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29801  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Next gathering... on: August 08, 2006, 02:17:55 AM
Woof Michael:

My email is  

Would you please email me the URL?

Crafty Dog
29802  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Lebanon on: August 07, 2006, 09:55:23 PM
Returning to the subject of the thread now:
ISRAEL, LEBANON: Hezbollah is nowhere near defeat, Israeli army Brig. Gen. Yossi Kuperwasser said. Kuperwasser said political considerations might have hampered stronger, more effective action against the Lebanese group. Kuperwasser also said complete elimination of Hezbollah rocket-launch sites would not happen soon.
29803  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Die Less Often: Interface of Gun, Knife and Emtpy Hand on: August 07, 2006, 07:34:28 PM
This is a rough draft of an interview by LEO Kevin Davis which may appear in a LEO oriented publication.  Thanks for his gracious permission to post here:

LEO Interview:

1)    Most law enforcement officers are of the opinion that "the suspect
brought a knife to a gunfight". Why is this mindset dangerous?

 It is not a fight.  It is an ambush.  The initiation goes to the knifer
because he is the bad guy.  A knife never runs out of ammo.  A knife never goes
out of battery-- even  during a life and death struggle between two men.
Like the gun, the point of the knife can kill.  Unlike the gun, not only can
you not grab the edge, but the edge can kill you as well.  When a
knife is inserted, the amount of damage that can be done with
twisting, slashing  and other continuing motions is extraordinary.

2)    Most shootings take place within 6 feet and look little like
 standard firearms training.  With your experience in full-contact stick
 fighting, where do you think we're going wrong?

First I would like to make very clear that I don't think in terms of you guys "going wrong", I simply think I have something to offer.

Second, I'd like to make clear that I regard my experience with Real Contact
Stickfighting as only part of what I bring to the table.  In addition to
quality training under some of the finest martial ats teachers in the
world, I have been teaching prison guards, law enforcement, and elite military
 soldiers for years now.  I am a Level Three Combatives Instructor for the
US Army.  My point here is that by teaching these men and women I also have
 learned.  I always ask questions and ask for questions.  By engaging with
these real world questions, I continue to learn.

 That said, as asked your question is strictly about firearms training.
This is NOT an area of expertise for me-- quite the contrary.  Yet the logic of
 firearms is implicit in what I teach and I have set about rectifying this
 weak link in my chain.  This is why the "Die Less Often:  Intro to the
 Interface of Gun, Knife and Empty Hand" is a joint project with noted
combat firearms instructor and former LEO Gabe Suarez.  Conversely it is precisely
Gabe's experience with shootings occurring within 6 feet that brought him
to me.  Coming from complementary directions, we arrive at the same place--  
the interface of gun, knife and empty hand.

 In other words, my contribution is to the combatives element of the
 interface, including weapon protection and retention, weapon access,
and defense against weapons including disarms and weapon captures.

 The martial arts which form the core of my training (Kali-Silat and others)
 are precisely about contact weapons such as stick, knives, clubs, staffs,
 improvised weapons, etc.  They were developed not for young male ritual
 hierarchical combat but for life and death conflict-- conflict which
 involves ambush, uneven numbers in 360 degree situations, weapons.  The
 access issues of a gun during ECQ overlap considerably with the access
 issues of stick/ASP/baton/knife during ECQ-- likewise the retention issues.
 I think where my experience in the adrenal state using these skills in Real
 Contact Stickfighting (about 140 fights) and considerable experience in
 training others to do so as well is relevant.  Although I am but a
civilian,  I have had a moral place wherein to experience the adrenal application of
my training to a far greater than if I had to wait for "on the street"
experience. I certainly would have to be a person of very poor judgement and/or morality
 to have this amount of adrenal experience in a "normal" life!!!

Anyway, because of these things people seem to appreciate what I can

 3)    How can police engage in realistic close quarters or extreme close
 quarters firearms training that incorporates empty hand?

 I am sure that you and your readers are familiar with simuntions training,
 scenario training, and so forth.  These are all very good!  What I would
 offer to the mix is what we call the Kali Fence and the Dog Catcher, weapon
 access once the fight has started and both the restraint methods and the
 extreme violence methods which I have been taught.

 The Kali Fence is a particular fence that in my opinion is ideal for
conducting interviews with dubious individuals, weapons retention, pre-emption,
interception of all the likely attack angles.  It is set up to work against larger and
stronger individuals as well.  There is a body of material for pre-empting and intercepting attacks that is ideal for solving/countering/avoiding common concealed gun and knife draws as well as empty hand attacks while positioning the officer for cuffing or drawing his sidearm or other tools.

The Dog Catcher is for when we are reacting to an attack; if we already are
in a Kali Fence, then so much the better.

In ECQ the reaction time is a split second.  As recognized by DT instructors
everywhere, there is considerable value in having a "non-diagnostic default
response" i.e. something that officers can automatically do when sudden
aggressive moves are made towards them without first having to discern
exactly the nature of the attack because simply there is not enough time.  As I
understand it, the idea is to survive the initial ambush strike and get into the
fight.  My understanding is that these default positions typically are about
protecting the head and neck.  My concern is that if the attack is with a
knife that the lung/heart are exposed to the very common hooking/stabbing motion,
the belly exposed to the slash, and the groin/femoral exposed to rising
hooking/stabbing motions.

The Dog Catcher does require diagnosis as to whether the attack comes from the right or left.  If the attack comes from the perp?s left side a different response is called for.  Because the Kali Fence?s hand position defines centerline the response on this side readily becomes quite instinctive.  The Dog Catcher is for attacks that come from the right?and some 90% of the population is right handed.  As we see in our stickfighting, in footage of prison attacks, in footage of riots and street attacks, the natural human tendency in the enraged state is what we call ?caveman? strikes?be they empty handed, with clubs or with knives.

This can be done crudely or in a cultivated manner?what we call the ?prison sewing machine? which is demonstrated in the promo clip for ?Die Less Often?  by my good friend and longtime federal prison guard Dogzilla.

My thinking on this point originated in a conversation I had several years ago with a former member of the Aryan Brotherhood who had killed people in prison.  

?What technique did you use??

He looked at me like I was an idiot.  I felt like an idiot.

?You don?t use any technique.  You steel yourself up; (his body began to steel up as memories were awakened) you pump him until he is dead; and then you bind your wounds.?

In the Dog Catcher I seek to offer something that can readily be done in the high adrenal state (and here I think my experience as a Dog Brothers stick fighter and as someone who has taken many people from all walks of life to the level where they can perform at this level of pressure helps me a lot) against someone who is steeled up and is coming to pump an officer until he/she is dead.

Apart from slight adjustments due to the angle of attack, the Dog Catcher is non-diagnostic in the sense that applies to both common empty hand and common knife attacks on the high, middle and rising hook lines.

Also very important is that it is designed to offer the officer the option of taking the perp down for disarming and cuffing OR breaking off at an angle to access the sidearm or other tools.  THIS IS A VERY IMPORTANT POINT.  For a civilian, this would be the moment to run away.

 4)    What has your "field testing" found about close quarters deadly
 force incidents that surprised you?

Given my Dog Brother background? vigorous testing is something I strongly believe in.  Something that surprised me very much was that there were times that the ?knifer? wound up on the good guy?s back- typically at about 04:30?as he applied the Dog Catcher.  I could have blamed poor execution of the technique, but really the only relevant thing is that it was happening.  That said, what surprised me even more was that, because of the relative position of hands and limbs, this turned out to be a Plan B position of considerable merit for the good guy.  Experimentation and research are indespensible!

If this is not answering your question as intended, I apologize?but as a civilian my philosophy is ?What you think of me is none of my business.?  In other words, I do not respond to insults and other such foolishness.  As such, so far I have been able to avoid deadly force incidents in my own life?apart from that one time that got me thrown into a Mexican prison for three days, but that was to save a girl from being dragged off to be raped by four guys.  But I digress , , ,

5)    In your opinion what is the state of modern police suspect control
 or defensive tactics training?

I do not regard myself as qualified to have an opinion!  My impression, based upon numerous informal conversations it that this is an area in tremendous flux.  Some departments seem to be rather fossilized, and others are very cutting edge.  I believe I have something to contribute and if the officers agree, then that is my great honor.

The Adventure continues,
Marc ?Crafty Dog? Denny
29804  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Lebanon on: August 07, 2006, 05:49:13 PM

Concerning the point in the Wikipedia piece about fascism being a term for nationalism and therefor inappropriate here because it is a relgious movement:  

This seems to me to be an academic nitpick to me in that in general terms most people understand fascism to mean "Might makes right", but accepting the point for the moment, it remains irrelevant I think because Islam seeks to merge religion and state.

The question remains though Rogt, what term are we to use?  Even the most sanguine estimates have about 10% of the world's Muslims believing in this philosophy (and 2-3x more being sympathetic)  If there are 1 Billion Muslims world wide, this is a movement of 100 million people (and 2-3x as many sympathizers who presumably are willing to look the other way if not give aid and comfort) who believe in targeting civilian infidels as a suitable tactic with any means available including WMD.  It is an extremely grave problem.  For me I reify it by picturing Flight 93 being flown into the nuclear reactor in Three Mile Island PA.   These people declared war on us and the danger is real.  I'm sorry you think my name for them is too mean, but I'm curious:  What name would you give them?

Bringing these links over from a post of mine in the "Dialog with Muslims" thread:

(These were posted earlier in the thread and addressed specfically to you BTW, but without reply so far)

I make the point that these sure seems to me like the fascisms of the 1930s.  Do you have a different reaction to watching these?  WHAT KIND OF PERSON WOULD BE OFFENDED BY CALLING THIS FASCISM?

You are jewish, yet you doubt that they come for you?  I find this imcomprehensible.

29805  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Lebanon on: August 07, 2006, 05:13:39 PM

It seems I need to yank the leash here.

As best as I can tell, a lot of people come to read these threads because the material posted and the comments made are found thoughtful, containing intel, observations and a level of analysis not commonly found.

Please post only what intelligent, thoughtful people seeking intelligent, thoughtful conversation will probably find worth their time.  That recent exchange, while common on other forums, does not measure up here.

Rogt, your final post, the one from wikipedia, although I disagree with it, would have been a far better first post for you on this subject.

Crafty Dog
29806  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Invitation to dialog to Muslims on: August 07, 2006, 10:24:38 AM
From today's NY Times about Muslims in the US military:

Published: August 7, 2006
Few people ever see Ismile Althaibani?s Purple Heart. He keeps the medal tucked away in a dresser. His Marine uniform is stored in a closet. His hair is no longer shaved to the scalp.

Faith and War
One Brooklyn Family
This is the first article in an occasional series looking at the experiences of Muslims in the United States military. Other articles will deal with the challenge of recruiting Arabic speakers and one woman?s efforts to enlist and serve.

It has been 20 months since he returned from Iraq after a roadside explosion shattered his left foot. He never expected a hero?s welcome, and it never came ? none of the balloons or hand-written signs that greeted another man from his unit who lived blocks away.

Mr. Althaibani, 23, was the last of five young marines to come home to an extended family of Yemeni immigrants in Brooklyn. Like the others, he grew accustomed to the uneasy stares and prying questions. He learned not to talk about his service in the company of Muslim neighbors and relatives.

?I try not to let people know I?m in the military,? said Mr. Althaibani, a lance corporal in the Marine Corps Reserve.

The passage home from Iraq has been difficult for many American troops. They have struggled to recover from the shocking intensity of the war. They have faced the country?s ambivalence about a conflict in which thousands of their fellow soldiers have been killed or maimed.

But for Muslim Americans like Mr. Althaibani, the experience has been especially fraught.

They were called upon to fight a Muslim enemy, alongside comrades who sometimes questioned their loyalty. They returned home to neighborhoods where the occupation is commonly dismissed as an imperialist crusade, and where Muslims who serve in Iraq are often disparaged as traitors.

Some 3,500 Muslims have been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan with the United States armed forces, military figures show. Seven of them have been killed, and 212 have been awarded Combat Action Ribbons.

More than half these troops are African-American. But little else is known about Muslims in the military. There is no count of those who are immigrants or of Middle Eastern descent. There is no full measure of their honors or injuries, their struggle overseas and at home.

A piece of the story is found near Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn, where two sets of brothers and a young cousin share a singular kinship. They grew up blocks apart, in the cradle of a large Muslim family. They joined the Marines, passing from one fraternity to another. Within the span of a year and a half, they had all gone to Iraq and come home.

Ismile?s cousin Ace Montaser sensed a new distance among the men at his mosque on State Street. He described it as ?the awkward eye.?

Ismile?s older brother Abe, a burly New York City police officer, learned to avoid political debates.

Their cousin Abdulbasset Montaser took a different approach. He answered questions about whether he served in Iraq with a feisty, ?Yeah, we?re going to Yemen next!? He has helped recruit for the Marines and boasts about his cousin?s medal to the neighbors.

?I want every Muslim in the military to be recognized,? said Mr. Montaser, a corporal. ?If not, people will feel they?re not doing their part.?

Their service bears some resemblance to that of Japanese and German immigrants who fought for the United States in World War II. But for Muslims of Arab descent, the call to serve in Iraq is complicated not only by ethnic ties, but by religion.

Islamic scholars have long debated the circumstances under which it is permissible for Muslims to fight one another. The arguments are intricate, centering on the question of what constitutes a just war.

In Brooklyn, those fine points are easily lost. Here, many immigrants say that killing Muslims is simply wrong, and they cite the Koran as proof. Their opposition to the war is rooted as much in religion, they say, as in Arab solidarity.

The same week that Abe Althaibani headed to Iraq with the 25th Marine Regiment, his wife joined thousands of antiwar protesters in Manhattan, shouting, ?No blood for oil!?

?It was my people,? said his wife, Esmihan Althaibani, a regal woman with luminous green eyes. ?I went because it was Arabs.?


Few people ever see Ismile Althaibani?s Purple Heart. He keeps the medal tucked away in a dresser. His Marine uniform is stored in a closet. His hair is no longer shaved to the scalp.

This is the first article in an occasional series looking at the experiences of Muslims in the United States military. Other articles will deal with the challenge of recruiting Arabic speakers and one woman?s efforts to enlist and serve.

It has been 20 months since he returned from Iraq after a roadside explosion shattered his left foot. He never expected a hero?s welcome, and it never came ? none of the balloons or hand-written signs that greeted another man from his unit who lived blocks away.

Mr. Althaibani, 23, was the last of five young marines to come home to an extended family of Yemeni immigrants in Brooklyn. Like the others, he grew accustomed to the uneasy stares and prying questions. He learned not to talk about his service in the company of Muslim neighbors and relatives.

?I try not to let people know I?m in the military,? said Mr. Althaibani, a lance corporal in the Marine Corps Reserve.

The passage home from Iraq has been difficult for many American troops. They have struggled to recover from the shocking intensity of the war. They have faced the country?s ambivalence about a conflict in which thousands of their fellow soldiers have been killed or maimed.

But for Muslim Americans like Mr. Althaibani, the experience has been especially fraught.

They were called upon to fight a Muslim enemy, alongside comrades who sometimes questioned their loyalty. They returned home to neighborhoods where the occupation is commonly dismissed as an imperialist crusade, and where Muslims who serve in Iraq are often disparaged as traitors.

Some 3,500 Muslims have been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan with the United States armed forces, military figures show. Seven of them have been killed, and 212 have been awarded Combat Action Ribbons.

More than half these troops are African-American. But little else is known about Muslims in the military. There is no count of those who are immigrants or of Middle Eastern descent. There is no full measure of their honors or injuries, their struggle overseas and at home.

A piece of the story is found near Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn, where two sets of brothers and a young cousin share a singular kinship. They grew up blocks apart, in the cradle of a large Muslim family. They joined the Marines, passing from one fraternity to another. Within the span of a year and a half, they had all gone to Iraq and come home.

Ismile?s cousin Ace Montaser sensed a new distance among the men at his mosque on State Street. He described it as ?the awkward eye.?

Ismile?s older brother Abe, a burly New York City police officer, learned to avoid political debates.

Their cousin Abdulbasset Montaser took a different approach. He answered questions about whether he served in Iraq with a feisty, ?Yeah, we?re going to Yemen next!? He has helped recruit for the Marines and boasts about his cousin?s medal to the neighbors.

?I want every Muslim in the military to be recognized,? said Mr. Montaser, a corporal. ?If not, people will feel they?re not doing their part.?

Their service bears some resemblance to that of Japanese and German immigrants who fought for the United States in World War II. But for Muslims of Arab descent, the call to serve in Iraq is complicated not only by ethnic ties, but by religion.

Islamic scholars have long debated the circumstances under which it is permissible for Muslims to fight one another. The arguments are intricate, centering on the question of what constitutes a just war.

In Brooklyn, those fine points are easily lost. Here, many immigrants say that killing Muslims is simply wrong, and they cite the Koran as proof. Their opposition to the war is rooted as much in religion, they say, as in Arab solidarity.

The same week that Abe Althaibani headed to Iraq with the 25th Marine Regiment, his wife joined thousands of antiwar protesters in Manhattan, shouting, ?No blood for oil!?

?It was my people,? said his wife, Esmihan Althaibani, a regal woman with luminous green eyes. ?I went because it was Arabs.?


(Page 3 of 5)

?You see what?s going on over there,? said Esmihan Althaibani, 26. ?The casualties on both sides. Iraqis speaking for themselves, saying, ?We didn?t want to get invaded.? They would hold dead babies with their heads blown off.?

One afternoon in May, the television filled with the image of a blood-soaked sidewalk in Baghdad.

?Look, look,? said Sadah Althaibani, 65, a petite woman with a stubborn frown. ?They?re cleaning the blood off the ground.?

When Mrs. Althaibani talks about the war, she sounds like other American parents upset by their children?s service. She laments that her sons had to fight while President Bush ?was playing with his dog.? She has no doubt that the occupation was driven by a quest for oil.

But among Yemeni immigrants, Mrs. Althaibani found that she could not speak openly about her sons? deployment. Muslim Americans have been vehemently opposed to the war: Of roughly 1,800 surveyed by the pollster John Zogby in 2004, more than 80 percent were against it.

Mrs. Althaibani told people that her sons were working as translators, not as marines in combat. On her television, she had seen reports of Shiites fighting Sunnis, but she clung to the idea that Muslims should not kill each other.

?It?s a sin,? she said. ?Nobody kills other Muslims. They?re like brothers.?

After Combat, Questions

The question that shadows the Montasers and Althaibanis is whether they killed anyone. The same question haunts any soldier returning from combat. But for Muslims, the reckoning is different.

Abdulbasset Montaser, 23, a slim, soft-spoken man, said he fired his weapon only in self-defense, and never at targets he could distinctly see.

?I never had to kill anyone face to face,? he said.

He believed that battling with the insurgents was justified because they were not following the rules of Islam. What disturbed him were the civilians caught in the cross-fire.

?It?s not that I feel guilty going out there, but you?re fighting your own people in a way,? he said.

Of the five cousins, no one saw heavier combat than Ismile (pronounced ish-MY-el) Althaibani, who was stationed in Falluja in the fall of 2004, during the American offensive against the insurgents there. He worked in convoy security with the First Marine Division.

?If you?re out there ? no matter your culture, your religion ? and somebody shoots at you, what do you do?? Mr. Althaibani said. ?It?s either him or me. That?s how I come to terms with it.?

Still, he was troubled by his belief that Islam prohibits killing.

Over dinner at an Italian restaurant one evening last month, Mr. Althaibani sat hunched at the table, spinning his cellphone like a top.

Abdulbasset Montaser sat across from him. They were the only ones in their family to enlist after Sept. 11, when deployment to the Middle East was a clear possibility. They never expected the war that followed.

When asked if he was proud of his service in Iraq, Mr. Althaibani thought for a moment.

?It?s mixed feelings, right?? he said, looking at his cousin. Mr. Montaser nodded silently.

Mr. Althaibani was awarded a Combat Action Ribbon, in addition to the Purple Heart. He did not want to talk about whether he killed anyone, or about the violence he witnessed.

?You just try to forget,? he said.

A Marine Transformed

The oldest of the group, Abe Althaibani, came home with much of his former character intact. He had the same easy laugh. He still cleaned his plate at dinner.

But there were hints of change. He was more on edge, his mother noticed. He had acquired the habits of his comrades: he smoked Marlboro Reds and took to dipping tobacco.

What struck his wife was something less common among marines: Mr. Althaibani spoke Arabic with a new Iraqi accent.

He told his relatives little about his role in the war. When prodded, he would sometimes say that he served in ?civilian affairs.?

In fact, Mr. Althaibani had worked on secret missions around Iraq with two counterintelligence teams.


Page 4 of 5)

He had been trained as a rifleman. But soon after he arrived at his base in Nasiriya in April 2003, he became a full-time interpreter, going on raids, assisting with interrogations and working undercover to cultivate sources. To fit in, he grew a beard and wore a long, checked scarf popular among Iraqi men.

The irony of Mr. Althaibani?s evolution did not escape him: He assumed, by outward appearances, a more traditionally Arab identity with the Marines than he ever had growing up among Yemenis.

The greatest challenge of his service, he said, was ?the acting.?

?It?s like you gotta be somebody you?re not sometimes in order to get information,? he said. ?It?s basically like you?re a fake, you?re a fraud. But you have to think you?re doing this in order for good things to happen.?

Mr. Althaibani, 28, wanted only to unwind when he came home five months later. Other marines he knew had struggled to readjust to civilian life.

?It?s hard,? he said. ?You?re out there giving people orders, and you come here and the lady at the checkout is giving you attitude.?

He eventually became a police officer, taking a path that three other marines in his family plan to follow.

One sunny afternoon in June, Mr. Althaibani guided his black Nissan Maxima through the Carroll Gardens section of Brooklyn. Frank Sinatra?s ?Fly Me to the Moon? floated from the speakers. The playgrounds, schools and cafes of Mr. Althaibani?s youth passed in slow sequence.

As he drove, Mr. Althaibani began recounting the crowning achievement of his team in Iraq: the capture of a suspected Baath party official who was believed to have taken part in the deadly ambush of Pfc. Jessica Lynch?s convoy.

?I felt like I was doing something,? he said.

The Iraqi captive, Nagem Sadoon Hatab, was detained at Camp Whitehorse near Nasiriya in June 2003. During an interrogation, he would accept water only from Mr. Althaibani, the marine recalled.

Two days later, another marine dragged Mr. Hatab, who was covered in his own feces, by the neck outside his cell and left him lying naked in the heat, according to court testimony. He was found dead hours later. An autopsy showed that he had suffered a broken neck bone, broken ribs and blunt trauma to the legs.

A Marine Corps major and a sergeant were charged with assaulting Mr. Hatab. Both were acquitted of the charge, though the major was found guilty of dereliction of duty and maltreatment in the case and the sergeant was convicted of abusing unidentified Iraqi prisoners.

Mr. Althaibani testified at the sergeant?s trial. He spoke about the case later with a shrugging detachment, saying he had witnessed no abuse and believes that the prosecutors were intent on ?crucifying the Marines.?

Looking back on the war, he feels the greatest loyalty toward his fellow marines.

?I wanted to get out there, do what I had to do and get home,? he said. ?I had no choice. Even if there was a choice ? you?re going to train with these guys and leave them??

The Marine Corps is ?like a cult,? he said. ?You went together and you come home together.?

No Looking Back

It is difficult to picture Ace Montaser at war. He has a boy?s face, with flushed cheeks and aqua eyes that dance about.

When he rolls up his sleeve, the image hardens. Sprawled across his arm is a tattoo of the Grim Reaper. Below it, a ribbon of letters spells ?Brooklyn,? and across the top are the words, ?Trust no one.?

He got the tattoo when he came home from Iraq. It signaled his entry into another kind of battle, one between him and the traditions of his family.

From the time Mr. Montaser was 12, he remembers his mother telling him he would marry a girl from Yemen. He never liked the idea.

?They say you just build love,? he said.

A bride had also been chosen for his brother, Abdulbasset, and the family began talking of a dual wedding before the two men left for Iraq, with different units, in the spring of 2003.

While he was away, Mr. Montaser, 25, served mostly as a translator in Nasiriya, training the Iraqi police and rebuilding schools.

Iraq felt strangely familiar. He studied the streets, the cars, the way people dressed, and kept thinking of Yemen, where he had spent stretches of his youth.

In young Iraqis, he saw himself. He would look at them and wonder, had his father not moved to Brooklyn, would his life have been so different?

He was most haunted by the children, those who begged in the street and others who lay dead in a hospital he visited.

?I just saw how precious life was,? he said. ?To come back alive, I feel I have the right to do whatever I want to do.?

Soon after he returned that September, Mr. Montaser fell in love with a woman from the Bronx. She was Muslim, but did not cover her head. She was of Arab descent, but not Yemeni.

Their relationship was not the first rebellion staged by Mr. Montaser, who prefers the nickname Ace to his birth name, Abdulsamed.

His parents went ahead with the original wedding plan. Nine months later, they persuaded him to fly to Yemen, where they own a house in the capital, Sana.

The night before the wedding, he plotted his escape.


Page 5 of 5)

He quietly packed his camouflage Marine bag. At midnight, he slipped out of the house. On a dresser, he left a note saying that he had gotten cold feet and was traveling south to the port city of Aden.


?That?s the good thing about being a marine,? he said. ?You plan. You?re made for these situations. That?s how I got out.?

He hailed a cab to the American Embassy, where a Marine staff sergeant ushered him inside. The next day, he flew back to New York.

?What he realized is the Marine Corps is his other family,? said Gunnery Sgt. Jamal Baadani, an Egyptian immigrant and a mentor of Mr. Montaser.

A week later, Mr. Montaser married his girlfriend, Nafeesah, at City Hall. They live in the Bronx with her parents.

Mr. Montaser is now studying to become a radio producer. For a long time, he did not speak to his parents. He is trying to mend the relationship, but has no interest in returning to Yemen.

?I don?t care what I left behind,? he said. ?There?s nothing for me there. Everything?s in America.?

A Quiet Return

Ismile Althaibani was the last to come home. He arrived at his parents? doorstep without warning on Thanksgiving day in 2004, leaning on a pair of crutches.

They answered the bell and embraced him. He knew there would be none of the balloons and signs that welcomed a Puerto Rican marine in the neighborhood.

?It?s just decorations,? Mr. Althaibani said.

Nine days earlier, on Nov. 17, Mr. Althaibani was in Falluja, riding in a predawn convoy to pick up detainees. He had said a prayer before the trip, reciting the Koran?s first verse. If he survived, he promised God, he would become a better Muslim.

Suddenly, a bomb planted by the insurgents exploded under his truck.

Shrapnel flew into his face and dug deep inside his left foot. Blood trickled from his ears. A friend dragged him from the wreckage, and soon he was on a helicopter to Baghdad.

Mr. Althaibani almost never tells the story of his injury. Few of his relatives know what happened. When he was awarded the Purple Heart at a ceremony at Floyd Bennett Field, in Brooklyn, he invited only his brother Abe and a couple of friends.

His mother does not know the name of his medal.

?You can?t say ?purple heart? in Arabic,? said Mr. Althaibani.

