DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Grandfathers Speak Vol. 2: Sonny Umpad
on: September 25, 2006, 06:40:23 AM
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Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Lebanon
on: September 25, 2006, 06:17:53 AM
From today's NY Times:
U.N. Force Is Treading Lightly on Lebanese Soil
Lynsey Addario for The New York Times
Italian soldiers in Lebanon say that for now, they cannot even set up a checkpoint. Instead, they alert the Lebanese Army of any suspicious cars.
E-MailPrint Single Page Reprints Save
By MICHAEL SLACKMAN
Published: September 25, 2006
TIBNIN, Lebanon, Sept. 24 ? One month after a United Nations Security Council resolution ended a 34-day war between Israel and Lebanon?s Hezbollah militia, members of the international force sent to help keep the peace say their mission is defined more by what they cannot do than by what they can.
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The New York Times
United Nations officials in Tibnin say part of their job is to stay neutral.
They say they cannot set up checkpoints, search cars, homes or businesses or detain suspects. If they see a truck transporting missiles, for example, they say they can not stop it. They cannot do any of this, they say, because under their interpretation of the Security Council resolution that deployed them, they must first be authorized to take such action by the Lebanese Army.
The job of the United Nations force, and commanders in the field repeat this like a mantra, is to respect Lebanese sovereignty by supporting the Lebanese Army. They will only do what the Lebanese authorities ask.
The Security Council resolution, known as 1701, was seen at the time as the best way to halt the war, partly by giving Israel assurances that Lebanon?s southern border would be policed by a robust international force to prevent Hezbollah militants from attacking. When the resolution was approved, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, one of its principal architects, said the force?s deployment would help ?protect the Lebanese people and prevent armed groups such as Hezbollah from destabilizing the area.?
But the resolution?s diplomatic language skirted a fundamental question: what kind of policing power would be given to the international force? The resolution leaves open the possibility that the Lebanese Army would grant such policing power, but the force?s commanders say that so far, at least, that has not happened.
?There?s a lot of misunderstanding what we are doing here,? said Lt. Col. Stefano Cappellaro, an Italian commander with the San Marco Regiment.
The force, known as the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, or Unifil, now has 5,000 troops on the ground, including 1,000 from Italy, and is stepping gently as it tries to carve out a role in a country that is feeling its way through the postwar period. It is early in the United Nations mission, but officials say that their most difficult task, and one they are adamant about achieving, is not being drawn into any power struggles between the religious and political factions in Lebanon. ?We will not get involved in any domestic or regional politics,?? said Milos Strugar, senior adviser to the force.
The force is larger and better equipped than an earlier Unifil contingent, which has been on the border with Israel for years. But at the moment, the Lebanese government and the United Nations have a similar agenda in trying to win the trust of the Lebanese people and not have the force become a tool of political factions looking to incite domestic conflict. The goal is to be viewed as a peacekeeping force, not an occupier.
So while there may have been some expectation that the international force would disarm or restrain Hezbollah, or search for hidden weapons caches, the commanders on the ground say very clearly that those tasks are not their job for now. ?We will advise, help and assist the Lebanese forces,? said Col. Rosario Walter Guerrisi, commander of the San Marco Regiment, referring to the Lebanese Army.
But the challenges facing their determined neutrality are significant and often beyond their control. In Syria, for example, President Bashar al-Assad was reported in the Lebanese news media to have told a visiting Lebanese delegation that the strengthened United Nations force, with its heavy European contingent, resembled a force from NATO. In Lebanon, the United Nations force found its credibility questioned when German officials said that their country would contribute to the naval patrols off the coast of Lebanon as a means to protect Israel.
Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah, has also questioned the purpose of the expanded force.
?Thus far, I have not heard any country participating in the Unifil say that it sent its sons and soldiers to defend Lebanon and the Lebanese,? he said in a speech Friday before hundreds of thousands of his supporters. ?They are ashamed of us, brothers and sisters. They are ashamed of saying they came to defend us, but they talk about defending Israel.?
Hezbollah has so far acted in accordance with the cease-fire terms of 1701, which prohibits the deployment of weapons south of the Litani River, close to the Israeli border.
When the United Nations Security Council passed 1701, which set up the cease-fire, it outlined basic principles with few specifics. One of those principles was that militias were to be disarmed in compliance with earlier agreements and resolutions. It did not say, though, that the United Nations force would carry that out.
Hezbollah, the only militia that did not lay down its weapons after the Lebanese civil war ended, has made it clear that it is not going to surrender those weapons now. And Sheik Nasrallah made it clear that the international forces had better not even think about trying.
(Page 2 of 2)
In Israel, skepticism about the effectiveness of the enlarged United Nations force has always been high, particularly about disarming Hezbollah or enforcing the arms embargo on it. Israeli military officials have said that if they find evidence that trucks from Syria are resupplying rockets and launchers to Hezbollah, Israel will be justified in bombing those trucks. Israel also notes that Unifil is barely 5,000 troops now, just 3,000 more than the old Unifil, still a long way from the 15,000 foreseen in the U.N. resolution.
The United Nations officials here say their primary duty, and the one that carries the most long-term benefits for both sides, is to help strengthen the Lebanese Army. At the moment, officials say the first priority is to make sure that all of the Israeli Defense Forces withdraw from land occupied during the war. United Nations officials said the process should be completed by the end of the month. The process involves weekly meetings along the border to set up a schedule that allows Israel to withdraw and the United Nations forces to move in, followed by the Lebanese forces. So far 85 percent of Israel?s forces have withdrawn, the United Nations said.
The formula for ending the war was also contingent on the state?s asserting its authority in the south, primarily by dispatching 15,000 Lebanese troops to the area. The resolution called for the Lebanese Army to be supplemented by up to 15,000 foreign troops. Officials say that the ultimate size of the foreign force will be determined based on need ? and one United Nations adviser said that meant it was unlikely the number of troops would ever exceed 10,000.
But however large the force, its officers said it would never be large enough if the population began to view it as an occupying force. The United Nations first set up an international force here in 1976, and so the people of the region are accustomed to seeing foreign troops in the blue berets of the United Nations.
But the new troops have stepped into Lebanon at a particularly tense time, as Hezbollah and the American-supported government are jockeying for position and power. If the Lebanese government did decide to expand the responsibilities of the troops now, they would risk turning them into targets of attack. These forces are much better equipped than past forces, and that has people a bit nervous about their mission.
?If these troops are going to clash with the resistance, they are going to clash with the people,? said Abu Rowda Noureddin, 64, as he collected free blankets and food supplies from the Red Crescent Society. He lives in the village of Burj Qalawiyah, a community of just 1,000 year-round residents in southern Lebanon that took heavy fire from Israeli jets.
The village is about 70 miles from Beirut and a short drive from a base staffed by Italian forces. Like most residents of neighboring villages, the people were essentially ignored by their government for many years. There is one school, no high school and few jobs. Villagers said that five times since 1972 the Israeli military had invaded their village, and so even those who said they did not count themselves as Hezbollah members said they counted themselves as Hezbollah supporters.
?The people here will fight against anybody who tries with force to take Hezbollah?s weapons away,?? said Ibrahim Noureddin, another villager.
Up the hill, past houses pocked by shrapnel, the mukhtar, a kind of village administrator, was busy taking an inventory of the damage to crops and olive and fruit trees. He said that the Italian forces recently gave his community $3,000 to buy aluminum and glass to repair the school, which was damaged in an Israeli raid. ?It was a very nice gesture on the part of the Italians,? he said.
But like everyone else, he said that for the forces to remain welcome they must demonstrate they are there to protect the Lebanese from Israel ? not to police the Lebanese on behalf of Israel.
Not far away, on a busy road heading toward Beirut, Colonel Cappellaro stood beside two armored personnel carriers and 11 of his soldiers as cars sped by. He said that they were conducting a ?static point,? as opposed to a checkpoint. If they saw anything suspicious they would notify the Lebanese Army. But the Lebanese Army was a good way up the road. At this point, he said, it would be impossible for the two forces to actually staff a check point together.
?When you don?t know each other?s procedures, you can not overlap,? he said before climbing into his jeep and driving off.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: WW3
on: September 23, 2006, 09:37:58 AM
Sep 2, 2006
The knife at Pakistan's throat
By Syed Saleem Shahzad
MIRANSHAH, North Waziristan - "I can see slit throats
beneath these turbans and beards" were the words of Hajaj bin Yusuf, an
8th-century tyrant in what is now Iraq, as he witnessed a gathering of
leading religious and political figures.
