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28751  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Europe on: October 22, 2006, 06:10:32 AM
Hat tip to GM for this one too:
======================

The West's Self-Imposed Censorship
By Amir Taheri
Gulf News | October 13, 2006


In Communist-ruled East Germany, they had a term for it: pre-emptive obedience. This meant guessing the future orders of the politburo and obeying them before they were issued. East Germany was thrown into the dustbin of history a long time ago. However, "pre-emptive obedience" is making a comeback in re-unified Germany and several other European countries.

It was based on "pre-emptive obedience" that the German Opera in Berlin decided to cancel its production of Mozart's Idomeneo after the managers decided that it might anger Muslims. The opera had already been shown in 2003 without incident and no Muslim group had called for it to be withdrawn. Thus, the managers were obeying orders that had not been issued.

A few days after the Idomeneo scandal it was the turn of French philosopher Robert Redecker to do a bit of "pre-emptive obedience" by going into hiding after publishing a newspaper column that some of his friends feared might anger Muslims. The fact is that quite a few Muslim writers have published essays more daring than Redecker's without going into hiding under police protection, thus resisting "pre-emptive obedience" of orders that might come from "Islamofascist" groups.

"Pre-emptive obedience" was also at work when the Whitechapel Art Gallery, one of London's major art exhibition venues, decided to withdraw a number of paintings by the surrealist Hans Bellmer. The reason? The management decided that the erotic paintings might "hurt the sensibilities of the Muslim community" which is strongly present in London's East End of which Whitechapel is a part. Again, no Muslim had seen the paintings or would have been able to interpret them as "an erotic assault on the Quran", let alone demand that they be withdrawn.

Thanks to "pre-emptive obedience", a wave of self-censorship has also hit the traditionally bawdy world of German carnivals. The Dusseldorf carnival, for example, has banned any gear that might appear "Islamic" and thus designed to "hurt Muslim sensibilities". A work by the Swiss sculptor Fleur Boecklin was also withdrawn from public view in Dusseldorf after it was branded "a misrepresentation of Islam as an aggressive faith".

Self-censorship for alleged fear of Islamic revenge has hit other areas of life in Europe.

In Spain, folkloric ceremonies and carnivals marking the expulsion of the Moors from Andalusia have been cancelled in all but a handful of villages, ending a 400-year old tradition.

In Germany, France and Britain numerous illuminated manuscripts of Persian poetry and prose have been withdrawn because they contained images of the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) and other historic figures of Islam.

In most European countries, an official black of list of books has emerged, containing works deemed to be "hurtful to Muslim sentiments". The list includes the names not only of such major European authors as Voltaire and Thomas Carlyle but also of Muslim writers whose work has been translated into European languages. For example, the novel Haji Agha by Sadeq Hedayat, translated into French and published in the 1940s, is no longer available. The novel Four Pains by Cyrus Farzaneh has also disappeared from French bookshops and libraries along with The Master by Darvish.

Last month a British publisher, acting on "pre-emptive obedience", cancelled plans to publish the translation of Twenty Three Years, a controversial biography of the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) by the late Iranian author Ali Dashti. Literary agents and book publishers have no qualms about admitting that they would not touch any manuscript that "smells like stirring the Muslims into a rage". One editor tells me that he has rejected at least 10 manuscripts in the past year alone because he did not wish to "risk controversy or worse" with Muslims. "I don't want to live under police escort," he says.

The American author and feminist Phyllis Chesler is still trying to find a British publisher, while her colleague Nancy Korbin has just lost her American publisher. In both cases, fear of angering Muslims is cited as the excuse for what is, in fact, "pre-emptive obedience".

The practitioners of "pre-emptive obedience" often claim they are acting in accordance with the best principles of multiculturalism.

"We wish to show respect for our Muslim neighbours," says a spokesperson for the Whitechapel Art Gallery.

While museums in Germany and Britain are hiding works that show images of the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH), Turkish and Iranian museums continue to display their tableaux containing his images.

Sometimes the imagined threat of "Islamic anger" is used for settling of scores that have nothing to do with Islam. In the Russian city of Volgograd (former Stalingrad), for example, there are no more than a few hundred Muslims. And yet the Russian government has just closed down the local newspaper based on the claim that it had hurt "Muslim sensibilities" by publishing a cartoon that shows Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) along with Moses and Jesus, watching some people fighting on television. The truth is that the local branch of the United Russia Party, the political mouth piece of President Vladimir Putin, had been trying to shut the newspaper for years. The supposed feeling of "Muslim sensibilities" is nothing but an excuse for an attack on media freedom.

Ugliest evils

The truth, however, is that blaming Muslims for censorship, one of the ugliest evils in any civilised society, is an insult to a majority of Muslims. The adepts of "pre-emptive obedience" see Muslims as childish, irrational and incapable of responding to works of literature and art in terms other than passion and violence.

The party of "pre-emptive obedience" violates one of the basic principles of the western societies, that is to say freedom of expression. And, that makes it harder for Muslim democrats to persuade their co-religionists that, rather than fear freedom, they should learn to benefit from it.

The party of "pre-emptive obedience" hurts Muslim interests in another way. By presenting Muslims as agents of censorship and intolerance, it incites the non-Muslim majority against them while presenting the most reactionary fundamentalists as the sole legitimate representatives of Islam.

Self-censorship in Europe also provides the despotic regimes in Muslim countries with an excuse for their systematic violation of the right to free expression. While Muslim writers and artists are fighting and, in some cases, even dying to defend their freedom of creation it would be a sad irony to see that same freedom undermined by the party of "pre-emptive obedience" in the West.
28752  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / North Korea on: October 22, 2006, 06:00:40 AM
We need a thread dedicated to NK.  So here it is, started with yet another post pilfered from GM grin

The Sunday Times October 22, 2006


Kim tested by rise of armed resistance
Michael Sheridan, Far East Correspondent



AN underground resistance movement in North Korea, capable of smuggling out videos of executions and staging violent acts of defiance, has emerged as the Kim Jong-il dictatorship faces international sanctions for testing a nuclear bomb.
The latest evidence of North Koreans willing to risk their lives to tell their story is a video showing the execution by firing squad of a woman convicted of murder committed in the course of stealing food last July.



Captured by a bystander with a tiny camera, it shows the victim being tied to a stake, watched by other convicts, in a field next to the Juyi River in the north.

There are sounds of people muttering in Korean, ?See, that?s how they blindfold them,? as three executioners prepare to fire. Shouted commands are then heard.

As a ragged series of 12 shots resounds, blurry clouds of smoke break out around the distant figure, which slumps in its bonds. The body is then wrapped in what appears to be a plastic bag for burial.

The video was aired by Japan?s Asahi Television, which said the dead woman was named Yoo Bun Hee, but gave no details of how it obtained the pictures. North Korean exiles said they believe it is authentic.

The footage provides a clue to an unexplained series of border incidents earlier this year which North Korean officials blamed on a shadowy ?resistance?.

In one clash North Korean border guards confronted three men creeping at night across the frozen Tumen River from China. In the ensuing fight the intruders stabbed several soldiers and escaped, leaving a bag containing three guns, ammunition, a video camera and a phone.

On the same night in late January men opened fire on a frontier post at the town of Huiryeong, causing an unknown number of casualties before escaping.

Chinese witnesses and foreign diplomats say there have been repeated outbreaks of gunfire, usually at night, along the mountainous barren borderlands. Lim Chun Yong, a former North Korean special forces officer who has defected, claimed that four or five groups of an ?armed resistance? were in the area.

?The people say among themselves that the regime is worse than the Japanese colonists,? he told South Korea?s Dong-A Ilbo newspaper.

The constant traffic of traders and escapees along the 850-mile border has eroded totalitarian controls to the point where clandestine goods and ideas now thrive in the frontier provinces. Smuggled mobiles allow North Koreans to make calls on Chinese networks by capturing their signals at the border.

Because there are no barriers to calling South Korea or the United States from China, they can talk to family members and enemies of the regime.

The latest video is proof that Chinese currency and DVDs are in circulation, because some witnesses to the execution had been forced to watch as punishment for possessing such things.

People smugglers and black-marketeers are rife. Chinese sources said some North Korean border guards could be bribed to turn a blind eye.

When the rivers freeze or dry to a trickle, it is almost impossible to seal the frontier. Chinese travellers report that in some areas North Korean officials are too nervous to go out at night and military reinforcements have been brought in from politically reliable units.

Experts on the regime do not expect it to fold quickly or easily. The exiled Hwang Jang-yop, 83, who was the chief ideologue in Pyongyang before his astonishing defection to the South in the late 1990s, says only the overthrow of Kim Jong-il could end its nuclear ambitions.

Kim could also easily withstand the envisaged United Nations sanctions, he added.

The next step in the crisis is still in doubt after Condoleezza Rice, the US Secretary of State, cast doubt on reports that Kim had expressed regrets and promised no more tests. Instead, she said, North Korea seemed bent on escalation.
28753  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Economics and Stock Market on: October 22, 2006, 05:58:47 AM
Delighted to have you with us Rick!

Your assessment seems quite sound to me. 

With the apparent victories of the Dems looming, why is the market so sanguine?
28754  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: October 22, 2006, 05:49:54 AM
Rick:

You raise a sound question.

A partial answer: 

1) Things move faster now.  It took a goodly amount of time for a letter to get from one state to another in those days-- today we have the internet.

2) The dynamics with neighboring countries was different--e.g. a Islamofascist whacko nuclear wannabe regime was not next door trying to steer things its way.

3) The dynamics amongst ourselves was different.  We weren't death squading, kamikazi killing women and children, killing the members of the Constitutional Convention etc.
28755  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in America and the rest of the western hemisphere on: October 22, 2006, 05:43:04 AM
An Islamic TV Channel Expands Its U.S. Audience
The MEMRI Report
BY STEVEN STALINSKY
October 19, 2006
URL: http://www.nysun.com/article/41877


Bridges TV, an American-Islamic TV channel "seeking to improve the image of Muslims in the United States" and to "offer a unique perspective on the Middle East and the war on terrorism," has extended its availability into six states, creating a potential audience of nearly 2 million.

The network's programming includes a mix of entertainment, sports, news, documentaries, and advertisements from companies like Ford, with an emphasis on religious programs.

The channel says it has been endorsed by "top American [Islamic] scholars and community leaders," whose representatives appear on many of its programs, including one called "Prominent Scholars."

Some speakers openly criticize Islamic extremists. An imam from Los Angeles, Sheik Tajuddin Bin Shuaib, appeared on the channel on October 8 and denounced Osama bin Laden and the September 11, 2001, hijackers.

Some guests, however, are extremists. One religious figure who appeared October 3 said Muslims have a duty to change America and to increase their numbers to 50% of the population from 2%. He recommended that Shariah, or Islamic law, be implemented in American courts.

During a roundtable discussion on the Arab-Israeli conflict on October 5, one participant offered a solution: "For the Jews to leave and return to Europe."

Bridges TV aired a speech by the influential Muslim scholar Jamal Badawi on October 4. Mr. Badawi, who teaches Islam throughout North America, gave an interview to the Saudi Gazette on June 24, 2005, in which he raised questions about who was behind the September 11 attacks and suggested that Americans could be behind the car bombings of Iraqi markets.

Every night, Bridges TV shows a news program, "Talking Points." Its guest on October 4 was Imam Mohammad Alo Elahi, whom it described as a leading "interfaith figure." According to his Web site, Imam Elahi was a spiritual leader in Ayatollah Khomeini's Iranian navy and also is the leader of "one of the largest mosques in the U.S.," in Dearborn, Mich.

The Web site describes his meetings with world leaders and shows photographs of him with the spiritual adviser of Hezbollah, Ayatollah Muhammad Hussein Fadlallah; Ayatollah Khomeini; Presidents Khatemi and Rafsanjani of Iran; Secretary-General Annan of the United Nations; and Minister Louis Farrakhan.

Throughout the day, Bridges TV airs segments of Koranic verses, quite a few of which denounce "unbelievers." One notable verse that aired October 9 praised martyrdom.

Since the Islamic holy month of Ramadan began, the channel has been showing official, Saudi government-controlled Wahhabi sermons from Mecca's holiest mosque, Al-Haram. The sermons stream live via Saudi TV Channel one every day at 4 p.m., and Bridges TV adds its own English subtitles.

An anti-Jewish, anti-Christian sermon from October 5 included the call, "May God destroy them!"

Bridges TV's Web site, bridgestv.com, features a weekly poll. Notable questions and results include 59% calling for Hezbollah to continue as a military force in Lebanon, 73% in agreement with the American policy of withholding funds to the Hamas-led Palestinian Arab government, and 63% believing that the Iranian government's nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.

One of the stars of Bridges TV is a cofounder and vice chairman of the international health care company CBay Inc., Donald "Skip" Conover, who hosts and produces a show called "Words Matter." He was the subject of a gushing article in the Saudi daily Arab News on September 27.

In the article, Mr. Conover expressed "his disgust" at what he called inflammatory statements about Arabs and Muslims in the press.

He also discussed the power of the "Jewish lobby" and called on all Muslims to vote for the Democratic Party. "Every American politician is in lockstep with Israel. ? If they vote against, then the Jewish lobby will put a lot of money behind the candidate against them in their districts in the future. I have news for the Muslim community. All American politicians are in the pocket of the Jewish lobby today because they control a lot of money, and they spend a lot of money in politics."

"If the Muslims of America believe that they don't want Bush to have a free hand for the next two years, then the Muslims of America need to get organized and make sure they get out to vote for Democrats for both the House and the Senate," Mr. Conover added. "Every Muslim in the Middle East who has a relative in the U.S. should get the message across to their relatives. They need to make sure that all their friends vote against Bush."

Bridges TV claims that its "major purpose" is "to build bridges between American Muslims and other Americans." After viewing the channel, I find this highly unlikely.

Mr. Stalinsky is the executive director of the Middle East Media Research Institute.
28756  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Big Picture WW3: Who, when, where, why on: October 22, 2006, 05:42:12 AM
Folks, I think he is giving my tail a yank because it comes from a post he made on another forum  embarassed grin

But I must go to post on another thread , , , another article posted elsewhere by GM  grin

More seriously now, GM, I like a lot of what you post , , , elsewhere but am too impatient to wait to find out if you are going to post ones that I particularly like here.   grin
28757  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Big Picture WW3: Who, when, where, why on: October 22, 2006, 12:25:31 AM
Second post of the evening:

http://www.directionsmag.com/article.php?article_id=2071

The Challenge of Unrestricted Warfare - A Look Back and a Look Ahead
By Kevin Coleman
(Jan 11, 2006)


Let's take a trip back in time. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was created in the spring of 2003. Their sole mission focuses on protecting the United States from threats on the domestic front. So, how well have they done? Excluding the Katrina abomination, DHS has had a very successful year. The most critical measure of their success is, of course, the presence or absence of domestic terrorist attacks. When you use that as the measure, it has been a great year for the DHS. There were no major attacks on U.S. soil and only a handful of minor incidents were reported.

Even though DHS was successful in preventing domestic terrorist attacks, that does not mean that 2005 was a total success for DHS and their battle to keep all of us safe from terrorism. Domestic intelligence and surveillance are critical to prosecuting the war on terrorism. The multiple leaks of information that have taken place regarding classified programs have the entire intelligence community deeply concerned. It is unclear how the publicizing of this information has and will affect the efforts of DHS. It is difficult for people outside the security and intelligence communities to comprehend just how significantly we are exposed because of the lack of confidence in the ability of the government to keep classified data and programs secret. This is a challenge that must be addressed if DHS is to be successful in keeping us safe from the threats we face today.

DHS is combating a threat that is significantly different from any faced throughout history. The nature of conflict has changed. In order to understand the challenges DHS faces, you must first understand the evolving concept of Unrestricted Warfare (URW). Many of you may not be familiar with this term. When examining DHS closely, you begin to see that there are significant issues and challenges that must be addressed immediately. One core challenge is to recognize the significant differences in the threats we have faced in the past, the reality of the threats we face currently, and the threats we will face in the future. It is not just attacks from terrorist and radical nation states that pose threats.

The U.S. faces a new threat environment unlike any we have previously experienced. This multi-faceted threat has several unique characteristics in addition to a highly dynamic environment that seems to change on a daily, if not hourly, basis. These changes in traditional conflicts were recognized and given the name "Unrestricted Warfare." Colonels Qiao Liang and Wang Xiangsui of China first identified this new style of conflict in their book, Unrestricted Warfare. They were the first to voice concerns about the use of unconventional attacks. This book was written in 1999, three years before the September 11, 2001 attacks on the U.S. These concepts were further expanded by the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab and have been discussed within the Department of Defense.

Awareness of this multi-faceted threat is growing. Much more attention is being given to threat analysis and to new strategies and technologies needed to address this threat. In March of this year, The Johns Hopkins University's Applied Physics Laboratory and Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies are sponsoring a Symposium on Meeting the Unrestricted Warfare Threat. However, the nature of the URW threat mandates new tactics, approaches, and a new mindset in the effort to combat this threat. The U.S. must adopt a new National Security Strategy that is designed based on the unique attributes of URW.



High Level Attributes Comparison


URW Traditional
Challenges influence
Challenges power
Surprise attacks Declaration of war
Ill-defined field of battle Battle field with defined boundaries
Obscure targets Definable targets

Covert infiltration
Uniformed troops
Multi-faceted battlefronts Military battlefronts
Highly dynamic Low dynamics


What it takes to be successful in the era of Unrestricted Warfare is radically different than that which determined success in asymmetric warfare. When we look at conflict, we tend to look at land, sea and air combat. URW is different. The physical aspects of conflict are obscured. The battlefield now includes the minds of people.