But word traveled. About six months after he returned, Mr. Althaibani was standing outside Yemen Cafe on Atlantic Avenue, sipping tea. A stranger walked up, shook his hand and asked him, in Arabic, if he had killed Iraqis.

None of the marines in Mr. Althaibani?s family welcomed the attention. But for Ismile, it was especially uncomfortable.

A lean man with brown, searching eyes, Mr. Althaibani is always standing off to the side. He is quiet by nature, but returned from Iraq even more withdrawn, his relatives observed. He smiled less, and smoked often.

One afternoon in May, he sank into a couch in his family?s living room. His father, who is a maintenance foreman at a building in Manhattan, sat across from him.

?Iraq is wrong ? 100 percent,? his father said, speaking in English to this reporter. ?Nobody support the war in Iraq.?

Ismile looked away. He had never asked his father what he thought of the war.

Weeks later, the young man stood in a park in Downtown Brooklyn, smoking a cigarette.

?He?s proud of me,? he said of his father. ?He don?t express himself a lot.?

His foot had finally healed. He had been attending a local mosque, and would soon begin training at the New York City Police Academy.

The physical traces of his time in Iraq were all but gone. His hair fell loosely over his forehead. A soft goatee shaded his face.

The only hint of his service hung from two silver chains that disappeared beneath his shirt. They held the aluminum tags of his military identity: name. Blood type. Social Security number.

Stamped across the bottom, in the same block letters, was the word ?Muslim.?
29807  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Lebanon on: August 07, 2006, 09:53:27 AM
Geopolitical Diary: A War Measured in Half-Miles
August 07, 2006 09 10  GMT

The war in Lebanon continues. Israel continued to send confusing signals during the weekend, with the Jerusalem Post reporting that the Israelis do not intend to go as far north as the Litani and the Syrians saying they would join the war if the Israelis bomb Syrian territory. The United States and France offered a cease-fire proposal that was rejected by the Lebanese and the Syrians, but not by Hezbollah, and the United Nations proceeded at its own stately and inefficient pace. The war appears to be moving forward at a pace as slow as molasses, as the saying goes.

This view is, in fact, deceptive. The war is going as quickly as it can under the circumstances. Hezbollah is clearly well armed, well motivated and, above all, well dug-in. The Israelis do not plan to take any more casualties than are needed. That means extremely slow going, as strong point after strong point is systematically attacked while the Israelis try to avoid tactical mistakes. That sort of careful, meticulous attack against competent forces takes a long time.

Hezbollah has the advantage of the defense. It also is configured that Hezbollah is, in any reasonable time frame, immune to Israel's favorite mobile tactics. It is not dependent on lines of supply or communication. This is also Hezbollah's disadvantage: It will not be re-supplied or reinforced, nor will it be able to move to the offensive. Israeli firepower and its concentration of force are too great for that. But it is clear that Hezbollah's bunkers are also its launch sites, or that the two are collocated. That means that the Israelis cannot simply ignore the bunkers. They must systematically and in detail destroy them, and do so with minimal exposure to Hezbollah fire.

That is a war that takes a long time. A great deal is happening, but all of it measured tactically and strategically in half-miles, not in dozens of miles. If the Israelis are going to eliminate the threat in southern Lebanon, it must be eliminated in very small steps, which is why the war appears to be at a standstill. But it is at a standstill only from the outside. Inside it is a slow, brutal meat-grinder, and it will take as long as it takes.

But in the end, even if the Israelis do go to the Litani, they will not have solved their strategic problem. As we have discussed, to the point that we are as bored with it as you, the rocket threat does not stop at the Litani. Nor does the existence of Hezbollah depend on south Lebanon alone. In fact, if Hezbollah units are defeated in south Lebanon after weeks of fighting and other units survive in the Bekaa Valley and around Beirut, Hezbollah will have won a singular victory -- having fought and, as a group, survived a battle with the Israelis.

Israel has the force to defeat Hezbollah if it is prepared to expend the time and casualties needed to do so. What the Israelis cannot do -- or more precisely, what Hezbollah has made impossible -- is the kind of rapid victory that it has always been able to claim before. Hezbollah has learned the lessons of the past and is not giving the Israelis the kind of centralized command structure and complex lines of supply needed for sudden victory.

Israel appears to be faced with the choice of a war that could last months or a political settlement with Hezbollah that brings in a peacekeeping force. It can be papered over as a U.N. cease-fire resolution or a U.S.-French proposal or a Confucian paradox. What it comes down to is indirect negotiations between Israel and Hezbollah, an agreement and a cease-fire, which means that Hezbollah retains its military capability.

We assume that what Israel wants to do is to reach a point where Hezbollah will agree to disarm or the Lebanese government agrees to disarm Hezbollah. We doubt that Hezbollah fighters will disarm of their own accord, and we doubt that the Lebanese government can disarm them when the Israelis cannot defeat them. Even if they disarmed, so long as they exist, they can re-arm. Therefore, in the end, it will be a negotiated settlement on terms to be determined.

Or the Israelis will pull a rabbit out of the hat and suddenly crush them. But we suspect that if the Israelis had any rabbits, they would have appeared before now. The Israelis may well choose to fight for as long as it takes and go as deep as needed to destroy Hezbollah. Given time and effort, we suspect Israel can do this. No one seems in a hurry to end the fighting, so this may be what is being considered. But it seems to come down to that or negotiating. And a cease-fire agreement that leaves Hezbollah in place will be a victory for Hezbollah.
29808  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Lebanon on: August 06, 2006, 07:53:13 PM
Ben Caspit, an Israeli journalist wrote this proposed speech for Prime Minister Olmert:

July 31, 2006
Ladies and gentlemen, leaders of the world. I, the Prime Minister of Israel, am speaking to you from Jerusalem in the face of the terrible pictures from Kfar Kana. Any human heart, wherever it is, must sicken and recoil at the sight of such pictures. There are no words of comfort that can mitigate the enormity of this tragedy. Still, I am looking you straight in the eye and telling you that the State of Israel will continue its military campaign in Lebanon.

The Israel Defense Forces will continue to attack targets from which missiles and Katyusha rockets are fired at hospitals, old age homes and kindergartens in Israel. I have instructed the security forces and the IDF to continue to hunt for the Katyusha stockpiles and launch sites from which these savages are bombarding the State of Israel.

We will not hesitate, we will not apologize and we will not back off. If they continue to launch missiles into Israel from Kfar Kana, we will continue to bomb Kfar Kana. Today, tomorrow and the day after tomorrow. Here, there and everywhere. The children of Kfar Kana could now be sleeping peacefully in their homes, unmolested, had the agents of the devil not taken over their land and turned the lives of our children into hell.

Ladies and gentlemen, it?s time you understood: the Jewish state will no longer be trampled upon. We will no longer allow anyone to exploit population centers in order to bomb our citizens. No one will be able to hide anymore behind women and children in order to kill our women and children. This anarchy is over. You can condemn us, you can boycott us, you can stop visiting us and, if necessary, we will stop visiting you.

Today I am serving as the voice of six million bombarded Israeli citizens who serve as the voice of six million murdered Jews who were melted down to dust and ashes by savages in Europe. In both cases, those responsible for these evil acts were, and are, barbarians devoid of all humanity, who set themselves one simple goal: to wipe the Jewish race off the face of the earth, as Adolph Hitler said, or to wipe the State of Israel off the map, as Mahmoud Ahmedinjad proclaims.

And you - just as you did not take those words seriously then, you are ignoring them again now. And that, ladies and gentlemen, leaders of the world, will not happen again. Never again will we wait for bombs that never came to hit the gas chambers. Never again will we wait for salvation that never arrives. Now we have our own air force. The Jewish people are now capable of standing up to those who seek their destruction - those people will no longer be able to hide behind women and children. They will no longer be able to evade their responsibility.

Every place from which a Katyusha is fired into the State of Israel will be a legitimate target for us to attack. This must be stated clearly and publicly, once and for all. You are welcome to judge us, to ostracize us, to boycott us and to vilify us. But to kill us? Absolutely not.

Four months ago I was elected by hundreds of thousands of citizens to the office of Prime Minister of the government of Israel, on the basis of my plan for unilaterally withdrawing from 90 percent of the areas of Judea and Samaria, the birth place and cradle of the Jewish people; to end most of the occupation and to enable the Palestinian people to turn over a new leaf and to calm things down until conditions are ripe for attaining a permanent settlement between us.

The Prime Minister who preceded me, Ariel Sharon, made a full withdrawal from the Gaza Strip back to the international border, and gave the Palestinians there a chance to build a new reality for themselves. The Prime Minister who preceded him, Ehud Barak, ended the lengthy Israeli presence in Lebanon and pulled the IDF back to the international border, leaving the land of the cedars to flourish, develop and establish its democracy and its economy.

What did the State of Israel get in exchange for all of this? Did we win even one minute of quiet? Was our hand, outstretched in peace, met with a handshake of encouragement? Ehud Barak?s peace initiative at Camp David let loose on us a wave of suicide bombers who smashed and blew to pieces over 1,000 citizens, men, women and children. I don?t remember you being so enraged then. Maybe that happened because we did not allow TV close-ups of the dismembered body parts of the Israeli youngsters at the Dolphinarium? Or of the shattered lives of the people butchered while celebrating the Passover seder at the Park Hotel in Netanya? What can you do - that?s the way we are. We don?t wave body parts at the camera. We grieve quietly.

We do not dance on the roofs at the sight of the bodies of our enemy?s children - we express genuine sorrow and regret. That is the monstrous behavior of our enemies. Now they have risen up against us. Tomorrow they will rise up against you. You are already familiar with the murderous taste of this terror. And you will taste more.

And Ariel Sharon?s withdrawal from Gaza. What did it get us? A barrage of Kassem missiles fired at peaceful settlements and the kidnapping of soldiers. Then too, I don?t recall you reacting with such alarm. And for six years, the withdrawal from Lebanon has drawn the vituperation and crimes of a dangerous, extremist Iranian agent, who took over an entire country in the name of religious fanaticism and is trying to take Israel hostage on his way to Jerusalem - and from there to Paris and London.

An enormous terrorist infrastructure has been established by Iran on our border, threatening our citizens, growing stronger before our very eyes, awaiting the moment when the land of the Ayatollahs becomes a nuclear power in order to bring us to our knees. And make no mistake - we won?t go down alone. You, the leaders of the free and enlightened world, will go down along with us.

So today, here and now, I am putting an end to this parade of hypocrisy. I don?t recall such a wave of reaction in the face of the 100 citizens killed every single day in Iraq. Sunnis kill Shiites who kill Sunnis, and all of them kill Americans - and the world remains silent. And I am hard pressed to recall a similar reaction when the Russians destroyed entire villages and burned down large cities in order to repress the revolt in Chechnya. And when NATO bombed Kosovo for almost three months and crushed the civilian population - then you also kept silent. What is it about us, the Jews, the minority, the persecuted, that arouses this cosmic sense of justice in you? What do we have that all the others don?t?

In a loud clear voice, looking you straight in the eye, I stand before you openly and I will not apologize. I will not capitulate. I will not whine. This is a battle for our freedom. For our humanity. For the right to lead normal lives within our recognized, legitimate borders. It is also your battle. I pray and I believe that now you will understand that. Because if you don?t, you may regret it later, when it?s too late.
29809  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Invitation to dialog to Muslims on: August 06, 2006, 06:47:20 PM
Woof All:

Bjung (a.k.a. Porn Star Dog-- because his last name is JungwiwattanattaPORN folks  cheesy )  thank you for that post.

Moving along, this sounds like dialog to me:

This does not:

8/11/08 Edited to add that the thrid video has been removed for "violating terms of use".  Pre-emptive dhimmitude perhaps?

The Adventure continues,
29810  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Lebanon on: August 06, 2006, 06:17:14 PM
Here's one to add to my previous post.  Together they paint quite a picture.
29811  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Lebanon on: August 06, 2006, 02:43:25 PM

Does this help?

29812  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Lebanon on: August 06, 2006, 12:34:53 PM
Pondering, Discussing, Traveling Amid and Defending the Inevitable War
Published: August 6, 2006
Today's NY Times

When I arrived in Israel, it was the anniversary of the day the Spanish Civil War began. It was 70 years ago that the Spanish generals set off the war ? civil, ideological and international ? that the fascist governments of the time wanted. And I could not help thinking about this as I landed in Tel Aviv. Syria in the wings. . .Ahmadinejad?s Iran maneuvering. . .Hezbollah, which everyone knows is a little Iran, or a little tyrant, taking Lebanon and its people hostage.. . .And behind the scenes, a fascism with an Islamist face, a third fascism, which is to our generation what the other fascism, and then communist totalitarianism, were to our elders?. As soon as I arrived; yes, from the very first moment I visited with my old friends in Tel Aviv, whom I had not seen so tense or so anxious since 1967; from my first conversation with Denis Charbit, an ardent peace activist who did not, it seemed to me, doubt the legitimacy of this war of self-defense; from my first discussion with Tzipi Livni, the young and talented Israeli foreign minister, whom I found strangely disoriented in this new geopolitics, I sensed that something new, something unprecedented in the history of Israeli wars, was being enacted. It was as if Israelis were no longer in the framework of Israel and the Arabs alone. It was as if the international context, the game of hide-and-seek between visible and invisible players, the role of Iran and its Hezbollah ally, gave the whole crisis a flavor, a look, a perspective that were entirely new.


Before I went to the northern front, near the border with Lebanon, I traveled to Sderot ? the martyred city of Sderot ? to the south, on the border with Gaza. Yes, the martyred city. Because the images that reach us from Lebanon are so terrible, and because the suffering of Lebanese civilian victims is so unbearable to the conscience and the heart, it is hard to imagine, I know, that an Israeli city could also be a martyred city. And yet. . .these empty streets. . .these gutted houses, riddled by shrapnel. . .this mountain of exploded rockets piled up in the courtyard of the police headquarters, all of which fell in the last few weeks.. . . Even that day (it was July 18), a rain of new bombs fell on the center of town and forced the few people who wanted to take advantage of the summer breeze to scurry back down into their basements.. . .

And then, finally, piously pinned on a black-cloth-covered board in the office of Mayor Eli Moyal, these photos of young people, some of them children, who have died under fire from Palestinian artillery. One thing obviously doesn?t erase the other. And I?m not one to play the dirty little game of counting corpses. But why shouldn?t what is due to some also be due to others? How come we hear so little, at least in the European press, of those Jewish victims who have died since Israel pulled out of Gaza? I have spent my life fighting against the idea that there are good deaths and bad deaths, deserving victims and privileged bombs. I have always agitated for the Israeli state to leave the occupied territories and, in exchange, win security and peace. For me, then, there is a question here of integrity and fairness: devastation, death, life in bomb shelters, existences broken by the death of a child, these are also the lot of Israel.

Haifa. My favorite Israeli city. The big cosmopolitan city where Jews and Arabs have lived together ever since the country was founded. It, too, is now a dead city. It, too, is a ghost city. And here, too, from the tree-covered heights of Mount Carmel down to the sea, the wailing of sirens forces the rare cars to stop and the last passers-by to rush into the subway entrances. Here, too, it is clear that this is the worst nightmare in 40 years for Israelis.

Zivit Seri is a tiny woman, a mother, who speaks with clumsy, defenseless gestures as she guides me through the destroyed buildings of Bat Galim ? literally ?daughter of the waves,? the Haifa neighborhood that has suffered most from the shellings. The problem, she explains, is not just the people killed: Israel is used to that. It?s not even the fact that here the enemy is aiming not at military objectives but deliberately at civilian targets ? that, too, is no surprise. No, the problem, the real one, is that these incoming rockets make us see what will happen on the day ? not necessarily far off ? when the rockets are ones with new capabilities: first, they will become more accurate and be able to threaten, for example, the petrochemical facilities you see there, on the harbor, down below; second, they may come equipped with chemical weapons that can create a desolation compared with which Chernobyl and Sept. 11 together will seem like a mild prelude. For that, in fact, is the situation. As seen from Haifa, this is what is at stake in the operation in southern Lebanon. Israel did not go to war because its borders had been violated. It did not send its planes over southern Lebanon for the pleasure of punishing a country that permitted Hezbollah to construct its state-within-a-state. It reacted with such vigor because the Iranian President Ahmadinejad?s call for Israel to be wiped off the map and his drive for a nuclear weapon came simultaneously with the provocations of Hamas and Hezbollah. The conjunction, for the first time, of a clearly annihilating will with the weapons to go with it created a new situation. We should listen to the Israelis when they tell us they had no other choice anymore. We should listen to Zivit Seri tell us, in front of a crushed building whose concrete slabs are balancing on tips of twisted metal, that, for Israel, it was five minutes to midnight.

We should also listen to the bitterness of Sheik Muhammad Sharif Ouda, the leader in Haifa of the little Ahmadi community, a Muslim sect; his family has lived here for six generations, and he welcomes me into his home, in the hilly Kababir neighborhood, dressed in a Pakistani turban and shalwar kameez. Hezbollah?s crime, he says, was its decision to strike indiscriminately. It was to kill Jews and Arabs alike ? consider the massacre at Haifa?s train depot, where there were 8 dead and more than 20 wounded. And it was also to establish a climate of terror, of anxiety every instant, as in Sarajevo, where people used to speculate about the fact that all it took was a stroke of luck, a change of plans at the last minute, a meeting that went on longer than expected, or that was cut short, or that miraculously changed its venue, to escape being at the point of impact when a rocket landed. Creating such conditions is a crime.

Ouda insists, however, that there is another crime: Hezbollah has in effect relegated the Palestinian question to the background. As indifferent as the traditional Arab leaders may have been, in their innermost selves, to the fate of the inhabitants of Gaza and Nablus, at least they still pretended they cared. Whereas the Hezbollah leader, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, doesn?t even try to pretend. The suffering and rights of the Palestinians are no longer, in his own Islamo-fascist geopolitics, either a cause to fight for or even an alibi. You just have to read the very charter of his movement, or listen to his proclamations on Al Manar, the Hezbollah TV channel, to see that he has little concern with that relic from ancient eras that is Arab nationalism in general and Palestinian nationalism in particular. (Only the naked hatred remains.) Instead, he dreams of a reconciled Islamic community, a new umma, with Iran as the base, Syria the armed branch and Hezbollah the invading spear tip. He will employ the means of war without the usual practical goals of war. There remain the three neglected casualties of this new Iranian-style jihad: Israel, Lebanon and Palestine.

ore rockets. I have traveled from Haifa to Acre and then, along the Lebanese border, to a succession of villages and kibbutzes and other cooperatives that have lived, for 10 days by this point, under Hezbollah fire. There?s a veritable rain of fire today over these biblical landscapes of Upper Galilee, not to speak of a storm of steel. ?I?ve never really known what you should do in these cases,? Lt. Col. Olivier Rafovitch says to me, forcing himself to laugh, as we approach the border town of Avivim and as the noise of the explosions seems also to be coming closer. ?You tend to speed up, don?t you? You tend to think that the only thing to do is get away as fast as possible from this hell.But that?s stupid, really. For who can tell if it isn?t exactly by speeding up that you come right to where it?s. . .?? In response, we speed up all the same. We rumble through a deserted Druze village, then a big farming town and a completely open zone where a Katyusha rocket has just smashed up the highway.

Page 2 of 3)

The damage these rockets can do, when you see them up close, is insane. And insane, too, is the racket you hear when you?ve stopped talking and are just waiting for the sound they make to blend with the noise of the car?s engine. A rocket that falls in the distance leaves a dull thud; when it goes over your head, it creates a shrill, almost whining detonation; and when it bursts nearby, it shakes everything and leaves a long vibration, which is sustained like a bass note. Maybe we shouldn?t say ?rocket? anymore. In French, at least, the word seems to belittle the thing, and implies an entire biased vision of this war. In Franglais, for example, we call a yapping dog a rocket, roquet; the word conjures a little dog whose bark is worse than his bite and who nibbles at your ankles.. . .So why not say ?bomb?? Or ?missile?? Why not try, using the right word, to restore the barbaric, fanatical violence to this war that was desired by Hezbollah and by it alone? The politics of words. The geopolitics of metaphor. Semantics, in this region, is now more than ever a matter of morality.


The Israelis aren?t saints. Obviously they are capable in war of Machiavellian stratagems, operations, even denials. In this war, though, there is a sign that they did not want it and that it landed on them like an evil fate. And this sign is the Israeli government?s choice of Amir Peretz as defense minister: a former activist for Peace Now, long committed to the cause of sharing the land with the Palestinians, Peretz was head of the trade union Histadrut and was in principle much better prepared to organize strikes than to wage war. ?I didn?t sleep a wink all night,? he tells me, very pale, his eyes red, in the little office in Tel Aviv where he welcomes me, along with Daniel Ben-Simon, a writer for the Israeli paper Haaretz. This office is not at the ministry but at the headquarters of the Labor Party. ?I haven?t slept because I spent all night waiting for news of a unit of our boys who were caught in an ambush yesterday afternoon in Lebanese territory.? Then a young aide-de-camp who also looks like a union activist holds out to him a field telephone. Without a word, his eyes lowered, his big mustache trembling with ill-contained emotion, Peretz receives the news he has been dreading. He looks up at us and says: ?Don?t spread the news right away, please, since the families don?t know yet ? but three of them died, and we still haven?t heard about the fourth one. It?s terrible.. . .?

I have known many of Israel?s defense ministers over the past 40 years. From Moshe Dayan to Shimon Peres, Yitzhak Rabin, Ariel Sharon and others, I have seen heroes, demi-heroes, tacticians of genius and talent, skillful or poor or mediocre men succeed one another. What I have never seen before is a minister who was so ? I won?t say ?human? (the sanctification of the life of every soldier fallen in combat is a constant in the country?s history), or even ?civilian? (Shimon Peres, after all, didn?t really have a military past either), but one so apparently unprepared to command an army in wartime (wasn?t his first decision, unique in the annals of Israeli history, to cut the budget of his own ministry by 5 percent?). What I have never seen before is a defense minister answering so exactly to the famous saying by Malraux about those miraculous commanders who ?wage war without loving it? and who, for this very reason, always end up winning.

Amir Peretz, like Malraux?s commanders, will probably win. He?s facing a tougher enemy than expected; he will experience heavier casualties as well; there will be growing doubts, throughout the country, about the wisdom of his strategy; but he will probably win. And in any case, the point is here: the very fact that he was appointed to the post shows that Israel believed that after withdrawing from Lebanon and Gaza it was entering a new era when it would have to wage not war but peace.

I met another war leader, also a member of the Labor Party and a supporter, like Peretz, of a negotiated peace with the Palestinians. It was in the field that I met him, near the Lebanese border, in a place called Koah Junction, which means ?junction of the force? and is for the kabbalists one of the places where, when the day comes, the Messiah will become manifest and pass through. His name is Ephraim Sneh. In his youth he was a medical officer with the paratroopers, the commander of an elite army unit and then commander of the Southern Lebanon Military Zone from 1981 until 1983. And he has the air of a calm father, at once friendly and gruff, that reserve generals often have in Israel when they come back to the service ? which in the present circumstances takes the form of a kind of inspection mission for the defense committee of the Knesset. Why this meeting? Why here, in this landscape of dry stone, brought to a white heat by the sun, to which he has invited me but where I can?t see a living soul aside from ourselves? Does he want to show me something? Explain to me some detail of army strategy that would be visible to me only here? Will he take me to Avivim, less than a mile north of here, where a battle is taking place? Does he want to talk to me about politics? Will he, like Peretz, like Livni, like almost everyone in fact, tell me about Israel?s disappointment with France, which could have played a great role in the region by pushing for the refoundation of the Land of the Cedars and for the disarmament of Hezbollah, as demanded by United Nations Resolution 1559, but which prefers, alas, to confine itself to opening up humanitarian corridors?

Yes, he does tell me that. A little of it. In passing. But I quickly see that he had me come here to talk, first of all, about a matter that is not related, at least apparently, to the present war: nothing other than my book about the kidnapping, captivity and decapitation of Daniel Pearl.. . .A conversation about Danny Pearl at a stone?s throw from a battlefield.. . .An officer with a literary bent deciding that, with our two cars immobilized in the blazing scree, nothing is more urgent than discussing jihad, enlightenment Islam, the trouble with Huntington?s theory of the clash of civilizations, Karachi and its terrorist mosques.. . .I had never seen anything like this before ? for it to be conceivable, it took this expedition to the front lines of a war in which Israel and the world are entangled as never before.

At the same time.. . .It would seem that history has, sometimes, less imagination than we would like, and that old generals don?t have such bad reflexes after all. For the fact is that a few miles to the south, in the commune of Mitzpe Hila, near Maalot, I will not long after experience a deeply moving reminder of the Pearl affair. I visit the home of the parents of the soldier Gilad Shalit, whose capture by Hamas near the town of Kerem Shalom, along the border with Gaza, on June 25, was one of the things that brought about this war. I wonder about the irony of history, which has placed this young man, without any special distinctions, just an ordinary individual, at the origin of this enormous affair. We are sitting now in the sun on the lawn where Shalit played as a child and where you can hear, very close, a few hundred yards away maybe, Katyusha rockets falling, to which his parents seem to have stopped paying attention. We are sitting outside around a garden table, discussing the latest news brought by the U.N. envoy who visited the Shalits just before me, and I find myself thinking that if this war has to last ? if the Iranian factor will, as I have sensed since the instant I arrived, give it new scope and duration ? then this modest army corporal will be the new Franz Ferdinand of a Sarajevo that will bear the name Kerem Shalom.. . .

What is happening, then? Is it his mother Aviva?s expression when I ask her about what she knows of her son?s captivity? Or his father Noam?s look when he tries to explain to me, a faint gleam of hope in his eyes, that the young man has a French grandmother, Jacqueline, who was born in Marseille, and that he hopes my government ? that of France ?will link its efforts with Israel?s? Is it the debate, which I can guess is raging inside Noam, between the father who is prepared for any kind of bargaining to get his son back and the former army soldier who, out of principle, will not give in to blackmail by terrorists? Is it my visit to the corporal?s childhood bedroom? Is it the house itself, so similar, all of a sudden, to Danny Pearl?s house, in Encino, Calif.? Whatever the reason, I am overcome by a feeling of d?j? vu; over the faces of this man and this woman it seems to me as if the faces of Ruth and Judea Pearl, my friends, have been superimposed, the courageous mother and father of another young man, like this one, kidnapped by religious fanatics whose ideological program wasn?t very different, either, from that of Hamas.. .

