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28751  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Iraq on: October 05, 2006, 12:08:07 PM
Woof All:

The WW3 thread was getting crowded, so we are starting separate threads for the different theaters of WW3.

I begin with some news (about 4 weeks old) that your normal news sources probably did not report.

CD
==================

68 INSURGENTS CAPTURED IN A 2-DAY PERIOD

 

CAMP AL ASAD, Iraq ? Iraqi police and soldiers, along with U.S. Marines and soldiers from Regimental Combat Team 7, captured 68 confirmed insurgents over the weekend throughout the western Al Anbar Province, Iraq.

U.S. and Iraqi forces detained the known and suspected insurgents through a series of pre-planned operations.

 

   Iraqi police identified and detained 18 of the 38 captured insurgents in Rawah, Iraq, about 50 miles east of the Iraqi-Syrian border.

    One of the suspects captured by Rawah police officers is wanted for involvement with a vehicle suicide bombing against a U.S. military check point in the region July 29. Several more captured in Rawah are involved in a recent attack on a Rawah police officer?s family.  Police officers in Rawah also discovered two improvised explosive devices there Sunday.

   Iraqi and U.S. soldiers captured 11 insurgents Sunday in Hit, a city of about 60,000, located approximately 70 miles northwest of Ramadi.

   Through a variety of counterinsurgency operations, Iraqi soldiers and U.S. Marines captured 31 known insurgents in 3 cities. One captured insurgent was part of a 4-man insurgent cell operating in Hadithah.

    U.S. Marines captured 6 more insurgents Saturday in Sa?dah, a town just east of the Iraqi-Syrian border. Marines also discovered an ordnance cache near the border on Saturday. The cache consisted of 120 mm rockets, 155 mm rockets, and 122 mm rockets. 
 

5 TERRORISTS KILLED DURING RAID AND AIR STRIKE

 
BAGHDAD ? A raid early on the morning of Sept. 4 on a safe-house targeting an individual with ties to movement of terrorist finances and foreign fighters into Iraq led to 5 terrorists killed in Muqdadiyah.

    As U.S. forces assaulted the target, they were immediately engaged by terrorist forces.  In the ensuing firefight, 2 terrorists were killed.  Additionally, a woman and her two children were with the terrorists.  U.S. forces found blasting caps, improvised explosive device materials, and multiple ammunition rack systems and weapons on the objective. Both children were struck with fragmentation and one subsequently died.

   As the raid progressed, 2 additional terrorists, who were both armed, were killed in the courtyard of the house.   

  Prior to moving to a subsequent objective where armed terrorists had been observed earlier, multiple precision fires were directed on the location to suppress the threat while minimizing collateral damage.   This strike resulted in one terrorist?s death who was found carrying an assault rifle, a pistol, two ammunition racks and a ski mask.

   Two individuals were then observed moving from a nearby palm grove toward the objective. U.S. forces identified they were unarmed and intercepted them without force.  Upon questioning, they observed that the two men were beaten and wearing handcuffs.  The men described being held hostage by up to ten foreign and Iraqi terrorists for ransom.  They managed to escape when their captors fled as the raid and subsequent air strike was initiated.

  For several days, multiple terrorists have been observed operating out of the safehouse throughout the day and bedding down at night in the palm grove.
 
COALITION FORCES FREE ANOTHER KIDNAP VICTIM, CAPTURE 3 TERRORISTS

KIRKUK, Iraq ? Bastogne Soldiers of the 101st Airborne Division freed a kidnap victim and captured three of the terrorists who had taken him hostage just outside of Kirkuk today.

    An aerial reconnaissance team, flying missions near Kirkuk, spotted four men wearing black robes and wielding AK-47 rifles. The men stopped their sedan several times along one of the area?s main roads and set up illegal checkpoints at each stop. The aeriel recon team video-taped the entire action.

   As coalition ground forces moved into the area, the group made their last stop, holding 10 passengers in a van at gunpoint before pulling one of the men out of the vehicle. The four then forced the man into the trunk of their car and sped away.

    As Bastogne Soldiers on the ground were moving in on the vehicle, the sedan stopped, allowing one of the terrorists to get out of the vehicle. The remaining group continued to a nearby building where they jumped out of their car and ran into the building, taking their victim with them.

    A team of Bastogne Soldiers air assaulted to the area and quickly moved into the building, capturing the three assailants and freeing the hostage. A careful search of the building revealed three AK-47 rifles and several magazines, as well as a barrel filled with ammunition.

    This is the 3rd Iraqi citizen rescued from the hands of kidnappers by 101st Airborne Division Soldiers this month.   


MARINES CAPTURE 40 INSURGENTS, KILL 3; U.S. AIR STRIKE KILLS 3-MAN INSURGENT MORTAR CREW 


CAMP AL ASAD, Iraq ? U.S. Marines captured 40 insurgents yesterday throughout the Haditha Triad region in western Al Anbar Province, Iraq.

    Marines from the Hawaii-based 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, known as ?America?s Battalion,? captured the 40 insurgents during pre-planned counterinsurgency operations in the ?Triad? region.

    Also, a U.S scout sniper team fired upon insurgents, which were firing upon a Marine M1A1 tank on a road in Haditha.  2 of the insurgents were killed; 1 wounded. 

   This follows a day after a separate scout sniper team fired at insurgents. 1 insurgent was killed while digging a hole in a spot where numerous IEDs have recently been discovered or detonated.

    ?The Battalion?s successes over the last several days are really the result of the anti-Iraqi forces conducting attacks out of desperation.  They see the growing capability of the Iraqi Army and recent fielding of the Iraqi Police as the clear beginning to the end of their influence in the Triad,?  said Lt. Col. Norm Cooling, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment.

    The Haditha Triad is a region made up of three neighboring cities ? Haditha, Barwanah and Haqlaniyah ? with a combined population of about 70,000, nestled along the Euphrates River about 160 miles northwest of Baghdad.

In Baghdad, a U.S. air strike on a building killed 3 members of a mortar crew on Friday. Some civilians may have been wounded in the bombing.

293 IRAQIS JOIN ARMY

CAMP FALLUJAH, Iraq ? Soldiers from the 1st Iraqi Army Division enlisted 293 Iraqi males from greater Fallujah and Habbaniyah as part of an al Anbar Province-wide recruiting drive Tuesday and Wednesday.

    ?They looked enthusiastic about doing this, and that?s a good sign,? said Maj. William Gerst, an operations officer who assisted the Iraqis in the coordination of the campaign. ?It?s a sign that they notice we?re here to help them and they are taking control of their own destiny.?

    ?I want to serve our country and defend Iraq,? said one recruit through an interpreter.

    ?Patriotism? I want to defend my country,? said another.

The recruits were then transported by Marines to a month-long boot camp in Habbaniyah staffed solely by Iraqi personnel drawn from the 1st Iraqi Army Division.

Iraq Cites Arrest of a Top Local Insurgent; Officials say he is No. 2 in Al-Qaeda Group
BAGHDA, Sept. 3 -- U.S. and Iraqi forces have captured a top al-Qaeda leader who ordered the bombing of a Shiite Muslim shrine in Samarra that triggered a wave of ferocious sectarian killings, Iraqi officials said Sunday.

The arrest of Hamed Jumaa Faris Juri al-Saeidi, the No. 2 leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, was the latest in a series of blows to the insurgent group.

"The al-Qaeda organization in Iraq has been seriously weakened and is now suffering from a leadership vacuum," Iraq's national security adviser, Mowaffak al-Rubaie. 20 Senior al-Qaeda in Iraq fighters have been captured or killed based on information from Saeidi since his arrest within the past few weeks, Iraqi officials said.

The Mujaheddin Shura Council, an insurgent coalition that includes al-Qaeda in Iraq, denied that Saeidi was a member of al-Qaeda. A leader of another group in the council, however, confirmed that Saeidi belonged to al-Qaeda.

Saeidi, an intelligence officer for Saddam, was captured within the past few weeks as he hid among women and children in a location near Baghdad. Saeidi confessed that he had joined al-Qaeda in Iraq three years ago and is being held by U.S.-led  forces.

In an attempt to thrust Iraq into a full-scale civil war, Saeidi supervised Haitham al-Badri, an operative under his command, in carrying out the Feb. 22 bombing of a revered golden-domed Shiite shrine in Samarra, officials said. That attack sparked brutal reprisal killings by both Shiites and Sunnis that have left thousands of people dead.

"Why did you kill hundreds of people?" Saeidi was asked during a recent interrogation.

What do you mean 'hundreds of people?' I've killed thousands," Saeidi responded.

In other news:

MUQDADIYA - U.S. troops killed 5 men in a ground assault and air strike on what they called a "safe house", targeting a person involved in moving money and foreign fighters into Iraq. A child was also killed in the fighting in Muqdadiya, northeast of Baghdad, the U.S. military said in a statement. It said the operation freed two men who had been held hostage.


IRAQI ARMY TARGETS INSURGENTS IN MULTIPLE RAIDS

BAGHDAD ? Iraqi Army units, with Coalition Force advisers, conducted multiple raids on September 6 to capture individuals connected with insurgent activities that target Iraqi Army, Coalition Forces and Iraqi citizens.

   In a raid in Habbiniyah, Iraqi Army forces captured 4 individuals engaged in insurgent activities against Iraqi and coalition forces.  One individual was especially wanted as he was an improvised explosive device emplacer believed connected with multiple attacks.

    In another raid in Taji, an insurgent engaged in an intimidation campaign against Iraqi citizens was captured.  The insurgent had recently taken control of an insurgent cell whose previous leader had been captured by Iraqi security forces and was currently engaged in the systematic kidnapping of fellow citizens.


   In an additional raid in Ramadi, a sniper and 4 others for detonating IEDs against Iraqi forces were captured. All raids occurred without further incident with no reported casualties.

U.S. SOLDIERS KILL INSURGENT AND WOUND ANOTHER

TIKRIT, Iraq ? U.S. Soldiers killed one insurgent and wounded another near Hawija, Iraq. The Soldiers from the 25th Infantry Division, spotted the insurgents placing a roadside improvised explosive device and engaged them with small arms fire.

   An explosive ordinance disposal team was sent to the site and found a mortar round next to the insurgents? vehicle.

IRAQI POLICE, U.S. MPs CAPTURE 10 WEAPONS SMUGGLERS

BAGHDAD ? Iraqi police, with the assistance of Soldiers from 615th Military Police Company, 1st Armored Division, captured 10 weapons smugglers Thursday.

    The 33 weapons were confiscated in addition to more than 2,000 rounds of ammunition, nine body armor vests and various bomb-making materials.. 

  82nd Airborne Div.
  1/508 Infantry
================


28752  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: October 05, 2006, 11:37:39 AM
This is about 4 weeks old.
=========
 
Pakistan: Hello al-Qaeda, goodbye America
By Syed Saleem Shahzad

MIRANSHAH, North Waziristan - With a truce between the Pakistani Taliban and Islamabad now in place, the Pakistani government is in effect reverting to its pre-September 11, 2001, position in which it closed its eyes to militant groups allied with al-Qaeda and clearly sided with the Taliban in Afghanistan.

While the truce has generated much attention, a more significant development is an underhand deal between pro-al-Qaeda elements and Pakistan in which key al-Qaeda figures will either



not be arrested or those already in custody will be set free. This has the potential to sour Islamabad's relations with Washington beyond the point of no return.

On Tuesday, Pakistan agreed to withdraw its forces from the restive Waziristan tribal areas bordering Afghanistan in return for a pledge from tribal leaders to stop attacks by Pakistani Taliban across the border.

Most reports said that the stumbling block toward signing this truce had been the release of tribals from Pakistani custody. But most tribals had already been released.

The main problem - and one that has been unreported - was to keep Pakistan authorities' hands off members of banned militant organizations connected with al-Qaeda.

Thus, for example, it has now been agreed between militants and Islamabad that Pakistan will not arrest two high-profile men on the "most wanted" list that includes Osama bin Laden, his deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri and Taliban leader Mullah Omar.

Saud Memon and Ibrahim Choto are the only Pakistanis on this list, and they will be left alone. Saud Memon was the owner of the lot where US journalist Daniel Pearl was tortured, executed and buried in January 2002 in Karachi after being kidnapped by jihadis.
Pakistan has also agreed that many people arrested by law-enforcement agencies in Pakistan will be released from jail.

Importantly, this includes Ghulam Mustafa, who was detained by Pakistani authorities late last year. Mustafa is reckoned as al-Qaeda's chief in Pakistan. (See Al-Qaeda's man who knows too much, Asia Times Online, January 5. As predicted in that article, Mustafa did indeed disappear into a "black hole" and was never formally charged, let alone handed over to the US.)

Asia Times Online contacts expect Mustafa to be released in the next few days. He was once close to bin Laden and has intimate knowledge of al-Qaeda's logistics, its financing and its nexus with the military in Pakistan.

Militants at large
"Now they [Pakistani authorities] have accepted us as true representatives of the mujahideen," Wazir Khan told Asia Times Online at a religious congregation in Miranshah. "Now we are no longer criminals, but part and parcel of every deal. Even the authorities have given tacit approval that they would not have any objections if I and other fellows who were termed as wanted took part in negotiations."

Wazir Khan was once a high-profile go-between for bin Laden and one of his closest Waziristan contacts. He was right up there on the "wanted" list. Now he can move around in the open. "The situation is diametrically changed," he said.

From a personal point of view, things have changed for Wazir Khan and others like him, but in the bigger picture things have also changed diametrically.

Pakistan, the leading light in the United States' "war on terror" and a "most important" non-North Atlantic Treaty Organization ally, is returning to the heady times of before September 11 when it could dabble without restraint in regional affairs, and this at a time when Afghanistan is boiling.

"The post-September 11 situation [in Pakistan] was draconian," a prominent militant told Asia Times Online on condition of anonymity. "All jihadi organizations were informed in advance how they would be [severely] dealt with in the future and that they had better carve out an alternative low-profile strategy. But some people could not stop themselves from unnecessary adventures and created problems for the establishment. This gave the US the chance to intervene in Pakistan, and over 700 al-Qaeda mujahideen were arrested.

"Now the situation changed again ... we know the state of Pakistan is important for the Pakistan army, but certainly we know that the army would never completely compromise on Islam."

The truce between Islamabad and the Pakistani Taliban in Waziristan has been a bitter pill for Washington to swallow, although Pakistan's pledge to allow foreign troops based in Afghanistan hot pursuit into a limited area in Pakistan softens the blow a bit.

Islamabad's overriding concern, though, is to earn some breathing space domestically, as well as get Uncle Sam off its back.

The situation in Waziristan was becoming unmanageable - it's already virtually a separate state - and trouble is ongoing in restive Balochistan province, especially since the killing at the hands of Pakistani security forces of nationalist leader Nawab Akbar Bugti. Fractious opposition political parties have shown rare unity in attacking the government of President General Pervez Musharraf on the issue.

Redrawing the map
An article by retired US Major Ralph Peters titled "Blood borders" published in the Armed Forces Journal last month has given Pakistan some food for thought over manipulating the geopolitical game on its own terms and conditions.

Peters, formerly assigned to the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence, where he was responsible for future warfare, argues that borders in the Middle East and Africa are "the most arbitrary and distorted" in the world and need restructuring.

Four countries - Pakistan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Turkey - are singled out for major readjustments. Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are also defined as "unnatural states".

Though the US State Department was quick to deny that such ideas had anything to do with US policymaking, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Turkey read much between the lines of talk of restructuring their boundaries.

Among Peters' proposals was the need to establish "an independent Kurdish state" that would "stretch from Diyarbakir [eastern Turkey] through Tabriz [Iran], which would be the most pro-Western state between Bulgaria and Japan".

Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz recently visited Turkey and then Lebanon, where he announced that his country would not send any peacekeeping troops to the latter. Ankara then said that if peacekeeping forces tried to disarm Hezbollah, Turkey would pull out of the peace mission. These decisions are the result of back-channel diplomacy among Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Pakistan.

Across Pakistan's border in Afghanistan, the Taliban have control of most of the southwest of the country, from where Mullah Omar is expected soon to announce the revival of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan - the name of the country before the Taliban were driven out in 2001. Once the proclamation is made, a big push toward the capital Kabul will begin.

The sounds of jail doors opening in Pakistan will jar with the United States, as will Islamabad adopting a more independent foreign policy and, crucially, aligning itself with the resurgent Taliban in Afghanistan, which once again could become a Pakistani playground.

Syed Saleem Shahzad is Asia Times Online's Pakistan Bureau Chief. He can be reached at saleem_shahzad2002@yahoo.com.

28753  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: October 05, 2006, 10:31:28 AM
Woof All:

Herewith a thread dedicated to this area.

CD
=============================
Taliban lay plans for Islamic intifada
By Syed Saleem Shahzad

THE PASHTUN HEARTLAND, Pakistan and Afghanistan - With the snows approaching, the Taliban's spring offensive has fallen short of its primary objective of reviving the Islamic Emirates of Afghanistan, as the country was known under Taliban rule from 1996-2001.

Both foreign forces and the Taliban will bunker down until next spring, although the Taliban are expected to continue with suicide missions and some hit-and-run guerrilla activities. The Taliban will

 

take refuge in the mountains that cross the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, where they will have plenty of time to plan the next stage
of their struggle: a countrywide "Islamic Intifada of Afghanistan" calling on all former mujahideen to join the movement to boot out foreign forces from Afghanistan.

The intifada will be both national and international. On the one hand it aims to organize a national uprising, and on the other it will attempt to make Afghanistan the hub of the worldwide Islamic resistance movement, as it was previously under the Taliban when Osama bin Laden and his training camps were guests of the country.

The ideologue of the intifada is bin Laden's deputy, Dr Ayman al-Zawahiri, who has assembled a special team to implement the idea. Key to this mission is Mullah Mehmood Allah Haq Yar. Asia Times Online was early to pinpoint Haq Yar as an important player (see Osama adds weight to Afghan resistance, September 11, 2004).

Oriented primarily towards Arabs, especially Zawahiri, Haq Yar speaks English, Arabic, Urdu and Pashtu with great fluency. He was sent by Taliban leader Mullah Omar to northern Iraq to train with Ansarul Islam fighters before the US-led invasion of Afghanistan. He returned to Afghanistan in 2004 and was inducted into a special council of commanders formed by Mullah Omar and assigned the task of shepherding all foreign fighters and high-value targets from Pakistani territory into Afghanistan.

He is an expert in urban guerrilla warfare, a skill he has shared with the Taliban in Afghanistan. His new task might be more challenging: to gather local warlords from north to south under one umbrella and secure international support from regional players.

A major first step toward creating an intifada in Afghanistan was the establishment of the Islamic State of North Waziristan in the Pakistani tribal area this year. This brought all fragmented sections of the Taliban under one command, and was the launching pad for the Taliban's spring offensive.

Subsequently, there has been agreement between a number of top warlords in northern Afghanistan and the Taliban to make the intifada a success next year. Credit for this development goes mainly to Haq Yar.

Haq Yar was recently almost cornered in Helmand province in Afghanistan by British forces. Before that, he spoke to Asia Times Online at an undisclosed location in the Pashtun heartland straddling Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Asia Times Online: When are the Taliban expected to announce the revival of the Islamic Emirates of Afghanistan?

Haq Yar: Well, the whole Islamic world is waiting for the revival of the Islamic Emirates of Afghanistan, but it will take some time. But sure, it will ultimately happen, and this is what the Taliban's struggle is all about.

ATol: Can you define the level of Taliban-led resistance in Afghanistan?

Haq Yar: It has already passed the initial phases and now has entered into a tactical and decisive phase. It can be measured from the hue and cry raised by the US and its allies. Daily attacks on NATO [North Atlantic Treaty Organization] forces are now routine and suicide attacks are rampant.

ATol: To date, the Taliban have been very active in southwestern Afghanistan, but traditionally success comes when a resistance reaches eastern areas, especially the strategically important Jalalabad. When will this happen?

Haq Yar: Well, I do not agree that the Taliban movement is restricted to southwest Afghanistan. We have now established a network under which we are allied with many big and small mujahideen organizations, and in that way we are fighting foreign forces throughout Afghanistan. In a recent development, the deputy chief of the Taliban movement, Maulana Jalaluddin Haqqani, is now positioned in the eastern zone, including Jalalabad, from where he is guiding attacks on coalition forces. This eastern zone is also part of the Taliban's stronghold.

ATol: What is the role of bin Laden and Zawahiri?

Haq Yar: We are allies and part and parcel of every strategy. Wherever mujahideen are resisting the forces of evil, Arab mujahideen, al-Qaeda and leaders Osama bin Laden and Dr Zawahiri have a key role. In Afghanistan they also have a significant role to support the Taliban movement.

ATol: Is the present Taliban-led resistance against the US and its allies a local resistance or is it international? That is, are resistance movements in other parts of the world led from Afghanistan?

Haq Yar: Initially it was a local movement, but now it is linked with resistance movements in Iraq and other places. We are certainly in coordination with all resistance movements of the Muslim world.

ATol: What is the Taliban strategy with groups like Hezb-i-Islami Afghanistan led by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and the Hezb-i-Islami Afghanistan (Khalis)?

Haq Yar: The Hezb-i-Islami of Hekmatyar and the Taliban are fighting under a coordinated strategy and support each other. The leadership of the Khalis group is now in the hands of his son, who is coordinating everything with Maulana Jalaluddin Haqqani.

ATol: What is the Taliban's weaponry? Is it old Russian arms or they have acquired new ones - and if so, where are they getting them?

Haq Yar: The Taliban have all the latest weaponry required for a guerrilla warfare. Where does it come from? Well, Afghanistan is known as a place where weapons are stockpiled. And forces that provided arms a few decades ago - the same weapons are now being used against them.

ATol: The Taliban contacted commanders in northern Afghanistan. What was the result?

Haq Yar: About one and a half years ago these contacts were initiated. Various groups from the north contacted us. We discussed the matter with [Taliban leader] Mullah Mohammed Omar Akhund and then, with his consent, I was assigned to negotiate matters with the Northern Alliance.

The first meeting was held in northern Afghanistan, where I represented the Taliban. Many individuals from various groups of the Northern Alliance attended the meeting and they all condemned the foreign presence in the country, but insisted that the Taliban should take the lead, and then they would follow suit. Another meeting was held after that in which various individuals come up with some conditions, and there was no conclusion. There was no collective meeting, but there are contacts.

ATol: What is the role of the tribal chiefs?

Haq Yar: The tribal chiefs have always been supportive of the Taliban and still are. How could they not be? The US bombed and killed thousand of their people and the puppet [President Hamid] Karzai government is silent. All Afghans are sick and tired of US tyrannies and daily bombardment, whether they are commoners or chiefs, and that is why they are all with the Taliban.

Actually, we have also worked on organizing that support. On the instructions of Mullah Mohammed Omar Akhund, I met with tribal chiefs last year and prepared the grounds for this year's battle [spring offensive], and all tribal chiefs assured me of their support. And now there is support - it is there for everybody to see.

ATol: It is said that the Taliban are now fueled by drug money. Is this correct, and if not, how do they manage their financial matters?

