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28701  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Islamic Countries: on: October 19, 2006, 07:50:26 AM
Mr. Erdogan's Turkey

By MICHAEL RUBIN
October 19, 2006; Page A18

Five years into the war on terror, inept U.S. diplomacy risks undercutting a key democracy (and ally) that President Bush once called a model for the Muslim world. The future of Turkey as a secular, Western-oriented state is at risk. Just as in Gaza and Lebanon, the threat comes from parties using the rhetoric of democracy to advance distinctly undemocratic agendas. Turkey has overcome past challenges from terrorism and radical Islam; always its system has persevered. But now, as Turkish politicians and officials work to defend the Turkish constitution, U.S. diplomats interfere to dismiss Turkish concerns and downplay the Islamist threat.

A crisis has simmered for months, but earlier this month Ankara erupted. On Oct. 1, President Ahmet Necdet Sezer warned parliament, "The fundamentalist threat has not changed its goal to change the basic characteristics of the state." The next day, as Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited the Oval Office, Gen. Yasar B?y?kanit, chief of Turkey's armed forces, warned cadets of growing Islamic fundamentalism and promised "every measure will be taken against it." Usually such warnings are enough to keep those transgressing on the constitutional separation of mosque and state in check.

 
Enter U.S. Ambassador Ross Wilson. At an Oct. 4 press conference he said: "There is nothing that worries me with regards to Turkey's continuation as a strong, secure, stable and secular democracy." He dismissed opposition concern about the Islamism of Mr. Erdogan's ruling Justice and Development Party (known in Turkish as the AKP) as "political cacophony." His remarks were consistent with those of his State Department superiors. Last autumn, Daniel Fried, assistant secretary of state for European Affairs, said "The development of the AKP into a democratic party . . . has mirrored and supported the development of Turkish political society as a whole in a liberal and democratic direction." He described the AKP as "a kind of Muslim version of a Christian Democratic Party."

Why are so many Turks angry at Washington's dismissal of their concerns? While democrats fight for change within a system, Islamists seek to alter the system itself. This has been the case with the AKP. Over the party's four-year tenure, Mr. Erdogan has spoken of democracy, tolerance and liberalism, but waged a slow and steady assault on the system. He endorsed, for example, the dream of Turkey's secular elite to enter the European Union, but only to embrace reforms diluting the checks and balances of military constitutional enforcement. After the European Court of Human Rights upheld a ban on headscarves in public schools, he changed course. "It is wrong that those who have no connection to this field [of religion] make such a decision . . . without consulting Islamic scholars," he declared. Then in May 2006, his chief negotiator for accession talks ordered the removal, from a negotiating paper, of reference to Turkey's educational system as secular.

The assault on the secular education system has been subtle but effective. Traditionally, students had three choices: enroll at religious academies (so-called Imam Hatips) and enter the clergy; learn a trade at vocational schools; or matriculate at secular high schools, attend university and pursue a career. Mr. Erdogan changed the system: By equating Imam Hatip degrees with high-school degrees, he enabled Islamist students to enter university and qualify for government jobs without ever mastering Western fundamentals. He also sought to bypass checks and balances. After the Higher Education Board composed of university rectors rejected his demands to make universities more welcoming of political Islam, the AKP-dominated parliament proposed to establish 15 new universities. While Mr. Erdogan told diplomats his goal was to promote education, Turkish academics say the move would enable him to handpick rectors and swamp the board with political henchmen.

Such tactics have become commonplace. At Mr. Erdogan's insistence and over the objections of many secularists, the AKP passed legislation to lower the mandatory retirement age of technocrats. This could mean replacement of nearly 4,000 out of 9,000 judges. Turks are suspicious that the AKP seeks to curtail judicial independence. In May 2005, AKP Parliamentary Speaker B?lent Arin? warned that the AKP might abolish the constitutional court if its judges continued to hamper its legislation. Mr. Erdogan's refusal to implement Supreme Court decisions levied against his government underline his contempt for rule of law. Last May, in the heat of the AKP's anti-judiciary rhetoric, an Islamist lawyer protesting the head scarf ban shouted "Allahu Akbar," opened fire in the Supreme Court and murdered a judge. Thousands attended his funeral, chanting pro-secular slogans. Mr. Erdogan was absent from the ceremony.

There have been other subtle changes. Mr. Erdogan has replaced nearly every member of the banking regulatory board with officials from the Islamic banking sector. Accusations of Saudi capital subsidizing AKP are rampant. According to Turkish Central Bank statistics, in the first six months of this year, the net error -- money entering the Turkish economy for which regulators cannot account -- has increased almost eightfold compared to 2002, the year the AKP came to power. According to the opposition parliamentary bloc, debt amassed under Mr. Erdogan's administration is equal to total debt accrued in Turkey between 1970 and 2000. Erkan Mumcu, a former AKP minister who now heads the center-right Motherland Party, accused the AKP in June of interfering in Central Bank operations. Accordingly, President Bush's Oval Office statement, based on State Department talking points -- congratulating "the prime minister and his government for the economic reforms that have enabled the Turkish economy to be strong" -- may have hampered transparency, if not reform.

In the past year, the AKP anti-secular agenda has grown bolder. AKP-run municipalities now ban alcohol. Turkish Airlines recently surveyed employees about their attitudes toward the Quran. On July 11, Mr. Erdogan publicly vouched for the sincerity of Yasin al-Qadi, a Saudi financier identified by both the U.N. and U.S. Treasury Department as an al Qaeda financier.

When Mr. Erdogan began his political career, he did not hide his agenda. In September 1994, while mayor of Istanbul, he promised, "We will turn all our schools into Imam Hatips." Two months later he said, "Thank God Almighty, I am a servant of the Shariah." In May 1996, he called for a ban on alcohol. In the months before his dismissal from the mayoralty, his cynicism was clear. "Democracy is like a streetcar," he quipped. "You ride it until you arrive at your destination and then you step off."

Diplomacy should not just accentuate the positive and ignore the negative. When a country faces an Islamist challenge, PC platitudes do far more harm than good. At the very least, U.S. diplomats should never intercede to preserve the status quo at the expense of liberalism. Nor should they even appear to endorse a political party as an established democracy enters an election season. It is not good relations with Ankara that should be the U.S. goal, but rather the triumph of the democratic and liberal ideas for which Turkey traditionally stands.

Mr. Rubin is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.
28702  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Legal issues on: October 19, 2006, 07:32:38 AM
AT LAW

Sending a Message
Congress to courts: Get out of the war on terror.

BY JOHN YOO
Thursday, October 19, 2006 12:01 a.m. EDT

During the bitter controversy over the military commission bill, which President Bush signed into law on Tuesday, most of the press and the professional punditry missed the big story. In the struggle for power between the three branches of government, it is not the presidency that "won." Instead, it is the judiciary that lost.

The new law is, above all, a stinging rebuke to the Supreme Court. It strips the courts of jurisdiction to hear any habeas corpus claim filed by any alien enemy combatant anywhere in the world. It was passed in response to the effort by a five-justice majority in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld to take control over terrorism policy. That majority extended judicial review to Guantanamo Bay, threw the Bush military commissions into doubt, and tried to extend the protections of Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions to al Qaeda and Taliban detainees, overturning the traditional understanding that Geneva does not cover terrorists, who are not signatories nor "combatants" in an internal civil war under Article 3.

Hamdan was an unprecedented attempt by the court to rewrite the law of war and intrude into war policy. The court must have thought its stunning power grab would go unchallenged. After all, it has gotten away with many broad assertions of judicial authority before. This has been because Congress is unwilling to take a clear position on controversial issues (like abortion, religion or race) and instead passes ambiguous laws which breed litigation and leave the power to decide to the federal courts.

Until the Supreme Court began trying to make war policy, the writ of habeas corpus had never been understood to benefit enemy prisoners in war. The U.S. held millions of POWs during World War II, with none permitted to use our civilian courts (except for a few cases of U.S. citizens captured fighting for the Axis). Even after hostilities ended, the justices turned away lawsuits by enemy prisoners seeking to challenge their detention. In Johnson v. Eisentrager, the court held that it would not hear habeas claims brought by alien enemy prisoners held outside the U.S., and refused to interpret the Geneva Conventions to give new rights in civilian court against the government. In the case of Gen. Tomoyuki Yamashita, the court refrained from reviewing the operations of military commissions.

In Hamdan, the court moved to sweep aside decades of law and practice so as to forge a grand new role for the courts to open their doors to enemy war prisoners. Led by John Paul Stevens and abetted by Anthony Kennedy, the majority ignored or creatively misread the court's World War II precedents. The approach catered to the legal academy, whose tastes run to swashbuckling assertions of judicial supremacy and radical innovations, rather than hewing to wise but boring precedents.





Thoughtful critics point out that because the enemy fights covertly, the risk of detaining the innocent is greater. But so is the risk of releasing the dangerous. That's why enemy combatants who fight out of uniform, such as wartime spies, have always been considered illegals under the law of war, not entitled to the same protections given to soldiers on the battlefield or ordinary POWs. Disguised suicide- bombers in an age of WMD proliferation and virulent America-hatred are more immediately dangerous than the furtive information-carriers of our Cold War past. We now know that more than a dozen detainees released from Guantanamo have rejoined the jihad. The real question is how much time, energy and money should be diverted from winning the fight toward establishing multiple layers of review for terrorists. Until Hamdan, nothing in the law of war ever suggested that enemy status was anything but a military judgment.
While there may be different ways to strike a balance, this is a decision for the president and Congress, not the courts. The Constitution gives Congress the authority to determine the jurisdiction of federal courts in peacetime, and also declares that habeas corpus can be suspended "in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion" when "the public Safety may require it." Congress's power is even greater when it is correcting the justices' errors. Courts are ill-equipped to decide whether vast resources should be devoted to reviewing military detentions. Or whether military personnel's time should be consumed traveling back to the U.S. for detainee hearings. Or whether we risk revealing information in these hearings that might compromise the intelligence sources and methods that may allow us to win the war.

This time, Congress and the president did not take the court's power grab lying down. They told the courts, in effect, to get out of the war on terror, stripped them of habeas jurisdiction over alien enemy combatants, and said there was nothing wrong with the military commissions. It is the first time since the New Deal that Congress had so completely divested the courts of power over a category of cases. It is also the first time since the Civil War that Congress saw fit to narrow the court's habeas powers in wartime because it disagreed with its decisions.

The law goes farther. It restores to the president command over the management of the war on terror. It directly reverses Hamdan by making clear that the courts cannot take up the Geneva Conventions. Except for some clearly defined war crimes, whose prosecution would also be up to executive discretion, it leaves interpretation and enforcement of the treaties up to the president. It even forbids courts from relying on foreign or international legal decisions in any decisions involving military commissions.

All this went overlooked during the fight over the bill by the media, which focused on Sens. McCain, Graham and Warner's opposition to the administration's proposals for the use of classified evidence at terrorist trials and permissible interrogation methods. In its eagerness to magnify an intra-GOP squabble, the media mostly ignored the substance of the bill, which gave current and future administrations, whether Democrat or Republican, the powers needed to win this war.

Mr. Yoo, professor of law at Berkeley and visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, served in the Bush Justice Department from 2001-03. He is the author of "War By Other Means" (Grove/Atlantic 2006).
28703  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Europe on: October 18, 2006, 06:44:38 PM
 Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: Socialist Canada
Posts: 2,713 
 
 School bans Christian chastity ring but allows Muslim and Sikh symbols

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

A secondary school has come under fire for banning Christian pupils from wearing rings symbolising a belief in chastity until marriage.
Millais School in West Sussex has banned the silver 'purity rings', arguing that they fall foul of the school's no-jewellery policy, which only allows pupils to wear simple single stud earrings.
But the school has been accused of double standards as it allows Muslim pupils to wear headscarves and Sikh pupils kara bracelets as a means of religious expression.
The ban is the latest in a series of episodes where organisations ban Christian jewellery. Earlier this week British Airways banned an employee from wearing a cross necklace. The Rev John Brown of Middleton-on-Sea argues that the ban should be lifted as it is 'discriminatory' against Christians.
Rev Brown, 78, a retired Church of England vicar said: 'The ban is totally discriminatory, compared with the way Muslim girls in that school are treated, they are allowed to wear head scarves, symbolising their faith.
'The girls are wearing rings to show their religious belief in abstaining from sex until marraige, it means a great deal to them, so I think it's quite wrong it should be banned.'
Heather and Philip Playfoot have been in dispute with the school in Horsham over the issue for two years.
Their 15-year-old daughter Lydia began wearing her ring - which is inscribed with a biblical verse - in June 2004.
The Playfoots claim Lydia and up to a dozen pupils have been punished for breaking the rules.
Lydia, who no longer wears the ring to school said she feels 'betrayed' by the school.
'My ring is a symbol of my religious faith. I think, as a Christian, it says we should keep ourselves pure from sexual sinfulness and wearing the ring is a good way of making a stand.''
Her parents Heather, 47, a housewife and Phil, 49, a minister in a nondenominational church, are considering taking legal action.
Mr Playfoot said yesterday: 'We hope the school will recognise the ring as a legitimate expression of the childrens' Christian beliefs.'
Mrs Playfoot added: 'The ring is a reminder to them of the promise they have made, much the same as a wedding ring is an outward sign of an inward promise.
'It's a discriminatory policy. We don't want her education to be disrupted because of it but we do want her to feel free to wear something that is very significant.'
Lydia's ring comes from Silver Ring Thing, an evangelical American Christian movement. It has encouraged a growing number of teenagers to make a 'pledge of chastity'. The silver ring demonstrates commitment to this pledge.
The movement was founded by father- of-three Denny Pattyn in Yuma, Arizona, in 1995. He launched it after discovering Yuma had the highest teenage pregnancy rate in Arizona.
Silver Ring Thing launched in Britain in 2004, promoting abstinence before marriage. More than 20,000 members have signed up at roadshows in the U.S. and Britain.
Leon Nettley, headmaster of Millais, said in a statement that the school's own sex education programme already stressed that underage sex is illegal, and encouraged pupils to discuss the issues.
He added: 'The school is not convinced that pupils' rights have been interfered with by the application of the school's uniform policy. 'The school has a clearly published uniform policy and sets high standards in this respect.' http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/liv...n_page_id=1770
28704  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Islamic Countries: on: October 18, 2006, 06:05:50 PM
http://news.yahoo.com/

Italian's kidnappers set terms for release: website

Tue Oct 17, 9:28 PM ET



The kidnappers of an Italian photojournalist in Afghanistan have demanded the return of an Afghan Christian convert living in Italy in exchange for keeping the reporter alive, an Italian online newspaper reported.

The PeaceReporter website said the kidnappers of 36-year-old Gabriele Torsello had made the demand in a telephone call to Italian non-governmental organisation Emergency and had given four days for their demand to be met.

"We want this issue resolved before the end of Ramadan," the PeaceReporter website quoted them as saying. The holy Muslim fasting month of Ramadan ends this year on October 24.

Earlier this year Italy granted political asylum to 41-year-old Afghan Abdul Rahman, who faced possible execution under Islamic Sharia law in Afghanistan for converting to Christianity.

Rahman was freed in secret in late March after the Afghan Supreme Court said it had doubts about his mental capacity to stand trial.

That decision reassured Kabul's Western allies, who had put unprecedented pressure on the new democratic government to honour freedom of religion. But it caused outcry among hardliners in Afghanistan, who are now demanding that Rahman be extradited.

On Tuesday the abductors of photojournalist Torsello demanded Rahman's return in a phone call to a security official at a hospital run by Emergency in Lashkar Gah, provincial capital of the volatile southern province of Helmand.

Torsello, an independent reporter who has converted to Islam, was allowed to exchange a few words with the official and told him he was "so-so". On Monday night he had phoned the same official to say he was all right.

Italian Foreign Minister Massimo d'Alema said on Monday the government had activated "all its contacts" to secure the release of the reporter, who was kidnapped on October 12.

The Italian media said on Sunday that Torsello had been accused by the Taliban of spying but a spokesman for the radical Islamic movement, Yusuf Ahmadi, told AFP he was not aware of any kidnapping.

Torsello, married with a son, is based in London and has worked in hotspots including Kashmir and Nepal.

Supporters of the former Taliban regime, which was toppled in a US-led invasion of Afghanistan in late 2001, have stepped up attacks in southern and eastern Afghanistan this year.

Fighting has been particularly intense in Hemland, where the US-led military coalition and Afghan forces are focusing their biggest anti-Taliban operation since 2001.

But on Tuesday British troops pulled out of the Musa Qala district of Helmand, following a request from war-weary locals.
28705  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Part Two on: October 18, 2006, 11:09:33 AM
PART TWO

Paradox 4:
Sometimes doing nothing is the best reaction
This paradox is, in fact, a criticism of another cardinal principle of the occupation: the application of overwhelming force in order to teach insurgents (and prospective insurgents) that opposition of any sort will not be tolerated and, in any case, is hopeless.

A typical illustration of this principle in practice was a January US military report that went in part: "An unmanned US drone detected three men digging a hole in a road in the area. Insurgents regularly bury bombs along roads in the area to target US or Iraqi convoys. The three men were tracked to a building, which US forces then hit with precision-guided munitions." As it turned out, the attack killed 12 members of a family living in that house, severely damaged six neighboring houses, and consolidated local opposition to the American presence.

This example (multiplied many times over) makes it clear why, in so many instances over these past years, doing nothing might have been better: fewer enemies in the "hood". But the developers of the new military strategy have a more cold-blooded view of the issue, preferring to characterize the principle in this way: "If a careful analysis of the effects of a response reveals that more negatives than positives might result, soldiers should consider an alternative."

That is, while this incident might well be an example of a time when "doing nothing is the best reaction", the multiple civilian deaths that resulted could, under at least some circumstances, be outweighed by the "positives". Take, for a counter example, the killing of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the head of al-Qaeda in Iraq, in an air strike that also caused multiple civilian deaths.

Paradox 5:
The best weapons for counterinsurgency do not shoot
The Times' Gordon offers the following translation of this paradox: "Often dollars and ballots have more impact than bombs and bullets." Given the $18 billion US reconstruction budget for Iraq and the three well-attended elections since January 2005, it might seem that, in this one area, Bush administration efforts actually anticipated the new counterinsurgency doctrine.

But in their original article the military strategists were actually far more precise in describing what they meant by this - and that precision makes it clear how far from effective American "reconstruction" was. Money and elections, they claim, are not enough: "Lasting victory will come from a vibrant economy, political participation and restored hope."

As it happened, the American officials responsible for Iraq policy were only willing to deliver that vibrant economy, along with political participation and restored hope, under quite precise and narrow conditions that suited the larger fantasies of the Bush administration.

Iraq's new government was to be an American ally, hostile to that axis-of-evil regional power Iran, and it was to embrace the "opening" of the Iraqi economy to American multinationals. Given Iraqi realities and this hopeless list of priorities or day-dreams, it is not surprising that the country's economy has sunk ever deeper into depression, that elected officials have neither the power nor the inclination to deliver on their campaign promises, and that the principle hopes of the majority of Iraqis are focused on the departure of American troops because of, as one pollster concluded, "the American failure to do basically anything for Iraqis".

Paradox 6:
Baghdad doing something tolerably better than US doing it well
Here is a paradoxical principle that the occupation has sought to apply fully. The presidential slogan, "as the Iraqis stand up, we will stand down", has been an expression of Bush administration determination to transfer the front-line struggle against the insurgents - the patrols, the convoys, the home invasions, any house-to-house fighting - to Iraqi units, even if their job performance proved even less than "tolerable" compared to the rigorous execution of American troops.

It is this effort that has also proved the administration's most consistent and glaring failure. In a country where 80% of the people want the Americans to leave, it is very difficult to find soldiers willing to fight against the insurgents who are seeking to expel them.

This was evident when the first group of American-trained soldiers and police deserted the field of battle during the fights for Fallujah, Najaf, Mosul and Tal Afar in 2004. This led eventually to the current American strategy of using Shi'ite soldiers against Sunni insurgents, and utilizing Kurds against both Shi'ite and Sunni rebels. (Sunnis, by and large, have refused to fight with the Americans.) This policy, in turn, has contributed substantially to the still-escalating sectarian violence within Iraq.

Even today, after the infusion of enormous amounts of money and years of effort, a substantial proportion of newly recruited soldiers desert or mutiny when faced with the prospect of fighting against anti-American insurgents.

According to Solomon Moore and Louise Roug of the Los Angeles Times, in Anbar province, the scene of the heaviest fighting, "half the Iraqi soldiers are on leave at any given time, and many don't return to duty. In May, desertion rates in some Iraqi units reached 40%."

In September, fully three-quarters of the 4,000 Iraqi troops ordered to Baghdad to help in the American operation to reclaim the capital and suppress internecine violence there, refused deployment. American officials told the LA Times that such refusals were based on an unwillingness to fight outside their home regions and a reluctance to "be thrust into uncomfortable sectarian confrontations".

As the failed attempts to "stand up" Iraqi forces suggest, the goal of getting Iraqis to fight "tolerably" well depends on giving them a reason to fight that they actually support. As long as Iraqis are asked to fight on the side of occupation troops whose presence they despise, the US cannot expect the quality of their performance to be "tolerable" from the Bush administration point of view.

Paradox 7:
If a tactic works this week, it will not work next week
The clearest expression of this principle lies in the history of improvised explosive devices (IEDs), the anti-occupation weapon of choice among Iraqi resistance fighters.

Throughout the war, the occupation military has conducted hundreds of armed patrols each week designed to capture suspected insurgents through house-to-house searches. The insurgency, in turn, has focused on deterring and derailing these patrols, using sniper attacks, rocket propelled grenades, and IEDs.

At first, sniper attacks were the favored weapon of the insurgents, but the typical American response - artillery and air attacks - proved effective enough to set them looking for other ways to respond. IEDs then gained in popularity, since they could be detonated from a relatively safe distance. When the Americans developed devices to detect the electronic detonators, the insurgents developed a variety of non-electronic trigger devices. When the Americans upgraded their armor to resist the typical IED, the insurgents developed "shaped" charges that could pierce American armor.

And so it goes in all aspects of the war. Each move by one side triggers a response by the other. The military experts developing the new strategy can point to this dilemma, but they cannot solve it. The underlying problem for the American military is that the resistance has already reached the sort of critical mass that ensures an endless back-and-forth tactical battle.

One solution not under consideration might work very well: abandoning the military patrols themselves. But such a tactic would also require abandoning counterinsurgency and ultimately leaving Iraq.

Paradox 8:
Tactical success guarantees nothing
This point is summarized by Gordon of the Times this way: "[M]ilitary actions by themselves cannot achieve success." But this is the smallest part of the paradox. It is true enough that the insurgency in Iraq hopes to win "politically" by waiting for the American people to force the US government to withdraw, or for the cost of the war to outweigh its potential benefits, or for world pressure to make the war diplomatically unviable.

But there is a much more encompassing element to this dictum: that guerrilla fighters do not expect to win any military battles with the occupation. In the military strategists' article, they quote an interchange between American Colonel Harry Summers and his North Vietnamese counterpart after the US had withdrawn from Vietnam. When Summers said, "You know you never defeated us on the battlefield," his adversary replied, "That may be so, but it is also irrelevant."

A tactical victory occurs when the enemy is killed or retreats, leaving the battlefield to the victor. In guerrilla war, therefore, the guerrillas never win since they always melt away and leave their adversary in charge.

But in Iraq, as in other successful guerrilla wars, the occupation army cannot remain indefinitely at the scene of its tactical victories - in each community, town or city that it conquers. It must move on to quell the rebellion elsewhere. And when it does, if the guerrillas have successfully melted away, they will reoccupy the community, town, or city, thus winning a strategic victory and ruling the local area until their next tactical defeat.

If they keep this up long enough and do it in enough places, they will eventually make the war too costly to pursue - and thus conceivably win the war without winning a battle.

Paradox 9:
Most important decisions are not made by generals
Because guerrilla war is decentralized, with local bands deciding where to place IEDs, when to use snipers, and which patrols or bases to attack, the struggle in different communities, provinces, or regions takes very different forms.