A similar thought occurred to this writer as he attended
the largest ever gathering of Pakistani Taliban, tribal elders and
politicians in Miranshah, the tribal capital of North Waziristan, on
Wednesday. Fire and blood were in the air as momentous events
loomed over the Pakistani tribal areas of North and South
Waziristan, where the Taliban are in complete control.
The tribal areas bordering Afghanistan's volatile southern
and southwestern provinces are once again a focus of the "war on terror"
and are likely to soon become as significant to the United States as
The Americans are pointing directly at the two Waziristans
as the primary conduit for the suicide bombers who are currently playing
havoc with the US-NATO-led war machine in Afghanistan, and a safe haven for
enemy combatants. The US now has come up with a plan to confront the
strategic arm of the Taliban based on the Pakistani side of the border.
The anti-US forces, meanwhile, are taking countermeasures,
and the Pakistani government is trying to find a safe position for itself
between the antagonists.
Negotiations have begun to finalize new rules for dealing
with the tribal region. Last month Pakistani Vice Chief of Army Staff
General Ehsan Saleem Hayat attended the conference of the Tripartite
Commission (representing Afghanistan, Pakistan and the forces of the US and
the North Atlantic Treaty Organization) in Kabul, and General John Abizaid
of US Centcom (Central Command) has traveled to Pakistan to finalize a
Sources say the Americans are set on a plan of hot pursuit
of enemy combatants across the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, and they want a
clear demarcation of the Pakistani tribal areas that have long been volatile
and which they say should be part of the Afghanistan front in the "war on
Last month, Pakistan considered the issue and offered in
response a geographical demarcation of the border and a fence along it. In
fact the border in this region is the imaginary Durand Line, which passes
through mountains and populated areas, and is impossible to seal. The only
practical solution, as far as Washington is concerned, is hot pursuit of
enemy combatants into their refuges in Pakistan.
On Wednesday in Miranshah, hundreds of people attended a
ceremony for new madrassa graduates in what was considered the largest ever
gathering of people from the two Waziristans. The gathering was also a
manifestation of the broader current now flowing through the tribal areas -
the imminent arrival of the US military.
The ceremony was scheduled soon after negotiations started
in the two Waziristans between Pakistani authorities on one side and the
Pakistani Taliban and Jamiat-i-Ulema-i-Islam (Fazlur Rehman) on the other.
Jamiat-i-Ulama-i-Islam (JUI-F) is the political party of Pakistani
opposition leader Maulana Fazlur Rehman, and is the only party still working
in the two Waziristans. JUI-F keeps in close contact with the mujahideen who
call themselves the Pakistani Taliban.
At this meeting, the authorities, still smarting from the
rout of Islamabad's forces by the tribals in both Waziristans when the
government tried to impose its will in the region, declared that under the
status quo the government could neither withdraw its military nor prevent
US-led forces from entering the tribal areas.
The JUI-F itself is desperately looking for ways to
restrict the Pakistani Taliban's ambitions. The latter movement is clearly
intent on moving into the cities, especially those politically influenced by
the JUI-F, and becoming a major power player in the country as a whole.
The JUI-F, therefore, is forging a strategy with the
Pakistani Taliban under which the Taliban will retain de facto control of
the Waziristans while the political-cum-religious leadership, including the
JUI-F, will appear to be running the show - and, at the same time, be
shielding the Taliban from US-led forces. The Miranshah gathering was a
manifestation of this new strategy.
At the gathering, mujahideen leader Maulana Sadiq Noor and
a representative of Gul Badar (chief of the Pakistani Taliban in North
Waziristan), as well as other members of the mujahideen shura (council),
were seated on a stage while the leaders of the JUI-F delivered the
speeches. Said an organizer belonging to the student wing of the JUI-F,
"Mujahideen will not be allowed to speak; rather they will only sit on the
back benches on the stage."
The gathering presaged the future setup in the
Waziristans. The mujahideen will remain in the background and the
non-militant face of leadership, in the form of local tribal elders, the
JUI-F and religious leaders, will be visible. This will enable the Pakistani
authorities to justify their proposal to fence the Durand Line rather than
allow US-led forces a free hand in the tribal areas.
Meanwhile the "guests" - foreign anti-US fighters
including Uzbeks, Arabs and Chechens - who are living in North Waziristan
have had their own command structures dismantled and been asked to join the
central mujahideen force of commander Gul Badar, or simply to scatter into
ordinary tribal society.
Certainly, there is no overt connection between the
Lebanese Hezbollah and the Pakistani Taliban, yet the new setup in the
Waziristans clearly echoes that in Lebanon, where Hezbollah hides itself
behind many thick curtains while remaining in a position of power. It was
precisely this setup that enabled Lebanon to defend its territorial
integrity and political interests during the recent Israeli invasion.
Neither the US nor Islamabad knows the strength of the
Pakistani Taliban in the mountain fastnesses of the two Waziristans.
Pakistan has offered a general amnesty for all previously wanted people, and
military checkpoints are manned only at three or four points on the borders
of the region. The Taliban, meanwhile, call the shots everywhere.
Such was the situation until Wednesday, when the two
Waziristans embarked on a new phase in which US military campaigns seem
unavoidable. Cognizant of developments and intent on saving turbans, beards
and throats, thick curtains have been drawn.
Syed Saleem Shahzad is Asia Times Online's Pakistan bureau
(Copyright 2006 Asia Times Online Ltd. All rights
reserved. Please contact us about sales, syndication and republishing .)
Why it's not working in Afghanistan (Aug 30, '06)
The Taliban's bloody foothold in Pakistan (Feb 8, '06)
A friend comments:
I can comment on "At the same time, what if it is understood that the US can send into Pakistan tribal areas, Spec Ops soldiers and support to root out the problems? Too wild an idea? It is "rumored" among some sources in a position to know that this is exactly what has occurred." (As a sidebar: Mush thinks the US is not winning in Afghanistan, and he has chose to side with the Taliban to try and maintain his dictatorship)."
I believe this "rumor" is true. The US has wanted to do this for a long time, but Mush has opposed it for political reasons. I believe the agreement states that the Taliban have immunity only so long as they live peacefully, but no immunity against US retaliation in the instance of a quick cross border raid to Afghanistan. This is confirmed by Bush's recent comment that we will bomb Pak if OBL is there.
As to my second point, Mush does not think Bush is winning in Afghanistan. For Bush to win, the Taliban/AQ in Afghanistan have to be rendered impotent. This has clearly not happened, infact there is a resurgence of the Taliban in Afghanistan, and their sanctuary is based in Waziristan. Mush has tried very hard to control the NWFP/Balochistan/Waziristan taliban/AQ areas without any success. Apparently 80,000 Pak troops are present in that region and still could not do it. As you know some of this is disputed territory with Afghanistan and Mush would love to have full control over it (annex it). Mush sees the ground realities and knows that if he continues on the present course, he will be fighting the Taliban as well as opposition parties demanding that he relinquish his uniform. On the other hand, making peace with the Taliban is a win-win for all. Mush can concentrate on the opposition parties and let Bush do the dirty work of cleaning out the Taliban, the Taliban can choose to live freely or at war with the Americans, Bush is happy because US soldiers will now be able to enter Waziristan with impunity ("hot pursuit")..atleast this is what I am understanding of the situation...Yash
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / More on Pakistan
on: September 23, 2006, 09:36:47 AM
And one more article which suggests that the US is going into Waziristan. Note also the similarities with the Hizb strategy in Lebanon...
Sep 2, 2006 ?
?The knife at Pakistan's throat
By Syed Saleem Shahzad
MIRANSHAH, North Waziristan - "I can see slit throats beneath these turbans and beards" were the words of Hajaj bin Yusuf, an 8th-century tyrant in what is now Iraq, as he witnessed a gathering of leading religious and political figures.
A similar thought occurred to this writer as he attended the largest ever gathering of Pakistani Taliban, tribal elders and politicians in Miranshah, the tribal capital of North Waziristan, on Wednesday. Fire and blood were in the air as momentous events
loomed over the Pakistani tribal areas of North and South Waziristan, where the Taliban are in complete control.
The tribal areas bordering Afghanistan's volatile southern and southwestern provinces are once again a focus of the "war on ?terror" and are likely to soon become as significant to the United States as Afghanistan itself.