Haq Yar: It is shameful to say that the Taliban, who eliminated poppies from Afghanistan, are dependent on the drug trade to make money. This is wrong. As far as money is concerned, we do not need much. Whatever is required, we manage it through our own limited resources.

ATol: Are you satisfied with the media's role?

Haq Yar: Not at all. They do not publish our point of view. They never tried to talk to the genuine Taliban. Rather, they go after not genuine people who are basically plants and rejected by the Taliban leadership.

Syed Saleem Shahzad is Asia Times Online's Pakistan Bureau Chief. He can be reached at saleem_shahzad2002@yahoo.com.

 
  
 
 

 
 

 

'War on terror' returning to its cradle (Oct 5, '06)

Pakistan reaches into Afghanistan (Oct 3, '06)

Afghanistan: Why NATO cannot win (Sep 30, '06)

Military policy in Afghanistan 'barking mad' (Sep 30, '06)


 
 

 

================
Geopolitical Diary: Musharraf Gets a Warning

A bomb exploded on Wednesday around 9:30 p.m. local time in Rawalpindi's Ayub public park, about a mile from Pakistani President Gen. Perez Musharraf's army residence. The explosion took place at a time when most residents in the area would have been indoors attending congregational prayers after breaking their fast for Ramadan. No casualties have been reported and Pakistani officials deny that this was an attempt against Musharraf's life.

Though Musharraf has more enemies than Saudi Arabia has princes, assassination attempts against him are usually more serious than this. Recall December 2003, when Musharraf's convoy was targeted twice by al Qaeda in the same month as his car crossed the bridge leading to his army house in Rawalpindi. When Musharraf's assassins get to work, they mean business.

Instead, Wednesday's explosion appears to be carrying a political message for the embattled president, who has come under intense pressure upon his return home from a lengthy visit to the United States. Musharraf has been placed in the hot seat by the White House to deliver a high-value al Qaeda target and suppress the Taliban insurgency in neighboring Afghanistan. His peculiar behavior in the past month revealed that he has caved in to U.S. demands -- and is struggling for ways to absolve himself of blame and buy time before U.S. forces expand their operations on Pakistani soil.

The thought of Musharraf sacrificing Pakistan's territorial sovereignty is troubling, to say the least, for the Pakistani masses; but is of utmost concern for former members of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). There are a number of former ISI officers who were heavily involved in supporting the Afghan mujahideen in the 1980s, and then went on to support militant groups working on the Kashmir front to aid in the Pakistani policy of keeping India's hands tied. These former officers see the militants (both in Afghanistan and Kashmir) as state assets that they worked long and hard to cultivate -- and they fear Musharraf is now compromising those assets and throwing everything away.

While Musharraf has more or less cleansed the ISI of dissenters, many former ISI officers maintain close links with the Pakistani establishment. These officers are often paid as military contractors to maintain contacts with various militant groups after retiring from service; or they are given other civilian jobs, as was the case with former ISI Director-General Lt. Gen. Mahmud Ahmed, who got the boot the day the United States began bombing Afghanistan in October 2001.

This network of ISI veterans has ideological and material interests in maintaining the status quo. They strike a delicate balance between supporting Musharraf on the one hand, to avoid being arrested and stay on the military's payroll, while on the other hand furthering their ideological interest in resisting foreign intervention by providing support to militant groups such as the Taliban. Musharraf has threatened this delicate balance in his deals with the United States and in recent remarks he made on the involvement of former ISI officials with the Taliban. In an interview with NBC News, Musharraf said he keeps a "very tight watch" on his intelligence agency as army chief, though he has "some reports that some dissidents, some retired people who were in the forefront in ISI during the period of 1979 to 1989, may be assisting the links [to the Taliban] somewhere here and there."

This blatant admission by Musharraf prompted a flood of backlash from former ISI officials, who have taken every opportunity to voice their criticism of the president. Former ISI Director-General Lt. Gen. Asad Durrani said there was no evidence to support Musharraf's remarks. Another former ISI director, Hameed Gul, called Musharraf a team captain scoring goals against his own team, and said that Pakistan was astonished to see the captain hell-bent on his own team's defeat. While saying that he prays for the Taliban's success to drive U.S. forces out of Afghanistan, Gul said that no Afghan leader, including President Hamid Karzai, has leveled such an allegation against the ISI.

In a particularly eye-opening statement, retired squadron leader and former ISI official Khalid Khawaja said "General Musharraf is playing the role Saddam Hussein played in Middle East. He did all the nuisance jobs in the region with U.S. support, but could not save his own country from American occupation. Similarly, the real target here is Pakistan, its army, ISI and Pakistan's nuclear program. The U.S. used Musharraf to destroy them one after other."

Khawaja's remark about the nuclear program refers to mid-October 2001, when the United States began to launch airstrikes in Afghanistan. Washington did not feel it could rely on the ISI at the time, and took it as its duty to secure access to Pakistani nuclear facilities in order to prevent nuclear materials from being handed over to the ISI. The United States threatened not only to bomb Pakistan back to the Stone Age, but also to take out the country's nuclear capabilities if Musharraf failed to cooperate.

Cooperating, however, has also put Musharraf in a dangerous position. The level of outrage against the president by former ISI operatives strongly suggests that Wednesday's explosion was, not an assassination attempt, but rather a stern warning: Musharraf cannot unravel the old system without suffering the consequences.

www.stratfor.com
28754  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: WW3 on: October 05, 2006, 08:32:58 AM
Taliban lay plans for Islamic intifada
By Syed Saleem Shahzad

THE PASHTUN HEARTLAND, Pakistan and Afghanistan - With the snows approaching, the Taliban's spring offensive has fallen short of its primary objective of reviving the Islamic Emirates of Afghanistan, as the country was known under Taliban rule from 1996-2001.

Both foreign forces and the Taliban will bunker down until next spring, although the Taliban are expected to continue with suicide missions and some hit-and-run guerrilla activities. The Taliban will

 

take refuge in the mountains that cross the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, where they will have plenty of time to plan the next stage
of their struggle: a countrywide "Islamic Intifada of Afghanistan" calling on all former mujahideen to join the movement to boot out foreign forces from Afghanistan.

The intifada will be both national and international. On the one hand it aims to organize a national uprising, and on the other it will attempt to make Afghanistan the hub of the worldwide Islamic resistance movement, as it was previously under the Taliban when Osama bin Laden and his training camps were guests of the country.

The ideologue of the intifada is bin Laden's deputy, Dr Ayman al-Zawahiri, who has assembled a special team to implement the idea. Key to this mission is Mullah Mehmood Allah Haq Yar. Asia Times Online was early to pinpoint Haq Yar as an important player (see Osama adds weight to Afghan resistance, September 11, 2004).

Oriented primarily towards Arabs, especially Zawahiri, Haq Yar speaks English, Arabic, Urdu and Pashtu with great fluency. He was sent by Taliban leader Mullah Omar to northern Iraq to train with Ansarul Islam fighters before the US-led invasion of Afghanistan. He returned to Afghanistan in 2004 and was inducted into a special council of commanders formed by Mullah Omar and assigned the task of shepherding all foreign fighters and high-value targets from Pakistani territory into Afghanistan.

He is an expert in urban guerrilla warfare, a skill he has shared with the Taliban in Afghanistan. His new task might be more challenging: to gather local warlords from north to south under one umbrella and secure international support from regional players.

A major first step toward creating an intifada in Afghanistan was the establishment of the Islamic State of North Waziristan in the Pakistani tribal area this year. This brought all fragmented sections of the Taliban under one command, and was the launching pad for the Taliban's spring offensive.

Subsequently, there has been agreement between a number of top warlords in northern Afghanistan and the Taliban to make the intifada a success next year. Credit for this development goes mainly to Haq Yar.

Haq Yar was recently almost cornered in Helmand province in Afghanistan by British forces. Before that, he spoke to Asia Times Online at an undisclosed location in the Pashtun heartland straddling Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Asia Times Online: When are the Taliban expected to announce the revival of the Islamic Emirates of Afghanistan?

Haq Yar: Well, the whole Islamic world is waiting for the revival of the Islamic Emirates of Afghanistan, but it will take some time. But sure, it will ultimately happen, and this is what the Taliban's struggle is all about.

ATol: Can you define the level of Taliban-led resistance in Afghanistan?

Haq Yar: It has already passed the initial phases and now has entered into a tactical and decisive phase. It can be measured from the hue and cry raised by the US and its allies. Daily attacks on NATO [North Atlantic Treaty Organization] forces are now routine and suicide attacks are rampant.

ATol: To date, the Taliban have been very active in southwestern Afghanistan, but traditionally success comes when a resistance reaches eastern areas, especially the strategically important Jalalabad. When will this happen?

Haq Yar: Well, I do not agree that the Taliban movement is restricted to southwest Afghanistan. We have now established a network under which we are allied with many big and small mujahideen organizations, and in that way we are fighting foreign forces throughout Afghanistan. In a recent development, the deputy chief of the Taliban movement, Maulana Jalaluddin Haqqani, is now positioned in the eastern zone, including Jalalabad, from where he is guiding attacks on coalition forces. This eastern zone is also part of the Taliban's stronghold.

ATol: What is the role of bin Laden and Zawahiri?

Haq Yar: We are allies and part and parcel of every strategy. Wherever mujahideen are resisting the forces of evil, Arab mujahideen, al-Qaeda and leaders Osama bin Laden and Dr Zawahiri have a key role. In Afghanistan they also have a significant role to support the Taliban movement.

ATol: Is the present Taliban-led resistance against the US and its allies a local resistance or is it international? That is, are resistance movements in other parts of the world led from Afghanistan?

Haq Yar: Initially it was a local movement, but now it is linked with resistance movements in Iraq and other places. We are certainly in coordination with all resistance movements of the Muslim world.

ATol: What is the Taliban strategy with groups like Hezb-i-Islami Afghanistan led by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and the Hezb-i-Islami Afghanistan (Khalis)?

Haq Yar: The Hezb-i-Islami of Hekmatyar and the Taliban are fighting under a coordinated strategy and support each other. The leadership of the Khalis group is now in the hands of his son, who is coordinating everything with Maulana Jalaluddin Haqqani.

ATol: What is the Taliban's weaponry? Is it old Russian arms or they have acquired new ones - and if so, where are they getting them?

Haq Yar: The Taliban have all the latest weaponry required for a guerrilla warfare. Where does it come from? Well, Afghanistan is known as a place where weapons are stockpiled. And forces that provided arms a few decades ago - the same weapons are now being used against them.

ATol: The Taliban contacted commanders in northern Afghanistan. What was the result?

Haq Yar: About one and a half years ago these contacts were initiated. Various groups from the north contacted us. We discussed the matter with [Taliban leader] Mullah Mohammed Omar Akhund and then, with his consent, I was assigned to negotiate matters with the Northern Alliance.

The first meeting was held in northern Afghanistan, where I represented the Taliban. Many individuals from various groups of the Northern Alliance attended the meeting and they all condemned the foreign presence in the country, but insisted that the Taliban should take the lead, and then they would follow suit. Another meeting was held after that in which various individuals come up with some conditions, and there was no conclusion. There was no collective meeting, but there are contacts.

ATol: What is the role of the tribal chiefs?

Haq Yar: The tribal chiefs have always been supportive of the Taliban and still are. How could they not be? The US bombed and killed thousand of their people and the puppet [President Hamid] Karzai government is silent. All Afghans are sick and tired of US tyrannies and daily bombardment, whether they are commoners or chiefs, and that is why they are all with the Taliban.

Actually, we have also worked on organizing that support. On the instructions of Mullah Mohammed Omar Akhund, I met with tribal chiefs last year and prepared the grounds for this year's battle [spring offensive], and all tribal chiefs assured me of their support. And now there is support - it is there for everybody to see.

ATol: It is said that the Taliban are now fueled by drug money. Is this correct, and if not, how do they manage their financial matters?

Haq Yar: It is shameful to say that the Taliban, who eliminated poppies from Afghanistan, are dependent on the drug trade to make money. This is wrong. As far as money is concerned, we do not need much. Whatever is required, we manage it through our own limited resources.

ATol: Are you satisfied with the media's role?

Haq Yar: Not at all. They do not publish our point of view. They never tried to talk to the genuine Taliban. Rather, they go after not genuine people who are basically plants and rejected by the Taliban leadership.

Syed Saleem Shahzad is Asia Times Online's Pakistan Bureau Chief. He can be reached at saleem_shahzad2002@yahoo.com.
==========================================
28755  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Help our troops/our cause: on: October 05, 2006, 08:10:13 AM
> >
> >By Rush Limbaugh:
> >
> >I think the vast differences in compensation between victims of the
> >September 11 casualty and those who die serving our country in Uniform
> >are profound. No one is really talking about it either, because you just
> >don't criticize anything having to do with September 11. Well, I can't
> >let the numbers pass by because it says something really disturbing
> >about the
> >entitlement mentality of this country. If you lost a family member in
> >the September 11 attack, you're going to get an average of $1,185,000.
> >The range is a minimum guarantee of $250,000, all the way up to $4.7
> >million.
> >
> >If you are a surviving family member of an American soldier killed in
> >action, the first check you get is a $6,000 direct death benefit, half
> >of which is taxable.
> >
> >Next, you get $1,750 for burial costs. If you are the surviving spouse,
> >you get $833 a month until you remarry. And there's a payment of $211
> >per month for each child under 18. When the child hits 18, those
> >payments come to a screeching halt.
> >
> >Keep in mind that some of the people who are getting an average of
> >$1.185 million up to $4.7 million are complaining that it's not enough.
> >Their deaths were tragic, but for most, they were simply in the wrong
> >place at the wrong time. Soldiers put themselves in harms way FOR ALL OF
> >US, and they and their families know the dangers.
> >
> >We also learned over the weekend that some of the victims from the
> >Oklahoma City bombing have started an organization asking for the same
> >deal that the September 11 families are getting. In addition to that,
> >some of the families of those bombed in the embassies are now asking for
> >compensation as well.
> >
> >You see where this is going, don't you? Folks, this is part and parcel
> >of over 50 years of entitlement politics in this country. It's just
> >really sad. Every time a pay raise comes up for the military, they
> >usually receive next to nothing of a raise. Now the green machine is in
> >combat in the Middle East while their families have to survive on food
> >stamps and live in low-rent housing. Make sense?
> >
> >However, our own U.S. Congress voted themselves a raise. Many of you
> >don't know that they only have to be in Congress one time to receive a
> >pension that is more than $15,000 per month. And most are now equal to
> >being millionaires plus.
> >
> >If some of the military people stay in for 20 years and get out as an
> >E-7, they may receive a pension of $1,000 per month, and the very people
> >who placed them in harm's way receives a pension of $15,000 per month.
> >
> >I would like to see our elected officials pick up a weapon and join
> >ranks before they start cutting out benefits and lowering pay for our
> >sons and daughters who are now fighting.
> >"When do we finally do something about this?" If this doesn't seem fair
> >to you, it is time to forward this to as many people as you can.
> >
> >How many people
> >
> >CAN YOU
> >
> >send this to?
> >
28756  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: The Dog Brothers Tribe on: October 04, 2006, 04:20:23 PM
Woof All:

This is just a "housecleaning post" wherein I bring over the contents of a different thread of the same name as this one.   Please know that the posts of the last two days are the most current ones.

yip!
CD
===============

July 23, 2006, 01:54:24 PM ?     

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
A Howl of Respect:

Dennis Hall, is now a full Dog Brother.  I lack contact info for him at the moment and forget his requested name.  As soon as I get it, he will be properly posted.  If anyone has contact info for him, please let me know.

Ivan "C-Kuma Dog" Reboli
Gints "C-Baltic Dog" Klimanis

should finally be getting their names properly recorded on the page of record on the public site.

Our newest Candidate Dog Brothers

Corey "C-Dog Pound" Davis
Hugh "C-Irish Dog" Sargeant
Marc "C-Sheepdog" Scott
Roan "C-Poi Dog" Grimm

Our newest members of the tribe

Dog Miguel Velez
Dog Richard Estepa
Dog Tom Guthrie

a couple of others which will come to me-- please send any reminders to me via email.

And, , , , drum roll please , , , Benjamin "Lonely Dog" Rittiner ascends to the Council of Elders by a heartily unanimous vote.

Crafty Dog
Guiding Force
 
 Report to moderator    71.116.175.138 (?) 

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Marc "Crafty Dog" Denny
Dog Brothers, Inc.
mailto:craftydog@dogbrothers.com
 
 
xtremekali
Power User

Posts: 141



      The Dog Brothers Tribe
? Reply #1 on: July 23, 2006, 03:30:52 PM ?     

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Congrats to all.

Myke Willis
 
 Report to moderator    70.142.61.179 (?) 

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
For those who fight for it, freedom has a flavor the protected will never know
 
 
carlo
Newbie

Posts: 40


     The Dog Brothers Tribe
? Reply #2 on: July 24, 2006, 12:36:54 PM ?     

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Congratulations all.

-C
 
 Report to moderator    207.212.177.51 (?) 

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
A nation of one ancestry and race is weak. We must hold strong our custom of welcoming all foreigners who seek to join our cause, treating them with dignity and respect and teaching them our language and customs.

-Attila the Hun
 
 
Crafty_Dog
Administrator
Power User

Posts: 1831


     The Dog Brothers Tribe
? Reply #3 on: July 24, 2006, 05:53:23 PM ?     

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Woof C-Grinning Dog:

How is your shoulder doing?

CD
 
 Report to moderator    69.226.212.181 (?) 

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Marc "Crafty Dog" Denny
Dog Brothers, Inc.
mailto:craftydog@dogbrothers.com
 
 
ponytotts
Newbie

Posts: 43


     The Dog Brothers Tribe
? Reply #4 on: July 26, 2006, 12:28:31 PM ?     

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
congrats guys! the hard work has paid off! dont stop!
 
 Report to moderator    213.39.182.134 (?) 
 
 
 
Crafty_Dog
Administrator
Power User

Posts: 1831


     The Dog Brothers Tribe
? Reply #5 on: July 27, 2006, 11:01:37 AM ?     

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
I have been told that Dennis Hall's requested name is "Edge Dog".  So be it.   
 
 Report to moderator    71.116.175.138 (?) 

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Marc "Crafty Dog" Denny
Dog Brothers, Inc.
mailto:craftydog@dogbrothers.com
 
 
Crafty_Dog
Administrator
Power User

Posts: 1831


     Re: The Dog Brothers Tribe
? Reply #6 on: August 13, 2006, 04:27:31 PM ?     

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Woof All:

Mike de Lio is now "C-Scrappy Dog".

WOOF!
Crafty Dog
Guiding Force
 
 Report to moderator    71.116.179.191 (?) 

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Marc "Crafty Dog" Denny
Dog Brothers, Inc.
mailto:craftydog@dogbrothers.com
 
 
Crafty_Dog
Administrator
Power User

Posts: 1831


     Re: The Dog Brothers Tribe
? Reply #7 on: August 20, 2006, 05:40:16 AM ?     

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Woof All:

Dave Rothburg smacks me with a stick to remind me   that he now is "Dog Dave Rothburg".  Indeed he is and we welcome him to the Dog Brothers tribe. 

Crafty Dog
GF
 
 
28757  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: The Dog Brothers Tribe on: October 04, 2006, 01:01:57 PM
Russ "C-Bad Dog" Iger is currently in China.  Here he is on bass guitar.

http://www.kodakgallery.com/ShareLandingSignin.jsp?Uc=ouu1643.7m14a03v&Uy=-ym5orn&Upost_signin=Slideshow.jsp%3Fmode%3Dfromshare&Ux=0
28758  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Condtioning for the stick on: October 04, 2006, 11:03:18 AM
Good piece in many ways.  I agree with his assessment of the importance of the 7 Minute Rotator Cuff Solution.

I have no idea of the merit of his 6 days a week for the same movements methodology.

Where I think he misses a vital point in his analysis is in the foundational role of the hips.  When the hips are tilted forward (due to tight hip flexors (psoas, ilio, quads) and weak peak contraction of the glute-hamstring nexus) -- which is the case with a huge majority of the population due to excessive sitting in modern life, there are consequences for the undelrying alignment of the shoulder joint.  Specifically, it rolls forward.  This is easy to spot in various ways.  One indicator is that when standing the thumbs should be paralell but when the shoulder is rolled forward, the thumbs point inward to varying degrees.  Another indicator is when viewed from the side the ears should be above the shoulders, but when the hips are tilted forward and the shoulders rolled forward, the ears are well in front of the shoulders.  If you point this out to someone, typically he will try to solve it with the neck, but the true solution lies restoring the hips to level.

IMHO to try to solve shoulder problems without also leveling the hips is like peeing into the wind.
28759  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Politics on: October 04, 2006, 02:22:12 AM
Woof All:

Herewith begins a catch-all thread.

TAC,
CD
=================

Bush and the Perception of Weakness
By George Friedman

There is good news for the Republican Party: Things can't get much worse. About five weeks from the midterm elections, a National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) asserting that the situation in Iraq will deteriorate in 2007 is leaked. On top of that, Bob Woodward's book is released to massive fanfare, chronicling major disagreements within the White House over prosecution of the Iraq war and warnings to U.S. President George W. Bush in the summer of 2003 that a dangerous insurgency was under way and that the president's strategy of removing Baathists from the government and abolishing the Iraqi army was a mistake. These events are bad enough, but when U.S. Rep. Mark Foley (R-Fla.) -- the head of a congressional committee charged with shutting down child molesters using the Internet -- is caught sending e-mails to 16-year-old male pages, the news doesn't get much worse.

All of this is tied up with the elections of course. The NIE document leak was undoubtedly meant to embarrass the president. The problem is that it did, as it revealed the rift between the intelligence community and the White House's view of the world. The Woodward book was clearly intended to be published more than a month before the elections, and it was expected to have embarrassing revelations in it. The problem is that not a whole lot of people quoted in the book are denying that they said or did what was described. When former White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card is quoted as trying to get U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld out of office and the assertion is made that first lady Laura Bush tried as well, and denials are not flying, you know two things: Woodward intended to embarrass Bush just before the election, and he succeeded. For all we know, the leak about Foley asking about a 16-year-old's boxer shorts may have been timed as well. The problem is that the allegations were true, and Foley admitted what he did and resigned.

These problems might be politically timed, but none of them appears to be based on a lie. The fact is that this confluence of events has created the perception that the Bush White House is disintegrating. Bush long ago lost control of leakers in the intelligence community; he has now started to lose control over former longtime staffers who, having resigned, have turned on him via the Woodward book. Bush appears to be locked into a small circle of advisers (particularly Vice President Dick Cheney and Rumsfeld) and locked into his Iraq strategy, and he generally appears to have suspended decision-making in favor of continuing with decisions already made.

Now, this may not be a fair perception. We are not in the White House and do not know what is going on there. But this is now the perception, and that fact must be entered into the equation. True or not, and fair or not, the president appears to be denying what the intelligence communities are saying and what some of his closest advisers have argued, and it appears that this has been going on for a long time. With the election weeks away, and the Foley scandal adding to the administration's difficulties, there is a reasonable probability that the Republicans will get hammered in the elections, potentially losing both houses of Congress if the current trend continues.

