies, Israel.
The new Al-Hurra was on full display Feb. 9, when riots broke out following Israel's implementation of security measures that limited access to the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.
In roughly two hours of breathless live "breaking news" coverage--which outdistanced al-Jazeera by 30 minutes--Al-Hurra's Muslim guests vilified Israel, and one spun conspiracy theories about the Jewish state's "plans" to destroy the Al Aqsa Mosque. No doubt the Islamic talking heads were egged on by the Al-Hurra anchors asking questions such as, "Do you think that the timing of these actions is as innocent as Israel pretends?" (Translations were provided by a fluent Arabic-speaking U.S. government official.)
This powder keg of a panel included Ikrima Sabri, imam of the Al Aqsa Mosque, who is best known for his tenure as Yasser Arafat's hand-picked mufti of Jerusalem. During the broadcast, Mr. Sabri accused Israel of firing guns and throwing bombs into the mosque, then refusing to allow medical care for the wounded.
Mr. Sabri's propaganda should not have come as a surprise. Just weeks before 9/11, Mr. Sabri delivered a passionate Friday sermon, broadcast nationally on official Palestinian Authority radio. He prayed for the destruction of Israel, Britain and the United States.
If anyone should be savvy about people like Mr. Sabri, it ought to be Mr. Register. With two decades of experience at CNN, including three years running the Jerusalem bureau, he should know that live TV is the wrong venue for firebrands or guests prone to outrageous commentary.
Complicating matters is that once someone is on Al-Hurra live, Mr. Register lacks the basic requirement to stay on top of unfolding coverage; he doesn't speak Arabic. Had Mr. Register been able to understand Mr. Nasrallah's Dec. 7 speech, perhaps he would have rushed to cut away early on. Before the five-minute mark, Mr. Nasrallah told the audience to stop their celebratory gun-firing, explaining, "the only place where bullets should be is the chest of the enemies of Lebanon: the Israeli enemy."
Former Broadcasting Board of Governors member Norman Pattiz understands the perils of turning over the airwaves to the likes of Mr. Nasrallah. Though he wouldn't comment on anything relating to recent months--he left the board last year, before Mr. Register's arrival--Mr. Pattiz said bluntly, "Simply handing a microphone over to a terrorist and letting them spew is not what I would call good journalism."
Though Mr. Pattiz is a well-known Democrat who feuded constantly with Mr. Tomlinson, a Republican, the two men had one area of agreement: Mr. Harb, Al-Hurra's original news director. Sounding remarkably similar to Mr. Tomlinson, Mr. Pattiz said, "The direction Al-Hurra launched in is the direction in which it should continue to go, because it was very successful."
Mr. Alusi, the Iraqi parliamentarian, agrees. "Al-Hurra should have the role of transporting democracy, and to help Iraqis understand freedom," he says. "If you have a good product, you must sell it in a good way. The United States is a very good product."
Mr. Mowbray is working on a book about the struggle for the heart of Islam in America.
Opinion Journal/WST yesterday
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan
on: March 19, 2007, 01:52:43 AM
Pakistan: Musharraf on the Defensive
Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf has condemned the March 16 police action against the office of GEO TV. This and related developments suggest the government has gone on the defensive as the controversy worsens over the government's suspension of the country's top jurist. Musharraf might not be the only casualty in this crisis; the military's hold on power could also be weakened once the dust settles.
Demonstrations continue in Pakistan against President Gen. Pervez Musharraf's March 15 suspension of Pakistani Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, with ordinary citizens joining the legal community in protest. Significant clashes took place March 16 in the federal capital, Islamabad, and in the provincial capitals Lahore, Peshawar and Karachi. The most serious incident involved security forces raiding the office of private satellite television network GEO TV, ransacking the facility and physically assaulting employees.
Such was the gravity of the situation that many senior members of the Cabinet condemned the incident -- as did Musharraf, who publicly apologized for the raid. Appearing on the network's popular talk show "Capital Talk," Musharraf vowed to oversee personally the investigation of the attack and to take action swiftly against those found responsible. Musharraf also apologized personally to the show's anchor, Hamid Mir, who was manhandled by police officials during the incident.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Judicial Council, which is hearing the government's case against the chief justice, ruled that restrictions against Chaudhry be lifted.
These events have further exacerbated the crisis and have put the government in such a panic mode that various state agencies are starting to commit blunders. There seems to be a disconnect between orders given from above and how they are being handled by subordinates. After turning the legal community against it, the government has now angered the media. All the while, Musharraf's political opponents are trying to exploit the situation.
The Musharraf regime also is reportedly trying to cut a deal with the chief justice to resolve the matter. Any compromise, however, will not help the regime recover from this crisis. In fact, it will only make matters worse for Musharraf, since it will lead to the empowerment of the judiciary and opposition political forces, the cooperation of which Musharraf needs in order to defuse the crisis.
The growing sentiment against the military-dominated regime could force Musharraf into a corner, especially given that 2007 is an election year. Should Musharraf be forced to step aside, it is unlikely that his successors in the military would take over. A caretaker government would emerge and hold elections in three to six months, as one did when the last military ruler of Pakistan, Gen. Mohammed Zia-ul-Haq, was killed in plane crash in 1988.
In that case, even though a civilian government took power, the military establishment continued to control it from behind the scenes. This time around, it is unlikely that the military will be able to do that -- at least not to the degree it did in 1988. This is because the corps commanders and agency heads who would form a post-Musharrafian military hierarchy would be a group of young and inexperienced generals, the result of Musharraf's periodic reshuffling of the deck and frequent promotions.
Another Musharraf legacy is the rise of a relatively free media, especially the proliferation of private television networks. This is opening up the country's political culture and eroding the military's ability to control the political process.