The Americans are pointing directly at the two Waziristans as the primary conduit for the suicide bombers who are currently playing havoc with the US-NATO-led war machine in Afghanistan, and a safe haven for enemy combatants. The US now has come up with a plan to confront the strategic arm of the Taliban based on the Pakistani side of the border.
The anti-US forces, meanwhile, are taking countermeasures, and the Pakistani government is trying to find a safe position for itself between the antagonists.
Negotiations have begun to finalize new rules for dealing with the tribal region. Last month Pakistani Vice Chief of Army Staff General Ehsan Saleem Hayat attended the conference of the Tripartite Commission (representing Afghanistan, Pakistan and the forces of the US and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization) in Kabul, and General John Abizaid of US Centcom (Central Command) has traveled to Pakistan to finalize a blueprint.
Sources say the Americans are set on a plan of hot pursuit of enemy combatants across the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, and they want a clear demarcation of the Pakistani tribal areas that have long been volatile and which they say should be part of the Afghanistan front in the "war on terror".
Last month, Pakistan considered the issue and offered in response a geographical demarcation of the border and a fence along it. In fact the border in this region is the imaginary Durand Line, which passes through mountains and populated areas, and is impossible to seal. The only practical solution, as far as Washington is concerned, is hot pursuit of enemy combatants into their refuges in Pakistan.
On Wednesday in Miranshah, hundreds of people attended a ceremony for new madrassa graduates in what was considered the largest ever gathering of people from the two Waziristans. The gathering was also a manifestation of the broader current now ?flowing through the tribal areas - the imminent arrival of the US military.
The ceremony was scheduled soon after negotiations started in the two Waziristans between Pakistani authorities on one side and the Pakistani Taliban and Jamiat-i-Ulema-i-Islam (Fazlur Rehman) on the other. Jamiat-i-Ulama-i-Islam (JUI-F) is the political party of Pakistani opposition leader Maulana Fazlur Rehman, and is the only party still working in the two Waziristans. JUI-F keeps in close contact with the mujahideen who call themselves the Pakistani Taliban.
At this meeting, the authorities, still smarting from the rout of Islamabad's forces by the tribals in both Waziristans when the government tried to impose its will in the region, declared that under the status quo the government could neither withdraw its military nor prevent US-led forces from entering the tribal areas.
The JUI-F itself is desperately looking for ways to restrict the Pakistani Taliban's ambitions. The latter movement is clearly intent on moving into the cities, especially those politically influenced by the JUI-F, and becoming a major power player in the country as a whole.
The JUI-F, therefore, is forging a strategy with the Pakistani Taliban under which the Taliban will retain de facto control of the Waziristans while the political-cum-religious leadership, including the JUI-F, will appear to be running the show - and, at the same time, be shielding the Taliban from US-led forces. The Miranshah gathering was a manifestation of this new strategy.
At the gathering, mujahideen leader Maulana Sadiq Noor and a representative of Gul Badar (chief of the Pakistani Taliban in North Waziristan), as well as other members of the mujahideen shura (council), were seated on a stage while the leaders of the JUI-F delivered the speeches. Said an organizer belonging to the student wing of the JUI-F, "Mujahideen will not be allowed to speak; rather they will only sit on the back benches on the stage."
The gathering presaged the future setup in the Waziristans. The mujahideen will remain in the background and the non-militant face of leadership, in the form of local tribal elders, the JUI-F and religious leaders, will be visible. This will enable the Pakistani authorities to justify their proposal to fence the Durand Line rather than allow US-led forces a free hand in the tribal areas.
Meanwhile the "guests" - foreign anti-US fighters including Uzbeks, Arabs and Chechens - who are living in North Waziristan have had their own command structures dismantled and been asked to join the central mujahideen force of commander Gul Badar, or simply to scatter into ordinary tribal society.
Certainly, there is no overt connection between the Lebanese Hezbollah and the Pakistani Taliban, yet the new setup in the Waziristans clearly echoes that in Lebanon, where Hezbollah hides itself behind many thick curtains while remaining in a position of power. It was precisely this setup that enabled Lebanon to defend its territorial integrity and political interests during the recent Israeli invasion.
Neither the US nor Islamabad knows the strength of the Pakistani Taliban in the mountain fastnesses of the two Waziristans. Pakistan has offered a general amnesty for all previously wanted people, and military checkpoints are manned only at three or four points on the borders of the region. The Taliban, meanwhile, call the shots everywhere.
Such was the situation until Wednesday, when the two Waziristans embarked on a new phase in which US military campaigns seem unavoidable. Cognizant of developments and intent on saving turbans, beards and throats, thick curtains have been drawn.
Syed Saleem Shahzad is Asia Times Online's Pakistan bureau chief.
(Copyright 2006 Asia Times Online Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact us about sales, syndication and republishing .)
From a Feb 06 article in asia times..Some ghastly pictures below...not for
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?The Taliban's bloody foothold in Pakistan
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?By Syed Saleem Shahzad
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? KARACHI - By taking control of virtually all of
Pakistan's North Waziristan tribal area on the border with Afghanistan, the
Taliban have gained a significant base from which to wage their resistance
against US-led forces in Afghanistan. At the same time, the development
solidifies the anti-US resistance groups in Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan,
which will now fight under a single strategy.
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?The Taliban recently declared the establishment of
an "Islamic state" in North Waziristan, and they now, through the brutal
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?elimination of the criminal elements who previously
held sway, in effect rule in the rugged territory.
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?As a tribal area, North Waziristan has always
enjoyed significant ?independence from Islamabad, and even on the occasions
when the Pakistani army has ventured into the area to root out foreign
fighters or Afghan resistance figures, it has received fierce opposition,
and in effect been forced to back off.
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?The Taliban and their supporters plant ?roadside
bombs on the routes used by the Pakistani paramilitary forces, and virtually
every day one or two vehicles are blown up. This measure is aimed to keep
the security forces away from the actual tribal areas of Waziristan. In
short, the writ of the Pakistani political agent (the central government's
representative) barely extends beyond Miramshah Bazaar and Wana Bazaar (the
official headquarters). Everywhere else, the Taliban are calling the shots.
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?Asia Times Online has viewed a video disc released
by the ?Taliban that illustrates their control in North Waziristan. The
footage includes their bases, where thousands of youths are present,
preparations for an attack into Afghanistan, and shots of criminals executed
at a public rally staged by the Taliban.
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?The government of Pakistan has termed the executions
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?The video opens with pictures of the headless bodies
of criminals strung up in Miramshah Bazaar, executed by the Taliban.
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?The next segment showcases the establishment of
strong bases in which thousands of turban-clad youths can be seen with guns.
Commanders scan the ranks and select a squad to launch a ?guerrilla attack
on a US base in Khost province in Afghanistan. They put on headbands with
the wording "There is no God but the one God; Mohammed is the messenger of
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?The fighters emerge from their base at night and
head for Khost. After a 30-minute battle, flames can be seen rising from
within the US base. The squad returns before dawn.
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?The video also includes the "official" announcement
of the establishment of an Islamic state in Waziristan (which includes ?the
tribal area of South Waziristan) and a declaration of the Taliban's rule in
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?This development confirms an Asia Times Online
article describing how al-Qaeda and its allies - in this case the Taliban -
would establish bases from which to coordinate and strengthen its global war
against the United States ( Al-Qaeda goes back to base, November 4, 2005).
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?This announcement of an Islamic state is interpreted
as a prelude ?to the Taliban's summer offensive, precisely at a time when
Iran's nuclear dossier will be submitted to the United Nations Security
Council, and both Europe and the US will be mounting pressure on Tehran to
abandon its nuclear program.
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?The US and Iran being at loggerheads sits very well
with al-Qaeda's plans to establish bases and a unified command system of
anti-US resistance from Iraq to Afghanistan. Iran is at present the only
missing link in this strategy.
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?Despite little love being lost between the Taliban
and Iran, al- Qaeda's Egyptian camp has retained its traditional decades-old
ties with the Iranian regime. The real ideologue of the Iranian revolution
of 1979 was Dr Ali Shariati, who was inspired by the Muslim Brotherhood's
Syed Qutub. Similarly, the Islamic Jihad of Palestine officially claims its
inspiration from the Shi'ite Iranian revolution, despite being a completely
Sunni Islamic group.