One theory is that Bush doesn't care. He believes in the things he is doing and, whatever happens in the 2006 elections, he will continue to be president for the next two years, with the power of the presidency in his hand. That may be the case, although a hostile Congress with control over the purse strings can force policies on presidents (consider Congress suspending military aid to South Vietnam under Gerald Ford). Congress has substantial power when it chooses to exercise it.

But leaving the question of internal politics aside, the perception that Bush's administration is imploding can have a significant impact on his ability to execute his foreign policy because of how foreign nations will behave. The perception of disarray generates a perception of weakness. The perception of weakness encourages foreign states to take advantage of the situation. Bush has argued that changing his Iraq policy might send the Islamic world a signal of weakness. That might be true, but the perception that Bush is losing control of his administration or of Congress can also signal weakness. If Bush's intent is the reasonable goal of not appearing weak, he obviously must examine the current situation's effects on his ability to reach that goal.

Consider a matter not involving the Islamic world. This week, a crisis blew up in the former Soviet republic of Georgia, which is now closely aligned with the United States. Georgia arrested four Russian military officers, charging them with espionage. The Russians demanded their release and halted the withdrawal of Russian troops from Georgia -- a withdrawal Moscow had promised before the arrests gave it the opportunity to create a fundamental crisis in Russo-Georgian relations.

Normally a crisis of this magnitude involving a U.S. ally like Georgia would rise to the top of the pile of national security issues at the White House, with suitable threats made and action plans drawn up. Furthermore, the Russians would normally have been quite careful about handling such a crisis. There was little evidence of Russian caution; the Russians refrained from turning the situation into a military conflict, but they certainly turned up the heat on Georgia as the crisis evolved on its own. The Kremlin press service said Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin talked about Georgia in a telephone conversation Oct. 2, and that Putin told Bush third parties should be careful about encouraging Georgia.

The Russians frankly do not see the United States as capable of taking meaningful action at this point. That means Moscow can take risks, exert pressure and shift dynamics in ways it might have avoided a year ago out of fear of U.S. reprisals. The Russians know Bush does not have the political base at home, or even the administrative ability, to manage a crisis. Both National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice are obsessed with Iraq and the Washington firestorm. As for Rumsfeld, Woodward quoted the head of U.S. Central Command, Gen. John Abizaid, as saying Rumsfeld lacks credibility. That statement has not been denied. It is bad when a four-star general says that about a secretary of defense. Since the perception of U.S. crisis management is that no one is minding the shop, the Russians tested their strength.

There is, of course, a much more serious matter: Iran. Iran cut its teeth on American domestic politics. After the Iranians seized U.S. Embassy personnel as hostages, they locked the Carter administration into an impossible position, in which its only option was a catastrophic rescue attempt. The Iranians had an enormous impact on the 1980 election, helping to defeat Carter and not releasing the hostages until Ronald Reagan was sworn in as president. They crippled a president once and might like to try it again.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was involved in the hostage-taking and got a close-up view of how to manipulate the United States. Iran already undermined Bush's plans for a stable government in Iraq when it mobilized Shiite forces against the Baghdad government over the summer. Between that and the Israeli-Hezbollah conflict, Iran saw itself in a strong position. Iran then conducted a diplomatic offensive, as a former Iranian president and the current Iranian president both traveled to the United States and tried to make the case that they are more moderate than the Bush administration painted them.

With five weeks until the U.S. congressional midterm elections, the Iranians would love to be able to claim that Bush, having rejected their overtures, was brought down -- or at least crippled -- by Iran. There are rumors swirling about pending major attacks in Iraq by pro-Iranian forces. There are always rumors swirling in Iraq about attacks, but in this particular case, logic would give them credibility. The Iranians might be calculating that if Iranian-sponsored groups could inflict massive casualties on U.S. troops, it would affect the U.S. election enough to get a Democratic Congress in place -- which could cripple Bush's ability to wage war and further weaken the United States' position in the Middle East. This, of course, would increase Iran's standing in the region.

The Iranian perception is that the United States does not have the resources to launch either an invasion or massive airstrikes against Iran. The Bush administration's credibility on weapons of mass destruction (WMD) is too low for that to be regarded as a plausible excuse, and even if strikes were launched to take out WMD, that rationale would not justify an extended, multi-month bombing campaign. Since the Iranians believe the United States lacks the will and ability to try regime change from the air, Tehran is in a position to strike without putting itself at risk.

If the Iranians were to strike hard at the United States in Iraq, and the United States did not respond effectively, then the perception in key countries like Saudi Arabia -- a religious and geopolitical rival of Iran's -- would be that aligning with the United States is a dangerous move because the U.S. ability to protect them is not there, and therefore they need to make other arrangements. Since getting the Saudis' cooperation against al Qaeda was a major achievement for the Bush administration, this would be a major reversal. But if Riyadh perceived the United States as inherently weak, Riyadh would have no choice but to recalculate and relaunch its foreign policy.

Iran and others are feeling encouraged to take risks before the upcoming U.S. election -- either because they see this as a period of maximum American weakness or because they hope to influence the election and further weaken Bush. If they succeed, many U.S. allies will, like the Saudis, have to recalculate their positions relative to the United States and move away. The willingness of people in Iraq and Afghanistan to align with the United States will decline. If the United States is seen as a loser, it will become a loser. Furthermore, the NIE and the Woodward book create the perception that Bush has become isolated in his views and unable to control his own people. He needs to reverse this perception.

It is easy to write that. It is much harder to imagine how he will accomplish it, particularly if there is a major attack in Iraq or elsewhere. Bush's solution has been to refuse to bend. That worked for a while, but that strategy is no longer credible because it is not clear that Bush still has the option of not bending. The disarray in his administration and the real possibility of losing Congress means that merely remaining resolved is not enough. Bush needs to bring perceived order to the perceived chaos in the administration. Between the bad luck of degenerate congressmen and the intentions of the Iranians, he does not have many tools at his disposal. The things he might have done a year ago, like replacing Rumsfeld, are not an option now. It would smell of panic, and he cannot afford to be seen as panicky. Perhaps Bush's only option at this point is to remain self-assured and indifferent to the storm around him.

Whatever the perception in the United States, Bush's enemies overseas are not impressed by his self-assurance, and his allies are getting very worried that, like Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, his political weakness will not allow him to control the U.S. course.

We believe that, in the end, reality governs perception. But we are not convinced that, in this case, the perception and the reality are not one and the same; and we are not convinced that, in the coming weeks, the perception is not in fact more important than the reality. And if the Republicans lose the upcoming elections, the perception that Bush lacks the plans and political power needed for decisive action will become the reality.

For Bush to be able to execute the foreign policy he wants, his party must win the midterm elections. For that to happen, Bush must get control of the political situation quickly. To do that, he must change the perception that his own administration is out of control.

Easy to write. Harder to do.
www.stratfor.com
28760  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Die Less Often: Interface of Gun, Knife and Emtpy Hand on: October 02, 2006, 05:31:47 PM
Here's a recent letter of recommendation from some training I did using the material in the "Die Less Often" DVD. In the interest of accuracy, I must note that when I train LEOs that additional material is shown which is not shared with the general public:

The Adventure continues, Crafty Dog

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

To whom it may concern:

We would like to express our sincere appreciation to Guro Marc "Crafty Dog" Denny, Head Instructor of Dog Brothers Martial Arts for allowing us an opportunity to participate in his excellent no-nonsense edged weapon defense class. The techniques and methodologies taught succeed where others fail because:

1) of the innovative "Kali Fence", which as a field interview position allows the officer both to prevent access to his sidearm, to advantageously frame the possible angles of engagement to effectively pre-empt attacks, and to initiate handcuffing procedures. 2) the material taught is responsive to the primal realities of criminal assault with edged weapon and with empty hand. 3) the material taught gives the officer the option of creating the range and angle necessary to safely access his/her sidearm or move to restrain/disarm/cuff. 4) the teaching methods impart functional results with surprising rapidity ? officers trained can walk away with something that they can use. 5) Guro Denny is very much a "hands-on" teacher, freely moving and engaging with those being trained to maximize their understanding of the techniques ? he brings passion and commitment to his work.

This course inspires the confidence needed to withstand a full-on mad-dog (no pun intended) street/prison style knife attack. When you have finished the course you will know without hesitation that these counter assault techniques work.

I have been involved with SWAT and Special Operations for more than 10 years and can honestly say that I have never written a testimonial favoring any one specific course of training until now and that is because it simply works. Marc "Crafty Dog" Denny brings the reality of edged weapon attacks to the training arena. His techniques and methodologies are applied, not theoretical. His pragmatic edged weapon defense system is distinguished by the fact that it works against all kinds of attacks to include those coming from progressive resistant fighters employing the "sewing machine" style of attack that is so commonly used by street fighters and criminals.

Be forewarned, this is definitely not a course for the timid, but when you walk away from the training arena, you will leave with the confidence and an unwavering validation that these methods will allow your people to "die less often" as the result of an edged weapon attack.

I highly recommend Guro Denny's Dog Brothers Martial Arts' course for any Special Operations team that is serious about training its people to survive an edged weapon attack. This course will save lives and that is the bottom line.

John Mansell U.S. Border Patrol
Special Response Team
Department of Homeland Security
CBP Advanced Training Center
Harpers Ferry,
West Virginia
28761  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: MoreDBMA self defense on DVD / Marc on: October 02, 2006, 05:26:14 PM
Woof Shane:

Our new "Die Less Often:  Intro to the Interface of Gun, Knife, and Empty Hand" triple disc DVD addresses many of the questions you ask.

The material for Kali Tudo clinchand KT ground is currently under vigorous research. wink

TAC,
Crafty Dog
28762  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Albuquerque stick fighting on: October 02, 2006, 05:22:03 PM
Woof All:

I will be doing a seminar in Albuquerque the last weekend of this month.  Details to be posted when I get back to the US.

CD
28763  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: FMA Footwork for Context-Based Gunfighting on: October 02, 2006, 05:19:39 PM
Woof Michael:

I am conferring with Chris Gizzi, formerly a linebacker with the Green Bay Packers (seen in our Kali Tudo DVD btw) about moving forward my concept in this area.  Looking forward to our paths crossing again, probably at WTS3 in Memphis.

Yip
CD
28764  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Help our troops/our cause: on: October 02, 2006, 05:15:17 PM
Woof All:

I have been very concerned, indeed angry, about things I have been reading recently about our government taking advantage of our troops and not fully stocking them or resting them so it seems like a good time to bring this thread back to the top.  Please take a look through it and see what you can do.

CD
28765  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: The Dog Brothers Tribe on: October 02, 2006, 05:07:49 PM
Let the howl go forth:

New members of the tribe:

Dog Vitaliano Sestito- Italy
Dog Marcus Schillinger-Germany
Dog Graeme Higgins-Scotland
Dog Oli Sch?r- Switzerland
Dog Stefan Kostanjevec- Germany
Dog Tomek Jurkiewioz- Poland

"Higher Conciousness through Harder Contact." (c)
Crafty Dog
Council of Elders
28766  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: KALI TUDO (tm) Article on: October 02, 2006, 04:54:09 PM
Woof All:

The KT DVD is principally about striking and closing with striking combinations.

In the works now is KT for clinch and KT for ground.

The Adventure continues,
CD
28767  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Condtioning for the stick on: October 02, 2006, 03:32:07 PM
Mysterious elbow pains are sometimes the result of overdosing on gripping the sticks.  The pain actually is not the elbow, but rather the origin of the underworked extensor muscles of the fingers.  The solution is to make a "crane's beak" with your five fingers, put a rubber band around them and then work spreading them for high reps and high speed.  As balance is restored between the flexors and the extensors, the pain in the elbow disappears.

This one I received from Guro Inosanto.
28768  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Condtioning for the stick on: September 30, 2006, 12:55:20 PM
Thank you.  I will check these out when I get home from Bern.

CD
28769  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Spike TV, the Dog Brothers Gathering Webisodes; National Geographic on: September 30, 2006, 12:53:50 PM
Tail wags for the kind words Jeff.  You may be interested to know that some of DBMA's Euro practitioners also are into WMA and that it looks like two of them will be doing Celtic shield and stick (in lieu of sword) at our First Annual Euro Dog Brothers Gathering tomorrow. (They also are exploring German Broadsword too).

The Adventure continues, , ,
Crafty Dog
28770  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Free Speech vs. Islamic Fascism (formerly Buy DANISH!!!) on: September 30, 2006, 12:49:13 PM
Little Green Footballs blog follows up on the initial ruckus:
=======================================

Saturday, September 30, 2006
Denmark Exports Soaring
How one of the biggest rows of modern times helped Danish exports to prosper. (Hat tip: Moonbat Media.)

While Danish milk products were dumped in the Middle East, fervent rightwing Americans started buying Bang & Olufsen stereos and Lego. In the first quarter of this year Denmark?s exports to the US soared 17%. The British writer Christopher Hitchens organised a buy-Danish campaign. Among the thousands of emails sent to Rose was one from an American soldier serving in Iraq. ?He told me he was sitting in Iraq, watching a game of football and drinking a can of Carlsberg,? Rose said.

Rose is not the only person to have prospered from the crisis. Re-elected last year, Mr Rasmussen last week became Denmark?s longest-serving Liberal prime minister. Danish troops are still in Iraq and Afghanistan. More than this, his sceptical line on immigration appears to have been vindicated as other EU countries follow suit.

This article is a good example of how twisted the discourse on this issue has become. Apparently, the Guardian?s viewpoint is that only ?fervent rightwingers? could actually support Denmark?s battle for free speech?when it would be difficult to find a more ?liberal? cause than the right to free expression.

The subheadline for the article?s another howler:

One year on, protagonists have few regrets despite deaths of more than 139 people.

As if the Danes should ?regret? violence and murder they did not perpetrate. Why do Guardian writers never seem to think the raging Muslim mobs need to regret anything?

http://littlegreenfootballs.com/weblog/?entry=22777_Denmark_Exports_Soaring&only
28771  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Invitation to dialog to Muslims on: September 28, 2006, 12:13:03 AM
In previous posts I have been taken to task for using the term "Islamofascism".  This piece addresses the issue:
-----------------------------------------------------------

Islamism and Fascism: Dare to Compare.

 



 

On Tuesday of last week, Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wisconsin) entered the fray over the Bush Administration's description of the enemy as "Islamic fascism." (Bush first used the phrase on August 7, and other top officials have followed suit.) Feingold:

I call on the President to stop using the phrase "Islamic Fascists," a label that doesn't make any sense, and certainly doesn't help our effort to fight terrorism. Fascist ideology doesn't have anything to do with the way global terrorist networks think or operate, and it doesn't have anything to do with the overwhelming majority of Muslims around the world who practice the peaceful teachings of Islam.

At the White House press briefing last Wednesday, Tony Snow came to the defense of the President, after a journalist read him a dictionary definition of fascism. "It doesn't quite seem to fit what we're talking about," said the journalist. "Well, it actually does fit," replied Snow.

I haven't used the phrase myself, and I generally prefer Islamism or jihadism, depending on the context. But I can't rise up against the use of Islamic fascism with the righteous indignation mustered by, say, Michigan professor Juan Cole, who's denounced the "lazy conflation of Muslim fundamentalist movements with fascism." My reason is that this conflation, or comparison, has had some rigorous champions within Middle Eastern studies over the years. It didn't originate in the Bush White House; it has a long pedigree including some pioneering social scientists. These scholars, who knew rather more than Senator Feingold about both Islamism and fascism, did think the comparison made sense. I'll let them explain why.

Any student of my generation first would have encountered the comparison in the work of the late Manfred Halpern, who spent nearly forty years as a politics professor at Princeton. Halpern grew up with fascism: born in Germany in 1924, he and his parents fled the Nazis in 1937 for America. He joined the war against the Nazis as a battalion scout in the 28th Infantry Division, and saw action in Battle of the Bulge and elsewhere. After Germany's surrender, he worked in U.S. Counterintelligence, tracking down former Nazis. In 1948 he joined the State Department, where he worked on the Middle East, and in 1958 he came to Princeton, where he did the same.

In 1963, Princeton published his Politics of Social Change in the Middle East and North Africa. For years, this book was the basic text in the field, and included the only academic treatment of Islamism, which no one much cared about at the time. Halpern labeled it "neo-Islamic totalitarianism," and this is how he described it:

The neo-Islamic totalitarian movements are essentially fascist movements. They concentrate on mobilizing passion and violence to enlarge the power of their charismatic leader and the solidarity of the movement. They view material progress primarily as a means for accumulating strength for political expansion, and entirely deny individual and social freedom. They champion the values and emotions of a heroic past, but repress all free critical analysis of either past roots or present problems.


Halpern continued:

Like fascism, neo-Islamic totalitarianism represents the institutionalization of struggle, tension, and violence. Unable to solve the basic public issues of modern life?intellectual and technological progress, the reconciliation of freedom and security, and peaceful relations among rival sovereignties?the movement is forced by its own logic and dynamics to pursue its vision through nihilistic terror, cunning, and passion. An efficient state administration is seen only as an additional powerful tool for controlling the community. The locus of power and the focus of devotion rest in the movement itself. Like fascist movements elsewhere, the movement is so organized as to make neo-Islamic totalitarianism the whole life of its members.


At the time, Halpern was a central figure in Middle Eastern studies, and his book?reprinted six times?appeared in every syllabus for the next fifteen years. His critical analysis of Islamism very much cut against the grain, at a time when Cold War strategists ardently wooed Islamists as allies against communism. In the 1970s, he walked away from the field, and his reputation within it slipped. But his rigorous treatment of Islamism stands up well, and his equating it with fascism was a serious proposition, made by someone who had seen fascism up close.

The comparison of Islamism with fascism also made sense to the late Maxime Rodinson, the preeminent French scholar of Islam, who pioneered the application of sociological method to the Middle East. As a French Jew born in 1915, Rodinson also learned about fascism from direct experience. He moved to Syria in 1940, but the Vichy regime deported his parents to Auschwitz, where they perished. Rodinson was a man of the left?in his early years, militantly so?but he took his thinking from no one.

In 1978, during Iran's revolution, enthusiasm for Islamism began to spread among his colleagues on the French left, who romanticized it as the vibrant, new anti-West. The French philosopher Michel Foucault become famously enamored of Ayatollah Khomeini. Rodinson decided to set things straight, in a long front-page article in Le Monde, targeted at those who "come fresh to the problem in an idealistic frame of mind." Rodinson admitted that trends in Islamic movements such as the Muslim Brotherhood were "hard to ascertain."

But the dominant trend is a certain type of archaic fascism (type de fascisme archa?que). By this I mean a wish to establish an authoritarian and totalitarian state whose political police would brutally enforce the moral and social order. It would at the same time impose conformity to religious tradition as interpreted in the most conservative light.

By "archaic," Rodinson referred to the religious component of the ideology, largely absent from European fascism.

I'm not sure whether Rodinson ever repeated this precise phrase, but putting it once on the front page of Le Monde was enough. He had accused his colleagues on the left of celebrating a form of fascism, from his perch at the pinnacle of Islamic scholarship. This especially sharp critic of Eurocentric distortions of Islam didn't shy from the comparison of Islamism with fascism, at a moment just as politically charged as the present one.

In 1984, Said Amir Arjomand, a prominent Iranian-American sociologist at SUNY-Stony Brook, picked up the comparison and ran with it. With a nod to Halpern, Arjomand pointed to "some striking sociological similarities between the contemporary Islamic movements and the European fascism and the American radical right.... It is above all the strength of the monistic impulse and the pronounced political moralism of the Islamic traditionalist and fundamentalist movements which makes them akin to fascism and the radical right alike."

In 1986, he took took the comparison even further, in an influential article for the journal World Politics entitled "Iran's Islamic Revolution in Comparative Perspective." Arjomand entertained a number of comparisons, but in the end settled on fascism as the best of them. Islamism (he called it "revolutionary traditionalism") and fascism "share a number of essential features," including "an identical transposition of the theme of exploitation" and a "distinct constitutive core."

Like fascism, the Islamic revolutionary movement has offered a new synthesis of the political creeds it has violently attacked. And, like the fascists, the Islamic militants are against democracy because they consider liberal democracy a foreign model that provides avenues for free expression of alien influences and ideas. (Also like the fascists, however, the Islamic militants would not necessarily accept the label of "antidemocratic.")

Arjomand's conclusion: "The emergence of an Islamic revolutionary ideology has been in the cards since the fascist era." (For much more of the comparison, go here. Arjomand later repeated the argument almost verbatim in his 1989 book The Turban for the Crown, Oxford.)

Latest word is that the State Department has persuaded the White House to stop talking about "Islamic fascism." That should make it easier for academics to revisit the comparison as a serious analytical proposition. It's necessary because self-styled campus progressives are repeating Foucault's mistake. It started in earnest last spring, when Noam Chomsky made a pilgrimage to the the lair of Hezbollah's maximum leader, Sayyid Hasan Nasrallah, and came out praising him for defying America. Over the summer, Hamid Dabashi, keeper of Edward Said's flame at Columbia, offered this: "Both Hamas and Hizbullah, becoming even more integral to the Palestinian and Lebanese national liberation movements, will one day succeed in helping establish a free, democratic, and cosmopolitan republic in their respective countries." Then earlier this month, celebrity philosopher and queer theorist Judith Butler told a Berkeley audience that Hamas and Hezbollah are "social movements that are part of the global left."

It's too much to expect the mandarins of Middle Eastern studies, at this advanced stage of decadence, to revisit the Islamism-fascism comparison. The Middle East Studies Association is led by Juan Cole, who thinks such a "conflation" is "lazy," but who's quite capable of offering this more energetic one: "Saudi Arabia is an extremely conservative society; going to Saudi Arabia is kind of like going to Amish country in the United States." (The State Department presently warns Americans who go to Saudi Arabia to stay only in hotels and compounds that "apply stringent security measures including, but not limited to, the presence of an armed guard force, inspection of all vehicles, and a hardened security perimeter to prevent unauthorized vehicles from approaching the facility." Like in Amish country.)

It's these conflations of Hamas with the "global left" or Wahhabis with the Amish that are truly lazy. In contrast, the Islamism-fascism comparison has ample and even distinguished academic precedents. Younger scholars and students should seize the moment to explore it further, with intellectual rigor and without fear.

Addendum: Who does meet Juan Cole's criteria for fascism?
28772  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Free Speech vs. Islamic Fascism (formerly Buy DANISH!!!) on: September 27, 2006, 07:43:20 PM
FWIW, my seat-of-the-pants impression is that the response to the Pope and now to this opera is a lot milder in some Muslim quarters see e.g. the Turkish-German leader's response in the following.  Still, plenty of stupidity to go around , , ,
=========
Opera reignites Islam row after cancelling production
By Devika Bhat and agencies
 
 
 


 
 

A leading German opera house has been condemned by senior politicians and security officials for its "crazy" decision to cancel a production featuring the severed head of Muhammad because of security concerns.