The threats we face represent a new way of thinking about conflict and warfare. It is a battle for the minds of individuals, as well as for influence over culture, values and beliefs. With this dramatic change in the essence of the threats we face, the impact on the way we secure our country and wage war will be equally as significant.

Multiple aspects of life are attacked in an effort to influence and bring about change rather than focusing on attacking life itself. These tactics include disruption in the way of life and destruction of cultural symbols that are core to the opponent's way of life.

The Fourteen Facets of URW

Cultural warfare
Economic aid warfare
Environmental warfare
Financial warfare
Illegal drugs warfare
International law
Information and media warfare
Telecommunication and network warfare
Political warfare
Psychological warfare
Resource warfare
Smuggling warfare
Technological warfare
Terrorism
It is important to note that traditional forms of warfare will not disappear anytime soon. Most likely, any conflict will include tradition and URW techniques. In this context, nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons fall under the definition of traditional warfare.

Let's look at each of these fourteen areas of URW and assess the risk, potential impact, current defense capabilities, and magnitude of change required to address the threat. Using Trans-disciplinary Intelligence Engineering (TIE) techniques I have used in past DHS scenario development and risk analysis, I created the following high-level threat matrix. A numeric value between 1 (or low) and 5 (or high) has been assigned to each evaluation aspect within the matrix. It is important to keep in mind that this is based on the estimated capabilities, motivation, and resources of our adversaries in each of the fourteen facets of URW. This is, of course, based on open source intelligence and does not reflect any classified intelligence.


This is global warfare in the age of technology and information. Creating the capacity to address these threats is arguably the biggest challenge for DHS. Our defenses must be transformed to meet the threat of URW. Perhaps the area that will experience the most time-critical change is that of global intelligence. For the most part, every one of these types of warfare can be planned and launched from anywhere in the world. When all we had to worry about was conventional warfare, the intelligence community concentrated their efforts on a handful of countries. They knew the major suppliers of weapons and monitored them. They also created early warning and surveillance systems to alert them to an attack. They do not have the same capabilities with respect to URW. The information sources required to defend against URW necessitate significant business knowledge and intelligence. This requires collaboration. Previously, the intelligence community operated independently. In URW, they will need a strategic partnership with the private sector.

The change in almost every aspect of conflict and warfare creates the need to redefine success. There is no switch that, when flipped, ends the war- no single battle that brings the conflict to an end.

Unrestricted Warfare
Asymmetric Warfare
Winning = Mindset Change Winning = Overpowering Force and Power
Measured by Influence Measured by Control

A critical success factor will be the ability of the U.S. federal government to educate the masses on the new reality of unrestricted warfare and what changes are necessary to safeguard our way of life.

Conclusion
As we explore URW, our understanding of these threats will continue to evolve. With this evolution comes change. At issue is the fact that there is a limited amount of change that can be absorbed by any individual, group, or organization. When the amount of change exceeds the ability of an individual, group, or organization to adapt, it creates resistance and delays in transformation. Delays are unacceptable in this venue.

This is a battle for the minds of people. Winning the minds of people brings with it power and influence. To win the minds of a targeted audience requires capabilities that are not in our current complement of weapons. We must create new capabilities, like "Digital Warriors," to combat the threat of electronic warfare and information weapons. In addition, our arsenal requires reengineering of our global intelligence resources. New intelligence sources, expansion of our intelligence gathering capabilities, and closer cooperation between intelligence organizations around the world are just a few of the changes required to address these new threats.

For these reasons, technology will become even more important. Just consider the vast amount of intelligence required to monitor specific threats along the 14 facets of URW. Given that backdrop, consider the significant amount of information about what we call the 5Ws (who - what- where- when "? why) about specific plots and clandestine efforts to wage URW. Then dive down to the next level of detail, the data supporting the 5Ws. You begin to consider the time and location based intelligence maps that will need to be created in near real time to defend against these threats. The database, GIS, visualization and other requirements will drive the advancement of information technology for decades to come. We are truly moving from Guns, Guards and Gates to Information, Intelligence and Integration as the deciding factor in the conflicts yet to come.

In the coming year, this column will focus on the fourteen facets of URW. We will examine the threats, challenges, and technologies that need to be deployed to fight this type of war. This article will also serve as a foundation for understanding the remaining three parts of counter-terrorism for corporations and why business is such a critical component in our war on terrorism as well as the other 13 facets of unrestricted warfare.
28758  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Middle East War on: October 21, 2006, 11:48:24 PM
Sorry for lack of URL,? but this internet friend has a long and solid track record with me.
==============

This story from Haaretz, indirectly supports that contention...namely that the French would approve the sale of missiles to Lebanon...
 
French forces: Stop Lebanon overflights or we'll open fire
 
By Gideon Alon
 
The commanders of the French contingent in UNIFIL (United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon) have warned that if Israeli warplanes continue their overflights in Lebanon, they may have to open fire on them, Defense Minister Amir Peretz told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee yesterday.

Peretz told members of the committee that despite the warnings, Israel would continue to patrol the skies of Lebanon as such operations were critical for the country's security. Over the past few days, Peretz said, Israel had gathered clear evidence that Syria was transfering arms and ammunition to Lebanon, meaning that the embargo imposed by UN Resolution 1701 was not being completely enforced.

 
 

 
Israel plans to inform the joint committee of representatives of UNIFIL, the Israel Defense Forces and the Lebanese Army that unless the arms transfers are stopped, Israel will be forced to take independent action, Peretz said.

Turning to the situation in the Gaza Strip, Peretz said that Israel could under no circumstances allow the Strip to be turned into a second South Lebanon. According to Peretz, the time when Israel used to check who was sending every missile is over, and the IDF is intent on striking at every terrorist no matter what organization he belongs to.

The defense minister said that the current ground operations underway in the Gaza Strip were much more extensive than before. But, he said, "No one is hankering for ground action deep inside the entire Gaza Strip."

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

Another friend comments:

Looks like Israel was screwed once again by the "international community". 
Disarming Hizballah was part of the  peace deal - but now, no one even talks
about that.  And now, the French are threatening to shoot at Israeli planes.

What about shooting at those who are delivering arms to Hizballah?

Unbelievable.


 
 
 
28759  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Big Picture WW3: Who, when, where, why on: October 21, 2006, 11:41:51 PM
www.stratfor.com

U.S.: Al Qaeda and the U.S. Midterm Elections
With U.S. midterm elections set for Nov. 7, some observers are speculating about the possibility of an al Qaeda attempt to influence the outcome by staging a major attack on U.S. soil or against U.S. interests overseas. Although another al Qaeda attack can never be ruled out, the jihadist network is unlikely to stage one for the purpose of influencing this election -- largely because such a timed attack would not serve its purposes.

Al Qaeda's overall strategy against the United States is to force Washington to expend as many resources as possible to fight the jihadists -- which ostensibly would prove the network's long-stated charge that the United States is at war against Islam in general. By keeping the United States overextended across the globe, al Qaeda hopes to stretch the U.S. economy to the breaking point -- essentially to bleed the United States dry. The massive U.S. military commitment in Iraq and Afghanistan serves this strategy. The longer U.S. troops stay in the Middle East and Central Asia, the more al Qaeda perceives this strategy as working.

Should an attack before the election further erode public confidence in the Bush administration and its policies, the United States could become less willing to commit itself as heavily around the world. Therefore, staging an attack to influence this election would not serve al Qaeda's strategy of keeping the U.S. overextended. From al Qaeda's perspective, the longer the current administration remains in power -- using pre-emptive force and waging its war against militant Islam globally -- the better.

Although more Americans continue to believe the Republicans are better able than the Democrats to deal with the U.S.-jihadist war, the number has declined in the two years since the presidential election. An attack now could be interpreted as an indication that the Bush administration has mismanaged the war against militant Islam in the five years since 9/11, and that President George W. Bush's policies, particularly invading Iraq and inspiring widespread anti-U.S. sentiment among Muslims and Washington's allies, have made the United States less -- not more -- secure.

An attack before the elections could strengthen opposition to Bush and his party, and increase the demand for an end to U.S. involvement in Iraq. A U.S. departure from Iraq, however, would not serve al Qaeda's strategy of bleeding the United States dry. Although this election will not affect the duration of the current administration, a shift to a Democratic-controlled Congress could impede its programs and the war effort via the purse strings.

Al Qaeda has tried to influence elections before, but not on a legislative level. The 2004 attacks by an al Qaeda-linked cell against commuter trains in Madrid caused former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar's ruling Popular Party to lose. His successor, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, subsequently made good on his campaign pledge to withdraw Spanish troops from Iraq. In October 2004, bin Laden did refer to the U.S. presidential election in a video statement, although that election determined whether leadership of the government would change hands.

Although al Qaeda would have no incentive to manipulate the midterm elections, the organization does have a need to prove that it remains a strong enough force to pull off a major attack against the United States. This is evident in the foiled plots since 9/11, such as the Library Tower plot, the al-Hindi cell's financial centers plot and the London liquid explosives plot directed against U.S. airliners, as well as plots involving Richard Reid and Jose Padilla. Historically, major al Qaeda attacks on a scale similar to 9/11 have been staged based on operational considerations, not on whether they were likely to influence contemporary events.

With intelligence and law enforcement agencies around the world actively hunting for al Qaeda operatives and attacking the jihadist network wherever it can be found, the al Qaeda operational considerations for an attack are even more important than timing it to coincide with an election. If there is a major attack currently in the works, it probably was not conceived with the U.S. midterm elections in mind.
28760  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Europe on: October 21, 2006, 10:45:19 PM

Remember Oriana Fallaci? She had a hard time with the "politically correct" crowd with her last book, because it didn't toe the liberal line. Here's an excerpt from an interview with her on the occasion of her new book "The Force of Reason" (from http://www.nationalreview.com/comment/vidino200405040834.asp ).

In 1974, former Algerian President Houari Boumedienne said in a speech at the U.N.: "One day millions of men will leave the southern hemisphere to go to the northern hemisphere. And they will not go there as friends. Because they will go there to conquer it. And they will conquer it with their sons. The wombs of our women will give us victory." In other words, says Fallaci, what Islamic armies have not been able to do with force in more than 1,000 years can be achieved in less than a century through high birth rates. She cites as evidence a 1975 meeting of Islamic countries in Lahore, in which they announced their project to transform the flow of Muslim immigrants in Europe in "demographic preponderance."

The "sons of Allah," as Fallaci calls them, do not make a secret of their plans."A respected Muslim cleric told the crowd: "Thanks to your democratic laws we will invade you. Thanks to our Islamic laws we will conquer you." The full interview follows: May 04, 2004, 8:34 a.m.

Forceful Reason

Fallaci issues a wake-up call to Europe.

By Lorenzo Vidino

"Oriana Fallaci" is not a household name in the United States, but it cannot be uttered in Europe without generating a heated reaction. Even though her 2002 book, The Rage and the Pride, was translated into English (by Fallaci herself) and sold many copies in the U.S., it was on the other side of the ocean that intellectuals, politicians, and ordinary citizens passionately debated the views of the celebrated Italian journalist.

The Rage and the Pride is either loved or hated; the positions Fallaci takes in it leave no middle ground. Outraged by the events of 9/11, Fallaci criticizes both Muslims (bent, according to her, on conquering the West and annihilating its culture) and Europeans (described as spoiled, hypocritical, and blind to the mortal threat represented by Islamic expansionism). Fallaci's views as expressed in the Rage and the Pride caused an uproar in politically correct Europe, death threats and lawsuits included. Now, two years later, Fallaci has published a new book, entitled La Forza della Ragione (The Force of Reason), which continues the discourse she began in The Rage and the Pride.

As its title suggests, The Force of Reason is not dictated by the (sometimes excessive) fury that inspired The Rage and the Pride, but it gives a more accurate explanation of why Europe has decided not to defend its identity and to surrender to what she calls the "Islamic invasion." With the sarcasm and uniquely direct style that characterizes her work, Fallaci carefully examines the historic and political reasons that have led Europeans to vilify their own culture, consistently embrace anti-Americanism, and pander to every request from the increasingly powerful Muslim communities that populate the dying Old
Continent. Her analysis does not leave much hope for the future of Europe, although she takes a far more optimistic position on her adoptive country, the United States (Fallaci currently lives in New York).

The long introduction to The Force of Reason recounts the intellectual lynching to which Fallaci was subjected following the publication of The Rage and the Pride. The PC establishment, which she refers to as the "Modern Inquisition," crucified her, submerging her with lawsuits and accusations of being racist and fomenting a religious war. But all of this publicity just played into Fallaci's hands, as sales of The Rage and the Pride soared into the millions. But what has really struck Fallaci in the wake of The Rage and the Pride are the letters she has received from readers throughout the world.

One of the most significant was written by an Italian, who thanked her for "helping me to understand the things I thought without realizing I was thinking them." And this is Fallaci's goal: provoking Europeans into realizing what is going on right under their noses and getting rid of their fear to say something that goes against the PC dogma. According to Fallaci, the "Modern
Inquisition" has managed to keep individuals in fear of expressing what they believe: "If you are a Westerner and you say that your civilization is superior, the most developed that this planet has ever seen, you go to the stake. But if you are a son of Allah or one of their collaborationists and you say that Islam has always been a superior civilization, a ray of light...nobody touches you. Nobody sues you. Nobody condemns you."

Fallaci has her own interpretation of the massive Islamic immigration that is rapidly changing the face of European cities. She sees it as part of the expansionism that has characterized Islam since its birth. After reminding the reader how Islamic armies have aimed for centuries at the heart of Europe (a part of history that is not taught anymore in Europe, since it would offend
the sensitivity of Muslim pupils), reaching France, Poland, and Vienna, she lays out her case, claiming that the current flood of immigrants from the Middle East and North Africa is part of a carefully planned strategy. Fallaci uses the words of Muslim leaders to support this thesis.

In 1974, former Algerian President Houari Boumedienne said in a speech at the U.N.: "One day millions of men will leave the southern hemisphere to go to the northern hemisphere. And they will not go there as friends. Because they will go there to conquer it. And they will conquer it with their sons. The wombs of our women will give us victory." In other words, says Fallaci, what Islamic armies have not been able to do with force in more than 1,000 years can be achieved in less than a century through high birth rates. She cites as evidence a 1975 meeting of Islamic countries in Lahore, in which they announced their project to transform the flow of Muslim immigrants in Europe in "demographic preponderance."

The "sons of Allah," as Fallaci calls them, do not make a secret of their plans. A Catholic bishop recounted that, during an interfaith meeting in Turkey, a respected Muslim cleric told the crowd: "Thanks to your democratic laws we will invade you. Thanks to our Islamic laws we will conquer you." But what really makes Fallaci's blood boil is the West's inability to even
acknowledge this aggression. A large part of her book is dedicated to analyzing how the main European countries pander to the arrogant demands of radical Muslim organizations, how they are unable to defend their Jewish citizens from acts of Islamic militant violence (often blamed on neo-Nazis and almost never on the Muslim perpetrators, even when the evidence clearly proves otherwise), and said countries' unwillingness to be proud of their cultures and identities.


Amid Fallaci's bleak vision for Europe, however, a ray of hope comes from America. In a very emotional last chapter, Fallaci describes her admiration in witnessing the 2004 New Year's Eve celebrations in Times Square. In a sharp contrast with the fear-constrained Europeans, thousands of New Yorkers decided to defy the Code Orange terror alert and party hard in the face of the terrorists. Proud to honor itself, young and determined, America is perceived by Fallaci as the only hope for the West. In this unprovoked cultural war that has been waged on the West, America should lead the way, but it cannot do it alone. According to Fallaci, the West has not realized that it is under attack, and that this war "wants to hit our soul rather than our body. Our way of life, our philosophy of life. Our way of thinking, acting and loving. Our freedom. Do not be fooled by their explosives. That is just a strategy. The terrorists, the kamikazes, do not kill us just for the sake of killing us. They kill us to
bend us. To intimidate us, tire us, demoralize us, blackmail us."

Movingly passionate, The Force of Reason is a desperate wake-up call for the West and for Europe in particular. In Italy, despite a complete silence from the media (who have decided not to make the same mistake they made with The Rage and the Pride, when their criticism made the book's sales skyrocket) the book has sold a half million copies in just two weeks. A translation into English is imminent, making The Force of Reason readily accessible for those in the U.S. who want to learn more about the dire situation Europe faces.
28761  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Knife vs. Baseball Bat on: October 21, 2006, 06:35:26 PM
I personally would choose Ray Floro grin
28762  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Movies of interest on: October 20, 2006, 11:00:14 PM
Tony Jaa simply is one of the most impressive screen fighters I have ever seen.   The quality of the movement, the coordination and timing, the grace, the athleticism, the apparent martial arts skills, the aura he projects are all outstanding.

I've never seen his movies with/in English-- doesn't matter.  The opening scene of Ong Bak (the tree climb competition) is a remarkable piece of film.
28763  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Libertarian themes on: October 20, 2006, 08:02:24 PM
Myths of the Nanny State
by Radley Balko
http://www.cato.org/research/articles/cpr28n5-1.html

The late economist Julian Simon was libertarianism's great optimist. Classical liberals are naturally cynical about government and, as Jefferson famously put it, its natural tendency to grow and for liberty to lose ground. The "upside" of libertarianism, however, has always been the philosophy's ability to see the potential in individuals and in people's proclivity to make good decisions about their own well-being and, in the process, better the plight of humankind.