Many insurgents in Fallujah chose to stand and fight, while those in Tal Afar, near the Syrian border, decided to evacuate the city with its civilian population when the American military approached in strength. In Shi'ite areas, members of Muqtada al-Sadr's Mehdi Army chose to join the local police and turn it to their purposes; but Sunni insurgents have tried, instead, to disarm the local police and then disband the force. In every city and town, the strategy of the resistance has been different.

The latest American military strategists are arguing that what they call the "mosaic nature of an insurgency" implies the necessity of giving autonomy to local American commanders to "adapt as quickly as the insurgents". But such decentralization cannot work if the local population supports the insurgent goal of expelling the occupiers.

Given autonomy under such circumstances, lower-level US military officers may decide that annihilating a home suspected of sheltering an insurgent is indeed counterproductive; such decisions, however, humane, would now come far too late to convince a local population that it should abandon its support of a campaign seen as essential to national independence.

There may have been a time, back when the invasion began, that the US could have adopted a strategy that would have made it welcome - for a time, anyway - in Iraq. Such a strategy, as the military theorists flatly state, would have had to deliver a "vibrant economy, political participation and restored hope".

Instead, the occupation delivered economic stagnation or degradation, a powerless government and the promise of endless violence. Given this reality, no new military strategy - however humane, canny or well designed - could reverse the occupation's terminal unpopularity. Only a US departure might do that.

Paradoxically, the policies these military strategists are now trying to reform have ensured that, however much most Iraqis may want such a departure, it would be, at best, bittersweet. The legacy of sectarian violence and the near-irreversible destruction wrought by the American presence make it unlikely that they would have the time or inclination to take much satisfaction in the end of the American occupation.

Michael Schwartz, professor of sociology and faculty director of the undergraduate college of global studies at Stony Brook University, has written extensively on popular protest and insurgency, as well as on American business and government dynamics. His books include Radical Protest and Social Structure, and Social Policy and the Conservative Agenda (edited, with Clarence Lo). His email address is Ms42@optonline.net.

(Copyright 2006 Michael Schwartz)
 

 
28706  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Big Picture WW3: Who, when, where, why on: October 18, 2006, 11:08:16 AM
Here's what he references:

-------------


Nine paradoxes of a lost war
By Michael Schwartz

Introduction by Tom Engelhardt
Here's how President George W Bush described the enemy in Iraq at his press conference last week. "The violence is being caused by a combination of terrorists, elements of former regime criminals and sectarian militias." That is, "bitter-enders" aka "Saddamists". The "sectarian militias" may have been a relatively recent add-on, but this is essentially the same list, the same sort of terminology the president has been using for years.

In the past two weeks, however, rumblings of discontent, the urge

 

for a change of course (or at least a mid-course correction) in Iraq have been persistently bubbling to the surface of already roiling Washington. Senate Armed Services Committee chairman John Warner recently returned from Iraq to rattle the Bush administration by saying that policy there was "drifting sideways" and if it didn't improve, "all options" should be on the table not long after the mid-term elections.

Suggestions are rife for dumping the president's goal of "democracy" in Iraq and swallowing a little of the hard stuff. Reports indicate that in two desperate capitals, Washington and Baghdad, rumors about possible future Iraqi coups are spinning wildly. People of import are evidently talking about the possibility of a new five-man "ruling commission", a "government of national salvation" that would "suspend parliament, declare martial law and call back some officers of the old Iraqi army". Even the name of that Central Intelligence Agency warhorse (and anti-neo-conservative candidate) Iyad Allawi, who couldn't get his party elected dogcatcher in the new Iraq, is coming up again in the context of the need for a "strongman".

This was, of course, the desire of the elder George Bush and his advisors back at the end of Gulf War I, when they hoped just such a Sunni strongman - one who could work with them - would topple a weakened Saddam Hussein. Dreams, it seems, die hard. And, as if on cue, who should appear but former secretary of state and Bush family handler James A Baker III, a Bush Elder kind of guy.

While on the talk-show circuit for his new book, he also spent last week plugging (but not revealing) the future findings of the Iraq Study Group, a bipartisan commission he co-heads whose aim is to suggest to a reluctant president new policy possibilities in Iraq. They too are putting "all" options on the table (as long as those options involve "continuing the mission in Iraq"). The group, according to some reports, has, however, ruled out the president's favorite option, "victory". One option it is apparently considering involves skipping "democracy", minimizing American casualties, and focusing "on stabilizing Baghdad, while the American Embassy should work toward political accommodation with insurgents".

A political accommodation with the insurgents? Curious how word gets around. Sometimes a small change in terminology speaks volumes for future mid-course corrections. The other day, General George Casey, commander of US troops in Iraq, gave a press briefing with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld at the Pentagon. As part of his prepared introductory remarks (not in answer to some random question), he offered this list of "groups that are working to affect [the situation in Iraq] negatively":

"The first, the Sunni extremists, al-Qaeda, and the Iraqis that are supporting them. Second, the Shi'ite extremists, the death squads and the more militant militias. In my view, those represent the greatest current threats in Iraq. The third group is the resistance, the Sunni insurgency that sees themselves as an honorable resistance against foreign occupation in Iraq."

"The resistance"? "An honorable resistance against foreign occupation in Iraq"? Where did those bitter-enders, those anti-Iraq forces go? Take it as a small signal - noticed, as far as I could tell, by not a single reporter or pundit of things to come.

Of course, all of this has brought to the surface a lot of hopeful "withdrawal" talk in the media (and the online world), in part because the Baker group seems to have been floating "phased withdrawal" rumors. Before you think about genuine withdrawal possibilities though, note the announcement by Army Chief of Staff General Peter Schoomaker last week that he was now planning for the possibility of maintaining present force levels in Iraq (140,000+ troops) through 2010; that Casey at that press briefing left the door wide open to ask the president for even more troops after the election; and that the build-up on the ground of permanent bases (not called that) and our vast, nearly billion-dollar embassy in the heart of Baghdad is ongoing.

Below, Michael Schwartz considers the latest in military mid-course corrections and explains why such corrections can no longer hope to plug the gaping holes in Iraq's political dikes. Similarly, Warner, Baker, Casey, Senator Joe Biden (with his "three-state solution"), and so many others can all promote their own mid-course corrections, suggest them to the president, bring them to the new Congress, promote them among military figures, but as long as that embassy goes up and those bases keep getting hardened and improved, as long as the "mission continues" (in Baker's phrase), changing troop levels, tactics, even governments in Baghdad's Green Zone, not to speak of "policy options" in Washington, will solve nothing. Wherever that "table" is sooner or later all options will really have to be displayed on it.

Nine paradoxes of a lost war
By Michael Schwartz

Recently, the New York Times broke a story suggesting that the US Army and the marines were about to turn the conceptual tide of war in Iraq. The two services, reported correspondent Michael R Gordon, "were finishing work on a new counterinsurgency doctrine" that would, according to retired Lieutenant General Jack Keane, "change [the military's] entire culture as it transitions to irregular warfare".

Such strategic eureka moments have been fairly common since the Bush administration invaded Iraq in March 2003, and this one - news coverage of it died away in less than a week - will probably drop into the dustbin of history along with other times when the tactical or strategic tide of war was supposed to change. These would include the November 2004 assault on the city of Fallujah, various elections, the "standing up" of the Iraqi Army, and the trench that, it was briefly reported, the Iraqis were planning to dig around their vast capital, Baghdad.

But this plan had one ingenious section, derived from an article by four military experts published in the quasi-official Military Review and entitled "The Paradoxes of Counterinsurgency". The nine paradoxes the experts lay out are eye-catching, to say the least and so make vivid reading; but they are more than so many titillating puzzles of counterinsurgency warfare. Each of them contains an implied criticism of American strategy in Iraq. Seen in this light, they become an instructive lesson from insiders in why the American presence in that country has been such a disaster and why this (or any other) new counterinsurgency strategy has little chance of ameliorating it.

Paradox 1:
The more you protect your force, the less secure you are

The military experts offer this explanation: "[The] counterinsurgent gains ultimate success by protecting the populace, not himself." It may seem like a bland comment, but don't be fooled. It conceals a devastating criticism of the cardinal principle of the American military in Iraq: that above all else they must minimize the risk to American troops by setting rules of engagement that essentially boil down to "shoot first, make excuses later".

Applications of this principle are found in the by-now familiar policies of annihilating any car that passes the restraint line at checkpoints (because it might be a car bomber); shooting at pedestrians who get in the path of any American convoy (because they might be trying to stop the vehicles to activate an ambush); and calling in artillery or air power against any house that might be an insurgent hiding place (because the insurgents might otherwise escape and/or snipe at an American patrol).

This "shoot first" policy has guaranteed that large numbers of civilians (including a remarkable number of children) have been killed, maimed or left homeless. For most of us, killing this many innocent people would be reason enough to abandon a policy, but from a military point of view it is not in itself sufficient. These tactics only become anathema when you can no longer ignore the way they have made it ever more difficult for the occupying army to "maintain contact" with the local population in order "to obtain the intelligence to drive operations and to reinforce the connections with the people who establish legitimacy".

Paradox 2:
The more force you use, the less effective you are
Times reporter Gordon summarizes the logic here nicely: "Substantial force increases the risk of collateral damage and mistakes, and increases the opportunity for insurgent propaganda."

Considering the levels of devastation achieved in the Sunni city of Fallujah (where 70% of structures were estimated to be damaged and close to 50% destroyed in the US assault of November 2004) and in other Sunni cities (where whole neighborhoods have been devastated), or even in Shi'ite Najaf (where entire neighborhoods and major parts of its old city were destroyed in 2004), the word "substantial" has to be considered a euphemism.

And the use of the word "propaganda" betrays the bias of the military authors, since many people would consider such levels of devastation a legitimate reason for joining groups that aim to expel the occupiers.

Here again, the striking logic of the American military is at work. These levels of destruction are not, in themselves, considered a problem - at least not until someone realizes that they are facilitating recruitment by the opposition.

Paradox 3:
The more successful counterinsurgency is, the less force can be used
Though not presented this way, this paradox is actually a direct criticism of the American military strategy in the months after the fall of the Saddam Hussein's regime in 2003. In those early days, active resistance to the occupation was modest indeed, an average of only six violent engagements each day (compared to 90 three years later.)

But American military policy in the country was still based on overwhelming force. American commanders sought to deter a larger insurgency by ferociously repressing any signs of resistance. This strategy included house-to-house searches witnessed by embedded reporter Nir Rosen and described in his vivid book, In the Belly of the Green Bird.

These missions, repeated hundreds of times each day across Iraq, included home invasions of suspected insurgents, brutal treatment of their families and often their property, and the indefinite detention of men found in just about any house searched, even when US troops knew that their intelligence was unreliable.

Relatively peaceful demonstrations were forcibly suppressed, most agonizingly when, in late April 2003, American troops killed 13 demonstrators in Fallujah who were demanding that the US military vacate a school commandeered as a local headquarters. This incident became a cause celebre around which Fallujans organized themselves into a central role in the insurgency that soon was born.

The new counterinsurgency strategy acknowledges that the very idea of overwhelming demonstrations of force producing respectful obedience has backfired, producing instead an explosion of rebellion. And now that a significant majority of Iraqis are determined to expel the Americans, promises of more humane treatment next time will not get the genie of the insurgency back in the bottle.

28707  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Big Picture WW3: Who, when, where, why on: October 18, 2006, 10:53:08 AM
Tell us what you really think Ralph.
===============

 

POLITICALLY CORRECT WAR
By RALPH PETERS

October 18, 2006 -- HAVE we lost the will to win wars? Not just in Iraq, but anywhere? Do we really believe that being nice is more important than victory?

It's hard enough to bear the timidity of our civilian leaders - anxious to start wars but without the guts to finish them - but now military leaders have fallen prey to political correctness. Unwilling to accept that war is, by its nature, a savage act and that defeat is immoral, influential officers are arguing for a kinder, gentler approach to our enemies.

They're going to lead us into failure, sacrificing our soldiers and Marines for nothing: Political correctness kills.

Obsessed with low-level "tactical" morality - war's inevitable mistakes - the officers in question have lost sight of the strategic morality of winning. Our Army and Marine Corps are about to suffer the imposition of a new counterinsurgency doctrine designed for fairy-tale conflicts and utterly inappropriate for the religion-fueled, ethnicity-driven hyper-violence of our time.

We're back to struggling to win hearts and minds that can't be won.

The good news is that the Army and Marine Corps worked together on the new counterinsurgency doctrine laid out in Field Manual 3-24 (the Army version). The bad news is that the doctrine writers and their superiors came up with fatally wrong prescriptions for combating today's insurgencies.

Astonishingly, the doctrine ignores faith-inspired terrorism and skirts ethnic issues in favor of analyzing yesteryear's political insurgencies. It would be a terri- fic manual if we returned to Vietnam circa 1963, but its recommendations are profoundly misguided when it comes to fighting terrorists intoxicated with religious visions and the smell of blood.

Why did the officers in question avoid the decisive question of religion? Because the answers would have been ugly.

Wars of faith and tribe are immeasurably crueler and tougher to resolve than ideological revolts. A Maoist in Malaya could be converted. But Islamist terrorists who regard death as a promotion are not going to reject their faith any more than an ethnic warrior can - or would wish to - change his blood identity.

So the doctrine writers ignored today's reality.

Al Qaeda and other terror organizations have stated explicitly and repeatedly that they're waging a global jihad to re-establish the caliphate. Yet the new manual ignores religious belief as a motivation.

The politically correct atmosphere in Washington deems any discussion of religion as a strategic factor indelicate: Let our troops die, just don't hurt anyone's feelings.

So the doctrine writers faked it, treating all insurgencies as political. As a result, they prescribed an excellent head-cold treatment - for a cancer patient. The text is a mush of pop-zen mantras such as "Sometimes doing nothing is the best reaction," "The best weapons do not shoot," or "The more force used, the less effective it is."

That's just nutty. Should we have done nothing in the wake of 9/11? Would everything have been OK if we'd just been nicer? What non-lethal "best weapons" might have snagged Osama bin Laden at Tora Bora, where the problem was too little military force, not too much violence?

Should we have sent fewer troops to Iraq, where inadequate numbers crippled everything we attempted? Will polite chats with tribal chiefs stop the sectarian violence drenching Iraq in blood?

On the surface, the doctrine appears sober and serious. But it's morally frivolous and intellectually inert, a pathetic rehashing of yesteryear's discredited "wisdom" on counterinsurgencies and, worst of all, driven by a stalker-quality infatuation with T.E. Lawrence, "Lawrence of Arabia," who not only was a huckster of the first order, but whose "revolt in the desert" was a near-meaningless sideshow of a sideshow.

Lawrence is quoted repeatedly, with reverence. We might as well cite the British generals of the Great War who sent men over the top in waves to face German machine guns.

You can trust two kinds of officers: Those who read a great deal and those who don't read at all. But beware the officer who reads just a little and falls in love with one book. A little education really is a dangerous thing.

The new manual is thick - length is supposed to substitute for insight. It should be 75 percent shorter and 100 percent more honest. If issued to our troops in its present form, it will lead to expensive failures. Various generals have already tried its prescriptions in Iraq - with discouraging results, to put it mildly.

We've reached a fateful point when senior officers seek to evade war's brute reality. Our leaders, in and out of uniform, must regain their moral courage. We can't fight wars of any kind if the entire chain of command runs for cover every time an ambitious journalist cries, "War crime!" And sorry: Soccer balls are no substitute for bullets when you face fanatics willing to kill every child on the playing field.

In war, you don't get points for good manners. It's about winning. Victory forgives.

The new counterinsurgency doctrine recommends forbearance, patience, understanding, non-violent solutions and even outright passivity. Unfortunately, our enemies won't sign up for a replay of the Summer of Love in San Francisco. We can't treat hardcore terrorists like Halloween pranksters on mid-term break from prep school.

Where is the spirit of FDR and George C. Marshall, who recognized that the one unbearable possibility was for the free world to lose?

We discount the value of ferocity - as a practical tool and as a deterrent. But war's immutable law - proven yet again in Iraq - is that those unwilling to pay the butcher's bill up front will pay it with compound interest in the end.

The new counterinsurgency doctrine is dishonest and cowardly.

We don't face half-hearted Marxists tired of living in the jungle, but religious zealots who behead prisoners to please their god and who torture captives by probing their skulls with electric drills. We're confronted by hatreds born of blood and belief and madmen whose appetite for blood is insatiable.

And we're afraid to fight.

Ralph Peters is a retired Army officer
28708  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: October 18, 2006, 10:45:11 AM
Geopolitical Diary: Jihadists Seize the Initiative in Iraq

A number of interesting developments have come to light in the last several days regarding Iraq's Sunni insurgency:

1. Four jihadist forces pledged allegiance to each other Oct. 13. The Mujahideen Shura Council -- a jihadist umbrella alliance composed of six groups and led by al-Qaeda -- said it had formed a "Pact of the Mutayyabin" with Jaish al-Fatihin (Army of the Conquerors), Jund al-Sahabah (Army of the Companions), Kataib Ansar al-Tawhid wa al-Sunnah (The Supporters of Monotheism and the Prophetic Tradition Brigades) and several Sunni tribal elders.

2. On Oct. 15, one of the four groups, Jaish al-Fatihin, said it had never taken the oath because it had not been informed about the pact. The Mujahideen Shura Council responded that this announcement must have come from the fifth brigade of Jaish al-Fatihin, which, unlike the organization's other four brigades, had not yet pledged allegiance to the council. The council expressed hope that it would soon do so.

3. On Oct. 16, the Mujahideen Shura Council called on Sunni nationalist groups to pledge allegiance to Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, the leader of the newly declared "Islamic State of Iraq."

Taken together, these three developments indicate that transnational jihadist elements are trying to capture political space in Sunni-dominated central Iraq. Their approach involves seizing the military and political initiative from the mainstream Sunni nationalist insurgent groups. The jihadists are trying to take advantage of the fact that the political negotiation process is reaching an impasse, the sectarian violence from Shiite death-squads is raging on, and moves are accelerating toward creating three federal autonomous zones along ethno-sectarian lines.

While the mainstream Sunnis are busy trying to counter the move toward federalism, the jihadists have accepted the idea that Iraq could be divided into three autonomous, if not independent, regions. The jihadists aim to take control of the situation. They are busy trying to make inroads into the tribal leadership and the insurgent groups by forming alliances. In other words, they are trying to portray themselves as the vanguard of the military struggle against the United States and its Shiite and Kurdish allies.

The jihadists face two major obstacles in pursuing this path.

First is that the Sunni areas of Iraq already have an existing political structure, which will not allow them to take over. There have been several reports in recent months of fighting between Sunni nationalist groups and the jihadists. But now that the jihadists are aggressively seeking the leadership of the insurgency, the Sunni nationalists can be expected to strike back hard, and soon. Neither they nor the tribal leaders want to lose their leadership position to the jihadists.

Second, the jihadists themselves are divided into two broad groups: the foreigners and the indigenous Iraqis. Both share the same transnational ideology, but they disagree on how to realize its ideals. The indigenous Iraqis do not like the way the foreigners operate -- killing not just Shia but also Sunnis who oppose them. Moreover, the Iraqi jihadists do not want to see the foreigners take over the leadership, because they know it will alienate them from the Sunni mainstream.

Despite the creation of dubious alliances and a media campaign to highlight their "achievements," al Qaeda and its jihadist allies now face problems from fellow jihadists as well as Sunni nationalists. While it might appear that this would lead to a decline in the violence, the country is now so divided that the fighting is only likely to get worse.

28709  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Weird and/or silly on: October 18, 2006, 10:32:52 AM
Trivia:  I am a green belt in June Rhee TKD-- after I finished school and went to DC, I went to his schools because my Fu Jow Pai teacher Sifu Paul Vizzio recommended that I work my legs and that the JR people had good legs.  FWIW, JR maintains himself in truly exemplary condition.

The ad of course is to barf , , ,
28710  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Islamic Countries: on: October 18, 2006, 07:31:47 AM
Darkness in Dhaka
A gadfly Bangladeshi journalist runs for his life.

BY BRET STEPHENS
Sunday, October 15, 2006 12:01 a.m. EDT

Meet Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury. As these lines are being written, Mr. Choudhury, a gadfly Bangladeshi journalist, is running for his life. Assuming he survives till Thursday, he will face charges of blasphemy, sedition, treason and espionage in a Dhaka courtroom. His crime is to have tried to attend a writers' conference in Tel Aviv on how the media can foster world peace. If convicted, he could face the death penalty.

Welcome to Bangladesh, a country the State Department's Richard Boucher recently portrayed in congressional testimony as "a traditionally moderate and tolerant country" that shares America's "commitment to democracy, human rights and the rule of law." That's an interesting way to describe a country that is regularly ranked as the world's most corrupt by Transparency International and whose governing coalition, in addition to the ruling Bangladesh Nationalist Party of Prime Minister Khaleda Zia, includes two fundamentalist Islamic parties that advocate the imposition of Shariah law. There are an estimated 64,000 madrassas (religious schools) in Bangladesh. The Ministry of Industries is in the hands of Motiur Rahman Nizami, a radical Islamist with a reputation of a violent past. In March the Peace Corps was forced to leave the country for fear of terrorist attacks. Seven other journalists have also been brought up on sedition charges by Ms. Zia's government, most of them for attempting to document Bangladesh's repression of religious minorities.

But few stories better illustrate the Islamist tinderbox that Bangladesh has become than Mr. Choudhury's. "When I began my newspaper [the Weekly Blitz] in 2003 I decided to make an end to the well-orchestrated propaganda campaign against Jews and Christians and especially against Israel," he says in the first of several telephone interviews in recent days. "In Bangladesh and especially during Friday prayers, the clerics propagate jihad and encourage the killing of Jews and Christians. When I was a child my father told me not to believe those words but to look at the world's realities."





With that in mind, Mr. Choudhury, then 38, began publishing articles sympathetic to Israel in the Weekly Blitz while reaching out to Jewish and Israeli writers he encountered on the Web. That led to the invitation by the Hebrew Writers' Association, and to Mr. Choudhury's only crime: By attempting to travel to Israel in November 2003, he violated the Passport Act, which forbids citizens from visiting countries (such as Israel and Taiwan) with which Bangladesh does not maintain diplomatic relations. Violations of the Passport Act are usually punishable by a fine of $8.
But that wasn't the sentence meted to Mr. Choudhury. Following his arrest he was taken into police custody and, as he tells it, blindfolded, beaten and interrogated almost incessantly for 10 days in an attempt to extract a confession that he was spying for Israel. He refused to offer one. He spent the next 16 months in solitary confinement in a Dhaka jail, where he was denied medical treatment for his glaucoma.

By then, Mr. Choudhury's case had come to the attention of Congressman Mark Kirk (R., Ill.), who intervened with Bangladesh's ambassador to the U.S. to secure Mr. Choudhury's release on bail, though the charges were never formally dropped. Help also came from Richard Benkin, a Chicago-area activist who has taken up Mr. Choudhury's cause, and the American Jewish Committee, which invited Mr. Choudhury to the U.S. in May to receive its Moral Courage Award. But Mr. Choudhury says he decided to forgo the trip after a government minister warned him, "If you go, it will not be good for you."

In July, the offices of the Weekly Blitz were bombed by Islamic militants. In September, a judge with Islamist ties ordered the case continued, despite the government's reluctance to prosecute, on the grounds that Mr. Choudhury had hurt the sentiments of Muslims by praising Christians and Jews and spoiling the image of Bangladesh world-wide. Last week, the police detail that had been posted to the Blitz's offices since the July bombing mysteriously vanished. The next day the offices were ransacked and Mr. Choudhury was badly beaten by a mob of 40 or so people. Over the weekend he lodged a formal complaint with the police, who responded by issuing an arrest warrant for him. Now he's on the run, fearing torture or worse if he's taken into custody.