Published: August 6, 2006
(Page 3 of 3)

Up north again, near the Lebanese border, I travel from Avivim to Manara, where the Israelis have set up, in a crater 200 yards in diameter, an artillery field where two enormous batteries mounted on caterpillar treads bombard the command post and rocket launchers and arsenals in Marun al-Ras on the other side of the border. Three things here strike me. First, the extreme youth of the artillerymen: they are 20 years old, maybe 18. I notice their stunned look at each discharge, as if every time were the first time; their childlike teasing when their comrade hasn?t had time to block his ears and the detonation deafens him; and then at the same time their serious, earnest side, the sobriety of people who know they?re participating in an immense drama that surpasses them ? and know, too, they may soon pay a steep price in blood and life. Second, I note the relaxed ? I was about to say unrestrained and even carefree ? aspect of the little troop. It reminds me of reading about the joyful scramble of those battalions of young republicans in Spain described, once again, by Malraux: an army that is more friendly than it is martial; more democratic than self-assured and dominating; an army that, here, in any case, in Manara, seems to me the exact opposite of those battalions of brutes or unprincipled pitiless terminators that are so often described in media portraits of Israel. And then, finally, I note a strange vehicle. It resembles the two self-propelled cannons, but it is stationed far behind them and doesn?t shoot: this is a mobile command post that you enter, as in a submarine, through a central turret and down a ladder; there are six men in it, seven on some days, and they are busy working with a battery of computers, radar screens and other transmission devices. Their role is to determine the parameters of the firing by collecting information that will be transmitted to the artillerymen. Here, at the root of Israeli firepower, is a veritable laboratory of war where soldier-scholars deploy their intelligence, noses glued to the screens, trying to integrate even the most imponderable facts about the terrain into their calculations. Their goal is to establish the distance to the target and how fast the target moves, as well as to consider the proximity of the civilians, whom they want to avoid at all cost.

Does it work? And are these soldier-scholars infallible? Of course not! There is no way, everybody knows, to wage a clean war. And the fact that Hezbollah long ago made the strategic choice to establish its fighters in the most populated areas and thus to transform Lebanese civilians into human shields obviously doesn?t help matters. The fact remains that at least an effort is being made to avoid civilian targets. Here at least, in Manara, that is the Israeli approach. And, as distressed as we may be by the suffering of the Lebanese civilian population, the terrible deaths of hundreds, you cannot conclude that the Israelis have the strategic intention or the will to harm civilians.

hen I met David Grossman, it was in an open-air restaurant in the Arab village of Abu Gosh, on the outskirts of Jerusalem, which seems like a garden of Eden after the hell of the last few days ? bright sunshine, the buzz of insects rather than airplanes or tanks, a casualness in the air, a light breeze.. . .We talk about his latest book, which is a retelling of the myth of Samson. We talk about his son, who was just called up for duty in a tank unit, and about whom he trembles with anxiety. We talk about a statistic he has just read, which worries him: almost a third of young Israelis have lost faith in Zionism and have found tricks to try to get themselves exempted from military service.

And then of course we discuss the war and the huge distress it seems to have plunged him into, along with other progressive intellectuals in the country.. . .For on one hand, he explains to me, there is the terrible extent of the destruction, women and children killed, the humanitarian catastrophe under way, the risk of civil war and of Lebanon burning ? and the government?s mistake of, at first, setting the bar so high (destroy Hezbollah, render its infrastructure and its army incapable of doing any more harm) that even a semi-victory, when it comes, risks having a whiff of defeat. But, on the other hand, there is Israel?s right, like any other state in the world, not to sit by in the face of such crazy, groundless, gratuitous aggression; there is the fact, he adds, that Lebanon plays host to Hezbollah and permits it to participate in its government: where could an Israeli counterattack have taken place but on Lebanese soil?. . .I observe David Grossman. I examine his handsome face, the face of the former enfant terrible of Israeli literature, who has aged too quickly and is devoured by melancholy. He is not just one of the greatest Israeli novelists today. He is also, along with Amos Oz, A.B. Yehoshua and a few others, one of the country?s moral consciences. And I think that his testimony, his firmness, his way of not yielding, despite everything, on the essential soundness of Israel?s cause, ought to convince even the most hesitant.

And then, finally, Shimon Peres. More than ever I did not want to end this journey without going, as I do each time, to visit Peres ? the country?s elder statesman. I met him in the company of Daniel Saada, an old friend and founding member of the French progressive organization SOS Racisme, who has now settled in Israel and become a diplomat as well as a friend of Peres. Shimon, as everyone here calls him, is now 82 years old. But he hasn?t lost any of his handsomeness. Or the look of a prince-priest of Zionism. He still has the same face, all forehead and mouth, that emphasizes the melodious authority of his voice. And I even have the impression, at times, that he has adopted a few of the mannerisms of his old rival Yitzhak Rabin: a slight bitterness in his smile, a gleam in his eyes, a way of carrying himself and, sometimes, of shading his words.. . .

?The whole problem,? he begins, ?is the failure of what one of your great writers called the strategy of the general staff. No one, today, controls anyone else. No one has the power to stop or overpower anyone else. So that we, Israel, have never had so many friends, but never in our history have they been so useless. Except.. . .?

He asks his daughter, who is present as we talk, to go to the neighboring office and find two letters, one from Mahmoud Abbas and one from Bill Clinton. ?Yes, except for the fact that you have them,? he then continues. ?The men of good will. My friends. The friends of enlightenment and peace. The ones who will never renounce peace because of terrorism, or nihilism, or defeatism. We have a plan, you know.Still the same plan for prosperity, for shared development, which will end up triumphing.Listen.. . .?

Shimon, a young man who is 82 years old, has had a dream. His invincible dream has lasted, in fact, for 30 years; the present impasse, far from discouraging him, seems mysteriously to stimulate him. So I listen to him. I listen to this Wise Man of Israel explain to me that his country must simultaneously ?win this war,? foil this ?quartet of evil? made up by Iran, Syria, Hamas and Hezbollah and clear the way for ?paths of speech and dialogue? that will, one day, lead the Middle East somewhere. And as I listen to him, and let myself be lulled by his oft-repeated, indefinite prophecies, I find that, today, for some reason, those prophecies have a new coefficient of obviousness and force. I, too, catch myself imagining the glory of a Jewish state that would dare, at the same time, almost in the same gesture and with the same movement, to deliver two things at once: to some, alas, war; to others, a real declaration of peace that would be recognized as such and accepted.

Bernard-Henri L?vy, a French philosopher and writer, is the author, most recently, of ?American Vertigo: Traveling America in the Footsteps of Tocqueville.? This article was translated by Charlotte Mandell from the French.
29813  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Howl of Respect to our Soldiers/Veterans on: August 05, 2006, 10:09:02 PM
29814  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Howl of Respect to our Soldiers/Veterans on: August 05, 2006, 08:11:10 PM
Defence Editor

A BRITISH sniper waging war on the Taliban is so deadly he has earned a chilling nickname ? The Man Who Never Misses.

The unerring Army sharpshooter has killed 39 rebel fighters single-handedly.

His marksmanship is so lethal that rumours have spread like wildfire through insurgents? camps, causing panic and confusion.

The sniper ? who The Sun is not naming to prevent him becoming a target himself ? is a member of elite 3 Para.

Described by sources as ?the best shot in the Army? he is responsible for over five per cent of the 700 insurgents killed by Paras since British forces returned to Afghanistan.

He is based in the wild Helmand province, where our troops launched a massive assault on the Taliban this week.

A source said yesterday: ?This sniper is truly something else ? a silent assassin.

?In the deadly terrain of southern Afghanistan, where guerilla warfare rules, he has been invaluable. The rumours are sweeping enemy camps that he is the man who never misses.?

The sniper?s actual toll is probably higher than 39 but the Taliban?s tendency to reclaim bodies makes deaths difficult to confirm.

His lethal L96A1 rifle has a range of 1,000 yards and is fitted with electronic sights and laser range-finders.

He works with a partner called a spotter, who locates the target and helps judge wind speed and distance so the bullet travels accurately.

Each day the pair risk their lives away from fellow Paras, taking up covert positions and often lying hidden for as long as ten hours at a time. Once the shot has been fired they need nerves of steel to stay concealed while Taliban rebels wielding rocket-propelled grenades and machine-guns desperately try to hunt them down.

The Ministry of Defence would not discuss the crackshot for security reasons.

But he is regarded as one of the most successful British snipers since World War Two.

Earlier this year it was revealed that the Army is creating an elite force of almost 700 snipers, with all 38 infantry battalions required to have an 18-man platoon of sharpshooters by 2008. It will be the first time formal sniper platoons will have existed since the end of the First World War in 1918.

The decision follows the success of British and US sniper teams who have killed dozens of terrorists on recent operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.

In 2003 Royal Marines sniper Corporal Matt Hughes killed an Iraqi gunman from 900 yards with a ?wonder shot? in which he aimed 56ft to the left and 35ft high to allow for wind.

The bullet?s trajectory was calculated by his spotter after he studied the movement of dust in the breeze. And Irish Guards Sergeant Eddie Waring lay on a roof for hours to take out three Iraqis who were laying mines in Basra.

FOUR Canadian NATO soldiers were killed and ten wounded in separate attacks in Afghanistan yesterday.
Three died when rocket-propelled grenades were fired on troops working with local forces to improve security near the city of Kandahar. The other was killed by a roadside bomb. At least 34 civilians were killed or wounded in the day of violence.,,2-2006350757,00.html
29815  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Lebanon on: August 05, 2006, 08:34:20 AM
A War Crime at Qana?

August 5, 2006; Page A11

The Qana tragedy has intensified accusations that Israel's actions in Lebanon violate international law. Every death of an innocent person is extremely regrettable; but there is no evidence Israel has committed any war crimes. In contrast, Hezbollah, Iran and Syria have clearly violated international law in this conflict. Moreover, Israel's conduct compares favorably to how its most powerful accusers have behaved when their own interests have been threatened.

International law has three major prohibitions relevant to the Qana incident. One forbids deliberate attacks on civilians. Another prohibits hiding forces in civilian areas, thereby turning civilians into "human shields." A third prohibition, the proportionality restriction that Israel is accused of violating, involves a complicated and controversial balancing test.

Geneva Convention Protocol I contains one version of the proportionality test, the International Criminal Court Statute another; neither is universally accepted. As a result, the proportionality test is governed by "customary international law," an amalgam of non-universal treaty law, court decisions, and how influential nations actually behave. It does not hinge on the relative number of casualties, or the force used, however, but on the intent of the combatant. Under customary international law, proportionality prohibits attacks expected to cause incidental death or injury to civilians if this harm would, on balance, be excessive in relation to the overall legitimate military accomplishment anticipated.

At Qana, Israeli aircraft fired toward a building to stop Hezbollah from shooting rockets at its cities. The aircraft did not deliberately target civilians; but Hezbollah rockets are targeted at civilians, a clear war crime. U.N. humanitarian chief Jan Egeland last week called on Hezbollah to stop its "cowardly blending" among women and children: "I heard they were proud because they lost very few fighters and that it was the civilians bearing the brunt of this." If Hezbollah used Lebanese civilians in Qana as "human shields," then Hezbollah, not Israel, is legally responsible for their deaths.

If Israel was mistaken and Hezbollah was not firing from or hiding amongst these civilians, the legality of its action is assessed by the proportionality test. Because the test is vague, there have been few, if any, cases since World War II in which a soldier, commander or country has been convicted of violating it. In the absence of guidance from the courts, determining whether Israel's military has failed the proportionality test depends on an assessment of what civilian casualties it expected, what its overall military goals are, the context in which the country is operating, and how the international community has in practice balanced civilian risk against military goals.

Israel did not expect civilian casualties; it warned civilians to leave Qana, and Israel's official investigation has concluded its military attacked based on "information that the building was not inhabited by civilians and was being used as a hiding place for terrorists." The law of war recognizes that mistakes are inevitable, and does not criminalize soldiers who seek in good faith seek to avoid them.

Israel's overall military goal is to survive attacks by enemies determined to annihilate it. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah has stated: "Israel . . . is an aggressive, illegal and illegitimate entity, which has no future. . . . Its destiny is manifested in our motto: 'Death to Israel.'" Thus Israel is attempting to prevent Hezbollah from using its 10,000 remaining rockets, and to implement the requirement of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1559 that Hezbollah be disarmed.

Meanwhile, Hezbollah and Iran -- which provides this terrorist group with arms, direction and over $100 million a year -- are in continual violation of international law. Their calls for Israel's destruction violate the international genocide treaty's prohibition of "direct and public incitement to commit genocide." Iran's effort to develop a nuclear arsenal that could obliterate Israel, or deter its responses to future Hezbollah attacks, violates the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. Iranian (and Syrian) support for Hezbollah violates U.N. Security Council Resolution 1373, requiring states to "refrain from providing any form of support, active or passive, to entities or persons involved in terrorist acts." Hezbollah began the armed conflict with rocket attacks on Israeli towns and the abduction of Israeli soldiers: unprovoked acts of war violating an internationally recognized border.

Israel is acting in self-defense and avoided killing civilians, even giving advance notice by phone to the occupants of homes targeted for attack as Hezbollah hideouts. While Hezbollah deliberately maximizes harm to Israeli and Lebanese civilians, Israel puts its soldiers at risk to minimize Lebanese civilian casualties.

The track record of many of Israel's most powerful accusers -- including China, Russia and the European Union -- is not nearly as good at balancing civilian risk against military goals.

China killed hundreds of peaceful Tiananmen Square protestors in 1989. It has for five decades occupied Tibet, slaughtering tens of thousands; and it vows to invade Taiwan if it declares independence. Neither the Tiananmen protesters nor Tibet nor Taiwan has ever threatened to "wipe China off the map."

Russia has fought since 1994 to suppress Chechnya's independence movement. Out of a Chechen population of one million, as many as 200,000 have been killed as Russia has leveled the capital city of Grozny. Chechen rebels pose no threat to "wipe Russia off the map." All of the leading EU countries actively participated in NATO's 78-day bombing campaign against Yugoslavia in 1999. The military goal was to stop Yugoslavia from oppressing its Kosovar minority. NATO bombs and missiles hit Yugoslav bridges, power plants and a television station, killing hundreds of civilians. Yugoslavia posed no threat to the existence of any of the EU countries that bombed it.

Compared with how China, Russia, and the EU have dealt with non-existential threats -- and despite the law-flouting behavior of Hezbollah, Iran and Syria -- Israel's responses to the threats to its existence have been remarkably restrained rather than disproportionately violent.

Mr. Kittrie is professor of international law at Arizona State University and served in the Office of the Legal Adviser at the U.S. State Department from 1993 to 2003
29816  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Lebanon on: August 05, 2006, 12:31:00 AM

A week ago, Israeli foot patrols in Lebanon were spotted using llamas, an especially quiet beast of burden that can go several days without eating while carrying about as much weight as one Israeli soldier can carry. This, combined with an airstrike on a power station supplying an area of the southern Bekaa Valley, signals Israel is about to make a significant move.

At first glance, it appears like an odd role-reversal when Israeli reconnaissance units are leading pack animals into battle while Hezbollah fighters are wielding modern anti-tank weapons. But as U.S. special operations forces calling in airstrikes from horseback in Afghanistan showed, mountain and fourth-generation warfare present new challenges that must be met on the ground.

Sustained special operations deep inside enemy territory have always meant heavy loads of food and ammunition, now compounded by the need to haul modern communications and surveillance equipment. While raids based on intelligence can be inserted by helicopter, move to the target and pull out, pack animals indicate invaders plan an extended stay. This is generally indicative of long-range patrols and reconnaissance units setting up observation posts deep inside enemy territory. Even in the era of surveillance satellites, some of the best intelligence still comes from human observation. Israeli patrols fitting this description were spotted returning from Lebanon a week ago. We suspect many more are now well-positioned to observe much of the southern Bekaa Valley.

Elsewhere, on Aug. 4, the Israeli air force (IAF) knocked out a power station supplying the Kiraoun area at the southern end of the Bekaa. Every power plant in Lebanon has been available as a potential target for the IAF for more than three weeks now, yet Israel did not strike the Kiraoun station until now. In air campaigns, attacks on power infrastructure often signal impending ground assaults, since such attacks wreak havoc on command-and-control infrastructure -- but usually only temporarily, as those experiencing such attacks bring generators on line and make other adaptations. Thus, attacks on power-generating infrastructure are an excellent way to knock the enemy off-balance immediately before a major escalation.

Such a strike also forces generators into use. In order to run the most rudimentary command-and-control infrastructure (PCs, radios, satellite phones, etc.), Hezbollah will require power. No matter how briefly those generators are turned on, they create a detectable electromagnetic signature and thermal exhaust plume. And Hezbollah posts in the area now will be forced to burn through limited fuel supplies that cannot easily be replaced.

Of course, long-range patrols and an airstrike on a power station could mean many things. But we view these developments in the context of a massive IDF force waiting in northern Israel around Qiryat Shemona and Metulla, U.S. President George W. Bush's August vacation, an unprecedented raid and the importance of the Bekaa Valley itself. Israel is up to something significant in the Bekaa.
29817  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Cuba on: August 04, 2006, 10:12:58 PM
Cuba: Where's Raul?

Five days have passed since Cuban leader Fidel Castro handed power to his younger brother Raul. But Raul is nowhere to be seen, and rumors are flying about the fate of the Communist regime. Raul's mysterious absence could simply be a trial period to flush out dissidents and smooth out the succession.


Revolutionary Cuban leader Fidel Castro shook the world when he announced July 30 that his younger brother, Raul Castro, who also is head of the Cuban armed forces, would run the island nation while Fidel underwent major surgery for intestinal bleeding. "Raul is firmly at the helm of the nation and the armed forces," Granma, the Communist Party newspaper in Cuba, reported Aug. 4; yet the 75-year-old brother has yet to give a public address to the nation.

The absence of the brothers has led to speculation that a military coup could be under way in Havana. While Raul, the muscle behind the Castro regime, has done an exemplary job of purging it of potential threats, there exist a number of dissidents who have been anxiously waiting for the Cuban dictator to pass away so they can obtain control of the country at long last. The Cuban military has mobilized, and communications between the island and the outside world have been shut down. Though the eerie silence in Cuba has led many observers to believe the Castro regime has been overthrown, the strong backing Raul receives from the Cuban army contradicts this theory.

This would not be the first time in history that an ailing leader has been propped up for an extensive period of time while a political transition takes place. Fidel is already dead or likely close to death -- gastrointestinal bleeding is no joke, especially for a nearly 80-year-old man whose diet for most of his life has consisted of Cohiba cigars and fine rum. While "El Comandante" approaches death, Raul's disappearance may be meant to create the illusion of a leadership vacuum as the Cuban regime waits to see if anyone moves to fill it. Only a limited number in the Cuban hierarchy are privy to the plans for succession, and when those in charge detect who is and isn't loyal to the post-Fidel regime, a major crackdown will ensue. The Cubans are particularly implacable against those who they suspect are traitors -- witness the 1989 trial and execution of legendary Cuban Gen. Arnaldo Ochoa Sanchez. When the coast is clear, Raul may very well come out and address the nation to announce the death of his brother and take up the leadership mantle.

The United States, meanwhile, will quietly wish for a peaceful transition under Raul's command. The last thing Washington needs is for chaos to erupt in Cuba and spread to Miami during election season. A concern running through many minds in Washington is whether or not the U.S. government will be able to handle the repercussions of Cuban exiles making a run for Guantanamo Bay, where a number of al Qaeda detainees are locked up.

Raul may be camera shy, but pressure is building for him to make an appearance. Meanwhile, we will be keeping an eye on Fidel's revolutionary buddy, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who would be exhibiting unusual behavior if the Castro regime were truly dealing with an internal rebellion. So far, Chavez has been giving off an air of tranquility, which raises the question: When will Raul finish his dirty work and come out of hiding?
29818  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Health Thread (nutrition, medical, longevity, etc) on: August 04, 2006, 02:47:43 PM
Regarding my previous post:

My apologies for the preceding which turns out to have been internet flotsam containing inaccuracies (Not from the source attributed and freezing water in plastic is NOT a problem).

These sources are far more precise:

Speaking for myself, I will continue to avoid nuking with plastic.


Concerning drink temperature, I first ran across this idea during my extensive travels in the interior of Mexico on my motorcycle back in the 1970s.  When out in the country, upon entering a local type restaurant (where many people worked in the fields during the day and where air conditioning was unheard of) and asking for something to drink the responding query would be "Cold or room temperature?"  This applied to mineral water, beer (Mexican beer can be quite good btw) and soda.  So when I ran across the same thing in the essay on Manong LaCoste in Guro Inosanto's book "The Filipino Martial Arts" I found it particularly interesting.  Since then I always seek my water at room temperature or at the very least without ice.
29819  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Political Rants on: August 04, 2006, 09:56:14 AM

July 25, 2006 -- WHAT if liberal democracies have now evolved to a point
where they can no longer wage war effectively because they have achieved a
level of humanitarian concern for others that dwarfs any really cold-eyed
pursuit of their own national interests?

What if the universalist idea of liberal democracy - the idea that all
people are created equal - has sunk in so deeply that we no longer assign
special value to the lives and interests of our own people as opposed to
those in other countries?

What if this triumph of universalism is demonstrated by the Left's
insistence that American and Israeli military actions marked by an
extraordinary concern for preventing civilian casualties are in fact
unacceptably brutal? And is also apparent in the Right's claim that a war
against a country has nothing to do with the people but only with that
country's leaders?

Can any war be won when this is the nature of the discussion in the
countries fighting the war? Can any war be won when one of the combatants
voluntarily limits itself in this manner?

Could World War II have been won by Britain and the United States if the two
countries did not have it in them to firebomb Dresden and nuke Hiroshima and

Didn't the willingness of their leaders to inflict mass casualties on
civilians indicate a cold-eyed singleness of purpose that helped break the
will and the back of their enemies? Didn't that singleness of purpose extend
down to the populations in those countries in those days, who would have and
did support almost any action at any time that would lead to the deaths of
Germans and Japanese?

What if the tactical mistake we made in Iraq was that we didn't kill enough
Sunnis in the early going to intimidate them and make them so afraid of us
they would go along with anything? Wasn't the survival of Sunni men between
the ages of 15 and 35 the reason there was an insurgency and the basic cause
of the sectarian violence now?

If you can't imagine George W. Bush issuing such an order, is there any
American leader you could imagine doing so?

And if America can't do it, can Israel? Could Israel - even hardy, strong,
universally conscripted Israel - possibly stomach the bloodshed that would
accompany the total destruction of Hezbollah?

If Lebanon's 300-plus civilian casualties are already rocking the world,
what if it would take 10,000 civilian casualties to finish off Hezbollah?
Could Israel inflict that kind of damage on Lebanon - not because of world
opinion, but because of its own modern sensibilities and its understanding
of the value of every human life?

Where do these questions lead us?

What if Israel's caution about casualties among its own soldiers and
Lebanese civilians has demonstrated to Hezbollah and Hamas that as long as
they can duck and cover when the missiles fly and the bombs fall, they can
survive and possibly even thrive?

What if Israel has every capability of achieving its aim, but cannot unleash
itself against a foe more dangerous, more unscrupulous, more unprincipled
and more barbaric than even the monstrous leaders of the Intifada it managed
to quell after years of suicide attacks?

And as for the United States, what if we have every tool at our disposal to
win a war - every weapons system we could want manned by the most superbly
trained military in history - except the ability to match or exceed our
antagonists in ruthlessness?

Is this the horrifying paradox of 21st century warfare? If Israel and the
United States cannot be defeated militarily in any conventional sense, have
our foes discovered a new way to win? Are they seeking victory through
demoralization alone - by daring us to match them in barbarity and knowing
we will fail?

Are we becoming unwitting participants in their victory and our defeat? Can
it be that the moral greatness of our civilization - its astonishing focus
on the value of the individual above all - is endangering the future of our
civilization as well?
29820  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Health Thread (nutrition, medical, longevity, etc) on: August 04, 2006, 09:10:22 AM
Woof All:

Just surfed through the back pages of the forum and was unable to find a health thread, so I start this one here.

The Adventure continues,

Cancer News From Johns Hopkins

Cancer update -- Johns Hopkins -- Cancer News from Johns

1. No plastic containers in micro.

2. No water bottles in freezer.

3. No plastic wrap in microwave.

Johns Hopkins has recently sent this out in its newsletters.
 This information is being circulated at Walter Reed Army
Medical Center as well. Dioxin chemicals causes cancer, especially breast cancer.
Dioxins are highly poisonous to the cells of our bodies. Don't
freeze your plastic bottles with water in them as this  releases dioxins
from the plastic.

 Recently, Dr.. Recently, Dr. Edward Fujimoto, Wellness Program Manager
 at Castle Hospital, was on a TV program to explain  this health hazard.
He talked about dioxins and how bad they are for us.

 He said that we should not be heating our food in the
microwave using plastic containers. This especially applies to foods  that
contain fat. He said that the combination of fat, high heat, and plastics
releases dioxin into the food and ultimately into the cells  of thebody.
 Instead, he recommends using glass, such as Corning Ware,
Pyrex or ceramic containers for heating food. You get the same results, only
without the dioxin. So such things as TV dinners, instant ramen and soups,
etc., should be removed from the container and heated in something else.
 Paper isn't bad but you don't know what is in the paper. He reminded us that
a while ago some of the fast food restaurants moved away
from the foam containers to paper. The dioxin problem is one  of the reasons.
 Also, he pointed out that plastic wrap, such as Saran, is justas dangerous when placed over! foods to be cooked in the microwave. As the food is nuked, the high heat causes poisonous toxins to actually melt out of the plastic wrap and drip into the food. Cover food with a paper towel instead.
29821  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Bilateralism on: August 04, 2006, 09:04:24 AM
I recently saw that in Sonny Umpad's Balisong book that he too teaches the complementary hand the single weapon motions first for reasons that are quite similar.
29822  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Lebanon on: August 04, 2006, 08:19:29 AM
Many good points there, but FWIW says that overthrowing the Syrian regime will result in a worse one.
29823  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Humor on: August 04, 2006, 08:12:32 AM
I have a Labrador retriever.
I was buying a large bag of Purina at Wal-Mart and was in line to check out.
A woman behind me asked if I had a dog?
On impulse, I told her that no, and that I was starting The Purina Diet again.
Although I probably shouldn't because I'd ended up in the hospital last time,
but that I'd lost 50 pounds before I awakened in an intensive care ward
with tubes coming out of most of my orifices and IVs in both arms.
I told her that it was essentially a perfect diet
and that the way that it works is to load your pants pockets with Purina nuggets
and simply eat one or two every time you feel hungry
and that the food is nutritionally complete so I was going to try it again.
I have to mention here that practically everyone in the line was by now enthralled with my story,
particularly a tall guy who was behind her.
Horrified, she asked if ended up in intensive care because the dog food poisoned me.
I told her no; I'd been sitting in the street licking my balls and a car hit me.
I thought the guy behind her was going to have to have help as he laughingly staggered to the door.
29824  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Libertarian themes on: August 03, 2006, 07:49:27 PM

It was demonstrated today at the BlackHat conference.

Grunwald says it took him only two weeks to figure out how to clone the passport chip. Most of that time he spent reading the standards for e-passports that are posted on a website for the International Civil Aviation Organization, a United Nations body that developed the standard. He tested the attack on a new European Union German passport, but the method would work on any country's e-passport, since all of them will be adhering to the same ICAO standard.

In a demonstration for Wired News, Grunwald placed his passport on top of an official passport-inspection RFID reader used for border control. He obtained the reader by ordering it from the maker -- Walluf, Germany-based ACG Identification Technologies -- but says someone could easily make their own for about $200 just by adding an antenna to a standard RFID reader.

He then launched a program that border patrol stations use to read the passports -- called Golden Reader Tool and made by secunet Security Networks -- and within four seconds, the data from the passport chip appeared on screen in the Golden Reader template.