Deutsche Oper halted the production of Mozart's Idomeneo after Berlin officials warned of an "incalculable risk" because of scenes dealing with Islam.  The move has reignited the debate about free speech which was triggered in the row over published cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.

Kirsten Harms, director of the Deutsche Oper, told the Berliner Morgenpost that the Berlin state police had warned of a possible, although not certain, threat in regard to the production, which is scheduled for November.

She said that it would be in the best interests of the safety of the opera house, its employees and patrons to cancel the show, which will be replaced by The Marriage of Figaro and La Traviata.

After its premiere in 2003, the production by Hans Neuenfels drew widespread criticism over the scene in which King Idomeneo presents the severed heads not only of the Greek god of the sea, Poseidon, but also of Jesus, Buddha and Muhammad.

"We know the consequences of the conflict over the (Muhammad) caricatures," the opera house said in a statement. "We believe that needs to be taken very seriously and hope for your support."

Ms Harms defended her decision saying that Ehrhart Koerting, Berlin's top police official, had phoned her in mid-August and warned her of grave consequences if the opera house proceeded with its plan to show Idomeneo

"If I had paid no attention and something had happened, everyone would rightly say that I had ignored the warnings," she said.

Police have said their concern was prompted by an anonymous phone call in June, but they had no evidence of a specific threat. Mr Koerting issued a statement confirming the conversation, but said that the decision to cancel had been Ms Harms's alone.

The decision comes in the wake of a speech by German-born Pope Benedict XVI which infuriated Muslims by citing a 14th century Byzantine emperor as linking the spread of Islam with violence.

This year, furious protests also erupted after a Danish newspaper published 12 cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad. Those caricatures were then reprinted by dozens of newspapers and websites across Europe and elsewhere.

Islamic law is interpreted to forbid any depiction of Muhammad for fear it could lead to idolatry.

Wolfgang Schaeuble, Interior Minister and Germany's top security official, condemned the decision, which came ahead of a conference on Islam planned for Wednesday to discuss ways of improving dialogue and integration with the country's Muslim community.

"That is crazy," he told reporters in Washington, where he was holding meetings with US officials. "This is unacceptable."

Wolfgang Thierse, the Deputy Parliamentary Speaker, said that the decision to cancel highlighted a new threat to artistic expression in Germany.

"This is a very dangerous sign about fears of violence motivated by Islam in Germany," he told the Reuters news agency. "Has it come so far that we must limit artistic expression? What will be next?"

Peter Ramsauer, head of the Bavarian Christian Social Union (CSU) in parliament, said the move pointed to a "naked fear of violence" and called it an act of "pure cowardice".

Klaus Wowereit, Berlin's Mayor, said that "with all understanding for the concern about the security of spectators and performers, I consider the decision of the director to be wrong."

He said: "Our ideas about openness, tolerance and freedom must be lived out on the offensive. Voluntary self-limitation gives those who fight against our values a confirmation in advance that we will not stand behind them."

Bernd Neumann, the federal government's top cultural official, added that "problems cannot be solved by keeping silent."

"When the concern over possible protests leads to self-censorship, then the democratic culture of free speech becomes endangered," he said.

However, the leader of Germany's Islamic Council welcomed the decision, saying a depiction of Muhammad with a severed head "could certainly offend Muslims."

"Nevertheless, of course I think it is horrible that one has to be afraid," Ali Kizilkaya told Berlin's Radio Multikulti. "That is not the right way to open dialogue."

Berlin Police Chief Dieter Glietsch told Germany's rbb radio that "one can find nothing wrong if, in a climate that's already tense between Islam and the Western world, people avoid heating up the situation further through a scene that can, and perhaps even must, be taken as provocative by pious Muslims."

The leader of Germany's Turkish Community said that while he could understand how the production could be seen as offensive, he also encouraged Muslims living in the West to accept certain elements of its traditions, saying that an opera production was not equivalent to a political point of view.

"I would recommend Muslims learn to accept certain things," Kenan Kolat told the online Netzeitung newspaper. "Art must remain free."

About 3.2 million Muslims live in Germany, mainly Turks who arrived after the Second World War, many of whom contributed to the nation's postwar economic boom.

Fears of Islamic radicalisation have increased recently, aggravated by a failed bomb attack on two German trains in July. Two Lebanese students have been arrested in relation to the plot.

 
 
28773  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Invitation to dialog to Muslims on: September 27, 2006, 07:29:48 PM

September 20, 2006

 

Bring Them Freedom, Or They Destroy Us
By Bernard Lewis

The following is adapted from a lecture delivered by Bernard Lewis on July 16, 2006, on board the Crystal Serenity, during a Hillsdale College cruise in the British Isles.

By common consent among historians, the modern history of the Middle East begins in the year 1798, when the French Revolution arrived in Egypt in the form of a small expeditionary force led by a young general called Napoleon Bonaparte--who conquered and then ruled it for a while with appalling ease. General Bonaparte--he wasn't yet Emperor--proclaimed to the Egyptians that he had come to them on behalf of a French Republic built on the principles of liberty and equality. We know something about the reactions to this proclamation from the extensive literature of the Middle Eastern Arab world. The idea of equality posed no great problem. Equality is very basic in Islamic belief: All true believers are equal. Of course, that still leaves three "inferior" categories of people--slaves, unbelievers and women. But in general, the concept of equality was understood. Islam never developed anything like the caste system of India to the east or the privileged aristocracies of Christian Europe to the west. Equality was something they knew, respected, and in large measure practiced. But liberty was something else.

As used in Arabic at that time, liberty was not a political but a legal term: You were free if you were not a slave. The word liberty was not used as we use it in the Western world, as a metaphor for good government. So the idea of a republic founded on principles of freedom caused some puzzlement. Some years later an Egyptian sheikh--Sheikh Rifa'a Rafi' al-Tahtawi, who went to Paris as chaplain to the first group of Egyptian students sent to Europe--wrote a book about his adventures and explained his discovery of the meaning of freedom. He wrote that when the French talk about freedom they mean what Muslims mean when they talk about justice. By equating freedom with justice, he opened a whole new phase in the political and public discourse of the Arab world, and then, more broadly, the Islamic world.

 

Is Western-Style Freedom Transferable?

What is the possibility of freedom in the Islamic world, in the Western sense of the word? If you look at the current literature, you will find two views common in the United States and Europe. One of them holds that Islamic peoples are incapable of decent, civilized government. Whatever the West does, Muslims will be ruled by corrupt tyrants. Therefore the aim of our foreign policy should be to insure that they are our tyrants rather than someone else's--friendly rather than hostile tyrants. This point of view is very much favored in departments of state and foreign offices and is generally known, rather surprisingly, as the "pro-Arab" view. It is, of course, in no sense pro-Arab. It shows ignorance of the Arab past, contempt for the Arab present, and unconcern for the Arab future. The second common view is that Arab ways are different from our ways. They must be allowed to develop in accordance with their cultural principles, but it is possible for them--as for anyone else, anywhere in the world, with discreet help from outside and most specifically from the United States--to develop democratic institutions of a kind. This view is known as the "imperialist" view and has been vigorously denounced and condemned as such.

In thinking about these two views, it is helpful to step back and consider what Arab and Islamic society was like once and how it has been transformed in the modern age. The idea that how that society is now is how it has always been is totally false. The dictatorship of Saddam Hussein in Iraq or the Assad family in Syria or the more friendly dictatorship of Mubarak in Egypt--all of these have no roots whatsoever in the Arab or in the Islamic past. Let me quote to you from a letter written in 1786--three years before the French Revolution--by Mssr. Count de Choiseul-Gouffier, the French ambassador in Istanbul, in which he is trying to explain why he is making rather slow progress with the tasks entrusted to him by his government in dealing with the Ottoman government. "Here," he says, "things are not as in France where the king is sole master and does as he pleases." "Here," he says, "the sultan has to consult." He has to consult with the former holders of high offices, with the leaders of various groups and so on. And this is a slow process. This scenario is something radically different than the common image of Middle Eastern government today. And it is a description that ceased to be true because of a number of changes that occurred.

Modernization and Nazi and Soviet Influence

The first of these changes is what one might call modernization. This was undertaken not by imperialists, for the most part, but by Middle Eastern rulers who had become painfully aware that their societies were undeveloped compared with the advanced Western world. These rulers decided that what they had to do was to modernize or Westernize. Their intentions were good, but the consequences were often disastrous. What they did was to increase the power of the state and the ruler enormously by placing at his disposal the whole modern apparatus of control, repression and indoctrination. At the same time, which was even worse, they limited or destroyed those forces in the traditional society that had previously limited the autocracy of the ruler. In the traditional society there were established orders-the bazaar merchants, the scribes, the guilds, the country gentry, the military establishment, the religious establishment, and so on. These were powerful groups in society, whose heads were not appointed by the ruler but arose from within the groups. And no sultan, however powerful, could do much without maintaining some relationship with these different orders in society. This is not democracy as we currently use that word, but it is certainly limited, responsible government. And the system worked. Modernization ended that. A new ruling class emerged, ruling from the center and using the apparatus of the state for its purposes.

That was the first stage in the destruction of the old order. The second stage we can date with precision. In the year 1940, the government of France surrendered to the Axis and formed a collaborationist government in a place called Vichy. The French colonial empire was, for the most part, beyond the reach of the Nazis, which meant that the governors of the French colonies had a free choice: To stay with Vichy or to join Charles de Gaulle, who had set up a Free French Committee in London. The overwhelming majority chose Vichy, which meant that Syria-Lebanon--a French-mandated territory in the heart of the Arab East--was now wide open to the Nazis. The governor and his high officials in the administration in Syria-Lebanon took their orders from Vichy, which in turn took orders from Berlin. The Nazis moved in, made a tremendous propaganda effort, and were even able to move from Syria eastwards into Iraq and for a while set up a pro-Nazi, fascist regime. It was in this period that political parties were formed that were the nucleus of what later became the Baath Party. The Western Allies eventually drove the Nazis out of the Middle East and suppressed these organizations. But the war ended in 1945, and the Allies left. A few years later the Soviets moved in, established an immensely powerful presence in Egypt, Syria, Iraq and various other countries, and introduced Soviet-style political practice. The adaptation from the Nazi model to the communist model was very simple and easy, requiring only a few minor adjustments, and it proceeded pretty well. That is the origin of the Baath Party and of the kind of governments that we have been confronting in the Middle East in recent years. That, as I would again repeat and emphasize, has nothing whatever to do with the traditional Arab or Islamic past.

Wahhabism and Oil

That there has been a break with the past is a fact of which Arabs and Muslims themselves are keenly and painfully aware, and they have tried to do something about it. It is in this context that we observe a series of movements that could be described as an Islamic revival or reawakening. The first of these--founded by a theologian called Ibn Abd al-Wahhab, who lived in a remote area of Najd in desert Arabia--is known as Wahhabi. Its argument is that the root of Arab-Islamic troubles lies in following the ways of the infidel. The Islamic world, it holds, has abandoned the true faith that God gave it through His prophet and His holy book, and the remedy is a return to pure, original Islam. This pure, original Islam is, of course--as is usual in such situations--a new invention with little connection to Islam as it existed in its earlier stages.

Wahhabism was dealt with fairly easily in its early years, but it acquired a new importance in the mid-1920s when two things happened: The local tribal chiefs of the House of Saud--who had been converted since the 18th century to the Wahhabi version of Islam--conquered the holy cities of Mecca and Medina. This was of immense importance, giving them huge prestige and influence in the whole Islamic world. It also gave them control of the pilgrimage, which brings millions of Muslims from the Islamic world together to the same place at the same time every year.

The other important thing that happened--also in the mid-20s--was the discovery of oil. With that, this extremist sect found itself not only in possession of Mecca and Medina, but also of wealth beyond the dreams of avarice. As a result, what would otherwise have been a lunatic fringe in a marginal country became a major force in the world of Islam. And it has continued as a major force to the present day, operating through the Saudi government and through a whole series of non-governmental organizations. What is worse, its influence spreads far beyond the region. When Muslims living in Chicago or Los Angeles or Birmingham or Hamburg want to give their children some grounding in their faith and culture--a very natural, very normal thing--they turn to the traditional resources for such purposes: evening classes, weekend schools, holiday camps and the like. The problem is that these are now overwhelmingly funded and therefore controlled by the Wahhabis, and the version of Islam that they teach is the Wahhabi version, which has thus become a major force in Muslim immigrant communities.

Let me illustrate the significance of this with one example: Germany has constitutional separation of church and state, but in the German school system they provide time for religious instruction. The state, however, does not provide teachers or textbooks. They allow time in the school curriculum for the various churches and other religious communities--if they wish--to provide religious instruction to their children, which is entirely optional. The Muslims in Germany are mostly Turks. When they reached sufficient numbers, they applied to the German government for permission to teach Islam in German schools. The German authorities agreed, but said they--the Muslims--had to provide the teachers and the textbooks. The Turks said that they had excellent textbooks, which are used in Turkey and Turkish schools, but the German authorities said no, those are government-produced textbooks; under the principle of separation of church and state, these Muslims had to produce their own. As a result, whereas in Turkish schools in Turkey, students get a modern, moderate version of Islam, in German schools, in general, they get the full Wahhabi blast. The last time I looked, twelve Turks have been arrested as members of Al-Qaeda--all twelve of them born and educated in Germany.

The Iranian Revolution and Al-Qaeda

In addition to the rising spread of Wahhabism, I would draw your attention to the Iranian Revolution of 1979. The word "revolution" is much misused in the Middle East; it is used for virtually every change of government. But the Iranian Revolution was a real revolution, in the sense that the French and Russian revolutions were real revolutions. It was a massive change in the country, a massive shift of power--socially, economically, and ideologically. And like the French and Russian revolutions in their prime, it also had a tremendous impact in the world with which the Iranians shared a common universe of discourse--the world of Islam. I remember not long after the Iranian Revolution I was visiting Indonesia and for some mysterious reason I had been invited to lecture in religious universities. I noticed in the student dorms they had pictures of Khomeini all over the place, although Khomeini--like the Iranians in general--is a Shiite, and the Indonesians are Sunnis. Indonesians generally showed little interest in what was happening in the Middle East. But this was something important. And the Iranian Revolution has gone through various familiar phases--familiar from the French and Russian revolutions--such as the conflicts between the moderates and the extremists. I would say that the Iranian Revolution is now entering the Stalinist phase, and its impact all over the Islamic world has been enormous.

The third and most recent phase of the Islamic revival is that associated with the name Al-Qaeda--the organization headed by Osama bin Laden. Here I would remind you of the events toward the end of the 20th century: the defeat of the Russians in Afghanistan, the withdrawal of the defeated armies into Russia, the collapse and breakdown of the Soviet Union. We are accustomed to regard that as a Western, or more specifically, an American, victory in the Cold War. In the Islamic world, it was nothing of the kind. It was Muslim victory in a Jihad. And, if we are fair about it, we must admit that this interpretation of what happened does not lack plausibility. In the mountains of Afghanistan, which the Soviets had conquered and had been trying to rule, the Taliban were able to inflict one defeat after another on the Soviet forces, eventually driving the Red Army out of the country to defeat and collapse.
28774  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Condtioning for the stick on: September 27, 2006, 07:27:59 PM
Of course, after a warm up set at 25lbs, one moves on to the 45 lb plate  grin 

And yes, it has a feel to it of something very right.
28775  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Dog Brothers Gathering in Switzerland October 1, 2006 on: September 27, 2006, 10:25:45 AM
Woof All:

I leave tomorrow morning on a flight to Texas, where Top Dog and I will hook up for the flight to Switzerland together.  We are really looking forward to this!

The Adventure continues,
Crafty Dog
28776  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Free Speech vs. Islamic Fascism (formerly Buy DANISH!!!) on: September 27, 2006, 09:00:35 AM
Opera Canceled Over a Depiction of Muhammad
 Claudia Esch-Kenkel/European Pressphoto Agency, 2003
A scene added to ?Idomeneo,? shown in a 2003 rehearsal, includes Muhammad and other religious figures.
? ? ?
By JUDY DEMPSEY and MARK LANDLER
Published: September 27, 2006

BERLIN, Sept. 26 ? A leading German opera house has canceled performances of a Mozart opera because of security fears stirred by a scene that depicts the severed head of the Prophet Muhammad, prompting a storm of protest here about what many see as the surrender of artistic freedom.

In the scene that offended Muslims and led to security fears, a king places the severed heads of religious leaders on chairs.
The Deutsche Oper Berlin said Tuesday that it had pulled ?Idomeneo? from its fall schedule after the police warned of an ?incalculable risk? to the performers and the audience.

The company?s director, Kirsten Harms, said she regretted the decision but felt she had no choice. She said she was told in August that the police had received an anonymous threat, but she acted only after extensive deliberations.

Political and cultural figures throughout Germany condemned the cancellation. Some said it recalled the decision of European newspapers not to reprint satirical cartoons about Muhammad, after their publication in Denmark generated a furor among Muslims.

Wolfgang B?rnsen, a culture spokesman for Chancellor Angela Merkel?s conservative bloc in Parliament, accused the opera house of ?falling on its knees before the terrorists.?

?It is a signal to other stages in Germany, or even elsewhere in Europe, to put no works on their programs that criticize Islam,? he said.

The disputed scene is not part of Mozart?s opera, but was added by the director, Hans Neuenfels. In it, the king of Crete, Idomeneo, carries the heads of Muhammad, Jesus, Buddha and Poseidon on to the stage, placing each on a stool.

?Idomeneo,? first performed in 1781, tells a mythical story of Poseidon, or Neptune, the god of the sea, who toys with men?s lives and demands spiteful sacrifice.

The cancellation of the performances fanned a debate in Europe about whether the West is compromising values like free expression to avoid stoking anger in the Muslim world.

Already in Germany, there is growing sentiment that Pope Benedict XVI may have overdone his contrition for a recent speech in Bavaria, in which he cited a historical reference to Islam as ?evil and inhuman.? The speech set off waves of protests in Muslim countries.

The interior minister, Wolfgang Sch?uble, who has defended the pope and called for more dialogue with Muslims in Europe, said canceling the opera was unacceptable and ?crazy.?

Michael Naumann, a former German culture minister, said, ?It?s a slap in the face of artistic freedom, by the artists themselves.? Mr. Naumann, now the publisher of the weekly newspaper Die Zeit, added, ?The pope showed the way by being so extraordinarily apologetic.?

The sulfurous public reaction prompted some people to speculate that the decision might eventually be reversed.

Ms. Harms said the ?Idomeneo? production, which was first staged by the Deutsche Oper in 2003, would remain on the opera?s program. It could be performed later, she said, though she would have to consider the political and diplomatic aspects of ?this complex issue.?

The scene with the severed heads aroused controversy among Muslims and Christians when the Deutsche Oper first staged it. But the company was not the target of any organized protests, and the Deutsche Oper put four performances on its calendar for this November.

Then, in August, came the anonymous threat.

?All this came in light of the cartoon controversy,? said a police spokesman, Uwe Kozelnik. ?We started to investigate and finally concluded that disturbances could not be ruled out.?

While the police said they did not pressure the Deutsche Oper to cancel the opera, they supported the decision.

Berlin?s chief security official, Ehrhart K?rting, drew a parallel between the decision and that of German newspapers earlier this year to resist reprinting the cartoons depicting Muhammad.

?Even the German journalists? association criticized the reprinting of the cartoons because their publication could hurt the religious feelings of one group of people,? Mr. K?rting said in a statement.

Muslim leaders in Germany reacted cautiously. Several planned to participate in a conference on Wednesday organized by the government to foster a better dialogue with Germany?s 3.2 million Muslims.

The leader of the Islamic Council, Ali Kizilkaya, told a radio station in Berlin that he welcomed the cancellation, saying a depiction of decapitated Muhammad ?could certainly offend Muslims.?

?Nevertheless, of course, I think it is horrible that one has to be afraid,? Mr. Kizilkaya said, according to The Associated Press. ?That is not the right way to open dialogue.?

The head of the Central Council of Muslims in Germany, Ayyub Axel K?hler, declined to comment on the decision, saying he wanted to learn more about the circumstances.

Those circumstances appear to be in some dispute.

At a news conference on Tuesday, Ms. Harms said she broached the possibility of removing the offending scene with Mr. Neuenfels. When he resisted, she let the matter drop.


However, a lawyer for Mr. Neuenfels, Peter Raue, said Ms. Harms telephoned the director on Sept. 9 to tell him she planned to cancel the performances. The issue of tinkering with the ending never came up, Mr. Raue said, and in any event, ?you couldn?t change it; it is part of the story.?

The scene devised by Mr. Neuenfels puts a sanguinary ending on an opera that, in the way Mozart wrote it, ends with King Idomeneo giving up his throne to appease the god of the sea, and blessing the romantic union of his son Idamante with the Greek princess Ilia.

The severed heads of the religious figures, Mr. Raue said, was meant by Mr. Neuenfels to make a point that ?all the founders of religions were figures that didn?t bring peace to the world.?

Andr? Kraft, spokesman for Komische Oper, a more adventurous opera house where Mr. Neuenfels is engaged in another Mozart production, described the 65-year-old director as ?a secularist who does not believe religion solves the problems of the world.?

For the Deutsche Oper, the cancellation is a major crisis for a prestigious opera company that has been in transition. Founded in 1912 as the Deutsches Opernhaus, the company moved to its present building in western Berlin in 1961, opening with a production of Mozart?s ?Don Giovanni.?

Ms. Harms was appointed director in 2004, coming from a less prominent opera house in the northern German city of Kiel. While there, she said, she faced a bomb threat to the opera house. Ms. Harms plans to present her first production, a little-known work by Alberto Franchetti called ?Germania,? on Oct. 15.

Some critics of the decision to cancel said it revealed the weaknesses of Berlin?s generously supported cultural institutions.

?Because they are subsidized by the German state, there is a great deal of artistic independence, but also a lack of accountability and intellectual rigor,? said Gary Smith, the director of the American Academy in Berlin.

The practice of updating classical operas ? often with current political or social themes ? is common in Germany. But the cancellation of ?Idomeneo? could make this production a landmark of another kind.

?I?ve never heard of something like this, or even similar to it,? said Nikolaus Lehnhoff, a prominent German opera director. ?I have seen many politically incorrect performances in Berlin. I think the reaction to the pope?s speech has sensitized the cultural scene.?
28777  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Our Environment on: September 27, 2006, 08:54:24 AM
Question:  Does DDT runoff into water cause birth defects and other serious problems in many animals e.g. birds' eggs spontaneously collapsing because they are too weak?
28778  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: db in australia ? on: September 27, 2006, 08:49:00 AM
Good to hear from you gentlemen.  I leave for Switzerland tomorrow and return on Tuesday evening.  After that will look at this more closely.
28779  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Condtioning for the stick on: September 26, 2006, 08:28:54 PM
Tom:

If you have someone you recommend for getting me going in a KB routine, please email me at Craftydog@dogbrothers.com.  I've really liked what I have tasted so far.