No one put humanity's explosion of wealth and prosperity into better perspective than Simon. Simon's targets were the doom-and-gloom environmentalists and zero-population-growth activists who in the last half of the 20th century peddled dire predictions of the coming cataclysm they said would be wrought by free markets and American consumerism. Using a wealth of economic, demographic, health, and consumer data, Simon showed how capitalism has made us more prosperous, healthier, better educated, longer lived, and generally better off than we've ever been. Furthermore, he demonstrated how prosperity and technology tend to make scarce resources more abundant, not less.

Though Malthusian prophets still pop up from time to time, Simon seems to have largely won that debate. Today's critics of free markets don't invoke Armageddon as their predecessors did. Nor do they declare that prosperity will be our undoing. Rather, today they argue that we simply aren't equipped to handle our freedom and our success. Instead of invoking government to heavily regulate the economy and redistribute wealth, they now argue that we need government to make many of our personal decisions for us, because individual Americans can't be trusted to make them on their own.

The Rise of Parentalism

In a recent paper published in the journal Public Choice, "Afraid to be Free: Dependency as Desideratum," Nobel Prize?winning economist James Buchanan composes a new taxonomy of socialist threats to liberty. Buchanan argues that the conventional threats to freedom from managerial socialism (central planning) and distributionist socialism (the welfare state) are today joined by paternalistic socialism and "parental socialism," which Buchanan describes as the willingness among many to allow the government to take control of their lives.

The emerging threat to American liberty today, then, is a combination of these latter two forms of socialism?the desire among some in government to interfere in nearly every aspect of our lives, and the lack of concern on the part of many Americans that this is happening. And while conventional critics of capitalism came primarily from the left, the parentalist-paternalist movement isn't as easily marginalized.

From the left, for example, a new class of critics has emerged under the banner of "public health." True public health is, of course, a perfectly legitimate function of government. The collective nature of the threats posed by highly communicable diseases, for example, makes protection from them a legitimate public good, deliverable by government. Today one might also include the threats posed by biological or chemical terrorism.

But modern "public-health" initiatives have moved well beyond what could reasonably be classified as public goods. Today, government undertakes all sorts of policies in the name of public health that are aimed at regulating personal behavior. It began in the 1970s and 1980s with anti-smoking initiatives and today includes a wide range of programs, including efforts aimed at reducing alcohol consumption, encouraging seatbelt and motorcycle helmet use, regulating diet and lifestyle in the name of curbing obesity, federalizing local issues like speed limits and the minimum drinking age, and generally using the power of the state to regulate away lifestyle risk.

But the American right, which has traditionally claimed to favor limited government, is no better. The Republican-led Congress is attempting to prohibit Internet gambling. That same Congress wants to expand the FCC's regulatory power beyond broadcast television to include cable television and satellite radio. President Bush's Department of Justice has declared prosecuting pornography a "top priority." And of course, the Bush administration has enforced the nation's drug laws with particular vigilance, paying little heed to traditional conservative notions of state sovereignty. The White House has vigorously defended the federal government's authority to regulate medical marijuana, physician-assisted suicide, and prescription painkillers, for example, even in states where voters have explicitly indicated their preference for laxer enforcement. In the case of medical marijuana, White House efforts may have resulted in the final deathknell for federalism.

Though the public health movement seems to have come largely from the left, and the "culture war" crusades against gambling, pornography, pop culture, and drugs largely from the right, it's important to point out that there is significant convergence between the two. Fervent anti-alcohol activists such as former Carter administration official Joseph Califano, for example, are every bit as active in promoting drug prohibition. National Review contributing editor David Frum has called for a "fat tax" on high-calorie foods, joining more left-oriented organizations like the Center for Science in the Public Interest. Family values advocates like William Bennett and John DiIulio and Republican Congressmen like Tom Osborne and Frank Wolf have joined with liberal organizations like the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in calling for heavy government regulation of alcohol. And there seems to be wide, bipartisan support for a powerful state on issues like continuing the drug war, instituting smoking bans in private bars and restaurants, the aforementioned ban on Internet gambling, and increased government scrutiny over pop culture media such as rap music and violent video games.

On the right, movements like National Review contributor Rod Dreher's "crunchy conservatism" borrow bons mots from Marx in denigrating wealth, consumption, and consumerism. Meanwhile, the left-leaning editorial boards at the Washington Post and New York Times abandoned traditional civil liberties concerns in supporting the Supreme Court's ruling upholding the federal ban on medical marijuana, because a ruling the other way might have adversely affected the federal government's massive regulatory state.

As Reason magazine's Jesse Walker has put it, "There is no party of tolerance in Washington?just a party that wages its crusades in the name of Christ and a party that wages its crusades in the name of Four out of Five Experts Agree."

Progressivism Redux

The lack of a clear ideological affiliation makes today's paternalism-parentalism increasingly resemble the early 20th century's progressive movement. Both are comprised of a motley mix of values crusaders and "nanny staters." Both value the "collective good" over personal choice, precaution over risk, and the community over the individual.

Perhaps it's not surprising, then, that the public discourse of late has been rife with nostalgia for progressivism. People on the left, having sullied the good word "liberal," now call themselves "progressives." Republicans from George W. Bush, the current president, to Sen. John McCain, who some see as a leading candidate to be the next, have publicly expressed their fondness for Theodore Roosevelt, the first president of the Progressive Era.

New America Foundation fellow Joel Kotkin explicitly called for a return to Progressive Era politics in a Washington Post essay, while Michael Gerson, who served as President Bush's chief speechwriter the last six years, recently named progressive icon William Jennings Bryan one of his personal heroes. Perhaps most bizarrely, the Drug Enforcement Administration has recently taken the position that alcohol prohibition? the crown jewel of Progressive Era reforms, and one of the most catastrophic experiments in American history?was in fact a success.

As Buchanan points out, parentalism and paternalism are at heart merely new forms of socialism. They value community and the collective good over choice and individual freedom. Public policy recommendations aimed at curbing alcoholism or obesity, for example, are rarely aimed at alcoholics or obese people themselves. Rather, they're usually aimed at taming "the environment" of alcohol or obesity, code for the food and alcohol industries. Specific recommendations inevitably target marketing and advertising, the tools free markets use to distribute information.

When policies are aimed at individuals, they're generally redistributionist in nature?sin or vice taxes, for example. Proposals like the "fat tax" tax all users of high-calorie foods, with proceeds going to obesity treatment and prevention programs? meaning they redistribute wealth from people who consume calorie-dense foods responsibly to those who don't.

Which brings us back to Julian Simon. Simon used empirical data to deflate claims that capitalism and industry were making us sick, irreparably damaging the earth, and bringing about the end of humanity. Simon instead showed how free markets and liberal institutions ushered in health, wealth, and longevity unprecedented in the history of man.

The emerging paternalist-parentalistsocialist threat to liberty, then, is in many ways the same old threat dressed up in new clothes. Critics of capitalism and consumerism can no longer credibly predict that free markets will eradicate the world's food supply. So today they argue that the food industry has created a nation of gluttons (which, considering that the bulk of human history has been a struggle against starvation, isn't such a bad problem to have). Of course, only a society prosperous enough to do away with child labor can worry about its children having too much to eat. The proliferation of Internet pornography or online gambling isn't of much concern in countries where less than 5 percent of the population has Internet access.

The "problems" this latest form of socialism attempts to solve, then, are afflictions of prosperity. They're problems much of the world would still consider itself fortunate to have.

It's also not clear that they're really problems at all.

Getting Better All the Time

Consider America's "cultural decay"? something conservatives are fond of invoking. Implicit in calls for government regulation of pornography, obscenity, gambling, alcohol, and the like is the assumption that cable television, pop music, the mainstreaming of pornography, and other cultural pariahs are breaking down America's important social institutions. But there's little data to suggest that's the case. In fact, nearly every social indicator is trending in a direction most of us would consider positive.

Here are just a few examples, culled from government agencies and advocacy groups: Teen pregnancy is at its lowest point since government researchers have been keeping statistics. Juvenile crime has been falling for 20 years (though there was, admittedly, a slight uptick last year). Crimes against children are down. The number of reported rapes has dropped dramatically over the last two decades, even as social stigma against rape victims has subsided. Despite a negligible increase last year, overall crime in the United States has also been in decline for 15 years.

There's more: Divorce is down. Teens are waiting longer to have sex. High school dropout rates are down. Unemployment remains low. And over the past decade, the overall abortion rate has dropped significantly. If Janet Jackson's "wardrobe malfunction," Internet porn, and violent video games are indeed inducing a nationwide slouch toward Gomorrah, as conservative icon Robert Bork once put it, it's difficult to discern from those statistics.

What's most intriguing is that all of these trends have been taking place since at least the mid-1990s?a period during which technology has given us more freedom to indulge in sin and vice than ever before, and an era in which Americans have become markedly less judgmental. The last 15 years have seen more tolerance for gay lifestyles, with shows like Will and Grace and Queer Eye for the Straight Guy finding mainstream audiences. The 1990s also saw the rise of the Internet, which has given Americans private, unfettered access to gambling and pornography; enabled the anonymous purchase of alcohol, cigarettes, and prescription drugs; and given even the oddest and most bizarre of subcultures the opportunity to find others just like them, and to create communities. The 1990s also saw the rise of gangsta' rap, violent video games, Howard Stern, and South Park.

In 2004, the conservative magazine City Journal reported on a series of polls showing that when it comes to issues of vice, personal behavior, and morality, Americans aged 30 and under are more conservative than several prior generations. Yet they're also more tolerant of other lifestyles, less judgmental, and heavy consumers of the pop culture conservative opinion leaders tell us is so corrupting.

Interestingly enough, the one statistic that bucks these trends is drug use. Drug use among adults is actually up over the past 20 years. But drug use is one area of personal liberty the government has gotten more aggressive about policing, which suggests that government efforts to control our decisions not only stifle individual freedom, they aren't very effective, either.

But even with drug use, there's some evidence that Americans are behaving responsibly. Though recreational use is up among adults, it's actually down over the same period among people under 18. So while people old enough to make their own decisions about their lives might be more likely to relax with the occasional marijuana cigarette, they're also making more of an effort to steer their kids clear of what are clearly adult activities.

Similarly, empirical data strongly suggests that despite claims from the public health alarmists that obesity, smoking, alcoholism, and any other number of ailments are wreaking a health care catastrophe in America, America is actually healthier than it's ever been.

Life expectancy in the United States reached an all-time high last year. Americans at every age can expect to live longer than ever before. The gap in life expectancy between blacks and whites is closing, too. Heart disease is in sharp decline since the early 1990s, as is stroke. Deaths from and incidence of cancer are also in retreat, including all but one of the 10 types of cancer most associated with obesity. The absolute number of deaths due to cancer also fell by 50,000 in 2004, a remarkable feat considering that America's population continues to grow. Yet these heartening trends have persisted despite the fact that, over the same period, many Americans have put on weight. Certainly, advances in medical technology, improvements in screening and treating diseases, and miracle drugs like statins deserve much of the credit (though it's worth pointing out that many of the same public health groups oppose the very free market aspects of U.S. health care that made these advances possible). No one would argue that excessive obesity is something to strive for. But if America's thickening waistline really were the looming disaster it's made out to be, we should at least be seeing the early signs of the cataclysm. That hasn't happened.

Like the doom-and-gloomers Simon fought, then, there simply isn't much evidence to support the sky-is-falling scenarios offered up by proponents of modern paternalism. Just as Americans are wiser, savvier, and more responsible with their own money than the government is, they also seem to be doing just fine when making their own decisions about virtue, vice, and lifestyle. Of course, even if they weren't, there are philosophical objections to government meddling in personal affairs.

The early 20th century journalist H. L. Mencken, a fierce critic of the original progressives, wrote, "the urge to save humanity is almost always only a false-face for the urge to rule it." That was true last century, when humanity's saviors were central planners who marched much of the developing world into starvation. And it's true today, when our "saviors" want laws, regulations, and government "awareness campaigns" pushing the hand of government into nearly every facet of our lives.

This article originally appeared in the September/October 2006 edition of Cato Policy Report
28764  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / America's Accupuncture points: Part Three on: October 20, 2006, 01:04:32 PM


4 Attack on US's command and control
C4ISR stands for command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance. In a war situation, C4ISR is a prime target because therein lies the center of gravity of one's adversary. Neutralizing C4ISR is like cutting off the head of a chicken. It can run around in circles for a while, but will soon collapse and die. The same is true in warfare.

Having the mightiest and most modern armed forces in the world, America prides itself with having the most sophisticated and advanced C4ISR. US military spy satellites can gather intelligence data and disseminate it on a real time basis. US surveillance and reconnaissance satellites are so sophisticated that their sensors can detect objects on Earth as small as one-tenth of a meter in size, from several hundred miles up. Satellite sensors can also penetrate clouds and bad weather or see in the night. Some of these spy satellites can also monitor radio or telephone conversations.

Aside from communications, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, satellites are also used for navigation, most especially in guiding ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, aircraft and other smart weapon systems to their targets. Without satellite guidance, such "smart" and precision weapons turn into "dumb" bombs and directionless missiles.

The advances in C4ISR are rapidly revolutionizing warfare. Gathering, processing, disseminating, and acting on intelligence is now made possible on a real-time or near real-time basis on a global or regional level. Because of these developments, a new war principle is emerging in the modern battlefield: "If the enemy sees you; you are dead."

The US is far advanced in its C4ISR compared with, for instance, China. China cannot hope to catch up and match the American system anytime soon. So in order for China to survive in the event of a major conflict with the US, China has to resort to asymmetric means. This means that China has to develop effective means of countering and neutralizing America?s C4ISR. And that is what China had been working on for more than two decades now.

The heart of America?s C4ISR lies in its technologically sophisticated satellites. But this seeming strength is also an Achilles' heel. Neutralize or destroy the key satellites, and America?s major forces, such as aircraft carrier battle groups, are blinded, muted, and decapitated. This concept is part of China?s strategy for "defeating a superior with an inferior" called shashaojian, or "assassin?s mace". It is like the mace kept by ladies in their bags, which they use when attacked by a mugger or rapist. They squirt the mace into the eyes of an attacker to temporarily blind him, giving the intended victim time to escape.

China now has the capability to identify and track satellites. And for more than two decades they have been busy developing anti-satellite weapons. China has been developing maneuverable nano-satellites that can neutralize other satellites. They do their work by maneuvering near a target satellite and neutralizing the target by electronic jamming, electro-magnetic pulse generation, clinging to the target and physically destroying it, bumping the target out of orbit, or simply exploding to bring the target satellite down with it. Such nano satellites can be launched in batches on demand by road-mobile DF21 or DF31 booster rockets.

Another anti-satellite weapon in the works is a land-based laser that blinds the sensitive sensors of satellites or even destroys them completely. Of course, if worse comes to worst, China can always use its weapon of last resort, destroying adversary satellites with a high-altitude nuclear burst. But this will only be used if China has not yet fully developed the other options when major hostilities start. With the neutralization of its C4ISR, America would be like "a blind man trying to catch fish with his bare hands", to quote Mao Zedong. In short, America would be brought to its knees.

5 Attack on US aircraft carrier battle groups
Aircraft carrier battle groups are the mainstay of US military supremacy. They serve as America?s chief instrument for global power projection and world dominance. In this category, the US has no equal. At the moment, the US maintains a total of 12 aircraft carrier battle groups. In comparison, China has none.

From June to August 2004, the US, for the first time in its naval history, conducted an exercise involving the simultaneous convergence of seven of its 12 aircraft carrier battle groups to within striking distance of China?s coast. This was the biggest and most massive show of force the world has ever seen. It was to remind China that if it uses force against Taiwan, China will have to contend with this kind of response.

It was mentioned earlier that China?s strategy in defeating the superior by the inferior is shashaojian or the "assassin?s mace". "Mace" is not only a blinding spray; it is also a meaner and deadlier weapon, a spiked war club of ancient times used to knock out an adversary with one blow. The spikes of the modern Chinese mace may well spell the end for aircraft carriers.

The first of these spikes consists of medium- and short-range ballistic missiles (modified and improved DF 21s/CSS-5 and DF 15s) with terminally guided maneuverable re-entry vehicles with circular error probability of 10 meters. DF 21s/CSS-5s can hit slow-moving targets at sea up to 2,500km away.

The second spike is an array of supersonic and highly accurate cruise missiles, some with range of 300km or more, that can be delivered by submarines, aircraft, surface ships or even common trucks (which are ideal for use in terrain like that of Iran along the Persian Gulf). These supersonic cruise missiles travel at more than twice the speed of sound (mach 2.5), or faster than a rifle bullet. They can be armed with conventional, anti-radiation, thermobaric, or electro-magnetic pulse warheads, or even nuclear warheads if need be. The Aegis missile defense system and the Phalanx Close-in Defense weapons of the US Navy are ineffective against these supersonic cruise missiles.

A barrage of these cruise missiles, followed by land-based intermediate- or short-range ballistic missiles with terminal guidance systems, could wreak havoc on an aircraft carrier battle group. Whether there are seven or 15 carrier battle groups, it will not matter, for China has enough ballistic and cruise missiles to destroy them all. Unfortunately for the US and British navies, they do not have the capacity to counter a barrage of supersonic cruise missile followed by a second barrage of ballistic missiles.