Grunwald then prepared a sample blank passport page embedded with an RFID tag by placing it on the reader -- which can also act as a writer -- and burning in the ICAO layout, so that the basic structure of the chip matched that of an official passport.

As the final step, he used a program that he and a partner designed two years ago, called RFDump, to program the new chip with the copied information.

The result was a blank document that looks, to electronic passport readers, like the original passport.
29825  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Mexico on: August 03, 2006, 05:21:52 PM
Global Market Brief: Ripple Effects of Mexico's Contested Election
August 03, 2006 20 51  GMT

Supporters of Manuel Lopez Obrador, who is still contesting his failed bid in the July 2 Mexican presidential elections, surrounded the Mexican stock exchange in Mexico City for several hours Aug. 3, blocking workers from entering but having little effect on actual trading on the floor. The demonstrators, many of whom have been camped out along Zocalo Square and Reforma Boulevard during the week, have threatened to return again Aug. 4, and continue demonstrating and disrupting traffic in Mexico City until there is a total recount of the extremely close election.

As we noted in our June 29 Global Market Brief, the Mexican elections would have left congress divided no matter who won, which would then lead to difficulties in passing economic policies. The electoral margin between victor Felipe Calderon of the ruling National Action Party (PAN) and second-place finisher Lopez Obrador of the Democratic Revolution Party (PRD) was razor thin -- just 0.56 percent, or 244,000 votes. Lopez Obrador has strongly contested the election, declaring himself the victim of massive fraud, and has vowed to stir public protests until there is a total recount or he is declared president.

Lopez Obrador's supporters have thus far remained relatively peaceful in their actions, though they are causing traffic disruptions in the capital. The second-place finisher has other options available, however, if he cannot achieve his goals through sit-ins in Mexico City. Two short-term risks are foremost. First, Lopez Obrador has created "citizens' committees" within his support base. This allows for more localized and self-directed action by his supporters, which would give the movement opportunities to expand and alter its characteristics throughout Mexico (or at least in those areas where Lopez Obrador has the most support). But the devolution of authority to the local committees also creates a situation where local groups, independently or with tacit central support, shift from the current non-violent actions to a more aggressive approach. The buffer of the citizen committee structure then insulates Lopez Obrador from direct responsibility should violence break out.

The second possibility is that Lopez Obrador takes his protests to a more economically significant target -- Mexico's oil fields. In 1994, after losing in gubernatorial elections in Tabasco state to Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) candidate Roberto Madrazo (who coincidentally ran against Lopez Obrador and Calderon in the July presidential election), Lopez Obrador claimed fraud and launched a civil resistance movement in protest. He led caravans to Mexico City to protest, but more significantly he led supporters to block access to several oil rigs and other Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex) facilities in Tabasco. The blockades lasted several months before Lopez Obrador finally relented.

Oil exports and related taxes account for some 40 percent of federal revenues in Mexico, and should Lopez Obrador shift tack and repeat his earlier course of action, there could be a more substantive impact on Mexico than traffic jams in Mexico City.

Such action would also resonate beyond Mexico. Even if the blockage of a few Mexican oil rigs would not substantively affect Mexico's overall oil output, it would certainly add to the psychological pressures on international oil prices. Oil is currently better than $75 a barrel, and while not at record highs, nor yet seriously affecting the U.S. economy, a crisis in the oil fields of the fifth-largest oil producer and ninth-largest exporter would add another premium on an already premium-heavy oil market.

But Mexico also faces a longer-term problem with its oil industry, one that was part of the election battle. Amid debates over Mexico's future economic policies, one of the trickiest is the question of energy. While Lopez Obrador's PRD remains strongly opposed to any change in the national nature of the oil industry, both PAN and PRI have presented options to open the oil sector slowly to private investments, potentially even foreign investment. Calderon has offered specific proposals to allow mixed partnerships in offshore oil and gas exploration and other ventures, for example.

Mexico's oil infrastructure, while not nearly as run down as Venezuela's, is in need of vitalization. While the Mexican economy has diversified during the past two decades, the government remains highly dependent upon oil exports for state revenues. As such, little of the money Pemex collects from exports is reinvested into Pemex. This practice weakens the company's ability to explore new oil fields, exploit existing resources or process and refine crude. There is a serious lack of investments, and it is showing in the declining proven reserves. Calderon has proposed opening up the system for complementary private investment while keeping Pemex under state control, but he will have a hard time convincing a divided congress to make the change. The new government's first priority will likely revolve around tax reform, leaving energy reform for later.

And given the divisions in the Mexican congress, the privatization of Mexico's oil industry -- even if on a limited scale -- will be a very contentious and difficult issue. With the PRD making a strong showing in the congressional elections, and PAN and PRI traditional competitors, Calderon is unlikely to try for a quick change in regulations surrounding private investment in Mexico's oil industry. And this delay will only continue the slow erosion of Mexico's position among oil producers.
29826  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Die Less Often: Interface of Gun, Knife and Emtpy Hand on: August 03, 2006, 08:41:17 AM
Masters and cover now at the Duplication House so we will begin shipping very soon.

In the meantime, here this from

Consistency Across Categories is a DogBrothers theme, and this new video from the duo of Marc Denny & Gabe Suarez is an excellent example of the hybrid approach current bleeding edge combatives instructors are taking with respect to personal threat management.

Here's the trailer, and yours truly can be seen in several of the mock skirmishes!

Idea: The ingrained initial threat response should be identical regardless of how the opponent(s) is armed. Furthermore, it should remain identical whether or not the responder is armed or not. ie. Neutralize the threat, create an opportunity, THEN escalate your response with a weapon.

I came to fully appreciate this as I tried an experiment: the threat was 6-7 feet away. He had blades. I moved to the side giving me an extra three feet. All seemed well as I reached for my trainer gun. Man w. blade was now 4 feet away. I was wearing workout pants. The gun slipped down my pants. The blade was now in my face, I was falling backwards no gun, no knife, no defense, No Hope. The next time around, I dealt with the threat rather than attempting to escalate force via weapon, and I fared much better. Tueller's law strikes again. If you are a LEO or function in some form of high risk physical security threat model, I HIGHLY recommend doing significant amounts ECQ hand to hand training.

One interesting point of note, the video mentions the most critical component of the seminar: dog-catcher concept/technique. However you will not see it within the promo-video. They have keep you in suspense (and get you to buy the video somehow).

The two days of training captured in this video were quite interesting, and a worthwhile experience. This techniques are especially useful IF you need a crash course in ECQ combat.

From my personal experience, there are NO arts and crafts in this seminar, just purely operational threat management techniques. From my viewing of the promo, I believe it is safe to say that the video captured the spirit of the class: Train Hard, Train Smart, and Die less Often.
posted by /dn at 7/02/2006 02:08:01 AM 0 comments
29827  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Lebanon on: August 03, 2006, 12:48:04 AM
nation / world news | middle east crisis
Israelis' goal isn't clear, says strategy expert
Ex-Pentagon official says Jewish state now "has only one ally, and that's the United States"
By Bob Deans
Cox News Service
Washington - Former Pentagon official Anthony Cordesman, who also has held NATO and State Department security posts, is an expert on military strategy for the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank. He discussed the Israeli-Hezbollah conflict Tuesday.

Q. It seems Israel's goal is to essentially cleanse southern Lebanon of Hezbollah. How do you do that militarily?

Cordesman: It isn't clear that's the goal at all. So far this is a very limited set of military actions. But without being able to target virtually every element of the Hezbollah, all you can do is use the best intelligence you have, try to find clusters of fighters, hope they don't disperse, or hide or bury or move their weapons, and do the best you can.

Q. How much do you think Hezbollah has been weakened in southern Lebanon by these attacks?

Cordesman: We have absolutely no idea. Hezbollah, obviously, denies it. Israel has made surprisingly moderate claims. If you look at the casualties they've claimed, they'd probably be less than a tenth of Hezbollah's strength. It's almost impossible at times to know how much damage has been done.

Q. What about the price that Israel is paying for this offensive?

Cordesman: There is obviously a human cost. It's an extraordinarily expensive operation. It's often using weapons that cost close to $100,000 to hit weapons that cost $2,000 or $3,000 - and that's if it's successful. It's lost some aircraft. We're talking about very quickly things in excess of $100 million. And that, compared to the cost of maintaining Hezbollah forces or reconstituting them, is a very high price indeed. The political cost is not new to Israel, but certainly most of Europe sees this as excessive and unnecessary. Anger in the Arab world and a good part of the Muslim world as well as much of the rest of the world had been significantly increased. Israel at this point has only one ally, and that's the United States.

Q. Is there any chance that the Israeli incursion would result in new sympathy, new support, new recruits for Hezbollah?

Cordesman: Over time there is a very good chance that it will. Hezbollah had a core strength of anywhere from 300 to 1,200 full-time fighters and 3,000 to 12,000 reservists. It doesn't take many volunteers to make significant differences.

The real problem here is never how many fighters there are, it's how many skilled people actually can carry out ambushes, can use bombs, can conduct specialized raids. This isn't a matter of body counts or boots on the ground. That's largely irrelevant.

Q. What about an international peacekeeping force?

Cordesman: Sending in a peacekeeping force is easy in one sense. But if it actually has to fight, take casualties and kill people, it's going to be perceived as the enemy, not the liberator, and Hezbollah can attack it as well as conduct raids and sabotage and bombings.
29828  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Invitation to dialog to Muslims on: August 02, 2006, 09:48:35 PM

Forgive me the intervention, but I'd like to steer this back to the subject of this thread: dialog with Muslims.

29829  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Real Fights on: August 02, 2006, 05:49:25 PM
Woof Dog Greg:

Do tell please , , ,

29830  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Mexico on: August 02, 2006, 04:05:34 PM
?Se va a mantener la paz/orden social?
29831  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Howl of Respect to our Soldiers/Veterans on: August 01, 2006, 06:31:33 PM

David Bellavia is a former Army Staff Sergeant who served in the First Infantry Division for six years. His leadership recommended David for the Medal of Honor, and he has been nominated for the Distinguished Service Cross. Both awards are still under review. He has received the Silver Star, the Bronze Star, the Conspicuous Service Cross (New York State?s highest combat valor award), and he was recently inducted into the New York State Veteran?s Hall of Fame. His Task Force 2-2 Infantry fought on such battlefields as Al Muqdadiyah, An Najaf, Al Fallujah, Mosul, and Baqubah. He is 30 years old.


On the night of 10 November 2004 Third Platoon, A Company, Task Force 2-2 IN near OBJ Wolf in Fallujah, Iraq, was ordered to attack to destroy six to eight Anti Iraqi Forces (AIF). 1LT Edward Iwan, the A Company Executive Officer, had identified six to eight AIF who had entered a block of twelve buildings. These AIF had engaged A55 and tanks from Team Tank with automatic weapons and rocket fire. Having a 25 mm cannon malfunction, 1LT Edward Iwan cordoned off the area and called Third Platoon to enter and clear all buildings until the AIF were killed or captured.

The first nine buildings yielded many AK47s, Rocket Propelled Grenade launchers, rockets, assorted ammunition, and flak vests. When they came to the tenth home, SSG Colin Fitts, 1st Squad Leader, led his squad of soldiers into the house, with four soldiers from SSG Bellavias 2nd Squad. SGT Hugh Hall, 1st Squad, B Team Leader and SGT Warren Misa 1st Squad, A Team Leader, established a quick foothold in the interior of the house. When SGT Misa attempted to clear the second room he encountered heavy enemy fire. Two AIF were under a stairwell, well covered behind a three-foot barrier, engaging SGT Misa and SPC Lance Ohle as they attempted to move into the room. At that point, multiple bursts of automatic and semi-automatic gunfire were exchanged from extremely close quarters. As rounds impacted near the entry point of the house, nine Third Platoon soldiers became fixed inside the house. At that moment, fire erupted from a kitchen ground floor window onto the inner cordon in th e carport of the house. At one point, gun fire was being exchanged inside and outside of the house, as a total of three dismounted squads from Third Platoon were in contact.

SSG Bellavia quickly requested a M240B machine gun and a M249 SAW to suppress the AIF under the stairs in an effort to break contact and consolidate the platoon. Rounds from the insurgent side of the wall began impacting through the poorly made plaster. Multiple soldiers were bleeding from the face from flying debris. Two soldiers had glass and metal shards in their face, one soldier had been grazed on the side of his stomach underneath his vest and at least six others were bleeding from some cut or scrape from the point blank fire they were receiving. As two soldiers answered the request for support, it became apparent that the entrance to the building was extremely dangerous from ricocheting rounds.

Rather than place his soldier at risk, SSG Bellavia moved quickly to come to the aid of the squad. He exchanged weapon systems with a M249 SAW gunner and entered the fatal funnel of the room. The enemy was crouched behind the barrier and continued to fire at the doorway of the house where SSG Bellavia was positioned. With enemy rounds impacting around him, he fired the SAW at a cyclic rate of fire, forcing the enemy to take cover and allowing the squad to break contact and move into the street to consolidate. SSG Bellavias actions undoubtedly saved the lives of that squad.

As the platoon gathered outside to get accountability of personnel, two or more AIF engaged Third Platoon from the roof. Rounds ricocheted off the ground and SSG Fitts moved his squad to an adjacent building to over watch the AIF on the roofs. SSG Bellavia grabbed an M16 rifle and headed back to the outside of the house. SSG Bellavia called for a Bradley Fighting Vehicle to come up and suppress the outside of the building. The high walls of the enemy strong point made it difficult at close proximity to get well-aimed 25mm cannon fire into the actual building. AIF again engaged Third Platoon from windows.

After the BFV suppressed the house, SSG Bellavia decided to move back inside the house to determine the effects of the BFV fire and whether the AIF still occupied the bottom floor of the house. He placed two SAW gunners and SSG Scott Lawson into the courtyard as the inner cordon. Michael Ware, a TIME magazine journalist, entered the house with SSG Bellavia.

SSG Bellavia entered the house and told SSG Lawson to stay outside until he was needed in the second room. The only two people that went into the house at first were Michael Ware and SSG Bellavia. SSG Bellavia heard AIF whispering from the other side of the wall. Mr. Ware was told to run out if anything happened inside the second room. The journalist insisted on going into the second room. SSG Bellavia got in a low crouched fighting position and quickly pie wedged the first room and fired his M16A4. The enemy immediately fired back with a belt fed RPK machine gun. SSG Bellavia quickly turned away from the fire. The AIF had fire superiority and SSG Bellavia didnt have time to get off well-aimed shots.

As SSG Bellavia moved again to get eyes on the room and determine the enemy disposition, he identified one of the AIF loading an RPG launcher. Understanding how devastating this weapon could be to his platoon, he moved quickly to eliminate the threat. SSG Bellavia told Mr. Ware to remain in the first room. As debris and smoke filled the room the insurgent with the RPG was killed first near the stairwell. A second AIF with a PKC machine gun fired as he ran for the kitchen. SSG Bellavia shot and wounded him in the back of the shoulder. He was heard screaming from outside the building. At that point an AIF yelled from upstairs. SSG Bellavia quickly realized how many insurgents were in the house. Despite the odds he continued the assault.

SSG Lawson entered the room with SSG Bellavia. He was armed with only a 9mm pistol. SSG Lawson was across the room firing into the kitchen door, and SSG Bellavia was near the doorway of the master bedroom using the stairs as his cover. The wounded AIF was firing back, this time with an AK47. The insurgent was screaming loudly as he fired. SSG Lawson fired an entire magazine toward the kitchen, when a piece of debris lodged in his right shoulder. Thinking he was shot and with only one 9mm magazine remaining, SSG Bellavia told him to leave to get medical aid and to retrieve a shotgun with buckshot and other soldiers. SSG Lawson and Mr. Ware exited the house.

SSG Bellavia realized that his back was facing a room he had not cleared. In order to secure his position he entered the master bedroom of the house. SSG Bellavia heard movement in the room and fired into the dark corners to clear them by fire. There was a closet directly in front of him with six closed doors, and multiple areas of dead space. At that point an insurgent ran down the stairs and started firing into the room. SSG Bellavia moved behind a protruding corner of the wall to acquire cover. Over the loud noise of small arms fire from across the hall, he could hear screaming from upstairs and to his immediate left. Confused and trying to locate if another insurgent was in the corner of the room, SSG Bellavia began to scan the room with his PEQ-2A. Thinking the noise originated from the closet, SSG Bellavia took a few steps to his left and began to fire into each door from left to right. Before he could finish clearing the closet the wounded AIF from the kitchen ran t oward the bedroom door and began blindly shooting at him from outside. Finding his position of cover behind the elbow of the wall, SSG Bellavia fired back. As the enemy fire came closer, he moved his position into the far opposing corner of the room. The AIF exposed his shoulders as he fired into the bedroom and SSG Bellavia fired wounding and then killing him.

He then noticed a closet door was open and he witnessed tracer fire hit the side of the room. Unsure of where the fire originated, SSG Bellavia looked for a target. Suddenly the insurgent on the stairs began shooting at him again. As the wounded AIF turned and exposed his position in the doorway he was hit and fell near the stairs. He was moaning and slowly moved away from the door, mortally wounded. Simultaneously, a closet door opened and clothing flew everywhere, as an insurgent leapt out and fired wildly all over the room. In his rush out of the closet he tripped on something in the closet and the entire wardrobe fell down resting on the open doors. This actually was a benefit to SSG Bellavia as it provided more cover. When the AIF attempted to cross over the bed, he lost his balance on the mattress and was shot multiple times. The insurgent fell to the ground and with his back to the front door, fired an accurate burst directly into the closet and the wall near SSG Be llavia. SSG Bellavia crouched low to the ground, the insurgent was screaming loudly in broken English. Someone from upstairs was yelling back in Arabic. SSG Bellavia responded in Arabic in an attempt to intimidate the men into surrendering. The insurgent then picked himself up and ran out of the room and up the stairs. SSG Bellavia fired, missing the insurgent and then pursued him as he fled up the stairs. Blood was soaked all over the stairs causing SSG Bellavia to slip, nearly catching a burst of AK fire. The wounded AIF turned and shot an automatic burst from the first landing of the stairs but once again missed SSG Bellavia, who was now well behind cover.

Tracking the blood, SSG Bellavia followed the AIF into a room immediately to the left on the second story. He heard the AIF inside and tossed a fragmentary grenade into the room. The blast sent the screaming AIF onto the second story roof. The AIF began shooting his weapon in all directions, until it was empty of ammunition. Bellavia noticed the AIF was seriously wounded in the right side of his body from the blast of the grenade. The insurgent stumbled back into the room and began to dry fire his weapon. As SSG Bellavia scanned the inside of the room, it was quickly filling with thick smoke from burning foam mattresses ignited from the blast. Two AIF could be heard screaming at each other from a third story of the building. Not wanting the AIF to give away his position, SSG Bellavia quickly grabbed the wounded AIF in a choke hold to keep him quiet. SSG Bellavia met resistance as he attempted to quiet the screaming AIF. Bellavia was bit on the arm and struck in the face wi th the barrel of the wounded insurgents small AK47. A .45 caliber pistol shot off against the wall and SSG Bellavia, whose helmet was loosened when it was jarred by the barrel of the AK, began to thrash the AIF in attempts to pacify him. Exchanging blows in the struggle, SSG Bellavia fearing that the screaming insurgent was issuing instructions to his peers upstairs, opened his IBA vest and attempted to use his front sappy plate to forcibly subdue the insurgent into compliance. Hearing multiple foot steps over his position, Bellavia used his Gerber tactical blade and cut into the left side of the insurgent?s throat. Not wanting to discharge his weapon as to give away his position and in fear of the many propane tanks near the wall, SSG Bellavia bled the insurgent with applied pressure as he was spastically kicked and scratched in the melee. Two other insurgents, only feet away yelled to their comrade in Arabic, simultaneously firing their weapons. SSG Bellavia confirmed the insurgent was dead and exited the room as his eyes and the fresh scratches on his face were stinging from the smoke and heat of the growing fire.

SSG Bellavia moved to secure the two doors to his right. Suddenly an AIF dropped down from the third story roof, onto the second story roof. The AIF dropped his weapon as he fell to his knees. SSG Bellavia moved to the window and as the AIF went to grab his weapon SSG Bellavia shot in his direction multiple times, wounding him in the lower back. The AIF was prone and SSG Bellavia assumed he was dead. He moved to the door leading to the roof and found the insurgent straddling a large water tank at the edge of the roof. He shot the remainder of his ammunition into the insurgent?s legs and went back inside to grab a dead insurgent?s weapon. As he moved inside the house the insurgent fell off the roof and into the garden. Moments later, five members of Third Platoon entered and secured the downstairs of the house and yelled up to SSG Bellavia who was still on the second floor.

SSG Bellavia moved to link up with the rest of his platoon. However, before the search could begin for the fifth or sixth insurgent the platoon was ordered to move out of the area due to a close air support mission called in by an adjacent unit.

SSG Bellavia single handedly saved three squads of his Third Platoon that night, risking his own life by allowing them to break contact and reorganize. He then entered and cleared an insurgent strong point, killing four insurgents and mortally wounding another.
29832  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Real Fights on: August 01, 2006, 05:27:30 PM
In case the article will not remain available for long at the URL cited, I post it here:
Illegal, violent teen fight clubs face police crackdown
Updated 8/1/2006 10:48 AM ET E-mail | Save | Print | Reprints & Permissions | Subscribe to stories like this  
 Enlarge Handout photo
Two youths engage in a fight in a scene from Agg Townz Fights 2.

When the protagonist of author Chuck Palahniuk's cult 1996 novel Fight Club is asked by a client at a business meeting how he ended up with a black eye and a cheek swollen with stitches, he gives the all-purpose answer of kids everywhere: "I fell."

That fictional scene explains how many teens involved in real-life fight clubs are able to keep them under the radar ? even when they come home from school or show up in class with cuts, bruises and swollen knuckles.

"We know teenagers are quite good at not telling the truth when it's not in their interest," says Mac Bernd, superintendent of the Arlington Independent School District in Arlington, Texas, which is dealing with an outbreak of fight clubs among its 20,000 high school students at a half-dozen schools.

Kids suffering injuries from organized fighting often claim they got them in an accident, playing football or basketball, or some other way, Bernd says. If that doesn't work, they'll admit they got in a fight over a boy or a girl, without saying it was an organized, staged event. Unless the parents have a good reason to suspect illegal activity, they often give their kids the benefit of the doubt. "They say, 'OK, be careful next time, dear,' " Bernd says.

While some fight club organizers or participants will foolishly brag about their exploits on the Internet (which makes it easier for cops to catch them), they often go to great lengths to hide their activities from local authorities.

When Anchorage police got word in January that a fight club from Dimond High School was planning to meet, dozens of students drove to three different sites to throw cops off the scent. A 10th-grader and an 11th-grader eventually fought at an outdoor motocross track in freezing weather; one suffered a broken nose and concussion.

In Arlington, fight clubs often have met on dead-end streets or cul-de-sacs and in suburban neighborhoods where the organizers know virtually all of the adult residents are working during the day, says James Hawthorne, deputy police chief of Arlington's West District.
Fight clubs pit teens and pre-teens in illegal, dangerous staged bouts. Here's a checklist for parents to see if your teen is mixed up in a fight club, as a participant or spectator:
 Monitor cell phones and cameras: Police and school administrators say parents should check their kids' cell phone and computer histories. Look for photos and video of fights. Some teens will claim their parents are invading their privacy. But police say privacy ends where their safety begins ? especially when parents are paying the bills.

James Hawthorne, Deputy Police Chief of Arlington, Texas, which has witnessed an outbreak of teen fight clubs, challenged parents at one community meeting to view the content of their kids' cell phones, cameras and PDA's. Many were stunned at the violent images and foul language they found, he said.

"It's not just the 'bad' kids," says Hawthorne. "The good kids have it on their cell phones. The good kids show up to watch these fights. The good kids become unwitting victims."

 Check for online diary: Many teens and high-school students post their own online diaries on websites such as, and Check what pictures and videos are in their online diaries and blogs and who their online friends are.

Oddly, while many teens are loathe to discuss their personal lives with their parents, they're willing to reveal almost anything in the public world of cyberspace, notes Mac Bernd, superintendent of the Arlington Independent School District. "It's this cyber-community we need to penetrate," he says

 Talk to kids about their lives: Ask teens who their friends are, where they hang out, what they do. Show up unannounced. Get to know their friends' parents and compare notes. Ask hard questions and don't settle for flip answers, advises Reverend Dwight McKissic of the Cornerstone Baptist Church in Arlington.

"Hold your kids accountable for their time," he said. "They'll be less likely to engage in (fighting) if they're headed to Yale, rather than jail."

Sources: USA TODAY research, Arlington Police Department.
The teen fight club ring targeted by police in Arlington, Texas, is among several cases of organized teen fighting discovered this year by authorities across the nation. Among the others:
Tacoma, Wash. ? In July, a 17-year-old student from Emerald Ridge High School pleaded guilty to unlawful possession of a weapon and attempted assault stemming from a videotaped beating of a fellow student, says Detective Ed Troyer of the Pierce County Sheriff's Department. The teen posted a video of the incident to, which led to his arrest. Staring into the camera, he racked a round into a pump shotgun and asked: "Any of you all want to play with me?"

The teen was expelled from school and sentenced to 50 days incarceration in a juvenile facility (which he's currently serving), 50 hours of community service and one year of probation. He also was banned from MySpace and forfeited all his weapons, Troyer says.

His accomplice, who filmed the beating with a night-vision lens, was expelled and faces fourth-degree assault charges. Another 25 students identified from the tape were suspended from school.

Lumberton Township, N.J. ? In February, police detained four middle-school students, age 12 to 15 years old, for alleged disorderly conduct. One student was accused of instigating a fight between two other kids and posting a video of the fight on, police chief Marc Sano says.

Anchorage ? In January, 17 students at Dimond High School were suspended for participating in, or watching, a videotaped fight. The group changed the location of the fight repeatedly to try to elude police.

However, Anchorage police got a copy of the tape and identified the participants. The two fighters, enrolled in the 10th and 11th grades, were suspended from school for nine days. The 15 spectators got three-day suspensions.

The staged fight was the third such incident during the last four years in the Anchorage School District, says executive director Mike Henry, who oversees 16 schools and more than 15,000 high school students.

Students promoted the fights through word-of-mouth, e-mails and text messages, Henry says. One time, they handed out fliers in school, he says.

By Michael McCarthy, USA TODAY
ARLINGTON, Texas ? The video shows two bare-knuckle brawlers brutally punching each other until one slumps, beaten, to the ground. The fight doesn't end there: The victor straddles the chest of his fallen opponent, firing rights and lefts into his face.
This is not a scene from the Brad Pitt movie Fight Club. Instead, it involves real teenagers in an underground video called Agg Townz Fights 2. Their ring: the grassy schoolyard of Seguin High School here. They're engaged in a disturbing extreme sport that has popped up across the nation: teen fight clubs.

ON DEADLINE:Your thoughts?

This year, authorities in Texas, New Jersey, Washington state and Alaska have discovered more than a half-dozen teen fight rings operating for fun ? or profit. These illegal, violent, often bloody bouts pit boys and girls, some as young as 12, in hand-to-hand combat. Some ringleaders capture these staged fights with video or cellphone cameras, set them to rap music, then peddle homemade DVDs on the Internet. Other fight videos are posted on popular teen websites such as and

Some bouts are more like bare-knuckle boxing matches, with the opponents shaking hands before and after they fight. Others are gang assaults out of ultra-violent films such as A Clockwork Orange, with packs of youths stomping helpless victims who clearly don't want to fight.