Much of Mr. Choudhury's current predicament can be traced to Ms. Zia's reluctance to cross her Islamist coalition partners, who are keen on the case of the "Zionist spy" and would like nothing more than to see him hang. It doesn't help that a powerless caretaker government will take charge later this month in preparation for next January's elections. The U.S. Embassy in Dhaka has kept track of Mr. Choudhury and plans to send an observer to his trial. But mainly America's diplomats seem to have treated him as a nuisance. "Their thinking," says a source familiar with the case, "is that this is the story of one man, and why should the U.S. base its entire relationship with Bangladesh on this one man?"
Here's an answer: Bangladesh does not mean much strategically to the U.S., except for the fact that it is home to some 120 million Muslims, many of them desperately poor and increasingly under the sway of violent religious notions imported from Saudi Arabia. The Bush administration, which every year spends some $64 million on Bangladesh, has made a priority of identifying moderate Muslims and giving them the space and cover they need to spread their ideas. Mr. Choudhury has identified himself, at huge personal risk, as one such Muslim. Now that he is on the run, somewhere in the darkness of Dhaka, will someone in the administration pick up the phone and explain to the Bangladeshis just what America expects of its "moderate and tolerant" friends?

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

28711  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: SEMINAR Die Less Often: Interface of Gun, Knife and Emtpy Hand on: October 18, 2006, 07:26:36 AM
Woof All:

Extra credit if you bring:

1) head protection
2) forearm protection
3) eye protection
4) training blades: dummy folders, aluminum blades which indicate one edge, softer technology training blades will have its place too
5) dummy guns

The Adventure continues!
Guro Crafty
PS: Excellent news Myke and CWS  cool

28712  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Book Reviews on: October 17, 2006, 08:07:22 PM
I am sure a fatwa is being issued somewhere...Yash
 
Buy the Book
Peace Be Unto Him
By William Tucker
Published 10/17/2006 12:07:05 AM
The Truth About Muhammad:
Founder of the World's Most Intolerant Religion
By Robert Spencer
(Regnery, 256 pages, $27.95)


"History is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake." -- James Joyce

If you want to spend a depressing afternoon, try flipping through Robert Spencer's The Truth About Muhammad. It's not a long read, but when you're through you'll have an idea of the monumental task awaiting the West.

Unlike the founders of other religions, whose lives are often shrouded in legend and mystery, Muhammad's rise took place -- as 19th century French scholar Ernest Renan put it -- "in the full light of history." Muhammad himself dictated the Koran. There are numerous other accounts of his life, both from people who knew him personally and from the hadith, a collection of "sayings of the prophet" that scholars collected shortly after his death. There is no great mystery about who Muhammad was or what he stood for. The only mystery is why the West has so much difficulty in recognizing it.

Muhammad was a warlord, pure and simple. He roused a disorganized group of nomadic tribes into a ruthless, fearless army. During his lifetime, he conquered the Arabian Peninsula and his followers eventually extended those conquests from Spain to India. By all rights, he should take his place in history among of Alexander the Great, Genghis Kahn, and Tamerlane the Great as early history's great military leaders.

The difference is that Muhammad was also a prophet -- or maybe just a bit of a psychopath. Probably illiterate, he was nevertheless extremely familiar with Jewish and Christian doctrines that prevailed throughout the Middle East. Realizing that people would not be won over unless they abandoned their religion, Muhammad reinterpreted these faiths, styling them all as forerunners and himself as the "Last Prophet," come to replace both.

Beginning in middle age, Muhammad heard the voice of god -- Allah -- almost daily. His followers took notes and these transcriptions were eventually compiled into the Koran. As Spencer points out, Allah's dictates often went into strange detail and had an uncanny way of aligning themselves with The Prophet's desires. When Muhammad decided to take his own son's young bride for his wife, for example, Allah expressed approval. When several of Muhammad's wives ganged up on him because of his philandering, Allah gave him permission to divorce them -- a Koranic passage that still governs divorce in Muslim societies today.

But it's worse than that. Where Allah and Muhammad occasionally disagreed, Allah was actually more harsh -- a kind of Freudian superego regurgitating the grim fantasies of early childhood. In several instances, Muhammad was ready to forgive his rivals and enemies but Allah wouldn't let him. Instead, they had to be beheaded.

What has survived from Muhammad's eventful life, then, is not just a record of his conquests but a philosophy, a religion, a set of personal attitudes that prevails among more than a billion people of the world today. Those attitudes are not very friendly. Briefly, they prescribe that might makes right, that forgiveness is a sign of weakness, and that no fate is too vile for those who reject the wisdom of The Prophet. Jihadists beheading their captives still quote Koranic scripture -- accurately -- today.

More than anything, Spencer's detailed analysis is a remarkable endorsement of Thomas Carlyle's idea that "History is the elongated shadow of great men." Say what you will about social and economic circumstances, about natural resources and geography, or even -- if you are to believe Jared Diamond's bizarre ramblings -- that climate is the determining factor of history, the fact remains that the ethos of every civilization can be traced to the historical actions of a few individuals.

Confucius was a hermetic scholar who set China on a path of family loyalty, submission to authority, and respect for learning. The authors of The Upanishads and the Bhagavad-Gita were Brahmin scholars who preached supreme detachment and caste divisions. Buddha was the Indian Prince Siddhartha who rebelled against the Hindu caste system but taught extreme patience and withdrawal from the world. Moses was a lawgiver who led his people out of bondage. Jesus was a prophet who taught personal responsibility and the forgiveness of sins. Muhammad was a warrior who led armies into battle and taught that the sword was a proper instrument for converting the unbelievers.

Granted, each of these founders often contradicted himself and the message of each has not always survived in its original purity. But each of these prophets set the tone of a civilization that still reverberates today. The tone of Islam, from its very beginnings, has been intolerance, conflict, and conquest. As a result, Islam now finds itself at war, not just with the West, but with every civilization on its borders. Of course this is everyone else's fault. Muslims are like the boy fighting with everyone in school whose mother comes to the principal's office wanting to know why everyone in the school is fighting with him!

Spencer uses one example after another to bring home the point. In a story from the 9th century hadith of Muhammad Ibn Ismail al-Bukahari, for example, Muhammad confronted a group of Jews about to punish a couple that had committed adultery. Asked to expound their own law, one of the rabbis then began to read from the Torah, but skipped a verse mandating stoning, covering it with his hand. Abdullah bin Salam, a rabbi who had converted to Islam, saw the trick.


"Lift your hand!" Abdullah cried, and the verse duly read, Muhammad exclaimed, "Woe to you Jews! What has induced you to abandon the judgment of God which you hold in your hand?" And he asserted: "I am the first to revive the order of God and His Book and to practice it."

Muhammad ordered the couple to be stoned to death; another Muslim remembered, "I saw the man leaning over the woman to shelter her from the stones."

Compare this to Jesus' prescription in an almost identical situation: "Ye who is without sin, let him cast the first stone."

Muhammad's story belongs to a period when, to quote Mark Twain, "History was one damned battle after another." Most of the world has left this era behind. The rise of civilization has been the history of people learning to live in peace and cooperate with each other on a wider and wider scale. All this requires that people forgive and forget, letting old grudges eventually recede into the past. Islam not only nurtures old grudges, it celebrates them. The Sunni and the Shi'ia are still fighting over the death of Hussein, Muhammad's grandson, at the Battle of Karbala in 680 A.D.

The fruit of Jesus' teaching of tolerance and forgiveness is that Western Civilization has been able to prosper while Islam remains locked in an era of primordial combat. Certainly we have had our wars and religious conflicts, but the overall trend has been toward cooperation and civilization -- especially in America, a land where much of history is virtually forgotten. Confucianism, Buddhism, Hinduism, and the great Eastern religions are also proving that they can prepare people for the modern world.

So why can't we make it clear to Muslims that it is time to forget the desert morality of the 7th century? For one thing, the people defending Western Civilization don't seem very familiar with its accomplishments. Last week the New York Times recounted how the Dutch government is introducing Muslim immigrants to Western values by showing them a DVD of "topless women and two men kissing" ("Across Europe, Worries on Islam Spread to Center," October 11). What would you think of a country that introduced itself by flaunting its pornography? Does the word "decadent" come to mind?

Robert Spencer has outlined the situation very clearly:

The words and deeds of Muhammad have been moving Muslims to commit acts of violence for fourteen hundred years now. They are not going to disappear in our lifetimes; nor can they be negotiated away.

Islam is just as violent and conquest-oriented as the jihadists say it is. The question is not whether Islamic values are incompatible with ours. The question is whether we are going to assert our own values -- or let decadence and submission lead the way.


William Tucker is a frequent contributor to The American Spectator.
28713  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants on: October 17, 2006, 06:04:43 PM
"First you find out that Cindy Sheehan was a paid shill of the Kerry campaign all along, that she dabbles in the darker side of the internet, and you dab at a reflexive tear at that news."

I missed this.  Would someone fill me in please?
28714  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Rules of the Road on: October 17, 2006, 06:00:51 PM
6)  If you are cross-current or even against the general currents of thinking around here, we encourage you to participate.  Remember, the mission here is to search for TRUTH.  Chattering class shoutfests on TV are NOT the model here.  The model is that of gracious conversation after dinner where everyone at the table is assumed to be bright, educated and thoughtful and Reason is the mode of discourse.
28715  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Big Picture WW3: Who, when, where, why on: October 17, 2006, 05:54:11 PM
North Korea and the Limits of Multilateralism
By George Friedman

One of the main criticisms of the Bush administration's approach to Iraq has been that the United States undertook the war unilaterally, without consulting or working with allies and the international community. The criticism always overstated the United States' isolation among traditional allies: France and Germany opposed the 2003 invasion, but the United States had more support in NATO than did Paris and Berlin. Nevertheless, there was a principle embedded in U.S. policy that was real and could be challenged. George W. Bush took the view that the United States had to craft its own strategy after the 9/11 attacks -- and that, while it welcomed support, its actions would not be constrained by such considerations. The justification for a coalition was that it would enable U.S. policy; U.S. policy did not have to be justified by recourse to a coalition.

This was a conceptual shift in U.S. foreign policy.

Alliance as Solution

A generation ago, there was a consensus about why World War II had happened, why the United States and Allied powers had won and how the Cold War should be prosecuted. In this reading, World War II was caused by the unwillingness of the international community to take action against Hitler early enough to prevent a war. The British and French, pursuing their own separate policies -- unwilling to join with the Soviet Union against the greater threat of a Nazi Germany and unable to use the moribund mechanism of the League of Nations -- failed to lead a decisive coalition against Hitler.

With war impossible to prevent, a coalition was created to fight Hitler and the Japanese. The coalition, under the rubric of the United Nations, involved a range of nations that were prepared to subordinate their particular national interests to the broader interest of defeating the Axis powers. Military success in the war rested on the ability of the coalition to hold together. And reading backward, had this coalition existed prior to the rise of Munich, World War II likely never would have happened. Maintaining global stability required a coalition of states that shared a mutual interest in stability and would suppress, as soon as possible, nations that would want to upset that stability.

The Cold War was fought on the same basis. Having accepted that the Soviets were a destabilizing power, the United States focused on creating a system of alliances to contain them. The Americans saw the rapid creation of an alliance against the Soviet Union as the foundation of a successful foreign policy; without it, the Soviets would be victorious.

Rhetoric aside, this made a great deal of sense. The Soviet Union emerged from World War II as the pre-eminent land power in Eurasia. The United States, by size and geography, could not unilaterally contain the Soviets. At best, it could engage in a catastrophic nuclear war with them. In order to have an effective conventional option, the United States had to have allies on the periphery of the Soviet Union. The alliance system made superb geopolitical sense.

Alliance as Stability

But the United States emerged from all of this with an obsession for alliance systems independent of purpose. The World War II coalition had a clear purpose: the defeat of the Axis powers. The Cold War coalition had a clear purpose as well: the defeat of the Soviet Union. However, what emerged in the 1990s was the idea of alliances as ends in themselves. The basic idea was that the system of alliances over which the United States presided during the Cold War would continue to exist -- not with the purpose of opposing the Soviets, but to maintain global stability. The only challenge this system would face, it was presumed, would be rogue powers -- which would be dealt with by an international community (a term extended to include Russia and China) that shared an equal interest in stability. Instead of opposing an enemy, the goal was in the positive: maintaining stability. If the goal was stability, and if everyone shared that goal, then simply having a coalition became the solution rather than the means to a solution.

The central assumption behind this approach was that all significant powers now shared a common interest -- stability -- and that the only destabilizing powers would be rogues, against which the international community would pool its forces. Desert Storm was the model: A broad coalition re-conquered Kuwait, with even nonparticipants in the war giving at least tacit approval. This principle was maintained until Kosovo.

Bush's policy on Iraq, therefore, became a battleground for those who argued that maintaining the alliance system had to take precedence over the unilateral pursuit of national interests. Leaving aside the important question of whether the invasion of Iraq made sense from the American point of view, one argument was that anything that alienates the coalition -- regardless of whether it is a good or bad idea -- is extremely dangerous because this alienation undermines international stability. More to the point, it undermines the foundations of what has been U.S. foreign policy since 1941 -- a foreign policy that was successful.

North Korea and Multilateralism

The counterargument, of course, is provided by history: Successful alliances are built for the purpose of dealing with threats. Alliances built around principles such as stability are doomed to fail, for a number of reasons. First, over time, the status quo appeals to some powers and not to others. Stability is another way of arguing that the international order should be maintained as it is, ignoring the fact that some powers are thereby placed at a great disadvantage. Apart from any moral argument, it follows that, with a universal commitment to stability, subordinate powers will permanently accept their positions, or leading powers will give up their positions quietly, without destabilizing the system. Thus, the idea of maintaining alliances for purposes of stability is built on an unlikely assumption: Stability is in the universal interest of the international community.

Which brings us to North Korea. The U.S. approach to North Korea -- and this includes that of the Bush administration -- consistently has been the polar opposite of its approach to Iraq. North Korea has provided the classic example of multilateralism in pursuit of stability as an end in itself.

The United States does not want North Korea to get nuclear weapons because this could destabilize the international system. Whatever its rhetoric, however, Washington has taken no steps to try to destabilize North Korea, focusing instead on changing its behavior through a multilateral approach.

On North Korea, then, the United States has scrupulously followed traditional U.S. foreign policy. First, Washington has consistently accepted the idea that it has a primary responsibility to deal with North Korea, even if there are regional powers that are in a position to do so. The United States has followed the principle that, as the world's leading power, it has unique obligations and rights in dealing with destabilizing powers. Second, the United States has used its position not for unilateral action, but for multilateral action. Washington has been pressured by North Korea for talks, and criticized by others for refusing to engage Pyongyang directly. Rather, the United States has insisted on the principle of shared authority and responsibility, working within the framework of regional powers that have an interest in North Korea: South Korea, China, Russia and Japan. Finally, the United States has made clear that it will not take unilateral military action against North Korea.

However, the multilateral approach pursued under both the Clinton and Bush administrations has failed, if we regard the detonation of a small nuclear device as constituting a failure. This is an important event because it is the complete counterpoint to Iraq, where it has been argued that failure resulted from the Bush administration's unilateral approach. In one case, we wind up with an unmanageable war; in the other, with the potential for a regional nuclear threat.

Shared Responsibility and Inaction

The driving assumption in the case of North Korea was that all of the powers involved were committed to regional stability, understood the risks of inaction and were prepared to take risks to maintain stability and the status quo. But that just wasn't true. There were very different, competing ideas of stability; the idea of inaction seemed attractive and the assumption of risks did not. There was no multilateral action because the coalition was an illusion.

Let's go down the list:


South Korea: Seoul does not want Pyongyang to have a nuclear device, but it also does not want the slightest chance of a war with North Korea -- South Korea's industrial heartland is too close to the border. Nor does Seoul want the regime in Pyongyang to fall; the idea of the South taking responsibility for rebuilding a shattered North Korea is not attractive. The South Koreans didn't want the North to acquire nuclear weapons, but they were not prepared to act to stop Pyongyang, or to destabilize the regime.


Japan: Japan does not want North Korea to have a nuclear device, but it is prepared neither to take military action on its own nor to endorse U.S. military action in this regard. Japan has major domestic issues with waging war that would have to be worked out before it could make a move, and it is no hurry to solve those problems. Moreover, Tokyo has little interest in posing such an overt threat that the Koreas, its traditional enemy, would reunify (as an industrial giant) against Japan. The Japanese don't mind imposing sanctions, but they hope they won't work.


Russia: Russia is about as worried about the prospect of a North Korean nuclear strike on its territory as the United States is about a French strike. The two countries may not like each other, but it isn't going to happen. Russia would smash North Korea and not worry about the fallout. But at the same time, Moscow wants to keep the United States tied up in knots. It has serious issues with the United States encroaching on the Russian sphere of influence in former Soviet territory. Russia is delighted to see the United States tied down in Iraq and struggling with Iran, and it is quite happy to have the Americans appear helpless over North Korea. The Russians will agree to some meaningless sanctions for show, but they are not going to make the United States appear statesmanlike.


China: China has major internal problems, both economic and political. The Chinese do not want to anger the United States, but they do want the Americans to be dependent on them for something. The North Korea test blast gave China an opportunity to appear enormously helpful without actually doing anything meaningful. Put another way, if China actually wanted to stop the detonation, it clearly has no influence on North Korea. And if it does have influence -- which we suspect it does -- it managed to play a complex double game, appearing to oppose the blast while taking advantage of its ability to "help" the United States. China, along with Russia, has no interest in serious sanctions.


The issue here is not the fine points of the foreign policies of these nations, but the fact that none has an overarching interest in "doing something" about North Korea. Each of these states has internal and external problems that take precedence, in their eyes, over a North Korean nuclear capability. None of them is pursuing stability, in the sense of being prepared to subordinate national interests to the stabilization of the region. The result is that the diplomatic process has failed.

Multilateralism: Promise and Limitations

In this case, multilateralism was the problem. By bringing together a coalition of nations with enormously diverse natures and interests, the United States was guaranteed paralysis. There was no commitment to any overarching principle, and the particular national interests precluded decisive action both before and after the nuclear test. Multilateralism provided an illusion of effective action in a situation where inaction -- including inaction by the United States -- was the intent. No one did anything because no one wanted to do anything, and this was covered up with the busywork of multilateral diplomacy.

It is not that multilateral action is useless. To the contrary, it was the foundation of U.S. success in World War II and the Cold War. When a clear and overwhelming interest or fear is present, multilateral action is essential. But invoking multilateralism as a solution in and of itself misses the point that there must be a more pressing issue at stake than the abstract notion of stability. Neither unilateralism nor multilateralism are moral principles. Each is a means of attaining the national interest. The U.S. disaster in Iraq derived less from pursuing unilateral ends than from catastrophic mismanagement of a war. The emergence of a nuclear North Korea results not from inherent weakness in a multilateral approach, but from using multilateralism as a substitute for a common interest.

If, for some, Iraq made the case against unilateralism, North Korea should raise serious questions about the limits of multilateralism.
28716  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Geo Political matters on: October 17, 2006, 12:36:08 PM
Lets hear them Buz.
28717  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / US Economics, the stock market , and other investment/savings strategies on: October 17, 2006, 12:33:13 PM
The Curse of Voinovich

Even if Republicans hold the Senate, the Bush tax cuts could be in trouble. If the GOP loses two to five seats, its majorities on key committees are almost certain to shrink. The biggest problem is the Senate Finance Committee -- the tax writing committee of the upper chamber. Right now, Republicans enjoy an 11 to 9 majority on the committee. That will shrink probably to 11 to 10 or 10 to 9 if Republicans lose Senate seats in November.

Here's the problem: Bill Frist is retiring and this leaves an opening on this coveted committee and next in line in terms of seniority is Ohio Republican George Voinovich. But Mr. Voinovich may be the least reliable Republican on tax votes and if he's not the worst, he's definitely in the Bottom Three. Mr. Voinovich opposed death tax repeal this year, one of only three GOP defections. He has even said that he might support a higher estate tax. Mr. Voinovich has also been wishy-washy on investment tax cuts, arguing that deficit reduction should take top priority. Says one GOP Senate staffer: "We Republicans could lose effective control of the committee with Voinovich added."

The GOP already has a problem child on the committee in Olympia Snowe of Maine. She votes often with the Democrats and has little sympathy for the supply-side agenda. In 2003, she was one of three Republicans to vote against the Bush tax cuts in the Senate.

Adding Sen. Voinovich could mean Republicans would have little chance to make the Bush tax cuts permanent -- one of the GOP's key 2007-08 agenda items. One saving grace might be that any new committee appointments will likely be decided by the new Senate Majority Leader, who almost certainly will be Mitch McConnell. Sen. McConnell could brush aside the seniority courtesy and choose a reliable supply-sider and avoid all these problems. That might be his first big test as the new chief cat herder of the Senate -- assuming it remains under GOP control.

Opinion Journal (WSJ) Political Diary
28718  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: October 17, 2006, 11:24:00 AM
Part Two

This example (multiplied many times over) makes it clear why, in so many instances over these past years, doing nothing might have been better: fewer enemies in the "hood". But the developers of the new military strategy have a more cold-blooded view of the issue, preferring to characterize the principle in this way: "If a careful analysis of the effects of a response reveals that more negatives than positives might result, soldiers should consider an alternative."

That is, while this incident might well be an example of a time when "doing nothing is the best reaction", the multiple civilian deaths that resulted could, under at least some circumstances, be outweighed by the "positives". Take, for a counter example, the killing of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the head of al-Qaeda in Iraq, in an air strike that also caused multiple civilian deaths.

Paradox 5:
The best weapons for counterinsurgency do not shoot
The Times' Gordon offers the following translation of this paradox: "Often dollars and ballots have more impact than bombs and bullets." Given the $18 billion US reconstruction budget for Iraq and the three well-attended elections since January 2005, it might seem that, in this one area, Bush administration efforts actually anticipated the new counterinsurgency doctrine.

But in their original article the military strategists were actually far more precise in describing what they meant by this - and that precision makes it clear how far from effective American "reconstruction" was. Money and elections, they claim, are not enough: "Lasting victory will come from a vibrant economy, political participation and restored hope."

As it happened, the American officials responsible for Iraq policy were only willing to deliver that vibrant economy, along with political participation and restored hope, under quite precise and narrow conditions that suited the larger fantasies of the Bush administration.

Iraq's new government was to be an American ally, hostile to that axis-of-evil regional power Iran, and it was to embrace the "opening" of the Iraqi economy to American multinationals. Given Iraqi realities and this hopeless list of priorities or day-dreams, it is not surprising that the country's economy has sunk ever deeper into depression, that elected officials have neither the power nor the inclination to deliver on their campaign promises, and that the principle hopes of the majority of Iraqis are focused on the departure of American troops because of, as one pollster concluded, "the American failure to do basically anything for Iraqis".

Paradox 6:
Baghdad doing something tolerably better than US doing it well
Here is a paradoxical principle that the occupation has sought to apply fully. The presidential slogan, "as the Iraqis stand up, we will stand down", has been an expression of Bush administration determination to transfer the front-line struggle against the insurgents - the patrols, the convoys, the home invasions, any house-to-house fighting - to Iraqi units, even if their job performance proved even less than "tolerable" compared to the rigorous execution of American troops.

It is this effort that has also proved the administration's most consistent and glaring failure. In a country where 80% of the people want the Americans to leave, it is very difficult to find soldiers willing to fight against the insurgents who are seeking to expel them.

This was evident when the first group of American-trained soldiers and police deserted the field of battle during the fights for Fallujah, Najaf, Mosul and Tal Afar in 2004. This led eventually to the current American strategy of using Shi'ite soldiers against Sunni insurgents, and utilizing Kurds against both Shi'ite and Sunni rebels. (Sunnis, by and large, have refused to fight with the Americans.) This policy, in turn, has contributed substantially to the still-escalating sectarian violence within Iraq.

Even today, after the infusion of enormous amounts of money and years of effort, a substantial proportion of newly recruited soldiers desert or mutiny when faced with the prospect of fighting against anti-American insurgents.