The first and second spikes of the "assassin?s mace" are sufficient to render the aircraft carrier battle groups obsolete. But there is a third spike which is equally dreadful. This is the deadly SHKVAL or "Squall" rocket torpedo developed by Russia and passed on to China. It is like an under-water missile. It weighs 6,000lbs and travels at 200 knots or 230mph, with a range of 7,500 yards. It is guided by autopilot and with its high speed, makes evasive maneuvers by carriers or nuclear submarines highly difficult. It is truly a submarine and carrier buster; and again, the US and its allies have no known defense against such a supercavitating rocket torpedo.

The "assassin?s mace" has still more spikes. The fourth spike consists of extra-large, bottom-rising, rocket-propelled sea mines laid by submarines along the projected paths of advancing carrier battle groups. These sea mines are designed specifically for targeting aircraft carriers. They can be grouped in clusters so that they will hit the carriers in barrages.

The final spike of the mace is a fleet of old fighter aircraft (China has thousands of them) modified as unmanned combat aerial vehicles fitted with extra fuel tanks and armed with stand-off anti-ship missiles. They are also packed with high explosives so that after firing off their precision-guided anti-ship missiles on the battle group, they will then finish their mission by dive-bombing "kamikaze" style into their targets.

If we now combine the mace as a means of blinding an adversary and the mace as a spiked war club, one can see the complete picture of how China will use the "assassin?s mace" to send America?s aircraft carrier battle groups into the dustbin of naval history. Although China does not possess a single operational aircraft carrier, it has converted the entire China mainland into a "virtual aircraft carrier" that is unsinkable and capable of destroying all the aircraft carrier battle groups that the US and its allies can muster.

The sad part for the US Navy is that even if American leaders and naval theorists realize the horrible truth that aircraft carriers have been rendered obsolete in modern warfare by China?s "assassin?s mace", the navy cannot just change strategy or discard its carriers. Hundreds of billions of dollars have been poured into those weapon systems and hundreds of thousands of jobs would be affected if such behemoths are turned into scrap. Besides, even if US Navy authorities wanted to change strategy, the all-powerful and influential military-industrial complex lobby would not allow it.

So, if and when a major conflict between the US and China occurs, say over the issue of Taiwan, pity those thousands of American sailors who are unfortunate enough to be in one of those aircraft carrier battle groups. They won't stand a chance.

A challenge to America
The 10 "acupuncture points" mentioned in this article are like a 10-stage riddle. It is an "assassin's mace" or war club of olden times with 10 deadly spikes. Any one of those spikes can bring America to its knees. I therefore throw this riddle to the think tanks in the Pentagon, to the US Congress, to the president's men, to US academe, and to every concerned American.

America is in the last two minutes of the fourth quarter of the "great game", and it is behind in points. If America can solve the riddle in time, it wins the game, it can seize global leadership, and the 21st century will truly be the American Century.

On the other hand, failure to solve the riddle will shake America to its very foundation and cause this great nation to collapse - just like that vivid image of the collapsing Twin Towers familiar to each and every American. America loses, and it will be down and out for the rest of this century.

Wake up, America!

 

 

Victor N Corpus is a retired brigadier general of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP); former chief of the Intelligence Service, AFP; and holds a master's degree in public administration from the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University.
28765  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Part Two on: October 20, 2006, 01:03:25 PM

 

PART 2: The assassin's mace

If America ever goes to war with China, Chinese military doctrine suggests the US should expect attacks on a number of key points where it is particularly vulnerable - where a single jab would paralyze the entire nation. China would aim at targets such as the US electricity grid, its computer networks, its oil supply routes, and the dollar. Other vital "acupuncture" points are outlined below.


1 A powerful triumvirate
No one ever imagined before 1991 that China and Russia would come together to form a close-knit alliance politically, diplomatically and, most important of all, militarily. For more than three decades before the break-up of the Soviet Union, China and the USSR had been bitter rivals, even going into a shooting war with each other along their common border.

But now the picture has changed completely. China and Russia have embraced one another and help each other ward off the military advances of the lone superpower in their respective backyards. In fact, it was a series of strategic blunders by the superpower that forced China and Russia into each other's arms. How so?

When the Soviet Union disintegrated in 1991, it would have been the best time for the US to use soft power to win over Russia into the Western fold. Russia at that time was an economic basket case, with the price of oil at $9 per barrel. But the promises of economic assistance from the US and Europe proved empty, and the Russian oligarchs were the main beneficiaries of relations with the Western powers.

NATO and EU then slowly advanced eastward, absorbing many of the countries making up the former Warsaw Pact alliance. Serbia, a close ally of Russia, was subjected to 78 days of continuous air bombardment. Regime changes were instigated by US and Western-financed non-governmental organizations in Georgia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan - all former Soviet republics and considered Russia?s backyard - giving Russia a feeling of strategic encirclement by the US and its allies. There was also the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq, followed by the establishment of US bases and deployment of troops in Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan.

These aggressive geopolitical moves by the US pushed Russia into the waiting arms of China, which badly needed Russian energy resources, modern weapon systems and military technology as a consequence of the US-led arms embargo imposed after the Tienanmen incident. Furthermore, China also needed a reliable and militarily capable ally in Russia because of the perceived threat of the US.

Reinforcing this Chinese perception was the outrageously wanton bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade by US-led NATO forces in 1999; the spy plane incident in 2001; the unilateral withdrawal of the US from the ABM Treaty in 2002; the enhanced military cooperation between the US and Japan; the inclusion of Taiwan in the Theater Missile Defense program.; the setting up of a military base in Kyrgyzstan which is only some 250 miles from the Chinese border near Lop Nor, China?s nuclear testing ground.

Add to that the announcement of President George W Bush that the US would come to the aid of Taiwan in the event that China uses force against it; the sending of two aircraft carrier battle groups to waters near Taiwan in 1995-1996; and the naval show of strength of seven aircraft carrier battle groups converging off the China coast in August 2004. All these aggressive moves by superpower America pushed China to embrace its former bitter rival, Russia.

Both China and Russia needed a secure and reliable rear; and both are ideally positioned to provide it. Moreover, their strengths ideally complement each other. It must be borne in mind that both are nuclear powers. The abundant energy resources of Russia ensures that China will not run out of gas in a major conflict - a strategic advantage over the US and its key allies.

Russia is also supplying China with many of the modern armaments and military technology it needs to modernize its defense sector. This effectively militates against the arms embargo imposed by the US and the EU on China. Russia in turn needs the increased trade with China, China?s financial clout and assistance, and manufactured goods.

The coming together of China and Russia was one of the most earth-shaking geopolitical events of modern times. Yet hardly anyone noticed the transition from bitter enemity to a solid geopolitical, economic, diplomatic and military alliance. The combined strengths of the two regional powers surely surpass that of the former Warsaw Pact. If we add Iran to the equation, we have a triumvirate that can pose a formidable challenge to the lone superpower. Iran is the most industrialized and the most populous nation in the Middle East. It is second only to Russia in terms of gas resources and also one of the largest oil producers in the world. It is also one of the most mountainous countries in the world, which makes it ideal for the conduct of asymmetric and guerrilla warfare against a superior adversary.

Iran borders both the Persian Gulf and the Caspian Sea, two of the richest oil and gas regions of the world. Most importantly, it controls the gateway to the Persian Gulf - the Strait of Hormuz. Modern bottom-rising, rocket propelled sea mines and supersonic cruise missiles deployed along the long mountainous coastline of Iran, manned by "invisible" guerrillas, could indefinitely stop the flow of oil from the Gulf, from which the US gets 23% of its imported oil.

Japan also derives 90% of its oil from the Persian Gulf area, and Europe about 60%. In a major conflict, Iran can effectively deprive the US war machine and those of its key allies of much needed energy supplies.

Imagine the war machine of the superpower running out of gas. Imagine also a US economy minus 23% of its imported oil. This 23% can rise considerably once Chinese and Russian submarines start sinking US-bound oil tankers. The triumvirate of China, Russia, and Iran could bring the US to its knees with a minimum of movement.

2 The US's geopolitical disadvantage
Another "acupuncture point" in America?s anatomy in the event of a major conflict with China (and Russia) is its inherent disadvantage dictated by geography. Being the lone superpower, any major conventional conflict involving the US will necessitate its bringing its forces to bear on its adversaries. This means that the US must cross the Pacific, Indian, and/or Atlantic Oceans in order to bring logistics or troop reinforcements to the battlefield.

In so doing, the US will be crossing thousands of miles of sea lanes of communication (SLOC) that can easily become a gauntlet of deadly Chinese and Russian submarines lying in ambush with bottom-rising sea mines, supercavitating rocket torpedoes, and supersonic cruise missiles that even aircraft carrier battle groups have no known defense against. Logistic and transport ships and oil tankers are particularly vulnerable.

The air corridors above these sea lanes will also be put at great risk by advanced air defense systems aboard Sovremenny destroyers or similar types of warships in Chinese and Russian inventories. In short, the US will be forced by geography to suffer all the disadvantages of conducting offensive operations against adversaries in Eurasia.

Of course, the US has "forces in being" and "logistics in place" in numerous military bases scattered around the world, especially those strategically encircling China, Russia, and Iran. But when the shooting war starts, these bases will be the first to be hit by barrages of short- and medium-range ballistic missiles and long-range land-attack cruise missiles armed with electro-magnetic pulse, anti-radar, thermobaric, and conventional warheads.

Following the missile barrages, the remnants of such weakened US military bases will easily be overwhelmed by blitzkrieg assaults from Russian and Chinese armored divisions in the Eurasian mainland. China, for instance, has four large armored units constantly on standby, poised to cross the Yili Corridor in Xinjiang province at a moment?s notice. The US base in Kyrgyzstan near the Chinese border would not stand a chance.

China, Russia and/or Iran, on the other hand, will operate on interior lines within the Eurasian mainland. When they move troops and logistics to meet any threat on the continent, they will have relatively secure lines of communication and logistics, using inland highways, railways and air transport.

Since the US cannot correct the dictates of geography, it and its main allies Japan and the UK will have to live and fight with this tremendous geopolitical disadvantage. Of course the US can bypass this geographic obstacle if it attacks China and Russia with its intercontinental ballistic missiles, sea-launched ballistic missiles and strategic bombers in a nuclear first strike, but China and Russia have the means to retaliate and obliterate the United States and its allies as well.

There are some among the leading neo-conservatives in the US who believe that a nuclear war is winnable; that there is no such thing as mutually assured destruction (MAD). Well, that truly mad way of thinking may well spell the end of planet earth for all of us.

3 Asymmetric attack
Superpower America is particularly vulnerable to asymmetric attack. A classic example of asymmetric attack is the September 11, 2001, attack on America. Nineteen determined attackers, armed with nothing but box cutters, succeeded in toppling the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City and causing the death of some 3,000 Americans. Notice the asymmetry of casualty ratio as well - the most lopsided casualty ratio ever recorded in history.

China, Russia, and Iran also possess asymmetric weapons that are designed to neutralize and defeat a superpower like America in a conventional conflict. Supersonic cruise missiles now in their inventories can defeat and sink US aircraft carriers. The same is true for medium- and short-range ballistic missiles with independently targetable warheads, extra-large bottom-rising, rocket-propelled sea mines (EM52s), and supercavitating rocket torpedoes (SHKVAL or "Squall"). The US Navy has no known defense against these weapons.

Iraqi insurgents are conducting a form of asymmetric warfare. They use improvised explosive devices, car bombs, booby traps and landmines against the most modern army the world has ever seen. The US's huge advantage in weaponry is negated by the fact that its soldiers cannot see their adversary. They are fighting against a "phantom" enemy - an invisible army.

And how can you win against an enemy you cannot see? This may be one reason why reports of massacres of Iraqi civilians by US soldiers have been increasing lately. But turning sophisticated weapons against civilians will never win wars for America. It will only heighten the rage of the victimized population and increase suicide bombings against US forces.

Connected to asymmetric warfare is asynchronous warfare, where the weaker side bides its time to strike back. And it strikes at a time and place where the adversary is totally unprepared.

For example, if the US were to strike Iran?s underground nuclear facilities with bunker-busting tactical nuclear warheads, Iran could bide its time until it develops its own nuclear weapons. It could then use its Kilo class submarines, equipped with supersonic "moskit" cruise missiles armed with Iran?s own nuclear warheads, to hit New York, or Washington, DC as a payback to the US for using nuclear weapons against Iran. Or the Iranians could infiltrate nuclear scientists into the US, where they would fabricate a "dirty" bomb to be detonated near the US Congress, in full session while the president is making his annual state of the nation address.

The possibilities for asymmetric and asynchronous warfare are limitless. Various weapons are available to the asymmetric or asynchronous attacker. If a simple box cutter produced such devastating results on September 11, 2001, imagine what chemical or biological weapons dropped from a private aircraft could do to a crowded city; or trained hackers attacking the US banking system and other key infrastructure and basic services; or man-portable surface-to-air missiles attacking US airlines taking off or landing in various airports around the globe; or non-nuclear electromagnetic pulse weapons hitting New York City or the US Capitol. No amount of even the best intelligence in the world can totally guard against and stop a determined asymmetric attacker.

28766  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Geo Political matters on: October 20, 2006, 12:59:38 PM
 

AMERICA'S ACUPUNCTURE POINTS
PART 1: Striking the US where it hurts
By Victor N Corpus

A noted Chinese theorist on modern warfare, Chang Mengxiong, compared China's form of fighting to "a Chinese boxer with a keen knowledge of vital body points who can bring an opponent to his knees with a minimum of movements". It is like key acupuncture points in ancient Chinese medicine. Puncture one vital point and the whole anatomy is affected. If America ever goes to war with China, say, over Taiwan, then America should be prepared for the following "acupuncture points" in its anatomy to be "punctured". Each of the vital points can bring America to its knees with a minimum of effort.

I Electro-magnetic Pulse (EMP) attack
China and Russia are two potential US adversaries that have the capability for this kind of attack. An EMP attack can either come from an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM), a long-range cruise missile, or an orbiting satellite armed with a nuclear or non-nuclear EMP warhead. A nuclear burst of one (or more) megaton some 400 kilometers over central United States (Omaha, Nebraska) can blanket the whole continental US with electro-magnetic pulse in less than one second.

An EMP attack will damage all electrical grids on the US mainland. It will disable computers and other similar electronic devices with microchips. Most businesses and industries will shut down. The entire US economy will practically grind to a halt. Satellites within line of sight of the EMP burst will also be damaged, adversely affecting military command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C4ISR). Land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles will be rendered unserviceable in their silos. Anti-ballistic missile defenses will suffer the same fate. In short ? total blackout. And American society as we know it will be thrown back to the Dark Ages.

Of course, the US may decide to strike first, but China and Russia now have the means of striking back with submarine-launched ballistic missiles with the same or even more devastating results. But knowing China's strategy of "active defense", when war with the US becomes imminent, China will surely not allow itself to be targeted first. It will seize the initiative as mandated by its doctrine by striking first.

China has repeatedly announced that it will not be the first to use nuclear weapons. But as an old Chinese saying goes: "There can never be too much deception in war." If it means the survival of the whole Chinese nation that is at stake, China will surely not allow a public statement to tie its hands and prevent it from seizing the initiative. As another saying goes: "All is fair in love and war."

2 Cyber attack
America is the most advanced country in the world in the field of information technology (IT). Practically all of its industries, manufacturing, business and finance, telecommunications, key government services and defense establishment rely heavily on computers and computer networks.

But this heavy dependence on computers is a double-edged sword. It has thrust the US economy and defense establishment ahead of all other countries; but it has also created an Achilles' heel that can potentially bring the superpower to its knees with a few keystrokes on a dozen or so laptops.

China's new concept of a "people's war" includes IT warriors coming, not only from its military more than 2-million strong, but from the general citizenry of some 1.3 billion people. If we add the hackers and information warriors from Russia, Iran, North Korea, Venezuela, Cuba, Syria and other countries sympathetic to China, the cyber attack on the US would be formidable indeed.

So, if a major conflict erupts between China and America, more than a few dozen laptops will be engaged to hack America's military establishment; banking system; stock exchange; defense industries; telecommunication system; power grids; water system; oil and gas pipeline system; air traffic and train traffic control systems; C4ISR system, ballistic missile system, and other systems that prop up the American way of life.

America, on the whole, has not adequately prepared itself for this kind of attack. Neither has it prepared itself for a possible EMP attack. Such attacks can bring a superpower like America to its knees with a minimum of movement.

3 Interdiction of US foreign oil supply
America is now 75% dependent on foreign imported oil. About 23.5% of America's imported oil supply comes from the Persian Gulf. To cut off this oil supply, Iran can simply mine the Strait of Hormuz, using bottom-rising sea mines. It is worthwhile to note that Iran has the world's fourth-largest inventory of sea mines, after China, Russia and the US.

Combined with sea mines, Iran can also block the narrow strait with supersonic cruise missiles such as Yakhonts, Moskits, Granits and Brahmos deployed on Abu Musa Island and all along the rugged and mountainous coastline of Iran fronting the Persian Gulf. This single action can bring America to its knees. Not only America but Japan (which derives 90% of its oil supply) and Europe (which derives about 60% of its oil supply from the Persian Gulf ) will be adversely affected.