Tony:

Any chance you could save me the legwork and guess work and provide some URLs of shoulder conditioning and rehab for baseball pitchers?

TIA,
CD
28780  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Tito Ortiz uses FMA on: September 26, 2006, 08:25:50 PM
The clip does mention elbow destructions, which is definitely a FMA concept and term , , ,
28781  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Guro Crafty en el DF, Mexico on: September 26, 2006, 06:33:03 AM
Ya los envio a Cindy.
28782  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Guro Crafty en el DF, Mexico on: September 25, 2006, 08:33:06 PM
Pues, se han llegado los certificados, pero Cindy se ha perdido los nombres y las fechas.  embarassed ?Los tienes a mano?
28783  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Venezuela Pol?tica on: September 25, 2006, 08:29:09 PM
Ch?vez's Inferno

By ALVARO VARGAS LLOSA
September 25, 2006; Page A14

It would have been more appropriate for Hugo Ch?vez to brandish Dante's "Divine Comedy" than Chomsky's "Hegemony or Survival" during his sulfuric broadside at the U.N. last week. In the first part of the Italian masterpiece, the author undertakes a journey through the nine concentric circles of the Inferno, each representing a type of evil. Dante's description reads like a script of present-day Venezuela.

Dante's first circle is for those who lack faith. In Ch?vez's Inferno, the first circle is made up of those who lack food. Cendas, a research center, maintains that 80% of Venezuelans cannot meet the cost of a basic daily diet. According to an official statistic the government inadvertently made public on the Web site of the Instituto Nacional de Estad?stica, between 1999, the year in which Ch?vez took office, and 2004, poverty rose to 53% from 43% of the population. The authorities attributed the figures to an outdated methodology and now claim the rate of poverty is 42%. If it were true, that would be embarrassing enough, because it would mean that poverty has remained at nearly the same level for eight years.

Dante's second circle is for those unable to control lust. Ch?vez's second circle is for those unable to control homicidal instincts. His government has degraded social coexistence so much that there have been more homicides in Venezuela during his seven-and-a-half years in office than there have been deaths in any single armed conflict around the world in recent years. Between 2001 and 2006, the number of homicides in Venezuela has been three times the number of victims in Afghanistan.

Dante's third circle is for gluttons who leave us with no food. Ch?vez's third is reserved for corrupt authorities who leave Venezuelans with no wealth. The major sources of corruption have been Plan Bol?var 2000, the state-owned oil company, and social programs known as "missions." Under Plan Bol?var 2000, the army took over development programs from the local governments. In the case of PDVSA, the energy giant, no one but Ch?vez and his cronies have access to detailed financial records. The budget for social programs, personally controlled by Ch?vez, is not included in any government ministry.

Dante's fourth circle is for misers. In Ch?vez's Inferno, the fourth circle is made up of bureaucrats who claim to provide social services but use funds to pay people to attend rallies or bust up opposition gatherings. Marino Gonz?lez, from Universidad Sim?n Bol?var, says that the "Barrio Adentro" program that purports to tend to all the pregnant women in the country only serves 2,000 expectant mothers out of a total of half a million each year. No country ever became prosperous through socialism, but for a government that claims to be able to tend to the needy, not being able to meet even 1% of the commitment is a particularly hellish sin.

Dante's fifth circle is for those who succumb to wrath. Ch?vez's fifth is for political persecution. Venezuela's human rights record is atrocious. Two violent incidents involving Chavista henchmen with many fatalities have gone unpunished, including the killing in April 2002 of 12 people who were protesting near the government palace. There are political prisoners such as Francisco Us?n, former minister of finance in Ch?vez's government, who received a six-year sentence for saying he thought an incident in which a few soldiers died at Fort Mara in 2004 was no accident. Henrique Capriles, the mayor of Baruta, was jailed in 2004, accused of organizing a violent protest against the Cuban embassy which he had actually helped diffuse.

Dante's sixth circle is for heretics. Ch?vez's sixth circle is for heretic journalists who try to tell the truth. In December 2004, a "gag law" was imposed making it easy to prosecute journalists. The president continually threatens to withdraw TV and radio licenses -- the reason why there are no opinion programs on network TV. Government-controlled mobs called Bolivarian Circles, formed with the help of the Cuban intelligence apparatus, harass journalists.

Dante's seventh circle is for the violent. Ch?vez's seventh circle is another name for imperialism. His government has bought (or is buying) 100,000 AK-47s, 53 Mi-35 assault helicopters, fighter jets, transport planes, patrol boats, speedboats and Tucano jets from Russia, Spain and Brazil. Ch?vez is a long-time supporter of FARC, Colombia's terrorist group. He granted Venezuelan citizenship and protection to Rodrigo Granda, its "foreign minister," until Alvaro Uribe's government hired bounty hunters to bring him back to Colombia in 2005. The Venezuelan leader has given financial and political support to movements from Mexico to Bolivia. (His support for Ollanta Humala in Peru and Andr?s Manuel L?pez Obrador in Mexico was a major factor in both men's recent defeats.)

Ch?vez buys influence through oil. It is a form of blackmail: At OPEC, Ch?vez fights for increasing prices, making life hard for poor countries that import oil, and then offers those very nations oil subsidies they have no choice but to accept. That is what happened with the 14 Caribbean countries that make up the Caricom group. He also sends 100,000 barrels of oil to Cuba daily; and 200,000 barrels to Bolivia every month in exchange for soy, poultry and political subservience. And he has bought $3 billion worth of Argentine bonds to entice President Kirchner's loyalty. Ch?vez is denying his nation its wealth from oil, somewhere between $40 billion and $50 billion a year. His annual "aid" budget totals more than $2 billion. He sponsors 30 countries, including some in Africa, in order to buy their vote for a seat at the U.N. Security Council.

Dante's eighth circle is for those who commit fraud. Ch?vez's eighth is fraudulent anti-Americanism. Ch?vez exports 1.5 million barrels of oil a day to the U.S. Since oil makes up half the government's revenue and the U.S. is the principal destination of Venezuelan oil, he pays daily homage to U.S. capitalism. Moreover, Venezuela imported $18 billion worth of goods and services from the U.S. in 2005. He may have signed 20 trade deals with Iran's Ahmadinejad, but what he really lusts for is U.S. capitalism. (Another type of fraud involves the electoral system. Ch?vez has manipulated the voter registration rolls, adding two million phantom voters, including 30,000 who are 100 years old and citizens named "Superman." Four out of five members in the Electoral Council are Ch?vez lackeys.)

Dante's final circle is for traitors. Ch?vez's ninth is for traitors, too -- and the place is getting crowded. Army officers betray Ch?vez every day. Labor leader Carlos Ortega recently fled with three officers from a high-security prison controlled by the army. They evaded security controls thanks to help from army personnel.

At the end of Dante's Inferno is the center of the earth, where Satan is held captive in the frozen lake of Cocytus. In Venezuela's Inferno, Satan is frozen in oil-rich Lake Maracaibo, a metaphor for astronomical wealth squandered by tyrannical populism. The journey through hell is now complete.

Mr. Vargas Llosa, author of "Liberty for Latin America" (Farrar Straus Giroux, 2005), is director of the Center on Global Prosperity at the Independent Institute.
28784  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Peru on: September 25, 2006, 10:59:36 AM
Mummified dogs uncovered in Peru 
By Dan Collyns
BBC News, Lima 


 
The animals are in a remarkable state of preservation


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Archaeologists in Peru have uncovered the mummified remains of more than 40 dogs buried with blankets and food alongside their human masters.

The discovery was made during the excavation of two of the ancient Chiribaya people who lived in southern Peru between AD 900 and AD 1350.

Experts say the dogs' treatment in death indicated the belief that the animals had an afterlife.

Such a status for pets has only previously been seen in ancient Egypt.

Hundreds of years before the European conquest of South America, the Chiribaya civilisation valued its dogs so highly that when one died, it was buried alongside family members.

'Distinct breed'

The dogs, which have been called Chiribaya shepherds for their llama-herding abilities, were not sacrificed as in other ancient cultures, but buried with blankets and food in human cemeteries.

Biological archaeologists have unearthed the remains of more than 40 dogs which were naturally mummified in the desert sand of Peru's southern Ilo Valley. Now they have teamed up with Peru's Kennel Club to try to establish if the dogs represent a new distinct breed indigenous to South America.

The country is full of breeds which arrived in the last few centuries, but they believe some dogs living today in southern Peru share the characteristics of their ancestors.

The Chiribaya dog looked rather like a small golden retriever with a medium-sized snout, beige colouring, and long hair.

The only other indigenous Peruvian canine is the hairless dog, which evolved over more than 2,000 years ago from Asian ancestors brought across the Bering Straits.

It was recognised as a distinct breed just 20 years ago.
 
28785  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Grandfathers Speak Vol. 2: Sonny Umpad on: September 25, 2006, 06:40:23 AM
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28786  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Lebanon on: September 25, 2006, 06:17:53 AM
From today's NY Times:

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

U.N. Force Is Treading Lightly on Lebanese Soil
 Lynsey Addario for The New York Times
Italian soldiers in Lebanon say that for now, they cannot even set up a checkpoint. Instead, they alert the Lebanese Army of any suspicious cars.

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By MICHAEL SLACKMAN
Published: September 25, 2006
TIBNIN, Lebanon, Sept. 24 ? One month after a United Nations Security Council resolution ended a 34-day war between Israel and Lebanon?s Hezbollah militia, members of the international force sent to help keep the peace say their mission is defined more by what they cannot do than by what they can.

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The New York Times
United Nations officials in Tibnin say part of their job is to stay neutral.
They say they cannot set up checkpoints, search cars, homes or businesses or detain suspects. If they see a truck transporting missiles, for example, they say they can not stop it. They cannot do any of this, they say, because under their interpretation of the Security Council resolution that deployed them, they must first be authorized to take such action by the Lebanese Army.

The job of the United Nations force, and commanders in the field repeat this like a mantra, is to respect Lebanese sovereignty by supporting the Lebanese Army. They will only do what the Lebanese authorities ask.

The Security Council resolution, known as 1701, was seen at the time as the best way to halt the war, partly by giving Israel assurances that Lebanon?s southern border would be policed by a robust international force to prevent Hezbollah militants from attacking. When the resolution was approved, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, one of its principal architects, said the force?s deployment would help ?protect the Lebanese people and prevent armed groups such as Hezbollah from destabilizing the area.?

But the resolution?s diplomatic language skirted a fundamental question: what kind of policing power would be given to the international force? The resolution leaves open the possibility that the Lebanese Army would grant such policing power, but the force?s commanders say that so far, at least, that has not happened.

?There?s a lot of misunderstanding what we are doing here,? said Lt. Col. Stefano Cappellaro, an Italian commander with the San Marco Regiment.

The force, known as the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, or Unifil, now has 5,000 troops on the ground, including 1,000 from Italy, and is stepping gently as it tries to carve out a role in a country that is feeling its way through the postwar period. It is early in the United Nations mission, but officials say that their most difficult task, and one they are adamant about achieving, is not being drawn into any power struggles between the religious and political factions in Lebanon. ?We will not get involved in any domestic or regional politics,?? said Milos Strugar, senior adviser to the force.

The force is larger and better equipped than an earlier Unifil contingent, which has been on the border with Israel for years. But at the moment, the Lebanese government and the United Nations have a similar agenda in trying to win the trust of the Lebanese people and not have the force become a tool of political factions looking to incite domestic conflict. The goal is to be viewed as a peacekeeping force, not an occupier.

So while there may have been some expectation that the international force would disarm or restrain Hezbollah, or search for hidden weapons caches, the commanders on the ground say very clearly that those tasks are not their job for now. ?We will advise, help and assist the Lebanese forces,? said Col. Rosario Walter Guerrisi, commander of the San Marco Regiment, referring to the Lebanese Army.

But the challenges facing their determined neutrality are significant and often beyond their control. In Syria, for example, President Bashar al-Assad was reported in the Lebanese news media to have told a visiting Lebanese delegation that the strengthened United Nations force, with its heavy European contingent, resembled a force from NATO. In Lebanon, the United Nations force found its credibility questioned when German officials said that their country would contribute to the naval patrols off the coast of Lebanon as a means to protect Israel.

Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah, has also questioned the purpose of the expanded force.

?Thus far, I have not heard any country participating in the Unifil say that it sent its sons and soldiers to defend Lebanon and the Lebanese,? he said in a speech Friday before hundreds of thousands of his supporters. ?They are ashamed of us, brothers and sisters. They are ashamed of saying they came to defend us, but they talk about defending Israel.?

Hezbollah has so far acted in accordance with the cease-fire terms of 1701, which prohibits the deployment of weapons south of the Litani River, close to the Israeli border.

When the United Nations Security Council passed 1701, which set up the cease-fire, it outlined basic principles with few specifics. One of those principles was that militias were to be disarmed in compliance with earlier agreements and resolutions. It did not say, though, that the United Nations force would carry that out.

Hezbollah, the only militia that did not lay down its weapons after the Lebanese civil war ended, has made it clear that it is not going to surrender those weapons now. And Sheik Nasrallah made it clear that the international forces had better not even think about trying.

(Page 2 of 2)



In Israel, skepticism about the effectiveness of the enlarged United Nations force has always been high, particularly about disarming Hezbollah or enforcing the arms embargo on it. Israeli military officials have said that if they find evidence that trucks from Syria are resupplying rockets and launchers to Hezbollah, Israel will be justified in bombing those trucks. Israel also notes that Unifil is barely 5,000 troops now, just 3,000 more than the old Unifil, still a long way from the 15,000 foreseen in the U.N. resolution.

The United Nations officials here say their primary duty, and the one that carries the most long-term benefits for both sides, is to help strengthen the Lebanese Army. At the moment, officials say the first priority is to make sure that all of the Israeli Defense Forces withdraw from land occupied during the war. United Nations officials said the process should be completed by the end of the month. The process involves weekly meetings along the border to set up a schedule that allows Israel to withdraw and the United Nations forces to move in, followed by the Lebanese forces. So far 85 percent of Israel?s forces have withdrawn, the United Nations said.

The formula for ending the war was also contingent on the state?s asserting its authority in the south, primarily by dispatching 15,000 Lebanese troops to the area. The resolution called for the Lebanese Army to be supplemented by up to 15,000 foreign troops. Officials say that the ultimate size of the foreign force will be determined based on need ? and one United Nations adviser said that meant it was unlikely the number of troops would ever exceed 10,000.

But however large the force, its officers said it would never be large enough if the population began to view it as an occupying force. The United Nations first set up an international force here in 1976, and so the people of the region are accustomed to seeing foreign troops in the blue berets of the United Nations.

But the new troops have stepped into Lebanon at a particularly tense time, as Hezbollah and the American-supported government are jockeying for position and power. If the Lebanese government did decide to expand the responsibilities of the troops now, they would risk turning them into targets of attack. These forces are much better equipped than past forces, and that has people a bit nervous about their mission.

?If these troops are going to clash with the resistance, they are going to clash with the people,? said Abu Rowda Noureddin, 64, as he collected free blankets and food supplies from the Red Crescent Society. He lives in the village of Burj Qalawiyah, a community of just 1,000 year-round residents in southern Lebanon that took heavy fire from Israeli jets.

The village is about 70 miles from Beirut and a short drive from a base staffed by Italian forces. Like most residents of neighboring villages, the people were essentially ignored by their government for many years. There is one school, no high school and few jobs. Villagers said that five times since 1972 the Israeli military had invaded their village, and so even those who said they did not count themselves as Hezbollah members said they counted themselves as Hezbollah supporters.

?The people here will fight against anybody who tries with force to take Hezbollah?s weapons away,?? said Ibrahim Noureddin, another villager.

Up the hill, past houses pocked by shrapnel, the mukhtar, a kind of village administrator, was busy taking an inventory of the damage to crops and olive and fruit trees. He said that the Italian forces recently gave his community $3,000 to buy aluminum and glass to repair the school, which was damaged in an Israeli raid. ?It was a very nice gesture on the part of the Italians,? he said.

But like everyone else, he said that for the forces to remain welcome they must demonstrate they are there to protect the Lebanese from Israel ? not to police the Lebanese on behalf of Israel.

Not far away, on a busy road heading toward Beirut, Colonel Cappellaro stood beside two armored personnel carriers and 11 of his soldiers as cars sped by. He said that they were conducting a ?static point,? as opposed to a checkpoint. If they saw anything suspicious they would notify the Lebanese Army. But the Lebanese Army was a good way up the road. At this point, he said, it would be impossible for the two forces to actually staff a check point together.

?When you don?t know each other?s procedures, you can not overlap,? he said before climbing into his jeep and driving off.
28787  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security on: September 24, 2006, 06:50:40 PM
http://www.danielpipes.org/blog/348
28788  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: WW3 on: September 23, 2006, 09:37:58 AM
Sep 2, 2006


  The knife at Pakistan's throat
                  By Syed Saleem Shahzad

                  MIRANSHAH, North Waziristan - "I can see slit throats
beneath these turbans and beards" were the words of Hajaj bin Yusuf, an
8th-century tyrant in what is now Iraq, as he witnessed a gathering of
leading religious and political figures.

                  A similar thought occurred to this writer as he attended
the largest ever gathering of Pakistani Taliban, tribal elders and
politicians in Miranshah, the tribal capital of North Waziristan, on
Wednesday. Fire and blood were in the air as momentous events



                  loomed over the Pakistani tribal areas of North and South
Waziristan, where the Taliban are in complete control.

                  The tribal areas bordering Afghanistan's volatile southern
and southwestern provinces are once again a focus of the "war on  terror"
and are likely to soon become as significant to the United States as
Afghanistan itself.

                  The Americans are pointing directly at the two Waziristans
as the primary conduit for the suicide bombers who are currently playing
havoc with the US-NATO-led war machine in Afghanistan, and a safe haven for
enemy combatants. The US now has come up with a plan to confront the
strategic arm of the Taliban based on the Pakistani side of the border.

                  The anti-US forces, meanwhile, are taking countermeasures,
and the Pakistani government is trying to find a safe position for itself
between the antagonists.

                  Negotiations have begun to finalize new rules for dealing
with the tribal region. Last month Pakistani Vice Chief of Army Staff
General Ehsan Saleem Hayat attended the conference of the Tripartite
Commission (representing Afghanistan, Pakistan and the forces of the US and
the North Atlantic Treaty Organization) in Kabul, and General John Abizaid
of US Centcom (Central Command) has traveled to Pakistan to finalize a
blueprint.

                  Sources say the Americans are set on a plan of hot pursuit
of enemy combatants across the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, and they want a
clear demarcation of the Pakistani tribal areas that have long been volatile
and which they say should be part of the Afghanistan front in the "war on
terror".

                  Last month, Pakistan considered the issue and offered in
response a geographical demarcation of the border and a fence along it. In
fact the border in this region is the imaginary Durand Line, which passes
through mountains and populated areas, and is impossible to seal. The only
practical solution, as far as Washington is concerned, is hot pursuit of
enemy combatants into their refuges in Pakistan.

                  On Wednesday in Miranshah, hundreds of people attended a
ceremony for new madrassa graduates in what was considered the largest ever
gathering of people from the two Waziristans. The gathering was also a
manifestation of the broader current now  flowing through the tribal areas -
the imminent arrival of the US military.

                  The ceremony was scheduled soon after negotiations started
in the two Waziristans between Pakistani authorities on one side and the
Pakistani Taliban and Jamiat-i-Ulema-i-Islam (Fazlur Rehman) on the other.
Jamiat-i-Ulama-i-Islam (JUI-F) is the political party of Pakistani
opposition leader Maulana Fazlur Rehman, and is the only party still working
in the two Waziristans. JUI-F keeps in close contact with the mujahideen who
call themselves the Pakistani Taliban.

                  At this meeting, the authorities, still smarting from the
rout of Islamabad's forces by the tribals in both Waziristans when the
government tried to impose its will in the region, declared that under the
status quo the government could neither withdraw its military nor prevent
US-led forces from entering the tribal areas.

                  The JUI-F itself is desperately looking for ways to
restrict the Pakistani Taliban's ambitions. The latter movement is clearly
intent on moving into the cities, especially those politically influenced by
the JUI-F, and becoming a major power player in the country as a whole.

                  The JUI-F, therefore, is forging a strategy with the
Pakistani Taliban under which the Taliban will retain de facto control of
the Waziristans while the political-cum-religious leadership, including the
JUI-F, will appear to be running the show - and, at the same time, be
shielding the Taliban from US-led forces. The Miranshah gathering was a
manifestation of this new strategy.

                  At the gathering, mujahideen leader Maulana Sadiq Noor and
a representative of Gul Badar (chief of the Pakistani Taliban in North
Waziristan), as well as other members of the mujahideen shura (council),
were seated on a stage while the leaders of the JUI-F delivered the
speeches. Said an organizer belonging to the student wing of the JUI-F,
"Mujahideen will not be allowed to speak; rather they will only sit on the
back benches on the stage."

                  The gathering presaged the future setup in the
Waziristans. The mujahideen will remain in the background and the
non-militant face of leadership, in the form of local tribal elders, the
JUI-F and religious leaders, will be visible. This will enable the Pakistani
authorities to justify their proposal to fence the Durand Line rather than
allow US-led forces a free hand in the tribal areas.

                  Meanwhile the "guests" - foreign anti-US fighters
including Uzbeks, Arabs and Chechens - who are living in North Waziristan
have had their own command structures dismantled and been asked to join the
central mujahideen force of commander Gul Badar, or simply to scatter into
ordinary tribal society.

                  Certainly, there is no overt connection between the
Lebanese Hezbollah and the Pakistani Taliban, yet the new setup in the
Waziristans clearly echoes that in Lebanon, where Hezbollah hides itself
behind many thick curtains while remaining in a position of power. It was
precisely this setup that enabled Lebanon to defend its territorial
integrity and political interests during the recent Israeli invasion.

                  Neither the US nor Islamabad knows the strength of the
Pakistani Taliban in the mountain fastnesses of the two Waziristans.
Pakistan has offered a general amnesty for all previously wanted people, and
military checkpoints are manned only at three or four points on the borders
of the region. The Taliban, meanwhile, call the shots everywhere.

                  Such was the situation until Wednesday, when the two
Waziristans embarked on a new phase in which US military campaigns seem
unavoidable. Cognizant of developments and intent on saving turbans, beards
and throats, thick curtains have been drawn.

                  Syed Saleem Shahzad is Asia Times Online's Pakistan bureau
chief.

                  (Copyright 2006 Asia Times Online Ltd. All rights
reserved. Please contact us about sales, syndication and republishing .)

Why it's not working in Afghanistan (Aug 30, '06)

The Taliban's bloody foothold in Pakistan (Feb 8, '06)

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

A friend comments:


I can comment on "At the same time, what if it is understood that the US can send into Pakistan tribal areas, Spec Ops soldiers and support to root out the problems? Too wild an idea?  It is "rumored" among some sources in a position to know that this is exactly what has occurred." (As a sidebar: Mush thinks the US is not winning in Afghanistan, and he has chose to side with the Taliban to try and maintain his dictatorship)."