There are too many moving parts in the current crisis to predict a likely outcome. One thing is clear, however: Once the dust settles, Musharraf will lose sovereignty, whether he continues to rule or not, and the military will be forced to share political power with civilian institutions.
PAKISTAN: Residents in Pakistan's South Waziristan agency said at least 10 people were wounded following fighting between al Qaeda-linked Uzbek militants and Pakistani tribesmen. Hundreds of foreign militants, including Uzbeks, Arabs and Chechens, have been hiding in Pakistan's tribal areas since the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.
PAKISTAN: Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf said in an interview with television channel Geo News that general elections will be held on schedule. Despite the current crisis, Musharraf said he will not declare a state of emergency or bring in the army to quell riots.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq
on: March 19, 2007, 01:49:17 AM
GENERAL SEEKS ANOTHER BRIGADE IN IRAQ: The top US commander in Iraq has requested another Army brigade, in addition to five already on the way, as part of the controversial "surge" of American troops designed to clamp down on sectarian violence and insurgent groups, senior Pentagon officials said yesterday.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Environmental issues
on: March 19, 2007, 01:38:21 AM
WSJ online today:
Whose Ox Is Gored?
The media discover the former vice president's environmental exaggerations and hypocrisy.
Monday, March 19, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT
The media are finally catching up with Al Gore. Criticism of his anti-global-warming franchise and his personal environmental record has gone beyond ankle-biting bloggers. It's now coming from the New York Times and the Nashville Tennessean, his hometown paper that put his birth, as a senator's son, on its front page back in 1948, and where a young Al Gore Jr. worked for five years as a journalist.
Last Tuesday, the Times reported that several eminent scientists "argue that some of Mr. Gore's central points [on global warming] are exaggerated and erroneous." The Tenessean reported yesterday that Mr. Gore received $570,000 in royalties from the owners of zinc mines who held mineral leases on his farm. The mines, which closed in 2003 but are scheduled to reopen under a new operator later this year, "emitted thousands of pounds of toxic substances and several times, the water discharged from the mines into nearby rivers had levels of toxins above what was legal."
All of this comes in the wake of the enormous publicity Mr. Gore received after his documentary "An Inconvenient Truth" won an Oscar. The film features Mr. Gore reprising his famous sighing and lamenting how the average American's energy use is greedily off the charts. At the film's end viewers are asked, "Are you ready to change the way you live?"
The Nashville-based Tennessee Center for Policy Research was skeptical that Mr. Gore had been "walking the walk" on the environment. It obtained public records showing that for years Mr. Gore has burned through more electricity at his Nashville home each month than the average American family uses in a year--and his consumption was increasing. The heated Gore pool house alone ran up than $500 in natural-gas bills every month.
Mr. Gore's office responded by claiming that the Gores "purchase offsets for their carbon emissions to bring their carbon footprint down to zero." But CNSNews.com reports that Mr. Gore doesn't purchase carbon offsets with his own resources, and that they are meaningless in terms of global warming.
The offset purchases are actually made for him by Generation Investment Management, a London-based investment firm that Mr. Gore co-founded, and which provides carbon offsets as a fringe benefit to all 23 of its employees, ensuring that they require no real sacrifice on the part of Mr. Gore or his family. Indeed, their impact is also highly limited. The Carbon Neutral Co.--one of the two vendors that sell offsets to Mr. Gore's company, says that offset purchases "will be unable to reduce greenhouse gas emissions . . . in the short term."
The New York Times last week interviewed many scientists who say they are alarmed "at what they call [Mr. Gore's] alarmism on global warming." In a front-page piece in its science section, the Times headline read "From a Rapt Audience, a Call to Cool the Hype."
The Times quoted Don Easterbrook, an emeritus professor of geology at Western Washington University, as telling hundreds of experts at the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America that "I don't want to pick on Al Gore. But there are a lot of inaccuracies in the statements we are seeing, and we have to temper that with real data." Mr. Easterbrook made clear he has never been paid by any energy corporations and isn't a Republican.
Even James Hansen, a scientist who began issuing warning cries about global warming in the 1980s and is a top adviser to Mr. Gore, concedes that his work may hold "imperfections" and "technical flaws." Other flaws are more serious, such as Mr. Gore's depiction of sea level rises of up to 20 feet, which would cause Florida and New York City to sink below the surface.
Sober scientists privately say such claims are exaggerated. They point to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a United Nations body that released its fourth report on global warming last month. While it found humans were the main cause of recent global warming, the report also indicated it was a very slow-moving process. On sea levels, the U.N. panel reported its s best high-end estimate of the rise in sea levels by 2100 was three feet. The new high-end best estimate is less than half the previous prediction, which was still far below Mr. Gore's 20 feet. Similarly, the new report shows that the panel's 2001 report overestimated the human influence on climate change since the Industrial Revolution by at least one-third.
In an email message to the Times, Mr. Gore defended his work as fundamentally accurate. But it's increasingly clear that far from the "consensus" on global warming we are told exists, scientists are having a broad and rich debate on many aspects of it. Nearly two decades after Mr. Gore first claimed that "we face an ecological crisis without any precedent in historic times," we don't know if that is really true.
Then there is the Gore zinc mine. Mr. Gore has personally earned $570,000 in zinc royalties from a mine his father bought in 1973 from Armand Hammer, the business executive famous for his close friendship with the Soviet Union and for pleading guilty to making illegal campaign contributions during Watergate. One the same day Al Gore Sr. bought the 88-acre parcel from Hammer for $160,000, he sold the land and subsurface mining rights to his then 25-year-old son for $140,000. The mineral rights were then leased back to Hammer's Occidental Petroleum and the royalty payments put in the names of Al Gore Jr. and his wife, Tipper.