"When you watch the video, you're appalled by the savagery, the callousness, the lack of morality," says James Hawthorne, deputy police chief of Arlington's West District, who's leading a crackdown on fight clubs. "This is an indictment of us as a society. It's not a race issue or a class issue. It's a kids issue."

Many fight-club brawlers are suburban high school kids, not gang members or juvenile criminals. Chase Leavitt, son of U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt, was arrested for participating in a fight club at a Mormon church gym in Salt Lake City in December 2001, when his father was Utah's governor.

The younger Leavitt, then 18, pleaded guilty to disturbing the peace and trespassing in September 2002 and was sentenced to 40 hours of community service, says Sim Gill, the chief prosecutor of Salt Lake City who handled the case.

According to Gill, Chase Leavitt laced up boxing gloves and punched it out with a 17-year-old opponent at the church, which is in an affluent neighborhood. Organizers handed out fliers advertising the fight. About 100 students from Leavitt's East High School paid admission before cops raided the premises. As the teens fled, they dropped a video camera with footage of several bouts that night.

"This is not something that just happens in poor neighborhoods," Gill says. "This crosses all socioeconomic bounds. It's happening in middle-class and upper-middle-class environments."

Secretary Leavitt and Chase Leavitt declined to comment, referring calls to attorney Loren Weiss. He says Chase Leavitt was "prosecuted for who he was, not what he did."

Fight clubs tap into a dark, nihilistic "part of the American psyche fascinated by the spectacle of blood and violence," says Orin Starn, cultural anthropology professor at Duke University who teaches about sports in American society. "This does seem a phenomenon of the Mortal Kombat, violent video game generation. The fight club offers the chance to bring those fantasies of violence and danger to life ? and maybe have your 15 minutes of fame in an underground video."

Chuck Palahniuk, author of the cult 1996 novel Fight Club that was the basis for the 1999 movie, declined an interview request but said, "God bless these kids. I hope they're having a great time. I don't think they'd be doing it if they weren't having a great time."

Fights in public, in daylight

This middle-class community of 360,000 residents between Dallas and Fort Worth is the home of baseball's Texas Rangers and the Six Flags Over Texas amusement park and the site of the Dallas Cowboys' planned football stadium.

Sitting in his office on a hot Texas afternoon, Hawthorne shakes his head as he watches the two-hour Agg Townz 2 (slang for Arlington) video, featuring teens mostly from Arlington and the neighboring town of Mansfield punching, kicking and stomping each other.

Hawthorne points out that many fights on the tape take place in daylight on pleasant, tree-lined streets with brick homes and well-tended lawns. One fight turns into a mini-riot with dozens of teens rampaging through the parking lot of a McDonald's restaurant. Another running brawl spills into a busy city street, where the fighters slam up against rolling cars.

In almost every fight, there are dozens of teens cheering on the pugilists or snapping pictures. Sometimes their schoolbooks are spread out on the lawns. In one scene, an adult holds the hands of a toddler who watches a fight as if it's another street game. In another, teens watch the tape as entertainment at a party like a music video.

During the most gruesome footage, one falling fighter strikes his head on a sidewalk and is knocked unconscious. While the defenseless teen's arms jerk spasmodically and his eyes stare upward, his opponent continues to belt him in the face. As the injured teen is dragged away, his head leaves a bloody smear on the curb.

Police here learned about fight clubs after Kevin Walker, 16, was jumped and kicked in the head outside his grandmother's house March 11, suffering a brain hemorrhage and other injuries. Arlington police arrested the producer of the Agg Townz series, Arlington resident Michael G. Jackson, 18, and five of his friends, ages 14-19.

Hawthorne says the group would pay teens a few bucks to fight, or attack other youths, then film the violence with video or cellphone cameras. Jackson edited the footage, set it to rap and sold two volumes through his own website for $15-$20 each. The footage of the Walker attack (seized by cops as evidence and never released) was part of a third volume Jackson was working on when he was arrested, Hawthorne says.

On Thursday, Jackson and three other adult defendants were indicted for aggravated assault on Walker and engaging in organized criminal activity, both felonies, says Jennifer Tourje, assistant district attorney for Tarrant County. They face possible penalties of two years' probation to 20 years in a state penitentiary if convicted of aggravated assault and five years' probation to 99 years in prison if convicted of engaging in organized criminal activity. Both charges also carry possible fines of $10,000, she adds.

Hawthorne has asked the IRS and the state comptroller's office to investigate whether Jackson paid taxes on his DVD sales. Several parents of injured teens are considering civil lawsuits against Jackson, Hawthorne adds.

In Arlington, fight-club participants can be arrested on several felony and misdemeanor charges, including aggravated assault, fighting in public, engaging in organized crime and criminal mischief. Texas law allows police to arrest active spectators as accomplices to fighting in public. As part of the crackdown that began May 10, cops have made 40 arrests, including Jackson and his friends, and issued about 200 citations involving fighting in public or watching arranged brawls, police spokeswoman Christy Gilfour says.

In an interview with USA TODAY, Jackson confirmed filming fights and selling DVDs of them. However, he denies instigating fights or paying teens to take part in them and says he has shut down his website. Jackson says he simply saw a financial opportunity to exploit fights that were happening anyway.

"I just used my business-savvy mind," says Jackson, who's seen break dancing and flashing a wad of cash in the videos. He says he never participated in the fights, and he won't say how much money he made or how many DVDs he sold.

His Dallas-based attorney, Ray Jackson (no relation), calls the organized crime charge "ludicrous" and predicts his filmmaking client will become another Spike Lee. The lawyer adds that although the Agg Townz series has become a "cult classic," his client has not made money from it. Most DVDs in circulation are bootlegs from which his client did not get a cut of the proceeds, Ray Jackson says.

"This was low-end equipment and high-end talent," the lawyer says. "That's why it sold."

Messaging fuels combatants

Teen fight clubs have staged bouts on school campuses and in backyards, city streets, public parks, parking lots and gas stations.

Mac Bernd, superintendent of the Arlington Independent School District, says ringleaders have orchestrated fights the same way they do parties: through word-of-mouth, phone calls and text messages. Text-messaging enables instigators to inflame a minor dispute between teens at breakfast into a full-scale brawl by lunch. "You have an electronic rumor mill that moves at the speed of light," he says. That's why Bernd, despite the objection of some parents, is outlawing all telecommunications devices for the 2006-07 school year ? including cellphones, pagers, beepers, PDAs, digital and video cameras, MP3 and CD players and video games. The ban covers 74 schools with 63,000 students, including a half-dozen high schools with 20,000 students.

"We've concluded schools are for teaching and learning," he says.

Race does not appear to play much of a factor in teen fight clubs' bouts. Rita Sibert, president of the Arlington chapter of the NAACP, says the clubs include "a mix of all children, all races."

Most of those in the Agg Townz video are African-American. However, just a week after Jackson's arrest, Arlington police booked a group of 11 white teens and one Hispanic youth for fighting in public, Hawthorne says. A fight video made in nearby Grand Prairie shows mostly white teens, city police Detective John Brimmer says.

Silence surrounds participants

The fictional fight club led by Pitt's character, Tyler Durden, in the 1999 movie was made up mostly of men in their twenties who made a sadistic and masochistic sport out of fighting one another.

Durden's main rule for his club became the movie's signature line and a slogan in popular culture: You do not talk about Fight Club.

Teen fight clubs in Arlington often and elsewhere follow that advice, and police and school authorities have been frustrated by the wall of silence that has surrounded the clubs. Not one of the hundreds of parents who viewed clips from Agg Townz 2 at several community and church meetings seemed to have a clue that fight clubs existed ? or that their kids were involved, Hawthorne says. Among local teens, he says, the clubs have been common knowledge.

"It was a revelation for the parents," notes the NAACP's Sibert.

Bernd and other school administrators say most teens, even the ones absorbing the bloodiest beatings, refuse to roll over on fight-club participants for fear of retaliation by ringleaders or gangs involved.

The teen beaten into bloody unconsciousness in the Arlington video has not come forward and is still unidentified, Hawthorne says. Grand Prairie police have made no arrests in their case because no one has filed a complaint, Brimmer says.

Citing such secrecy, Bernd says he suspects there are more fight clubs operating under the radar.

"It's almost like the kids have created a completely different world we don't have access to and don't understand."

Contributing: Bruce Rosenstein
29833  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Howl of Respect to our Soldiers/Veterans on: August 01, 2006, 12:30:00 PM
RAMADI, Iraq (AP) ? He was 5 when he first fired an M-16, his father holding him to brace against the recoil. At 17 he enlisted in the Marine Corps, spurred by the memory of Sept. 11.

Now, 21-year-old Galen Wilson has 20 confirmed kills in four months in Iraq ? and another 40 shots that probably killed insurgents. One afternoon the lance corporal downed a man hauling a grenade launcher 5? football fields away.

Wilson is the designated marksman in a company of Marines based in downtown Ramadi, watching over what Marines call the most dangerous neighborhood in the most dangerous city in the world.

Here, Sunni Arab insurgents are intent on toppling the local government protected by Marines.

Wilson, 5-foot-6 with a soft face, is married and has two children and speaks in a deep, steady monotone.

After two tours in Iraq, his commanders in the 3rd Battalion, 8th Regiment call him a particularly mature Marine, always collected and given to an occasional wry grin.

His composure is regularly tested. Swaths of central and southern Ramadi, 70 miles west of Baghdad, are dominated by insurgents who regularly attack the provincial government headquarters that Marines protect.

During a large-scale attack on Easter Sunday, Wilson says, he spotted six gunmen on a rooftop about 400 yards away. In about 8 seconds he squeezed off five rounds ? hitting five gunmen in the head. The sixth man dived off a 3-story building just as Wilson got him in his sights, and counts as a probable death.

"You could tell he didn't know where it was coming from. He just wanted to get away," Wilson said. Later that day, he said, he killed another insurgent.

Wilson says his skill helps save American troops and Iraqi civilians. "It doesn't bother me. Obviously, me being a devout Catholic, it's a conflict of interest. Then again, God supported David when he killed Goliath," Wilson said. "I believe God supports what we do and I've never killed anyone who wasn't carrying a weapon."

He was raised in a desolate part of the Rocky Mountains outside Colorado Springs, "surrounded by national parks on three sides," he says. He regularly hunted before moving to Fort Lauderdale, as a teenager. His brother also serves in the military.

Guns have long been part of Wilson's life. His father was a sniper in the Navy SEALS. He remembers first firing a sniper rifle at age 6. By the time he enlisted he had already fired a .50-caliber machine gun.

"My father owned a weapons dealership, so I've been around exotic firearms all my life," said Wilson, who remembers practicing on pine cones and cans. "My dad would help me hold (an M-16), with the butt on his shoulder, and walk me through the steps of shooting."

Technically, Wilson is not a sniper ? he's an infantryman who also patrols through the span of destroyed buildings that make up downtown Ramadi. But as his unit's designated marksman, he has a sniper rifle. In the heat of day or after midnight, he spends hours on rooftop posts, peering out onto rows of abandoned houses from behind piles of sandbags and bulletproof glass cracked by gunfire.

Sometimes individual gunmen attack, other times dozens. Once Wilson shot an insurgent who was "turkey peeking" ? Marine slang for stealing glances at U.S. positions from behind a corner. Later, the distance was measured at 514 meters ? 557 yards.

"I didn't doubt myself, if I was going to hit him. Maybe if I would have I would have missed," Wilson said.

The key to accuracy is composure and experience, Wilson says. "The hardest part is looking, quickly adjusting the distance (on a scope), and then getting a steady position for a shot before he gets a shot off. For me, it's toning everything out in my head. It's like hearing classical music playing in my head."

Though Wilson firmly supports the war, he used to wonder how his actions would be received back home. "At first you definitely double-guess telling your wife, mom, and your friends that you've killed 20 people," Wilson said. "But over time you realize that if they support you ... maybe it'll make them feel that much safer at home." He acknowledges that brutal acts of war linger in the mind.

"Some people, before they're about to kill someone, they think that ? 'Hey, I'm about to kill someone.' That thought doesn't occur to me. It may sound cold, but they're just a target. Afterward, it's real. You think, 'Hey, I just killed someone,'" says Wilson.

Insurgents "have killed good Marines I've served with. That's how I sleep at night," he says. "Though I've killed over 20 people, how many lives would those 20 people have taken?"

Wilson plans to leave the Marines after his contract expires next year and is thinking of joining a SWAT Team in Florida ? possibly as a sniper.

 2006 The Associated Press.
29834  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Next gathering... on: July 31, 2006, 03:39:32 PM
Woof Island Dog:

Sunday before Thanksgiving.

BTW, congrats on another fine performance at the June Gathering.

The Adventure Continues,
29835  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Lebanon on: July 31, 2006, 01:45:18 PM,,19955774-5007220,00.html
29836  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Lebanon on: July 31, 2006, 10:44:31 AM
Geopolitical Diary: A Cease-Fire and Possible Implications

Politics caught up with Israeli military operations in southern Lebanon on Sunday, where the U.S. State Department announced, and Israel later confirmed, a temporary halt to Israeli air operations. The 48-hour cease-fire, which appears to be unilateral, was a response to the deaths of 54 people -- including several dozen children -- who were killed when an apartment building collapsed in Qana following pre-dawn airstrikes.

News of the deaths emerged while U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was in Israel for meetings with national leaders. She also had planned a trip to Beirut, but that trip was canceled -- with both the United States and Lebanon claiming to have been the first to call it off. Rice, and Washington, have been under growing international pressure to intervene in the Israeli actions in Lebanon, and the timing of the Qana strike left them with little choice. Israeli leaders once again said they could complete their operations in two weeks, but they acquiesced to the cease-fire and allowed the United States to announce it first -- and thus take credit for intervening.

Leaders in Washington perhaps have faced more pressure than those in Israel during the current conflict -- or at least felt domestic pressures to a greater degree. Israeli leaders have domestic support for an intensification of operations: If anything, their restraint over launching a larger ground campaign defies popular domestic sentiment. But for the United States, tacit or overt support for Israeli actions against Hezbollah in Lebanon -- whether through supplying additional bombs or delaying calls for a cease-fire -- impacts its relations around the globe. Even British Prime Minister Tony Blair, a close ally of U.S. President George W. Bush, has stepped up his calls for U.S. intercession in Israel, thus giving voice to the pressures coming to bear on him from domestic and European audiences.

The temporary cease-fire brings an interesting dynamic to the conflict. In some sense, it is a cosmetic measure: It includes only Israeli air operations (not ground forces), does not appear to include Hezbollah, and does not preclude Israel from using its air assets if it sees Hezbollah forces even preparing to fire rockets or attack Israeli forces. It is, by and large, a political cease-fire more than a military one. But it could be used by Hezbollah to back Israel into a corner.

Israeli leaders are not expecting Hezbollah to abide by the cease-fire. Hezbollah forces have been firing ever-more numerous salvos of rockets over the past few days, despite Israeli claims that its air force had taken out key rocket command centers. If Hezbollah fires more rockets during the cease-fire or attacks Israeli forces in Lebanon, Israeli leaders will use the act as political leverage, seeking to escape some of the international pressures and to justify resumption of the air campaign.

On the other hand, if Hezbollah were to observe a cease-fire and refrain from rocket launches or engagements for 48 hours, Israel would find it politically more difficult to restart the campaign. During the lull, international discussions of ways to bring about a more permanent cease-fire would continue, new resolutions would be proffered and some progress perhaps could be made concerning the potential composition of an international peacekeeping force for southern Lebanon.

Hezbollah's silence and international diplomacy are not necessarily in Israel's interests at this point. The ground phase of Israel Defense Forces operations apparently was set in motion before the airstrike on Qana. If Israel should be stalemated now, the situation would be untenable for Israel's leaders: Hezbollah would have retained its command and control, communications and -- more significantly -- its weapons. Israeli forces would be sent back across the border from Lebanon, having failed to dislodge Hezbollah.

Even in the event that a peacekeeping force should move into southern Lebanon and act as a peacemaking force, actively confronting Hezbollah, the psychological damage to Israel's military image in the Middle East will have been complete. Israel's use of an air-dominant campaign to dislodge Hezbollah was bound to cause significant civilian casualties and, over time, lead to more controversies like the Qana attack and the recent strike against a U.N. post. Time and politics have now caught up with Israel, particularly as Rice was in the country when the Qana strike occurred.

In some sense, Hezbollah now holds the future of the conflict in its hands. If it can refrain from action during the Israeli cease-fire, it will gain a significant political boost and leave Israel to contend with more than just Hezbollah rockets and fighters. If this should occur, Israel would face stronger diplomatic pressures from the international community -- and the United States would find it more difficult to backstop Israel. An inconclusive withdrawal by Israeli forces following the cease-fire would spell political suicide for Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, and perhaps the end of the Kadima party as well.

For Hezbollah, restraint could prove the deadliest weapon in its arsenal.
29837  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Invitation to dialog to Muslims on: July 31, 2006, 10:40:37 AM
Woof Michael:

Thank you for your thoughtful posts.  Please feel free to continue doing so.



I recommend viewing this documentary about Islamic Fascism:

The focus of this thread is Dialog with Muslims.  We will be particularly glad to hear Muslim reactions to this documentary.  As it notes in its conclusion, the words and deeds of the Muslim world in response to this Fascism are key.

The Adventure continues,

8/11/08 edited to add:  For some reason tongue this video seems to be no longer available
29838  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Mexico on: July 31, 2006, 09:12:15 AM
MEXICO CITY, July 30 ? Four weeks after a very close election plunged this country into political crisis, the leftist candidate escalated his campaign to undo the official results, telling a mass rally of his supporters on Sunday that they must engage in civil disobedience to ?defend democracy? and force the recognition of ?my triumph as president.?

?Mexico does not deserve to be governed by an illegitimate president,? said the candidate, Andr?s Manuel L?pez Obrador, a former Mexico City mayor who election officials say lost the national election by a mere 243,000 votes of 41 million cast.

A special electoral court has yet to ratify the results and Mr. L?pez Obrador has challenged the official tally, contending that there were widespread irregularities, human errors and, in some instances, fraud. He and his supporters want all the ballots counted again.

Felipe Calder?n, a conservative candidate who officials say received the most votes, contends that recounting all the votes is unnecessary and illegal. Poll workers, chosen at random like jurors and trained for the job, counted the ballots the night of the election in the presence of party officials and signed formal tally sheets.

While Mr. L?pez Obrador led a third huge march down Reforma Avenue to the Z?calo, Mexico City?s central square, on Sunday, Mr. Calder?n appeared before the Federal Electoral Tribunal to counter the leftist?s arguments that the vote count was flawed. ?We won cleanly,? he told reporters after an audience with judges. ?And we are not going to let these millions of votes be canceled.?

Mr. Calder?n also said Mr. L?pez Obrador could not win in court with sit-ins and other acts of civil disobedience. ?We believe in the force of the law,? he said.

The tribunal has until Sept. 6 to resolve the legal challenges and declare the president-elect. Mr. L?pez Obrador said he would not accept anything less than a full recount and promised to wage a campaign of civil disobedience until he got one.

The city police, whose commanders have political ties to Mr. L?pez Obrador, estimated that about 1.2 million people attended the march, making it one of the largest in the country?s history.

The estimate could not be confirmed by other means, but the central square, which holds about 100,000 people, was packed, a sea of people wearing the bright yellow of Mr. L?pez Obrador?s Party of the Democratic Revolution. The crowd spilled into nearby streets, filling major avenues for a half-mile in every direction.

The multitude ? farmers and working-class people bused from rural towns, as well as left-leaning urban professionals ? thundered the chant, ?Vote by vote, polling place by polling place,? as Mr. L?pez Obrador took the stage.

In interviews, protesters said Mr. L?pez Obrador had convinced them that the National Action Party, the party of President Vicente Fox and Mr. Calder?n, and its allies among business leaders had rigged the election.

?If there was no fraud, they would agree to a vote by vote recount,? said Gregorio Ruiz, a 33-year-old farmer from the southern state of Guerrero, who had a mouthful of silver-rimmed teeth.

Brenda Fern?ndez, a 33-year-old homemaker, said as she marched past the Palacio de Bellas Artes that she expected the court to deny Mr. L?pez Obrador?s request and that violence would erupt afterward. ?Look, there was already one revolution, why not another?? she said. ?We are at the point of violence, and the government better understand that.?

Mr. L?pez Obrador called for 32 sit-ins across the city, another step in his campaign to ratchet up pressure on the court to order a recount and on his opponent to accept it. So far, the protests and marches he has led have been peaceful, though he said Sunday that more acts of civil disobedience would be planned.

His court case rests largely on arithmetic errors he maintains he found in about 72,000 polling places. In some cases the number of votes exceeded the number of ballots delivered, he maintains. In others, ballots were delivered and never accounted for in the totals. In others, there were more votes than people registered.

But he also charges that poll workers manipulated the count to pad Mr. Calder?n?s advantage in polling places where Mr. L?pez Obrador had no representatives.

Election officials say most of the arithmetic problems can be explained by human error on election night, as poll workers reported numbers to election officials. The official tally three days later cleared up most of those mistakes, officials say.

Fraud is also highly unlikely, they say. One would have to bribe four polling officials, all chosen at random from lists of registered voters, to falsify results at a polling place.

Still, most of Mr. L?pez Obrador?s followers say not much has changed since the 1980?s, when the government controlled and manipulated the vote count to make sure members of the Institutional Revolutionary Party remained in power. That party ruled Mexico with only token opposition until Mr. Fox?s historic victory in 2000, after the Federal Election Institute became independent.

Indeed, many marchers said they believed the National Action Party had teamed up with the former governing party to commit fraud and give Mr. Calder?n a razor-thin advantage in northern states. Many said they saw both parties as stooges of big business and the United States.

For his part, Mr. L?pez Obrador, 52, has said his campaign for a recount is not an attempt to seize power, but a selfless drive to save Mexico?s fledgling democracy from what he sees as impure influences, like Mr. Fox?s use of his bully pulpit to help his party?s candidate and attack advertisements against Mr. L?pez Obrador paid for by business groups.

?I want to stress the cause we are defending is fundamental,? he said. ?I want to tell you that it goes beyond the fact that they should recognize my triumph as president of the republic.?

Then he added: ?I am not a vulgar opportunist. Money does not motivate me nor interest me. Power only makes sense when it is put at the service of others.?

Antonio Betancourt contributed reporting for this article.
29839  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Lebanon on: July 29, 2006, 12:23:19 AM

An Arab commentator on NPR with some interesting things to say.
29840  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Geo Political matters on: July 28, 2006, 11:23:33 PM

One of the things I see as fit to do is post articles which in my opinion are of a level not commonly found elsewhere. The number of reads per post in the threads which seem to annoy you the most are amongst the highest of this forum-- so many people seem to find them interesting.  Regardless, my house, my rules.

I thoroughly "get" the point you have been making from the beginning.  Taken by itself, its not a bad point and actually shows some insight. That said, in you I simply have not sensed with whom I wish to engage in conversation.  With your posts this evening what communicates to me is you are the sort of person who demands attention whether others want to give it or not.

In my house I am Alpha and I do as I see fit.  I gave you clear guidance with the tone of your original posts and I see it hasn't worked.  The point is not your conclusions.  The point is one of respect and by your own words in other post tonight you do not have it for me.

Our Adventure will continue without you.  You're outta here.

Crafty Dog
29841  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / question on: July 28, 2006, 11:02:04 PM
The beautiful thing about America is that you are free to come and go.  You have come into our house and now you act rudely, so it is time for you to go.
29842  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WW3 on: July 28, 2006, 10:58:47 PM
Lacking respect means you lack the requirements of participation here.
29843  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WW3 on: July 28, 2006, 07:42:09 PM

Martial Arts begins with the consciousness that we are worthy of defending.


The Terror Ahead, by Gabriel Schoenfeld
Commentary November 2003

ON DAY 18 of the war in Iraq, a single United States Air Force B-1 bomber attacked a residence in the north of Baghdad where Saddam Hussein was believed to be hiding. The effects were dramatic. Explosions not only demolished the structure entirely but left a gigantic crater of jumbled steel and debris 60 feet deep and 150 feet wide. This devastation was caused by four conventional bombs, each weighing 2,000 pounds. They are by no means the heaviest bombs in the U.S. arsenal. The Air Force?s ?Daisy Cutter? weighs in at 15,000 pounds and can dig a much deeper and wider area of destruction.

But these devices, fearsome though they may be, are trivial in their effects compared with a nuclear weapon. If the destructive power of each of the bombs dropped in Baghdad was roughly equivalent to 1,000 pounds of TNT (trinitrotoluene), a nuclear bomb fueled by a single pound of a fissionable element like uranium or plutonium would release the explosive equivalent of approximately sixteen million pounds (eight kilotons). Over the course of the nuclear age, devices in the megaton range (millions of tons of TNT) have been developed and tested.

The tremendous force of a nuclear blast causes correspondingly greater destruction, including from its sheer heat. Whereas a conventional explosion generates temperatures nearing 9,000 degrees Fahrenheit, a nuclear detonation unleashes heat in the millions of degrees, which is then dispersed with terrible effect. In the initial phase, all of the material of the bomb itself?the nuclear fuel, the metal casing, the triggering device?is converted instantaneously into an intensely compressed vapor. Within less than a millionth of a second, this vapor expands into a highly luminous mass of burning air and nuclear material that ascends on its own far up into the atmosphere, reaching widths as large as thousands of feet across.

On the surface of the earth, the fireball vaporizes whatever solid materials abut the explosion, including soil and rock, which then fuse with the radioactive elements of the bomb itself and are borne aloft, gradually returning to earth as fallout: highly lethal radioactive particles ranging in width from the size of a grain of fine sand to small marbles. The rapidly expanding gas of the explosion also gives off a shock wave, a wall of air that continues to move away from the explosive center well after the fireball has disappeared. The wave generates winds exceeding several hundred miles an hour at the epicenter of the explosion and can cause destruction for miles around.

Finally, nuclear weapons yield radiation, including highly penetrating gamma rays that remain lethal over a considerable distance. The rays from a one-megaton explosion can extend approximately two miles; at one mile from ground zero, one would need a concrete barrier four-feet thick to afford protection from them?on the unlikely assumption one could survive the blast?s other, more violent effects.

Nuclear weapons have been used in anger only twice: first at Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, and then three days later, when the Japanese still refused to capitulate, at Nagasaki. In all, the immediate death toll from the two attacks was approximately 150,000, with many more tens of thousands left gravely injured. Whatever one?s view of President Truman?s decision to employ the bomb against Japan, no one then or later would dispute that these are the most dreadful weapons ever devised.

Which is why, ever since their invention, a mainstay of American policy has been to prevent a surprise attack with them on our soil. During the cold war, one main leg of this effort was the policy of deterrence, aimed at convincing our principal adversary, the USSR, that a nuclear strike on the U.S. would be met by an even more devastating counterattack that would wipe the USSR from the map. The policy worked, and now that the Soviet empire is no more, we are engaged in a largely cooperative relationship with its nuclear- and non-nuclear-armed successor states.