In the event of a major conflict involving superpower America and its allies (primarily Japan and Britain) on the one hand and China and its allies (primarily Russia and Iran) on the other, Iran's role will become strategically crucial. Iran can totally stop the flow of oil coming from the Persian Gulf. This is the main reason why China and Russia are carefully nurturing intimate economic, cultural, political, diplomatic and military ties with Iran, which at one time was condemned by US President George W Bush as belonging to that "axis of evil", along with Iraq and North Korea.

This is also the reason why Iran is so brave in daring the US to attack it on the nuclear proliferation issue. Iran knows that it has the power to hurt the US. Without oil from the Gulf, the war machines of the US and its principal allies will literally run out of gas.

A single blow from Iran or China or Russia, or a combination of the three at the Strait of Hormuz can paralyze America. In addition, Chinese and Russian submarines can stop the flow of oil to the US and Japan by interdicting oil tanker traffic coming from the Middle East, Africa and Latin America. On the other hand, US naval supremacy will have minimal effect on China's oil supply because it is already connected to Kazakhstan with a pipeline and will soon be connected to Russia and Iran as well.

One wonders: what will be the price of oil if Iran blocks the Strait of Hormuz. It will surely drive oil prices sky high. Prolonged high oil prices can, in turn, trigger inflation in the US and a sharp decline of the dollar, possibly even a dollar free-fall. The collapse of the dollar will have a serious impact on the entire US economy.

This brings us to the next "acupuncture point" in the US anatomy: dollar vulnerability.

4 Attack on the US dollar
One of the pillars propping up US superpower status and worldwide economic dominance is the dollar being accepted as the predominant reserve currency. Central banks of various countries have to stock up dollar reserves because they can only buy their oil requirements and other major commodities in US dollars.

This US economic strength, however, is a double-edged sword and can turn out to be America's economic Achilles' heel. A run of the US dollar, for instance, which would cause a dollar free-fall, can bring the entire US economy toppling down.

What is frightening for the US is the fact that China, Russia and Iran possess the power to cause a run on the US dollar and force its collapse.

China is now the biggest holder of foreign exchange reserves in the world, accumulating $941 billion as of June 30 and expected to exceed a trillion dollars by the end of 2006 - a first in world history. A decision by China to shift a major portion of its reserve to the euro or the yen or gold could trigger other central banks to follow suit. Nobody would want to be left behind holding a bagfull of dollars rapidly turning worthless. The herd psychology would be very difficult to control in this case because national economic survival would be at stake.

This global herd psychology motivated by the survival instinct will be strongly reinforced by the latent anger of many countries in the Middle East, Eurasia, Southeast Asia, Africa and Latin America that silently abhor the pugnacious arrogance displayed by the lone Superpower in the exercise of its unilateral and militaristic foreign policies. They will just be too happy to dump the dollar and watch the lone Superpower squirm and collapse.

The danger of the dollar collapsing is reinforced by the mounting US current account deficit, which sky-rocketed to $900 billion at an annual rate in the fourth quarter of 2005. This figure is 7% of US gross domestic product (GDP), the largest in US history. The current account deficit reflects the imbalance of US imports to its exports. The large imbalance shows that the US economy is losing its competitiveness, with US jobs and incomes suffering as a result.

These record deficits in external trade and current accounts mean that the US has to borrow from foreign lenders (mostly Japan and China) $900 billion annually or nearly $2.5 billion every single day to finance the gap between payments and receipts from the rest of the world. In financial year 2005, $352 billion was spent on interest payment of national debt alone - a national debt that has ballooned to $8.5 trillion as of August 24.

The International Monetary Fund has warned: "The US is on course to increase its net external liabilities to around 40% of its GDP within the next few years - an unprecedented level of external debt for a large industrial country."

The picture of the US federal budget deficit is equally grim. Dennis Cauchon, writing for USA Today said:

The federal government keeps two sets of books. The set the government promotes to the public has a healthier bottom line: a $318 billion deficit in 2005. The set the government doesn't talk about is the audited financial statement produced by the government's accountants following standard accounting rules. It reports a more ominous financial picture: a $760 billion deficit for 2005. If social security and medicare were included - as the board that sets accounting rules is considering - the federal deficit would have been $3.5 trillion. Congress has written its own accounting rules - which would be illegal for a corporation to use because they ignore important costs such as the growing expense of retirement benefits for civil servants and military personnel. Last year, the audited statement produced by the accountants said the government ran a deficit equal to $6,700 for every American household. The number given to the public put the deficit at $2,800 per household ... The audited financial statement - prepared by the Treasury Department - reveals a federal government in far worse financial shape than official budget reports indicate, a USA Today analysis found. The government has run a deficit of $2.9 trillion since 1997, according to the audited number. The official deficit since then is just $729 billion. The difference is equal to an entire year's worth of federal spending.

 

The huge US current account and trade deficits, the mounting external debt and the ever-increasing federal budget deficits are clear signs of an economy on the edge. They have dragged the dollar to the brink of the precipice. Such a state of economic affairs cannot be sustained for long, and the stability of the dollar is put in grave danger. One push and the dollar will plunge into free-fall. And that push can come from China, Russia or Iran, whom superpower America has been pushing and bullying all along.

We have seen what China can do. How can Russia or Iran, in turn, cause a dollar downfall? On September 2, 2003, Russia and Saudi Arabia signed an agreement on oil and gas cooperation. Russia and Saudi Arabia have agreed "to exercise joint control over the dynamics of prices for raw materials on foreign markets". The two biggest oil and gas producers, in cooperation, say, with Iran, could control oil production and sales to keep the price of oil relatively high. Sustained high oil prices, in turn, could trigger a high inflation rate in the US and put extreme pressure on the already weak dollar to trigger a more rapid decline.

Russia is now the world's biggest energy supplier, surpassing Saudi Arabia in energy exports measured in barrel oil equivalent or boe (13.3 million boe per day for Russia vs 10 million boe per day for Saudi Arabia). Russia has the biggest gas reserves in the world. Iran, on the other hand, runs second in the world to Russia in gas reserves, and also ranks among the top oil producers. If and when either Russia or Iran, or both, shift away from a rapidly declining dollar in energy transactions, many oil producers will follow suit. These include Venezuela, Indonesia, Norway, Sudan, Nigeria and the Central Asian Republics.

There is a good chance that even Saudi Arabia and the other oil-exporting countries in the Middle East may follow suit. They wouldn't want to be left with fast-shrinking dollars when the shift from petro-dollar to euro-dollar occurs. Again, the herd psychology will come into play, and the US will eventually be left with a dollar that is practically worthless. Considering the strong anti-American sentiments in the world caused by American unilateralism, especially in the Middle East, a concerted effort to dump the dollar in favor of the euro becomes even more plausible.

When the dollar was removed from the gold standard in August 1971, the dollar gained its strength through its use as the currency of choice in oil transactions. Once the dollar is rejected in favor of the euro or another currency for global oil transactions, the dollar will rapidly lose its value and central banks all over the world will be racing to diversify to other currencies. The shift from petro-dollar to petro-euro will have a devastating effect on the dollar. It could cause the dollar to collapse; and the whole US economy crushing down with it - a scene reminiscent of the collapse of the Twin Towers on September 11, 2001. But this one will be a thousand times more devastating.

A successful assault on the US dollar will make America crawl on its knees with a minimum of movements. And this assault can come from China, Russia or Iran - or a combination of the three - if they ever decide that they have had enough of US bullying.

5 Diplomatic isolation
In 1991, when the Soviet Union collapsed from its own weight, the US emerged as the sole superpower in the world. At that crucial period, it would have been a great opportunity for the US to establish its global leadership and dominance worldwide. With the world's biggest economy, its control of international financial institutions, its huge lead in science and technology (specially information technology) and its unequaled military might, America could have seized the moment to establish a truly American Century.

But in the critical years after 1991, America had to make a choice between two divergent approaches to the use of its almost unlimited power: soft power or hard power. The exercise of soft power would have seen America leading the world in the fight against poverty, disease, drugs, environmental degradation, global warming and other ills plaguing humankind.

It would have pushed America in leading the move to address the debt burden of poor, undeveloped or developing countries; promoting distance learning in remote rural areas to empower the poor economically by providing them access to quality education; and helped poor countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America build highways, railways, ports, airports, hospitals, schools and telecommunication systems.

Unfortunately, such was not to be. If there was any effort at the exercise of soft power at all, it was minimal. In fact, it is not America which is practicing soft power in diplomacy but a rising power in the East - China. China has been busy in the past decade or so exercising soft power in almost all countries in Africa, Latin America, Central Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia and the Middle East, winning most of the countries in these regions to its side. Through the use of soft power, China has created a de facto global united front under its silent, low-key leadership.

The US, on the other hand, decided to employ mainly hard power in the exercise of its global power. It adapted the policy of unilateralism and militarism in its foreign policy. It discarded the United Nations and even the advice of close allies. It unilaterally discarded signed international treaties (such as the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty). It adapted the policy of regime change and preventive war. It led the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in the 78-day bombing of Serbia purportedly for "humanitarian" reasons. It invaded Afghanistan and Iraq without UN sanctions and against the advice of key European allies like France and Germany.

The US-led war in Iraq was a tactical victory for the US initially, but has resulted in strategic defeat overall. The Iraq war caused the US to lose its principal allies in Europe and be isolated, despised and hated in many parts of the world. Without too many friends and allies, the US is likened to an "emperor with no clothes".

So in a major conflict between America and China, isolated America cannot possibly win against a global united front led by China and Russia.
28767  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Part Three on: October 20, 2006, 09:36:38 AM



Akyol: Thanks for the feedback from Mr. Spencer, Mr. Aikman and Mr. Bostom. Let me respond.

First, Mr. Spencer's comment about the attacks against Muslims who "turned renegade" is true, but it also points to an important fact: In the early Muslim state, apostasy became regarded as a crime because it was seen as a rebellion against the state. In other words, the real consideration was political and, by time, this turned into a religious rule as well. This is, of course, a deviation we Muslims should rid ourselves today.

Don't take my word for this, if you will, take a look at what Dr. David Forte, professor of law at Cleveland State University, says on the origin the ban on apostasy in Islam:

?Three institutions have deflected the trajectory of Mohammed's original message: the law, the empire, and the tribe. Let us take apostasy as an example. The Quran condemns the apostate to damnation but imposes no earthly penalty. The death penalty arose later, in the law. It was the traditions of the Prophet, known as the Sunna, developed and codified later during a drive for the Islamicization of the early Islamic empire, that required putting the apostate to death...



The primary justification for the execution of the apostate is that in the early days of Islam, apostasy and treason were in fact synonymous. War was perennial in Arabia. It never stopped. To reject the leader of another tribe, to give up on a coalition, was in effect to go to war against him. There was no such thing as neutrality. There were truces, but there was never a permanent neutrality. It is reported, for example, that immediately after the death of Mohammed, many tribes apostatized. They said in effect, "The leader whom we were following is gone, so let's go back to our own leaders." And they rebelled against Muslim rule. The first caliph, Abu Bakr, ordered such rebels to be killed.


Many scholars argue that the tradition that all apostates had to be killed had its origin during these wars of rebellion and not during Mohammed's time. In fact, many argue that these traditions in which Mohammed affirmed the killing of apostates were apocryphal, made up later to justify what the empire had been doing.?



We Muslims should get rid of those politically needed but religiously irrelevant rules that still persist in the religious texts of Islam. We should also see that the Koran took the conditions of the 7th century Arabia as a given and established just norms according to those conditions. The dhimma was one of them. Based on the Koran (Sura 9:29), and the needs of the Islamic state, Muslim jurist developed the whole idea of what Bat Yeor calls "dhimmitude." She and others criticize this pretty harshly but they should see that the dhimma was just and humane according to the political realities of the seventh century. In Christian Europe, religious minorities were not tolerated at all. In Islamic lands, they were tolerated as second-class citizens.

Europe, and the West, of course progressed since then and embraced the principle of equal citizenship. But this is not alien to the Islamic world, too: The dhimma was abolished by the Islamic Ottoman Empire in 1859. (This is long before Mustafa Kemal Atat?rk was even born.) Ottomans gave equal citizenship rights to all the Jews and Christians on their land. This was debated and found some support among the "ulema", Islamic scholars of the time. There were many Jewish and Christian parliamentarians in the Ottoman Parliament, which was established by the constitution of 1876, and the Muslim ulema had no problem with that.

Therefore, I don't think that dhimma is a legitimate institution today. Nor is slavery, which is also mentioned in the Koran. But I don't think that because I am a radical secularist, but because I am a Muslim who recognizes the impact of historical conditions in the formation of his religion. And my "humane disgust with conversion at the end of a gun-barrel" does not come from the fact I have been living in a secular state ? it is, unfortunately, not truly secular by the way; it is dominant on religious practice ? but because I stick to the core principles of Islam. Those principles have been against forced conversion all along. Just one example: When the Ottoman Sultan Yavuz Selim thought of converting the Christians in his empire to Islam, the Sheik-ul Islam (the top ulema that looked over state policies) objected and showed the Koranic verse, "there is no compulsion in religion." The Sultan listened to him. There are of course bad episodes in Islamic history, too, but the general opinion was that forced conversion is unaccepted.

Mr. Bostom has written, "there is no reciprocal free marketplace of religious ideas anywhere in the Islamic world, including Turkey." That's unfortunately true but, if we speak about Turkey, there is an interesting fact worth noting. As I have explained, the lack of religious freedom in Turkey is due to the intolerant nationalism of the secular establishment. Turkey's Muslims themselves have been the victims of the same secular authoritarianism.

Mr. Bostom also quotes the Koranic verse, "slay the idolaters wherever ye find them." Yet he fails to note that this verse addresses a specific group of pagans, who had made a peace treaty with Muslims and then broke that treaty by attacking them. The whole Sura 9 ? the only sura in the Koran which does not start with the phrase, "In the name of God, the compassionate, the merciful" ? is about the war conditions on those pagans who broke the treaty and attacked Muslims in the first place.

Later on, when Islamic jurisprudence developed, these war verses were taken to be the norm and other verses, such as, "Fight in the Way of Allah against those who fight you, but do not go beyond the limits" (2:190), which suggest that only defensive wars are allowed, were abandoned by the doctrine of abrogation, which many contemporary Muslims, including myself, reject.

As for the overall assessment of the Koranic chapters on war, I agree with the comment by Dr. Michael Cook, professor of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University. He says:

"In the Koran, it?s hard to figure out whether the text refers to defensive or offensive warfare. There are certain passages the medieval scholars always cite, saying they show jihad should be offensive. But if you look at the passages carefully, it?s not that obvious. On the basis of the Koran alone you could mount a decent argument for saying offensive jihad is never a duty. In Islamic law, it?s different. From things the prophet said or is said to have said, Islamic law develops the doctrine that it is a duty..."

Thus, on the basis of the Koran, I argue that Islam should bring no "compulsion in religion" and jihad should only be a defensive doctrine; protect yourself if you are attacked. Throughout history not all Muslims have thought acted according to these principles, but this had and still has many different motives behind it. Most "jihad"s in history were actually expansionism for political and economic gains. Yet sometimes people tend to label the most profane acts of violence by nominal Muslims as jihad. I remember, for example, that Mr. Bostom had portrayed the sacking of Thessaloniki in 904 by Muslim pirates as a "jihad campaign," in his long rebuttal against me published again on FPM and which I have responded to.

Spencer: Mustafa Akyol is correct that ?in the early Muslim state, apostasy became regarded as a crime because it was seen as a rebellion against the state.? However, when he asserts that ?the real consideration was political and, by time, this turned into a religious rule as well,? he seems to be assuming a distinction between the political and religious spheres that never existed in the Islamic world until it was introduced from the West in relatively modern times. This distinction is still strenuously rejected by most Islamic authorities. Because Sharia, including its political and societal aspects, is considered to be the very law of God, all too many Islamic scholars share the view of Tunisian theorist Mohamed Elhachmi Hamdi: ?Islam should be the main frame of reference for the constitution and laws of predominantly Muslim countries.? [iii]



Thus Muslims may be unmoved by Akyol?s argument that the death penalty for apostasy be rejected because it was originally instituted on political, not religious grounds. I share his hope that in the future this may provide peaceful Muslims a pathway to rejecting the death penalty for apostasy, but a great deal of work would first have to be done to secure widespread acceptance among Muslims of a Western-style distinction between the sacred and secular spheres ? a distinction that, under pressure from jihadists, is in fact in retreat everywhere in the Islamic world today.



Unfortunately, even Dr. Forte?s assertion that ?the Quran condemns the apostate to damnation but imposes no earthly penalty? is not assured. As I pointed out above, some Muslim authorities even argue that, aside from the Hadith, the Qur?an itself mandates death for apostates (4:89). Thus I hope that Muslim reformers like Mr. Akyol will succeed in constructing a firm rejection of Qur?anic literalism on this and every other point where jihadists point to the text of the Qur?an to justify violence and the subjugation of infidels. It is true that ?the dhimma was abolished by the Islamic Ottoman Empire in 1859,? but this was accomplished mainly due to Western pressure, and cultural hangovers of the dhimma continue to plague non-Muslims throughout the Islamic world. Hence I hope that Western awareness of and pressure against the denial of equality of rights for non-Muslims in Muslim countries continues to increase, and again applaud Mr. Akyol for his rejection of such measures. May his influence continue to grow in the Islamic world.


Aikman: I, too, applaud Mr. Akyol's humane interpretation of how Islam should be lived out and how it should co-exist with other faiths. Would that his assertion of this right of religious freedom of conscience, his denunciation of dhimma conditions of non-Muslim faiths, his repudiation of slavery, became the norm throughout the Islamic world. Would that there were 100,000 Mustafa Akyols busily active in reforming Islam, from Bradford, England to Bali, Indonesia.