Gore spokeswoman Kalee Kreider claims the terms of the 30-year Occidental lease agreement gave the Gores "no legal recourse" to get out of it. She said the Gores never thought about selling the land and would not comment on whether they ever tried to void the lease. "There is a certain zone of privacy once people go into private life," Ms. Kreidler said. She said critics of the arrangement should realize it should be viewed in a "1973 context, not a 2007 context. . . . There was a different environmental sensibility about all sorts of things."
But what about a 1992 context? That is the year Mr. Gore published "Earth in the Balance," in which he wrote: "The lakes and rivers sustain us; they flow through the veins of the earth and into our own. But we must take care to let them flow back out as pure as they came, not poison and waste them without thought for the future." Mr. Gore wrote that at a time when he would be collecting zinc royalties for another 11 years.
The mines had a generally good environmental record, but they wouldn't pass muster either with the standard Mr. Gore set in "Earth in the Balance" or with most of his environmentalist friends. In May 2000 the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation issued a "Notice of Violation" notifying the Pasminco mine its zinc levels in a nearby river exceeded standards established by the state and the federal Environmental Protection Agency. In 1996 the mine twice failed biomonitoring tests designed to protect water quality in the river for fish and wildlife. "The discharge of industrial wastewater from Outfall #001 [the Caney Fork effluent] contains toxic metals (copper and zinc)," the analysis stated. "The combined effect of these pollutants may be detrimental to fish and aquatic life."
The Gore mines were no small operations. In 2002, the year before they shut down, they ranked 22nd among all metal-mining operations in the U.S., with total toxic releases of 4.1 million pounds. A new mine operator, Strategic Resource Acquisition, is planning to reopen the mines later this year. The Tennessean reports that just last week, Mr. Gore wrote SRA asking it to work with a national environmental group as it makes its plans. He noted that under the previous operator, the mines had, according to the environmental website Scorecard, "pollution releases from the mine in 2002 [that] placed it among the 'dirtiest/worst facilities' in the U.S." Mr. Gore requested that SRA "engage with us in a process to ensure that the mine becomes a global example of environmental best practices." The Tennessean dryly notes that Mr. Gore wrote the letter the week after the paper posed a series of questions to him about his involvement with the zinc mines.
Columnist Steven Milloy recalls talking with Mr. Gore in 2006 about the 1997 Kyoto Protocol he helped negotiate as vice president. "Did we think Kyoto would [reduce global warming] when we signed it? . . . Hell no!" said Mr. Gore, according to Mr. Milloy. The former vice president then explained that the real purpose of Kyoto was to demonstrate that international support could be mustered for action on environmental issues. Mr. Gore clearly believes that the world hasn't acted with enough vigor in the decade since Kyoto, which may explain his growing use of the global-warming hype that concerns many mainstream scientists.
Mr. Gore has called the campaign to combat global warming a "moral imperative." But Mr. Gore faces another imperative: to square his sales pitches with the facts and his personal lifestyle to more align with what he advocates that others practice. "Are you ready to change the way you live?" asks Mr. Gore's film. It's time people ask Mr. Gore "Are you ready to change the way you live, as well as the way you lecture the rest of us?"
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race
on: March 19, 2007, 01:34:03 AM
WSJ oinline today
Lights, Camera . . . Candidacy?
Fred Thompson is shaking up the GOP presidential field. And he's not even running yet.
BY JOHN FUND
Saturday, March 17, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT
NEW YORK--"Expect her to recount every moment of her ordeal," the savvy district attorney mused to his deputy. "There won't be a dry eye in the jury."
"That's a take!" says a director of the hit NBC series "Law and Order." With that, Fred Thompson, the former U.S. senator from Tennessee who has played "strict constructionist" prosecutor Arthur Branch for the past four years, walks back with me to his dressing room to talk about a new role he might soon be undertaking: surprise Republican presidential candidate.
It is a slightly surreal setting to be talking big-league politics. But not unprecedented. In 1965, Ronald Reagan held early strategy meetings on his nascent race for governor of California on the set of "Death Valley Days." In 2003, Arnold Schwarzenegger stepped off a plane from a world-wide publicity tour for his last "Terminator" film and immediately huddled with advisers on his own campaign for governor. Both men effectively used their celebrity status to completely transform the races they entered.
So too may Fred Thompson. When we meet on Thursday night, it's only been four days since he appeared on Fox News to merely announce he was "looking at" running. Chuck Todd, the political director of NBC News, notes in amazement how "a retired senator can show a tiny bit of interest and literally shake up the race overnight."
And he is shaking up the race. Every GOP candidate is nervously watching the reaction to his possible entry. J.C. Watts, an Oklahoma congressman from 1995 to 2003, has endorsed him: "I define Fred Thompson as AC, what's AC? All class."
Fan blogs for "Law and Order" note that since the show is especially popular among women, a Thompson race could help close the GOP's "gender gap." The most pithy comment is from Craig Hammond, a former mayor of Bluefield, W.Va. He told the Bluefield News: "He's the tall timber we've been waiting for. He's the total package. He can hold the red states and pick up a few blue ones along the way."
But Mr. Thompson appears serene about all the speculation swirling around him. "Those running are all good guys, and would be good presidents," he says leaning back in a recliner. "But there are truly vital issues--from the looming entitlement crisis to nuclear proliferation--I'm not afraid to talk about. Lots of people have such a low regard for politicians that they're open to a campaign that would be completely different."
So how would a possible Thompson campaign be distinctive? "Politics is now one big 24-hour news cycle, but we seem to spend less time than ever on real substance," he muses. "What if someone harnessed the Internet and other technologies and insisted in talking about real issues in more depth than consultants would advise? What if they took risks with their race in hopes that the risks to our children could be reduced through building a mandate for good policy?"