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?Al-Qaeda's link with Iran, although at a very low
level, could prove critical in the coming months. Should Iran find itself
sanctioned, or even attacked by the US, few states would dare to support
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?Al-Qaeda, however, would seize the opportunity,
asking in return that it be given its desperately needed corridor through
Iran to link Afghanistan and Pakistan with Iraq and the Arab world.
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?A silent revolution
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?The Taliban video disc, which is a mixture of Pashtu
and Urdu, maintained that criminals had been calling the shots in North
Waziristan. They routinely abducted children and sodomized them, and they
charged protection money from shopkeepers, from transport operators, and
even for marriage ceremonies. The gangs were headed by an Afghan, Hakeem
Khan Zadran. They had various sanctuaries where drugs, women and alcohol
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?The government, too, was claimed to have paid the
criminals so that they would not interfere with official business.
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?But a turning point came last December. A group of
Taliban fighters were heading to Khost to launch an operation in Afghanistan
when they were stopped by some criminals demanding money for safe passage.
The Taliban refused, and were allowed to pass. However, a few kilometers
further down the ?road the criminals fired a rocket and blew up the vehicle.
Four Taliban belonging to the Wazir tribe were killed.
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?The incident outraged local supporters of the
Taliban, who converged near Miramshah and warned people to leave their homes
if they lived near criminals. A raid was then conducted on one criminal
sanctuary. In a fierce 15-minute gun battle, several gangsters were killed,
some were seized and many fled.
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?Over the next three days, according to the video,
the Taliban smoked out numerous criminals from their hideouts all over North
Waziristan. Many were executed at mass rallies in Miramshah Bazaar.
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?The Taliban movement
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?In a similar manner, the Taliban emerged as a
reformist movement against criminals and warlords in Zabul and Kandahar in
Afghanistan about 16 years ago.
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?The Taliban have shown their muscles so powerfully
in North Waziristan that Pakistani forces have just stepped away. It has now
become a popular movement with the complete support of local tribes.
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?The Taliban have attracted thousands of foot
soldiers from all over, including Arabs, Chechens, Pakistanis, Afghans,
Uzbeks and local tribals. North Waziristan is now their "Islamic state" and
base from which to launch a summer offensive in Afghanistan.
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?According to Asia Times Online investigations, more
than 100 suicide squads have been lined up for the summer assault. These
squads have precise targets all over Afghanistan. The Taliban leadership is
also encouraged by the strong representation of Islamists in the new Afghan
parliament as potential supporters.
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?The Taliban have already disseminated warnings to
all the governors in the south and southeast of Afghanistan not to mobilize
forces in search of the Taliban - or else they will face the music in the
form of suicide attacks. (On Tuesday in the southern city of Kandahar, a
suicide bomber attacked a guard post outside the police headquarters,
killing 13 people and wounding 11.)
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?Local Taliban commanders such as Mullah Dadullah are
already in the field to sway Afghan tribes in the Pashtun heartlands of
Afghanistan to be prepared for the offensive.
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?Contacts in the Hizb-i-Islami Afghanistan - a major
resistance group - in Kabul maintain that the long absence of commander
Kashmir Khan had led many to believe that he had been arrested by US forces.
However, he recently emerged from hiding and has become the main engine of
the resistance in the Kunar Valley, where he is cultivating local tribes for
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?"If this military strategy is implemented it would
have serious consequences for the allied forces in Afghanistan, especially
at a time when they are mounting pressure on Iran," commented an
intelligence analyst. "However, the Taliban made tall claims about winter
suicide attacks, but barring a few events they failed to inflict major
losses on allied forces."
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?That was before the Taliban secured a base in North
Waziristan, though. This time around could see a very different outcome.
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?Next: The resistance route from southern to
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?Syed Saleem Shahzad is Bureau Chief, Pakistan
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: WW3
on: September 22, 2006, 11:51:58 PM
This article out of India gives what seems to be a well-informed breakdown of the dynamics of Pakistan.
The so-called land of the pure, Pakistan, on its creation in 1947 had approximately 13 percent minorities residing within an Islamic population of 76 million. In its unholy fervour to achieve physical instead of the spiritual purity, the minorities were reduced to 2.5 percent even as the country's population soared to 156 millions by the year 2000. In any society, it is the minorities that play the crucial role of moderation. Their existence is a safeguard against extreme tendencies. Pakistan lost the benefit of this natural societal instrument of balance early in its history. Once the minorities, more or less, were out of the way, Pakistan's Punjabi Sunni population which not only constituted the majority but also controlled the instruments of power in the state, turned to ? killing Shias, expelling Ahmadiyas from Islam, denying basic rights to the Balochis, depriving Sind of water resources, and suppressing populations in the Pakistan Occupied Kashmir including Northern Areas. Under the clouds of Talibanisation, this became further skewed when the women who constitute nearly half the population were denied education and practically incarcerated in their homes ? thus further impairing the societal balance. Simultaneously, Pakistan Army and the ISI persisted with their destructive spree by exporting terrorism to India, SE Asia, Central Asia, EU and America ? all in the name of religion! In the comity of nations, one can hardly find a parallel to this inherent self-destructive proclivity.
Pakistan 's Punjabi dominated army in search of the elusive purity and to perpetuate its hold on power structures encourages the majority Punjabi Sunni population in its misadventures. In pursuit of power, the bogey of threat from India was conjured. In schools children were indoctrinated to hate Indians. Therefore, the genesis of the Pakistan's present Fault Line lies in the diabolically engineered mindset that has created multiple fault lines and which have now coalesced into one deep and divisive fault line running right across the length of the country, threatening its virtual vivisection into two halves.
The first major setback to Pakistan occurred 24 years after inception when it lost 55% of its population in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) and almost half of its territory. Religion could not act as effective glue due to the insatiable avarice the Pakistan's Punjabi Army displayed in its refusal to share legitimate power with the eastern wing. Islamabad conveniently blames New Delhi for this separation but a closer scrutiny of facts reveals otherwise. Between 1947 and 1970, whenever Pakistan chose to attack India, the strategically simple option available to India could have been to annex East Pakistan, which Islamabad was never in a position to defend effectively due to the vast geographical distances and consequently the enormous military logistics involved. Nevertheless, New Delhi absorbed Pakistan's attacks and localised it to its Western front, never extending the war to the eastern theatre. With millions of refugees pouring into India in 1971, Islamabad made its position in East Pakistan untenable, and India was compelled to initiate positive action. Since occupation of territory was not the motive, Indian Army promptly withdrew after liberating Pakistan's eastern wing from the miseries and atrocities being perpetrated by the western wing on its own people.
In 1950s, Hans J. Morgenthau, the then Director of Center for the Study of American Foreign Policy at University of Chicago, in his book The New Republic had observed, "Pakistan is not a nation and hardly a state. It has no justification, ethnic origin, language, civilisation or the consciousness of those who make up its population. They have no interest in common except one: fear of Hindu domination. It is to that fear and nothing else that Pakistan poses its existence and thus for survival as an independent state." During the same period, another American scholar Keith Callard in his book Pakistan - a Political Study commented, "the force behind the establishment of Pakistan was largely the feeling of insecurity." Both these scholars missed out on some vital aspects that can be attributed to the "fear of Hindu domination" and "insecurity". First, creation of Pakistan was an Anglo-Saxon mischief to protect their vested strategic interests. Second, the land bestowed to create Pakistan was separated amicably without war. Third, the Western powers, (and China that uses Pakistan as a proxy against India) fuelled these imagined fears that only created the effect of exacerbating latter's psychological fault line. Therefore, explanations like "fear of Hindu domination" and "insecurity" and other excuses as justification are used as psywar tool to disguise Islamabad's treachery against New Delhi since 1947. Indian political right does not indulge in 'export of terrorism' or 'suicide bombers' as an instrument of foreign policy!
After the break-up of Pakistan in 1971, West Pakistan should have emerged as a more cohesive unit - geographically, politically, economically and in orientation. However 33 years hence, nearly 55% of Pakistan's area is witnessing vicious insurgencies, which if not controlled, could lead to further vivisection of the country. Most of the population in these areas i.e. Waziristan, Balochistan, NWFP, and Northern Areas (Gilgit and Baltistan) in POK has been historically difficult to control and administer. This notwithstanding, ever since Musharraf's ascension to power, these areas have slipped from peripheral disquiet to intense insurgencies. Normal governance in these areas has collapsed and is being held only by military force. These multiple fault lines as explained subsequently, if not adequately addressed can lead to internal strife and break up of Pakistan.