According to Solomon Moore and Louise Roug of the Los Angeles Times, in Anbar province, the scene of the heaviest fighting, "half the Iraqi soldiers are on leave at any given time, and many don't return to duty. In May, desertion rates in some Iraqi units reached 40%."

In September, fully three-quarters of the 4,000 Iraqi troops ordered to Baghdad to help in the American operation to reclaim the capital and suppress internecine violence there, refused deployment. American officials told the LA Times that such refusals were based on an unwillingness to fight outside their home regions and a reluctance to "be thrust into uncomfortable sectarian confrontations".

As the failed attempts to "stand up" Iraqi forces suggest, the goal of getting Iraqis to fight "tolerably" well depends on giving them a reason to fight that they actually support. As long as Iraqis are asked to fight on the side of occupation troops whose presence they despise, the US cannot expect the quality of their performance to be "tolerable" from the Bush administration point of view.

Paradox 7:
If a tactic works this week, it will not work next week
The clearest expression of this principle lies in the history of improvised explosive devices (IEDs), the anti-occupation weapon of choice among Iraqi resistance fighters.

Throughout the war, the occupation military has conducted hundreds of armed patrols each week designed to capture suspected insurgents through house-to-house searches. The insurgency, in turn, has focused on deterring and derailing these patrols, using sniper attacks, rocket propelled grenades, and IEDs.

At first, sniper attacks were the favored weapon of the insurgents, but the typical American response - artillery and air attacks - proved effective enough to set them looking for other ways to respond. IEDs then gained in popularity, since they could be detonated from a relatively safe distance. When the Americans developed devices to detect the electronic detonators, the insurgents developed a variety of non-electronic trigger devices. When the Americans upgraded their armor to resist the typical IED, the insurgents developed "shaped" charges that could pierce American armor.

And so it goes in all aspects of the war. Each move by one side triggers a response by the other. The military experts developing the new strategy can point to this dilemma, but they cannot solve it. The underlying problem for the American military is that the resistance has already reached the sort of critical mass that ensures an endless back-and-forth tactical battle.

One solution not under consideration might work very well: abandoning the military patrols themselves. But such a tactic would also require abandoning counterinsurgency and ultimately leaving Iraq.

Paradox 8:
Tactical success guarantees nothing
This point is summarized by Gordon of the Times this way: "[M]ilitary actions by themselves cannot achieve success." But this is the smallest part of the paradox. It is true enough that the insurgency in Iraq hopes to win "politically" by waiting for the American people to force the US government to withdraw, or for the cost of the war to outweigh its potential benefits, or for world pressure to make the war diplomatically unviable.

But there is a much more encompassing element to this dictum: that guerrilla fighters do not expect to win any military battles with the occupation. In the military strategists' article, they quote an interchange between American Colonel Harry Summers and his North Vietnamese counterpart after the US had withdrawn from Vietnam. When Summers said, "You know you never defeated us on the battlefield," his adversary replied, "That may be so, but it is also irrelevant."

A tactical victory occurs when the enemy is killed or retreats, leaving the battlefield to the victor. In guerrilla war, therefore, the guerrillas never win since they always melt away and leave their adversary in charge.

But in Iraq, as in other successful guerrilla wars, the occupation army cannot remain indefinitely at the scene of its tactical victories - in each community, town or city that it conquers. It must move on to quell the rebellion elsewhere. And when it does, if the guerrillas have successfully melted away, they will reoccupy the community, town, or city, thus winning a strategic victory and ruling the local area until their next tactical defeat.

If they keep this up long enough and do it in enough places, they will eventually make the war too costly to pursue - and thus conceivably win the war without winning a battle.

Paradox 9:
Most important decisions are not made by generals
Because guerrilla war is decentralized, with local bands deciding where to place IEDs, when to use snipers, and which patrols or bases to attack, the struggle in different communities, provinces, or regions takes very different forms.

Many insurgents in Fallujah chose to stand and fight, while those in Tal Afar, near the Syrian border, decided to evacuate the city with its civilian population when the American military approached in strength. In Shi'ite areas, members of Muqtada al-Sadr's Mehdi Army chose to join the local police and turn it to their purposes; but Sunni insurgents have tried, instead, to disarm the local police and then disband the force. In every city and town, the strategy of the resistance has been different.

The latest American military strategists are arguing that what they call the "mosaic nature of an insurgency" implies the necessity of giving autonomy to local American commanders to "adapt as quickly as the insurgents". But such decentralization cannot work if the local population supports the insurgent goal of expelling the occupiers.

Given autonomy under such circumstances, lower-level US military officers may decide that annihilating a home suspected of sheltering an insurgent is indeed counterproductive; such decisions, however, humane, would now come far too late to convince a local population that it should abandon its support of a campaign seen as essential to national independence.

There may have been a time, back when the invasion began, that the US could have adopted a strategy that would have made it welcome - for a time, anyway - in Iraq. Such a strategy, as the military theorists flatly state, would have had to deliver a "vibrant economy, political participation and restored hope".

Instead, the occupation delivered economic stagnation or degradation, a powerless government and the promise of endless violence. Given this reality, no new military strategy - however humane, canny or well designed - could reverse the occupation's terminal unpopularity. Only a US departure might do that.

Paradoxically, the policies these military strategists are now trying to reform have ensured that, however much most Iraqis may want such a departure, it would be, at best, bittersweet. The legacy of sectarian violence and the near-irreversible destruction wrought by the American presence make it unlikely that they would have the time or inclination to take much satisfaction in the end of the American occupation.

Michael Schwartz, professor of sociology and faculty director of the undergraduate college of global studies at Stony Brook University, has written extensively on popular protest and insurgency, as well as on American business and government dynamics. His books include Radical Protest and Social Structure, and Social Policy and the Conservative Agenda (edited, with Clarence Lo). His email address is Ms42@optonline.net.

(Copyright 2006 Michael Schwartz)
28719  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: October 17, 2006, 11:22:22 AM
Nine paradoxes of a lost war
By Michael Schwartz

Introduction by Tom Engelhardt
Here's how President George W Bush described the enemy in Iraq at his press conference last week. "The violence is being caused by a combination of terrorists, elements of former regime criminals and sectarian militias." That is, "bitter-enders" aka "Saddamists". The "sectarian militias" may have been a relatively recent add-on, but this is essentially the same list, the same sort of terminology the president has been using for years.

In the past two weeks, however, rumblings of discontent, the urge

 

for a change of course (or at least a mid-course correction) in Iraq have been persistently bubbling to the surface of already roiling Washington. Senate Armed Services Committee chairman John Warner recently returned from Iraq to rattle the Bush administration by saying that policy there was "drifting sideways" and if it didn't improve, "all options" should be on the table not long after the mid-term elections.

Suggestions are rife for dumping the president's goal of "democracy" in Iraq and swallowing a little of the hard stuff. Reports indicate that in two desperate capitals, Washington and Baghdad, rumors about possible future Iraqi coups are spinning wildly. People of import are evidently talking about the possibility of a new five-man "ruling commission", a "government of national salvation" that would "suspend parliament, declare martial law and call back some officers of the old Iraqi army". Even the name of that Central Intelligence Agency warhorse (and anti-neo-conservative candidate) Iyad Allawi, who couldn't get his party elected dogcatcher in the new Iraq, is coming up again in the context of the need for a "strongman".

This was, of course, the desire of the elder George Bush and his advisors back at the end of Gulf War I, when they hoped just such a Sunni strongman - one who could work with them - would topple a weakened Saddam Hussein. Dreams, it seems, die hard. And, as if on cue, who should appear but former secretary of state and Bush family handler James A Baker III, a Bush Elder kind of guy.

While on the talk-show circuit for his new book, he also spent last week plugging (but not revealing) the future findings of the Iraq Study Group, a bipartisan commission he co-heads whose aim is to suggest to a reluctant president new policy possibilities in Iraq. They too are putting "all" options on the table (as long as those options involve "continuing the mission in Iraq"). The group, according to some reports, has, however, ruled out the president's favorite option, "victory". One option it is apparently considering involves skipping "democracy", minimizing American casualties, and focusing "on stabilizing Baghdad, while the American Embassy should work toward political accommodation with insurgents".

A political accommodation with the insurgents? Curious how word gets around. Sometimes a small change in terminology speaks volumes for future mid-course corrections. The other day, General George Casey, commander of US troops in Iraq, gave a press briefing with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld at the Pentagon. As part of his prepared introductory remarks (not in answer to some random question), he offered this list of "groups that are working to affect [the situation in Iraq] negatively":

"The first, the Sunni extremists, al-Qaeda, and the Iraqis that are supporting them. Second, the Shi'ite extremists, the death squads and the more militant militias. In my view, those represent the greatest current threats in Iraq. The third group is the resistance, the Sunni insurgency that sees themselves as an honorable resistance against foreign occupation in Iraq."

"The resistance"? "An honorable resistance against foreign occupation in Iraq"? Where did those bitter-enders, those anti-Iraq forces go? Take it as a small signal - noticed, as far as I could tell, by not a single reporter or pundit of things to come.

Of course, all of this has brought to the surface a lot of hopeful "withdrawal" talk in the media (and the online world), in part because the Baker group seems to have been floating "phased withdrawal" rumors. Before you think about genuine withdrawal possibilities though, note the announcement by Army Chief of Staff General Peter Schoomaker last week that he was now planning for the possibility of maintaining present force levels in Iraq (140,000+ troops) through 2010; that Casey at that press briefing left the door wide open to ask the president for even more troops after the election; and that the build-up on the ground of permanent bases (not called that) and our vast, nearly billion-dollar embassy in the heart of Baghdad is ongoing.

Below, Michael Schwartz considers the latest in military mid-course corrections and explains why such corrections can no longer hope to plug the gaping holes in Iraq's political dikes. Similarly, Warner, Baker, Casey, Senator Joe Biden (with his "three-state solution"), and so many others can all promote their own mid-course corrections, suggest them to the president, bring them to the new Congress, promote them among military figures, but as long as that embassy goes up and those bases keep getting hardened and improved, as long as the "mission continues" (in Baker's phrase), changing troop levels, tactics, even governments in Baghdad's Green Zone, not to speak of "policy options" in Washington, will solve nothing. Wherever that "table" is sooner or later all options will really have to be displayed on it.

Nine paradoxes of a lost war
By Michael Schwartz

Recently, the New York Times broke a story suggesting that the US Army and the marines were about to turn the conceptual tide of war in Iraq. The two services, reported correspondent Michael R Gordon, "were finishing work on a new counterinsurgency doctrine" that would, according to retired Lieutenant General Jack Keane, "change [the military's] entire culture as it transitions to irregular warfare".

Such strategic eureka moments have been fairly common since the Bush administration invaded Iraq in March 2003, and this one - news coverage of it died away in less than a week - will probably drop into the dustbin of history along with other times when the tactical or strategic tide of war was supposed to change. These would include the November 2004 assault on the city of Fallujah, various elections, the "standing up" of the Iraqi Army, and the trench that, it was briefly reported, the Iraqis were planning to dig around their vast capital, Baghdad.

But this plan had one ingenious section, derived from an article by four military experts published in the quasi-official Military Review and entitled "The Paradoxes of Counterinsurgency". The nine paradoxes the experts lay out are eye-catching, to say the least and so make vivid reading; but they are more than so many titillating puzzles of counterinsurgency warfare. Each of them contains an implied criticism of American strategy in Iraq. Seen in this light, they become an instructive lesson from insiders in why the American presence in that country has been such a disaster and why this (or any other) new counterinsurgency strategy has little chance of ameliorating it.

Paradox 1:
The more you protect your force, the less secure you are

The military experts offer this explanation: "[The] counterinsurgent gains ultimate success by protecting the populace, not himself." It may seem like a bland comment, but don't be fooled. It conceals a devastating criticism of the cardinal principle of the American military in Iraq: that above all else they must minimize the risk to American troops by setting rules of engagement that essentially boil down to "shoot first, make excuses later".

Applications of this principle are found in the by-now familiar policies of annihilating any car that passes the restraint line at checkpoints (because it might be a car bomber); shooting at pedestrians who get in the path of any American convoy (because they might be trying to stop the vehicles to activate an ambush); and calling in artillery or air power against any house that might be an insurgent hiding place (because the insurgents might otherwise escape and/or snipe at an American patrol).

This "shoot first" policy has guaranteed that large numbers of civilians (including a remarkable number of children) have been killed, maimed or left homeless. For most of us, killing this many innocent people would be reason enough to abandon a policy, but from a military point of view it is not in itself sufficient. These tactics only become anathema when you can no longer ignore the way they have made it ever more difficult for the occupying army to "maintain contact" with the local population in order "to obtain the intelligence to drive operations and to reinforce the connections with the people who establish legitimacy".

Paradox 2:
The more force you use, the less effective you are
Times reporter Gordon summarizes the logic here nicely: "Substantial force increases the risk of collateral damage and mistakes, and increases the opportunity for insurgent propaganda."

Considering the levels of devastation achieved in the Sunni city of Fallujah (where 70% of structures were estimated to be damaged and close to 50% destroyed in the US assault of November 2004) and in other Sunni cities (where whole neighborhoods have been devastated), or even in Shi'ite Najaf (where entire neighborhoods and major parts of its old city were destroyed in 2004), the word "substantial" has to be considered a euphemism.

And the use of the word "propaganda" betrays the bias of the military authors, since many people would consider such levels of devastation a legitimate reason for joining groups that aim to expel the occupiers.

Here again, the striking logic of the American military is at work. These levels of destruction are not, in themselves, considered a problem - at least not until someone realizes that they are facilitating recruitment by the opposition.

Paradox 3:
The more successful counterinsurgency is, the less force can be used
Though not presented this way, this paradox is actually a direct criticism of the American military strategy in the months after the fall of the Saddam Hussein's regime in 2003. In those early days, active resistance to the occupation was modest indeed, an average of only six violent engagements each day (compared to 90 three years later.)

But American military policy in the country was still based on overwhelming force. American commanders sought to deter a larger insurgency by ferociously repressing any signs of resistance. This strategy included house-to-house searches witnessed by embedded reporter Nir Rosen and described in his vivid book, In the Belly of the Green Bird.

These missions, repeated hundreds of times each day across Iraq, included home invasions of suspected insurgents, brutal treatment of their families and often their property, and the indefinite detention of men found in just about any house searched, even when US troops knew that their intelligence was unreliable.

Relatively peaceful demonstrations were forcibly suppressed, most agonizingly when, in late April 2003, American troops killed 13 demonstrators in Fallujah who were demanding that the US military vacate a school commandeered as a local headquarters. This incident became a cause celebre around which Fallujans organized themselves into a central role in the insurgency that soon was born.

The new counterinsurgency strategy acknowledges that the very idea of overwhelming demonstrations of force producing respectful obedience has backfired, producing instead an explosion of rebellion. And now that a significant majority of Iraqis are determined to expel the Americans, promises of more humane treatment next time will not get the genie of the insurgency back in the bottle.

Paradox 4:
Sometimes doing nothing is the best reaction
This paradox is, in fact, a criticism of another cardinal principle of the occupation: the application of overwhelming force in order to teach insurgents (and prospective insurgents) that opposition of any sort will not be tolerated and, in any case, is hopeless.

A typical illustration of this principle in practice was a January US military report that went in part: "An unmanned US drone detected three men digging a hole in a road in the area. Insurgents regularly bury bombs along roads in the area to target US or Iraqi convoys. The three men were tracked to a building, which US forces then hit with precision-guided munitions." As it turned out, the attack killed 12 members of a family living in that house, severely damaged six neighboring houses, and consolidated local opposition to the American presence.
28720  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Europe on: October 17, 2006, 10:26:10 AM
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

16 October 2006
IF A MUSLIM CAN WEAR HER VEIL TO WORK WHY IS MY CROSS FORBIDDEN?
EXCLUSIVE: BA ROW WOMAN SPEAKS OUT..
By Julie Mccaffrey

IT is smaller than a 10 pence piece and all but invisible to people standing just inches away.
Yet Nadia Eweida's tiny white gold cross is at the centre of a huge legal row that has engulfed Britain's biggest airline and infuriated religious groups.
Check-in worker Nadia, 55, was forced to take unpaid leave by British Airways after refusing to remove the Christian emblem. But she claims it is a clear display of double standards as Muslims can wear head scarves and Sikh males their turbans.

"It seems that only Christians are forbidden to express their faith," she told the Mirror. "I am not ashamed to be Christian and shouldn't be made to feel that way. I want people to know I am a Christian when they meet me. Just like people know when they meet a Muslim."

The case echoes that of Fiona Bruce, the newsreader who has not worn her cross necklace on television since BBC governors debated whether it would cause offence to other religions. And it bears striking similarities to the Muslim teacher Aishah Azmi, from Dewsbury, Yorkshire, who is taking legal action after being suspended for wearing a veil in lessons.

It will only add to the row over religious clothing after Jack Straw asked Muslim women to ditch their veils.

Hundreds of Nadia's colleagues have demanded she be reinstated and yesterday Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain insisted:

"Frankly, I think the British Airways order for her not to wear a cross was loopy."

As backing for Nadia grows, BA is faced with rumours of staff strikes, Christian boycotts and a slump in ticket sales.

JOHN Andrews, communications officer for the diocese of Bath and Wells, said: "I think BA is being extremely offensive to members of the Christian faith.

"It is rather more than an ornament. It is more than an item of jewellery."

Meanwhile Nadia, from Twickenham, West London, is set to sue for religious discrimination.

She said: "My case shows a company so scared of upsetting a minority that it has swung too far to the other side and upset the majority.

"It is clearly not fair that I am prohibited from wearing my cross, when Muslim ladies are allowed to wear a hijab and Sikhs freely wear turbans.

"They immediately identify that person's religion. I imagine that's why the teacher in Dewsbury is fighting to wear her veil.

She should be allowed to wear it in the classroom. I respect her views but what I don't respect is one rule for some and another for others."

Ironically, the row started the day after Nadia, who has an exemplary seven-year record with British Airways and is based at Heathrow's Terminal Four, attended a training course on diversity and dignity at work.

"We spent the day learning how to integrate and understand different cultures, religions, sexual orientations and political allegiances," she recalled.

"The next day my duty manager asked me to take off my cross. I said it was an expression of my faith. But she refused to accept that.

"I'd worn it many times, but all of a sudden it was an issue. "I was sent to see the customer services manager, who then sent me home."

NADIA, who is single and looks after her elderly mother, was born in Egypt to an Egyptian father and English mother.

She believes that, instead of constantly trying not to offend a minority faith, employers should demonstrate equal consideration towards people of all faiths.

"As a Christian in a Muslim country, I was in the minority and held tightly to my faith," she explained. "I wear a cross because it reminds me what Jesus Christ did for mankind. I think I am within my rights to wear it."

Nadia, who attends church up to seven times a week, has the backing of her local MP Vincent Cable, deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats, who called BA "disgraceful and petty". And she also has the backing of her union, the TGWU.

However Nadia, whose great grandfather Thomas Paine helped found the Salvation Army, claims to be overwhelmed by all the attention.

She said: "I didn't expect this to escalate. And it seems that the more people who know about my case, the angrier they become.

"But I am not getting angrier, I am growing more determined.

"My ultimate aim is firstly to win an apology from British Airways, saying sorry to me for their behaviour and sorry to all their Christian workers who wish to express their faith.

"Secondly, I want to return to the job I loved. I'm not ashamed of what has happened, and if I go back I won't have my tail between my legs.

"Sometimes it takes one person to make a change by putting their head above the parapet. And if that has to be me, then so be it. I am a loyal and conscientious employee of British Airways but I feel I must stand up for the rights of all Christians, and all citizens."

A BA spokeswoman emphasised that Miss Eweida has not been suspended and said an appeal was due to be heard some time next week.

She said BA recognised that employees may wish to wear jewellery including religious symbols. "Our policy states these items can be worn, underneath the uniform. There is no ban.

"This rule applies for all jewellery and religious symbols on chains and is not specific to the Christian cross."


julie.mccaffrey@mirror.co.uk
28721  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Geo Political matters on: October 17, 2006, 08:44:17 AM
Geopolitical Diary: The EU Scrambles for a Russia Policy
www.stratfor.com

EU foreign ministers will meet Tuesday in an attempt to hammer out common positions on everything from Iran's nuclear program to their own expansion policy. There are not many areas that offer them easy solutions or compromises, yet the meeting is going to find a thread of connection among most of the problems currently vexing Europe. That thread is Russia. Some brief examples:

" The Europeans are concerned that Serbia is not cooperating with international war crimes tribunals, an issue that is hanging up the country's EU accession process. The state most likely to step in should Brussels' influence wane? Russia.

" European states are up to their necks in negotiations with Iran over Tehran's nuclear program. The state providing the bulk of that program's technology? Russia.

" European states want to secure their collective borders, both in economic and security terms, by pulling Ukraine into the EU's orbit. The country that has reacted most negatively to that effort? Russia.

" European governments are seeking to fight back against a wave of nationalism in energy-producing states the world over, in order to protect the outlays of their firms. The country currently threatening the most European energy investments? Russia.

" European states desperately want the United Nations not to look like a useless talk shop; they hope the North Korean nuclear test will finally allow the Security Council to shine. The country working most feverishly to use its diplomatic gravitas to minimize the role of the United Nations? Russia.

" The EU member states are desperately working to diversify their energy sources so that no one can use energy supplies against them as a political lever. The country with its hand already on the lever? Russia.

" European countries are attempting to find foreign policy ideals that they all agree on, in order to strengthen the (often faulty) idea that Europe actually can speak with a single voice. One of those few topics is the idea that the former Soviet republic of Georgia should be free to select its own policies. The country leaning on Georgia the hardest? Russia.

Russia, Russia, Russia. Sometimes it seems it is the only topic on Europe's collective mind. Of course, thinking of Europe as having a collective mind will only set one up for some massive misunderstandings; each EU member sees Russia through its own lens.

The former Warsaw Pact states see Russia as an enemy to be, at the very least, held off -- or, ideally, ground down. The French and Italians see Russia as a potential partner, but only so long as Moscow has no real influence in Europe. The Germans and the Dutch see Russia as a major energy supplier, albeit a politically problematic one. The Finns are beholden to and terror-struck by Russia in equal amounts, while the Danes hope they never again have to be the "cork in the Baltic bottle" and the British have discovered a passionate attachment to Norwegian natural gas so they do not have to deal with Russia at all. And none of these issues even addresses Russia-specific concerns such as the ongoing war in Chechnya, the general degradation of civil liberties in the country, or the recent killing of dissident journalist Anna Politkovskaya.

Instead, all these clashing national views will likely be laid painfully bare on Friday at the informal summit of EU heads of state. Now, these informal summits are supposed to be places where the union's 25 leaders can rub shoulders and talk off-the-record about whatever is on their minds. This time, however, the summit's hosts -- the Finns -- have taken it upon themselves to ask none other than Russian President Vladimir Putin to stop in for dinner. With 25 leaders bringing 25 different views on the Russian question, the summit is almost certain to become a cantankerous affair. Eurocrats in Brussels have unofficially and anonymously referred to the Finnish invitation as a mistake and are terrified that the summit will vividly demonstrate that the European Union is anything but unified.

It is all the more important, therefore, that the EU foreign ministers get their collective ducks in a row on Tuesday. Should they fail to do so, the upcoming summit will demonstrate the EU at its worst and give the Russians a perfect opportunity to divide and conquer.

Situation Reports

1153 GMT -- RUSSIA -- Russia agreed Oct. 17 to discuss further natural gas cooperation with South Korea, including holding discussions between Korea Gas Corp. and Russian gas producer Gazprom on gas exports to South Korea, South Korea's Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy reported. South Korea could import 7 million tons of liquefied natural gas from Russia by 2012, the ministry added.

1149 GMT -- JAPAN -- Japan has information that North Korea could be planning a second nuclear test, Kyodo news agency reported Oct. 17, citing Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso. The United States and South Korea indicated Oct. 16 that they had intelligence that showed possible North Korean preparations for a second test.