Children are a lot on Mr. Thompson's mind--especially his own. In 2002 he lost his daughter after she failed to come out of a drug-overdose-induced coma. Already frustrated with the Senate's endless maneuvering over minutiae, he decided to retire at age 60 only two months later and change his life. In June of that year he married his second wife, Jeri (his first marriage at age 17 ended amicably in divorce in 1985). In 2003 they had their first child (a second was born last November).
"Within the space of a year and a half, I experienced the ultimate tragedy and the ultimate happiness," Mr. Thompson sighs. "I count my blessings, and I have a real focused sense of purpose now."
That brings us to some of the knocks critics have about his possible parachute drop into the "Survivor 2008" competition. Bluntly put, Fred Thompson had a reputation for being lazy in wanting to do the political chores that come with office. People openly question if he has "the fire in the belly" to really make a serious race.
"They used to say I moved slowly," he chuckles. "But I move deliberately. I won every one of my races by more than 20 points in a state Clinton carried twice."
But what about his well-known reputation for dating up a storm as a bachelor senator in Washington in the 1990s? "I plead guilty," he says. "But everyone I knew is still a friend, and if somehow they aren't I guess we'd hear about it. I'm happy with my life partner and children now."
On issues, he addresses head-on the major complaints conservatives have about his record. He was largely stymied in his 1997 investigation of both Clinton-Gore and GOP campaign fund-raising abuses: Key witnesses declined to testify or fled the country, though evidence eventually surfaced of a Chinese plan to influence U.S. politics. He won't argue with those who say he showed "naiveté" about how he would be stonewalled in his investigation. He says he's wiser now.
Many on the right remain angry he supported the campaign finance law sponsored by his friend John McCain. "There are problems with people giving politicians large sums of money and then asking them to pass legislation," Mr. Thompson says. Still, he notes he proposed the amendment to raise the $1,000 per person "hard money" federal contribution limit.
Conceding that McCain-Feingold hasn't worked as intended, and is being riddled with new loopholes, he throws his hands open in exasperation. "I'm not prepared to go there yet, but I wonder if we shouldn't just take off the limits and have full disclosure with harsh penalties for not reporting everything on the Internet immediately."
Mr. Thompson has also been criticized for failing to back some comprehensive tort-reform bills because of his background as a trial lawyer. Here he insists his stance was based on grounds of federalism. "I'm consistent. I address Federalist Society meetings," he says, noting that more issues should be left to the states. For example, he cast the lonely "nay" in 99-1 votes against a national 0.8% blood alcohol level for drivers, a federal law banning guns in schools, and a measure limiting the tort liability of Good Samaritans. "Washington overreaches, and by doing so ends up not doing well the basics people really care about." Think Katrina and Walter Reed.
Indeed, the federal government's inability to function effectively would likely be a major theme of any Thompson campaign. "Audits have shown we've lost control of the waste and mismanagement in our most important agencies. It's getting so bad it's affecting our national security."
Mr. Thompson says that while a senator he was long concerned with U.S. intelligence failures. "The CIA has better politicians than it has spies," he says, referring to the internecine turf wars that have been a feature of the Bush administration.
A key problem, Mr. Thompson notes, is a general lack of accountability in government, where no one pays any price for failure. When asked about President Bush's awarding the Medal of Freedom to outgoing CIA Director George Tenet after U.S. intelligence failures in Iraq became apparent, he shakes his head: "I just didn't understand that."
The next president, according to Mr. Thompson, needs to exercise strong leadership "and get down in the weeds and fix a civil-service system that makes it too hard to hire good employees and too hard to fire bad ones." He doesn't offer specifics on what to do, but notes the "insanity" of the new Congress pushing for the unionization of homeland security employees only five years after it rejected the notion in the wake of 9/11. "Should we tie ourselves up in bureaucratic knots with the challenges we may have to face?" he asks in wonderment.
The challenges, he says, are numerous. On Iraq, he admits "we are left with nothing but bad choices." However, he says the "worst choice" would be to have Osama bin Laden proven right when he predicted America wouldn't have the stomach for a tough fight. The costs of Iraq have been high, but they could be even higher "if we have another stain on America like that infamous scene from Saigon 1975 in which our helicopters took off leaving those who supported us grabbing at the landing skids."
Mr. Thompson is especially worried about nuclear proliferation. He serves as chairman of the International Security Advisory Board, along with former Clinton CIA Director Jim Woolsey and former Democratic Sen. Chuck Robb. The board recently received an unclassified briefing that convinced him three or four countries in the Middle East are "on the cusp" of acquiring nuclear weapons should the Iranians carry through with their own weapons program.
He urges continued pressure on Iran, which he says has grave domestic problems. "Iran may fall of its own weight, and we can help that by offering vocal support to dissident groups and making effective use of the airwaves to reach its people."
On domestic issues, Mr. Thompson says a major reason Republicans lost last November was that they aided and abetted runaway government spending. Yet Democrats, he contends, are incapable of following through on their pledges to be fiscally prudent. "Their political coalition needs more revenue like a car requires gasoline," he laughs. "Reagan showed what can be done if you have the will to push for tough choices and the ability to ask the people to accept them."
But Mr. Thompson says those tough choices shouldn't include the tax increases contemplated in the new budget released by Senate Democrats this week. "The phony static accounting the government uses has obscured just how successful the 2003 tax cuts have been in boosting the economy," he says. "Lower marginal tax rates have proven to be a key to prosperity now by Kennedy, Reagan and Bush. It's time millionaires serving in the Senate learned not to overly tax other people trying to get wealthy."