WAZIRISTAN (Federally Administered Tribal Areas). The population of this area is 3,138,000 that are 2% of Pakistan's total population. Socio-economic development has been totally lagging in Waziristan. The literacy rate is 17% and only 10% population has access to sanitation. With an area of 27,220 sq km, it constitutes 3% of Pakistan's total landmass. The area is inhabited by Wazirs (Pathan Tribe). The Taliban and Al-Qaeda has significant presence and influence in this area. Post 9/11, after reported death of Namangani (Head of Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan), the second-in-command Yuldeshev crossed over with surviving members of IMU into South Waziristan, where he and his Uzbek and Chechen instructors set up training camp for Jihadi terrorists. The Jihadi and Kalishkinov culture in this area is a legacy of the region's intense involvement in the war against Soviet troops in Afghanistan in the 80's. Post 9/11, consequent to jettisoning of Taliban by the Pakistan dispensation, the population in Waziristan has been subjected to ground and aerial attacks to flush-out Al-Qaeda and Taliban carders. There are 80,000 Pak Army personnel deployed in the 13 areas / agencies that make up Waziristan or FATA. The area known for its fiercely independent tribes and Islamic terrorists vehemently resent presence of the Army and its coordinated operations with US troops based in Afghanistan. The enormity of the growing strife in Waziristan can be gauged from the casualty figures. In 2005, 300 civilians and 250 troops were killed, and another 1400 were wounded; while up to March 2006, 121 civilians, 475 terrorists and 71 soldiers have been killed. Reportedly nearly 80% of pro-government tribal leaders have also been eliminated. The Pakistan government has also been using money to buy the allegiance of tribal leaders. Recently, the corps commander Lt Gen Safdar Hussain has publicly admitted to having paid Rs.32 million (US $ 5,40,000) to some tribal leaders for severing their links with Al-Qaeda and Taliban.
BALOCHISTAN. The Balochistan province constitutes 44% (347,190 sq km) of Pakistan's landmass and has a population of 6.5 million i.e. 4% of Pakistan's population. Only 70% of Baloch are in Pakistan, the reminder being in Iran and Afghanistan. The Baloch are Hanafi Sunnis and a strong group of Zikri Baloch, having a population of about 7,00,000 inhabit the Makran area, who believe in the 15th century teachings of Madhi ? an Islamic Messiah ? Nur Pak, have their own prayers and do not fast during Ramzan. Baloch nationalism has been a factor in Pakistan since its existence. The Baloch, who in general had supported the overthrow of Bhutto by Zia-ul-Haq, are up in arms against the central authority under Musharraf. In addition to 1,00,000 Para-military forces, there are nearly 23,000 Pak Army personnel deployed to quell the growing insurgency in Balochistan under the leadership of Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti (ex Provincial Governor). The Baloch have been demanding greater autonomy, more public sector jobs and higher share of revenues. The extremely inhospitable landmass of Balochistan, where subsistence is difficult, is critical for Pakistan's energy supplies, and its maritime security and trade by way of Gwadar port. Balochistan meets 45 percent of Pakistan's energy needs. The Baloch people lament that the Gwadar area has been appropriated by Generals of Pakistan Army, who in turn have sold it to Karachi and Punjabi business magnets at astronomical prices. All the 22 districts of Balochistan are currently impacted by insurgency incurring an estimated cost of Rs. 6 million every month to the Pak establishment, and also resulting in severe gas and power shortages in the country, especially in Punjab. Gas supplies from Sui, Loti and Pir Koh gas fields have been disrupted. Surface transport has been crippled. Three naval boats have so far been destroyed in Gwadar port. Railways have been compelled to operate only at night. So far, on at least a dozen occasions, railway tracks have been blown and on more than two dozens occasions gas pipelines have been targeted.
NWFP. North West Frontier Province (NWFP) with an area of 74,521 sq km and a population of approximately 24 million in addition to 3 million Afghan refugees, is a problem in perpetuity because of the Pashtuns, who straddle the Durand Line (2450 Km long Pakistan-Afghanistan border). The relations between the NWFP and the central government are increasingly becoming tenuous, as the majority of the population is averse to Pakistan's cooperation with the US against the Taliban and Al-Qaeda. The area continues to be infested with fundamentalists and the Jihadis. In fact, it is the fundamentalist Islamic parties, who call shots in the province and lend all kinds of support to the remnants of Taliban.
POK (NORTHERN AREAS). The Northern Areas comprising Gilgit and Baltistan have an area of 72,496 sq km and a population of 1.5 million, is governed directly by the Central Government in Pakistan. In fact the Northern Areas, which are actually a part of POK, but incorporated in Pakistan, are five times of the area designated as Azad Kashmir. This area, culturally and linguistically much different from other parts of Pakistan, has been subjected to state backed Sunni terrorism. The composition of the Northern Light Infantry Units is being re-engineered by the central government to make it Sunni dominant. Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK), which witnessed devastating earthquake in which more than 70,000 people lost their lives, demonstrated the administrative apathy of the Central Government in Pakistan with regard to the region. The Pakistan Army unlike the Indian Army was unable to respond to the needs of the people ? thus leaving much of the rescue and rehabilitation to 1000 NATO personnel and fundamentalist organisations like JuD.
PUNJAB & SIND . The situation in the heartland of Pakistan i.e. Punjab and Sind is rapidly deteriorating, given the proliferation of Islamic fundamentalist ideology and their mushrooming activities. Organisations like Jamat-ud-Dawa (JuD), the parent organisation of Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) is fast occupying the political space due to absence of legitimate political parties. The reach of the Islamic terrorists in Pakistan's heartland was evidenced by the car bomb attack near the US Consulate in Karachi before the recent visit of President Bush to the country. The degeneration of law and order situation in the heartland can also be gauged by the fact that for security reasons, President Musharraf was asked by the US authorities not to receive President Bush at the Chaklala airport.
Predicated on the situation in Pakistan, it can be averred that more than half the country has slipped into anarchy and the remaining may also follow if Islamabad does not carryout a drastic reassessment of its nationhood and statehood. In fact, Pakistan Army is getting over- stretched owing to its commitments in internal security duties and deployment on its borders with India and Afghanistan. Internally, the anti-India catalyst that sustained Pakistan Army is no longer effective. Even on the Afghanistan border the ISAF and Karzai are fiercely determined to defeat any attempt by Islamabad's to re-export Taliban. Today the internal instability within Pakistan is fast acquiring proportions which could lead to further break up of the country ? all due to sheer myopic policies pursued by its military junta. An external power today does not need to wage a war. It can simply exploit the precarious internal situation by using its intelligence agencies to attain the same objectives by fuelling the dissent through psywar and financial means. Fortunately, Pakistan has to contend with a benign power like India, which in the first instance created the former by magnanimously donating its land. Therefore Islamabad instead of exporting hatred and destruction, should seek positive parity with India and others in terms of improving the quality of life of its citizens in an inclusive manner. Towards this Pakistan must:
Seek positive parity with India i.e. with regard to human development. Negative parity will bleed Pakistan in human and economic terms.
Realise that Pakistani statehood has remained vulnerable due to flawed nation building policies e.g. Punjabi domination that constitute 58% of the total population.
Realise that Army can be a symbol of nationhood and an instrument and not the state itself.
Realise that jihadis are a double-edged weapon and can never get Pakistan its illusive nationhood and statehood.
Realise that by attempting to engineer history, the future is rendered in jeopardy.
Realise that Pakistan has the potential to be a positive role model for other Islamic countries.
It is a well-known fact that a large number of Islamic countries are bestowed with extraordinary oil wealth that drives the world economy. If the jehad factory of Pakistan and other Islamic fundamentalist institutions had used this wealth to educate, modernise their societies and improved the quality of human resources in the early eighties, at the dawn of the 21 st century, it would have emerged as a modern, powerful and positive entity in the world arena without firing a single shot! Pakistan's establishment therefore must realise that its possible vivisection, due to its flawed policies, may deal a fatal blow to the very Islamic cause, that it purports to countenance and guide.
The writer is Editor, Indian Defence Review. The article first appeared in Indian Defence Review Vol 20(4).
?Security Research Review Volume 2(2) 2006
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Brian ''Porn Star'' Jung
on: September 21, 2006, 05:40:16 PM
Thailand: A Possible Respite in Southern Violence
Three days before the Sept. 19 military coup that ousted Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, six bombs exploded in the city of Hat Yai, in southern Thailand's Songkhla province, killing four people. Among the dead was a Canadian schoolteacher, the first Westerner known to have died as a result of the ongoing violence in Thailand's Muslim-dominated south. Although the coup has raised hopes that the country's new military leader, a Muslim, will be able to ease the level of violence in the south, only a temporary respite can be expected.