1145 GMT -- CHINA, UNITED STATES -- U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice plans to visit China on Oct. 20-21 to discuss the implementation of sanctions on North Korea, China's Foreign Ministry said Oct. 17.

1141 GMT -- CHINA, VIETNAM -- Vietnam and China plan to increase military cooperation and develop friendlier relations, Chinese Defense Minister Cao Gangchuan said Oct. 17 while meeting with Vietnam's director of the general political department of the Vietnam People's Army.

1134 GMT -- RUSSIA, JAPAN -- Russian Armed Forces Chief of Staff Gen. Yuri Baluyevsky said Oct. 17 he plans to meet with Japanese counterpart Adm. Takashi Saito to discuss joint counterterrorism exercises and military cooperation. Baluyevsky is on a visit to Tokyo until Oct. 20.

1128 GMT -- RUSSIA -- North Korea gave Russia no prior information that it was going to test a nuclear device, Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov said Oct. 17. Earlier press reports indicated that North Korea warned Russia of the test two hours before the explosion Oct. 9.

1121 GMT -- IRAQ -- U.S. forces Oct. 17 reportedly arrested Sheikh Mazen al-Saedi, the leader of Muqtada al-Sadr's Shiite movement in west Baghdad, prompting members of his group to promise protests and possible attacks in Baghdad.

1115 GMT -- PAKISTAN, INDIA -- Pakistan and India are holding back-channel negotiations on a new approach to the Kashmir problem, Pakistani Foreign Minister Khurshid Kasuri said Oct. 16, Press Trust of India reported Oct. 17. Kasuri also said India and Pakistan will resume foreign secretary-level peace talks in New Delhi in mid-November.

1109 GMT -- ERITREA -- Fifteen tanks and 1,500 troops from Eritrea have moved into the demilitarized buffer zone along the Ethiopian border, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said Oct. 17. Eritrea's Information Ministry said the troops are in place just to help harvest and protect food.
28722  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Pacific Island Showdown on: October 16, 2006, 10:35:03 AM
Dogzilla called me the day before the tournament and left a message.  His DQ reminds me of the time Billy McGrath dq'd me for "excessive contact" at a PT-Tuhon Gaje camp in Tennessee in 1988  grin 

What word on the earthquake?  Is everyone OK?
28723  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: October 16, 2006, 07:45:21 AM
Moving GM's post from "Islam in Islamic Countries" to here:

============

http://www.zeenews.com/znnew/articles.asp?rep=2&aid=329257&sid=SAS

Pak signed deal with Mullah Omar's men to halt Wazir fighting 
 
Islamabad, Oct 14: The much-talked about deal between tribal elders in Waziristan and Pakistan Government which was defended by President Pervez Musharraf during his recent US visit was actually signed by pro-Taliban militants owing allegiance to Mullah Omar, a media report said today.

The agreement, which aroused suspicion all around was signed with militants and not with tribal elders, as is being officially claimed, it said.

"As such the argument that the peace agreement is against the Taliban, and not with the Taliban, just does not hold water. One expert asks: How could the militants in North Waziristan, who owe their allegiance to Mullah Omar and his commander Jalaluddin Haqqani, who is responsible for southern Afghanistan, sign a deal against their brothers in arms", the Dawn quoted an official as saying.

The deal was signed between the administrator of North Waziristan and pro-Taliban militants and clerics who until September 5 were on the wanted list.

Among them are Hafiz Gul Bahadar, Maulana Sadiq Noor who were top militant clerics and the remaining six, Azad Khan, Maulvi Saifullah, Maulvi Ahmad Shah Jehan, Azmat Ali, Hafiz Amir Hamza and Mir Sharaf, were nominated by them to co-sign the agreement.

The agreement says that there will be no cross-border infiltration but NATO military officials stationed in Afghanistan have been quoted as saying there is a 300 per cent increase in militant activity in the Afghan border regions.

The death of a local militant commander, Maulvi Mir Kalam and his men in an operation across the border and the capture of 10 of their comrades by security forces is a case in point, it said.

Bureau Report 
28724  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: October 16, 2006, 07:43:01 AM
www.stratfor.com

Geopolitical Diary: Considering Turkey's Interests in Iraq

Reports are circulating that jihadist groups in northern and central Iraq are in the process of creating an "emirate," an independent region in the Sunni areas. The Shia already are in effective control of their own region in the south, and the Kurds have controlled their region of northern Iraq for an extended period of time. There are ethnically diffuse and disputed areas in and around Baghdad, so this hardly solves the problem of sectarian violence, but this regional autonomy is becoming a de facto reality. We now need to start considering some aspects of a potential partition.

The most important issue here is to recognize what the Sunnis already know: a partition along ethno-sectarian lines would make the Sunni region, economically speaking, an abortion. The Shia control Iraq's southern oil fields. The Kurds control the northern oil fields. The Sunnis control nothing. If partition occurs in accordance with current boundaries, the Sunni position will deteriorate and collapse. Therefore, it is essential for all involved (given the Sunni unrest and prospects of violence) that the Sunnis have a share in Iraq's oil.

To be more precise, the Sunnis must control Kirkuk, a center of the oil industry and a city in which conflict rages for these reasons. The Kurds now hold Kirkuk; the Sunnis must take it. The Sunnis are fighting on four fronts: against the Shia, against the Kurds, against the Americans and against each other. The Kurds, on the other hand, are fighting only the Sunnis at this point. Therefore, logic would have it that the Sunnis don't stand a chance.

But another element must be added to this calculus: Turkey. Turkey has tried to keep out of the Iraq war and, so far, has done fairly well at it. But Turkey does not want to see the Kurdish autonomous region expand, let alone give rise to an independent Kurdish state. Such a state would become a focal point for Kurdish nationalism and, since the Turks would face growing breakaway tendencies in their own Kurdish region, they would not welcome this development -- particularly if Baghdad collapses as Iraq's center.

Therefore, the Turks will want to weaken the Kurds. They also will want to make sure that there is a strong buffer between them and the Iraqi Shia -- a buffer other than the Kurds. That would mean it is in Turkey's national interest to see the Sunnis strengthened right now. It should be recalled that the Turks intervened extensively in Iraq prior to 2003. They are old players in the region with ties to Sunni tribal leaders. If they are facing a Kurdish state, they might well choose to reassert themselves in the region by strengthening the Sunnis.

Now, the Turks are vehemently opposed to the jihadists, but in this they share an interest with Sunni tribal leaders, who see the jihadists as a potential threat to their own authority. While it is the jihadists who have declared an emirate, neither the Sunni leadership nor the Turks would want to see the jihadists having any role to play if independence becomes a reality. The Turks would want to weaken the Kurds; the Sunnis would want to dominate oil in the north. Alliances have been formed on less.

There are few constraints on the Turks. They do not expect to be admitted to the European Union and, given France's decision to raise the question of the Armenian holocaust, the Turks have written off accession, in the intermediate term at least. Nor do they need it. Turkey has been doing quite well -- better than France or Germany, economically. As for the Iranians, they would have no problem with seeing the Kurds seriously weakened and the Sunni jihadists undermined. So long as the Shia control the south and the Iranians have influence with the Shia in Iraq, they can live with Turkish influence among the Sunnis.

Meanwhile, the United States seems to be making plans for deploying forces in northern Iraq. Any such plan would require Turkish support, as logistical support from Kuwait makes for a long, tough line. If the United States wants a role in Iraq after redeployment, it will have to take Turkish interests into account. The United States previously has backed Kurdish interests. But the Americans need the Turks and have little to offer them. The one thing the Turks might want -- EU membership without strings -- is something Washington can't help them with.

It is now time to turn the focus from Baghdad to the north, and the political evolution there.

28725  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Big Picture WW3: Who, when, where, why on: October 15, 2006, 08:07:49 PM
It's the Tribes, Stupid

Steven Pressfield

October 2006

? 2006 Steven Pressfield

Forget the Koran. Forget the ayatollahs and the imams. If we want to understand the enemy we're fighting in Iraq, the magic word is "tribe."

Islam is not our opponent in Baghdad or Fallouja. We delude ourselves if we believe the foe is a religion. The enemy is tribalism articulated in terms of religion.

For two years I've been researching a book about Alexander the Great's counter-guerrilla campaign in Afghanistan, 330-327 B.C. What struck me most powerfully is that that war is a dead ringer for the ones we're fighting today ? even though Alexander was pre-Christian and his enemies were pre-Islamic.

In other words, the clash of East and West is at bottom not about religion. It's about two different ways of being in the world. Those ways haven't changed in 2300 years. They are polar antagonists, incompatible and irreconcilable.

The West is modern and rational; its constituent unit is the nation. The East is ancient and visceral; its constituent unit is the tribe.

What is a tribe anyway?

The tribe is the most ancient form of social organization. It arose from the hunter-gatherer clans of pre-history. A tribe is small. It consists of personal, face-to-face relationships, often of blood. A tribe is cohesive. Its structure is hierarchical. It has a leader and a rigid set of norms and customs that defines each individual's role. Like a hunting band, the tribe knows who's the top dog and knows how to follow orders. What makes Islam so powerful in the world today is that its all-embracing discipline and order overlay the tribal mind-set so perfectly. Islam delivers the certainty and security that the tribe used to. It permits the tribal way to survive and thrive in a post-tribal and super-tribal world.

Am I knocking tribalism? Not at all. In many ways I think people are happier in a tribal universe. Consider the appeal of post-apocalyptic movies like The Road Warrior or The Day After Tomorrow. Modern life is tough. Who can fault us if now and then we entertain the idea of going back to the simple life?

The people we're fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan live that life 24/7/365 and they've been living it for the past ten thousand years. They like it. It's who they are. They're not going to change.

How do you combat a tribal enemy?

Step one is to recognize that that enemy is tribal. We in the West may flatter ourselves that democracy is taking root in Iraq when we see news footage of blue-ink thumbs and beaming faces emerging from polls. What's really happening has nothing to do with democracy. What's happening is the tribal chief has passed the word and everybody is voting exactly as he told them to.

What is the nature of the tribe? What can sociology tell us about its attributes?

The tribe respects power.

Saddam Hussein understood this. So did Tito, Stalin, Hitler. So will the next strong man who ultimately stabilizes Iraq.

The tribe must have a chief. It demands a leader. With a top dog, every underdog knows his place. He feels secure. He can provide security for this family. The tribe needs a Tony Soprano. It needs a Godfather.

The U.S. blew it in Iraq the first week after occupying Baghdad. Capt. Nate Fick of the Recon Marines tells the story of that brief interlude when U.S. forces were still respected, just before the looting started. Capt. Fick went in that interval to the local headman in his area of responsibility in Baghdad; he asked what he needed. The chief replied, "Clean water, electricity, and as many statues of George W. Bush as you can give us."

The tribe needs a boss. Alexander understood this. Unlike the U.S., the Macedonians knew how to conquer a country. When Alexander took Babylon in 333 B.C., he let the people know he was the man. They accepted this. They welcomed it. Life could go on.

When we Americans declared in essence to the Iraqis, "Here, folks, you're free now; set up your own government," they looked at us as if we were crazy. The tribal mind doesn't want freedom; it wants security. Order. It wants a New Boss. The Iraqis lost all respect for us then. They saw us as naive, as fools. They saw that we could be beaten.

The tribe is a warrior; its foundation is warrior pride.

The heart of every tribal male is that of a warrior. Even the most wretched youth in a Palestinian refugee camp sees himself as a knight of Islam. The Pathan code of nangwali prescribes three virtues ? nang, pride; badal, revenge; melmastia, hospitality. These guys are Apaches.

What the warrior craves before all else is respect. Respect from his own people, and, even more, from his enemy. When we of the West understand this, as Alexander did, we'll have taken the first step toward solving the unsolvable.

The tribe places no value on freedom.

The tribe is the most primitive form of social organization. In the conditions under which the tribe evolved, survival was everything. Cohesion meant the difference between starving and eating. The tribe enforces conformity by every means possible ? wives, mothers, and daughters add the whip hand to keep the warriors in line. Freedom is a luxury the tribe can't afford. The tribesman's priority is respect within the tribe, to belong, to be judged a man.

You can't sell "freedom" to tribesmen any more than you can sell "democracy." He doesn't want it. It violates his code. It threatens everything he stands for.

The tribe is bound to the land.

I just read an article about Ariel Sharon (a tribal leader if there ever was one.) The interviewer was describing how, as Sharon crossed a certain stretch of Israeli real estate, he pointed out with great emotion the hills where the Biblical character Abigail lived out her story. In other words, to the tribesman the land isn't for sale; it's been rendered sacred by the sagas of ancestors. The tribe will paint the stones red with its own blood before letting itself be evicted from the land.

The tribe cannot be negotiated with.

Tribes deal in absolutes. Their standards of honor cannot be compromised. Crush the tribe in one century, it will rise again a thousand years from now. We're seeing this now in a Middle East where the Crusades happened yesterday. When the tribe negotiates, it is always a sham ? a stalling tactic meant to mitigate temporary weakness. Do we believe Iran is really "coming to the table?" As soon as the tribe regains power, it will abrogate every treaty and every pact.

The tribe has no honor except within its own sphere, deriving justice for its own people. Its code is Us versus Them. The outsider is a gentile, an infidel, a devil.

These are just a few of the characteristics of the tribal mind. Now: what to do about this?

How to deal with the tribal mind.

You can't make deals with a tribal foe; they won't be honored. You can't buy them; they'll take your money and despise you. The tribe can't be reasoned with. Its mind is not rational, it's instinctive. The tribe is not modern but primitive. The tribe thinks from the stem of its brain, not the cortex. Its code is of warrior pride, not of Enlightenment reason.

To deal successfully with the tribe, a negotiator of the West must first grant it its pride and honor. The tribe's males must be addressed as warriors; its women must be treated with respect. The tribe must be left to its own land, to govern as it deems best.

If you want to get out of a tribal war, you must find a scenario by which the tribe can declare itself victorious. The tribal mind is canny; it knows when it's whipped. But its warrior pride is so fierce, it cannot admit this. The tribe has to be allowed its face.

How Alexander got out of a quagmire.

It took Alexander three years, but he finally got a handle on the tribal mind. (Perhaps because so many of his own Macedonians were basically tribal.) Alexander produced peace by marrying the daughter of his most powerful enemy, the princess Roxane. The tribe understands such an act. This is respect. This is honor.

Alexander made the tribesmen his equals. He acknowledged their warrior honor. When he and his army marched out to their next conquest, Alexander took the bravest of his former enemies with him as his Companions. They rode at his side in stations of honor; they dined at his shoulder in the royal pavilion. (Of course he also beat the living hell out of the Afghans for three years prior, and when he took off he left a fifth of his army to garrison the place.)

The outlook for the U.S. in Iraq

In the end, unless we're ready to treat them they way we did Geronimo, the tribe is unbeatable. They're just too crazy. They're not like us. Tolerance and open-mindedness are not virtues to them; they're signs of weakness. The tribe is too rigid to bend, and it can't be negotiated with.

Perhaps in the end, our leaders, like Alexander, will figure some way to bring the tribal foe around. More likely in my opinion, they'll arrive at the same conclusion as did Lord Roberts, the legendary British general. Lord Roberts fought (and defeated militarily) tribesmen in two bloody wars in Afghanistan in the 19th century. His conclusion: get out. Lord Roberts' axiom was that the farther away British forces remained from the tribesmen, the more likely the tribesmen were to feel warmly toward them; the closer he got, the more they hated him and the more stubbornly and implacably they fought against him.

28726  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in America and the rest of the western hemisphere on: October 15, 2006, 07:24:36 PM
  Posted October 15, 2006 02:08 AM  Hide Post
THE MISSISSAUGA NEWS
Muslim leader fears backlash over Liberal views


Radhika Panjwani
Oct 13, 2006

The new president of the Muslim Canadian Congress (MCC) says she is feeling the wrath of Islamic fundamentalists because of her stance on such issues as terrorism, homosexuality and religious law.
Now, Mississauga's Farzana Hassan Shahid is calling on Queen's Park to intervene. She wants Ontario Attorney General Michael Bryant to incorporate the kind of threats made by various radical groups against her and other members of the MCC into the framework of existing hate crime laws.

"There is an underlying fear all the time...that uneasy feeling is part of my daily life," Hassan Shahid told The News. "I have been declared an apostate (a person who forsakes their religion) twice, for opposing the Sharia (a form of Islamic law). We have asked Michael Bryant to include or acknowledge accusation of blasphemy and apostasy into the existing hate laws so the public and legal frame work is sensitized to this issue."

Hassan Shahid said she and other members of her organization receive threatening e-mails and are subjected to other acts of hatred from radical Muslim groups. One strongly worded hate-mail accused her of being the, "younger sister of Satan."

More recently, Hassan Shahid has been in the eye of the storm for her organization's stance on homosexuality. Her husband was questioned by some congregation members at a local mosque recently and ordered to, "control his wife."

"I got a lot of negative e-mails from the Muslim community, questioning my stand on gay and lesbian issues," she said. "I had a hard time explaining to them that I am not supporting homosexuals, but supporting equal rights for them."

MCC's vocal opposition of violence, too, doesn't sit well with the fundamentalist, she said. Hassan Shahid said many Muslims are angry and accuse the organization of not supporting the plight of Muslims in places such as Chechnya, Palestine and Serbia.

"We have denounced terrorism with a type of clarity that is really needed now," Hassan Shahid said. "When we do that we are accused of not understanding the political conflicts abroad...we're really caught between the devil and the deep blue sea."

MCC's former communications director, Tarek Fatah resigned from his post after receiving death threats.

Sohail Raza, the present communications director of MCC, said radical elements are changing mosques, that were once great cultural entities, and relegating them into places where rituals are enforced.

"I think where we lose out is the ability to discuss," Raza said. "The stand is not a line in the sand, every body has a right to interpret their own religion, every body has the right to debate and discuss issues, unfortunately that is lacking and that is what we want to encourage in a democratic society like Canada.

====================
News & Analysis
041/06? October 15, 2006


CAIR:? Attacking Shawn Steel for Telling the Truth?

The Council on American-Islamic Relations is at it again.? CAIR, a Washington, D.C. based Islamic terrorist supporting hate group tell it, Shawn Steel is the devil incarnate.

Steel's offense?? He dared call attention to the background of Bill Dalati, an immigrant insurance agent running for office in Anaheim, California.? Dalati is running as a Republican for city council:

http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-anaheim9oct09,0,5233676.story?coll=la-home-headlines

Steel rightly points out that Dalati has the backing of CAIR and called CAIR a "pretty radical, nasty group" in a letter he wrote that ended up on a blog.

For most Americans, a CAIR endorsement is the kiss of death for any candidate for public office, and this is as it should be.? CAIR does not throw out endorsements lightly and all Americans should be asking what the payoff is for CAIR should Dalati be elected.

Steel goes on to point out Dalati's attendance at an anti-war rally, his non-support for President Bush in the recent election over the Iraq War issue, and Dalati's support for Rep. Cynthia McKinney of Georgia, who is a Democrat and a well-known anti-Semite.

Hussam Ayloush, CAIR's Southern California chapter director, had this to say about Steel:

"The people of Anaheim would appreciate it if outsiders with personal political agendas would keep their divisive political views away from the city.for Muslims to witness what is happening in this campaign, it only makes us realize what it must have been like for Catholics, Jews and African Americans to run for office."

Too bad that Ayloush doesn't take his own advice about outside interlopers.

Ayloush sued Steel a few years ago.and dropped the lawsuit:

http://www.anti-cair-net.org/press_022_03.html

Ayloush had his shot at Steel and chose to run rather than put up a fight to defend himself in court.? What does this tell us about Ayloush that he believed his own "honor" wasn't worth defending??

The bottom line is that Steel is telling the truth about Dalati and Ayloush, and his masters at CAIR simply cannot abide the truth.

ACAIR predicts that as more information about Dalait's ties to CAIR and extremist personalities comes to light that the good voters of Anaheim will do the right thing and turn their backs on Dalati and his "pretty radical, nasty group" of friends at CAIR.


Andrew Whitehead
Director
Anti-CAIR (ACAIR)
ajwhitehead@anti-cair-net.org
www.anti-cair-net.org
28727  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: October 15, 2006, 01:47:11 PM
Second post of the morning from me:

Waging War, One Police Precinct at a Time

 

By PHILLIP CARTER
Published: October 15, 2006
Los Angeles

THE military?s new counterinsurgency manual offers a great deal of wisdom for those who will wage the small wars of the future. Its prescriptions and paradoxes ? like the maxim that the more force used, the less effective it is ? make sense. However, having spent the last year advising a provincial police headquarters in Iraq, I know it?s far easier to write about such wars than to fight them.

The war I knew was infinitely more complex, contradictory and elusive than the one described in the network news broadcasts or envisioned in the new field manual. When I finally left Baquba, the violent capital of Iraq?s Diyala Province, I found myself questioning many aspects of our mission and our accomplishments, both in a personal search for meaning and a quest to gather lessons that might help those soldiers who will follow me.

The first question was how Iraq in September 2006 differed from that of October 2005. Our Iraqi interpreters told us things were better than last year, which in turn had been better than 2004, when American forces frequently fought pitched battles in Baquba. Yet, sometimes in the same breath, they would long for the days of stability and order under Saddam Hussein.

During my time there, the hundreds of thousands of residents of Baquba went to work or school, shopped in markets, spent time with their families and lived their lives. The vibrancy and vitality of Iraqi society was the norm, not the anarchic violence we see in the news.

And yet, the violence did exist; it was not a figment of reporters? imaginations. Gunfire frequently echoed through the streets of central Baquba, and homemade bombs often interrupted the bustling marketplace just north of our compound. This violence worsened during my time in Iraq: the Army?s PowerPoint presentations depicting attack and death statistics from across the country showed the same, steadily increasing trend lines.

Despite the trend towards consolidation of American units onto huge bases in the desert, my team remained in downtown Baquba. We shared our compound with the provincial government; it adjoined the provincial courthouse and was just 800 yards down the street from the police headquarters. This proximity made us more effective, both because it made it easier for us to talk to the Iraqi leaders with whom we worked, and because it enhanced our credibility with our Iraqi counterparts, who saw us living and working by their side.

When the power grid failed or water supply stopped working ? a daily experience during the summer ? we knew and felt it firsthand. Likewise, when explosions or firefights erupted in the city, we could judge their severity with our own senses. We learned that counterinsurgency cannot be conducted from afar.

But did we make a difference? Diyala Province has 1.4 million citizens and stretches from the northern edge of Baghdad east to the Iranian border, north to Kurdistan, and west to the Sunni heartland. My brigade commander, a sage infantryman from Colorado, called Diyala ?little Iraq,? because its mix of people, geography and conditions represented a microcosm of the torn country. As goes Diyala, so goes Iraq, he and others said.

Our mission was deceptively simple: to build the provincial police so they could provide security and the rule of law. In these areas, we observed tangible progress. My team delivered hundreds of recruits to American-financed police academies, and oversaw a local academy that retrained hundreds of officers who had served under the old regime. Our civilian advisers, American police officers who came to Iraq as State Department contractors, trained hundreds of Iraqi patrolmen in street survival and investigative skills.

We gave trucks, rifles, body armor, radios and countless other items to the police, and oversaw the construction or renovation of police stations throughout the province. With our help, the police chief, a corpulent former army officer, and his staff became better managers, and replaced many ineffective and corrupt officers. We also brought our expertise to the Iraqi jails, judges and lawyers, resulting in hundreds of innocent Iraqi detainees being released after languishing for months or years in jail.


(Page 2 of 2)


Despite these successes, I still left Iraq feeling uncertain about what we had accomplished. In theory, security should have improved with the development of capable Iraqi Army and police units. That did not happen. This is the central paradox of the Iraq war in fall 2006: we are making progress in developing the Iraqi Army and police, yet the violence gripping the country continues to worsen.

This paradox raises fundamental questions about the wisdom and efficacy of our strategy, which is to ?stand up? Iraqi security forces so we can ?stand down? American forces. Put simply, this plan is a blueprint for withdrawal, not for victory. Improving the Iraqi Army and police is necessary to prevail in Iraq; it is not sufficient.