I note that despite his humble background as the grandson of a sharecropper and son of a used-car salesman, Mr. Thompson himself is now quite wealthy. So how would he campaign against Democratic millionaires he used to serve in the Senate with, such as Hillary Clinton or John Edwards? He smiles and says he has plenty of zingers and points he would make but it's premature to discuss them.
Mr. Thompson says he can compete with Democrats in talking plainly about the anxiety many Americans have about the economy, despite good macro numbers. "Someone who is 18 today may well have 10 employers in their career," he says. "That's completely different from how their parents lived. I would address that insecurity and help people adapt without shooting ourselves in the foot with protectionism and income redistribution. I had 10 employers before I finished law school."
Fred Thompson clearly hasn't decided whether to run for president; and he underestimates just how much the traditional fund-raising he disdains may be necessary for his long-shot campaign. But he has assets that add up to an impressive portfolio.
As Republican counsel in the Watergate hearings, he began building a reputation as a straight-shooter. It was he who asked the question that forced a White House deputy to admit that Richard Nixon had secretly recorded his Oval Office conversations.
Later in the 1970s he played a key role in exposing a Tennessee cash-for-pardons scandal; his acting career began when he won the part of playing himself in the 1985 movie version of the story. Today, his national exposure is greater than ever with a dozen of his movies playing as TV repeats. All of this month he is substituting for radio legend Paul Harvey, whose show is heard on more than 1,200 stations.
Indeed, it is his need to wake up at 5 a.m. the next morning, so he can tape three Harvey segments before returning to the "Law and Order" set for a long day of shooting, that prompts Mr. Thompson to close out our chat. "With my current schedule I might have more time to myself if I gave all this up and did start a campaign," he says as he dons a sports coat and heads for his car.
So many voters remain unsold on any of the current GOP contenders that Mr. Thompson just might trade his TV sound stage for a campaign microphone. As this is the first truly open Republican nomination fight in decades, the party might as well revel in the competition it claims to cherish in other parts of life.
Mr. Fund is a columnist for OpinionJournal.com.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in America and the rest of the western hemisphere
on: March 19, 2007, 01:28:39 AM
WSJ on line, today
The European left makes common cause with the Muslim right.
BY BRET STEPHENS
Sunday, March 18, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT
"It is a profound truth," declared the British Socialist Party in a 1911 manifesto, "that Socialism is the natural enemy of religion." Not the least of the oddities in the subsequent history of progressive politics is that today it has become the principal vehicle in the West for Islamist goals and policies.
Caroline Lucas, a member of the Green Party faction in the European Parliament, is a longtime activist in anti-nuclear, animal-rights and environmentalist causes, and not someone likely to describe herself as an anti-feminist. Yet in June 2004, she joined British MPs Fiona Mactaggart of Labor and Sarah Teather of the Liberal Democrats for a press conference in the House of Commons organized by the Assembly for the Protection of Hijab. The Assembly, better known as Pro-Hijab, is a pan-European organization formed "to campaign nationally and internationally for the protection of every Muslim woman's right to wear the Hijab in accordance with her beliefs and for the protection of every woman's right to dress as modestly and as comfortably as she pleases."
Once upon a time, feminists and socialists alike would have translated that as "subservience to the patriarchy." Now they seem to have rediscovered their roots as civil libertarians, at least when it's politically expedient. Consider the issue of the Armenian genocide. In 1998, the French-speaking wing of Belgium's Socialist Party (PS) co-sponsored legislation to criminalize denial of the Ottoman Empire's murder of an estimated 1.5 million Armenians, much as Holocaust denial is also against the law.
Yet for the past several years, the same PS has been blocking the process of criminalization it helped initiate, presumably in the service of free speech. "Additional legal and historical research," says Belgian Deputy Prime Minister Laurette Onkelinx, remains to be done in ascertaining exactly what happened in Anatolia in 1915.
Progressives have also been remarkably mindful of civil liberties in matters of immigration. When the German state of Baden-Wüttemberg last year required applicants for citizenship to answer a series of questions regarding their personal views, the leader of the German Green Party, Renate Künast, denounced it as "immoral." "A country governed by law," she argued, "cannot ask questions about moral values." Among the questions: "Where do you stand on the statement that a wife should obey her husband and that he can hit her if she fails to do so?"
Curiously, however, Europe's progressives have been somewhat less tolerant on other issues concerning moral values and personal belief. Take "Islamophobia," which progressives often consider akin to racism and have, in some instances, sought to ban by legal means. In Britain last year, Tony Blair's government enacted the Racial and Religious Hatred Act, which criminalized "threatening" comments against religious persons or beliefs. Comedian Rowan Atkinson and author Salman Rushdie, among others, warned that the law undermined basic rights of speech. But for London Mayor Ken Livingstone it was not enough: He defined "Islamophobia" as "discrimination, intolerance or hostility towards Islam and Muslims," and regretted that criminal acts were not more broadly defined by the legislation.
Since coming to office nearly seven years ago, Mr. Livingstone has become a symbol of the marriage of the European left and the Islamist right. It's a marriage of mutual convenience and, at least on one side, actual belief. In the Netherlands, a recent study by the University of Amsterdam's Institute for Migration and Ethnic Studies found that 80% of immigrants--the overwhelming majority of whom are Muslims--voted for the Labor party in recent elections, while the two main center-right parties received a combined 4% of the immigrant vote. In neighboring Belgium, the left-wing sociologist Jan Hertogen credits immigrants for "[saving] democracy" by voting as a bloc against the secessionist and anti-immigrant Vlaams Belang party.