I believe this "rumor" is true. The US has wanted to do this for a long time, but Mush has opposed it for political reasons. I believe the agreement states that the Taliban have immunity only so long as they live peacefully, but no immunity against US retaliation in the instance of a quick cross border raid to Afghanistan. This is confirmed by Bush's recent comment that we will bomb Pak if OBL is there.

As to my second point, Mush does not think Bush is winning in Afghanistan. For Bush to win, the Taliban/AQ in Afghanistan have to be rendered impotent. This has clearly not happened, infact there is a resurgence of the Taliban in Afghanistan, and their sanctuary is based in Waziristan. Mush has tried very hard to control the NWFP/Balochistan/Waziristan taliban/AQ  areas without any success. Apparently 80,000 Pak troops are present in that region and still could not do it. As you know some of this is disputed territory with Afghanistan and Mush would love to have full control over it (annex it). Mush sees the ground realities and knows that if he continues on the present course, he will be fighting the Taliban as well as opposition parties demanding that he relinquish his uniform. On the other hand, making peace with the Taliban is a win-win for all. Mush can concentrate on the opposition parties and let Bush do the dirty work of cleaning out the Taliban, the Taliban can choose to live freely or at war with the Americans, Bush is happy because US soldiers will now be able to enter Waziristan with impunity ("hot pursuit")..atleast this is what I am understanding of the situation...Yash
28789  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / More on Pakistan on: September 23, 2006, 09:36:47 AM
And one more article which suggests that the US is going into Waziristan. Note also the similarities with the Hizb strategy in Lebanon...

Sep 2, 2006 ?
 ?
 
 ?The knife at Pakistan's throat
By Syed Saleem Shahzad

MIRANSHAH, North Waziristan - "I can see slit throats beneath these turbans and beards" were the words of Hajaj bin Yusuf, an 8th-century tyrant in what is now Iraq, as he witnessed a gathering of leading religious and political figures.

A similar thought occurred to this writer as he attended the largest ever gathering of Pakistani Taliban, tribal elders and politicians in Miranshah, the tribal capital of North Waziristan, on Wednesday. Fire and blood were in the air as momentous events

 ?

loomed over the Pakistani tribal areas of North and South Waziristan, where the Taliban are in complete control.

The tribal areas bordering Afghanistan's volatile southern and southwestern provinces are once again a focus of the "war on ?terror" and are likely to soon become as significant to the United States as Afghanistan itself.

The Americans are pointing directly at the two Waziristans as the primary conduit for the suicide bombers who are currently playing havoc with the US-NATO-led war machine in Afghanistan, and a safe haven for enemy combatants. The US now has come up with a plan to confront the strategic arm of the Taliban based on the Pakistani side of the border.

The anti-US forces, meanwhile, are taking countermeasures, and the Pakistani government is trying to find a safe position for itself between the antagonists.

Negotiations have begun to finalize new rules for dealing with the tribal region. Last month Pakistani Vice Chief of Army Staff General Ehsan Saleem Hayat attended the conference of the Tripartite Commission (representing Afghanistan, Pakistan and the forces of the US and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization) in Kabul, and General John Abizaid of US Centcom (Central Command) has traveled to Pakistan to finalize a blueprint.

Sources say the Americans are set on a plan of hot pursuit of enemy combatants across the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, and they want a clear demarcation of the Pakistani tribal areas that have long been volatile and which they say should be part of the Afghanistan front in the "war on terror".

Last month, Pakistan considered the issue and offered in response a geographical demarcation of the border and a fence along it. In fact the border in this region is the imaginary Durand Line, which passes through mountains and populated areas, and is impossible to seal. The only practical solution, as far as Washington is concerned, is hot pursuit of enemy combatants into their refuges in Pakistan.

On Wednesday in Miranshah, hundreds of people attended a ceremony for new madrassa graduates in what was considered the largest ever gathering of people from the two Waziristans. The gathering was also a manifestation of the broader current now ?flowing through the tribal areas - the imminent arrival of the US military.

The ceremony was scheduled soon after negotiations started in the two Waziristans between Pakistani authorities on one side and the Pakistani Taliban and Jamiat-i-Ulema-i-Islam (Fazlur Rehman) on the other. Jamiat-i-Ulama-i-Islam (JUI-F) is the political party of Pakistani opposition leader Maulana Fazlur Rehman, and is the only party still working in the two Waziristans. JUI-F keeps in close contact with the mujahideen who call themselves the Pakistani Taliban.

At this meeting, the authorities, still smarting from the rout of Islamabad's forces by the tribals in both Waziristans when the government tried to impose its will in the region, declared that under the status quo the government could neither withdraw its military nor prevent US-led forces from entering the tribal areas.

The JUI-F itself is desperately looking for ways to restrict the Pakistani Taliban's ambitions. The latter movement is clearly intent on moving into the cities, especially those politically influenced by the JUI-F, and becoming a major power player in the country as a whole.

The JUI-F, therefore, is forging a strategy with the Pakistani Taliban under which the Taliban will retain de facto control of the Waziristans while the political-cum-religious leadership, including the JUI-F, will appear to be running the show - and, at the same time, be shielding the Taliban from US-led forces. The Miranshah gathering was a manifestation of this new strategy.

At the gathering, mujahideen leader Maulana Sadiq Noor and a representative of Gul Badar (chief of the Pakistani Taliban in North Waziristan), as well as other members of the mujahideen shura (council), were seated on a stage while the leaders of the JUI-F delivered the speeches. Said an organizer belonging to the student wing of the JUI-F, "Mujahideen will not be allowed to speak; rather they will only sit on the back benches on the stage."

The gathering presaged the future setup in the Waziristans. The mujahideen will remain in the background and the non-militant face of leadership, in the form of local tribal elders, the JUI-F and religious leaders, will be visible. This will enable the Pakistani authorities to justify their proposal to fence the Durand Line rather than allow US-led forces a free hand in the tribal areas.

Meanwhile the "guests" - foreign anti-US fighters including Uzbeks, Arabs and Chechens - who are living in North Waziristan have had their own command structures dismantled and been asked to join the central mujahideen force of commander Gul Badar, or simply to scatter into ordinary tribal society.

Certainly, there is no overt connection between the Lebanese Hezbollah and the Pakistani Taliban, yet the new setup in the Waziristans clearly echoes that in Lebanon, where Hezbollah hides itself behind many thick curtains while remaining in a position of power. It was precisely this setup that enabled Lebanon to defend its territorial integrity and political interests during the recent Israeli invasion.

Neither the US nor Islamabad knows the strength of the Pakistani Taliban in the mountain fastnesses of the two Waziristans. Pakistan has offered a general amnesty for all previously wanted people, and military checkpoints are manned only at three or four points on the borders of the region. The Taliban, meanwhile, call the shots everywhere.

Such was the situation until Wednesday, when the two Waziristans embarked on a new phase in which US military campaigns seem unavoidable. Cognizant of developments and intent on saving turbans, beards and throats, thick curtains have been drawn.

Syed Saleem Shahzad is Asia Times Online's Pakistan bureau chief.

(Copyright 2006 Asia Times Online Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact us about sales, syndication and republishing .)

===========
From a Feb 06 article in asia times..Some ghastly pictures below...not for
the squeamish...

 ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?The Taliban's bloody foothold in Pakistan
 ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?By Syed Saleem Shahzad

 ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? KARACHI - By taking control of virtually all of
Pakistan's North Waziristan tribal area on the border with Afghanistan, the
Taliban have gained a significant base from which to wage their resistance
against US-led forces in Afghanistan. At the same time, the development
solidifies the anti-US resistance groups in Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan,
which will now fight under a single strategy.

 ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?The Taliban recently declared the establishment of
an "Islamic state" in North Waziristan, and they now, through the brutal



 ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?elimination of the criminal elements who previously
held sway, in effect rule in the rugged territory.

 ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?As a tribal area, North Waziristan has always
enjoyed significant ?independence from Islamabad, and even on the occasions
when the Pakistani army has ventured into the area to root out foreign
fighters or Afghan resistance figures, it has received fierce opposition,
and in effect been forced to back off.

 ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?The Taliban and their supporters plant ?roadside
bombs on the routes used by the Pakistani paramilitary forces, and virtually
every day one or two vehicles are blown up. This measure is aimed to keep
the security forces away from the actual tribal areas of Waziristan. In
short, the writ of the Pakistani political agent (the central government's
representative) barely extends beyond Miramshah Bazaar and Wana Bazaar (the
official headquarters). Everywhere else, the Taliban are calling the shots.

 ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?Asia Times Online has viewed a video disc released
by the ?Taliban that illustrates their control in North Waziristan. The
footage includes their bases, where thousands of youths are present,
preparations for an attack into Afghanistan, and shots of criminals executed
at a public rally staged by the Taliban.

 ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?The government of Pakistan has termed the executions
"tyranny".

 ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?The video opens with pictures of the headless bodies
of criminals strung up in Miramshah Bazaar, executed by the Taliban.

 ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?The next segment showcases the establishment of
strong bases in which thousands of turban-clad youths can be seen with guns.
Commanders scan the ranks and select a squad to launch a ?guerrilla attack
on a US base in Khost province in Afghanistan. They put on headbands with
the wording "There is no God but the one God; Mohammed is the messenger of
God."

 ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?The fighters emerge from their base at night and
head for Khost. After a 30-minute battle, flames can be seen rising from
within the US base. The squad returns before dawn.

 ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?The video also includes the "official" announcement
of the establishment of an Islamic state in Waziristan (which includes ?the
tribal area of South Waziristan) and a declaration of the Taliban's rule in
North Waziristan.

 ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?This development confirms an Asia Times Online
article describing how al-Qaeda and its allies - in this case the Taliban -
would establish bases from which to coordinate and strengthen its global war
against the United States ( Al-Qaeda goes back to base, November 4, 2005).

 ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?This announcement of an Islamic state is interpreted
as a prelude ?to the Taliban's summer offensive, precisely at a time when
Iran's nuclear dossier will be submitted to the United Nations Security
Council, and both Europe and the US will be mounting pressure on Tehran to
abandon its nuclear program.

 ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?The US and Iran being at loggerheads sits very well
with al-Qaeda's plans to establish bases and a unified command system of
anti-US resistance from Iraq to Afghanistan. Iran is at present the only
missing link in this strategy.

 ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?Despite little love being lost between the Taliban
and Iran, al- Qaeda's Egyptian camp has retained its traditional decades-old
ties with the Iranian regime. The real ideologue of the Iranian revolution
of 1979 was Dr Ali Shariati, who was inspired by the Muslim Brotherhood's
Syed Qutub. Similarly, the Islamic Jihad of Palestine officially claims its
inspiration from the Shi'ite Iranian revolution, despite being a completely
Sunni Islamic group.

 ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?Al-Qaeda's link with Iran, although at a very low
level, could prove critical in the coming months. Should Iran find itself
sanctioned, or even attacked by the US, few states would dare to support
Tehran.

 ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?Al-Qaeda, however, would seize the opportunity,
asking in return that it be given its desperately needed corridor through
Iran to link Afghanistan and Pakistan with Iraq and the Arab world.

 ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?A silent revolution
 ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?The Taliban video disc, which is a mixture of Pashtu
and Urdu, maintained that criminals had been calling the shots in North
Waziristan. They routinely abducted children and sodomized them, and they
charged protection money from shopkeepers, from transport operators, and
even for marriage ceremonies. The gangs were headed by an Afghan, Hakeem
Khan Zadran. They had various sanctuaries where drugs, women and alcohol
were available.

 ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?The government, too, was claimed to have paid the
criminals so that they would not interfere with official business.

 ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?But a turning point came last December. A group of
Taliban fighters were heading to Khost to launch an operation in Afghanistan
when they were stopped by some criminals demanding money for safe passage.
The Taliban refused, and were allowed to pass. However, a few kilometers
further down the ?road the criminals fired a rocket and blew up the vehicle.
Four Taliban belonging to the Wazir tribe were killed.

 ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?The incident outraged local supporters of the
Taliban, who converged near Miramshah and warned people to leave their homes
if they lived near criminals. A raid was then conducted on one criminal
sanctuary. In a fierce 15-minute gun battle, several gangsters were killed,
some were seized and many fled.

 ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?Over the next three days, according to the video,
the Taliban smoked out numerous criminals from their hideouts all over North
Waziristan. Many were executed at mass rallies in Miramshah Bazaar.

 ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?The Taliban movement
 ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?In a similar manner, the Taliban emerged as a
reformist movement against criminals and warlords in Zabul and Kandahar in
Afghanistan about 16 years ago.

 ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?The Taliban have shown their muscles so powerfully
in North Waziristan that Pakistani forces have just stepped away. It has now
become a popular movement with the complete support of local tribes.

 ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?The Taliban have attracted thousands of foot
soldiers from all over, including Arabs, Chechens, Pakistanis, Afghans,
Uzbeks and local tribals. North Waziristan is now their "Islamic state" and
base from which to launch a summer offensive in Afghanistan.

 ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?According to Asia Times Online investigations, more
than 100 suicide squads have been lined up for the summer assault. These
squads have precise targets all over Afghanistan. The Taliban leadership is
also encouraged by the strong representation of Islamists in the new Afghan
parliament as potential supporters.

 ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?The Taliban have already disseminated warnings to
all the governors in the south and southeast of Afghanistan not to mobilize
forces in search of the Taliban - or else they will face the music in the
form of suicide attacks. (On Tuesday in the southern city of Kandahar, a
suicide bomber attacked a guard post outside the police headquarters,
killing 13 people and wounding 11.)

 ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?Local Taliban commanders such as Mullah Dadullah are
already in the field to sway Afghan tribes in the Pashtun heartlands of
Afghanistan to be prepared for the offensive.

 ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?Contacts in the Hizb-i-Islami Afghanistan - a major
resistance group - in Kabul maintain that the long absence of commander
Kashmir Khan had led many to believe that he had been arrested by US forces.
However, he recently emerged from hiding and has become the main engine of
the resistance in the Kunar Valley, where he is cultivating local tribes for
support.

 ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?"If this military strategy is implemented it would
have serious consequences for the allied forces in Afghanistan, especially
at a time when they are mounting pressure on Iran," commented an
intelligence analyst. "However, the Taliban made tall claims about winter
suicide attacks, but barring a few events they failed to inflict major
losses on allied forces."

 ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?That was before the Taliban secured a base in North
Waziristan, though. This time around could see a very different outcome.

 ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?Next: The resistance route from southern to
southeastern Afghanistan

 ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?Syed Saleem Shahzad is Bureau Chief, Pakistan
28790  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: WW3 on: September 22, 2006, 11:51:58 PM
This article out of India gives what seems to be a well-informed breakdown of the dynamics of Pakistan.

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

Pakistan's Faultline       
 
The so-called land of the pure, Pakistan, on its creation in 1947 had approximately 13 percent  minorities residing within an Islamic population of 76 million. In its unholy fervour to achieve  physical instead of the spiritual purity, the minorities were reduced to 2.5 percent even as the country's population soared to 156 millions by the year 2000. In any society, it is the minorities that play the crucial role of moderation. Their existence is a safeguard against extreme tendencies. Pakistan lost the benefit of this natural societal instrument of balance early in its history. Once the minorities, more or less, were out of the way, Pakistan's Punjabi Sunni population which not only constituted the majority but also controlled the instruments of power in the state, turned to ? killing Shias, expelling Ahmadiyas from Islam, denying basic rights to the Balochis, depriving Sind of water resources, and suppressing populations in the Pakistan Occupied Kashmir including Northern Areas. Under the clouds of Talibanisation, this became further skewed when the women who constitute nearly half the population were denied education and practically incarcerated in their homes ? thus further impairing the societal balance. Simultaneously, Pakistan Army and the ISI persisted with their destructive spree by exporting terrorism to India, SE Asia, Central Asia, EU and America ? all in the name of religion! In the comity of nations, one can hardly find a parallel to this inherent self-destructive proclivity.

 

Pakistan 's Punjabi dominated army in search of the elusive purity and to perpetuate its hold on power structures encourages the majority Punjabi Sunni population in its misadventures. In pursuit of power, the bogey of threat from India was conjured. In schools children were indoctrinated to hate Indians. Therefore, the genesis of the Pakistan's present Fault Line lies in the diabolically engineered mindset that has created multiple fault lines and which have now coalesced into one deep and divisive fault line running right across the length of the country, threatening its virtual vivisection into two halves.

 

The first major setback to Pakistan occurred 24 years after inception when it lost 55% of its population in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) and almost half of its territory. Religion could not act as effective glue due to the insatiable avarice the Pakistan's Punjabi Army displayed in its refusal to share legitimate power with the eastern wing. Islamabad conveniently blames New Delhi for this separation but a closer scrutiny of facts reveals otherwise. Between 1947 and 1970, whenever Pakistan chose to attack India, the strategically simple option available to India could have been to annex East Pakistan, which Islamabad was never in a position to defend effectively due to the vast geographical distances and consequently the enormous military logistics involved. Nevertheless, New Delhi absorbed Pakistan's attacks and localised it to its Western front, never extending the war to the eastern theatre. With millions of refugees pouring into India in 1971, Islamabad made its position in East Pakistan untenable, and India was compelled to initiate positive action. Since occupation of territory was not the motive, Indian Army promptly withdrew after liberating Pakistan's eastern wing from the miseries and atrocities being perpetrated by the western wing on its own people.

 

In 1950s, Hans J. Morgenthau, the then Director of Center for the Study of American Foreign Policy at University of Chicago, in his book The New Republic had observed, "Pakistan is not a nation and hardly a state. It has no justification, ethnic origin, language, civilisation or the consciousness of those who make up its population. They have no interest in common except one: fear of Hindu domination. It is to that fear and nothing else that Pakistan poses its existence and thus for survival as an independent state." During the same period, another American scholar Keith Callard in his book Pakistan - a Political Study commented, "the force behind the establishment of Pakistan was largely the feeling of insecurity."  Both these scholars missed out on some vital aspects that can be attributed to the "fear of Hindu domination" and "insecurity". First, creation of Pakistan was an Anglo-Saxon mischief to protect their vested strategic interests. Second, the land bestowed to create Pakistan was separated amicably without war. Third, the Western powers, (and China that uses Pakistan as a proxy against India) fuelled these imagined fears that only created the effect of exacerbating latter's psychological fault line. Therefore, explanations like "fear of Hindu domination" and "insecurity" and other excuses as justification are used as psywar tool to disguise Islamabad's treachery against New Delhi since 1947. Indian political right does not indulge in 'export of terrorism' or 'suicide bombers' as an instrument of foreign policy!

 

After the break-up of Pakistan in 1971, West Pakistan should have emerged as a more cohesive unit - geographically, politically, economically and in orientation. However 33 years hence, nearly 55% of Pakistan's area is witnessing vicious insurgencies, which if not controlled, could lead to further vivisection of the country. Most of the population in these areas i.e. Waziristan, Balochistan, NWFP, and Northern Areas (Gilgit and Baltistan) in POK has been historically difficult to control and administer. This notwithstanding, ever since Musharraf's ascension to power, these areas have slipped from peripheral disquiet to intense insurgencies. Normal governance in these areas has collapsed and is being held only by military force. These multiple fault lines as explained subsequently, if not adequately addressed can lead to internal strife and break up of Pakistan.

 

WAZIRISTAN (Federally Administered Tribal Areas). The population of this area is 3,138,000 that are 2% of Pakistan's total population.  Socio-economic development has been totally lagging in Waziristan. The literacy rate is 17% and only 10% population has access to sanitation. With an area of 27,220 sq km, it constitutes 3% of Pakistan's total landmass. The area is inhabited by Wazirs (Pathan Tribe). The Taliban and Al-Qaeda has significant presence and influence in this area.  Post 9/11, after reported death of Namangani (Head of Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan), the second-in-command Yuldeshev crossed over with surviving members of IMU into South Waziristan, where he and his Uzbek and Chechen instructors set up training camp for Jihadi terrorists. The Jihadi and Kalishkinov culture in this area is a legacy of the region's intense involvement in the war against Soviet troops in Afghanistan in the 80's. Post 9/11, consequent to jettisoning of Taliban by the Pakistan dispensation, the population in Waziristan has been subjected to ground and aerial attacks to flush-out Al-Qaeda and Taliban carders. There are 80,000 Pak Army personnel deployed in the 13 areas / agencies that make up Waziristan or FATA.  The area known for its fiercely independent tribes and Islamic terrorists vehemently resent presence of the Army and its coordinated operations with US troops based in Afghanistan. The enormity of the growing strife in Waziristan can be gauged from the casualty figures.  In 2005, 300 civilians and 250 troops were killed, and another 1400 were wounded; while up to March 2006, 121 civilians, 475 terrorists and 71 soldiers have been killed. Reportedly nearly 80% of pro-government tribal leaders have also been eliminated. The Pakistan government has also been using money to buy the allegiance of tribal leaders.  Recently, the corps commander Lt Gen Safdar Hussain has publicly admitted to having paid Rs.32 million (US $ 5,40,000) to some tribal leaders for severing their links with Al-Qaeda and Taliban.

 

BALOCHISTAN. The Balochistan province constitutes 44% (347,190 sq km) of Pakistan's landmass and has a population of 6.5 million i.e. 4% of Pakistan's population. Only 70% of Baloch are in Pakistan, the reminder being in Iran and Afghanistan. The Baloch are Hanafi Sunnis and a strong group of Zikri Baloch, having a population of about 7,00,000 inhabit the Makran area, who believe in the 15th century teachings of Madhi ? an Islamic Messiah ? Nur Pak, have their own prayers and do not fast during Ramzan. Baloch nationalism has been a factor in Pakistan since its existence. The Baloch, who in general had supported the overthrow of Bhutto by Zia-ul-Haq, are up in arms against the central authority under Musharraf. In addition to 1,00,000 Para-military forces, there are nearly 23,000 Pak Army personnel deployed to quell the growing insurgency in Balochistan under the leadership of Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti (ex Provincial Governor). The Baloch have been demanding greater autonomy, more public sector jobs and higher share of revenues. The extremely inhospitable landmass of Balochistan, where subsistence is difficult, is critical for Pakistan's energy supplies, and its maritime security and trade by way of Gwadar port. Balochistan meets 45 percent of Pakistan's energy needs. The Baloch people lament that the Gwadar area has been appropriated by Generals of Pakistan Army, who in turn have sold it to Karachi and Punjabi business magnets at astronomical prices.  All the 22 districts of Balochistan are currently impacted by insurgency incurring an estimated cost of Rs. 6 million every month to the Pak establishment, and also resulting in severe gas and power shortages in the country, especially in Punjab. Gas supplies from Sui, Loti and Pir Koh gas fields have been disrupted.  Surface transport has been crippled. Three naval boats have so far been destroyed in Gwadar port.  Railways have been compelled to operate only at night.  So far, on at least a dozen occasions, railway tracks have been blown and on more than two dozens occasions gas pipelines have been targeted.