Counterinsurgency is more like an election than a military operation; the Iraqi government must convince the Iraqi people to choose it over the alternatives offered by Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish militants. To do so, the Iraqi government and the coalition must deliver public goods ? security, public works, commerce, education and the rule of law, to name a few. The campaign must convince not just a majority or super-majority but virtually everyone, for as the noted insurgents T. E. Lawrence and Mao Zedong have noted, it takes the support of just 2 in 100 citizens to sustain an insurgency.

At this point, and with this strategy, it may not be possible to win in Iraq. America gained a spectacular victory in 2003, toppling the brutal Saddam Hussein regime. But there are limits to what military force can accomplish. You cannot plant democracy with a bayonet, nor can you force Iraqis to choose a particular path if their democracy is to mean anything at all.

Moreover, our choices in 2006 are not as good as our choices were in 2003; we cannot simply stay the course now and hope for victory. Given Iraq?s historic antipathy to invaders and the strength of today?s insurgency, I believe only a wholly unconventional approach will work. This means many more embedded advisers like myself, working in tandem with teams from the State Department and other agencies, supported by combat forces only when force is necessary.

We should strive in 2006 to build on our successes and to find a smarter way to shift the counterinsurgency effort to the Iraqis in order to secure an imperfect victory. For, as Lawrence wrote eight decades ago about helping the Arabs fight the Turks: ?Better the Arabs do it tolerably than that you do it perfectly. It is their war, and you are to help them, not to win it for them.?


28728  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Mexico on: October 15, 2006, 12:31:36 PM
Mexican Leftists Watching Tabasco Election
Today's gubernatorial vote may determine the political fate of former presidential candidate Lopez Obrador and that of his movement.
By Sam Enriquez, Times Staff Writer
October 15, 2006


TACOTALPA, Mexico ? If you ask Cesar Ascencio, there isn't much to cheer about in this sun-baked southern town. Jobs are scarce and even shade is hard to come by after trees in the central plaza were chopped down for a renovation that's stalled halfway to nowhere.

"We live in one of the worst pueblos in Mexico," the 72-year-old retiree said. "This place is dead."

ADVERTISEMENTA couple of hours later, it came to life, if only for a little while, when hundreds of townspeople gathered at the plaza to hear leftist politician Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador promise to bring help to the nation's poor and vengeance on its rich. The crowd roared.

Lopez Obrador, who lost the July 2 presidential election to free-market candidate Felipe Calderon, isn't running for office. But his political future, and that of his fledgling leftist movement, may rest on today's gubernatorial election in Tabasco, Lopez Obrador's home state. He has spent the last several weeks campaigning for Cesar Raul Ojeda, a fellow member of the Democratic Revolution Party, or PRD, who's making an uphill third bid for governor.

A win by Ojeda, 54, would also be a triumph for Lopez Obrador, whose followers barricaded Mexico City's main boulevard for weeks this summer to protest the national election. Lopez Obrador, who says Calderon won by fraud, plans to install himself as the "legitimate" president in an unofficial inauguration next month. But his fight may be an uphill one too, against perceptions that he'll bring Mexico more trouble than hope.

Support for Lopez Obrador has dwindled since protesters closed down their Mexico City encampments a month ago after judges rejected demands for a national recount. So the former Mexico City mayor returned to Tabasco and has since filled plazas in his bid to secure a victory for Ojeda ? and keep his message alive.

"Lopez Obrador is trying to use Tabasco as a catapult for his movement," said Andres Granier, the 58-year-old former mayor of Villahermosa, the state capital, and Ojeda's opponent. "But it's not going to work."

Granier, who holds a lead of 9 percentage points in polls, is a candidate of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, which has run the state for seven decades. He has waged an aggressive campaign and was a well-liked mayor, but that doesn't fully explain his advantage.

Lopez Obrador won 56% of the presidential vote in Tabasco and remains wildly popular here. The trouble is, his so-called campaign of civil resistance has scared people off, including admirers such as Gilberto Macias.

Macias was in no mood to talk politics as he waited for his overheated car to cool down off a road just outside town. But he quickly rattled off a wish list for the next governor: better salaries, more jobs, safer streets, more hospitals, new roads.

"The minimum wage here is 44 pesos a day [about $4], and food is expensive, electricity is expensive, toll roads are expensive," he said. "We all want help, but now people are afraid of the 'hard left.' We're not sure anymore if we're talking about Allende in Chile or some kind of totalitarian state."

The takeover of the capital of nearby Oaxaca state this summer by striking teachers has people rethinking their support of Mexico's emerging left, he said. "We don't want any kind of trouble like that here," the 53-year-old taxi driver said.

Another Tabascan, Ciro Perez Gomez, said Lopez Obrador was "a good man who's taken the wrong road."

Ojeda said a vote for him was a vote for Lopez Obrador and for the fight to steer Mexico toward a moderate left that uses government spending and private investment to make jobs, that pays subsidies to farmers to keep them from fleeing to the United States.

"It's a modern left," he said, "with government shouldering its responsibility to the people. How can the state have so much money and yet have so many poor?"

He disagreed that losing the election would hurt Lopez Obrador.

"This movement has its own life," Ojeda said. "A loss would give opponents the chance to say it's over, but I believe the roots are deep."

His PRI opponents, he said, were up to the same old political shenanigans that had kept them in power and soured voters on the party's presidential candidate, former Tabasco Gov. Roberto Madrazo, who finished a distant third in the national election.

Ojeda supporters posted a video on YouTube.com that shows a warehouse with hundreds of new bikes that they allege the PRI had planned to give to voters. The video, indexed under "mapacheo," slang for vote-buying, shows the warehouse being emptied within minutes by passersby after its discovery by Ojeda campaigners.

A PRI spokesman said voter giveaways ? which included cooking pans and food ? were humanitarian aid. He would not say whether the bicycles were the PRI's.





"They think they can buy the vote of the people," Ojeda said. "But we have more dignity than that."

The PRI warned last week that Lopez Obrador and the PRD had recruited more than 2,000 radicals to start trouble at the polls. On Friday, authorities announced the arrests of several out-of-state PRD supporters who acknowledged that they had planned to disrupt voting. One man was injured in a jailhouse fall before his confession, police said.

Granier has campaigned on a platform of unity and promises to bring potable water, as well as jobs, schools and clinics to outlying towns.

"There are two distinct roads: ours, which is one of accord; and theirs, of provocation," he said Wednesday in his closing campaign speech.

Later that night, Lopez Obrador boarded the last flight to Mexico City. An aide brought him a cup of coffee and Lopez Obrador begged off a last interview.

"It's over, and I'm tired," he said.

He answered one question: Does he really believe he and his movement will survive a loss in Tabasco?

"Yes, I do," he said. "I believe it in my heart."
28729  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: October 15, 2006, 08:01:20 AM
An Islamic site states that the following is from the UK's Telegraph:

There was a plan for Iraq - but it was torn up
(Filed: 15/10/2006)



When, in the run-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the retired US Army General Jay Garner was asked to take over the post-war humanitarian mission, he certainly possessed the credentials for the job. In 1991 he had headed Operation Provide Comfort, rescuing thousands of ethnic Kurds in northern Iraq after the first Gulf war. Who better, then, for the American Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, to appoint to the job second time round.

Garner drew up detailed plans and, at his first briefing with President Bush, outlined three essential "musts" that would, he asserted, ensure a smooth transition after the war. The first "must", he said, was that the Iraqi military should not be disbanded. The second "must" was that the 50,000-strong Ba'ath party machine that ran government services should not be broken up or its members proscribed. If either were to happen, he warned, there would be chaos compounded by thousands of unemployed, armed Iraqis running around. And the third "must", he insisted, was that an interim Iraqi leadership group, eager to help the United States administer the country in the short term, should be kept on-side.

Initially, no one disagreed, according to State of Denial, the new book by the veteran Washington reporter, Bob Woodward. But within weeks of the invasion, Garner's tenure as head of the post-war planning office was over: he was replaced by Paul Bremer, a terrorism expert and prot?g? of Henry Kissinger. Bremer immediately countermanded all three of Garner's "musts".

When, eventually, Garner confronted Rumsfeld, telling him: "There is still time to rectify this," Rumsfeld refused to do so.
 
28730  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: October 15, 2006, 07:37:22 AM
GM:

I've taken the liberty of moving your interesting post on Turkey to the "Islam in Islamic Countries" thread.

Marc
28731  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Islamic Countries: on: October 15, 2006, 07:35:24 AM
I'm moving this post by GM on the Israel thread to here:
================

http://www.aim.org/guest_column/4709_0_6_0_C/

Turkey's Anti-Americanism

By Theodoros Karakostas  |  July 13, 2006 Anti-Americanism and Islamic fundamentalism are faring quite well in Turkey today. 


"Here we have the Director of the American College beaten and robbed, American sailors in uniform fired upon, and an American-non commissioned officer robbed and maltreated by Turkish troops who were sufficiently under control to obey the command of a Turkish officer when they were going too far."
Excerpt from "The Great Betrayal" A Survey of the Near East Problem" by Edward Hale Bierstadt,

The incident described above remains forgotten because it occurred following the entry of Turkish troops in the City of Smyrna in September 1922 when the soldiers of Mustafa Kemal Pasha began slaughtering the Greek and Armenian Christian populations. The story is told by Edward Hale Bierstadt, an American who was the executive of the United States Emergency Committee which provided aid and assistance to Greek and Armenian Christian refugees who were being displaced by the Turkish Kemalists. The anti-American outbursts which took place during this tragic period comes to mind because of what is transpiring in present day Turkey.

Anti-Americanism and Islamic fundamentalism are faring quite well in Turkey today. On February 14, 2006, the New York Times published an article entitled, "If you want a film to fly, make Americans the heavies". The article described the success of a film shown in Turkish movie theatres entitled, "Valley of the Wolves- Iraq". This film depicts American soldiers (as well as a Jewish American doctor) as carrying out atrocities and massacres against Turkish and Iraqi Muslims. The article by Sebnem Arsu notes "Anti-American novels, including one that portrays a war between the United States and Turkey, have been selling briskly, and Hitler's "Mein Kampf" was a best seller last year."

Since 1994, the myth of a secular and western Turkey has been undermined by the Islamic upheaval in Turkey. In March of that year, Recep Tayyip Erdogan (now Turkish Prime Minister) was elected Mayor of Constantinople (Istanbul). Erdogan's Islamic mentor Necmettin Erbekan became Prime Minister as head of a coalition government in 1996. By 1997, the Generals (known as Kemalists because of their devotion to the nationalist theories of Mustafa Kemal) temporarily disrupted the Islamist rise to power. The Turkish Military has traditionally established a cult of personality around Kemal in the manner that the Soviets had established cults around Lenin and Stalin, and sought to restore Kemal to his status as a venerated ruler.

Despite praises from his western admirers, Kemal was a brutal dictator who completed the genocide of Greek, Armenian, and Assyrian Christian populations and ultimately established a ruthless dictatorship which abolished the Islamic Caliphate and secularized Turkey. The secularization of Turkey, however, was never any stronger or more secure than that in Nasser's Egypt, Asaad's Syria, or Saddam's Iraq. The Islamists in fact were underground and when opportunistic politicians such as Prime Minister Adnan Menderes needed them to participate with Turkish nationalists in the infamous anti-Greek pogroms of 1955, they were readily available.

In November 2002, one year after the 9/11 attacks, the Justice and Development Party finished first with an outright majority in Turkey's national elections. This should have been perceived by American officials and media as a blatant insult, coming as it did following the 9/11 attacks and the exposure of the fanatical excesses of the Taliban. A genuinely secular society does not elect Islamists following 9/11, and when the Taliban, Iran, and Saudi Arabia serve as models for an Islamic State.

The film, "Valley of the Wolves- Iraq," came three years after Turkey refused to allow use of American bases in Turkey for the war on Iraq. This demonstrates that the outpouring of support for Islamists like Erdogan and blatant anti-Americanism have not diminished. There has long been an ominous trail firmly demonstrating that Turkey was not what its American and British supporters claimed it was.

The anti-Greek pogroms of September 1955 alluded to above included the participation of Islamic extremists and secular ultranationalists who were supported by the Turkish government of Premier Adnan Menderes. This is a blatant example of Turkish state sponsorship of terrorism. On a terrible September night, mobs of extremists unhindered by authority proceeded to attack Greek property and to assault the members of the Greek minority who were living in the former Capital of Byzantium. Orthodox Churches were profaned and religious Icons, Bibles, and Crucifixes were burned while chalices used for holy communion were used by thugs for urinating. Greek Orthodox Bishops were forcibly circumcised on the street.

In one night, 100,000 or so Greeks were left homeless with nothing but the clothes on their backs while their homes were completely demolished and their holy places desecrated. The significance of these outrages was minimized by the State Department of John Foster Dulles and the NATO alliance, which refused to take action against Turkey. The American reaction to these outrageous pogroms reflect the misguided support for Turkey over the period of many decades. In additon, Turkey invaded Cyprus during the summer of 1974 under the guise of upholding the accords which established the independence of Cyprus in 1959 and occupied thirty seven percent of Cyprus.

Over 200,000 Greek Cypriots were ethnically cleansed as many young girls were raped by Turkish soldiers. To date, over 1,600 Greek Cypriots remain missing. The Turkish invasions of Cyprus have been presiding over the Islamicization of the island. Greek Orthodox Monasteries dating to the Byzantine era are either being converted into Mosques or destroyed. In April 2004, there was a referendum held in the free and occupied parts of Cyprus. The citizens of the free parts of Cyprus voted against the United Nations plan that would have in effect sealed the Turkish occupation and denies native Cypriots such basic rights as freedom of movement.

The American news media failed to distinguish between the Republic of Cyprus which is the legal authority over the whole of Cyprus but which controls only sixty three percent of the island Republic, and the occupied parts of Cyprus which remain under the control of the Turkish military. Greek Cypriots voting in free Cyprus were blamed while "Turkish Cypriots" were praised for allegedly accepting the U.N. Plan. The reality is that the referendum in the Republic of Cyprus was conducted in a free atmosphere while the referendum in the occupied territories took place under the auspices of 30,000 Turkish soldiers and with the participation of 100,000 Turkish settlers from Anatolia who have no Cypriot origins. The Plan of U.N. Secretary General Annan for Cyprus was intended to legitimize the Turkish occupation, but the Greek majority of Cyprus apparently irritated Annan and his supporters by practicing democracy.

The ultimate result of decades of American and Western appeasement of Turkey is the film "Valley of the Wolves- Iraq". At the present time, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomaios I, who holds a primacy of honor among Eastern Orthodox Churches and who continues to reside in Constantinople like his 269 predecessors which include Saint Andrew the Apostle, is the victim of demonstrations of hate. Members of the infamous "Grey Wolves" routinely demonstrate outside the Ecumenical Patriarchate and burn his holiness in effigy, while the Greek Orthodox School of Theology known as Halki, is not permitted to open by the Turkish authorities.

The history of Turkey is long and bloody, and most of it was been perpetrated by the dictator Kemal. This history has been mostly unreported in the West. Considering the new Turkish Islamism and the success of a propagandistic film espousing hatred against America, it might be time to come to terms with the Turkish reality. The Turks have never been there for America, German allies during World War One, and neutral during the Nazi conquest of Europe.

The United States should not count on the Kemalists displacing the Islamists. The Islamic movement in Turkey is too strong, and ultimately the Kemalists who ruled for eighty years opened the door for the Islamists by suppressing democratic opposition. It is in the interests of the United States to contain and isolate the hostile Turkey that is emerging. Washington should push for the expulsion of all Turkish troops and Muslim settlers from Cyprus. The United States should also give maximum support to democratic Greece whose border with Turkey is the border between the West and militant Islam.

Guest columns do not necessarily reflect the views of Accuracy in Media.




 



Karakostas is the founder of the Byzantine Cultural Project.
28732  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Welcome Our Piazza folk! on: October 14, 2006, 11:19:40 AM
Greetings to all my good friends from Our Piazza:

This thread is mostly to let you know that you have found the right place.  Dive right in with the same free-wheeling spirit in seach of truth that made OP such a wonderful place.

Please say hello here to let me know who of us is here now.

The Adventure continues!
Marc
28733  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Islam, theocratic politics, & political freedom on: October 14, 2006, 11:12:32 AM
Speakout: Muslims must both denounce, renounce their violent hadiths
By Dr. Tawfik Hamid

Dr. Tawfik Hamid, an Egyptian physician, Islamic scholar and former
extremist, is the author of The Roots of Jihad (www.rootsofjihad.org). Hamid
will be speaking in Denver at the University of Denver on Monday at 7:30
p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students.

Rocky Mountain News
http://www.rockymountainnews.com/drmn/opinion/article/0,1299,DRMN_38_5048866,00.html
October 6, 2006

Ayman al-Zawahri, al-Qaida's No. 2 man, leader, last month announced that
Americans must choose: Convert to Islam or continue to receive acts of
terror.

Al-Zawahri was reiterating a fundamental concept of Salafi Islamic teaching,
the fountainhead of extremist thinking. Yet the authors of the American
government's recent intelligence report on terrorism's spread seem not to
have been listening.

Zawahri's threat is based on a saying of the Prophet Muhammad as written in
Sahih Al-Buchary, a central book of Salafi Islamic teaching. This hadith, or
fundamental concept, states: "I have been ordered by Allah to fight and kill
all mankind until they say, 'No God except Allah and Muhammad is the prophet
of Allah' (Hadith Sahih)."

Based on this hadith, early Muslims used the sword to spread Islam
throughout the world. The same hadith inspires contemporary Islamic terror
including this summer's thwarted London airplane explosions. Other
rationales that terrorists use to justify terrorism - the Arab-Israeli
conflict, America's involvement in Iraq - are simply useful propaganda cover
stories, not the actual causes or goals of terrorists' actions.

Americans must be wary of political leaders who accept the propaganda
explanations. To win the war on terror, America's leaders must recognize the
powerful role of the Islamic religious principle of jihad, Islam's belief
that it must conquer the world, which derives from the above hadith. Belief
in jihad is what causes so many Muslims worldwide to cheer terrorist acts
such as 9/11, European subway bombings, and Hezbollah and Hamas attacks
against Israel.

Allowing jihadist teaching to continue is like allowing cancer cells to
survive in a human body.

The human immune system demonstrates that nurturing normal cells and
respecting their variance sustains life. A healthy body nourishes cell
diversity. A healthy body politic, similarly, must value respect for
different beliefs. At the same time, if an immune system shows any tolerance
whatsoever for cancer cells, the latter will terminate that body's life. The
immune system of a body politic must have a similar zero tolerance for
beliefs that incite violence against its citizens.

Cancer can be overcome if an individual has a strong immune system that acts
to triumph over the killer cells. Similarly, the cancerous teachings of
Salafi Islam could become insignificant if the majority of Muslims were to
vocally oppose them.

Unfortunately, however, the vast majority of Muslims, Islamic organizations
and Islamic scholars have not publicly objected to these teachings. There
have been no powerful Muslim demonstrations to denounce Osama bin Laden and
not a single fatwa by top Islamic scholars or organizations to consider bin
Laden an apostate - as was done to Salman Rushdie just for writing a novel.

Because the teachings continue, a significant proportion of the world's
Muslims have become passive terrorists, peaceful citizens whose sympathy in
their hearts and support with their purses enable terrorism's spread.

If Islamic scholars and organizations in America disapprove of jihadist
teachings, they must speak out against them. Americans should consider
Muslims to be moderates, and Islam a peaceful faith, only if, in English and
in Arabic, Muslims clearly denounce their violent hadiths and strike them
from the books that educate their next generation.

In addition to internal immune reactions, externally applied interventions
also can destroy cancer cells. Like cancer-fighting chemotherapy, strongly
applied military might can reduce large tumors. America eliminated al-Qaida
training camps in Afghanistan, but the verdict is not yet in on whether
Israel this past summer similarly decimated Hezbollah.

To conquer the metastases of extremist Islam, however, words may be the most
potent weapons. Outspoken condemnation of the theological sources of
terrorism by American intellectuals and politicians, reinforcing the
self-examination of Muslims themselves, could make a vital difference.

Addressing the theological wellsprings of Islamic terrorist motivation is
essential if America is to succeed in its war against terrorism. Pope
Benedict XVI has begun leading the way. Neither political correctness nor
Muslim outrage must be allowed to prevent further realistic talk about the
religious underpinnings of Islamic violence. Otherwise Islamic teaching will
continue to spread jihad's cancerous beliefs.

28734  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Islam in America on: October 14, 2006, 11:11:54 AM
Establishing this thread:
28735  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Islam in Europe on: October 14, 2006, 11:10:59 AM
All:

Posts on the good, not just the bad and the ugly belong here.

Marc
=====================



http://www.thesun.co.uk/article/0,,2-2006460631,00.html

RELATED STORIES
By JULIE MOULT,
JAMIE PYATT
and TOM REILLY
October 07, 2006

MUSLIM yobs who wrecked a house to stop four brave soldiers moving in after returning from Afghanistan sparked outrage last night.
The house in a village near riot-torn Windsor had BRICKS thrown through windows and was DAUBED with messages of hate.
Four young Household Cavalry officers who had planned to rent it were also the target of phone THREATS.
They were yesterday forced to look elsewhere to live ? after top brass warned them against inflaming racial violence near the Queen?s Windsor Castle home.
Last night furious Shadow immigration minister Damian Green said: ?This is a shocking development.?

Colleagues of the officers branded the vandalism a ?disgrace?. A source at the regiment said: ?These guys have done nothing but bravely serve their country ? yet they can?t even live where they want in their own country.? The ?3,000-a-month detached home in picturesque Datchet, Berks, is less than a mile from Windsor Castle. It was attacked as extra police were drafted into Windsor ? where battles have raged for days between Asian and white gangs.
On Wednesday a Muslim-run dairy was firebombed.
The young officers ? from the same regiment as Prince Harry ? had planned to use the four-bed house for rest and recuperation after months risking their lives on the frontline.
Louts struck two days after the four arrived in uniform in an Army Land Rover to view it.
The source said: ?A gang of local Muslims set about keeping them away. They hurled bricks through the windows and then wrote offensive graffiti across the front of the house.? The vile messages included one in 4ft letters on the drive ? warning: ?F*** off?.
Sources inside Windsor?s Combermere Barracks ? where the officers are based ? confirmed Muslims had made calls threatening the men.
NI_MPU('middle');NI_MPU('Embedded for DHTML');The scandal comes as Tony Blair today pledges the Army in Afghanistan can have ANYTHING it needs to hammer the Taliban. Writing exclusively in The Sun he declares that Our Boys are ?the best in the world?.
A Household Cavalry insider said of the Muslims? insult to Britain?s heroes: ?Everyone in the regiment is really upset. It?s one thing coming under attack in Helmand in Afghanistan but quite another getting this abuse in England. The officers were determined to face down the yobs and still move in ? but didn?t want a race riot on their hands.?
Police hunting the vandals confirmed: ?One line of inquiry is that it is racially aggravated.?
The house?s owner Johanna Ledwidge refused to comment beyond saying she was very upset. A shocked neighbour in the quiet street said: ?We pride ourselves in this neighbourhood that we welcome all cultures.?
Tory MP Philip Davies said of the attack: ?This is outrageous.
?If there?s anybody who should f*** off it?s the Muslims who are doing this kind of thing. Police should pull out the stops to track down these vile thugs.?
Sir Andrew Green, director of the think-tank Migrationwatch UK, said: ?Incidents like this are absolutely inexcusable and seriously undermine efforts by all sides to achieve integration. Those who choose to live in this country owe a loyalty to Britain.?
A spokesman for letting agency Kings, who are marketing the property, said: ?It was an isolated case of vandalism. We do not know the reasons behind it.?

===============

28736  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: October 14, 2006, 11:10:12 AM
I have seen an article (I'll see if I can find it) which intelligently suggested that we should think more in terms of Arab than Muslim.  Turkey is not Arab, Iran is not Arab, Pakistan (which has had bouts of democracy) is not Arab. 