For Muslim voters in Europe, the attractions of the Socialists are several. Socialists have traditionally taken a more accommodating approach to immigrants and asylum-seekers than their conservative rivals. They have championed the welfare state and the benefits it offers poor newcomers. They have promoted a multiculturalist ethos, which in practice has meant respecting Muslim traditions even when they conflict with Western values. In foreign policy, Socialists have often been anti-American and, by extension, hostile to Israel. That hostility has only increased as Muslim candidates have joined the Socialists' electoral slates and as the Muslim vote has become ever more crucial to the Socialists' electoral margin.
More mysterious, however, at least as a matter of ideology, has been the dalliance of the progressive left with the (Islamic) political right. Self-styled progressives, after all, have spent the past four decades championing the very freedoms that Islam most opposes: sexual and reproductive freedoms, gay rights, freedom from religion, pornography and various forms of artistic transgression, pacifism and so on. For those who hold this form of politics dear, any long-term alliance with Islamic politics ultimately becomes an ideological, if not a political, suicide pact. One cannot, after all, champion the cause of universal liberation in alliance with a movement that at its core stands for submission.
This is not, of course, the first time such a thing has happened in the history of the progressive movement, or in European history. On the contrary, it is the recurring theme. In the early 20th century, the apostles of Fabianism--George Bernard Shaw among them--looked to the Soviet Union for inspiration; in the 1960s the model was Mao; in the late 1970s, the great French philosopher Michel Foucault went to Iran to write a paean to Khomeini's revolution. In nearly every case, the progressives were, by later admission, deceived, but not before they had performed their service as "useful idiots" to a totalitarian cause.
But the stakes today are different. At question for Europeans is not the prevailing view of a distant country. The question is the shaping of their own. Europe's liberal democrats were able, sometimes with outside help, to preserve their values in the face of an outside threat. Whether they can resist the temptations of Islamosocialism remains to be seen.
Mr. Stephens is a member of The Wall Street Journal's editorial board. His column appears in the Journal Tuesdays.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Gay & Straight
on: March 15, 2007, 11:22:10 AM
Officials at Deerfield High School in Deerfield, Ill., have ordered their 14-year-old freshman class into a "gay" indoctrination seminar, after having them sign a confidentiality agreement promising not to tell their parents.
"This is unbelievable," said Matt Barber, policy director for cultural issues for Concerned Women for America. "It's not enough that students at Deerfield High are being exposed to improper and offensive material relative to unhealthy and high-risk homosexual behavior, but they've essentially been told by teachers to lie to their parents about it."
In what CWA called a "shocking and brazen act of government abuse of parental rights," the school's officials required the 14-year-olds to attend a "Gay Straight Alliance Network" panel discussion led by "gay" and "lesbian" upperclassmen during a "freshman advisory" class which "secretively featured inappropriate discussions of a sexual nature in promotion of high-risk homosexual behaviors."
"This goes to the heart of the homosexual agenda," Barber said. "The professional propagandists in the 'gay-rights' lobby know the method all too well. If you can maintain control of undeveloped and impressionable youth and spoon-feed them misinformation, lies and half-truths about dangerous, disordered and extremely risky behaviors, then you can control the future and ensure that those behaviors are not only fully accepted, but celebrated."
He said not only is forcing students to be exposed to the pro-homosexual propaganda bad enough, but then school officials further required that students sign the "confidentiality agreement" through which they promised not to tell anyone – including their own parents – about the seminar.
Barber said that also aligns with the goals of the disinformation campaign being run by those in the pro-homosexual camp. "That's what homosexual activists from GSA are attempting to do, and that's what DHS is clearly up to as well."
The situation, according to district Supt. George Fornero, was partly "a mistake."
He told CWA, the nation's largest public policy women's organization, that requiring children to sign the confidentiality agreement wasn't right and the district would be honest with parents in the future about such seminars. But CWA noted that even after the district was caught, parents still were being told they were not welcome to be at the "freshman advisory" and they were not allowed to have access to materials used in compiling the activist curriculum.
Barber noted the damage being done is significant.
"Until DHS and other government schools across the country are made to stop promoting the homosexual agenda, kids will continue to be exposed to – and encouraged to participate in – a lifestyle that places them at high risk for life-threatening disease, depression and spiritual despair," he said.
It's not the first situation where WND has reported on schools teaching homosexuality to children.
In Massachusetts after a school repeatedly advocated for the homosexual lifestyle to students in elementary grades, several parents sued, only to have the federal judge order the "gay" agenda taught to the Christians.
The conclusion from U.S. District Judge Mark L. Wolf found that it is reasonable, indeed there is an obligation, for public schools to teach young children to accept and endorse homosexuality.
Wolf essentially adopted the reasoning in a brief submitted by a number of homosexual-advocacy groups, who said "the rights of religious freedom and parental control over the upbringing of children … would undermine teaching and learning…"
David and Tonia Parker and Joseph and Robin Wirthlin, who have children of school age in Lexington, Mass., brought the lawsuit. They alleged district officials and staff at Estabrook Elementary School violated state law and civil rights by indoctrinating their children about a lifestyle they, as Christians, teach is immoral.
"Wolf's ruling is every parent's nightmare. It goes to extraordinary lengths to legitimize and reinforce the 'right' (and even the duty) of schools to normalize homosexual behavior to even the youngest of children," said a statement from the pro-family group Mass Resistance.
An appeal of that decision is pending.
The judge concluded that even allowing Christians to withdraw their children from classes or portions of classes where their religious beliefs were being violated wasn't a reasonable expectation.
"An exodus from class when issues of homosexuality or same-sex marriage are to be discussed could send the message that gays, lesbians, and the children of same-sex parents are inferior and, therefore, have a damaging effect on those students," he opined.
"Under the Constitution public schools are entitled to teach anything that is reasonably related to the goals of preparing students to become engaged and productive citizens in our democracy," the judge wrote. "Diversity is a hallmark of our nation. It is increasingly evident that our diversity includes differences in sexual orientation."