But there aren't. We are, in fact, left with two dismaying aspects of the global situation in which Muslims on four or five continents are striving either to oppress non-Muslims, or to attain a political situation where they can do so.



The first is that, all of us know fine, upstanding, and honorable Muslim individuals who would no more think of blowing up a bus full of children than we ourselves would. The overwhelming reality, however, is that moderate Muslims like Mr. Akyol seem perpetually drowned out by Islamic mobs all over the world who fasten upon every criticism of their faith in every format ? cartoons, to novels, to academic speeches -- from every prominent person as license to go on a violent rampage.



Even when they are not rampaging, Muslim protesters can be counted upon to impose their often ugly religious sentiments on practitioners of other faiths whose leading adherents may have said or written things critical of Islam. There was something close to the manner of Hitler's Brownshirts in the Islamic protesters who barracked with shouted slogans and offensive placards ("May Allah Curse the Pope") innocent church-going Roman Catholics in London outside Westminster Cathedral because of their anger at the words of Pope Benedict XVI.



If Catholic Protesters in Washington similarly harassed Muslims about to enter the Islamic Center with slogans and placards, would there not be a howl of protest throughout the Islamic world? (And not just howls of protest: probably massive property destruction and bodily injury as well). Where are the millions of moderate Muslims anywhere in the world rising up against these new Brownshirts, demanding an apology for the forced conversion of Centanni and Wiig, joining the chorus for an end to the killings in Darfur, Sudan? Where, in short, is the authentic humane center of the Islamic world?



It doesn't appear to exist, or if it does, its voice has not been audible and its protests not visible. Of course there are wonderful Turks, Pakistanis, Malaysians ? who knows? ? perhaps even Muslim Britons who genuinely desire a global discourse among religions where reason and mutual tolerance prevail. But they seem to be either too busy or too disorganized to make their presence heard. Of course, it may also simply be that they are all simply scared. Muslims who criticize in public fellow-religionists of extremist viewpoint face the ever-present danger of becoming the targets of death-threats.



The second dismaying aspect of the whole issue of Islamic coercion of non-Muslim faiths, of dhimmitude, is that the concept of "humane" doesn't seem to exist today within the closed circle of Islam. "Compassionate" exists. "Merciful" exists. These are two descriptions attributed to Allah in the Koran. But the very concept of "humanity" grew out of a Christianized worldview in which communities, governments, and individuals were thought to have an obligation to be compassionate and merciful as well. Of course, "humanity" quickly became a concept that could stand on its own, without any reference to a religious point of view. Indeed, one may say that "humanity" has risen to an ideal of human conduct that has transcended most secular ideologies. A Cuban Communist and a Texas Republican probably both would agree on what constituted "humanity" when they saw it.



Does the concept of "humanity" have any traction at all today within fervent Islamic communities. Can one imagine Ahmadinejad or Ayman al-Zawahiri using the term?



Probably not. And therein, it seems to me, lies one of the greatest challenges to the possibility that Muslim communities can recognize basic human rights like freedom of conscience and the freedom ? Heaven forfend ? to be an apostate.



Bostom: The notion that the multiple timeless war proclamations in sura (chapter) 9 of the Koran?once again the ?uncreated word of Allah? for Muslims?are somehow circumscribed, or even more fanciful, specific to certain ?pagans?, or ?Jews?, or ?Christians?, is mere apologetic propaganda disproved by the evolution of the jihad as a uniquely Islamic institution in both theory and resultant ugly (but faithfully adherent) historical practice. The classical (and authoritative modern) Koranic commentaries on sura 9 (and other jihad verses in the Koran), and the germane hadith?both requisite to interpreting these verses?in conjunction with the earliest Muslim biographies of Muhammad, clarified these aggressive warlike motifs which the greatest luminaries of Islamic Law formulated (in countless volumes of dry juridical texts) into the living Muslim institution of jihad war. And for more than a millennium pious Muslim historians celebrated the actual conduct of these brutal jihad campaigns?replete with their sanctioned MPE
28768  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Part Two on: October 20, 2006, 09:35:07 AM

After these and other rules are fully laid out, the agreement concludes: ?These are the conditions that we set against ourselves and followers of our religion in return for safety and protection. If we break any of these promises that we set for your benefit against ourselves, then our Dhimmah (promise of protection) is broken and you are allowed to do with us what you are allowed of people of defiance and rebellion.?[ii]



All this does not add up to forced conversion, but many times in Islamic history it has made living as a non-Muslim so burdensome and onerous that conversion to Islam became the only path to a better life. Coerced? Perhaps not. But the line between coercion and free choice is in this case exceedingly fine.



FP: David Aikman?



Aikman: I applaud Mustafa Akyol's denunciation of the forced conversion of Fox newsmen Centanni and Wiig, but I fear that Mr. Akyol's humane disgust with conversion at the end of a gun-barrel is largely because he has benefited from having grown up in modernTurkey, which, since its founding in the 20 th. century by Attaturk, has been blessed by a secular state and not an Islamic one. If Mr. Akyol were resident in many other Muslim countries around the world, he would at best be repudiated for the un-shariah approach to the issue he expressed in this forum, at worst threatened with physical harm or death.



Mr. Robert Spencer, a specialist on Islamic attitudes in history towards people of non-Islamic faith, has put the case expertly and eloquently that the overwhelming weight of the Islamic tradition in practice has been to subject conquered non-Muslims to unconscionable humiliations in the way they are permitted to practice their faiths, humiliations that amount to coercion to convert to Islam. I certainly have nothing to add to his historical arguments. I think they are very persuasive.



What I do wish to address is what this new, threatening component in the discourse of Islamic militants means for the whole of the human race. It amounts to a war for a totalitarian control not just of its adversaries all over the world, but of the world as a whole. It aspires to coerce the entire world into conversion to Islam or into the humiliating acceptance of "dhimmi" status. In effect, Al Qaeda and all who support it are waging a war not just on the West, not just on the remains of a Christendom almost fatally weakened by political correctness and notions of moral equivalence, but on global civilization itself. Terrorist strikes and plots by advocates of global jihad have been committed or plotted in a variety of countries that makes little sense from the perspective of their various political positions. From England to Indonesia, from Canada to India, from the US to Spain, there have been terrorist plots and outrages, even though in regard to policies towards the Middle East, many of these states have been at odds with each other. But that has not protected them from the jihadist scourge. The reason is that their governments have all shared the view that in the modern world civilized life requires the free movement of commerce and people, of communications and ideas. All of these nations, indeed, except Indonesia, have been signatories of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of the United Nations in 1948. Even Indonesia, however, is not an officially Islamic state. Article 18 of the Universal Declaration states that "everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience, or religion." By extension that has been accepted by signatory states as implying also the freedom of their citizens to change religious belief without penalty or punishment.



In our modern world even those countries still ruled by one-party political systems such as China or Cuba had paid lip-service to the view that freedom of conscience and religious belief is inviolable. China itself has flatly repudiated that period of its recent history when, during the Cultural Revolution of 1966-1976, a nation-wide attempt was made to suppress all manifestations of religious faith. Though China is not fully free by most criteria of political democracy, it is no longer a totalitarian society and has already moved far away from totalitarian state control of all areas of private life. Other countries have problems of pressure on ordinary citizens by adherents of one religion or another not to change religion (India and Sri Lanka, among others) but the overwhelming direction of global civilization is away from religious coercion, not towards it.



It is only in the Islamic world that there is broad sympathy for a point of view that the individual conscience is not a sacred thing at all and does not even belong to the individual, but to the Muslim-controlled community in which the individual is located. This is at odds with the entire direction in which, by overwhelming broad consensus, human civilization as a whole is moving. In effect, Islamic coercion of personal religious conscience is not an example of the "clash of civilizations," but of a war waged by desperate fanatics upon civilization itself. I will leave it to scholars of the early years of Islam to debate whether this war upon the human conscience was the intention of early Islam or not. But that it is the goal of Al Qaeda and practitioners of Islamofascism around the world, there can be no doubt. Mr. Gadahn, the Californian voice of Al Qaeda, may issue his sneering threats to President Bush, or Dr. Daniel Pipes, or to my forum colleague Mr. Robert Spencer and others. But I predict that, when this new totalitarian challenge to global civilization has been overcome, Mr. Gadahn's blustering will be recalled as a historical footnote, like the blusterings after the defeat of Japan during World War 2 of "Tokyo Rose".



Bostom: Mustafa Akyol maintains?citing Koran 2:256? that forced conversion ?is in opposition to the basic principles of the Qur'an?There is nothing in the Qur'an which would justify a forced conversion to Islam?. The latter assertion is patently false, and the former is dubious at best, as I will demonstrate. I also object to Mr. Akyol?s invocation of peaceful da?wa (setting up Islamic centers for proselytization) given that there is no reciprocal free marketplace of religious ideas anywhere in the Islamic world, including Turkey. The sad reality is that circa 2006 Islamic proselytization is entirely unidirectional, apparently by design, as Christian missionary activity, for example, is opposed without exception, and often brutally, throughout the Islamic world. But let me make clear?at this critical juncture in history?I cherish Akyol?s unequivocal personal condemnation of forced conversion, despite finding his theological arguments wanting.



Robert Spencer has focused on the hadith and sira, laying out elegantly the coercive elements intrinsic to those foundational Muslim texts which were incorporated permanently into Islamic Law, the Sharia. His illustration of the so-called Pact of Umar, and its modern invocation by Saudi Sheikh Marzouq Salem Al-Ghamdi, provides additional edification. David Aikman highlights a critical and disturbing contemporary phenomenon, noting ??there is broad sympathy for a point of view that the individual conscience is not a sacred thing at all and does not even belong to the individual, but to the Muslim-controlled community in which the individual is located.?. I will expand upon this point in my own reference to the Cairo Declaration of 1990, the so-called Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Islam.



Although Mustafa Akyol acknowledges the forced conversion of pagans in Arabia, he ignores its Koranic source(s), in particular the timeless war proclamation (the Koran being the ?uncreated word of Allah? for Muslims) on generic pagans (not simply Arabian pagans), Koran 9:5, which offers pagans the stark ?choice? of conversion or death: ?Then, when the sacred months have passed, slay the idolaters wherever ye find them, and take them (captive), and besiege them, and prepare for them each ambush. But if they repent and establish worship and pay the poor-due, then leave their way free. Lo! Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.? . Thus for the idolatrous Hindus (and the same applies to enormous populations of pagans/animists wherever Muslim jihadist armies encountered them in history, including, sadly, contemporary Sudan) for example, enslaved in vast numbers during the waves of jihad conquests that ravaged the Indian subcontinent for well over a half millennium (beginning at the outset of the 8th century C.E.), the guiding principles of Islamic law regarding their fate ?derived from Koran 9:5?were unequivocally coercive. Jihad slavery also contributed substantively to the growth of the Muslim population in India. K.S. Lal elucidates both of these points:



The Hindus who naturally resisted Muslim occupation were considered to be rebels. Besides they were idolaters (mushrik) and could not be accorded the status of Kafirs, of the People of the Book - Christians and Jews? Muslim scriptures and treatises advocated jihad against idolaters for whom the law advocated only Islam or death? The fact was that the Muslim regime was giving [them] a choice between Islam and death only. Those who were killed in battle were dead and gone; but their dependents were made slaves. They ceased to be Hindus; they were made Musalmans in course of time if not immediately after captivity?slave taking in India was the most flourishing and successful [Muslim] missionary activity?Every Sultan, as [a] champion of Islam, considered it a political necessity to plant or raise [the] Muslim population all over India for the Islamization of the country and countering native resistance.



The late Rudi Paret was a seminal 20th century scholar of the Koran, and its exegesis. Paret?s considered analysis of Koran 2:256, puts this verse in the overall context of Koranic injunctions regarding pagans, specifically, and further concludes that 2:256 is a statement of resignation, not a prohibition on forced conversion.



After the community which the Prophet had established had extended its power over the whole of Arabia, the pagan Arabs were forcefully compelled to accept Islam stated more accurately, they had to choose either to accept Islam or death in battle against the superior power of the Muslims (cf. surahs 8:12; 47:4). This regulation was later sanctioned in Islamic law. All this stands in open contradiction to the alleged meaning of the Quranic statement, noted above: la ikraha fi d-dini. The idolaters (mushrikun) were clearly compelled to accept Islam - unless they preferred to let themselves be killed. [Note-Koran 9:5];



In view of these circumstances it makes sense to consider another meaning. Perhaps originally the statement la ikraha fi d-dini did not mean that in matters of religion one ought not to use compulsion against another but that one could not use compulsion against another (through the simple proclamation of religious truth).



Lest one think such coercion applies only to ?pagans?, Princeton scholar Patricia Crone makes the cogent argument that coercion may apply during any act of jihad resulting in captivity (i.e., jihad as the institution for extension of Islamic suzerainty, including, for our example, the jihad kidnapping of the two Fox reporters). Dr. Crone, in her recent analysis of the origins and development of Islamic political thought, makes an important nexus between the mass captivity and enslavement of non-Muslims during jihad campaigns, and the prominent role of coercion in these major modalities of Islamization. Following a successful jihad, she notes:



Male captives might be killed or enslaved, whatever their religious affiliation. People of the Book were not protected by Islamic law until they had accepted dhimma. Captives might also be given the choice between Islam and death, or they might pronounce the confession of faith of their own accord to avoid execution: jurists ruled that their change of status was to be accepted even though they had only converted out of fear.



An unapologetic view of Islamic history reveals that forced conversions to Islam are not exceptional?they have been the norm, across three continents?Asia, Africa, and Europe?for over 13 centuries. Orders for conversion were decreed under all the early Islamic dynasties?Umayyads, Abbasids, Fatimids, and Mamluks. Additional extensive examples of forced conversion were recorded during the jihad campaigns and rule of the Berber Almoravids and Almohads in North Africa and Spain (11th through 13th centuries), under both Seljuk and Ottoman Turkish rule (the latter until its collapse in the 20th century), the Shi?ite Safavid and Qajar dynasties of Persia/Iran, and during the jihad ravages on the Indian subcontinent, beginning with the early 11th century campaigns of Mahmud of Ghazni, and recurring under the Delhi Sultanate, and Moghul dynasty until the collapse of Muslim suzerainty in the 18th century following the British conquest of India.



Moreover, during jihad?even the jihad campaigns of the 20th century [i.e., the jihad genocide of the Armenians during World War I, the Moplah jihad in Southern India [1921], the jihad against the Assyrians of Iraq [early 1930s], the jihads against the Chinese of Indonesia and the Christian Ibo of southern Nigeria in the 1960s, and the jihad against the Christians and Animists of the southern Sudan from 1983 to 2001], the dubious concept (see Paret, above) of ?no compulsion? (Koran 2:256; which was cited with tragic irony during the Fox reporters ?confessional?!), has always been meaningless. A consistent practice was to enslave populations taken from outside the boundaries of the ?Dar al Islam?, where Islamic rule (and Law) prevailed. Inevitably fresh non-Muslim slaves, including children (for example, the infamous devshirme system in Ottoman Turkey, which spanned three centuries and enslaved 500,000 to one million Balkan Christian adolescent males, forcibly converting them to Islam), were Islamized within a generation, their ethnic and linguistic origins erased. Two enduring and important mechanisms for this conversion were concubinage and the slave militias?practices still evident in the contemporary jihad waged by the Arab Muslim Khartoum government against the southern Sudanese Christians and Animists. And Julia Duin reported in early 2002 that murderous jihad terror campaigns?including, prominently, forced conversions to Islam?continued to be waged against the Christians of Indonesia?s Moluccan Islands.



My concern, despite Mr. Akyol?s noble personal views, is that the Muslim ulema know what Paret and Crone have explained is true: there was nothing ?Un-Islamic? about the forced conversions of Centanni and Wiig. This is how, in the main, Islam spread in the first place: conquest, forced conversion, concubinage, and enslavement, with the slaves ultimately converting to Islam (their only route to manumission)?followed by the conversion of dhimmis, to escape their own grinding oppression, or during paroxysms of violent persecution of the dhimmis, which also included bouts of forced conversion.



Thus, there has been utter silence on the Centanni-Wiig forced conversions from Muslim clerical and religio-political elites?Sunni and Shi?ite?across the Muslim world. No denunciations, and no formal fatwas have been issued invalidating the forced conversions, or making clear in advance that any Muslim who attacks Centanni and Wiig for not behaving as Muslims ?post-conversion?, i.e., for ?apostasy?, will be condemned and prosecuted, with full religious sanction. Contrast this silence from those clerical elites who were so quick to denounce factitious Koran flushings, banal Danish cartoons of Muhammad, and just this past week, Pope Benedict?s honest, reasoned critique of the living, genocidal institution of jihad war. I ask Mustafa Akyol why has the same Turkish Religious Affairs Directorate head Ali Bardakoglu, who within hours issued a hair-trigger denunciation of Pope Benedict?s September 12, 2006 Remengsburg lecture, remained mum for weeks now on the forced conversions of Centanni and Wiig, and likely will never publicly denounce their conversions?