Speaking of Iran, there is the matter of the US aided disruption of the election of Mossadegh in 1953 (can anyone fill in intelligent background on this?) and the interlude of Iranian movement towards fuller democracy.  There seems to be a concensus that the Iranian people want democracy (and have pro-US feelings?) and the Iraqi people have voted three times for democracy under scary conditions.

Anyway, we digress from the theme of the thread (which is allowed around here  smiley

Concerning Israel, I would offer that Hamas's election now ends the two-faced game that used to be played before and now as a government instead of a non-state entity, Hamas can be held accountable.
28737  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Environmental issues on: October 14, 2006, 11:03:09 AM
Woof All:

Although this thread is for serious conversation, we begin with a humorous quickie, source unknown

Marc
===============

October 12, 2006
 
Buffalo, NY - An early storm dumped up to two feet of snow in the Buffalo, NY area today. Weather forecasters note it was the earliest snowfall in Buffalo history.
 
The snowfall caused a number of weather related cancellations including Buffalo State College's sponsored seminar of Al Gore speaking on "Global Warming."
 
28738  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Fire Hydrant: Howls from Crafty Dog, Rules of the Road, etc on: October 14, 2006, 08:28:36 AM
Woof All:

Obviously we are making some changes around here.  The non-martial arts topics now have their own forum.

The Adventure continues,
Crafty Dog
28739  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / MOVED THREADS on: October 14, 2006, 08:23:59 AM
This topic has been moved to Political Topics.

Killology
http://dogbrothers.com/phpBB2/index.php?topic=277.0

Criminal Record Searches
http://dogbrothers.com/phpBB2/index.php?topic=439.0

Handreading Resource
http://dogbrothers.com/phpBB2/index.php?topic=776.0

Gender Issues
http://dogbrothers.com/phpBB2/index.php?topic=490.0

Battle of Tarawa
http://dogbrothers.com/phpBB2/index.php?topic=211.0

Betrayal of the Military Father
http://dogbrothers.com/phpBB2/index.php?topic=33.0

Why July 4th Matters
http://dogbrothers.com/phpBB2/index.php?topic=869.0

Great Britain 7-7 Remembrance
http://dogbrothers.com/phpBB2/index.php?topic=874.0

Health Thread (medical, nutrition, longevity, etc)
http://dogbrothers.com/phpBB2/index.php?topic=896.0

Evolutionary Biology/Psychology
http://dogbrothers.com/phpBB2/index.php?topic=523.0

Resources and Helpful Links
http://dogbrothers.com/phpBB2/index.php?topic=550.0

We the Unorganized Militia
http://dogbrothers.com/phpBB2/index.php?topic=107.0

We the Well-Armed People
http://dogbrothers.com/phpBB2/index.php?topic=95.0

28740  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: October 14, 2006, 07:54:12 AM
CWS:

Good to see you here.

Two questions:  Is Turkey a democracy?  Does Iran have the capacity to grow into a democracy?
28741  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: October 13, 2006, 07:53:54 PM
Part Two

Before 1973, the Arab states thought they might defeat or destroy Israel by
some stroke of luck, and they tried their hand at it repeatedly. Since 1973,
the Arab states have understood not only that Israel is strong, but that the
United States is fully behind it.

As a result, there have been no more general Arab-Israeli wars, and Israel's
Arab neighbors have either made peace with it (Egypt, Jordan), or kept their
border quiet (Syria). The corner of the Middle East along the eastern
Mediterranean has been free of crises requiring direct American military
intervention. This is due to American support for Israel -- a support that
appears so unequivocal to the Arabs that they have despaired of overturning
it.

United States support for Israel has also enhanced its standing in another
way, as the only force, in Arab eyes, that can possibly persuade Israel to
cede territory it has occupied since 1967. In a paradoxical way, the United
States has been a major beneficiary of the Israeli occupation of Arab
territories: Arab leaders who wish to regain lost territory must pass an
American test. When they do, the United States rewards them, and the result
has been a network of American-endorsed agreements based on
American-mediated Israeli concessions.

It is this "peace process" that has turned even revolutionary Arab leaders
into supplicants at the White House door. They would not be there if a
strong Israel did not hold something they want, and if the United States was
not in a position to deliver it.

Compare this to the situation in the Persian Gulf, where American allies are
weak. There, the absence of a strong ally has bedeviled American policy and
forced the United States to intervene repeatedly. The irresolute Iranian
shah, once deemed a United States "pillar," collapsed in the face of an
anti-American upsurge, producing the humiliation of the embassy seizure and
a hostile, entrenched, terror-sponsoring regime still bent on driving the
United States out of the Gulf. Saddam Hussein, for some years America's
ally, launched a bloody eight-year war against Iran that produced waves of
anti-American terror (think Lebanon), only to turn against the United States
by occupying Kuwait and threatening the defenseless Saudi Arabia.

Absent a strong ally in the region, the United States has had to deploy,
deploy, and deploy again. In the Kuwait and Iraq wars, it has put something
like a million sets of boots on the ground in the Gulf, at a cost that
surely exceeds a trillion dollars.

It is precisely because the Gulf does not have an Israel -- a strong,
capable local ally -- that the United States cannot balance from offshore.
If the United States is not perceived to be willing to send troops there -- 
and it will only be perceived as such if it does sometimes send them -- then
big, nationalist states (formerly Iraq, today Iran) will attempt to muscle
Saudi Arabia and the smaller Arab Gulf states, which have the larger
reserves of oil. In the Gulf, the United States has no true allies. It has
only dependencies, and their defense will continue to drain American
resources until the day Americans give up their SUVs.

In Israel, by contrast, the United States is allied to a militarily adept,
economically vibrant state that keeps its part of the Middle East in
balance. The United States has to help maintain that balance with military
aid, peace plans, and diplomatic initiatives. But this is at relatively low
cost, and many of the costs flow back to the United States in the form of
arms sales and useful Israeli technological innovations.

In the overall scheme of the pax Americana, then, American policy toward
Israel and its neighbors over the past thirty years has been a tremendous
success. Has the United States brought about a final
lamb-lies-down-with-lion peace? No; the issues are too complex. Are the
Arabs reconciled to American support for Israel? No; they are highly
critical of it. But according to the realist model, a policy that upholds
American interests without the dispatch of American troops is a success by
definition. American support of Israel has achieved precisely that.

Then there is the argument that American support for Israel is the source of
popular resentment, propelling recruits to al-Qaida. I do not know of any
unbiased terrorism expert who subscribes to this notion. Israel has been
around for almost sixty years, and it has always faced terrorism. Countless
groups are devoted to it. But never has a terror group emerged that is
devoted solely or even primarily to attacking the United States for its
support of Israel. Terrorists devoted to killing Americans emerged only
after the United States began to enlarge its own military footprint in the
Gulf. Al-Qaida emerged from the American deployment in Saudi Arabia. And
even when al-Qaida and its affiliates mention Palestine as a grievance, it
is as one grievance among many, the other grievances being American support
for authoritarian Arab regimes, and now the American presence in Iraq.

And speaking of Iraq, we are left with the argument that the United States
went to war there at the impetus of Israel and the "Israel Lobby." This is
simply a falsehood, and has no foundation in fact. It is not difficult to
show that in the year preceding the Iraq war, Israel time and again
disagreed with the United States, arguing that Iran posed the greater
threat. Israel shed no tears over Saddam's demise, and it gave full support
to the United States once the Bush administration made its choice. But the
assertion that the Iraq war is being waged on behalf of Israel is pure
fiction.

As for the suggestion that only Israel is threatened by an Iranian nuclear
capability, no assumption could be more na?ve. True, Iran has threatened
Israel, and it is a threat Israel cannot afford to ignore. But it is not the
first threat of its kind. In the spring before Saddam Hussein invaded
Kuwait, he declared that "we will make fire eat up half of Israel if it
tries to do anything against Iraq." The threat was meant to win him
Arab-Muslim support, but his real objective was to stand like a colossus
astride the oil-soaked Gulf. And so while he threatened strong Israel, he
actually attacked and invaded weak Kuwait.

This is unquestionably the first ambition of Iran: The wresting of the
Persian Gulf from United States domination. A nuclear Iran -- the
nuclearization of the world's great oil reservoir -- could allow Iran to
foment and manage crises almost at will. Iran, without invading any other
country, or using a nuclear weapon, could fill its coffers to overflowing
simply by rattling a nuclear sabre. Remember that Iran derives more than
eighty percent of its export revenue from oil, and its intensified nuclear
talk has already contributed to windfall revenues. This year Iran will make
$55 billion from oil; it made only a little more than half that in 2004.
Every rise of a dollar in price is a billion dollars in revenue for Iran. A
nuclear Iran could rattle nerves even more convincingly, and drive the price
to $100 a barrel.

So Iran has a structural interest in Gulf volatility; the rest of the
developed and developing world, which depends on oil, has the opposite
interest. The world wants the pax Americana perpetuated, not undermined.
That is why the Europeans have worked so closely with the United States over
Iran -- not for Israel's sake, but for their own.

A nuclear Iran would also be a realist's nightmare, because it could push
the Saudis and other Arabs in the nuclear direction. Israel has a nuclear
deterrent, but Saudi Arabia does not. To prevent it from seeking one, the
United States would have to put it under an American nuclear umbrella. Other
Arab states might demand the same. And so the United States might be
compelled to extend nato-like status to its Arab dependencies, promising to
go to war to defend them. If it did not, the full nuclearization of the Gulf
would be only a matter of time.

In summation, American support for Israel -- again, the illusion of its
unconditionality -- has compelled Israel's Arab neighbors to join the pax
Americana or at least acquiesce in it. I would expect realists, of all
people, to appreciate the success of this policy. After all, the United
States manages the pax Americana in the eastern Mediterranean from offshore,
out of the line of sight. Is this not precisely where realists think the
United States should stand? A true realist, I would think, would recoil from
any policy shift that might threaten to undermine this structure.

Among the many perplexing things in the Mearsheimer-Walt paper, certainly
none is so perplexing as this. After all, if the United States were to adopt
what they call a more "evenhanded" policy, Israeli insecurity would increase
and Arab ambitions would be stoked. Were such a policy to overshoot its
mark, it could raise the likelihood of an Arab-Israeli war that could
endanger access to oil. Why would anyone tempt fate -- and endanger an
absolutely vital American interest -- by embarking on such a policy?

That is why I see the Mearsheimer-Walt paper as a betrayal of the hard-nosed
realism the authors supposedly represent. Sometimes I wonder whether they
are realists after all. Mearsheimer and Walt urge "using American power to
achieve a just peace between Israel and the Palestinians." Is this realism,
or romanticism? After all, "just peace" is purely subjective, and its
definition is contested between and among Palestinians and Israelis. Its
blind pursuit might be destabilizing in ways which damage American
interests. This hardly seems like a cautious and prudent use of American
power. The aim of American policy should be the construction of an American
peace, one that serves American interests, not the unstable claims of
"justice."

The arguments for supporting Israel are many and varied, and no one argument
is decisive. Morality- and values-based arguments are crucial, but a
compelling realist argument can also be made for viewing Israel as an asset
to the West. It does not take a "Lobby" to explain this to the hard-nosed
strategic thinkers in the White House and the Pentagon. Of course, Israel
always welcomes help from friends, but it does not need the whole array of
organizations that claim to work on its behalf. The rationale for keeping
Israel strong is hardwired in the realities of the Middle East. The United
States does not have an alternative ally of comparable power. And if the
institutions of the lobby were to disappear tomorrow, it is quite likely
that American and other Western support would continue unabated.

That Israel looms so large as a valuable ally and asset, in a Middle East of
failed and failing states, is an achievement in which Israel can rightly
take pride. But it must never be taken for granted. Israel has come
perilously close to doing so in recent years, by unilaterally evacuating
occupied territory -- first in Lebanon, but more importantly in Gaza.
Whatever the merits of "disengagement" in its various forms, it effectively
cuts out the United States as a broker, and has created the impression that
Arabs can regain territory by force, outside the framework of the pax
Americana.

The main beneficiaries of this Israeli strategy have been Hezbollah and
Hamas, which are the strike forces of anti-Americanism in the region. It is
true that American democracy promotion has also been responsible for the
rising fortunes of such groups. But Israeli ceding of territory outside the
framework of American mediation has marginalized U.S. diplomacy. Israel has
made Hamas and Hezbollah, which claim to have seized territory through
"resistance," appear stronger than America's Arab clients, who had to sign
American-mediated peace deals to restore their territory. If Israel is to
preserve its value as a client, its territorial concessions must appear to
be made in Washington.

For Israel to remain a strategic asset, it must also win on the battlefield.
If Israel's power and prowess are ever cast into doubt, it will not only
undercut Israel's deterrence vis-?-vis its hostile neighbors. It will
undermine Israel's value to the United States as the dependable stabilizer
of the Levant. Israel's lackluster performance in its battle with Hezbollah
in the summer of 2006 left its many admirers in Washington shaking their
heads in disappointment. The United States, which has seen faceless
insurgents shred its own plans for Iraq, knows what it is to be surprised by
the force of "resistance." But Washington expected more of Israel, battling
a familiar adversary in its own backyard.

If Walt and Mearsheimer were right, the disappointment would hardly matter,
since the legendary Lobby would make up the difference between American
expectations and Israeli performance. But since the professors are wrong,
Israel needs to begin the work of repair. Preserving American support comes
at a price: The highest possible degree of military preparedness and
political resolve, leaving no doubt in Washington that Israel can keep its
neighborhood in line. The United States-Israel relationship rests on Israel's
willingness to pay that price. No lobby, however effective, can mitigate the
damage if the United States ever concludes that Israel suffers from a
systemic, permanent weakness.

While many Arabs have rushed to that conclusion since the summer war,
Americans have not. But a question hangs over Israel, and it will be posed
to Israel again, probably sooner rather than later. When it is, Israel must
replace the question mark with an exclamation point.


"We're all going to die, but three of us are going to do something"--Tom
Burnett, citizen-warrior KIA 9/11/01 engaging the enemy on Flight 93
28742  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Israel, and its neighbors on: October 13, 2006, 07:53:09 PM
Woof All:

Well, lets dive right in:

Marc
=====================

Is Israel in America's Interest?
By Martin Kramer
Azure | October 13, 2006


The question of whether Israel is or is not an asset to the United States is
one we rarely bother to ask ourselves. Time and again, we see prominent
Americans -- presidents of the United States at the forefront -- emphasizing
their special relationship with Israel. In polls of American public opinion,
Israel scores very high marks, while sympathy for the Palestinians, never
very high, continues to drop. Why should we even ask ourselves whether
Israel is an asset or a liability to the United States? Isn't the answer
obvious?

Most supporters of Israel, when pressed to go a bit deeper, will give two
prime rationales for why the United States should back Israel. One is a
moral obligation to the Jewish people, grounded in the history of Jewish
persecution and culminating in the Holocaust. Israel, so this thinking goes,
is something the civilized world owes to the Jewish people, having inflicted
an unprecedented genocide upon it. This is a potent rationale, but it is not
clear why that would make Israel an asset to the United States. If
supporting Israel is an obligation, then it could be described as a
liability -- a burden to be borne. And of course, as time passes, that sense
of obligation is bound to diminish.

Another powerful rationale is the fact that Israel is a democracy, even an
outpost of democracy, in a benighted part of the world. But the fact is that
there are many non-democratic states that have been allies of the United
States, and important assets as well. Quite arguably, the Saudi monarchy is
an asset to the United States, because it assures the flow of oil at
reasonable prices, a key American interest. In contrast, the Palestinian
Authority and Iran, which have many more democratic practices than Saudi
Arabia, are headaches to the United States, for having empowered the likes
of Hamas and Ahmadinejad through elections. So the fact that Israel is a
democracy is not proof positive that it is an American asset.

Nevertheless, the Holocaust argument and the democracy argument are more
than sufficient for the vast majority of Americans. On this basis alone,
they would extend to Israel support, even unqualified support. And there is
an important segment of opinion in America, comprising evangelical
Christians, who probably do not even need these arguments. Israel is, for
them, the manifestation of a divine plan, and they support it as a matter of
faith.

But everywhere in the West, there is a sliver of elite opinion that is not
satisfied with these rationales. It includes policymakers and analysts,
journalists, and academics. By habit and by preference, they have a tendency
to view any consensus with skepticism. In their opinion, the American people
cannot possibly be wiser than them -- after all, look whom they elect -- and
so they deliberately take a contrary position on issues around which there
is broad agreement. In this spirit, many of them view U.S. support for
Israel as a prime focal point for skepticism.

In March, two American professors subjected the U.S.-Israel relationship to
a skeptic's examination. John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, the former from
the University of Chicago, the latter from Harvard, published a paper under
the title "The Israel Lobby: Israel in U.S. Foreign Policy." One version
appeared in the London Review of Books; a longer, footnoted version was
posted on the website of the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. The
paper caused a firestorm.

Mearsheimer and Walt are academic oracles of the so-called realist school in
international relations. Realism, in its policy application, is an approach
that seeks to isolate the conduct of foreign affairs from sentimental moral
considerations and special interests like ethnic and commercial lobbies, and
to base it instead on a pure concept of the national interest. Realists are
not interested in historical obligations, or in whether this or that
potential ally respects human rights. They see themselves as coldly weighing
U.S. interests, winnowing out extraneous considerations, and ending up with
policies that look out solely for number one: The United States.

Realist thinkers are not isolationists, but they are extremely reluctant to
see U.S. power expended on projects and allies that do not directly serve
some U.S. interest as they define it -- and they define these interests
quite narrowly. Generally, they oppose visionary ideas of global
transformation, which they see as American empire in disguise. And empire,
they believe, is a drain on American resources. They are particularly
reluctant to commit American troops, preferring that the United States
follow a policy of "offshore balancing" wherever possible -- that is,
playing rivals off one another.

These were the principles that guided Mearsheimer and Walt when they
examined the United States-Israel relationship. And this was their finding:
By any "objective" measure, American support for Israel is a liability. It
causes Arabs and Muslims to hate America, and that hate in turn generates
terrorism. The prime interest of the United States in the Middle East is the
cultivation of cooperation with Arabs and Muslims, many of whom detest
Israel, its policies, or both. The less the United States is identified as a
supporter and friend of Israel's five million Jews, the easier it will be
for it to find local proxies to keep order among the billion or so Muslims.
And the only thing that has prevented the United States from seeing this
clearly is the pro-Israel lobby, operating through fronts as diverse as the
American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the Washington Institute
for Near East Policy, and so on.

This "Israel Lobby," with a capital L, has effectively hijacked U.S. policy
in the Middle East so that it serves Israel's, not America's, interests. In
one of their most provocative claims, the authors argue that Israel spurred
its neo-conservative allies in Washington to press for the Iraq war -- a war
that served no identifiable U.S. interest, but which was waged largely for
Israeli security. And, they continue, the growing drumbeat for an attack on
Iran also has its ultimate source in the Lobby. A nuclear Iran would not
constitute a threat to the United States, they argue, and military action
against Iran would not be in America's interest, since it would inflame the
Arab and Muslim worlds yet again, producing a wave of anti-American terror
and damaging the American economy.

The Mearsheimer-Walt thesis is not a new one. What is new is the prestige
that they lent to these ideas. Because their paper appeared on the Kennedy
School website, it soon became know as the "Harvard study" on the Israel
lobby. Harvard is one of the most recognizable names in the world, familiar
to every American from high school on up. Their study could not be ignored,
and the responses came fast and furious.

Many of them took the form of reiterating the two arguments I mentioned
earlier: Israel as a moral obligation of the West, and Israel as a
democracy. These arguments are compelling, or at least they are compelling
when made well. But for argument's sake, let us set aside the claim that
Israel and the United States share democratic values, rooted in a common
Judeo-Christian tradition. Let us set aside the fact that the American
public has a deep regard for Israel, shown in poll after poll. Let us just
ask a simple question: Is Israel a strategic asset or a strategic liability
for the United States, in realist terms?

My answer, to anticipate my conclusion, is this: United States support for
Israel is not primarily the result of Holocaust guilt or shared democratic
values; nor is it produced by the machinations of the "Israel Lobby."
American support for Israel -- indeed, the illusion of its
unconditionality - underpins the pax Americana in the eastern Mediterranean.
It has compelled Israel's key Arab neighbors to reach peace with Israel and
to enter the American orbit. The fact that there has not been a general
Arab-Israeli war since 1973 is proof that this pax Americana, based on the
United States-Israel alliance, has been a success. From a realist point of
view, supporting Israel has been a low-cost way of keeping order in part of
the Middle East, managed by the United States from offshore and without the
commitment of any force. It is, simply, the ideal realist alliance.

In contrast, the problems the United States faces in the Persian Gulf stem
from the fact that it does not have an Israel equivalent there, and so it
must massively deploy its own force at tremendous cost. Since no one in the
Gulf is sure that the United States has the staying power to maintain such a
presence over time, the Gulf keeps producing defiers of America, from
Khomeini to Saddam to Bin Laden to Ahmadinejad. The United States has to
counter them, not in the interests of Israel, but to keep the world's great
reserves of oil out of the grip of the West's sworn enemies.

Allow me to substantiate my conclusion with a brief dash through the history
of Israel's relationship with the United States. Between 1948 and 1967, the
United States largely adhered to a zero-sum concept of Middle Eastern
politics. The United States recognized Israel in 1948, but it did not do
much to help it defend itself for fear of alienating Arab monarchs, oil
sheikhs, and the "Arab street." That was the heyday of the sentimental State
Department Arabists and the profit-driven oil companies. It did not matter
that the memory of the Holocaust was fresh: The United States remained
cautious, and attempted to appear "evenhanded." This meant that the United
States embargoed arms both to Israel and to the Arabs.

So Israel went elsewhere. It bought guns from the Soviet bloc, and fighter
aircraft and a nuclear reactor from France. It even cut a deal with its old
adversary Britain at the time of the Suez adventure in 1956. Israel was not
in the U.S. orbit, and it did not get significant American aid.

Nevertheless, the radical Arab states gravitated toward the Soviet Union for
weapons and aid. Israel felt vulnerable, and the Arab countries still
believed they could eliminate Israel by war. In every decade, this
insecurity indeed produced war: 1948, 1956, 1967, and 1973. The United
States was not invested heavily enough to prevent these wars; its diplomacy
simply kicked in to stop them after the initial energy was spent.

Only in June 1967, with Israel's lightning victory over three of its
neighbors, did the United States begin to see Israel differently, as a
military power in its own right. The Arab-Israeli war that erupted in
October 1973 did even more to persuade the United States of Israel's power.
Although Egypt and Syria launched a surprise attack against Israel, Israel
bounded back to achieve what military analysts have called its greatest
victory, repulsing an enemy that might have overwhelmed a less determined
and resourceful people.

It was then that the United States began to look at Israel as a potential
strategic ally. Israel appeared to be the strongest, most reliable, and most
cost-effective bulwark against Soviet penetration of the Middle East. It
could defeat any combination of Soviet clients on its own, and in so doing,
humiliate the Soviet Union and drive thinking Arabs out of the Soviet camp.

The 1973 war had another impact on American thinking. Until then,
Arab-Israeli wars did not threaten the oil flow, but that war led to an Arab
oil embargo. Another Arab-Israeli war might have the same impact or worse,
so the United States therefore resolved to prevent such wars by creating a
security architecture -- a pax Americana.

One way to build it would have been to squeeze Israel relentlessly. But the
United States understood that making Israel feel less secure would only
increase the likelihood of another war and encourage the Arab states to
prepare for yet another round. Instead, the American solution was to show
such strong support for Israel as to make Arab states despair of defeating
it, and fearful of the cost of trying. To this purpose, the United States
brought Israel entirely into its orbit, making of it a dependent client
through arms and aid.