And, he said, since history "includes instances of … official discrimination against gays and lesbians … it is reasonable for public educators to teach elementary school students … different sexual orientations."
If they disagree, "the Parkers and Wirthlins may send their children to a private school …[or] may also educate their children at home," the judge said.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race
on: March 15, 2007, 10:20:50 AM
Second post of the day-- also about Hillary. Its an interview where she gets much more specific about what she would do in Iraq. Apart from the merits vel non of what she proposes, there is the matter of how it will play in her campaign strategy. Although I loathe the woman and regard her as a tremendous threat to America's freedoms and well-being, I must say that on a political level what she says here is masterful political postioning.
WASHINGTON, March 14 - Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton foresees a "remaining
military as well as political mission" in Iraq, and says that if elected
president, she would keep a reduced military force there to fight Al Qaeda,
deter Iranian aggression, protect the Kurds and possibly support the Iraqi
If Elected ...
This is the first in a series of interviews with the 2008 presidential
candidates in both parties about how they would handle the issues they would
confront as president. Future articles will look at the positions of the
other candidates on Iraq and on other national security and domestic policy
In a half-hour interview on Tuesday in her Senate office, Mrs. Clinton said
the scaled-down American military force that she would maintain would stay
off the streets in Baghdad and would no longer try to protect Iraqis from
sectarian violence - even if it descended into ethnic cleansing.
In outlining how she would handle Iraq as commander in chief, Mrs. Clinton
articulated a more nuanced position than the one she has provided at her
campaign events, where she has backed the goal of "bringing the troops
She said in the interview that there were "remaining vital national security
interests in Iraq" that would require a continuing deployment of American
The United States' security would be undermined if parts of Iraq turned into
a failed state "that serves as a petri dish for insurgents and Al Qaeda,"
she said. "It is right in the heart of the oil region," she said. "It is
directly in opposition to our interests, to the interests of regimes, to
"So it will be up to me to try to figure out how to protect those national
security interests and continue to take our troops out of this urban
warfare, which I think is a loser," Mrs. Clinton added. She declined to
estimate the number of American troops she would keep in Iraq, saying she
would draw on the advice of military officers.
Mrs. Clinton's plans carry some political risk. Although she has been
extremely critical of the Bush administration's handling of the war, some
liberal Democrats are deeply suspicious of her intentions on Iraq, given
that she voted in 2002 to authorize the use of force there and, unlike some
of her rivals for the Democratic nomination, has not apologized for having
Senator Clinton's proposal is also likely to stir up debate among military
specialists. Some counterinsurgency experts say the plan is unrealistic
because Iraqis are unlikely to provide useful tips about Al Qaeda if
American troops end their efforts to protect Iraqi neighborhoods.
But a former Pentagon official argued that such an approach would minimize
American casualties and thus make it easier politically to sustain a
long-term military presence that might prevent the fighting from spreading
throughout the region.
Mrs. Clinton has said she would vote for a proposed Democratic resolution on
Iraq now being debated on the floor of the Senate, which sets a goal of
withdrawing combat forces by March 31, 2008. Asked if her plan was
consistent with the resolution, Mrs. Clinton and her advisers said it was,
noting that the resolution also called for "a limited number" of troops to
stay in Iraq to protect the American Embassy and other personnel, train and
equip Iraqi forces, and conduct "targeted counterterrorism operations."
(Senator Barack Obama, a rival of Mrs. Clinton, has said that if elected
president, he might keep a small number of troops in Iraq.)
With many Democratic primary voters favoring a total withdrawal, Senator
Clinton appears to be trying to balance her political interests with the
need to retain some flexibility. Like other Democratic candidates, she has
called for engaging Iran and Syria in talks and called on President Bush to
reverse his troop buildup.
But while Mrs. Clinton has criticized Mr. Bush's troop reinforcements as an
escalation of war, she said in the interview, "We're doing it, and it's
unlikely we can stop it."
"I'm going to root for it if it has any chance of success," she said of Mr.
Bush's plan, "but I think it's more likely that the anti-American violence
and sectarian violence just moves from place to place to place, like the old
Whac a Mole. Clear some neighborhoods in Baghdad, then face Ramadi. Clear
Ramadi, then maybe it's back in Falluja."
Mrs. Clinton made it clear that she believed the next president is likely to
face an Iraq that is still plagued by sectarian fighting and occupied by a
sizable number of American troops. The likely problems, she said, include
continued political disagreements in Baghdad, die-hard Sunni insurgents, Al
Qaeda operatives, Turkish anxiety over the Kurds and the effort to "prevent
Iran from crossing the border and having too much influence inside of Iraq."
"The choices that one would face are neither good nor unlimited," she said.
"And from the vantage point of where I sit now, I can tell you, in the
absence of a very vigorous diplomatic effort on the political front and on
the regional and international front, I think it is unlikely there will be a
stable situation that will be inherited."
(Page 2 of 2)
On the campaign trail, Mrs. Clinton has repeatedly vowed to bring the war to
a close if the fighting were still going on when she took office as
president. "If we in Congress don't end this war before January 2009, as
president, I will," she has said.
This is the first in a series of interviews with the 2008 presidential
candidates in both parties about how they would handle the issues they would
confront as president. Future articles will look at the positions of the
other candidates on Iraq and on other national security and domestic policy
In the interview, she suggested that it was likely that the fighting among
the Iraqis would continue for some time. In broad terms, her strategy is to
abandon the American military effort to stop the sectarian violence and to
focus instead on trying to prevent the strife from spreading throughout the
region by shrinking and rearranging American troop deployments within Iraq.