A second leg of our effort was, and still is, aimed at keeping nuclear weapons from falling into the wrong hands. Until relatively recently, this policy too has largely been a success. Here, technology was long on our side. So considerable were the costs and expertise required to create nuclear weapons that, in the first decades after World War II, only highly developed countries?the USSR, China, England, and France (and, by the late 1960?s, perhaps Israel)?succeeded in developing them on their own. But with the passage of years, the spread of civilian nuclear technology?especially nuclear power plants?and the emergence of a global cadre of nuclear engineers and physicists steadily reduced the obstacles to building such weapons. The essentials of bomb design are today widely understood, and key technologies can either be fabricated indigenously or purchased on open or black and gray markets. Only the nuclear fuel itself?plutonium or highly enriched uranium?remains exceedingly difficult to acquire, although countries with civilian nuclear-power programs can create it on their own.

The U.S. has employed a variety of diplomatic instruments to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons. The primary tool?the ?cornerstone of U.S. nuclear nonproliferation policies,? according to a ranking Bush administration official?is the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). This multilateral agreement became international law in 1970 and has by now been signed by some 187 nations?all the nations of the world save three: India, Pakistan, and Israel.*

Along with lofty-sounding provisions calling for peace, the elimination of all nuclear weapons from the planet, and a number of other general goals, the NPT includes a number of specific measures. In particular, it obligates those signatories who do not already have nuclear weapons to remain in that condition, and to accept regular inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to verify that any civilian nuclear resources are under ?safeguard? and are not being covertly diverted to military ends.

In some respects, the NPT has worked extremely well. Thanks to IAEA inspections, the U.S. government and the world community have access to a wealth of highly detailed information about the civilian nuclear programs of countries around the globe, including countries hostile to the United States. The NPT regime has also played a vital role in preserving the nuclear-free status of regional rivals like Argentina and Brazil, to name two countries that in the 1970?s and 80?s were veering into a nuclear-arms race. Perhaps the treaty?s most remarkable achievement was to have fostered the denuclearization of South Africa; as F. W. de Klerk, that country?s former president, would confess, South Africa had surreptitiously developed a small nuclear arsenal, but then dismantled and destroyed it in order to accede to the agreement in 1991.

Such accomplishments have led supporters of the NPT to insist, in the words of the Bush administration, that the ?global nuclear nonproliferation regime remains strong.? But the global nuclear nonproliferation regime is not strong. It has been in serious and growing difficulty for years, and is now virtually in tatters. The story of its decline is full of the most worrisome implications for the future course of world politics. It is also a case study in the pitfalls of relying on multilateral arms-control agreements to protect critical U.S. interests.

IN RECENT years, the NPT regime has faced serious challenge from four countries, and flunked each test. In the case of only one of them?Iraq?has the crisis been definitively resolved, but at the cost of two major wars. Other dangers remain very much upon us, and they are both terrible to contemplate and difficult to avoid.

The history of Iraq?s nuclear program exemplifies what has gone wrong. Iraq ratified the NPT in 1969 under Saddam Hussein, but the country?s signature was an act of deceit. From the outset, the Iraqi dictator was seeking to acquire nuclear weapons; by the mid-1970?s, assisted by avid European suppliers, he had an active program under way. By 1981, Iraqi scientists were on the verge of gaining access to a plentiful source of nuclear fuel from their new reactor at Osirak, a turn-key facility provided by France. Then, on June 7, 1981, Israel, fearing a nuclear-armed Saddam in its neighborhood, destroyed the facility in a precision air-strike that shocked the world.

Iraq responded to this setback by reconstituting its secret program, dispersing facilities widely and placing key technology in hardened shelters. Although the program?s existence was widely suspected, IAEA inspectors came and went without uncovering evidence that radioactive materials were either being diverted from civilian reactors or being acquired by other means. Only in 1991, in the aftermath of the first Gulf war, did the scope and scale of Iraq?s prewar efforts become evident.

Yet even in defeat, and even after having signed surrender terms pledging to disclose all information about the illicit program, Saddam Hussein?s government continued to engage in denial and deception. At first it stated flatly that it had ?no industrial and support facilities related to any form of atomic-energy use which have to be declared.? When this statement was rebutted with incontrovertible facts by the IAEA, the regime acknowledged a handful of sites but still failed to disclose the lion?s share of its activity. Only after the IAEA initiated special on-site inspections did Iraq begin to release significant information, even then omitting important details and either blocking IAEA access to key sites or hurriedly removing nuclear-related equipment from locations that inspectors were likely to visit. The full scope of the Iraqi effort become evident only when the IAEA stumbled on a trove of classified documents.

Under the noses of IAEA inspectors, those documents revealed, the Iraqis had constructed what Hans Blix, then the head of the agency, ruefully admitted was a ?vast unknown, undeclared uranium-enrichment program in the billion-dollar range,? constituting an essential part of ?an advanced nuclear-weapons development program.? Among other things, Iraq was in possession of some 400 tons of previously undisclosed radioactive materials, including six grams of clandestinely produced plutonium and more than 35 kilograms of highly enriched uranium?not yet bomb-grade material but of ?high strategic value.? Iraq had also acquired a large number of calutrons for enriching uranium; these electro-magnetic devices, used by the U.S. in constructing its first atomic bombs but subsequently abandoned in favor of more efficient means, were extremely well suited for a clandestine program like Iraq?s.

It seems that, at the time of the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990, Baghdad had been only months away from acquiring a workable nuclear device. Had Saddam Hussein been a little more patient, he could have had a nuclear-equipped military before embarking on that aggressive adventure. Standing up to him in those circumstances would have presented incalculably greater risks to Washington and its hesitant allies in Europe.

Nor, in the aftermath of the first Gulf war, did Iraq cease its activity. A great deal of information came to light in 1995 with the defection to Jordan of Hussein Kamel, Saddam Hussein?s son-in-law, who revealed a well-funded and continuing program to mount a nuclear warhead on an intermediate-range ballistic missile as well as efforts to turn highly enriched uranium into fuel for a nuclear bomb. Once again, these efforts were proceeding in the face of special IAEA and UNSCOM inspections mandated by the UN Security Council and far more intrusive than the ones for a normal country under the NPT.

What happened to Iraq?s nuclear program after the mid-decade revelations, and especially after 1998 when Saddam Hussein halted all cooperation with the UN inspectors and they withdrew from the country, is unclear. As is well known, Washington based its case for the second Gulf war in part on intelligence pointing to a continuing covert Iraqi effort to acquire nuclear weapons, including the highly controversial sixteen words in President Bush?s State of the Union Address about Iraq?s alleged effort to purchase uranium yellowcake from the African country of Niger. But in the aftermath of our victory, the search for evidence of this program has thus far come up dry. Did the Iraqi dictator order the program transferred to new and as yet undiscovered locations, or was it dismantled and destroyed? We do not yet have the answer.

IF IRAQ represents one kind of failure for the NPT, Pakistan represents another?not so much of the treaty itself as of U.S. policy. The salient fact here is that Pakistan has refused to sign the pact, and is not subject to its strictures.

The Pakistani nuclear program, like Iraq?s, is decades old. It began in earnest after the loss of East Pakistan?now Bangladesh?to India in the war of 1971, a defeat that impelled Pakistan to develop an ?Islamic bomb? (in the phrase employed at the time by prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto) to counter India?s Hindu one. The fuel for this Islamic bomb was initially to come from a reprocessing facility provided by France in 1974, although the French and other Western suppliers withdrew as Pakistani intentions became clear. In stepped the Chinese, who in the intervening decades have provided Pakistan with technicians, highly enriched uranium, key components of enrichment facilities, and a heavy-water reactor for the production of plutonium and tritium, as well as designs for a relatively sophisticated and readily deliverable 25-kiloton-yield weapon.

Lacking recourse to the machinery of the NPT, the U.S. has responded to this Pakistani program with an assortment of carrots and sticks, pledging financial and military assistance if Pakistan would desist, threatening a series of sanctions, some of them mandated by Congress, if it pressed ahead. But the sanctions have been waived at every turn, for the simple reason that Pakistan has been a pivotal player in U.S. foreign policy as a frontline state both in the Soviet-Afghan war that began in 1979 and in the war against al Qaeda and the Taliban that began in October 2001. In any case, the sanctions were unlikely to have deflected Pakistan from a strategic goal it has perceived as vital to its national existence.

Already by the mid-1990?s, Pakistan was widely believed to have obtained a small stockpile of nuclear weapons, as well as the missiles for delivering them. Its status as a nuclear power was confirmed when it conducted five underground tests on May 28, 1998. By any yardstick, this date deserves to be remembered as a watershed in international affairs, marking the first time that a certifiable basket-case of a country became an officially-declared nuclear power.

Since its birth as a nation in 1947, Pakistan?s government has been regularly toppled by military coups. A major segment of the population is in the grip of radical Islam, and some leading nuclear scientists have close ties to the most fanatical Muslims of Afghanistan and al Qaeda. The country is locked in a conflict with India over the status of Kashmir that periodically threatens to become the first nuclear flashpoint since World War II. To complete the picture, Pakistan is so desperately poor that it has been paying for its military programs by barter.

Its most important partner in this arrangement happens to be North Korea. In exchange for North Korean missiles that can carry a nuclear payload, Pakistan has provided Pyongyang with gas centrifuges, a key technology for processing uranium into bomb-grade material. The U.S. response to this illicit trade has been a mild slap on the wrist: this past April, Washington imposed a two-year ban on any American dealings with the research laboratory where Pakistan?s nuclear weapons are designed and fabricated.

IF PAKISTAN is a stick of dynamite, North Korea is a stick of dynamite with a lit fuse. The Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (DPRK), run today by the mad Communist dictator Kim Jong Il, became a signatory of the NPT in 1985. But from the outset it declined to permit the IAEA to verify its initial accounting of nuclear materials, or to monitor more than a single one of its reactors. As the charade continued in the 1990?s, the Clinton administration engaged in an intense but ultimately fruitless effort to persuade the North to abandon its nuclear ambitions, encouraging it to sign a supplementary agreement?the Yongbyon Agreed Framework, brokered by former President Jimmy Carter?that promised generous foreign aid in exchange for forbearance. North Korea grudgingly accepted the aid but, as we now know, declined to show any forbearance.?

The most dramatic chapter of this saga opened last October, when for no discernible reason Pyongyang suddenly revealed that, in violation of both the NPT and Yongbyon, it was operating an active nuclear-weapons program all along. By December it had ratcheted up the pressure, declaring the Yongbyon agreement null and void and renouncing the NPT in the bargain. On New Year?s eve, all IAEA personnel were expelled from the country. In April, Pyongyang declared that it already possessed nuclear weapons and was in the midst of manufacturing more, having reprocessed the fuel from 8,000 control rods at one of its ?civilian? reactors. In August, it announced that it might shortly commence test-firing nuclear weapons, something it has not yet openly done (although one of Pakistan?s nuclear tests may actually have been of a North Korean device).

The North Korean regime is Stalinist to the core?and then some. Thanks to a calcified, centrally-planned economy, large portions of the country suffer from famine. Amid the general destitution, Kim Jong Il has sponsored a personality cult whose symbols and slogans are ubiquitous. His subjects speak of him with the mandatory appellation ?Dear Leader? and wear a badge of his likeness on their lapels. The North Korean regime has engaged in bizarre kidnapping plots (of South Korean actors and actresses, to jump-start an indigenous film industry; of girls off beaches in Japan, to be employed as teachers of Japanese language and manners in a school for spies). Pyongyang has also engaged in terrorism. Among other violent deeds, it blew up a South Korean airliner in 1987, killing all 115 aboard.

It is this demented and venomous regime that boasts of having nuclear weapons at its disposal. According to the CIA, in addition to the one or two bombs already in its possession, the North has been ?constructing a plant that could produce enough weapons-grade uranium for two or more nuclear weapons per year when fully operational?which could be as soon as mid-decade.? According to another government study, Pyongyang has also been at work on two very large ?electrical-generating? stations that, upon completion, will produce sufficient spent nuclear fuel to yield 200 kilograms of plutonium, enough to manufacture approximately 30 nuclear weapons a year.

Compounding the peril is the fact that North Korea has been vigorously developing intermediate- and long-range missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads. It has already successfully tested intermediate-range missiles that can strike all of Japan, points far beyond in Asia and the Pacific, and?with a reduced payload?the west coast of the United States. In September, U.S. officials reported a new model in the works with a range of 9,400 miles, a capability that would place every city in the United States under its shadow.

Not only is North Korea steadily adding missiles to its own arsenal, it is exporting them to other unsavory regimes around the world. With its ample supplies of uranium and uranium-enrichment equipment, it has threatened to export nuclear materials as well. Not only does North Korea ?pose a serious and immediate challenge to the nuclear non-proliferation regime,? in the words of Mohamed ElBaradei, the current head of the IAEA; it poses an even more serious and immediate challenge to the peace and security of the world.

AMONG THE countries trading with North Korea is Iran, a country likewise governed by violent fanatics, of the Islamic rather than the Marxist-Leninist stripe. Iran joined the NPT at the treaty?s inception. It was then still under the rule of the shah, who had started an ambitious civilian-nuclear program and possibly some weapons-related research as well. But IAEA inspectors were finally invited to visit the country?s facilities only in 1992, thirteen years after the shah was deposed by the Islamic revolution. The ayatollahs appear to have calculated that, being limited to officially designated sites, the IAEA would be unable to find evidence of their secret program. If so, their calculation proved correct, for the IAEA regularly certified Iran to be in compliance with the treaty?s strictures?until it became unmistakably apparent that it had been in violation all along.

Earlier this year, in the face of detailed media reports, Iran admitted to the IAEA that it had been constructing two hitherto secret plants: one to enrich uranium and another to produce heavy water, an essential ingredient in developing plutonium. The Iranians also acknowledged having imported nearly two metric tons of uranium from China in 1991, which, in a major breach of the NPT, they stored in a facility not subject to IAEA supervision. In late August and again in late September, IAEA inspections turned up traces of uranium on equipment in supposedly non-nuclear facilities, leading the agency to conclude that an illicit enrichment program was under way. Commented ElBaradei: ?This worries us greatly.?

Iran is an oil-rich country. It has no need for an ambitious civilian nuclear-energy industry. The fact that it has been vigorously developing one was a red flag that the ayatollahs did not deign to conceal. To augment the menace, Iran is ?the most active state sponsor of terrorism? in the world, according to the U.S. Department of State. Tehran has carried out a series of kidnappings and assassinations in Europe. It has funded and provided training and arms to a variety of Palestinian terrorist organizations, including Hizballah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and factions within Yasir Arafat?s PLO. It was almost certainly behind the bombings in Argentina of the Israeli embassy in March 1992, killing 29, and the Jewish community center in July 1994, killing 86. It is thought to have had a hand in the June 1996 bombing of the al-Khobar barracks in Saudi Arabia that took the lives of nineteen U.S. soldiers. It has ties with al Qaeda and, in the wake of September 11, may have given shelter to some of its leading operatives. The list goes on and on.

To augment the menace even more, Iran has also been building missiles at a feverish pace. In July it successfully tested the Shehab-3 (a variant of the No Dong missile first provided to it by North Korea), with a range of 930 miles and capable of carrying a small nuclear warhead. Iranian engineers are similarly moving forward with the Shehab-4 and Shehab-5, with ranges of 1,240 and 3,100 miles respectively. Brigadier General Safavi, who heads Iran?s Revolutionary Guard Corps, declared not long ago that ?Iranian missiles can cause irreparable damage to either Israel or the United States.? This is partly bluster. Israel indeed lies within range of Iranian missiles. The United States does not?not yet.

PERHAPS BECAUSE the attention of our policymakers has been diverted elsewhere, perhaps because our military resources are stretched thin in Afghanistan and Iraq, perhaps because the options are all so unattractive, perhaps because the issues are so dire, the twin challenge presented by North Korea and Iran has met with an even more muted American response than has the challenge posed by Pakistan.

In Asia, the U.S. has been engaged in desultory six-way talks with North Korea and its neighbors. The idea is to bring pressure to bear on Pyongyang, especially from China and Russia, while also holding out the prospect of still more aid if North Korea dismantles its program in a verifiable way. It would be something of a miracle if the talks were to succeed; this approach has been tried in the past and failed.

Under the Yongbyon framework, the Clinton administration plied North Korea with huge shipments of oil. It also promised two proliferation-resistant light-water nuclear reactors if Pyongyang would only promise to stop developing the bomb. In a magnanimous gesture during Clinton?s final year in office, Madeleine Albright became the first American cabinet member ever to visit Communist Pyongyang?following which, noting ?important progress? in talks about missile exports, the administration eased longstanding sanctions against the North under the Trading with the Enemy Act, the Defense Production Act, and the Export Administration Act. But there was no ?important progress?: North Korea did not limit its missile exports or do anything else, except, presumably, absorb a lesson or two about American credulity. In the end, one may hope that it will turn out to be an incorrect lesson; but if, today, the North Koreans make preposterous demands and feign outrage when we do not yield, at least we have some inkling why.

The American reaction to developments in Iran has been even quieter. Once again, we have attempted to work in concert with neighbors and, especially, the IAEA to pressure the ayatollahs to adhere to their obligations under the NPT or face the disapprobation of the UN Security Council. The IAEA is also seeking Iran?s signature on a supplementary protocol that would make the country more ?transparent? to inspectors. The success of these initiatives may be judged by the fact that Ayatollah Khatami, Iran?s ?moderate? president, has pledged continued fealty to the NPT even as his regime blatantly breaches its provisions. Other influential clerics, including Ayatollah Jannati, head of the Guardian Council and closely aligned with Iran?s ?hardline? supreme leader, Ayatollah Kha?menei, have urged that the government shun the ?extra humiliation? of the new protocol and follow the path of North Korea by withdrawing from the NPT altogether.

HOW NORTH KOREA and Iran will conduct themselves in the months to come is a matter of speculation. Many different behaviors are possible, ranging from delaying tactics to phony concessions to threats of aggression. But, the immediate future aside, the predicament we are in is as unmistakable as is our apparent determination to ignore or deny it.

The NPT regime is radically flawed. Three countries whose facilities have been under its safeguards have managed either to develop nuclear weapons or to come perilously close to it. This has occurred because the NPT exhibits almost all the classical problems of arms-control agreements as Washington has pursued them. Elaborate mechanisms are put in place that seem to ensure the achievement of desirable objectives. Yet, in the absence of airtight verification procedures, the only countries thereby restrained are the law-abiding ones who are not themselves a menace. In the meantime, determined cheaters like Iraq, Iran, and North Korea make use of loopholes to pursue their objectives. Though the NPT appeared to work well in its early years, when the relevant technology was more difficult to acquire, now it serves mostly as a cover for would-be proliferators, offering assurances to the world that everything is fine and encouraging Washington to slumber when it needs most to be alert.

The NPT also exhibits structural defects specific unto itself. IAEA inspectors, of whom there are only several hundred responsible for policing approximately 1,000 nuclear facilities around the world, can barely do their job as it is. They are spread even thinner by the need to devote the same amount of attention to wholly innocuous programs in countries like Canada as they do to suspicious ones in countries like Iran. At the same time, IAEA officials lack the freedom to conduct unfettered inspections of any site they choose; they can only visit sites declared (by the signatory nation) to be under the IAEA?s ?safeguard.? And even if they were granted more sweeping rights, the idea that they could find undeclared facilities on their own in a country attempting to conceal them is a delusion. Finally, a glaring loophole in the treaty exempts states from declaring a nuclear installation until 180 days before introducing radioactive material into it; this is precisely the escape mechanism that Iran has exploited to build the uranium and plutonium facilities it has only now disclosed.

In theory the NPT could be strengthened by closing its loopholes and mandating intrusive inspections of sites selected by the inspectors themselves. But the political obstacles would be formidable, and the countries of greatest concern would almost certainly demur. Even if there were universal agreement about amending the NPT, moreover, it would remain only as strong as the will of its strongest members to enforce it. Thus far, with the exception of the decisive action taken on two occasions by the United States against Iraq, that will has been absent. One should note, of course, that even here, Iraqi breaches of the NPT were not a casus belli cited by the U.S. before either Gulf war.

As for Pakistan, as a non-member state, it would of course not be directly touched by any changes to the NPT. For the moment, unlike Pyongyang and Tehran, the government of Pakistan does still seem capable of making rational choices. But if that situation were to change, and radical Islamists were to ascend to power, the prospect that Pakistani nuclear weapons might be transferred to the remnants of al Qaeda or to other Islamic terrorists would be intolerable. Both India and the United States would feel under tremendous pressure to disarm Islamabad, a step that in the logic of things would quite possibly require a nuclear first strike.

U.S. influence on the future course of Pakistani politics is quite limited. Where the U.S. might play an active role right now is in making it utterly clear to our ostensible ally that unless it ceases to export its nuclear know-how and materials to rogue states, it will be made to pay a very stiff price. Similar efforts might also be made to rein in or punish other exporters of nuclear material, including not only Pakistan and North Korea but also Russia, China, and France.

THE RADICAL insufficiency of the NPT confirms once again the wisdom of deploying a missile-defense shield. This project, widely ridiculed when it was first proposed by Ronald Reagan in the 1980?s, has become an urgent national imperative. The U.S. needs a strategic system to defend its own skies, and portable ship- or air-borne theater systems to defend its allies.

But even if we could deploy an impermeable missile shield tomorrow (and no missile shield is likely to be impermeable), there are other ways than missiles to deliver nuclear weapons. Such weapons can be packed into shipping containers and brought into American ports, or smuggled across our borders wrapped inside, say, a bale of marijuana. Countering this particular facet of the threat defensively is virtually impossible?a fact that points toward yet another urgent imperative.

In the National Security Strategy he unveiled at West Point in June 2002, President Bush enunciated a doctrine of preemption. Certain kinds of international challenges, he said, must be forcibly answered before the evidence of danger is presented to us in the shape of a mushroom cloud. The United States, Bush declared,

can no longer solely rely on a reactive posture as we have in the past. The inability to deter a potential attacker, the immediacy of today?s threats, and the magnitude of the potential harm that could be caused by our adversaries? choice of weapons, do not permit that option. We cannot let our enemies strike first.
This was precisely Israel?s thinking when it destroyed Iraq?s reactor at Osirak in 1981. At the time, Israel?s action was condemned by all the countries of the world, including the United States. In its unanimous resolution, the UN Security Council asserted that Iraq was a member in good standing of the NPT, had ?accepted [IAEA] safeguards on its nuclear activities, and . . . these safeguards have been satisfactorily applied to date.? It went on to denounce Israel?s raid as a ?danger to international peace.?

We can now see things as they are?that is, just as the government of Israel saw them in 1981. In the aftermath of September 11, fanatical anti-American regimes like those ruling Iran and North Korea cannot be permitted to obtain weapons that can be easily hidden and used without warning to destroy entire cities in an instant. If peaceful means of persuasion have been exhausted, it is incumbent on us to consider, coolly, other means.

Unfortunately, military action is not likely to be as simple as it was for Israel at Osirak?not that that operation was in the least simple. Rehearsed for months by the Israeli air force, it required up-to-date intelligence, superb airmanship, and total surprise to succeed. It also had to be done within a narrow window of time, before the reactor went critical; otherwise, there was a real possibility of radiological contamination over a large area.

In both North Korea and Iran, the radioactive elements are already in place and hence some level of contamination would be likely in a preemptive strike. There are other major difficulties as well. Although Iran is without question the easier country to hit, the locations of its nuclear facilities being well-known and within range of American warships and bases, the sites there are nevertheless widely dispersed, guarded by air-defense systems, and in some cases built underground and protected by heavy layers of reinforced concrete. A successful strike would need to be broad-based and sustained and include very heavy bunker-busting weapons.

As for Iran?s ability to retaliate, that is limited but not insignificant. Though it has attempted to modernize its forces in the aftermath of its war with Iraq, the pace has been slowed by a general shortage of cash. That shortage, indeed, is one reason Tehran has confined itself to a narrow buildup, focusing on the acquisition of unconventional weapons?not only nuclear but also chemical and biological?and the shells and missiles to deliver them. It has also invested in its navy, with the idea of being able to choke off Western supplies of oil by obstructing the Persian Gulf. Its final point of leverage lies in its command of terrorist forces like Hizballah in Lebanon and elsewhere, which in a crisis could be used to divert Western arms.

In a worst case, a preemptive strike against Iran might lead to a medium-sized conflagration involving unconventional weapons. Nevertheless, given Iran?s overwhelming weakness, this contest would be one in which the U.S. and its allies would rapidly prevail. That in itself holds out a faint ray of hope?namely, that the very threat of a preemptive strike, especially if it is preceded by a visible military buildup and an ultimatum, might possibly persuade the ayatollahs to stand down and relinquish their nuclear ambitions.

North Korea is a much trickier problem. Some facilities are buried deep inside mountains and cannot be readily attacked and destroyed from the air. Others we may not know about at all. The regime itself is highly secretive, and unless the U.S. had reliable and timely intelligence about the whereabouts of Kim Jong Il and his top lieutenants, exceptional luck would be required to decapitate it by means of a conventional blow. Even if we did get lucky, there would still be the possibility of a North Korean response.

Not only does the North appear to have deliverable nuclear weapons, it also has one of the world?s largest armies, comprising 1.2 million soldiers, some 70 percent of whom are positioned in and around the 12,000 underground bunkers near the demilitarized zone (DMZ) that separates the two Koreas. These forces are armed with approximately 10,000 artillery pieces and over 800 missiles capable of reaching South Korea and some of its neighbors. In addition, they are equipped with 2,500 multiple-rocket launchers capable of firing (by a conservative estimate) 500,000 shells an hour to a range of 33 miles. The city of Seoul, situated 24 miles from the DMZ and with a population of more than ten million, could be devastated within hours.

That is the bad news. The better news is that North Korea is not ten or even six feet tall. Its military equipment consists of aging Soviet and Chinese stocks that qualitatively are vastly inferior to both the U.S. and South Korean militaries. Its army is large to the point of bloat; significant numbers of conscripts are engaged in forced-labor projects that have little or no military significance. The populace from which these troops are drawn is hungry and downtrodden, and many soldiers are undoubtedly hungry as well. It is an open question whether, if push came to war, North Korea?s military would disintegrate on its own, and with it the Communist regime.

IN THE final analysis, we cannot know with any certainty how such preemptive actions would play out. We can be certain only of this: as the danger looms closer, the divas of peace at any price will begin their predictable serenades. It is ?vital,? says Jimmy Carter, ?that some accommodation? be reached with Pyongyang, a regime that ?feels increasingly threatened by being branded an ?axis of evil? member.? The New York Times, for its part, editorializes that ?diplomacy is the only acceptable alternative,? just as it editorialized back in 1995 when, lauding the ?accommodation? with North Korea achieved by the same Jimmy Carter, it urged the Clinton administration to strike a similar ?bargain? with the ayatollahs in Tehran.