That strategy worked. Expanded American support for Israel persuaded Egypt
to switch camps and abandon its Soviet alliance, winning the Cold War for
the United States in the Middle East. Egypt thus became an American ally
alongside Israel, and not instead of Israel. The zero-sum theory of the
Arabists -- Israel or the Arabs, but not both -- collapsed. American Middle
East policy underwent its Copernican revolution.
28743  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Rules of the Road/Fire Hydrant on: October 13, 2006, 07:21:09 PM
Woof All:

The rules of the road around here are pretty simple:

1) Good manners: we speak to each other as if we were face to face.

2) Genuine content:  Please limit your posts that really have something to say.  If you are pasting something from elsewhere, please be sure to specifty the source (name, URL, that sort of thing).  If you do not have the source, please explain why.

3)  WE SEEK TRUTH.  Not to profit or be a prophet, but to seek the truth.  If the facts prove us wrong, we change our minds.

4)  Given the nature of WW3 and the generally low level of understanding of Islam in our culture, it is natural that there will be many pieces about Islam.  Some of them will be negative.  Some of them will be positive.  ALL of them are to be in search of truth.  If you disagree with something that someone else prints, the answer is to persuade with Reason and Reality. 

5)  Before starting a new thread, please look to see if your post logically fits in an existing thread.  The more we maintain thread coherence, the more these threads become valuable as repositories of info and intel.

No doubt I well be editing and amending these rules as time goes by, but for the moment these will do.

The Adventure continues,
Marc (Crafty Dog)
28744  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Islam in Arabic/Islamic Countries: on: October 13, 2006, 06:34:48 PM

No Dates, No Dancing
Why Pakistan's university students are embracing the fundamentalist life
By ARYN BAKER / LAHORE

Like many other universities around the world, Punjab University in Lahore is a tranquil oasis far removed from the rest of society. But to Westerners, there's little else about Punjab U. that seems familiar. Walk around the leafy-green 1,800-acre campus, and you will encounter nothing that resembles frivolous undergraduate behavior. Musical concerts are banned, and men and women are segregated in the dining halls. Many female students attend class wearing headscarves that cover everything but their eyes. This fall, when the university's administrators tried to introduce a program in musicology and performing arts, the campus erupted in protest. "Pakistan is an Islamic country, and our institutions must reflect that," says Umair Idrees, a master's degree student and secretary-general of Islami Jamiat-e-Talaba ( I.J.T.), the biggest student group on campus. "The formation of these departments is an attack on Islam and a betrayal of Pakistan. They should not be part of the university curriculum."

What's most striking about that climate of conservatism is that it is being driven not by faculty or administrators or government officials but by students. At Punjab U., I.J.T. is the most powerful force on campus, shaping not just the mores of student life but also larger debates over curriculum, course syllabuses, faculty selection and even degree programs. Nationwide, the group has more than 20,000 members and 40,000 affiliates active at nearly all of Pakistan's 50 public universities. Students who defy I.J.T.'s strict moral code risk private reprimands, public denouncements and, in some cases, even physical violence.

In a country where most politicians cut their teeth as student activists, the rise of groups like I.J.T. provides clues to Pakistan's political future. Although the country is officially aligned with the U.S. in fighting terrorism, it is beset by an internal struggle between moderate citizens and the fundamentalists who aim to turn the country into an Islamic state. As the hard-line demands intensify, President Pervez Musharraf has backed away from some policies sought by the Bush Administration, such as cracking down on radical religious schools, known as madrasahs, and curbing Pakistani support for the fundamentalist Taliban across the border in Afghanistan. Observers say that Musharraf's retreats on contentious issues have only strengthened the radicals. "The universities reflect what you are seeing in the larger political landscape," says Samina Ahmed, South Asia director for the International Crisis Group, a think tank. "The moderate parties have been deprived of their experienced cadre of potential recruits, but the religious parties haven't."

College campuses in Pakistan are becoming prime battlegrounds in the war for the country's soul. Political organizations have been banned from schools since 1992, when violent clashes between the student wings of rival political parties led to the deaths of dozens of students. But by outlawing political activity, the government opened the door to religious organizations such as I.J.T., which acts as an advocacy group that serves as a liaison between students and administration. Founded in 1947, I.J.T. has hundreds of thousands of alumni who provide the group with organizational and financial support, with the goal of "training the young generation according to Islam so they can play a role in Pakistan's social and political life," Idrees says.

A visit to Punjab University reveals what that means in practice. About 2,400 of the university's 24,000 students belong to I.J.T. Members are expected to live morally and to abide by the Koran's injunction to spread good and suppress evil. For many, that involves adopting an austere lifestyle. Members meet for regular study sessions and must attend all-night prayer meetings at least once a month. Outside the classroom, complete segregation of the genders is strictly observed. When asked, many members are critical of the U.S. and its policies toward the Muslim world; although the group has no ties to terrorism, it's likely that some members sympathize with al-Qaeda.

And yet for some, the appeal of I.J.T. has less to do with ideology than a desire for a platform to voice their grievances. Rana Naveed, 22, a soft-spoken communications student who sports just the beginnings of a beard and wears tight, acid-washed jeans, is troubled by some of I.J.T.'s more extreme pronouncements, especially its stand on the proposed new music program. But he is excited about the prospect of becoming a full-fledged member in a few weeks, when he will take an oath of loyalty and then work to spread his faith and dedicate himself to the welfare of other students. "There are certain things I don't agree with," says Naveed. "But as a member, I will have to submit to their way. I.J.T is the only platform to put forward my proposals to the administration, because they turn a deaf ear to regular students."

An atmosphere of moral rigidity governs much of campus life. I.J.T. members have been known to physically assault students for drinking, flirting or kissing on campus. "We are compelled by our religion to use force if we witness immoral public behavior," says Naveed. "If I see someone doing something wrong, I can stop him and the I.J.T. will support me." Threats of a public reprimand or allegations of immoral behavior are enough to keep most students toeing the I.J.T. line. There is no university regulation segregating men from women in the dining halls, but students know that mingling is taboo. "If I talk to a girl in line at the canteen, I.J.T. members will tell me to get my food and get out," says Rehan Iqbal, 25, an M.B.A. student, who is sitting on the floor of a hallway with female classmate Malka Ikran, 22. It's a nice autumn day, and a shady green lawn beckons through an open window, but they dare not sit outside. It's too public. "There are certain places where I know I can't talk to my male friends," says Ikran. When asked what would happen if she talked to a boy at the library, for example, she just shrugs. "I don't know. I would never try it. I'm too afraid."

It's not just students who feel stifled by the I.J.T.'s strict moral code. Faculty members at Punjab University say that if I.J.T. objects to a professor's leanings, or even his syllabus, it can cause problems. It doesn't take much to raise questions about a teacher's moral qualifications. "Those who could afford to leave, did so," says Hasan Askari Rizvi, a former professor of political science who is now a political analyst. "Those who stayed learned not to touch controversial subjects. The role of the university is to advance knowledge, but at P.U. the quality of education is undermined because one group with a narrow, straitjacketed worldview controls it."

Groups like I.J.T. are likely to grow more influential, not less, as its graduates move into the political arena. For those students aiming to become social activists on campus, and later politicians on the national stage, involvement in I.J.T. is the only forum available to learn the necessary skills. I.J.T. groups across the nation have embraced the opportunity to mold Pakistan's future politicians. In addition to taking classes on the Koran, members learn how to debate, how to present and defend their views and how to write persuasive proposals. " I.J.T. trains and promotes leadership qualities," says Mumtaz Ahmad Salik, president of the P.U. staff association and a professor of Islamic studies. "When a national political party catches anyone who has been trained by I.J.T., they benefit." Most I.J.T. members who choose to enter politics after graduation go on to join Jamaat-e-Islami or other fundamentalist political groups. Some sign up with more centrist parties, although they bring with them fundamentalist thinking that has contributed to the general turn toward conservatism in national politics.

For now a future in politics is far from the minds of most P.U. students, who just want to enjoy their last few years on campus. "We would love to have a student union," says Iqbal. "Then we could plan events and activities and take care of the students' problems ourselves. Right now, only I.J.T. has that kind of power. If the I.J.T. had competition, that would change. Then you would see what students really think." But until free elections and campaigning are permitted, the religious groups will continue to walk large on campus. The same could be said of Pakistan.
28745  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Health Thread (nutrition, medical, longevity, etc) on: October 13, 2006, 04:16:58 PM
  Posted October 13, 2006 06:32 AM 
http://www.wired.com/news/technology/medtech/1,71925-0.html

Honey Remedy Could Save Limbs



By Brandon Keim
01:00 AM Oct, 11, 2006

When Jennifer Eddy first saw an ulcer on the left foot of her patient, an elderly diabetic man, it was pink and quarter-sized. Fourteen months later, drug-resistant bacteria had made it an unrecognizable black mess.

Doctors tried everything they knew -- and failed. After five hospitalizations, four surgeries and regimens of antibiotics, the man had lost two toes. Doctors wanted to remove his entire foot.

"He preferred death to amputation, and everybody agreed he was going to die if he didn't get an amputation," said Eddy, a professor at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.

With standard techniques exhausted, Eddy turned to a treatment used by ancient Sumerian physicians, touted in the Talmud and praised by Hippocrates: honey. Eddy dressed the wounds in honey-soaked gauze. In just two weeks, her patient's ulcers started to heal. Pink flesh replaced black. A year later, he could walk again.

"I've used honey in a dozen cases since then," said Eddy. "I've yet to have one that didn't improve."

Eddy is one of many doctors to recently rediscover honey as medicine. Abandoned with the advent of antibiotics in the 1940s and subsequently disregarded as folk quackery, a growing set of clinical literature and dozens of glowing anecdotes now recommend it.

Most tantalizingly, honey seems capable of combating the growing scourge of drug-resistant wound infections, especially methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, the infamous flesh-eating strain. These have become alarmingly more common in recent years, with MRSA alone responsible for half of all skin infections treated in U.S. emergency rooms. So-called superbugs cause thousands of deaths and disfigurements every year, and public health officials are alarmed.

Though the practice is uncommon in the United States, honey is successfully used elsewhere on wounds and burns that are unresponsive to other treatments. Some of the most promising results come from Germany's Bonn University Children's Hospital, where doctors have used honey to treat wounds in 50 children whose normal healing processes were weakened by chemotherapy.

The children, said pediatric oncologist Arne Simon, fared consistently better than those with the usual applications of iodine, antibiotics and silver-coated dressings. The only adverse effects were pain in 2 percent of the children and one incidence of eczema. These risks, he said, compare favorably to iodine's possible thyroid effects and the unknowns of silver -- and honey is also cheaper.

"We're dealing with chronic wounds, and every intervention which heals a chronic wound is cost effective, because most of those patients have medical histories of months or years," he said.

While Eddy bought honey at a supermarket, Simon used Medihoney, one of several varieties made from species of Leptospermum flowers found in New Zealand and Australia.

Honey, formed when bees swallow, digest and regurgitate nectar, contains approximately 600 compounds, depending on the type of flower and bee. Leptospermum honeys are renowned for their efficacy and dominate the commercial market, though scientists aren't totally sure why they work.

"All honey is antibacterial, because the bees add an enzyme that makes hydrogen peroxide," said Peter Molan, director of the Honey Research Unit at the University of Waikato in New Zealand. "But we still haven't managed to identify the active components. All we know is (the honey) works on an extremely broad spectrum."

Attempts in the lab to induce a bacterial resistance to honey have failed, Molan and Simon said. Honey's complex attack, they said, might make adaptation impossible.

Two dozen German hospitals are experimenting with medical honeys, which are also used in the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand. In the United States, however, honey as an antibiotic is nearly unknown. American doctors remain skeptical because studies on honey come from abroad and some are imperfectly designed, Molan said.

In a review published this year, Molan collected positive results from more than 20 studies involving 2,000 people. Supported by extensive animal research, he said, the evidence should sway the medical community -- especially when faced by drug-resistant bacteria.

"In some, antibiotics won't work at all," he said. "People are dying from these infections."

Commercial medical honeys are available online in the United States, and one company has applied for Food and Drug Administration approval. In the meantime, more complete clinical research is imminent. The German hospitals are documenting their cases in a database built by Simon's team in Bonn, while Eddy is conducting the first double-blind study.

"The more we keep giving antibiotics, the more we breed these superbugs. Wounds end up being repositories for them," Eddy said. "By eradicating them, honey could do a great job for society and to improve public health."

 
28746  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Health Thread (nutrition, medical, longevity, etc) on: October 13, 2006, 04:01:22 PM
http://www.technologyreview.com/printer_friendly_article.aspx?id=17597


Nanosolution Halts Bleeding
A biodegradable liquid developed at MIT and the University of Hong Kong offers a new way to quickly treat wounds and promote healing.
By Jenn Director Knudsen
A team of researchers at MIT and the University of Hong Kong have developed a biodegradable liquid that can quickly stop bleeding.


Composed of peptides, the liquid self-assembles into a protective nanofiber gel when applied to a wound. Rutledge Ellis-Behnke, research scientist in the department of brain and cognitive sciences at MIT and Kwok-Fai So, chair of the department of anatomy at the University of Hong Kong, discovered the liquid's ability to stop bleeding while experimenting with it as a matrix for regrowing brain cells in hamsters.


The researchers then conducted a series of experiments on various mammals, including rodents and pigs, applying the clear liquid agent to the brain, skin, liver, spinal cord, and femoral artery to test its ability to halt bleeding and seal wounds.


"It worked every single time," said Ellis-Behnke. They found that it stopped the bleeding in less than 15 seconds, and even worked on animals given blood-thinning medications.


The wound must still be stitched up after the procedure; but unlike other agents designed to stop bleeding, it does not have to be removed from the wound site.


The liquid's only byproduct is amino acids: tissue building blocks that can be used to actually repair the site of the injury, according to the researchers. It is also nontoxic, causes no immune response in the patient, and can be used in a wet environment, according to Ellis-Behnke. A paper outlining the findings is available online and will be published in the December issue of Nanomedicine.


Ellis-Behnke believes that first responders, say, on a battlefield or at a traffic accident, will save more lives with the nanosolution. Yet the most significant application may be in surgery, he says, especially on the liver and brain.


In fact, as much as half of the time during any operation is spent "doing some sort of bleeding control," says Ellis-Behnke. Consequently, such a liquid could "fundamentally change the pace of the operation."


Ram Chuttani, director of endoscopy and chief of interventional gastroenterology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston and assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, is familiar with their research. "Where I see huge applications is in patients who present with gastrointestinal bleeding," he says. "[Right now,] there's no ideal agent to endoscopically manage gastrointestinal bleeding."


"Technologically, this would be one of the easiest things for us to use," Chuttani adds. "It's an exciting agent, a very exciting agent...that's still quite far away. I'd definitely be an early adopter."




The researchers don't yet understand how the nanosolution works to stop bleeding, beyond that it doesn't clot the blood. "Maybe it's creating a nanoscale patch and knitting the materials back together," says Ellis-Behnke, adding that "this is just speculation." Clinical trials on humans are at least three years away, he says.


The research was funded by the Deshpande Center for Technological Innovation at MIT as well as the Technology Transfer Seed Fund of the University of Hong Kong and the Research Grant Council of Hong Kong.


The U.S. military already uses several agents to stop bleeding, including ones made by Z-Medica and HemCon. Z-Medica of Wallingford, CT, uses zeolite-based agents in its pourable products, called QuikClot, and bioactive glass. HemCon of Tigard, OR, uses an organic substance called chitosan in its bandages.


Both QuikClot and bioactive glass, a silica- and calcium-based material, are porous, and thus work like a sponge to mop up blood and adhere to tissue at and around the wound site.


The chitosan in HemCon's bandages binds to tissue and seals wounds. (Chitosan is found in shrimp shells, but extensive tests have shown that people with shellfish allergies don't suffer allergic reactions to chitosan, according to HemCon's president and CEO, John Morgan.) HemCon plans to sell a consumer version of its product next year.


"Both [Z-Medica and Hem-Con's products] have saved lives in my hands," says Captain Peter Rhee, a military trauma surgeon based at the Los Angeles County Medical Center, who oversaw the first study using pourable agents to halt bleeding on animals.


The liquid solution made by the MIT and University of Hong Kong researchers could offer several advantages, however. One is speed. In studies, the nanoliquid took only seconds to work, while competing products take around two minutes. The nanoliquid can also be used on a wound of any shape, unlike HemCon's square bandages, which don't fit over oddly shaped gashes. And the nanoscale solution doesn't have to be removed from the patient, unlike Z-Medica's bioactive glass, which cannot remain at the wound site indefinitely.

Copyright Technology Review 2006.
28747  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security on: October 13, 2006, 03:49:07 PM
Haven't a clue. grin  Why not ask them?  cheesy
28748  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: October 13, 2006, 10:29:17 AM
www.stratfor.com

IRAQ: Dubai-based satellite channel Al Arabiya aired a video of Abu Osama al-Mujahid, a man claiming to be a jihadi leader in Iraq, in which he told Osama bin Laden that al Qaeda in Iraq is weakening under the leadership of Abu Ayyub al-Masri. Al-Mujahid also said the group had committed "unjustified violations," such as the killing of prominent sheikhs.
28749  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / North and South Korea on: October 13, 2006, 08:25:58 AM
www.stratfor.com

Geopolitical Diary: The Non-Reactions to the North Korean Test

One of the rules of geopolitical analysis is that you should pay little attention to what people say and a great deal of attention to what they do. Applying that principle to the North Korean explosion (nuclear, fizzled or other) causes us to come to a singular conclusion: there is no great concern among the major powers about what happened. No one is doing anything on their own and no one can agree on what should be done together. If this is a crisis, no one is acting that way.

The United States and Japan, it is true, have imposed sanctions on North Korea. However, China and Russia aren't going along with this, therefore the action is fairly meaningless. It's like a balloon with two holes in it: it defeats the entire purpose. The United States, it should be added, can't be surprised by the Russian and Chinese position. Moscow and Beijing have always been wary of following the U.S. sanctioning protocol with other countries, and they were always unlikely to follow the Americans on North Korea. Given that fact -- and given that Washington knows it -- U.S. and Japanese sanctions are more a gesture than an action.

If one listens to conventional analyses of the situation, North Korea poses a threat to the international community, and the key countries -- the United States, China, Russia, Japan and South Korea -- are searching for ways to achieve the common goal of a non-nuclear North Korea. This is the community-of-nations theory of international relations, also known as multilateralism. It makes an assumption of a common interest that really isn't accurate. In fact, all of the key players have very different interests.

China, for example, sounds like a country that is quite upset that North Korea did something it didn't want. It behaves as a country that is quite content with North Korea's move, as it should be; the test flouts America's will and the United States is unable to do anything about it. American impotence is of direct interest to China. The United States has maneuvered itself into a position of taking primary responsibility for dealing with North Korea's threat. China, seeking a dominant position in Asia, welcomes anything that makes the United States appear incapable of carrying out this role. The weaker the United States appears, the greater the vacuum for China to step into. Beijing is going to make the appropriate sounds, but will also make certain that the United States looks as helpless as possible.

The Russians, too, are pleased to see North Korea's challenge to the United States and America's inability to respond; they are not going to bail Washington out. Russia sees itself as locked in a duel with the United States in the former Soviet Union. It holds the Americans responsible for the recent crisis in Georgia, as well as for a generally aggressive stance in Ukraine and Central Asia. The Russians are delighted to see the United States bogged down in Iraq and Afghanistan. Anything that adds to American pain can only help.

Now, one might say that both Moscow and Beijing should be concerned that the unstable government in Pyongyang might threaten them with nuclear weapons. In our view, neither China nor Russia sees Pyongyang as unstable, politically or mentally. They are not worried about North Korean nukes because (a) North Korea doesn't really have nuclear weapons yet and (b) North Korea will be wiped from the face of the Earth by China or Russia should it strike at them and Pyongyang knows it. The risks are low and the benefits are high for both China and Russia. The appropriate expressions of concern will be uttered, but neither country will do anything.

Japan is concerned -- but not to the point of taking any unilateral action, because it can't. South Korea is far more worried about a conventional war than North Korean nukes, and does not want the government in Pyongyang to fall under any circumstances. The task of integrating a post-Communist North Korea with the South would cripple South Korea for decades. The South Koreans are not happy North Korea tested a nuke, but they are not about to do anything to destabilize the situation.

Multilateral approaches assume that there is a common interest in a solution and that the problem is working out the process to get there. There are indeed times when there is a common interest among nations, but they are rarer than times when interests diverge. In the case of North Korea, what we see is not a group of nations struggling to find a way to achieve a common goal. Rather, we see a group of nations pretending to have a common goal, and using that as a cover for pursuing very different ends. China and Russia view this as weakening the United States and they like it. South Korea does not want chaos to the North. Japan is waiting for someone else to take a risk. And the United States is out of options and allies.

The only good news for Washington is that it might discover that the test was not a nuclear test at all. That would relieve it of the burden of doing something, and therefore not make it look nearly as helpless as it now does. Indeed, discovering that there was no nuclear blast would solve a lot of problems; it would show that not doing anything was the result of prudence, and not of a lack of options.

28750  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Howl of Respect to our Soldiers/Veterans on: October 12, 2006, 04:29:54 PM
 Subject: Michael Monsoor - Funeral Announcement

Petty Officer Monsoor died 29 September 2006 while conducting combat
operations in Ramadi, Iraq. He was a graduate of BUD/S Class 250 and was
assigned to SEAL Team THREE. Michael was an incredible athlete of quiet
demeanor and dedication. His friends say he matched the "Silent Warrior"
SEAL mentality that was his life's calling. Though he carried himself in a
calm and composed fashion, he constantly led the charge to bring the fight
to the enemy. He distinguished himself as one of the bravest men on the
battlefield, remaining fearless while facing constant danger. It was
Michael's selfless actions that saved the lives of fellow SEALs.
Petty Officer Monsoor was awarded the Silver Star, Bronze Star (with
Combat V), Purple Heart, and Combat Action Ribbon for his heroic actions in
battle. The interment for MA2 Michael Monsoor will be held with full military
honors at 1200, Thursday 12 October 2006 at FT Rosecrans, Point Loma, San Diego,
CA. Following the burial, a memorial celebration will be hosted at 1400 at
the First Presbyterian Church, 320 Date Street San Diego, CA. Teammates
and friends are encouraged to attend. Uniform for active duty is Service Dress
Blue.

In lieu of flowers, the family has requested that donations in Michael's
name be made to the Naval Special Warfare Foundation, P.O. Box 5965,
Virginia Beach ,VA 23471.

Condolences may be sent to The Monsoor Family, 12562 Safford Street,
Garden Grove, CA 92840.
 -----------------------------------------------------------------------
NAVY TIMES - October 11, 2006

Congress eyes higher special ops retired pay
By Rick Maze
Staff writer
Congress is laying the groundwork for possible new incentives for special
operations forces personnel that could include a big boost in retired pay.
As part of the 2007 defense authorization bill, Congress has ordered a
Pentagon report about what it could take to improve retention of military
personnel who have special operations forces designations. The report, due
next August, was included at the urging of Rep. Robin Hayes, R-N.C., who
has been pushing for hazardous and danger pays to be counted toward retired
pay for career special forces members. Hayes represents a congressional
district that includes Fort Bragg.

The defense bill was sent to the White House on Oct 5, and is expected to
be signed by President Bush by Oct. 15. Hayes believes that the expense of
increasing retired pay, which could rise by 10 percent or more, would be
more than offset by reducing the cost of training replacements for people
who leave the military.

To help prove his case, Congress is asking for information about how much
has been spent on the training of special forces personnel and the four-,
eight-, 12-, 16- and 20-year points of their careers.

The report also asks what percentage of special operations forces have
accumulated 48 months of hostile fire pay and what percentage have
accumulated more than 60 months, which are possible thresholds for when
incentive pays could be added to retired pay.

Although concerns are growing that career special forces people have been
lured away from the military by higher-paying private-sector jobs, defense
and service personnel officials are reticent to change the retired pay
formula for special operators when there are other military specialties -
such as medical professionals, pilots and nuclear-trained naval officers -
who also receive large bonuses and incentive pays over the course of their
military career. Those groups would also like to see that money added to
their retired pay, which currently is computed solely on basic pay.
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