The forced conversions of Centanni and Wiig illustrate clearly the basic rejection of freedom of conscience in the Islamic world which derives from Islam?s core texts?Koran, hadith, and sira?is enshrined in Islamic Law, and been applied incessantly throughout the entire history of Islam, into the contemporary era. The pervasiveness of this rejection, even at present, was alluded to by David Aikman, and is perhaps best demonstrated by the Cairo Declaration of 1990. Referring to the Cairo Declaration, the Shari?a-based ?Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Islam (UDHRI)?, which subordinates the UN?s own Universal Declaration of Human Rights to Sharia Law, Muslim Senegalese jurist Adama Dieng (while serving as secretary-general to the International Commission of Jurists) declared in 1992 that, the UDHRI,



...gravely threatens the inter-cultural consensus on which the international human rights instruments are based; introduces, in the name of the defense of human rights, an intolerable discrimination against both non-Muslims and women; reveals a deliberately restrictive character in regard to certain fundamental rights and freedoms..; [and] confirms the legitimacy of practices, such as corporal punishment, that attack the integrity and dignity of the human being.



ALL (now 57)member states of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC)?including Turkey?have signed on to this Sharia-based document. And now even the Cairo Declaration appears to have been deemed inadequate to fulfill the global Shari?a-based needs of the 57 OIC states who are considering the establishment of their own international ?world court? in order to ??try and condemn all those nations and individuals who have instigated or committed crimes against the Muslims.?



Ultimately, the forced conversions of Centanni and Wiig represent an ominous continuum (clearly accentuated in our era if only by contrast with Western ideals) of Islam?s denial of, and assault upon, basic freedom of conscience.

28769  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam the religion on: October 20, 2006, 09:32:40 AM
Symposium: Convert or Die
By Jamie Glazov
FrontPageMagazine.com | October 20, 2006



Last month, American al-Qaeda operative Adam Gadahn issued a ?convert-to-Islam-or-die message to U.S. President George W. Bush, Daniel Pipes, Michael Scheuer, Steve Emerson and Robert Spencer. This attempt at forced conversion to Islam followed the ?conversion? at gunpoint of the two kidnapped Fox News reporters Steve Centanni and Olaf Wiig.


What exactly was the significance of these events?

On the one hand, these attempts at forced conversion were in clear continuity with Islam?s long history of calling people to convert before waging war on them. But how exactly does this tradition and practise in Islam square with the Qur?an?s verse ?There is no compulsion in religion? (2:256)? If Gadahn and the kidnappers of the Fox reporters consider themselves Muslims, what was their rationale for their actions in this context? Also: if forced conversion is anti-Islamic, where were, and are, all the Muslims furiously protesting Gadahn?s threats and the treatment of Centanni and Wiig?



To discuss these issues with us today, we are joined by:



Mustafa Akyol, a Muslim journalist and author from Istanbul, Turkey. He has written extensively in the Turkish and international press, including many American publications, about Islam and the current Muslim world. His writings are available at www.thewhitepath.com.
David Aikman, a former senior correspondent and foreign correspondent with Time Magazine, an author (see www.davidaikman.com for his books), and currently writer in residence and associate professor of history (History of Islam, Ages of Revolution) at Patrick Henry College in Purcelville, VA. He recently wrote a column for the Houses of Worship section of the Wall Street Journal on religious conversion in the US and overseas.







Robert Spencer, Director of Jihad Watch who, last month, was offered by Al-Qaeda the same 'invitation to Islam' that Centanni and Wiig received: convert or face the consequences.







and



Andrew Bostom, M.D., M.S. (Providence, RI), an associate professor of medicine in the Division of Renal Diseases of Rhode Island Hospital. He has published articles and commentary on Islam in the Washington Times, National Review, Revue Politique, FrontPage Magazine.com, The American Thinker, Investor?s Business Daily, and other print and online publications. He is the author of The Legacy of Jihad: Islamic Holy War and the Fate of Non-Muslims.







FP: Mustafa Akyol, David Aikman, Robert Spencer and Andrew Bostom, welcome to Frontpage Symposium.



Mustafa Akyol, let me begin with you. What do you make of the forced conversions of the two Fox journalists and with the Gadahn calls for the conversions of the people he named?



As a Muslim, how do you regard these events?



Akyol: First, greetings to all participants and readers of this symposium. And thanks for having me.

This is an important topic and, as a Muslim, my position is clear: I am absolutely against the concept of forced conversion, which I believe is in opposition to the basic principles of the Qur'an. The verse you mentioned -- ?There is no compulsion in religion? (2:256) -- is very clear and there are also other ones, such as, "It is the truth from your Lord; so let whoever wishes have faith and whoever wishes be unbeliever." (18:29) There is nothing in the Qur'an which would justify a forced conversion to Islam. Indeed a purely Qur'anic Muslim view should cherish full religious freedom.

However, the post-Qur'anic Islamic literature is not so friendly to religious freedom. The hadiths and the jurists' opinions based on them added a lot of extra rules and regulations due to the political needs of the early Islamic empire. The ban on apostasy was such a post-Qur'anic rule that I think we Muslims should abandon right away. People should have the right to leave Islam and choose other religions if they decide to do so.

However, forced conversion is something that goes even beyond the mainstream post-Qur'anic orthodoxy, whether it is Sunni or Shiite. Although pagan Arabs weren't tolerated and were forced to convert, the Sunni orthodoxy accepted that Christians and Jews (and later, Hindus and Buddhists) had the right to keep their faith by accepting the dhimmi ("protected") status.

Therefore I think the Palestinian militants who forced those two kidnapped Fox News reporters Steve Centanni and Olaf Wiig did something terribly wrong. From a purely Qur'anic point of view, that's totally unacceptable. Even from a Sunni Orthodoxy view, that's very hard to justify. It is also stupid: How can you think that you can make someone a sincere Muslim by pointing a gun at him?

Or maybe it was not that stupid. Those militants might have been seeking not a genuine conversion, but a political show. They might have wished to give the message that they are powerful and they can force Westerners to accept what they want, and even transform their identity. In other words, their focus seems not to direct people to what we Muslims believe to be a path to God, but to recruit them into their tribe. This tribal mentality lies beneath much of the assaults against religious freedom in the Muslim world, but it is not what the Qur'an commends.

The al-Qaeda call to American writers like Mr. Spencer seems to be a political show of the same sort. It is in fact a good thing to invite people to Islam from my point of view, but hearing a call to Islam directed to Americans by al-Qaeda, a terrorist organization which has killed thousands of innocent Americans up to now, is like a joke. If they were serious about it, what they should have done was to establish an Islamic cultural center in the Twin Towers -- not to blow them up.



FP: Robert Spencer?



Spencer: While I applaud Mustafa Akyol?s endeavor to construct an Islam free from ?hadiths and the jurists' opinions,? unfortunately those traditions and rulings are normative for the overwhelming majority of Muslims worldwide. Since many of these ahadith are attributed to Muhammad himself and are found in hadith collections generally considered reliable by Muslims (such as Bukhari?s), it is extremely difficult to convince orthodox Sunni and Shi?ite Muslims to dismiss them. For them, the ban on apostasy from Islam is not just a ?post-Qur'anic rule,? but a supreme evil, as it was regarded, according to many ahadith, by Muhammad himself.



When he was master of Medina, some livestock herders came to the city and accepted Islam. But they disliked Medina?s climate, so Muhammad gave them some camels and a shepherd; once away from Medina, the herders killed the shepherd, released the camels and renounced Islam. Muhammad had them pursued. When they were caught, he ordered that their hands and feet be amputated (in accord with Qur?an 5:33, which directs that those who cause ?corruption in the land? be punished by the amputation of their hands and feet on opposite sides) and their eyes put out with heated iron bars, and that they be left in the desert to die. Their pleas for water, he ordered, must be refused (Bukhari 8.82.794-797; 9.83.37).



The traditions are clear that one of the main reasons that the punishment was so severe was because these men had been Muslims but had ?turned renegade.? Muhammad legislated for his community that no Muslim could be put to death except for murder, unlawful sexual intercourse, and apostasy (Bukhari 9.83.17). He said flatly: ?Whoever changed his Islamic religion, then kill him? (Bukhari 9.84.57). These words are obviously taken with utmost seriousness around the Islamic world, as we saw in Afghanistan during the Abdul Rahman case ? which was by no means an isolated incident. Some Muslim authorities even argue that, aside from the Hadith, the Qur?an itself mandates death for apostates when it says: ?if they turn renegades, seize them and slay them wherever ye find them? (4:89).



As for forced conversion, it is likewise unfortunately unclear among Muslims that what happened to Centanni and Wiig was, in Akyol?s optimistic words, ?from a purely Qur'anic point of view?totally unacceptable? and ?from a Sunni Orthodoxy view?very hard to justify.? Islamic law forbids forced conversion, but in Islamic history this law has all too often been honored in the breach. More significantly, Islamic law regarding the presentation of Islam to non-Muslims manifests a quite different understanding of what constitutes freedom from coercion and freedom of conscience from that which prevails among non-Muslims. Muhammad instructed his followers to call people to Islam before waging war against them ? the warfare would follow from their refusal to accept Islam or to enter the Islamic social order as inferiors, required to pay a special tax:



Fight in the name of Allah and in the way of Allah. Fight against those who disbelieve in Allah. Make a holy war?When you meet your enemies who are polytheists, invite them to three courses of action. If they respond to any one of these, you also accept it and withhold yourself from doing them any harm. Invite them to (accept) Islam; if they respond to you, accept it from them and desist from fighting against them?.If they refuse to accept Islam, demand from them the Jizya [the tax on non-Muslims specified in Qur?an 9:29]. If they agree to pay, accept it from them and hold off your hands. If they refuse to pay the tax, seek Allah?s help and fight them. (Sahih Muslim 4294)



There is therefore an inescapable threat in this ?invitation? to accept Islam. Would one who converted to Islam under the threat of war be considered to have converted under duress? By non-Muslim standards, yes, but not according to the view of this Islamic tradition. From the standpoint of the traditional schools of Islamic jurisprudence such a conversion would have resulted from ?no compulsion.?



Muhammad reinforced these instructions on many occasions during his prophetic career. Late in his career, he wrote to Heraclius, the Eastern Roman Emperor in Constantinople:



Now then, I invite you to Islam (i.e., surrender to Allah), embrace Islam and you will be safe; embrace Islam and Allah will bestow on you a double reward. But if you reject this invitation of Islam, you shall be responsible for misguiding the peasants (i.e., your nation). (Bukhari, 4.52.191).



Heraclius did not accept Islam, and soon the Byzantines would know well that the warriors of jihad indeed granted no safety to those who rejected their ?invitation.?



Muhammad did not limit his veiled threat only to rulers. Another hadith records that on one occasion he emerged from a mosque and told his men, ?Let us go to the Jews.? Upon arriving at a nearby Arabian Jewish community, Muhammad told them: ?If you embrace Islam, you will be safe. You should know that the earth belongs to Allah and His Apostle, and I want to expel you from this land. So, if anyone amongst you owns some property, he is permitted to sell it, otherwise you should know that the Earth belongs to Allah and His Apostle? (Bukhari, 4.53.392). In other words, if you accept Islam, you may keep your land and property, but if not, Muhammad and the Muslims would confiscate it.



Would someone who converted in the face of such a threat be considered to have been forced by Islamic jurists? No ? and therein lies the reason why the conversions of Centanni and Wiig could be presented by their captors as uncoerced, in the teeth of the evidence.



This, too, has a foundation in the Qur?an. Sura 9:29 says: ?Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book [that is, Jews and Christians], until they pay the Jizya [a special tax levied only on non-Muslims] with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.? This verse does not force conversion, but it did in Islamic history become the foundation of an elaborate legal system, the dhimma (to which Akyol refers). This system ensured that non-Muslims would ?feel themselves subdued? by mandating a series of humiliating and discriminatory regulations that institutionalized second-class status for non-Muslims in Islamic societies. As the schools of Islamic jurisprudence developed, they constructed upon various ahadith and passages of the Qur?an a legal structure for the treatment of non-Muslims.



The features of this remained remarkably consistent across the centuries, and among all the legal schools. Consider the contemporary Saudi Sheikh Marzouq Salem Al-Ghamdi, who several years ago explained in a sermon the terms in which an Islamic society should tolerate the presence of non-Muslims in its midst:



If the infidels live among the Muslims, in accordance with the conditions set out by the Prophet ? there is nothing wrong with it provided they pay Jizya to the Islamic treasury. Other conditions are . . . that they do not renovate a church or a monastery, do not rebuild ones that were destroyed, that they feed for three days any Muslim who passes by their homes . . . that they rise when a Muslim wishes to sit, that they do not imitate Muslims in dress and speech, nor ride horses, nor own swords, nor arm themselves with any kind of weapon; that they do not sell wine, do not show the cross, do not ring church bells, do not raise their voices during prayer, that they shave their hair in front so as to make them easily identifiable, do not incite anyone against the Muslims, and do not strike a Muslim?.If they violate these conditions, they have no protection.



In this the Sheikh is merely repeating the classic terms of Islamic jurisprudence for the treatment of non-Muslims in Islamic societies ? and he explicitly links these terms to Muhammad?s example. The second-class status for Christians and Jews, mandated by Qur?an 9:29?s stipulation that they ?feel themselves subdued,? was first fully articulated by Muhammad?s lieutenant Umar during his caliphate (634 to 644), in terms strikingly similar to those used by Sheikh Marzouq. The Christians making this pact with Umar pledged:



We made a condition on ourselves that we will neither erect in our areas a monastery, church, or a sanctuary for a monk, nor restore any place of worship that needs restoration nor use any of them for the purpose of enmity against Muslims?.We will not . . . prevent any of our fellows from embracing Islam, if they choose to do so. We will respect Muslims, move from the places we sit in if they choose to sit in them. We will not imitate their clothing, caps, turbans, sandals, hairstyles, speech, nicknames and title names, or ride on saddles, hang swords on the shoulders, collect weapons of any kind or carry these weapons?. We will not encrypt our stamps in Arabic, or sell liquor. We will have the front of our hair cut, wear our customary clothes wherever we are, wear belts around our waist, refrain from erecting crosses on the outside of our churches and demonstrating them and our books in public in Muslim fairways and markets. We will not sound the bells in our churches, except discreetly, or raise our voices while reciting our holy books inside our churches in the presence of Muslims. . . .

28770  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Grandfathers Speak Vol. 2: Sonny Umpad on: October 20, 2006, 01:06:11 AM
The final edit has been approved.
28771  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / DBMA Seminar: Kali Fence and the Dog Catcher on: October 20, 2006, 12:54:15 AM
When:? Thursday and Friday November 16-17
Where: Redondo Beach area of Los Angeles CA
Cost: $300

Requirements:? Due to the nature of the material being taught, applicants for this seminar will be screened. Very Limited attendance.? Preference given to military (15% discount) and law enforcement (10% discount) Serious inquiries only:
Craftydog@dogbrothers.com

28772  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Health Thread (nutrition, medical, longevity, etc) on: October 19, 2006, 07:39:13 PM
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- Hospitals need to step up efforts to prevent infections with drug-resistant "superbugs," which are becoming more and more of a threat to patients, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday.

Every year, infections caught in U.S. hospitals kill 90,000 people and cost $4.5 billion, the CDC said. Facilities need to keep track of such infections and put into place regular programs to fight them, it said.

"Effective and comprehensive programs to prevent drug-resistant infections are essential to improve patient safety," said Dr. Denise Cardo, director of CDC's Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion.

"Preventing these types of infections requires a constant and concerted effort on the part of health-care facilities, but it's important they make this a priority," Cardo added in a statement.

Bacteria have been steadily evolving to evade the action of antibiotics and infections are becoming more difficult to fight.

For instance, the CDC said, in 1972, only 2 percent of Staphylococcus aureus bacteria infections were drug-resistant but in 2004, 63 percent were.

In a few cases, no available antibiotics can cure an infection, and many more resist methicillin, a later-generation type of antibiotic.

The new CDC guidelines advise hospitals, nursing homes and long-term care facilities to track infection rates, ensure that their staff use standard infection control practices and follow guidelines regarding the correct use of antibiotics.

Simple hand-washing is still a problem in some facilities, the CDC has said.

"The main mode of transmission to other patients is through human hands, especially health-care workers' hands," the CDC says in a statement on its Web site at

"Prevention of drug-resistant infections requires a full complement of actions tailored to the local setting," said Dr. Patrick Brennan, chair of the CDC's Healthcare Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee.

The problem is not restricted to the United States.

In Britain, 1,168 people died from methicillin-resistant Staph infections in 2004, according to the Office of National Statistics. Hospital-acquired infections killed 8,500 Canadians last year.

Copyright 2006 Reuters. All rights reserved.
28773  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Libertarian themes on: October 19, 2006, 07:21:56 PM
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FBI director wants ISPs to track users

Robert Mueller becomes latest Bush administration official to call for ISPs to store customers' data.
By Declan McCullagh
Staff Writer, CNET News.com

Published: October 17, 2006, 4:18 PM PDT

FBI Director Robert Mueller on Tuesday called on Internet service providers to record their customers' online activities, a move that anticipates a fierce debate over privacy and law enforcement in Washington next year.
"Terrorists coordinate their plans cloaked in the anonymity of the Internet, as do violent sexual predators prowling chat rooms," Mueller said in a speech at the International Association of Chiefs of Police conference in Boston.
ISP snooping time line

In events that were first reported by CNET News.com, Bush administration officials have said Internet providers must keep track of what Americans are doing online.