The bombs, which exploded at approximately 9:15 p.m. local time, targeted a bar, a massage parlor, a hotel and two department stores. In addition to the four deaths, about 60 other people were injured, including at least nine foreigners. Although it is a commercial center rather than a cultural or historic location, Hat Yai has a thriving tourist industry based largely on visitors from Muslim counties such as Malaysia or Indonesia who are attracted to Thailand's less-conservative culture.
Thai authorities were quick to blame the bombings on Muslim militants who have been known to attack tourist locations that provide sex and alcohol to Muslim tourists. The attacks, however, could be linked to business or organized crime. In April 2005, two improvised explosive devices detonated nearly simultaneously at the Hat Yai International Airport and a supermarket. The airport attack killed one person.
The causes of the violence in Yala, Pattani, Narathiwat and Songkhla provinces are varied and complex. In addition to ethnic strife between predominantly Muslim Malays and Buddhist Thais, there also is violent competition between rival criminal elements and corrupt security forces. Thai military leaders have been known to take their political battles to the region as well, manipulating problems in the south to gain a political edge in Bangkok.
In the days since the Royal Thai Army seized control in a bloodless coup, speculation has mounted that the country's new leaders will be able to ease the tensions in the south, thus reducing the level of violence. One of the reasons for this thinking is that Thailand's army commander and now acting Prime Minister Lt. Gen. Sonthi Boonyaratglin is a Thai Muslim who presumably will have more influence with the Muslim militants blamed for most of the violence.
Indeed, Sonthi was put in charge of the army largely because it was thought that, as a Muslim, he would be more effective in dealing with the militants than were previous commanders. Another reason for the high hopes is the belief that any government will do a better job addressing the problems than did Thaksin's. Although the bombings in Hat Yai certainly did not help Thaksin on the domestic front, they were not a significant factor in causing the coup.
Sonthi's Muslim background could give him an advantage in dealing with the south's religious strife -- especially since he favors dialogue rather than a heavy-handed military approach. However, even with Sonthi in power, a significant overall reduction in violence is unlikely. Even if he could stop the Muslim militants from attacking without having to resort to a massive army crackdown, other sources of violence would remain.
The coup has been popular in southern Thailand, where many citizens believed Thaksin's policies made the situation worse, not better. Thai officials, businesspeople and Muslim leaders are encouraged by the change in government, and believe in Sonthi's ability to deal with the problem. In the short term, violence probably will decline as criminals and corrupt officials adopt a wait-and-see attitude to gauge the new government's policy in the south. The honeymoon period, however, is likely to be short-lived. Once the criminal element figures out how to adjust to the changing policies and determines which newly appointed officials to bribe, there will be a return to business as usual.
Muslim militants, who mainly hit schools, government offices and other targets associated with Bangkok's control over the region, also could hold off on attacks to see how well Sonthi can deal with the problems affecting them. If their grievances are not addressed quickly and effectively, they could resume attacks. If Sonthi responds with a larger military presence in the region, or a more serious crackdown, they could counter with more violence. After a while, a return to nearly the same level of violence as before is quite possible.www.stratfor.com
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Spike TV, the Dog Brothers Gathering Webisodes; National Geographic
on: September 21, 2006, 05:02:34 PM
Much to report. The Spike Webisode deal appears to be moving forward nicely. I am supposed to receive a contract today or tomorrow and will then show it to my attorney. Spike is considering sending a film crew to the Bern Gathering in Europe on Oct 1 as well as the Fall Gathering here in LA on 11/19.
It also appears that National Gegraphic will be doing a one hour documentary on us, which Original Productions may bump up to a 90 minute piece for theatrical release. Most likely is that they will shoot the June 07 Gathering.
The Adventure continues,
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Invitation to dialog to Muslims
on: September 21, 2006, 02:06:43 PM
The Pope's Divisions
Benedict XVI promotes "interfaith" dialogue. Muslims and Christians need it.
BY REUEL MARC GERECHT
Thursday, September 21, 2006 12:01 a.m. EDT
Although many Muslims have apparently found Pope Benedict XVI's recent oration at the University of Regensburg deeply offensive, it is a welcome change from the pabulum that passes for "interfaith" dialogue. Since 9/11, his lecture is one of the few by a major Western figure to highlight the spiritual and cultural troubles that beset the Muslim world. Think of the awfulness that we've observed in the last years: the suicide terrorism in Europe, Asia and the Middle East, but especially the holy-warrior carnage in Iraq, where Sunni diehard believers have tirelessly slaughtered Shiite women and children. Then think of the tepid, not always condemnatory, discussions these atrocities have provoked among devout, especially fundamentalist, Muslims. We should have seen many more Westerners and Muslims posing painful questions about the well-being of Islamic culture and faith. With the exception of President Bush's remarks about "Islamofascism," which provoked dyspeptic reactions inside the U.S. government and out, the administration has generally avoided using powerful language connecting Islam to terrorism.
Let us be frank: There is absolutely nothing in the pope's speech that isn't appropriate or pertinent to a civilized discussion of revealed religions and ethics. Even if one is not a believer in any revealed faith, or has some memory of the conflict, daily cruelty and forced conversion meted out by representatives of Rome's bishops, or has some skepticism about the church's commitment to defending the liberal ideas of the Enlightenment, one can be thankful that the pope sees Christianity as a vehicle of peace and tries to explain why he thinks this is so. And by extension why Islam is so often today the loudly proclaimed faith of men who define their relationship to God through violence. Joseph Ratzinger's explanation, as befits a former professor of theology and philosophy, is an abstract one, but it is in the broadest sense undeniably true.
Popes ought to help clarify--not camouflage--the great troubling issues, as Shiite Islam's most senior ayatollahs try to illuminate the most perplexing questions that confront their followers and Muslims in general. The odds are good that few of the pope's most vociferous Muslim critics read his highly philosophical disquisition, which affirms a position on a needed harmony between reason and faith that many of Islam's great jurists and philosophers would quickly recognize. Benedict is trying to tackle many of the very same subjects that Iran's former president, Mohammad Khatami, approached in his book, "From the City World to the World City"--but with considerably more erudition and tact. Mr. Khatami's language, thought and historiography are often an intellectual mess and egregiously insulting to Christians, Jews and, most of all, Western atheists and agnostics. Yet Mr. Khatami is esteemed by many of those who scold the pope.
Is the pope wrong to imply--in a rather roundabout way--that there is today something amiss inside Islam, as a community of believers sharing one faith and a long, common cultural tradition? There probably isn't a single liberal editor at a major American or European paper who doesn't think that there is something a little dysfunctional--a disposition that tolerates, if not encourages and admires, violence as expression of religious outrage--among young Muslim males from Northern Europe to Indonesia. We might not be able to put our finger precisely on it--the problems of a radicalized British Muslim of Pakistani ancestry are not the same as a Sunni Iraqi suicide bomber who blows up Jordanian and Palestinian women and children--but we know there is something wrong within Islam's global house, something that cannot be blamed exclusively on Western prejudice, bigotry, military actions or colonialism.
Many Muslims know it too, even if they are not inclined to say so publicly--it's often dangerous and always enormously difficult for believing and nonbelieving Muslims to aggressively critique their own when they know non-Muslims are listening. Self-described Muslim intellectuals (often meaning the traditionally devout, clerics) really have a hard time engaging in self-criticism that fortifies non-Muslim critiques of Islamic society. The notion of "us" and "them" is very powerful in Islam, even though Muslims have often aligned themselves with infidels against their religious brethren. The truly hard-core, radical Muslims of the West--the most frightful of the jihadists--have much more in common temperamentally and culturally with militant European left-wingers than they do with the devout farther east, yet they ferociously separate the world into two camps like the most primitive Wahhabis of Saudi Arabia.
And self-confidence is a huge problem. Militarily triumphant in the past, traditional Muslims had an easier time being tolerant toward the minorities in their midst; they certainly were unperturbed by the theological arguments and invective put forth by practitioners of a superseded faith. As many believing Muslims have become less self-confident--and the world around them has become ever more incongruent with the imagined, pure world of early Islam, when the faithful were unceasingly victorious because they were more perfect in their submission to God's will--they have become more acutely conscious and aggressive about their Muslim identity. Clerics in London, Copenhagen, Cairo or Tehran dictating terms about the appropriate comportment of non-Muslims toward believers has naturally followed.