Curiously enough, even the notoriously cautious Clintonites may, at the time, have had doubts about the efficacy of this course of inaction where North Korea was concerned. In fact, if a recent article by then-Secretary of Defense William B. Perry and Assistant Secretary of Defense Ashton J. Carter is to be believed, the administration seriously weighed a preemptive attack on the North?s weapons-producing site at Yongbyon. The Clinton team, Perry and Carter write,

readied a detailed plan to attack the Yongbyon facility with precision-guided bombs. We were highly confident that it could be destroyed without causing a meltdown that would release radioactivity into the air. The plutonium would be entombed, and the special buildings nearby designed to reprocess the reactor fuel into bomb material would also be leveled.
To be sure, there was the worry of a ?spasmodic? North Korean response that would cost the lives of thousands of U.S. troops, tens of thousands of South Korean troops, and an untold number of civilians. Nevertheless, Perry and Carter conclude, ?we believed that the nuclear program on which North Korea was embarked was even more dangerous, and [we] were prepared to risk a war to stop it.? Indeed, it was only when Jimmy Carter stepped in to ?solve? the problem through his brand of personal diplomacy that the plan for preemptive war was dropped.**

Needless to say, the North Korean problem was not solved and a crucial decade has been lost. Today, while our forces are engaged in a major open-ended operation in Iraq, a minor open-ended operation in Afghanistan, and a global war against al Qaeda, we are quietly sliding into the gravest crisis of this kind since Nikita Khrushchev placed nuclear-tipped missiles in Cuba. Two crazy states?both charter members of what President Bush has rightly called the ?axis of evil,? both openly flouting an international treaty to which they are party, both perpetrators of acts of international terrorism, both animated by a blistering hatred for America and the West?are bent on acquiring weapons of unthinkable destructive power. The CIA, as it admits in its own statements, does not know what it needs to know about either country, except that North Korea almost certainly possesses two or more fully operational bombs and could have as many as ten within months, while Iran is at most several years away from acquiring the bomb unless it purchases one or more tomorrow or next week or next month from Pyongyang.

Whatever the constraints on our resources, the challenge is unmistakable and cannot be dodged. The price of action is likely to be high, very high; the price of inaction is likely to be much higher. Courtesy of Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda, we have already had to relearn the lesson of Pearl Harbor in a second and more terrible form. In the age of terrorism and nuclear weapons, we cannot afford to relearn it a third time and a fourth.

* The Washington Post, October 20, 2002. Perry and Carter may be engaged here in historical revisionism, designed to make timorousness look like toughness. In open testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 1995, Perry stated flatly that he and his advisers only considered destroying North Korea?s nuclear installations but did not advocate this to the President. Instead, they recommended the imposition of sanctions, plus a military build-up in case the sanctions provoked a North Korean first strike.


Gaddafi says Libya came close to building bomb

Monday, July 24, 2006; 3:05 PM

TRIPOLI (Reuters) - Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, whose country abandoned weapons of mass destruction programs in 2003, said that at one stage Libya had come close to building a nuclear bomb, the Libyan news agency reported on Monday.

It was the first time any Libyan official has confirmed that the north African country of more than five million had been trying to build a nuclear bomb.

"It is true that Libya came close to building a nuclear bomb. This is no longer a secret ... as everything was laid bare by the International Atomic (Energy) Agency for everyone to see," the agency quoted Gaddafi as saying on Sunday in a speech to Libyan engineers.

"The programs and equipment (to build a nuclear bomb) are known," he added.

Gaddafi, who was speaking mainly about the need for economic self-reliance, referred to Libya's efforts to gain the bomb as one of several examples of Libyans being successful in challenging endeavors. He gave no further details.

The main point of Gaddafi's speech was to say that he wanted to limit the role of foreigners in the economy to ensure as much of the country's wealth as possible stayed at home.

In December 2003 Libya said it was abandoning its weapons of mass destruction programs and would allow in international weapons inspectors.

The move was the most startling of several by Libya that helped the OPEC oil producer repair relations with the West after decades of estrangement.

The U.S. government said in May that it would restore formal ties with Tripoli and take Libya off the list of countries deemed state sponsors of terrorism.

Gaddafi, elaborating on a long-standing explanation for his abandonment of confrontation with the West, said the time for spending large amounts of money on supporting political movements overseas was now over.

Although the support was a "must" at the time, it was clear that the effort had used up large amounts of resources.

"All revolutionaries used to come to the (Libyan) revolution for help. Revolutionaries in Latin America, Africa and Asia, sought our help, even the IRA (Irish Republican Army)," he said.

"I put a stop to this because we spent a great deal of money on the military side, not only in terms of construction."

He said Libya had taken part in a "battle" for Arab nationalism, but this era was now over.

"There were hopes and aspirations to have a strong nationalist entity of which we would be a part, expanding from Iraq to Morocco, for example. This no longer valid," he said. "Arabs would be one nation ... Unfortunately this has failed and that era ended and a new era began."

"We have to learn lessons."


Pakistan nuclear expansion raises US concerns By Carol Giacomo and Andrea Shalal-Esa
Mon Jul 24, 6:31 PM ET

Pakistan is building a new nuclear reactor that could produce enough plutonium for 40 to 50 nuclear weapons a year in what would be a major expansion of its nuclear program and could prompt an intensified arms race in South Asia, a report said Monday.

But U.S. officials and congressional aides, who confirmed the Pakistani plan, said it was unlikely to derail a nuclear cooperation accord with India or the sale of U.S.-made F-16 jets to Islamabad.

News of the planned new Pakistani facility was confirmed as the U.S. Congress faced targets for action this week on both an Indian cooperation accord and the F-16s deal.

"We have been aware of these plans, and we discourage any use of that facility for military purposes such as weapons development," White House spokesman Tony Snow told reporters.

He said the administration "discourage(s) expansion and modernization of nuclear weapons programs, both of India and Pakistan," nuclear rivals who refused to sign the nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty.

While U.S. officials knew about the reactor project, congressional aides said Congress was largely unaware until a report in the Washington Post on Monday citing an analysis of satellite photos and other data by the Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security.

The analysis concluded Pakistan was building a second larger heavy water reactor at its Khushab complex that could produce enough plutonium for 40 to 50 nuclear weapons a year.

Construction apparently began sometime after March 2000. But the analysis said Pakistan did not appear to be hastening completion, possibly due to shortages of reactor components or weapons production infrastructure.

The administration preferred to keep the project quiet because public disclosure "probably will aggravate concerns in India" as well as on Capitol Hill, one U.S. official said.

Congress this week faces a deadline for acting if it wants to block administration plans to sell Pakistan up to 36 F-16C/D Block 50/52 Falcon fighters built by Lockheed Martin Corp. in a deal potentially worth up to $5 billion.

Some lawmakers are concerned about Pakistan's past nuclear proliferation record and fear the warplane technology could be leaked to China, Pakistan's close ally.

Congress could block the sale by enacting a resolution of disapproval in both houses within 30 days of the June 28 notification date, but such action is rare.

But to survive a presidential veto, the legislation would have to pass both houses with a two-thirds majority.

"The reality that it's very difficult to pass a resolution of disapproval," said Rachel Stohl of the Center for Defense Information.

Added a congressional aide: "There should be no effect on the sale of F-16s (because of the new reactor). So far there seem to be no major obstacles to the sale.

The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday is to take the first of two key votes on the U.S.-India nuclear deal, which would permit sales of American nuclear fuel and reactors to New Delhi for the first time in 30 years. U.S. officials and congressional aides expect the deal to be approved.

However, Democratic Rep. Edward Markey (news, bio, voting record), an administration critic, said: "The nuclear arms race in South Asia is about to ignite, and ... the Bush Administration is throwing fuel on the fire. If either India or Pakistan starts increasing its nuclear arsenal, the other side will respond in kind; and the Bush Administration's proposed nuclear deal with India is making that much more likely."

He and other lawmakers accused the State Department of withholding until after the vote an embarrassing report which will show Indian entities have sold or received weapons of mass destruction technology from Iran or Syria. A department spokesman said the report would be out "shortly."

(additional reporting by Steve Holland))


  Posted July 28, 2006 06:39 AM July 28, 2006 06:39 AM

Pak has between 25 and 50 N-weapons: Report

Press Trust of India

New York, July 27, 2006|14:23 IST

Pakistan currently has between 25 and 50 nuclear weapons, mostly relatively simple uranium arms with "modest" yields around the size of the bombs that destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki, a journal claimed on Thursday.
The Nature magazine's claim followed media reports that satellite photos of Pakistan's Khushab nuclear site have shown what appears to be a partially completed heavy-water reactor capable of a 20-fold increase from its current nuclear capabilities.

Quoting Director of, a non-profit group that specialises in image analysis John Pike, Nature says if the new facility is what it seems to be, it would allow Pakistan to build a lot more bombs.

The reactor is "gigantic" and would allow Pakistan to increase its total number of weapons tenfold, he says. Plutonium can be used to construct smaller and more lightweight weapons than uranium.

Most uranium bombs require 15 to 20 kilograms of material, but plutonium weapons can be built with as little as 5 kilograms. That makes it easier to fit plutonium warheads on missiles.

In addition, small plutonium bombs are often used to trigger larger hydrogen weapons.

So the technology, says Pike, is an important step towards developing those bombs, which are thousands of times more powerful than uranium and plutonium weapons.
29844  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Lebanon on: July 28, 2006, 07:12:59 PM

July 28, 2006 -- YESTERDAY, Israel's government overruled its generals and refused to expand the ground war in southern Lebanon. Given the difficulties encountered and the casualties suffered, the decision is understandable. And wrong.

In the War on Terror - combating Hezbollah's definitely part of it - you have to finish what you start. You can't permit the perception that the terrorists won. But that's where the current round of fighting is headed.

For the Israelis, the town of Bint Jbeil is an embarrassment, an objective that proved unexpectedly hard to take. But the town's a tactical issue to the Israeli Defense Force, not a strategic one.

For Hezbollah, it's Stalingrad, where the Red Army stopped the Germans. And that's how terrorist propagandists will mythologize it.

Considering only the military facts, the IDF's view is correct. But the Middle East has little use for facts. Perception is what counts. To the Arab masses, Hezbollah's resistance appears heroic, triumphant - and inspiring. We don't have to like it, but it's true.

So why is defeating Hezbollah such a challenge? Israel smashed one Arab military coalition after another, from 1948 through 1973. Arabs didn't seem to make good soldiers.

Now we see Arabs fighting tenaciously and effectively. What happened?

The answer's straightforward: Different cultures fight for different things. Arabs might jump up and down, wailing, "We will die for you Saddam!" But, in the clinch, they don't - they surrender. Conventional Arab armies fight badly because their conscripts and even the officers feel little loyalty to the states they serve - and even less to self-anointed national leaders.

But Arabs will fight to the bitter end for their religion, their families and the land their clan possesses. In southern Lebanon, Hezbollah exploits all three motivations. The Hezbollah guerrilla waiting to ambush an Israeli patrol believes he's fighting for his faith, his family and the earth beneath his feet. He'll kill anyone and give his own life to win.

We all need to stop making cartoon figures of such enemies. Hezbollah doesn't have tanks or jets, but it poses the toughest military problem Israel's ever faced. And Hezbollah may be the new model for Middle Eastern "armies."

The IDF's errors played into Hezbollah's hands. Initially relying on air power, the IDF ignored the basic military principles of surprise, mass and concentration of effort. Instead of aiming a shocking, concentrated blow at Hezbollah, the IDF dissipated its power by striking targets scattered throughout Lebanon - while failing to strike any of them decisively.

Even now, in the struggle for a handful of border villages, the IDF continues to commit its forces piecemeal - a lieutenant's mistake. Adding troops in increments allows the enemy to adjust to the increasing pressure - instead of being crushed by one mighty blow.

This is also an expensive fight for Israel in another way: financially. The precision weapons on which the IDF has relied so heavily - and to so little effect - cost anywhere from hundreds of thousands of dollars to seven figures per round. Israel has expended thousands of such weapons in an effort to spare its ground forces.

Theoretically, that's smart. But we don't live in a theoretical world. Such weapons are so expensive that arsenals are small. The United States already has had to replenish Israel's limited stockpiles - and our own supplies would not support a long war. In Operation Iraqi Freedom, a relatively easy win, we were running low on some specialized munitions within three weeks.

Precision weapons also rely on precision intelligence. It doesn't matter how accurate the bomb is if you can't find the target. And Israel's targeting has been poor. It even appears that Hezbollah managed to feed the IDF phony intelligence, triggering attacks on civilian targets and giving the terrorists a series of media wins.

The precision-weapons cost/benefit trade-offs aren't impressive, either. Killing a terrorist leader with a million-dollar bomb is a sound investment, but using hundreds of them to attack cheap, antiquated rocket launchers gets expensive fast.

Just as the U.S. military learned painful lessons about technology's limits in Iraq, the IDF is getting an education now: There's still no replacement for the infantryman; wars can't be won nor terrorists defeated from the air; and war is ultimately a contest of wills.

Those of us who support Israel and wish its people well have to be alarmed. Jerusalem's talking tough - while backing off in the face of Hezbollah's resistance. Israel's on-stage in a starring role right now, and it's too late to call for a re-write.

As a minimum, the IDF has to pull off a hat trick (killing Hezbollah's leader, Hassan Nasrallah, would be nice) in order to prevent the perception of a Hezbollah victory - a perception that would strengthen the forces of terror immeasurably.

If this conflict ends with rockets still falling on Haifa, Israel's enemies will celebrate Hezbollah as the star of the Terrorist Broadway (Ayman al-Zawahiri's recent rap videos were an attempt to edge into Hezbollah's limelight). Israel - and the civilized world - can't afford that.

Yes, Israel's casualties are painful and, to the IDF, unexpected. But Hezbollah isn't counting its casualties - it's concentrating on fighting. In warfare, that's the only approach that works.

Israel and its armed forces are rightfully proud of all they have achieved in the last six decades. But they shouldn't be too proud to learn from their enemies: In warfare, strength of will is the greatest virtue.

Ralph Peters' new book is "Never Quit the Fight."
29845  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WW3 on: July 28, 2006, 05:55:30 PM
The Missiles of 27 Rajab
By Lt. Col. Gordon Cucullu | July 28, 2006

This year, we are told, the Muslim commemorations associated with their calendar date 27 Rajab will occur on August 22. On this a most celebratory date in the Islamic calendar, best-selling author and Islamic scholar Robert Spencer reminds that the Prophet Muhammed made his ascension into heaven from the Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, an event known as the Miraj. ?[T]he Night Journey has become firmly embedded in the Islamic consciousness,? Spencer notes, ?such that Muslims today celebrate it as one of the central events of Muhammad?s life.? And now, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has selected that as an auspicious date to create a light over the skies of Jerusalem such as the world has never seen since the Miraj.

If as the president of the Reform Party in Syria, Farid Ghadry claims, ?Ahmadinejad is planning an illumination of the night sky over Jerusalem to rival the one that greeted the Prophet of Islam on his journey,? then it is difficult to imagine anything other than a full-scale Iranian nuclear attack. As Spencer continues, ?a nuclear attack on Jerusalem or even an all-out conventional assault against Israel by Iran would be consistent with Ahmadinejad?s oft-repeated denials of Israel?s right to exist and recent predictions that its demise was at hand.? These observations are the latest from a growing list of ominous portents from Iranian and Syrian leaders too horrific to ignore.

Assuming the worst case ? a default mental mode for military planners ? what ought we to expect to happen the next several weeks? A possible scenario can be constructed based on events of recent weeks and months, although the groundwork for this action has taken years to develop. Let us try to outline what Ahmadinejad and his surrogates in Syria and inside Hezbollah might have on their minds.

To begin we review what we know for certain: 1) Iran has been focused on acquisition of nuclear weapons, working for years with the AQ Khan group and North Korea; 2) Iran has for all intents and purposes declared war on Israel and America (though the U.S. has not understood Iran?s commitment), outlining its war policy as one of utter extermination; 3) Iran has worked unceasingly with North Korean scientists and engineers to improve missile technology, resulting in several models of varying ranges and payloads, and with highly improved mobility over SCUDs; 4) Iran has used surrogate movements and states to support clandestinely attacks on Israel and America (the latter inside Iraq); 5) Iran has positioned large numbers of technologically advanced weapons and the troops from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard to assist inside Lebanon and Syria.

We have confirmed that Iran was a sponsor and participant in North Korea?s early July 2006 missile tests, and have shown rather convincingly that the real testing was the ability to deploy rapidly missile units, each capable of firing several weapons independently. The capstone of the test was that multiple missiles fired on schedule, each simulating many, and that the tests were frighteningly successful. Equally important was that the public misunderstood the real purpose of the tests and vastly underestimated the value derived from them.

If we were investigating this as a possible murder case we?d look for motive, weapon, and opportunity. Motive is easy. Ahmadinejad want to wipe Israel and America off the map. How do we know? Because he told us, repeatedly, in great detail, and with utmost sincerity. Weapons? We are looking at a slate of which we?re told intelligence analysts were unaware. While this is doubtful, it may be factual that analysts were cautious about numbers of missiles and rockets deployed and the willingness of the Hezbollah enemy to employ them. Those doubts ought to be resolved as hundreds of rockets rain down on Israel and increasingly capable weapons are discovered. Opportunity? Made to order, on order. It was an Ahmadinejad-created opportunity, a directed Hezbollah attack on Israel designed to bring in America and allies. It?s all happening, per Iranian plan, and its right there for us to see.

In a July 27 NY Sun op-ed, premier radio talk show host John Bachelor addresses the opportunity issue. The behavior of Syria, Bachelor notes ?is meant to provoke Israel and pull America directly into the fighting.? Syria, as Bachelor points out, issued an unacceptable ultimatum to the U.S. ?Knowing that America cannot agree?.Syria and its sponsor, Iran, are preparing for the next stage of the escalation.? That next stage he affirms is a ?shooting war.? To what point? This is where the weapons come into the picture.

Ahmadinejad has an apocalyptic future vision. Unlike previous nuclear opponents, Soviet Russia and China, for example, for whom a policy of mutually assured destruction was a suitable deterrent, the Iranian leader and his mullocracy lust for as much violence as possible. He openly calls for massive destruction in Israel, Europe, and America, and welcome any and all retaliation as the necessary precursor to activate the mysterious 12 Imam. The suspended-life Imam, buried beneath the Shia Mosque of the Golden Dome, Samara in Iraq, will return to this world as the Madhi, the Caliph to lead hordes of Muslims to global victory, only if preceded with sufficient violence. Ahmadinejad believes this just as certainly as Adolph Hitler believed in his Thousand Year Reich and the superiority of the Aryan race. And in a manner similar to his mentor Hitler, Ahmadinejad is willing to sacrifice his life to achieve his ultimate goal.

Consequently Iran has accelerated nuclear weapons development (or purchase) and missile technology. It has a broad array of weapons including several classes of missiles. Some like the Farj Class, as Michael Krauss and Peter Pham note in Foundation for the Defense of Democracy this July, were built ?with Chinese and North Korean assistance,? and are capable of slinging a 200 pound warhead between 25 and 45 miles. ?Israeli intelligence estimates that several hundred Fajr rockets have been delivered so far,? they say. These can go further and carry more than the generic ?Katyushas.? Ken Timmerman notes that the Fajrs carry a 110 pound warhead, but what makes them so fearsome is ?the tiny ball bearings packed inside? designed as a terror weapon to kill and maim civilians.

Additionally, the Iranians have smuggled several of the Zelzal Class into Lebanon for Hezbollah use. These are heftier weapons, also known as Shehab Class missiles, derived from the North Korean Nodong Class, built with Iranian financial backing. These can fly up to 1600 kilometers carrying a payload of almost a ton. Even with conventional loads these are formidable terror weapons. Bachelor notes that these missiles are ?on their mobile launchers, under Iranian rocket crews? parked in Syria waiting the order to attack. Once given the green light crews will ?push over the border crossings, park about 15 meters inside Lebanon, and launch on Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.?

Reinforcing the threat, Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah leader, warned that ?deeper? attacks would be forthcoming. The Israelis, Bachelor says, have accounted for more than 36 such missiles inside Lebanon. They?ve already killed some, but how may more wait across the Syrian border? Dozens? Hundreds? Using the tactics just rehearsed in North Korea suppose Syria, backed to the hilt by Iran, having provoked an Israeli or American strike which provides them sufficient excuse, then floods across the border. Many specially trained battalions with scores of Zelzals and smaller payload missiles dispersed among them will lead. It is probably that many of the weapons and units are already pre-positioned.

These Zelzal missiles if properly dispersed and simultaneously launched ? if, in other words, the tactical model developed by the Soviets, taught to the Iranians, and just practiced in front of the world in North Korea is followed ? we could expect that existing Israeli missile defense systems would be overwhelmed. Radars would pick scores, perhaps hundreds of missiles launched from a very short distance away all converging on Israeli cities. It would be impossible for upgraded Patriot or any other deployed system to get them all. The leakers would certainly penetrate. Are they going to carry conventional explosives, a serious enough threat by itself, or will these be the ones that carry the dirty warheads, the small fission devices, or the VX nerve gas? Is this the ?day or rejoicing? that Ahmadinejad threatens? Does anyone really want to wait until mid August when this attack is launched to learn?

In this scenario inaction is not appropriate. Nor is the reprehensible laundry list of appeasement initiatives drafted by State Department Arabists acceptable. The options for a diplomatic solution have already expired. State has played its hand, and sterner leadership must take charge. Both Syria and Iran must be faced squarely and confronted with the consequences of their actions before they can attack. Iran is clearly attempting to use an attack on Israel to build momentum for an overthrow of that country combined with a defeat of America in Iraq. Rather than wait defensively America must strike Iran, taking out leadership, nuclear, and missile targets. Simultaneously every Iranian revolutionary group must be supported and turned loose to foment revolution inside Iran.

Syria has to be taken out immediately. Leadership targets - regime, Hezbollah, and Iranian - must be attacked and friendly forces put into the border area for missile suppression. U.S. units watching Syria?s back door can strike and raid, thereby collapsing Syrian resistance. Israeli forces need to continue to press Hezbollah terrorists inside Lebanon to keep them off balance. It is critically important that America and Israel supported by whatever allies have the courage to assist, take the fight immediately to the perpetrators. By waiting for a first-strike we are put in a position of playing a retaliation game after we have already endured unacceptable losses in population and perception. Once America and Israel are seen as weak enough to defeat, then the international jackals will all join in for the kill. This is what our enemies hope to accomplish.

How realistic is this plan politically? Probably not very, and that is what is going to be a major setback, possibly one from which it will be extraordinarily difficult to recover. Complicating American reaction to these events is the paralyzing idea prevalent among many Americans that by solving Iraq our troubles in the region are over. This na?ve perception is clouding America?s grasp of the scope, breadth, and reality of the threat. We face a crisis of major proportions. Hesitation may be fatal.
29846  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Amateur MMA at R1 (RAW Gym) in El Segundo on: July 28, 2006, 04:41:37 PM
Starts at noon. ?For local map see
29847  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Geo Political matters on: July 28, 2006, 04:17:39 PM
Katyusha World
Surviving in the age of very short-range missiles.

Friday, July 28, 2006 12:01 a.m. EDT

Melodramatic images of war are now televised all day long. The images out of Israel this week have produced something new for war-soaked living-room audiences. One might call it Katyusha World.

The all-too-visible reality for the inhabitants of Katyusha World is that there is no defense against incoming rocket barrages other than hiding and hoping. The Hezbollah militia has decided to use unguided artillery Katyusha rockets like bullets. They fired more than 1,500 of them this week at Israeli population centers. Hezbollah is believed to possess longer-range missiles made in Syria and Iran for which Israel also has no defense. They would simply land and explode.

It was only a few weeks ago that all of us were learning how to pronounce "Taepodong," a long-range ballistic missile that North Korea periodically lobs as a "test" in the direction of the unprotected population of Japan. After this week it is getting hard to pretend that the threat of missiles is something we don't have to think about.

Up to now Israel has regarded Iran's long-range guided missiles as the primary threat of this sort, and in the 1990s developed the Arrow ballistic missile-defense system. Uri Rubin, former head of the Arrow project, told me in an interview from Israel this week that the relatively poor accuracy of the cheap Katyushas has been an argument against investing in an expensive anti-Katyusha defense system. This cost-comparison calculus was one reason Israel shelved plans to deploy Northrop Grumman's THEL system, whose lasers routinely have shot down Katyushas at the Army's White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. Speaking this week about the earlier decision, Mr. Rubin said, "You also have to compare the cost of no defense"--for lives or infrastructure.

Mr. Rubin shared with me an unpublished paper he wrote with Dan Hazanovsky on "The Emerging Threat of Very Short-Range Ballistic Missiles," or VSBMs. In times past, the world worried about huge, Soviet-style missiles. Mr. Rubin says smaller, free-flying rockets are now evolving into relatively sophisticated and accurate ballistic missiles, "thanks to the steep decline in the cost of accuracy--the falling prices of onboard inertial and satellite navigation systems, the availability of cheap, commercial grade, high-speed computing power and low-cost control systems." That is, the same dynamic that makes cheap, fast electronic products available to consumers will do the same to electronic missile weaponry.

Very short-range missiles fall outside any existing export-control regime. China is a primary seller, or proliferator, of missiles and technology. At its International Aviation and Space Exhibition two years ago, China for the first time displayed its B611 short-range missile with a range of 95 miles.
Where would one use a VSBM? Richard Speier, a former Pentagon missile specialist, says Seoul "is a sitting duck for Frog-7s," a short-range missile with a three-minute flight time that North Korea successfully test-fired in May 2005. The Straits of Taiwan comes to mind, as do various border cities in Pakistan, India or Kuwait. These small missiles can carry chemical or biological agents. Uri Rubin calls them "ideal weapons for terrorizing population centers." It generally requires state power to manage and deploy such weapons, but that power is of course a goal of radical Islam.

Israel's population, with Katyushas raining down on them by the thousands, is a metaphor for the world ahead of commoditized missile weaponry. Not thinking about how to survive in that world is foolhardy. Hezbollah's Katyusha barrage, coming so soon after North Korea's aggressive, highly publicized Taepodong test, elevates all this as a political issue.

Historically the Democratic Party has committed itself to suppressing the development of anti-missile technologies. This opposition dates to the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty of 1972. During the Cold War, when the enemy was the Soviet Union, opponents of missile defense opted for the policy known as mutual assured destruction, or MAD. Sens. Biden, Levin, Kerry and Kennedy all in recent times have spoken out against missile defense. The party's platform in 2000 opposed "an ill-conceived missile defense system that would plunge us into a new arms race." But closing off missile-defense technologies today means we default again to MAD, or a kind of MAD Jr.

This was made explicit last Jan. 19 when French President Jacques Chirac threatened a nuclear strike to deter terrorist attacks on France. "Against a regional power, our choice is not between inaction and destruction," he said. "All of our nuclear forces have been configured in this spirit." In a similar vein, it is generally believed that Japan could--and probably would if necessary--assemble several nuclear devices within 30 days. Whatever the argument in the Cold War years for protecting populations with a strategy of mutual assured destruction, it makes no sense now when negotiating partners such as Mahmoud Ahmadinejad or Kim Jong Il represent the antithesis of any known concept of good faith.