June 2005: Justice Department officials quietly propose data retention rules.
December 2005: European Parliament votes for data retention of up to two years.
April 14, 2006: Data retention proposals surface in Colorado and the U.S. Congress.
April 20, 2006: Attorney General Alberto Gonzales says data retention "must be addressed."
April 28, 2006: Rep. Diana DeGette proposes data retention amendment.
May 16, 2006: Rep. James Sensenbrenner drafts data retention legislation--but backs away from it two days later.
May 26, 2006: Gonzales and FBI Director Robert Mueller meet with Internet and telecommunications companies.
June 27, 2006: Rep. Joe Barton, chair of a House committee, calls new child protection legislation "highest priority."

"All too often, we find that before we can catch these offenders, Internet service providers have unwittingly deleted the very records that would help us identify these offenders and protect future victims," Mueller said. "We must find a balance between the legitimate need for privacy and law enforcement's clear need for access."

The speech to the law enforcement group, which approved a resolution on the topic earlier in the day, echoes other calls from Bush administration officials to force private firms to record information about customers. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, for instance, told Congress last month that "this is a national problem that requires federal legislation."

Justice Department officials admit privately that data retention legislation is controversial enough that there wasn't time to ease it through the U.S. Congress before politicians left to campaign for re-election. Instead, the idea is expected to surface in early 2007, and one Democratic politician has already promised legislation.

Law enforcement groups claim that by the time they contact Internet service providers, customers' records may have been deleted in the routine course of business. Industry representatives, however, say that if police respond to tips promptly instead of dawdling, it would be difficult to imagine any investigation that would be imperiled.

It's not clear exactly what a data retention law would require. One proposal would go beyond Internet providers and require registrars, the companies that sell domain names, to maintain records too. And during private meetings with industry officials, FBI and Justice Department representatives have cited the desirability of also forcing search engines to keep logs--a proposal that could gain additional law enforcement support after AOL showed how useful such records could be in investigations.

A representative of the International Association of Chiefs of Police said he was not able to provide a copy of the resolution.

Preservation vs. retention

At the moment, Internet service providers typically discard any log file that's no longer required for business reasons such as network monitoring, fraud prevention or billing disputes. Companies do, however, alter that general rule when contacted by police performing an investigation--a practice called data preservation.

A 1996 federal law called the Electronic Communication Transactional Records Act regulates data preservation. It requires Internet providers to retain any "record" in their possession for 90 days "upon the request of a governmental entity."
Because Internet addresses remain a relatively scarce commodity, ISPs tend to allocate them to customers from a pool based on whether a computer is in use at the time. (Two standard techniques used are the Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol and Point-to-Point Protocol over Ethernet.)

In addition, Internet providers are required by another federal law to report child pornography sightings to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which is in turn charged with forwarding that report to the appropriate police agency.


When adopting its data retention rules, the European Parliament approved U.K.-backed requirements saying that communications providers in its 25 member countries--several of which had enacted their own data retention laws already--must retain customer data for a minimum of six months and a maximum of two years.

The Europe-wide requirement applies to a wide variety of "traffic" and "location" data, including: the identities of the customers' correspondents; the date, time and duration of phone calls, VoIP (voice over Internet Protocol) calls or e-mail messages; and the location of the device used for the communications. But the "content" of the communications is not supposed to be retained. The rules are expected to take effect in 2008.

CNET News.com's Anne Broache contributed to this report.
28774  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Die Less Often: Interface of Gun, Knife and Emtpy Hand on: October 19, 2006, 06:40:01 PM
From another forum-- names deleted to protect privacy:

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Well the package arrived in the mail yesterday and the plans for that evening quickly evaporated. I intended to watch a little of the first DVD and then on with the normal routine for that night, I was past the second disk before I realized that I had to get up the next day. It was good stuff!

There are a few things you need to be aware of. The contents are at least PG-13. There are a number of graphic images to show what happens in a knife fight. It is good material that shows what happens when you lose to a knife, it is an important part of the presentation but not for the younger crowd. Second thing is the language. Crafty has a few choice words in the training sessions, nothing out of line but consider watching the entire thing before letting younger kids around it.

The presentation centers around a class with Gabe and Crafty. The bulk of the material is presented by Crafty with Gabe in the picture often and giving his input when appropriate. They did a great job working together. I liked Gabe's teaching style and Crafty's is top notch as well. Words are not wasted but the level of detail and the mental picture they paint makes the material easy to grasp.

I have some background in FMA so I had seen some of the fundamentals of what was presented. But Crafty presents some of the best initial survival techniqes I have ever seen. No system can ever be 100%, that is just not the way things work. But the system shown gives an incredible amount of coverage to what is likely to happen if attacked.

The techniqes are simple and their presentation is clear and effective. Common mistakes are identified and enumerated to help avoid them. Students are shown using the techniques in scenario based drills with a replay review of the action provided to help show what will work and what can go wrong.

The presentation is good enough that training partners should have no problem working with what is presented and gaining a great deal of advantage from the material. Nothing is better than personal instruction, but this DVD set will get you well down the road.
 

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Yeah I didn't get the laundry done the night Die Less Often came in the mail either. In the last two weeks I've watched the series twice on my own and two other times with different sparring/shooting etc. partners. Only so far you can take it with the coffee table pushed in the corner; however I'm looking forward to the weekend in the gym to run with it in a force on force type scenario. We'll probably all go back home and watch it again after that too.

Aside from the technical issues that are communicated well, there are a lot of mental "nuggets" that I picked up on the second and third time around watching it. The third DVD is particularly good as well.

I almost forgot... it seems like the better the training the worse the production value of tapes are. I've watched tons of video's and DVDs where the production aspect of the video was terrible; of course if the content is good enough you soon forget it. I have to give credit to this one as it was very enjoyable to watch w/ a two camera shoot, audio was fantastic as was the art used in the segues. I didn't see one cheesey wipe from some lame toaster edit machine or canned video effect either.
__________________
"Foresight is better than hindsight, and forwarned is forearmed." -Rex Feral

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I have some background in FMA so I had seen some of the fundamentals of what was presented. But Crafty presents some of the best initial survival techniqes I have ever seen. No system can ever be 100%, that is just not the way things work. But the system shown gives an incredible amount of coverage to what is likely to happen if attacked.

 


I think once you've had a chance to play with it you'll be amazed at how versatile and widely applicable across the CQB spectrum that stuff is.

It's equally useful whether you're hitting the heavy bag or practicing CRG, knife, or stick combatives.

BTW, once you get the timing down, try combining the false lead with the brachial stun on the a heavy bag. Broke several swivel hooks on my heavy bag while practicing it. Pretty devastating. 



Quote:
The presentation is good enough that training partners should have no problem working with what is presented and gaining a great deal of advantage from the material. 


The structure taught in the DVD can also complement/dovetail in with many previously learned skill sets so it's not necessary for you to ditch/unlearn things from other systems.

BTW, there's so much info packed into each disc that repeated viewings are required to absorb all the material.
__________________
Yes, I?d rather not hurt people?s feelings. But there are so many people nowadays who are positively eager to be ?deeply offended? that you?re a sucker if you try to avoid offending them. We?re dealing with aggressors who pose as victims. ; Joe Sobran on the LibComs

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

Quote:
Originally Posted by
BTW, there's so much info packed into each disc that repeated viewings are required to absorb all the material.


I plan on the second sitting tonight. The dogcatcher is the best thing I have added to my toolset since the SouthNarc elbow shield!
__________________



I guess I'll have to finally spring for a dvd player
28775  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Spike TV, the Dog Brothers Gathering Webisodes; National Geographic on: October 19, 2006, 06:35:25 PM
Both of these continue to move forward nicely.

28776  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Islamic Countries: on: October 19, 2006, 07:50:26 AM
Mr. Erdogan's Turkey

By MICHAEL RUBIN
October 19, 2006; Page A18

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mr. Rubin is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.
28777  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Legal issues on: October 19, 2006, 07:32:38 AM
AT LAW

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

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

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

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

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

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

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





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

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

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

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

Mr. Yoo, professor of law at Berkeley and visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, served in the Bush Justice Department from 2001-03. He is the author of "War By Other Means" (Grove/Atlantic 2006).
28778  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Europe on: October 18, 2006, 06:44:38 PM
 Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: Socialist Canada
Posts: 2,713 
 
 School bans Christian chastity ring but allows Muslim and Sikh symbols

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A secondary school has come under fire for banning Christian pupils from wearing rings symbolising a belief in chastity until marriage.
Millais School in West Sussex has banned the silver 'purity rings', arguing that they fall foul of the school's no-jewellery policy, which only allows pupils to wear simple single stud earrings.
But the school has been accused of double standards as it allows Muslim pupils to wear headscarves and Sikh pupils kara bracelets as a means of religious expression.
The ban is the latest in a series of episodes where organisations ban Christian jewellery. Earlier this week British Airways banned an employee from wearing a cross necklace. The Rev John Brown of Middleton-on-Sea argues that the ban should be lifted as it is 'discriminatory' against Christians.
Rev Brown, 78, a retired Church of England vicar said: 'The ban is totally discriminatory, compared with the way Muslim girls in that school are treated, they are allowed to wear head scarves, symbolising their faith.
'The girls are wearing rings to show their religious belief in abstaining from sex until marraige, it means a great deal to them, so I think it's quite wrong it should be banned.'
Heather and Philip Playfoot have been in dispute with the school in Horsham over the issue for two years.
Their 15-year-old daughter Lydia began wearing her ring - which is inscribed with a biblical verse - in June 2004.
The Playfoots claim Lydia and up to a dozen pupils have been punished for breaking the rules.
Lydia, who no longer wears the ring to school said she feels 'betrayed' by the school.
'My ring is a symbol of my religious faith. I think, as a Christian, it says we should keep ourselves pure from sexual sinfulness and wearing the ring is a good way of making a stand.''
Her parents Heather, 47, a housewife and Phil, 49, a minister in a nondenominational church, are considering taking legal action.
Mr Playfoot said yesterday: 'We hope the school will recognise the ring as a legitimate expression of the childrens' Christian beliefs.'
Mrs Playfoot added: 'The ring is a reminder to them of the promise they have made, much the same as a wedding ring is an outward sign of an inward promise.
'It's a discriminatory policy. We don't want her education to be disrupted because of it but we do want her to feel free to wear something that is very significant.'
Lydia's ring comes from Silver Ring Thing, an evangelical American Christian movement. It has encouraged a growing number of teenagers to make a 'pledge of chastity'. The silver ring demonstrates commitment to this pledge.
The movement was founded by father- of-three Denny Pattyn in Yuma, Arizona, in 1995. He launched it after discovering Yuma had the highest teenage pregnancy rate in Arizona.
Silver Ring Thing launched in Britain in 2004, promoting abstinence before marriage. More than 20,000 members have signed up at roadshows in the U.S. and Britain.
Leon Nettley, headmaster of Millais, said in a statement that the school's own sex education programme already stressed that underage sex is illegal, and encouraged pupils to discuss the issues.
He added: 'The school is not convinced that pupils' rights have been interfered with by the application of the school's uniform policy. 'The school has a clearly published uniform policy and sets high standards in this respect.' http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/liv...n_page_id=1770
28779  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Islamic Countries: on: October 18, 2006, 06:05:50 PM
http://news.yahoo.com/

Italian's kidnappers set terms for release: website

Tue Oct 17, 9:28 PM ET



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But on Tuesday British troops pulled out of the Musa Qala district of Helmand, following a request from war-weary locals.
28780  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Part Two on: October 18, 2006, 11:09:33 AM
PART TWO

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Copyright 2006 Michael Schwartz)
 

 
28781  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Big Picture WW3: Who, when, where, why on: October 18, 2006, 11:08:16 AM
Here's what he references:

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


Nine paradoxes of a lost war
By Michael Schwartz

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nine paradoxes of a lost war
By Michael Schwartz

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

28782  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Big Picture WW3: Who, when, where, why on: October 18, 2006, 10:53:08 AM
Tell us what you really think Ralph.
===============

 

POLITICALLY CORRECT WAR
By RALPH PETERS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So the doctrine writers ignored today's reality.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The new counterinsurgency doctrine is dishonest and cowardly.

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

And we're afraid to fight.

Ralph Peters is a retired Army officer
28783  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: October 18, 2006, 10:45:11 AM
Geopolitical Diary: Jihadists Seize the Initiative in Iraq

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

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

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

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

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

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

The jihadists face two major obstacles in pursuing this path.

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

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

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

28784  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Weird and/or silly on: October 18, 2006, 10:32:52 AM
Trivia:  I am a green belt in June Rhee TKD-- after I finished school and went to DC, I went to his schools because my Fu Jow Pai teacher Sifu Paul Vizzio recommended that I work my legs and that the JR people had good legs.  FWIW, JR maintains himself in truly exemplary condition.

The ad of course is to barf , , ,
28785  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Islamic Countries: on: October 18, 2006, 07:31:47 AM
Darkness in Dhaka
A gadfly Bangladeshi journalist runs for his life.

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

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

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

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





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

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

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





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

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

28786  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: SEMINAR Die Less Often: Interface of Gun, Knife and Emtpy Hand on: October 18, 2006, 07:26:36 AM
Woof All:

Extra credit if you bring:

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

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

28787  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Book Reviews on: October 17, 2006, 08:07:22 PM
I am sure a fatwa is being issued somewhere...Yash
 
Buy the Book
Peace Be Unto Him
By William Tucker
Published 10/17/2006 12:07:05 AM
The Truth About Muhammad:
Founder of the World's Most Intolerant Religion
By Robert Spencer
(Regnery, 256 pages, $27.95)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Robert Spencer has outlined the situation very clearly:

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

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


William Tucker is a frequent contributor to The American Spectator.
28788  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants on: October 17, 2006, 06:04:43 PM
"First you find out that Cindy Sheehan was a paid shill of the Kerry campaign all along, that she dabbles in the darker side of the internet, and you dab at a reflexive tear at that news."

I missed this.  Would someone fill me in please?
28789  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Rules of the Road on: October 17, 2006, 06:00:51 PM
6)  If you are cross-current or even against the general currents of thinking around here, we encourage you to participate.  Remember, the mission here is to search for TRUTH.  Chattering class shoutfests on TV are NOT the model here.  The model is that of gracious conversation after dinner where everyone at the table is assumed to be bright, educated and thoughtful and Reason is the mode of discourse.
28790  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Big Picture WW3: Who, when, where, why on: October 17, 2006, 05:54:11 PM
North Korea and the Limits of Multilateralism
By George Friedman

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

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

Alliance as Solution

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

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

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

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

Alliance as Stability

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

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

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

North Korea and Multilateralism

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

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

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

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

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

Shared Responsibility and Inaction

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

Let's go down the list:


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


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


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


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


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

Multilateralism: Promise and Limitations

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

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

If, for some, Iraq made the case against unilateralism, North Korea should raise serious questions about the limits of multilateralism.
28791  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Geo Political matters on: October 17, 2006, 12:36:08 PM
Lets hear them Buz.
28792  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / US Economics, the stock market , and other investment/savings strategies on: October 17, 2006, 12:33:13 PM
The Curse of Voinovich

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

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

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

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

Opinion Journal (WSJ) Political Diary
28793  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: October 17, 2006, 11:24:00 AM
Part Two

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Copyright 2006 Michael Schwartz)
28794  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: October 17, 2006, 11:22:22 AM
Nine paradoxes of a lost war
By Michael Schwartz

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nine paradoxes of a lost war
By Michael Schwartz

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A typical illustration of this principle in practice was a January US military report that went in part: "An unmanned US drone detected three men digging a hole in a road in the area. Insurgents regularly bury bombs along roads in the area to target US or Iraqi convoys. The three men were tracked to a building, which US forces then hit with precision-guided munitions." As it turned out, the attack killed 12 members of a family living in that house, severely damaged six neighboring houses, and consolidated local opposition to the American presence.
28795  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Europe on: October 17, 2006, 10:26:10 AM
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


julie.mccaffrey@mirror.co.uk
28796  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Geo Political matters on: October 17, 2006, 08:44:17 AM
Geopolitical Diary: The EU Scrambles for a Russia Policy
www.stratfor.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Situation Reports

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1109 GMT -- ERITREA -- Fifteen tanks and 1,500 troops from Eritrea have moved into the demilitarized buffer zone along the Ethiopian border, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said Oct. 17. Eritrea's Information Ministry said the troops are in place just to help harvest and protect food.
28797  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Pacific Island Showdown on: October 16, 2006, 10:35:03 AM
Dogzilla called me the day before the tournament and left a message.  His DQ reminds me of the time Billy McGrath dq'd me for "excessive contact" at a PT-Tuhon Gaje camp in Tennessee in 1988  grin 

What word on the earthquake?  Is everyone OK?
28798  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: October 16, 2006, 07:45:21 AM
Moving GM's post from "Islam in Islamic Countries" to here:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bureau Report 
28799  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: October 16, 2006, 07:43:01 AM
www.stratfor.com

Geopolitical Diary: Considering Turkey's Interests in Iraq

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

28800  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Big Picture WW3: Who, when, where, why on: October 15, 2006, 08:07:49 PM
It's the Tribes, Stupid

Steven Pressfield

October 2006

? 2006 Steven Pressfield

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

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

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

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

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

What is a tribe anyway?

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

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

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

How do you combat a tribal enemy?

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

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

The tribe respects power.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The tribe places no value on freedom.

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

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

The tribe is bound to the land.

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

The tribe cannot be negotiated with.

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

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

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

How to deal with the tribal mind.

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

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

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

How Alexander got out of a quagmire.

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

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

The outlook for the U.S. in Iraq

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

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

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