The idea of repositioning American forces to minimize American casualties,
discourage Iranian, Syrian and Turkish intervention, and forestall the Kurds'
declaring independence is not a new one. It has been advocated by Dov S.
Zakheim, who served as the Pentagon's comptroller under former Defense
Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld. Mr. Zakheim has estimated that no more than
75,000 troops would be required, compared to the approximately 160,000
troops the United States will have in Iraq when the additional brigades in
Mr. Bush's plan are deployed.
While Mrs. Clinton declined to estimate the size of a residual American
troop presence, she indicated that troops might be based north of Baghdad
and in western Anbar Province.
"It would be far fewer troops," she said. "But what we can do is to almost
take a line sort of north of - between Baghdad and Kirkuk, and basically put
our troops into that region, the ones that are going to remain for our
antiterrorism mission, for our northern support mission, for our ability to
respond to the Iranians, and to continue to provide support, if called for,
for the Iraqis."
Mrs. Clinton described a mission with serious constraints.
"We would not be doing patrols," she added. "We would not be kicking in
doors. We would not be trying to insert ourselves in the middle between the
various Shiite and Sunni factions. I do not think that's a smart or
achievable mission for American forces."
One question raised by counterinsurgency experts is whether the more limited
military mission Mrs. Clinton is advocating would lead to a further
escalation in the sectarian fighting, because it would shift the entire
burden for protecting civilians to the nascent Iraqi Security Forces. A
National Intelligence Estimate issued in January said those forces would be
hard-pressed to take on significantly increased responsibilities in the next
12 to 18 months.
"Coalition capabilities, including force levels, resources and operations,
remain an essential stabilizing element in Iraq," the estimate noted,
referring to the American-led forces.
Mrs. Clinton said the intelligence estimate was based on a "faulty premise"
because it did not take into account the sort of "phased redeployment" plan
she was advocating. But she acknowledged that under her strategy American
troops would remain virtual bystanders if Shiites and Sunnis killed each
other in sectarian attacks. "That may be inevitable," she said. "And it
certainly may be the only way to concentrate the attention of the parties."
Asked if Americans would endure having troops in Iraq who do nothing to stop
sectarian attacks there, she replied: "Look, I think the American people are
done with Iraq. I think they are at a point where, whether they thought it
was a good idea or not, they have seen misjudgment and blunder after
blunder, and their attitude is, What is this getting us? What is this doing
"No one wants to sit by and see mass killing," she added. "It's going on
every day! Thousands of people are dying every month in Iraq. Our presence
there is not stopping it. And there is no potential opportunity I can
imagine where it could. This is an Iraqi problem; we cannot save the Iraqis
from themselves. If we had a different attitude going in there, if we had
stopped the looting immediately, if we had asserted our authority - you can
go down the lines, if, if, if - "
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan
on: March 15, 2007, 09:06:40 AM
Geopolitical Diary: Judge's Ouster Causes an Uproar in Pakistan
An extraordinary meeting of Pakistan's military commanders will be held in the next few days, Pakistani daily The News reported Wednesday. Sources told the newspaper the meeting was called to discuss the crisis caused by President Gen. Pervez Musharraf's March 9 suspension of Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry.
Musharraf's move against the country's senior judiciary official was intended to help the president secure a second term in September. Musharraf likely was advised by close aides that Chaudhry, who has demonstrated a certain degree of independence since Musharraf appointed him in June 2005, cannot be relied upon to rule in Musharraf's favor should his opponents challenge his re-election bid in the highest court.
Acting on this advice, Musharraf suspended the chief justice on allegations of corruption, misconduct and other wrongdoings, and referred the matter to the country's highest judicial authority, the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC). The government expected that, like all of its previous decisions, Chaudhry's suspension would go smoothly. But the government was taken by surprise when the country's legal community sternly opposed the move. The chief justice himself has chosen to fight the decision in the SJC.
Meanwhile, declaring the suspension an attack on the judiciary, lawyers and judges are boycotting courts across the country and have staged demonstrations that police have violently suppressed. The government reportedly has tried to restrict media coverage of the controversy.
The crisis is quickly turning into the most serious challenge Musharraf has faced since coming to power in October 1999. Political opponents from across the ideological spectrum are trying to exploit the opportunity and force Musharraf from office. Chaudhry's lead attorney is Aitzaz Ahsan, a senior leader of the opposition Pakistan People's Party Parliamentarians and a current parliament member.
Though there is a consensus against the ouster of the chief justice, a grand strategy on how to use the crisis to generate enough unrest against the government to force Musharraf from power is still in the works; it is too early to tell just how the strategy will unfold. There also is dissent within ruling political circles, and many of Musharraf's senior civilian allies are critical of his decision to suspend Chaudhry.
Musharraf can do one of two things: He can have the SJC declare Chaudhry guilty and remove him from the post of chief justice. This would not be easy, given the current national uproar and the likelihood that the protests would intensify in the run-up to the September election. The government might be reluctant to take such a bold step when it has very little support on the matter. The second option would involve cutting a deal with the suspended chief justice whereby the SJC acquits him and restores him to his position. This would be in exchange for assurance that the chief justice would not move against Musharraf. This way, the president could demonstrate that he respects the law of the land and thereby undercut his opponents.
This second option, however, assumes that the sacked chief justice would be willing to negotiate. Musharraf also would be dealing from a position of relative weakness, which Chaudhry and his supporters could exploit. Given the adverse effects the chief justice's restoration could have on Musharraf's hold on power, the regime might not be inclined to move in that direction.
It is quite possible that the current situation will not create an immediate crisis of governance for Musharraf, but it could lead to more trouble as the country gets closer to election time. Increasing international pressure on Islamabad to more effectively contain the jihadists would complicate matters for Musharraf all the more.