 

NWFP. North West Frontier Province (NWFP) with an area of 74,521 sq km and a population of approximately 24 million in addition to 3 million Afghan refugees, is a problem in perpetuity because of the Pashtuns, who straddle the Durand Line (2450 Km long Pakistan-Afghanistan border). The relations between the NWFP and the central government are increasingly becoming tenuous, as the majority of the population is averse to Pakistan's cooperation with the US against the Taliban and Al-Qaeda. The area continues to be infested with fundamentalists and the Jihadis.  In fact, it is the fundamentalist Islamic parties, who call shots in the province and lend all kinds of support to the remnants of Taliban.

 

POK (NORTHERN AREAS). The Northern Areas comprising Gilgit and Baltistan have an area of 72,496 sq km and a population of 1.5 million, is governed directly by the Central Government in Pakistan.  In fact the Northern Areas, which are actually a part of POK, but incorporated in Pakistan, are five times of the area designated as Azad Kashmir.  This area, culturally and linguistically much different from other parts of Pakistan, has been subjected to state backed Sunni terrorism. The composition of the Northern Light Infantry Units is being re-engineered by the central government to make it Sunni dominant. Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK), which witnessed devastating earthquake in which more than 70,000 people lost their lives, demonstrated the administrative apathy of the Central Government in Pakistan with regard to the region. The Pakistan Army unlike the Indian Army was unable to respond to the needs of the people ? thus leaving much of the rescue and rehabilitation to 1000 NATO personnel and fundamentalist organisations like JuD.

 

PUNJAB & SIND . The situation in the heartland of Pakistan i.e. Punjab and Sind is rapidly deteriorating, given the proliferation of Islamic fundamentalist ideology and their mushrooming activities. Organisations like Jamat-ud-Dawa (JuD), the parent organisation of Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) is fast occupying the political space due to absence of legitimate political parties. The reach of the Islamic terrorists in Pakistan's heartland was evidenced by the car bomb attack near the US Consulate in Karachi before the recent visit of President Bush to the country.  The degeneration of law and order situation in the heartland can also be gauged by the fact that for security reasons, President Musharraf was asked by the US authorities not to receive President Bush at the Chaklala airport.

 

 

Predicated on the situation in Pakistan, it can be averred that more than half the country has slipped into anarchy and the remaining may also follow if Islamabad does not carryout a drastic reassessment of its nationhood and statehood. In fact, Pakistan Army is getting over- stretched owing to its commitments in internal security duties and deployment on its borders with India and Afghanistan. Internally, the anti-India catalyst that sustained Pakistan Army is no longer effective. Even on the Afghanistan border the ISAF and Karzai are fiercely determined to defeat any attempt by Islamabad's to re-export Taliban. Today the internal instability within Pakistan is fast acquiring proportions which could lead to further break up of the country ? all due to sheer myopic policies pursued by its military junta. An external power today does not need to wage a war. It can simply exploit the precarious internal situation by using its intelligence agencies to attain the same objectives by fuelling the dissent through psywar and financial means. Fortunately, Pakistan has to contend with a benign power like India, which in the first instance created the former by magnanimously donating its land. Therefore Islamabad instead of exporting hatred and destruction, should seek positive parity with India and others in terms of improving the quality of life of its citizens in an inclusive manner.  Towards this Pakistan must:

Seek positive parity with India i.e. with regard to human development. Negative parity will bleed Pakistan in human and economic terms.
Realise that Pakistani statehood has remained vulnerable due to flawed nation building policies e.g. Punjabi domination that constitute 58% of the total population.
Realise that Army can be a symbol of nationhood and an instrument and not the state itself.
Realise that jihadis are a double-edged weapon and can never get Pakistan its illusive nationhood and statehood.
Realise that by attempting to engineer history, the future is rendered in jeopardy.
Realise that Pakistan has the potential to be a positive role model for other Islamic countries.
It is a well-known fact that a large number of Islamic countries are bestowed with extraordinary oil wealth that drives the world economy. If the jehad factory of Pakistan and other Islamic fundamentalist institutions had used this wealth to educate, modernise their societies and improved the quality of human resources in the early eighties, at the dawn of the 21 st century, it would have emerged as a modern, powerful and positive entity in the world arena without firing a single shot!  Pakistan's establishment therefore must realise that its possible vivisection, due to its flawed policies, may deal a fatal blow to the very Islamic cause, that it purports to countenance and guide.

The writer is Editor, Indian Defence Review. The article first appeared in Indian Defence Review Vol 20(4).   

?Security Research Review Volume 2(2) 2006
 
28791  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Grandfathers Speak Vol. 2: Sonny Umpad on: September 22, 2006, 05:28:54 PM
Sit Rep:

I've run the fine edit by George Yore and he showed it to several people from the Umpad tribe.  They are very pleased.  There are a couple of minor adjustments to be made and Pretty Kitty needs to do the box cover.

CD
28792  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Brian ''Porn Star'' Jung on: September 21, 2006, 05:40:16 PM
Thailand: A Possible Respite in Southern Violence
Three days before the Sept. 19 military coup that ousted Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, six bombs exploded in the city of Hat Yai, in southern Thailand's Songkhla province, killing four people. Among the dead was a Canadian schoolteacher, the first Westerner known to have died as a result of the ongoing violence in Thailand's Muslim-dominated south. Although the coup has raised hopes that the country's new military leader, a Muslim, will be able to ease the level of violence in the south, only a temporary respite can be expected.

The bombs, which exploded at approximately 9:15 p.m. local time, targeted a bar, a massage parlor, a hotel and two department stores. In addition to the four deaths, about 60 other people were injured, including at least nine foreigners. Although it is a commercial center rather than a cultural or historic location, Hat Yai has a thriving tourist industry based largely on visitors from Muslim counties such as Malaysia or Indonesia who are attracted to Thailand's less-conservative culture.

Thai authorities were quick to blame the bombings on Muslim militants who have been known to attack tourist locations that provide sex and alcohol to Muslim tourists. The attacks, however, could be linked to business or organized crime. In April 2005, two improvised explosive devices detonated nearly simultaneously at the Hat Yai International Airport and a supermarket. The airport attack killed one person.




The causes of the violence in Yala, Pattani, Narathiwat and Songkhla provinces are varied and complex. In addition to ethnic strife between predominantly Muslim Malays and Buddhist Thais, there also is violent competition between rival criminal elements and corrupt security forces. Thai military leaders have been known to take their political battles to the region as well, manipulating problems in the south to gain a political edge in Bangkok.

In the days since the Royal Thai Army seized control in a bloodless coup, speculation has mounted that the country's new leaders will be able to ease the tensions in the south, thus reducing the level of violence. One of the reasons for this thinking is that Thailand's army commander and now acting Prime Minister Lt. Gen. Sonthi Boonyaratglin is a Thai Muslim who presumably will have more influence with the Muslim militants blamed for most of the violence.

Indeed, Sonthi was put in charge of the army largely because it was thought that, as a Muslim, he would be more effective in dealing with the militants than were previous commanders. Another reason for the high hopes is the belief that any government will do a better job addressing the problems than did Thaksin's. Although the bombings in Hat Yai certainly did not help Thaksin on the domestic front, they were not a significant factor in causing the coup.

Sonthi's Muslim background could give him an advantage in dealing with the south's religious strife -- especially since he favors dialogue rather than a heavy-handed military approach. However, even with Sonthi in power, a significant overall reduction in violence is unlikely. Even if he could stop the Muslim militants from attacking without having to resort to a massive army crackdown, other sources of violence would remain.

The coup has been popular in southern Thailand, where many citizens believed Thaksin's policies made the situation worse, not better. Thai officials, businesspeople and Muslim leaders are encouraged by the change in government, and believe in Sonthi's ability to deal with the problem. In the short term, violence probably will decline as criminals and corrupt officials adopt a wait-and-see attitude to gauge the new government's policy in the south. The honeymoon period, however, is likely to be short-lived. Once the criminal element figures out how to adjust to the changing policies and determines which newly appointed officials to bribe, there will be a return to business as usual.

Muslim militants, who mainly hit schools, government offices and other targets associated with Bangkok's control over the region, also could hold off on attacks to see how well Sonthi can deal with the problems affecting them. If their grievances are not addressed quickly and effectively, they could resume attacks. If Sonthi responds with a larger military presence in the region, or a more serious crackdown, they could counter with more violence. After a while, a return to nearly the same level of violence as before is quite possible.

www.stratfor.com
28793  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Spike TV, the Dog Brothers Gathering Webisodes; National Geographic on: September 21, 2006, 05:02:34 PM
Woof All:

Much to report.  The Spike Webisode deal appears to be moving forward nicely.  I am supposed to receive a contract today or tomorrow and will then show it to my attorney.  Spike is considering sending a film crew to the Bern Gathering in Europe on Oct 1 as well as the Fall Gathering here in LA on 11/19.

It also appears that National Gegraphic will be doing a one hour documentary on us, which Original Productions may bump up to a 90 minute piece for theatrical release.  Most likely is that they will shoot the June 07 Gathering.

The Adventure continues,
Crafty Dog
28794  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Invitation to dialog to Muslims on: September 21, 2006, 02:06:43 PM
The Pope's Divisions
Benedict XVI promotes "interfaith" dialogue. Muslims and Christians need it.

BY REUEL MARC GERECHT
Thursday, September 21, 2006 12:01 a.m. EDT

Although many Muslims have apparently found Pope Benedict XVI's recent oration at the University of Regensburg deeply offensive, it is a welcome change from the pabulum that passes for "interfaith" dialogue. Since 9/11, his lecture is one of the few by a major Western figure to highlight the spiritual and cultural troubles that beset the Muslim world. Think of the awfulness that we've observed in the last years: the suicide terrorism in Europe, Asia and the Middle East, but especially the holy-warrior carnage in Iraq, where Sunni diehard believers have tirelessly slaughtered Shiite women and children. Then think of the tepid, not always condemnatory, discussions these atrocities have provoked among devout, especially fundamentalist, Muslims. We should have seen many more Westerners and Muslims posing painful questions about the well-being of Islamic culture and faith. With the exception of President Bush's remarks about "Islamofascism," which provoked dyspeptic reactions inside the U.S. government and out, the administration has generally avoided using powerful language connecting Islam to terrorism.

Let us be frank: There is absolutely nothing in the pope's speech that isn't appropriate or pertinent to a civilized discussion of revealed religions and ethics. Even if one is not a believer in any revealed faith, or has some memory of the conflict, daily cruelty and forced conversion meted out by representatives of Rome's bishops, or has some skepticism about the church's commitment to defending the liberal ideas of the Enlightenment, one can be thankful that the pope sees Christianity as a vehicle of peace and tries to explain why he thinks this is so. And by extension why Islam is so often today the loudly proclaimed faith of men who define their relationship to God through violence. Joseph Ratzinger's explanation, as befits a former professor of theology and philosophy, is an abstract one, but it is in the broadest sense undeniably true.





Popes ought to help clarify--not camouflage--the great troubling issues, as Shiite Islam's most senior ayatollahs try to illuminate the most perplexing questions that confront their followers and Muslims in general. The odds are good that few of the pope's most vociferous Muslim critics read his highly philosophical disquisition, which affirms a position on a needed harmony between reason and faith that many of Islam's great jurists and philosophers would quickly recognize. Benedict is trying to tackle many of the very same subjects that Iran's former president, Mohammad Khatami, approached in his book, "From the City World to the World City"--but with considerably more erudition and tact. Mr. Khatami's language, thought and historiography are often an intellectual mess and egregiously insulting to Christians, Jews and, most of all, Western atheists and agnostics. Yet Mr. Khatami is esteemed by many of those who scold the pope.
Is the pope wrong to imply--in a rather roundabout way--that there is today something amiss inside Islam, as a community of believers sharing one faith and a long, common cultural tradition? There probably isn't a single liberal editor at a major American or European paper who doesn't think that there is something a little dysfunctional--a disposition that tolerates, if not encourages and admires, violence as expression of religious outrage--among young Muslim males from Northern Europe to Indonesia. We might not be able to put our finger precisely on it--the problems of a radicalized British Muslim of Pakistani ancestry are not the same as a Sunni Iraqi suicide bomber who blows up Jordanian and Palestinian women and children--but we know there is something wrong within Islam's global house, something that cannot be blamed exclusively on Western prejudice, bigotry, military actions or colonialism.

Many Muslims know it too, even if they are not inclined to say so publicly--it's often dangerous and always enormously difficult for believing and nonbelieving Muslims to aggressively critique their own when they know non-Muslims are listening. Self-described Muslim intellectuals (often meaning the traditionally devout, clerics) really have a hard time engaging in self-criticism that fortifies non-Muslim critiques of Islamic society. The notion of "us" and "them" is very powerful in Islam, even though Muslims have often aligned themselves with infidels against their religious brethren. The truly hard-core, radical Muslims of the West--the most frightful of the jihadists--have much more in common temperamentally and culturally with militant European left-wingers than they do with the devout farther east, yet they ferociously separate the world into two camps like the most primitive Wahhabis of Saudi Arabia.

And self-confidence is a huge problem. Militarily triumphant in the past, traditional Muslims had an easier time being tolerant toward the minorities in their midst; they certainly were unperturbed by the theological arguments and invective put forth by practitioners of a superseded faith. As many believing Muslims have become less self-confident--and the world around them has become ever more incongruent with the imagined, pure world of early Islam, when the faithful were unceasingly victorious because they were more perfect in their submission to God's will--they have become more acutely conscious and aggressive about their Muslim identity. Clerics in London, Copenhagen, Cairo or Tehran dictating terms about the appropriate comportment of non-Muslims toward believers has naturally followed.

Pope Benedict nailed two facts about Islam that are contributing factors to the faith's very rough entry into modernity. The prophet Muhammad, the model for all Muslims, established the faith through war and conquest. His immediate successors, the Rightly Guided Caliphs, whom traditional and radical Muslims cherish, reinforced Islam's identity as a victorious faith through the rapid creation of a world empire. Christianity was also at times spread by "the sword," and its use of that sword against nonbelievers and heretics was more savage than any Muslim imperialist's. But Christianity was not born to power. Jesus is not a conqueror. The doctrine of the "two swords" always existed in Christian lands--the division of the world between church and state--and created enormous tension. It helped produce Western civic society. And the image of God in Islam, which the pope underscores by talking about the Muslim philosopher Ibn Hazm, is a cleaner expression of unlimited, almighty Will than it is in Christianity. Islam is akin to biblical Judaism in accentuating the unnuanced, transcendent awe of God. When radical Muslims take a hold of this divine fearsomeness, it can untether itself quickly from "conventional" morality, thereby allowing young men to believe that the slaughter of women and children isn't an abomination. In that sense, Muslim jihadism, like fascism, rewrites our ethical DNA, turning sin into virtue.





The pope doesn't tell us how we should proceed to counter the defects he sees in Islam. He should, since that would begin a real, painful but meaningful dialogue, which will surely cut both ways between the West and Islam. But what is most disturbing in the Western reaction to the pope's speech--and one sees the same reaction among those who are uncomfortable with President Bush's use of the term "Islamofascism"--is the often well-intentioned refusal to talk openly about the other side. No one wants to offend, so we assume a public position of liberal tolerance, hoping that good-willed, nonconfrontational dialogue, which criticizes "our" possibly offensive behavior while downplaying "theirs," will somehow lead to a more peaceful, ecumenical world.
We won't talk about the history of jihad in Islam. We would rather emphasize that jihad can mean an internal moral struggle for believers, even though the most progressive, revisionist Muslim (unless he has been completely secularized in the West) knows perfectly well that when Muslims hear the word "jihad," they proudly remember holy warriors, from the prophet Muhammad forward. We won't probe too deeply, and certainly not critically, into how the Quran and the prophet's traditions, as well as classical Islamic history, have given all believing Muslims certain common sentiments, passions and reflexes. We don't even talk about how the post-Christian West's great causes--nationalism, socialism, communism and fascism--entered Islam's bloodstream and altered Muslim ethics, often catastrophically. Many in the West, on both right and left, prefer to see Osama bin Laden's terrorism as a violent reaction to Western, particularly American, behavior. It is thus something that could be avoided. (Israel usually enters the discussion here.) We shy away from the more existential arguments that suggest that bin Laden's popularity in Islamic lands is the product of an enormous religious and philosophical distemper that derives from the world being the reverse of what God had ordained: Muslims on top, non-Muslims down below.

But we need to talk and argue about these things. We need to stop treating Muslims like children, and viewing our public diplomacy with Islamic countries as popularity contests. Given what's happened since 9/11, a dialogue of civilizations is certainly in order. To his credit, Benedict has at least tried to approach the invidious issues that will define any helpful discussion. For 200 years, the West has, for better and worse, helped create the intellectual framework within which all Muslims think. Muslim saints, like the Egyptian dissident Saad Eddin Ibrahim, or Muslim devils, like Ayatollah Khomeini, have Western ideas profoundly within them. If we withdraw from this civilizational debate, the decent men and women of the Middle East, most of whom are faithful Muslims, will have a very hard time defeating those who have brutalized and coarsened their culture and religion. Westerners are doing Muslims an enormous disservice--a lethal bigotry of low expectations--by telling the pontiff to be more diplomatic. This isn't how anti-Western Islamic theocrats, holy warriors and ordinary teachers in much of the Muslim world act. They're having a real, vibrant discussion. We should turn it into a debate.

Mr. Gerecht is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.

28795  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security on: September 20, 2006, 12:22:14 PM
Study: U.S. Prisons Can't Combat Islamic Terror Recruiting


Updated: September 19th, 2006 12:14 PM EDT
http://www.officer.com/article/article.jsp?siteSection=8&id=32697

By LARA JAKES JORDAN
Associated Press Writer


Jailed Islamic extremists with violent interpretations of the Quran are taking advantage of scarce religious monitoring programs to breed terrorists in U.S. prisons, a study released Tuesday shows.

State and local prison officials struggle to track radicalized behavior by inmates or religious counselors, the joint study by George Washington University and the University of Virginia found.

Many prisons can't afford preventive programs; in California, for example, officials reported "that every investigation into radical groups in their prisons uncovers new leads, but they simply do not have enough investigators to follow every case of radicalization."

"Radicalized prisoners are a potential pool of recruits by terrorist groups," concluded the study, released at a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing on "homegrown" terrorists. "The U.S., with its large prison population, is at risk of facing the sort of homegrown terrorism currently plaguing other countries."

An estimated 2 million people are imprisoned in the United States; 6 percent of them are Muslim, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, a counterterrorism consultant, told senators that "chilling" interpretations of the Quran were given to prison inmates when he worked for the al-Haramain Islamic Foundation, an international charity that served as a major al-Qaida financier.

The readings urged Muslims "to wage war against non-Muslims who have not submitted to Islamic rule," Gartenstein-Ross said in prepared testimony to the Senate panel.

"I know of only a few instances in which prisons rejected the literature we attempted to distribute - and it was never because of the literature's radicalism," said Gartenstein-Ross, who has since left the charity and converted to Christianity.

Prisons have long been considered recruiting stations for gangs and, more recently, terrorists, but little has been done throughout government to combat them. The Senate hearing came as law enforcement and intelligence officials focus on finding out how and why extremist homegrown sympathizers cross a line to become operational terrorists.

The panel's chair, Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, called the matter "an emerging threat to our national security." Added Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., "While homegrown Islamic terrorism might not be as much of a threat as in say, Europe or some other places, we ignore the threat that does exist at our peril."

The report cited several high-profile cases of terrorists who became radicalized while incarcerated, including British shoe bomber Richard Reid. It also noted what authorities call a foiled plot of a potential shooting rampage against California military facilities, synagogues and the Israeli Consulate in Los Angeles by followers of Kevin James, who founded the radical group Jamiyyat Ul-Islam Is-Saheeh, or JIS, as an inmate at California State Prison in Sacramento.

Researchers interviewed federal, state and local prison officials, religious counselors and counterterror authorities in four states - California, New York, South Carolina and Ohio - and the District of Columbia. They concluded that federal prison authorities have made significant strides in collecting and sharing information to help monitor whether inmates are becoming radicalized.

But state and local prison officials have largely relied on contractors and volunteers to lead Islamic services because of a lack of well-trained Muslim chaplains, the report found. In New York, that led to several cases of "imams espousing violent views," it said.

The report noted a 2004 study that found that about half of 193 prisons surveyed supervised religious services or monitored them with video or audio recorders. "In the absence of monitoring by authoritative Islamic chaplains, materials that advocate violence have infiltrated the prison system undetected," it found.

___

28796  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Invitation to dialog to Muslims on: September 20, 2006, 07:40:31 AM

CHICAGO ? So here?s the thing about speed dating for Muslims.

 
James Estrin/The New York Times
Many American Muslims ? or at least those bent on maintaining certain conservative traditions ? equate anything labeled ?dating? with hellfire, no matter how short a time is involved. Hence the wildly popular speed dating sessions at the largest annual Muslim conference in North America were given an entirely more respectable label. They were called the ?matrimonial banquet.?

?If we called it speed dating, it will end up with real dating,? said Shamshad Hussain, one of the organizers, grimacing.

Both the banquet earlier this month and various related seminars underscored the difficulty that some American Muslim families face in grappling with an issue on which many prefer not to assimilate. One seminar, called ?Dating,? promised attendees helpful hints for ?Muslim families struggling to save their children from it.?

The couple of hundred people attending the dating seminar burst out laughing when Imam Muhamed Magid of the Adams Center, a collective of seven mosques in Virginia, summed up the basic instructions that Muslim American parents give their adolescent children, particularly males: ?Don?t talk to the Muslim girls, ever, but you are going to marry them. As for the non-Muslim girls, talk to them, but don?t ever bring one home.?

?These kids grew up in America, where the social norm is that it is O.K. to date, that it is O.K. to have sex before marriage,? Imam Magid said in an interview. ?So the kids are caught between the ideal of their parents and the openness of the culture on this issue.?

The questions raised at the seminar reflected just how pained many American Muslims are by the subject. One middle-aged man wondered if there was anything he could do now that his 32-year-old son had declared his intention of marrying a (shudder) Roman Catholic. A young man asked what might be considered going too far when courting a Muslim woman.

Panelists warned that even seemingly innocuous e-mail exchanges or online dating could topple one off the Islamic path if one lacked vigilance. ?All of these are traps of the Devil to pull us in and we have no idea we are even going that way,? said Ameena Jandali, the moderator of the dating seminar.

Hence the need to come up with acceptable alternatives in North America, particularly for families from Pakistan, India and Bangladesh, where there is a long tradition of arranged marriages.

One panelist, Yasmeen Qadri, suggested that Muslim mothers across the continent band together in an organization called ?Mothers Against Dating,? modeled on Mothers Against Drunk Driving. If the term ?arranged marriage? is too distasteful to the next generation, she said, then perhaps the practice could be Americanized simply by renaming it ?assisted marriage,? just like assisted living for the elderly.

?In the United States we can play with words however we want, but we are not trying to set aside our cultural values,? said Mrs. Qadri, a professor of education.

Basically, for conservative Muslims, dating is a euphemism for premarital sex. Anyone who partakes risks being considered morally louche, with their marriage prospects dimming accordingly, particularly young women.