As Robert Kaplan pointed out in the Journal last week in his review of "Terrorists, Insurgents and Militias," the biggest strategic problem today isn't past notions of big-power miscalculation but new rogue regimes whose ideology means they "cannot be gratified through negotiations." Absent any in-place protection against the missiles described here, "defense" means either an Israel-type counteroffensive, nuclear retaliation or--the Democratic preference--open-ended diplomacy, cease-fires and negotiation. None of these suffice. Widely available tables showing the proliferation of missiles listed by nation boggle the mind. Put simply, in terms of post-launch, we are behind the curve.
We are heading toward two election cycles amid a world unsettled by missile threats--in the air or on the brink. To the specter of North Korea and Iran delivering WMD by long-range missiles, now add Katyusha-like strikes from very small rockets and missiles. Come 2008, we may see a Republican candidate who understands these issues running against a militarily ambivalent Democrat who has to learn them, like an unguided rocket, on the fly.

Mr. Henninger is deputy editor of The Wall Street Journal's editorial page. His column appears Fridays in the Journal and on
29848  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Lebanon on: July 28, 2006, 02:20:26 AM
Denny-- good find that!  Glad to know that the chattering classes at the UN were wide of the mark.

Here's an angle on target selection that I hadn't seen before:

Hezbollah banks under attack in Lebanon
Israel seeks to destroy group?s financial infrastructure
By Adam Ciralsky, Lisa Myers & the NBC News Investigative Unit

Updated: 11:25 a.m. MT July 25, 2006
WASHINGTON - Fifteen hundred times in the past two weeks, an Israeli jet has taken off with a load of bombs. But as NBC News has learned, the targets have not just been military.

Israeli intelligence sources tell NBC News that among the targets hit in Lebanon are as many as a dozen financial institutions ? part of a previously secret campaign to destroy Hezbollah's financial infrastructure. Some banks were demolished, others deliberately damaged but not destroyed. In one case, Israel also took out a bank manager's home.

In an exclusive interview, Israel's top counter-terror official says these attacks are a warning.

"The message is for all the Lebanese banks,? says Brig. Gen. Dani Arditi, advisor to the Israeli Prime Minister for Counterterrorism. ?Assistance to Hezbollah is direct assistance to terrorist organizations."

Among the targets: Eight offices of Hezbollah's unofficial treasury, called Beit el Mal. The Israelis claim the attacks caught Hezbollah by surprise.

"We know that they are looking for money. They are very desperate to have some cash and they don?t have [it],? Arditi says.

The Israelis say they also struck branches of two major banks ? Al Baraka and Fransabank ? which they claim help Hezbollah receive and move money around the world. A senior bank official at Al Baraka confirms one of his branches was bombed, and says several other nearby banks were hit, too. Arditi tells NBC News that a third bank ? the Middle East and Africa Bank ? also is on Israel's hit list.

All three banks deny any ties to Hezbollah.

"We have no relation to any organization like Hezbollah," says the Al Baraka official. The Fransabank General Manager tells NBC "We have no relationship with Hezbollah or any other political party anywhere. We don't have any relation and we refuse to have one." And the Administrative Manager for the Middle East and Africa Bank says someone tried to open a suspicious account with the bank, but no money was accepted and the bank employee involved has been fired.

But a fundraising appeal that aired last week on the Hezbollah-connected Al Manar television station asks that money for the Hezbollah resistance be sent a specific account at the Middle East and Africa Bank.

An Arabic speaking NBC News producer called the number listed on the television ad, and was told to go to any U.S. bank and wire the money. Our producer was advised to not tell anyone the money was meant for Hezbollah.

The Middle East Africa Bank has a relationship with the U.S. bank Wachovia. After NBC News informed Wachovia of the Hezbollah fundraising appeal, Wachovia immediately terminated the relationship.

In a statement, a Wachovia spokesman said, "Wachovia confirms that it has very stringent procedures and policies in place to monitor accounts and ensure compliance with the Patriot Act, including not conducting business with any organization identified by the U.S. government as a terrorist organization or supporting terrorism."

Later, NBC News called back the same number advertised on Al Manar and, this time, was provided with the name of a separate bank. Here's an edited transcript of that conversation:

NBC: I want to donate money to the Mujahideens [Hezbollah resistance], is this the right number?

Hezbollah Facilitator: You have to send to The Lebanese-French Bank.

NBC: Do you have the number?

Hezbollah Facilitator: There is an account number. You deposit the money and wire it to the Lebanese French Bank.

NBC: How can I know that this is accurate? I?m so worried to deposit the money, can you tell me and confirm that this money will be sent to the Mujahideen?

Hezbollah Facilitator: Yes, sure.

NBC: And where are you from? Are you from the bank or no?

Hezbollah Facilitator: No. I?m from the resistance.

NBC: How would we know? I?m so worried when I deposit the money it will reach Mujahideen.

Hezbollah Facilitator: You go to the bank and deposit the money, and they will wire it to the Lebanese French Bank. You have to go the bank. Where are you calling from?

NBC: I am from America.

Hezbollah Facilitator: You have to go to the bank ? any bank.

NBC: That for sure will reach the Mujahideen?

Hezbollah Facilitator: For sure. Do not mention resistance or anything like that. If you do, they won?t wire them.

NBC: Thank you - God be with you. Bye bye.

Hezbollah Facilitator: You are welcome. God be with you.

Tuesday, the head of the Corporate Banking Division of the Lebanese-French Bank (Banque Libano-Fran?aise) informed NBC News that it had closed the account that the Hezbollah facilitator had set up at his bank.

"With regard to the account referred to in your message, it appears that the said account belongs to an individual person and shows insignificant movements and balances. Following the information in your e-mail, our Compliance Unit has closed the said account," says Lebanese-French Bank official Maurice Iskandar.

He adds that the bank has strict anti-money-laundering policies and that the bank will not "open any account for, deal with, or transact on behalf of, any political or military organisation or their affiliated entities and/or known individuals."

The Lebanese-French Bank has a relationship with two prominent U.S. banks ? Citibank and the Bank of New York. A Bank of New York spokesman says: "We are aware of this situation and we have taken appropriate steps." A Citibank spokesman says, "Hezbollah has been designated by the U.S. government as a terrorist organization since 1995. If we received any payment from a correspondent bank that referenced Hezbollah it would be stopped and blocked."

U.S. intelligence officials confirm the Israeli bombing campaign against the banks. But how much difference can that really make?

"If they have a hard time moving money, they?ll have a hard time funding their operations,? says terrorism analyst Daniel Benjamin of the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

That means trouble paying fighters' salaries and providing services that engender support from the Lebanese people. The Israelis hope it also means more difficulty getting money from Iran.



Beirut bombshell
The assassination of a former Prime Minister may have been linked to the collapse of Lebanon's Bank al-Madina.
by Mitchell Prothero, FORTUNE Magazine
May 11, 2006: 12:00 PM EDT

(FORTUNE Magazine) - Last year, when Syrian intelligence operatives were implicated in the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, their motive seemed clear: to neutralize a political opponent of Syria's three-decade occupation of Lebanon.

But United Nations investigators and other sources have told FORTUNE there may have been an additional reason for the hit. The February 2005 car bombing in Beirut, the sources say, may have been partly intended to cover up a corruption and bank fraud scandal that siphoned hundreds of millions of dollars to top Syrian and Lebanese officials.

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Bank documents, court filings, and interviews with investigators and other sources show that some of the officials were deeply involved from the late 1990s until early 2003 in a kickback scheme that supplied them with cash, real estate, cars, and jewelry in exchange for protecting and facilitating a multibillion-dollar money-laundering operation at Lebanon's Bank al-Madina that allowed terrorist organizations, peddlers of West African "blood diamonds," Saddam Hussein, and Russian gangsters to hide income and convert hot money into legitimate bank accounts around the world.

Despite efforts to cover up the details surrounding the bank's collapse in early 2003, these sources say, the Syrian and Lebanese officials allegedly involved in the fraud feared that Hariri could return to power and reveal their role in one of the biggest illegal banking operations in the Middle East since the Bank of Credit & Commerce International scandal in the early 1990s.

"Was the scandal part of the reason Hariri was killed?" asks Marwan Hamade, Lebanon's Minister of Telecommunications and a Hariri confidant who was himself the target of a car-bomb assassination attempt. "Absolutely. It was certainly one of the cumulative reasons. If he had been reelected, Hariri would have reopened the file, which we know goes directly to [Syrian President Bashar] Assad through the [Lebanese] presidential palace in Baabda."

UN investigators looking into Hariri's death, led by German prosecutor Detlev Mehlis, became interested in the link to al-Madina on the suspicion that money stolen from the bank helped fund the plot, says a Lebanese security source who helped investigate the bank's collapse and later worked with the UN team.

After reviewing some of the banking records of suspects in both Syria and Lebanon, says the source, who asked not to be identified as he isn't authorized to talk about the matter, the UN team started looking into whether at least some of the plotters were motivated by a desire to obscure their roles in the al-Madina affair. "It goes all the way to the top people in Syria," the source says.

Mehlis's reports on the assassination make reference to financial fraud as a possible motive. "Fraud, corruption, and money laundering could have been motives for individuals to participate in the operation that ended with the assassination of Mr. Hariri," Mehlis wrote last December in his second report, referring specifically to the collapse of al-Madina.

Mehlis, who would not be interviewed, also mentioned in his report a taped conversation in which General Rustom Ghazali, Syria's top military official in Lebanon, accused Hariri of discussing Syrian corruption in a newspaper interview, apparently in violation of an agreement to remain quiet on the matter. In late April, noting UN findings, President George W. Bush ordered a freeze on assets held in the U.S. by anyone involved in the assassination, though the order did not cite names.

As part of the power struggle that ensued after Assad extended the term of Lebanese President and Syrian ally Emile Lahoud in 2004, Hariri resigned as Prime Minister with the intention of running for Parliament on an anti-Syrian platform. Hariri confidants say that, once returned to power, he planned to reopen the investigation into the bank's collapse. The case file and a trove of supporting documents were sealed in the vault of Lebanon's Central Bank in 2003 after threats by Ghazali, who appears to have made millions of dollars from the scheme himself.

The Syrian occupation of Lebanon from 1976 to 2005 has long been viewed as a geopolitical move designed to stabilize its smaller neighbor after decades of civil war and create a bargaining chip in the Arab-Israeli conflict. But over time, the occupation turned into a moneymaking operation for Syrian elites and their Lebanese allies.

"When the Syrians came to Lebanon," says Adnan Araki, a former Lebanese member of Parliament and Syrian loyalist, "they wanted the Golan Heights back and considered Lebanon and Hezbollah something to bargain with. We had to teach them how to steal."

Investigators looking into the looting at Bank al-Madina got a break in March, when Brazilian police arrested Rana Koleilat, al-Madina's former executive secretary. Koleilat, who jumped bail in Lebanon last year and eluded an international manhunt, is believed to have played a key role in the bank scandal.

She is alleged in lawsuits brought by the bank's owners to have used false withdrawals and bogus loans to enrich her family and pay off authorities. Even as al-Madina failed, she is said by investigators to have extracted millions of dollars from owner Adnan Abou Ayyash, a construction magnate who lives in Saudi Arabia, through a series of wire transfers and check exchanges. Koleilat denied the charges after her capture and said that the bank's owners had authorized all withdrawals and that Ghazali had blackmailed her into paying him for protection.

When the dust settled in the summer of 2003, after depositors were paid and assets liquidated, the Abou Ayyash family found itself about $1.5 billion poorer, a stunning turn of events for a Lebanese family that controlled a vast business empire. But as Koleilat and the Abou Ayyash brothers sued and countersued and the Central Bank grabbed whatever money was left to pay depositors, it became clear that no investigation would be forthcoming. The money was gone, and only questions remained, questions whose answers were locked away in a vault in the Central Bank.

In an interview last year, Central Bank governor Riad Salameh didn't deny reports that Ghazali had threatened him into closing the investigation. The general's family, records produced by the bank appear to show, got more than $32 million from al-Madina via transfers approved by Koleilat. But with a pro-Syrian Parliament and Justice Minister in place, then--Prime Minister Hariri was unable to force an investigation beyond the initial 2003 fraud claims.

It is only recently, a year after the departure of Syrian troops, that the bank files have been transferred to the Ministry of Justice for a proper investigation into how the money was stolen and who benefited from the bribes. Just a handful of bank documents have emerged, but they detail an impressive pattern of corruption and fraud on the part of Syrian political and security officials and their Lebanese allies.

Critical evidence of the extent of the money-laundering operation was unintentionally revealed during an investigation by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation to ensnare an arms dealer with ties to the Islamic resistance movement Hezbollah, based in Lebanon, which the U.S. and several other governments consider a terrorist organization.

In 2004, U.S. prosecutors charged Naji Antoine Abi Khalil with attempting to purchase and ship night-vision goggles and other military equipment from the U.S. to Hezbollah. Khalil's ties to al-Madina's money-laundering operations came to light when he bragged to agents and informants that he traveled the world picking up cash to be delivered to the bank on behalf of Hezbollah and Russian mobsters. According to court papers, Khalil, who has since pleaded guilty, accepted $100,000 to launder from agents as part of a sting and told them the single biggest delivery he had made to the bank was $160 million in cash.

But those amounts pale when compared to the piles of cash laundered by Iraqi officials and their partners in illegally gaming the UN's oil-for-food program. Designed for humanitarian reasons to allow Iraq to sell oil through vouchers that could be used to purchase food and medicine, the program became a hotbed of corruption that Saddam and his loyalists used to earn illegal money.

By the late 1990s proceeds flooded the Middle East as favored allies of the regime received coupons good for oil purchases at lower-than-market prices. Investigations into the program found rampant corruption on the part of UN officials, Middle Eastern government officials, and oil companies. The son of Lebanese President Lahoud was implicated, as were other prominent Lebanese and Syrian officials and businessmen. And al-Madina served as a place for them to hide the proceeds.

Several sources, including one alleged conspirator in the oil-for-food scandal, who refuses to let his name be used for legal and safety reasons, put the amount transferred and laundered through al-Madina at more than $1 billion, with a 25% commission going to Syrian officials and their Lebanese allies. The source says that among the recipients of this money were Bashar Assad's brother Maher and the head of military intelligence in Lebanon at the time, Ghazi Kanaan. (Kanaan committed suicide last October after Mehlis questioned him about the plot to kill Hariri.)

To protect this operation, Koleilat had developed a network of graft that shocked even a Lebanese society comfortable with questionable business dealings. She threw dinners where guests received Rolex watches, and she gave luxury cars to friends and officials.

The graft was so widespread that one security official described the parking lot of his office during that era as a "Mercedes dealership." Some bank records point to 155 pieces of real estate--villas, apartments, hotels, and condos--purchased or distributed by Koleilat and her brothers. The Koleilats also had five luxury yachts and as many as 194 cars and motorcycles, not including the gifts to friends, associates, and greedy officials.

Koleilat and the al-Madina plotters needed protection and sought out high-level officials who could help them, says a former employee of the Koleilat family who witnessed many of their dealings. The source, who requested anonymity because the matter is still considered dangerous to discuss in Lebanon, says one of those was Jamil Sayeed, a former director of Lebanese internal security, since arrested on suspicion of plotting Hariri's murder. (Sayeed refused to comment.)

"Rustom Ghazali would receive money, cars, jewels, and hunting trips," the source says. "People used to come and wait in the office. The big shots would get checks; the lower people, like generals and officers, would get cash. This situation went much higher than Ghazali. It was a way for Maher Assad and others to profit from Lebanon and from the Iraq factor."

Several Syrian officials mentioned in the Mehlis reports can be tied to money from al-Madina by documents supplied to FORTUNE by the bank's owners. Ghazali's three brothers were issued four ATM cards linked to a fake account with a $2,000 daily limit for withdrawals, which they made each day from December 2002 to January 2003, according to one document. One of the four cards had a total yearly cash withdrawal of $8 million.

Ghazali's brother Mohammed also received a money transfer for $1,091,000 from the bank on Jan. 20, 2003. Investigators and lawyers for the bank's owners say that during these final months, Ghazali and other top officials decided that the bank's failure was inevitable and acted quickly to drain the remaining monies. One bank employee says that he witnessed Rustom Ghazali demanding a $300,000 payment just after the bank had been put under Central Bank management, a payment approved by regulators.

Among the 155 suspicious real estate transactions flagged by investigators is the transfer of an apartment valued at $2.5 million from the Koleilat family to a friend of Maher Assad's office manager--a transfer the bank's lawyers say they believe was intended to put it under Maher Assad's control. Lebanese political and security officials say that the sealed documents show far more money and property transferred to Maher.

"The entire file on Madina is now at the Ministry of Justice, except for the key parts that implicate Maher Assad, which are still being held in the Central Bank, because people are afraid of being killed over it," says Hamade, the Telecommunications Minister. "While there is not the same level of threats, the Syrian presence remains, and judges are very cautious about this case." (Efforts to reach Maher Assad and the Ghazalis for comment through several Syrian government agencies were unsuccessful.)

Other documents show transfers or transactions made by the bank to the benefit of Lahoud's son--allegations he refused to comment on--and to Lebanese security officials, including the four generals arrested last year on suspicion of participating in the plot to kill Hariri. Current Finance Minister Jihad Azour, a friend of Hariri's, insists that only today, with Syrian troops out of the country, can Lebanon commit to a full investigation. And he believes fear of such an investigation drove some of the murderers. "The risk of reopening the file could have led to this murder," Azour says. "Al-Madina reached the biggest people in Lebanon and Syria."

Azour says Hariri wanted to pursue an investigation into al-Madina and other cases of corruption and would have gone forward, even knowing the danger. "Hariri wanted this file to reach its conclusion," Azour says. "He was concerned about the scandal's ramifications. It has a very negative impact on the status of the Lebanese banking system. And it's important that the case be treated in an extreme way to fix this perception."

From the May 15, 2006 issue
29849  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Lebanon on: July 27, 2006, 09:42:01 PM
Thursday, July 27, 2006 3:58 p.m. EDT

BB 'C' No Evil
When Hezbollah kidnapped two Israeli soldiers two weeks ago, provoking the current conflagration, the Shiite terrorist outfit apparently intended to use them as bargaining chips to demand the release of prisoners. Press reports often discuss this as if there were an equivalence between the Israeli soldiers, who committed no crimes but were simply defending their own country within its borders, and Arab terrorists. So it's worth pointing out just who the "prisoners" in Israeli hands are.

According to the BBC "the prisoner Hezbollah wants most" is Samir Qantar. On April 22, 1979, Qantar murdered 28-year-old Danny Haran and his 4-year-old daughter and caused the death of another Haran daughter, age 2. Haran's widow, Smadar Haran Kaiser, describes the crime (she transliterates the murderer's name as "Kuntar"):

It had been a peaceful Sabbath day. My husband, Danny, and I had picnicked with our little girls, Einat, 4, and Yael, 2, on the beach not far from our home in Nahariya, a city on the northern coast of Israel, about six miles south of the Lebanese border.

Around midnight, we were asleep in our apartment when four terrorists, sent by Abu Abbas from Lebanon, landed in a rubber boat on the beach two blocks away. Gunfire and exploding grenades awakened us as the terrorists burst into our building. They had already killed a police officer.

As they charged up to the floor above ours, I opened the door to our apartment. In the moment before the hall light went off, they turned and saw me. As they moved on, our neighbor from the upper floor came running down the stairs. I grabbed her and pushed her inside our apartment and slammed the door.

Outside, we could hear the men storming about. Desperately, we sought to hide. Danny helped our neighbor climb into a crawl space above our bedroom; I went in behind her with Yael in my arms. Then Danny grabbed Einat and was dashing out the front door to take refuge in an underground shelter when the terrorists came crashing into our flat.

They held Danny and Einat while they searched for me and Yael, knowing there were more people in the apartment. I will never forget the joy and the hatred in their voices as they swaggered about hunting for us, firing their guns and throwing grenades. I knew that if Yael cried out, the terrorists would toss a grenade into the crawl space and we would be killed. So I kept my hand over her mouth, hoping she could breathe. As I lay there, I remembered my mother telling me how she had hidden from the Nazis during the Holocaust. "This is just like what happened to my mother," I thought.

As police began to arrive, the terrorists took Danny and Einat down to the beach. There, according to eyewitnesses, one of them shot Danny in front of Einat so that his death would be the last sight she would ever see. Then he smashed my little girl's skull in against a rock with his rifle butt. That terrorist was Samir Kuntar.

By the time we were rescued from the crawl space, hours later, Yael, too, was dead. In trying to save all our lives, I had smothered her.

The BBC gives a rather more sanitized account of the crime: "Qantar . . . attacked a block of flats in Nahariha in 1979, killing a father and his daughter."
29850  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Help our troops/our cause: on: July 27, 2006, 09:27:54 PM
Cry Bias, and Let Slip the Blogs of War

July 26, 2006; Page B1

J.P. Borda started a Web log during his 2004 National Guard deployment in Afghanistan to keep in touch with his family. But when he got home, he decided it was the mainstream media that was out of touch with the war.

"You hear so much about what's going wrong," he says. "It gets hard to hear after a while when there's so much good going on."

Mr. Borda, a specialist, read other soldiers' blogs and found he wasn't alone. Hundreds of other troops and veterans were blogging world-wide, and many focused on a common enemy: journalists.

Military blogger J.P. Borda, center, during his 2004 National Guard deployment to Afghanistan.
The 31-year-old software analyst, who now lives in Dallas, wanted to make it easier for people to read soldiers' accounts. So he started a Web site,, to organize as many blogs as possible by country, military branch and subject matter. Today, the site links to more than 1,400 military blogs world-wide and was recently purchased for an undisclosed amount by, a Web site catering to soldiers that is owned by Monster Worldwide Inc.

Now, Mr. Borda finds himself at the center of a growing blogging movement. Military bloggers, or "milbloggers" as they call themselves, contend that they are uniquely qualified to comment on events in armed conflicts. Many milbloggers also argue that the mainstream media tends to overplay negative stories and play down positive military developments. For many of these blogs, says Mr. Borda, "the sole purpose is to counteract the media."

There have always been at least some soldiers who have wanted to go to battle against Big Media. Some in the military blamed coverage of the Vietnam War for turning American public opinion against it. What's changed? The Internet now allows frustrated soldiers and veterans to voice their opinions and be heard instantly and globally.


These are a few of the top sites on (Links open in a new window. Some content could be offensive to readers.)
? 365 and a Wakeup
? A Soldier's Perspective
? Blackfive
? Michael Yon: Online MagazineThe backlash takes many forms. Some bloggers point out what they see as inaccuracies and post lengthy critiques of current reporting. Others post their own stories. Some simply sling arrows.

Matthew Burden, an Army veteran, started his blog, "Blackfive," in December 2003 after he learned that an Army buddy, Maj. Mathew Schram, had been killed in an ambush near the Iraq-Syria border. Mr. Burden, 39, felt his friend received short shrift in media coverage and decided to blog about military stories he felt weren't getting the attention they deserved.

"Does Abu Ghraib need to be told 40 times above the fold in the New York Times when half your readers couldn't name the guy who won the Medal of Honor?" Mr. Burden says.

Michael Yon, a 42-year-old Army Special Forces veteran, is perhaps the most attention-grabbing blogger, with appearances on MSNBC and CNN. In December 2004, he embedded himself with troops in Iraq and posted dispatches online for the next several months.

Most of Mr. Yon's writings related heroic acts by American troops and Iraqis. Mr. Yon also praises some media coverage of Iraq. But in an interview, he says many reporters "haven't stayed long enough to see what's going on. Most of the reporting is not deep enough." According to Mr. Yon, Iraqis are determined to fight insurgents and embrace a new government, a storyline he says he doesn't see in mainstream news coverage.

Not all milblogs wave the flag. Some have drawn attention for posts that irk the chain of command. Jason Hartley, a National Guardsman from New Paltz, N.Y., caught flak for posting comments on his blog, "" that he said were satirical. Mr. Hartley, who served in Iraq, wrote that he loved dead civilians and wished he could shoot children. He claimed the comments were meant to highlight what he sees as the military's nonchalant attitude toward civilian casualties, but his superiors weren't amused. Mr. Hartley was eventually demoted to specialist from sergeant, and his commander, Capt. Vincent Heintz, wrote in a sworn statement that the blog "disparaged the Army in a manner unbecoming of an NCO (non-commissioned officer)."

Mr. Hartley says the military displayed "a neo-conservative, knee-jerk reaction" to his blog. "I'm a bleeding heart liberal in the guise of a soldier, and sometimes it comes out in my writing," he says.

Other milblogs are critical of the Bush Administration. An Army blogger in Iraq who calls himself "Godlesskinser," has a clock on his Web site noting how many days, hours, minutes and seconds have passed since President Bush vowed to capture Osama bin Laden.

The Pentagon, taking notice of the impact of such writings, has a committee studying military blogs over the next several months. In the field, the Army has issued formal guidance about blogging, reminding soldiers not to post information that might tip off the enemy. And U.S. Central Command officials in Florida have started contacting bloggers -- military and civilian -- when they come across posts that contain what they view as inaccurate or incomplete information. But overall, military blogs remain independent, with little organized oversight.

Military blogs receive a fraction of the hits generated by mainstream news Web sites. Mr. Burden's site, for example, receives about 210,000 unique visitors per month, he says. In comparison, Nielsen/Netratings data shows got 24 million unique visitors last month.

But milbloggers, who only began online postings in earnest within the past three years, have become increasingly energized and organized in their efforts to counteract existing media coverage. In April, bloggers convened in Washington, D.C. for the first ever milblogging convention.

The frustration of milbloggers is understandable, says Alex S. Jones, a former New York Times reporter who heads the Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard University. But he adds, "If the overall picture is one of continued violence and a significant lack of stability in many parts of Iraq, the individual shards of good news could be more of a distortion than a reflection of the truth."

When launched in October, Mr. Borda stayed up until 5 a.m. on some nights maintaining the site. He says he sleeps more now, but his wife still has to tear him away sometimes for family events with their two sons, ages 5 and three months. "It's different," Angelica Borda, 26, says of her husband's passion, but "I'm used to it now."

Mr. Borda receives an undisclosed monthly stipend to maintain the blog (he signed a nondisclosure agreement with He's currently working with to attract advertisers. The site's most notable paid advertisement so far is from a group called the Iraqi Truth Project, which has made a documentary that it says "exposes the atrocities committed by the former Iraq dictator."

In the mornings and evenings, Mr. Borda scours the Net for new blogs to add to his site and responds to emails from bloggers, fans and critics. He also interviews milbloggers and posts the transcripts in a feature called "Milblogger of the Week." Mr. Borda had collected just 50 blogs when he started Today, that number has increased nearly 30-fold, and Mr. Borda believes there are thousands more blogs out there.

Mr. Borda says he isn't able to fact-check the bloggers he publishes, or to verify their identities beyond using common sense. "I do a sanity-check of the milblog, making sure it deals primarily with a military subject matter, and I also rely on readers to let me know," he says. "That said, no matter how much research you do it's unlikely you could ever verify without a shadow of a doubt that any blogger is 100% legit."

What's the future of military blogs? Mr. Borda would like to see milbloggers get their own TV shows or have their entries printed in major newspapers. The goal, he says, is to "continually be blurring that line between the media and blogging."

Write to Mike Spector at
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