Pope Benedict nailed two facts about Islam that are contributing factors to the faith's very rough entry into modernity. The prophet Muhammad, the model for all Muslims, established the faith through war and conquest. His immediate successors, the Rightly Guided Caliphs, whom traditional and radical Muslims cherish, reinforced Islam's identity as a victorious faith through the rapid creation of a world empire. Christianity was also at times spread by "the sword," and its use of that sword against nonbelievers and heretics was more savage than any Muslim imperialist's. But Christianity was not born to power. Jesus is not a conqueror. The doctrine of the "two swords" always existed in Christian lands--the division of the world between church and state--and created enormous tension. It helped produce Western civic society. And the image of God in Islam, which the pope underscores by talking about the Muslim philosopher Ibn Hazm, is a cleaner expression of unlimited, almighty Will than it is in Christianity. Islam is akin to biblical Judaism in accentuating the unnuanced, transcendent awe of God. When radical Muslims take a hold of this divine fearsomeness, it can untether itself quickly from "conventional" morality, thereby allowing young men to believe that the slaughter of women and children isn't an abomination. In that sense, Muslim jihadism, like fascism, rewrites our ethical DNA, turning sin into virtue.
The pope doesn't tell us how we should proceed to counter the defects he sees in Islam. He should, since that would begin a real, painful but meaningful dialogue, which will surely cut both ways between the West and Islam. But what is most disturbing in the Western reaction to the pope's speech--and one sees the same reaction among those who are uncomfortable with President Bush's use of the term "Islamofascism"--is the often well-intentioned refusal to talk openly about the other side. No one wants to offend, so we assume a public position of liberal tolerance, hoping that good-willed, nonconfrontational dialogue, which criticizes "our" possibly offensive behavior while downplaying "theirs," will somehow lead to a more peaceful, ecumenical world.
We won't talk about the history of jihad in Islam. We would rather emphasize that jihad can mean an internal moral struggle for believers, even though the most progressive, revisionist Muslim (unless he has been completely secularized in the West) knows perfectly well that when Muslims hear the word "jihad," they proudly remember holy warriors, from the prophet Muhammad forward. We won't probe too deeply, and certainly not critically, into how the Quran and the prophet's traditions, as well as classical Islamic history, have given all believing Muslims certain common sentiments, passions and reflexes. We don't even talk about how the post-Christian West's great causes--nationalism, socialism, communism and fascism--entered Islam's bloodstream and altered Muslim ethics, often catastrophically. Many in the West, on both right and left, prefer to see Osama bin Laden's terrorism as a violent reaction to Western, particularly American, behavior. It is thus something that could be avoided. (Israel usually enters the discussion here.) We shy away from the more existential arguments that suggest that bin Laden's popularity in Islamic lands is the product of an enormous religious and philosophical distemper that derives from the world being the reverse of what God had ordained: Muslims on top, non-Muslims down below.
But we need to talk and argue about these things. We need to stop treating Muslims like children, and viewing our public diplomacy with Islamic countries as popularity contests. Given what's happened since 9/11, a dialogue of civilizations is certainly in order. To his credit, Benedict has at least tried to approach the invidious issues that will define any helpful discussion. For 200 years, the West has, for better and worse, helped create the intellectual framework within which all Muslims think. Muslim saints, like the Egyptian dissident Saad Eddin Ibrahim, or Muslim devils, like Ayatollah Khomeini, have Western ideas profoundly within them. If we withdraw from this civilizational debate, the decent men and women of the Middle East, most of whom are faithful Muslims, will have a very hard time defeating those who have brutalized and coarsened their culture and religion. Westerners are doing Muslims an enormous disservice--a lethal bigotry of low expectations--by telling the pontiff to be more diplomatic. This isn't how anti-Western Islamic theocrats, holy warriors and ordinary teachers in much of the Muslim world act. They're having a real, vibrant discussion. We should turn it into a debate.
Mr. Gerecht is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security
on: September 20, 2006, 12:22:14 PM
Study: U.S. Prisons Can't Combat Islamic Terror Recruiting
Updated: September 19th, 2006 12:14 PM EDThttp://www.officer.com/article/article.jsp?siteSection=8&id=32697
By LARA JAKES JORDAN
Associated Press Writer
Jailed Islamic extremists with violent interpretations of the Quran are taking advantage of scarce religious monitoring programs to breed terrorists in U.S. prisons, a study released Tuesday shows.
State and local prison officials struggle to track radicalized behavior by inmates or religious counselors, the joint study by George Washington University and the University of Virginia found.
Many prisons can't afford preventive programs; in California, for example, officials reported "that every investigation into radical groups in their prisons uncovers new leads, but they simply do not have enough investigators to follow every case of radicalization."
"Radicalized prisoners are a potential pool of recruits by terrorist groups," concluded the study, released at a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing on "homegrown" terrorists. "The U.S., with its large prison population, is at risk of facing the sort of homegrown terrorism currently plaguing other countries."
An estimated 2 million people are imprisoned in the United States; 6 percent of them are Muslim, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, a counterterrorism consultant, told senators that "chilling" interpretations of the Quran were given to prison inmates when he worked for the al-Haramain Islamic Foundation, an international charity that served as a major al-Qaida financier.
The readings urged Muslims "to wage war against non-Muslims who have not submitted to Islamic rule," Gartenstein-Ross said in prepared testimony to the Senate panel.
"I know of only a few instances in which prisons rejected the literature we attempted to distribute - and it was never because of the literature's radicalism," said Gartenstein-Ross, who has since left the charity and converted to Christianity.
Prisons have long been considered recruiting stations for gangs and, more recently, terrorists, but little has been done throughout government to combat them. The Senate hearing came as law enforcement and intelligence officials focus on finding out how and why extremist homegrown sympathizers cross a line to become operational terrorists.
The panel's chair, Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, called the matter "an emerging threat to our national security." Added Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., "While homegrown Islamic terrorism might not be as much of a threat as in say, Europe or some other places, we ignore the threat that does exist at our peril."
The report cited several high-profile cases of terrorists who became radicalized while incarcerated, including British shoe bomber Richard Reid. It also noted what authorities call a foiled plot of a potential shooting rampage against California military facilities, synagogues and the Israeli Consulate in Los Angeles by followers of Kevin James, who founded the radical group Jamiyyat Ul-Islam Is-Saheeh, or JIS, as an inmate at California State Prison in Sacramento.
Researchers interviewed federal, state and local prison officials, religious counselors and counterterror authorities in four states - California, New York, South Carolina and Ohio - and the District of Columbia. They concluded that federal prison authorities have made significant strides in collecting and sharing information to help monitor whether inmates are becoming radicalized.
But state and local prison officials have largely relied on contractors and volunteers to lead Islamic services because of a lack of well-trained Muslim chaplains, the report found. In New York, that led to several cases of "imams espousing violent views," it said.
The report noted a 2004 study that found that about half of 193 prisons surveyed supervised religious services or monitored them with video or audio recorders. "In the absence of monitoring by authoritative Islamic chaplains, materials that advocate violence have infiltrated the prison system undetected," it found.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Invitation to dialog to Muslims
on: September 20, 2006, 07:40:31 AM
CHICAGO ? So here?s the thing about speed dating for Muslims.
James Estrin/The New York Times
Many American Muslims ? or at least those bent on maintaining certain conservative traditions ? equate anything labeled ?dating? with hellfire, no matter how short a time is involved. Hence the wildly popular speed dating sessions at the largest annual Muslim conference in North America were given an entirely more respectable label. They were called the ?matrimonial banquet.?
?If we called it speed dating, it will end up with real dating,? said Shamshad Hussain, one of the organizers, grimacing.
Both the banquet earlier this month and various related seminars underscored the difficulty that some American Muslim families face in grappling with an issue on which many prefer not to assimilate. One seminar, called ?Dating,? promised attendees helpful hints for ?Muslim families struggling to save their children from it.?
The couple of hundred people attending the dating seminar burst out laughing when Imam Muhamed Magid of the Adams Center, a collective of seven mosques in Virginia, summed up the basic instructions that Muslim American parents give their adolescent children, particularly males: ?Don?t talk to the Muslim girls, ever, but you are going to marry them. As for the non-Muslim girls, talk to them, but don?t ever bring one home.?