Mrs. Qadri and other panelists see a kind of hybrid version emerging in the United States, where the young do choose their own mates, but the parents are at least partly involved in the process in something like half the cases.

Having the families involved can help reduce the divorce rate, Imam Majid said, citing a recent informal study that indicated that one third of Muslim marriages in the United States end in divorce. It was still far too high, he noted, but lower than the overall American average. Intermarriages outside Islam occur, but remain relatively rare, he said.

Scores of parents showed up at the marriage banquet to chaperone their children. Many had gone through arranged marriages ? meeting the bride or groom chosen by their parents sometimes as late as their wedding day and hoping for the best. They recognize that the tradition is untenable in the United States, but still want to influence the process.





=====
The banquet is considered one preferable alternative to going online, although that too is becoming more common. The event was unquestionably one of the big draws at the Islamic Society of North America?s annual convention, which attracted thousands of Muslims to Chicago over Labor Day weekend, with many participants bemoaning the relatively small pool of eligible candidates even in large cities.

At a ?matrimonial banquet,? single Muslim American men spent seven minutes at each table, including the one at which Alia Abbas sat before moving on.
There were two banquets, with a maximum 150 men and 150 women participating each day for $55 apiece. They sat 10 per table and the men rotated every seven minutes.

At the end there was an hourlong social hour that allowed participants time to collect e-mail addresses and telephone numbers over a pasta dinner with sodas. (Given the Muslim ban on alcohol, no one could soothe jumpy nerves with a drink.) Organizers said many of the women still asked men to approach their families first. Some families accept that the couple can then meet in public, some do not.

A few years ago the organizers were forced to establish a limit of one parent per participant and bar them from the tables until the social hour because so many interfered. Parents are now corralled along one edge of the reception hall, where they alternate between craning their necks to see who their adult children are meeting or horse-trading bios, photographs and telephone numbers among themselves.

Talking to the mothers ? and participants with a parent usually take a mother ? is like surveying members of the varsity suddenly confined to the bleachers.

?To know someone for seven minutes is not enough,? scoffed Awila Siddique, 46, convinced she was making better contacts via the other mothers.

Mrs. Siddique said her shy, 20-year-old daughter spent the hours leading up to the banquet crying that her father was forcing her to do something weird. ?Back home in Pakistan, the families meet first,?? she said. ?You are not marrying the guy only, but his whole family.?

Samia Abbas, 59 and originally from Alexandria, Egypt, bustled out to the tables as soon as social hour was called to see whom her daughter Alia, 29, had met.

?I?m her mother so of course I?m looking for her husband,? said Mrs. Abbas, ticking off the qualities she was looking for, including a good heart, handsome, as highly educated as her daughter and a good Muslim.

Did he have to be Egyptian?

?She?s desperate for anyone!? laughed Alia, a vivacious technology manager for a New York firm, noting that the ?Made in Egypt? stipulation had long since been cast overboard.

?Her cousin who is younger has babies now!? exclaimed the mother, dialing relatives on her cellphone to handicap potential candidates.

For doubters, organizers produced a success story, a strikingly good-looking pair of Chicago doctors who met at the banquet two years ago. Organizers boast of at least 25 marriages over the past six years.

Fatima Alim, 50, was disappointed when her son Suehaib, a 26-year-old pharmacist, did not meet anyone special on the first day. They had flown up from Houston especially for the event, and she figured chances were 50-50 that he would find a bride.

When she arrived in Texas as a 23-year-old in an arranged marriage, Mrs. Alim envied the girls around her, enthralled by their discussions about all the fun they were having with their boyfriends, she said, even if she was eventually shocked to learn how quickly they moved from one to the next and how easily they divorced. Still, she was determined that her children would chose their own spouses.

?We want a good, moderate Muslim girl, not a very, very modern girl,? she said. ?The family values are the one thing I like better back home. Divorces are high here because of the corruption, the intermingling with other men and other women.?

For his part, Mr. Alim was resisting the strong suggestion from his parents that they switch tactics and start looking for a nice girl back in Pakistan. Many of the participants reject that approach, describing themselves as too Americanized ? plus the visas required are far harder to obtain in the post-Sept. 11 world.

Mr. Alim said he still believed what he had been taught as a child, that sex outside marriage was among the gravest sins, but he wants to marry a fellow American Muslim no matter how hard she is to find.

?I think I can hold out a couple more years,? he said in his soft Texas drawl with a boyish smile. ?The sooner the better, but I think I can wait. By 30, hopefully, even if that is kind of late.?
28797  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Attacking Blocks - a training neccessity on: September 20, 2006, 04:03:44 AM
Woof Pappy Dog et al:

I've been meaning to respond to this one for some time now, but waited with a sense that to do so needed a substantial and thoughtful post.  Now that I finally find a moment to focus (I fell asleep too early and now in the middle of the night I am awake rolleyes ) I find that all I really have to say is "Tail wags for the kind words"!

The Adventure continues!
Guro Crafty
28798  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Invitation to dialog to Muslims on: September 19, 2006, 08:15:01 PM
Note the source of the following:

http://www.arabnews.com/?page=7&section=0&article=86776&d=19&m=9&y=2006
Editorial: Chasm of Ignorance
19 September 2006
 
WHATEVER views people may have about Pope Benedict?s controversial speech at Regensburg University last week, it underlines the urgent need for greater dialogue between people of different faiths. There is a dangerous chasm of ignorance about other faiths and it affects Muslims, Christians, Jews and practitioners of other religions equally; it is dangerous because it is so easily exploited by bigots and opportunists for their own political ends.

But, many will assert, there is a dialogue that has been going on for years. They can point to organizations such as C100, set up by the World Economic Forum to promote interfaith cooperation between the West and the Muslim world or to the Al-Azhar Permanent Committee for Dialogue with Monotheistic Religions. There is the Vatican-Muslim Committee set up by the Catholic Church and Al-Azhar, the Anglican Al-Azhar Dialogue Committee and a number of other organizations in countries around the world. There is even a day ? Muslim Catholic Dialogue Day on Feb. 24 each year ? adopted by Al-Azhar and the Vatican.

Commendable as all this is, it is not enough. If they were, there would not have been a Danish cartoons row earlier this year or a row now. The committees and organizations are not producing the results because the knowledge and understanding is not getting down to the grass roots where the prejudices and ignorance exist. What is the point of dialogue if it excludes the vast majority who do not fully understand all that is involved? It is at the grass roots that riots take place, where passions turn to prejudice, and mosques, churches and innocent believers are attacked and killed. That is where dialogue has to be planted and nurtured. And what is the point of dialogue if it excludes bigots? If they are left on the outside, they will continue to stir up hatred and plant their bombs. Dialogue desperately needs a wider arena, one that will draw in the uninformed on all sides, not least the bigots. That means using the mass media. Sadly, not everyone appears to understand that.

This paper has tried to publish a series of articles on interfaith dialogue. It is a perfect vehicle ? an English language daily in a Muslim country with a readership of different faiths and nationalities. We asked major religious and political figures from around the world to contribute. The feedback was extremely positive: ?Great idea,? we were told. But after months of reminders, not a single article has been submitted. It is profoundly disappointing. Never has the need for dialogue been so acute. Clearly dialogue cannot be left to well-intentioned experts. If the world were full of them there would not be a problem. But it is not like that. Dialogue must involve the largest possible number of people.

The Danish cartoon row should have provided the stimulus to intensify efforts. It did not. Maybe now, in the full fury of the papal row, the message will get through. It has to. In today?s global village, we cannot afford to be ignorant of each other?s faiths. Ignorance breeds fear and fear breeds hate ? and hate is scarcely a step away from war and conflict.
 
28799  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants on: September 18, 2006, 04:05:54 PM
Woof All:

I'm not quite sure where to put this piece.  "Dialog with Muslims" and "Free Speech vs. Islamo Fascism" are close, but not quite right.  In that the views herein are strong and passionate I'm putting it here, even though here too it does not quite fit.

Regardless, what one thinks of the conclusions, a strong erudite piece of writing.

TAC,
CD
==============

Jihad, the Lord's Supper, and eternal life
By Spengler

Jihad injures reason, for it honors a god who suffers no constraints on his caprice, unlike the Judeo-Christian god, who is limited by love. That is the nub of Pope Benedict XVI's September 12 address in Regensburg, Germany. It promises to be the Vatican's most controversial utterance in living memory.

When a German-language volume appeared in 2003 quoting the same analysis by a long-dead Jewish theologian, I wrote of "oil on the flames of civilizational war". [1] Now the same ban has been

 

preached from St Peter's chair, and it is a defining moment comparable to Winston Churchill's "Iron Curtain" speech at Fulton, Missouri, in 1946. Earlier this year, Benedict's elliptical remarks to former students at a private seminar in 2005, mentioned in passing by an American Jesuit and reported in this space, created a scandal. [2] I wrote at the time that even the pope must whisper when it comes to Islam. We have entered a different stage of civilizational war.

The Islamic world now views the pontiff as an existential threat, and with reason. Jihad is not merely the whim of a despotic divinity, as the pope implied. It is much more: jihad is the fundamental sacrament of Islam, the Muslim cognate of the Lord's Supper in Christianity, that is, the unique form of sacrifice by which the individual believer communes with the Transcendent. To denounce jihad on theological grounds is a blow at the foundations of Islam, in effect a papal call for the conversion of the Muslims.

Just before then-cardinal Ratzinger's election as pope last year, I wrote, "Now that everyone is talking about Europe's demographic death, it is time to point out that there exists a way out: convert European Muslims to Christianity. The reported front-runner at the Vatican conclave ... Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, is one of the few Church leaders unafraid to raise the subject." [3] The Regensburg address oversteps the bounds of dialogue and verges upon the missionary. A great deal has changed since John Paul II kissed the Koran before news cameras in 1999. The boys and girls of the Catholic youth organization Communione e Liberazione that Ratzinger nurtured for a generation will have a great deal to talk to their Muslim school-fellows about.

No more can one assume now that Europe will slide meekly into dhimmitude.


In that respect [I wrote during the conclave] John Paul II recalled the sad position of Pius XII, afraid to denounce publicly the murder of Polish priests by Nazi occupiers - let alone the murder of Polish Jews - for fear that the Nazis would react by killing even more. It is hard to second-guess the actions of Pius XII given his terrible predicament, but at some point one must ask when the Gates of Hell can be said to have prevailed over St Peter.
Specifically, Benedict stated that jihad, the propagation of Islam by force, is irrational, because it is against the Reason of God. Citing a 14th-century Byzantine emperor to the effect that Mohammed's "decree that the faith he preached should be spread with the sword" as "evil and inhumane" provoked headlines. But of greater weight is the pope's observation that Allah is a god whose "absolute transcendence" allows no constraint, to the point that Allah is free if he chooses to promote evil. The great German-Jewish theologian Franz Rosenzweig explained the matter more colorfully than did the pope, as I reported three years ago in the cited review:


The god of Mohammed is a creator who well might not have bothered to create. He displays his power like an Oriental potentate who rules by violence, not by acting according to necessity, not by authorizing the enactment of the law, but rather in his freedom to act arbitrarily ... Providence thus is shattered into infinitely many individual acts of creation, with no connection to each other, each of which has the importance of the entire creation. That has been the doctrine of the ruling orthodox philosophy in Islam. Every individual thing is created from scratch at every moment. Islam cannot be salvaged from this frightful providence of Allah ... despite its vehement, haughty insistence upon the idea of the god's unity, Islam slips back into a kind of monistic paganism, if you will permit the expression. God competes with God at every moment, as if it were the colorfully contending heavenful of gods of polytheism.
It is amusing to see liberal Jewish commentators in the United States, eg, the editorial page of the September 16 New York Times, deplore the pope's remarks, considering that Rosenzweig said it all the more sharply in 1920.

Benedict's comments regarding Islam served as a preamble to a longer discourse on the unity of faith and reason. "Is the conviction that acting unreasonably contradicts God's nature merely a Greek idea, or is it always and intrinsically true?" Benedict asked, and answered his own question: "I believe that here we can see the profound harmony between what is Greek in the best sense of the word and the biblical understanding of faith in God." It is not, however, the reasoned side of Benedict's remarks to which Muslims responded, but rather the existential.

Rather than rail at the pope's characterization of Islam, Muslims might have responded as follows: "Excuse me, Your Holiness, but did we hear you say that you represent a religion of reason, whereas Allah is a god of unreason? Do you not personally eat the body and blood of your god - at least things that you insist really are his flesh and blood - every day at Mass? And you accuse us of unreason!" That is a fair rebuttal, but it opens up Islam's can of worms.

True, we are not pottering about in this pilgrim existence to be rational. Today's Germans are irrational, and know that their time has past, and therefore desist from bearing children. What mankind - Christian, Muslim and Jew, and all - demand of God is irrational. We want eternal life! Christians do not want what the Greeks wanted - Socrates' transmigration of souls, nor the shadow existence of Homer's dead heroes in Hades. That is an unreasonable demand if ever there was one.

Before the Bible was written, the Babylonian hero Gilgamesh learned that his quest for immortality was futile. The demigods of Greece, mortals favored by Olympians, suffered a tedious sort of immortal life as stars, trees or rivers. The gods of the heathens are not in any case eternal, only immortal. They were born and they will die, like the Norse gods at the Ragnorak, and their vulnerability projects the people's presentiment of its own death. To whom, precisely, have the gods offered eternal life prior to the appearance of revealed religion? Eternal life and a deathless mortality are quite different things.

But what is it that God demands of us in response to our demand for eternal life? We know the answer ourselves. To partake of life in another world we first must detach ourselves from this world in order to desire the next. In plain language, we must sacrifice ourselves. There is no concept of immortality without some concept of sacrifice, not in any culture or in any religion. That is a demand shared by the Catholic bishops and the Kalahari Bushmen.

God's covenant with Abraham is unique and singular in world history. A single universal and eternal god makes an eternal pact with a mortal that can be fulfilled only if Abraham's tribe becomes an eternal people. But the price of this pact is self-sacrifice. That is an existential mortal act beyond all ethics, as Soren Kierkegaard tells us in Fear and Trembling. The sacraments of revealed religion are sublimated human sacrifice, for the revealed god in his love for humankind spares the victim, just as God provided a ram in place of the bound Isaac on Mount Moriah. Among Jews the covenant must be renewed in each male child through a substitute form of human sacrifice, namely circumcision. [4] Christians believe that a single human sacrifice spared the rest of humankind.

Jihad also is a form of human sacrifice. He who serves Allah so faithfully as to die in the violent propagation of Islam goes straight to paradise, there to enjoy virgins or raisins, depending on the translation. But Allah is not the revealed god of loving kindness, or agape, but - pace Benedict - a god of reason, that is, of cold calculation. Islam admits no expiatory sacrifice. Everyone must carry his own spear.

We are too comfortable, too clean, too squeamish, too modern to descend into the terrible space where birth, death and immortality are decided. We forget that we cannot have eternal life unless we are ready to give up this one - and this the Muslim knows only through what we should call the sacrament of jihad. Through jihad, the Muslim does almost precisely what the Christian does at the Lord's Supper. It is the sacrifice of Jesus that grants immortal life to all Christians, that is, those who become one with Jesus by eating his flesh and drinking his blood so that the sacrifice also is theirs, at least in Catholic terms. Protestants substitute empathy identification with the crucified Christ for the trans-substantiated blood and flesh of Jesus.

Christians believe that Jesus died on the cross to give all men eternal life, on condition that they take part in his sacrifice, either through the physical communion of the Catholic Church or the empathetic Communion of Protestantism. From a Muslim vantage point, the extreme of divine humility embodied in Jesus' sacrifice is beyond reason. Allah, by contrast, deals with those who submit to him after the calculation of an earthly despot. He demands that all Muslims sacrifice themselves by becoming warriors and, if necessary, laying their lives down in the perpetual war against the enemies of Islam.

These are parallel acts, in which different peoples do different things, in the service of different deities, but for the same reason: for eternal life.

Why is self-sacrifice always and everywhere the cost of eternal life? It is not because a vengeful and sanguineous God demands his due before issuing us a visa to heaven. Quite the contrary: we must sacrifice our earthly self, our attachment to the pleasures and petty victories of our short mortal life if we really are to gain the eternal life that we desire. The animal led to the altar, indeed Jesus on the cross, is ourselves: we die along with the sacrifice and yet live, by the grace of God. YHWH did not want Isaac to die, but without taking Abraham to Mount Moriah, Abraham himself could not have been transformed into the man desirous and deserving of immortal life. Jesus died and took upon him the sins of the world, in Christian terms, precisely so that a vicarious sacrifice would redeem those who come to him.

What distinguishes Allah from YHWH and (in Christian belief) his son Jesus is love. God gives Jews and Christians a path that their foot can tread, one that is not too hard for mortals, to secure the unobtainable, namely immortal life, as if by miracle. Out of love God gives the Torah to the Jews, not because God is a stickler for the execution of 613 commandments, but because it is a path upon which the Jew may sacrifice and yet live, and receive his portion of the World to Come. The most important sacrifice in Judaism is the Sabbath - "our offering of rest", says the congregation in the Sabbath prayers - a day of inactivity that acknowledges that the Earth is the Lord's. It is a sacrifice, as it were, of ego. In this framework, incidentally, it is pointless to distinguish Judaism as a "religion of works" as opposed to Christianity as a "religion of faith".

To Christians, God offers the vicarious participation in his sacrifice of himself through his only son.

That is Grace: a free gift by God to men such that they may obtain eternal life. By a miracle, the human soul responds to the offer of Grace with a leap, a leap away from the attachments that hold us to this world, and a foretaste of the World to Come.

There is no Grace in Islam, no miracle, no expiatory sacrifice, no expression of love for mankind such that each Muslim need not be a sacrifice. On the contrary, the concept of jihad, in which the congregation of Islam is also the army, states that every single Muslim must sacrifice himself personally. Jihad is the precise equivalent of the Lord's Supper in Christianity and the Jewish Sabbath, the defining expression of sacrifice that opens the prospect of eternity to the mortal believer. To ask Islam to become moderate, to reform, to become a peaceful religion of personal conscience is the precise equivalent of asking Catholics to abolish Mass.

Islam, I have argued for years, faces an existential crisis in the modern world, which has ripped its adherents out of their traditional existence and thrust them into deadly conflicts. What was always latent in Islam has now come to the surface: the practice of Islam now expresses itself uniquely in jihad. Benedict XVI has had the courage to call things by their true names. Everything else is hypocrisy and self-delusion.

Postscript
Regarding Benedict XVI's statement that the characterization of the Prophet Mohammed did not reflect his "personal opinion": In 1938, at the peak of Stalin's terror, a Muscovite called the KGB to report that his parrot had escaped. The KGB officer said, "Why are you calling us?" The Muscovite averred, "I want to state for the record that I do not share the parrot's political opinions."

Notes
1. See Oil on the flames of civilizational war, December 2, 2003.
2. See When even the pope has to whisper, January 10, 2006.
3. The crescent and the conclave, April 19, 2005.
4. See The Death and Resurrection of the Beloved Son: The Transformation of Child Sacrifice in Judaism and Christianity, by Jon D Levinson (Harvard; Cambridge 1993).

(Copyright 2006 Asia Times Online Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact us about sales, syndication and republishing .)
28800  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security on: September 18, 2006, 02:41:34 PM
El Shukrijumah and the 'Dirty Bomb' Threat
Certain bloggers are circulating rumors on the Internet that alleged al Qaeda militant Adnan El Shukrijumah has been sighted recently in Central America and Texas, saying this indicates al Qaeda is close to conducting a "dirty bomb" attack against the United States.

According to the rumors, El Shukrijumah is in possession of dirty bombs -- devices intended to disperse radiation -- and is waiting for a "go" signal or a taped statement from al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. Still other rumors have circulated about an "American Hiroshima," or an al Qaeda nuclear attack against the United States. Although there is little chance that a dirty bomb attack is imminent, the U.S. government has good reason to believe that El Shukrijumah poses a significant threat.

Although the U.S. government says El Shukrijumah is a naturalized U.S. citizen who was born in 1975 in Saudi Arabia, the Saudis say El Shukrijumah's father was an expatriate worker in Saudi Arabia and that neither the father nor the son was ever a Saudi citizen. The family also reportedly spent time in Guyana, where his father, Sheikh Gulshair El Shukrijumah, worked as a missionary for the Saudi government. In the early 1990s, the family moved to Brooklyn, N.Y., where the father took a job at the Al Farouq Mosque. Some members of the mosque were subsequently linked to the 1993 attack against the World Trade Center and a plot to bomb targets in New York, including the Holland Tunnel and U.N. Headquarters. In 1995, the El Shukrijumah family moved to Miramar, Fla., where Adnan studied computer science at Broward Community College.

By the late 1990s, perhaps inspired by the war between Bosnian Muslims and Serbs in the former Yugoslavia, El Shukrijumah began to favor more radical interpretations of Islam. In late 1999, according to the FBI, he began traveling to Pakistan and Afghanistan to attend al Qaeda training camps. By 2001, the FBI was investigating El Shukrijumah in connection with two alleged militant plots based out of south Florida.

In the months before 9/11, El Shukrijumah allegedly traveled extensively in the United States and Canada, possibly scoping out potential targets. He disappeared from south Florida shortly before 9/11, but is not believed to have been part of that plot. Based on an investigation into his activities, the FBI obtained an arrest warrant for El Shukrijumah in 2003, but by then he had dropped off the radar. The FBI believes El Shukrijumah could be anywhere, and the hunt for him has spanned into Trinidad, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Pakistan's Waziristan province.

According to the FBI, El Shukrijumah is especially dangerous because of his intelligence and because his appearance, which enables him to pass as a Latino or Indian, allows him to blend in with non-Muslims. Also, having spent a considerable amount of time in the United States, he speaks English well and is familiar with U.S. culture. The State Department, through its Rewards for Justice Program, is offering a reward of up to $5 million for information leading to El Shukrijumah's arrest. There also is speculation outside of the government that he is well-versed in nuclear technology and is an accomplished pilot, but these claims are not supported by the FBI's investigation. His technical background, however, suggests he would be able to construct a dirty bomb.

Operationally, an "American Hiroshima" plot would be difficult to successfully carry out. Although obtaining and employing weapons of mass destruction, including dirty bombs, have long been part of al Qaeda's strategic thinking, there has been no indication that the jihadist network has been able to make any significant progress toward that goal.

Rumors of imminent attacks with dirty bombs appear in cycles and are nothing new. If al Qaeda were in the operational phase of such a plot, it doubtfully would provide warnings or allow indicators of its plan to leak out. Speculation about an attack, however, does allow the jihadist network to spread fear, forces U.S. authorities to waste resources and perhaps even serves as cover for its real actions.

The rumors about dirty bomb plots and the whereabouts of the shadowy El Shukrijumah may be unfounded, but they do add to the mystery surrounding him. If he is in fact an al Qaeda operative, he is one of the group's more technically adept and sophisticated members, which makes him dangerous. El Shukrijumah, however, is more threatening as a capable organizer of a more conventional attack inside the United States.
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