?These kids grew up in America, where the social norm is that it is O.K. to date, that it is O.K. to have sex before marriage,? Imam Magid said in an interview. ?So the kids are caught between the ideal of their parents and the openness of the culture on this issue.?
The questions raised at the seminar reflected just how pained many American Muslims are by the subject. One middle-aged man wondered if there was anything he could do now that his 32-year-old son had declared his intention of marrying a (shudder) Roman Catholic. A young man asked what might be considered going too far when courting a Muslim woman.
Panelists warned that even seemingly innocuous e-mail exchanges or online dating could topple one off the Islamic path if one lacked vigilance. ?All of these are traps of the Devil to pull us in and we have no idea we are even going that way,? said Ameena Jandali, the moderator of the dating seminar.
Hence the need to come up with acceptable alternatives in North America, particularly for families from Pakistan, India and Bangladesh, where there is a long tradition of arranged marriages.
One panelist, Yasmeen Qadri, suggested that Muslim mothers across the continent band together in an organization called ?Mothers Against Dating,? modeled on Mothers Against Drunk Driving. If the term ?arranged marriage? is too distasteful to the next generation, she said, then perhaps the practice could be Americanized simply by renaming it ?assisted marriage,? just like assisted living for the elderly.
?In the United States we can play with words however we want, but we are not trying to set aside our cultural values,? said Mrs. Qadri, a professor of education.
Basically, for conservative Muslims, dating is a euphemism for premarital sex. Anyone who partakes risks being considered morally louche, with their marriage prospects dimming accordingly, particularly young women.
Mrs. Qadri and other panelists see a kind of hybrid version emerging in the United States, where the young do choose their own mates, but the parents are at least partly involved in the process in something like half the cases.
Having the families involved can help reduce the divorce rate, Imam Majid said, citing a recent informal study that indicated that one third of Muslim marriages in the United States end in divorce. It was still far too high, he noted, but lower than the overall American average. Intermarriages outside Islam occur, but remain relatively rare, he said.
Scores of parents showed up at the marriage banquet to chaperone their children. Many had gone through arranged marriages ? meeting the bride or groom chosen by their parents sometimes as late as their wedding day and hoping for the best. They recognize that the tradition is untenable in the United States, but still want to influence the process.
The banquet is considered one preferable alternative to going online, although that too is becoming more common. The event was unquestionably one of the big draws at the Islamic Society of North America?s annual convention, which attracted thousands of Muslims to Chicago over Labor Day weekend, with many participants bemoaning the relatively small pool of eligible candidates even in large cities.
At a ?matrimonial banquet,? single Muslim American men spent seven minutes at each table, including the one at which Alia Abbas sat before moving on.
There were two banquets, with a maximum 150 men and 150 women participating each day for $55 apiece. They sat 10 per table and the men rotated every seven minutes.
At the end there was an hourlong social hour that allowed participants time to collect e-mail addresses and telephone numbers over a pasta dinner with sodas. (Given the Muslim ban on alcohol, no one could soothe jumpy nerves with a drink.) Organizers said many of the women still asked men to approach their families first. Some families accept that the couple can then meet in public, some do not.
A few years ago the organizers were forced to establish a limit of one parent per participant and bar them from the tables until the social hour because so many interfered. Parents are now corralled along one edge of the reception hall, where they alternate between craning their necks to see who their adult children are meeting or horse-trading bios, photographs and telephone numbers among themselves.
Talking to the mothers ? and participants with a parent usually take a mother ? is like surveying members of the varsity suddenly confined to the bleachers.
?To know someone for seven minutes is not enough,? scoffed Awila Siddique, 46, convinced she was making better contacts via the other mothers.
Mrs. Siddique said her shy, 20-year-old daughter spent the hours leading up to the banquet crying that her father was forcing her to do something weird. ?Back home in Pakistan, the families meet first,?? she said. ?You are not marrying the guy only, but his whole family.?
Samia Abbas, 59 and originally from Alexandria, Egypt, bustled out to the tables as soon as social hour was called to see whom her daughter Alia, 29, had met.
?I?m her mother so of course I?m looking for her husband,? said Mrs. Abbas, ticking off the qualities she was looking for, including a good heart, handsome, as highly educated as her daughter and a good Muslim.
Did he have to be Egyptian?
?She?s desperate for anyone!? laughed Alia, a vivacious technology manager for a New York firm, noting that the ?Made in Egypt? stipulation had long since been cast overboard.
?Her cousin who is younger has babies now!? exclaimed the mother, dialing relatives on her cellphone to handicap potential candidates.
For doubters, organizers produced a success story, a strikingly good-looking pair of Chicago doctors who met at the banquet two years ago. Organizers boast of at least 25 marriages over the past six years.
Fatima Alim, 50, was disappointed when her son Suehaib, a 26-year-old pharmacist, did not meet anyone special on the first day. They had flown up from Houston especially for the event, and she figured chances were 50-50 that he would find a bride.
When she arrived in Texas as a 23-year-old in an arranged marriage, Mrs. Alim envied the girls around her, enthralled by their discussions about all the fun they were having with their boyfriends, she said, even if she was eventually shocked to learn how quickly they moved from one to the next and how easily they divorced. Still, she was determined that her children would chose their own spouses.
?We want a good, moderate Muslim girl, not a very, very modern girl,? she said. ?The family values are the one thing I like better back home. Divorces are high here because of the corruption, the intermingling with other men and other women.?
For his part, Mr. Alim was resisting the strong suggestion from his parents that they switch tactics and start looking for a nice girl back in Pakistan. Many of the participants reject that approach, describing themselves as too Americanized ? plus the visas required are far harder to obtain in the post-Sept. 11 world.
Mr. Alim said he still believed what he had been taught as a child, that sex outside marriage was among the gravest sins, but he wants to marry a fellow American Muslim no matter how hard she is to find.
?I think I can hold out a couple more years,? he said in his soft Texas drawl with a boyish smile. ?The sooner the better, but I think I can wait. By 30, hopefully, even if that is kind of late.?
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Attacking Blocks - a training neccessity
on: September 20, 2006, 04:03:44 AM
Woof Pappy Dog et al:
I've been meaning to respond to this one for some time now, but waited with a sense that to do so needed a substantial and thoughtful post. Now that I finally find a moment to focus (I fell asleep too early and now in the middle of the night I am awake
) I find that all I really have to say is "Tail wags for the kind words"!
The Adventure continues!
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Invitation to dialog to Muslims
on: September 19, 2006, 08:15:01 PM
Note the source of the following:http://www.arabnews.com/?page=7§ion=0&article=86776&d=19&m=9&y=2006
Editorial: Chasm of Ignorance
19 September 2006
WHATEVER views people may have about Pope Benedict?s controversial speech at Regensburg University last week, it underlines the urgent need for greater dialogue between people of different faiths. There is a dangerous chasm of ignorance about other faiths and it affects Muslims, Christians, Jews and practitioners of other religions equally; it is dangerous because it is so easily exploited by bigots and opportunists for their own political ends.
But, many will assert, there is a dialogue that has been going on for years. They can point to organizations such as C100, set up by the World Economic Forum to promote interfaith cooperation between the West and the Muslim world or to the Al-Azhar Permanent Committee for Dialogue with Monotheistic Religions. There is the Vatican-Muslim Committee set up by the Catholic Church and Al-Azhar, the Anglican Al-Azhar Dialogue Committee and a number of other organizations in countries around the world. There is even a day ? Muslim Catholic Dialogue Day on Feb. 24 each year ? adopted by Al-Azhar and the Vatican.
Commendable as all this is, it is not enough. If they were, there would not have been a Danish cartoons row earlier this year or a row now. The committees and organizations are not producing the results because the knowledge and understanding is not getting down to the grass roots where the prejudices and ignorance exist. What is the point of dialogue if it excludes the vast majority who do not fully understand all that is involved? It is at the grass roots that riots take place, where passions turn to prejudice, and mosques, churches and innocent believers are attacked and killed. That is where dialogue has to be planted and nurtured. And what is the point of dialogue if it excludes bigots? If they are left on the outside, they will continue to stir up hatred and plant their bombs. Dialogue desperately needs a wider arena, one that will draw in the uninformed on all sides, not least the bigots. That means using the mass media. Sadly, not everyone appears to understand that.
This paper has tried to publish a series of articles on interfaith dialogue. It is a perfect vehicle ? an English language daily in a Muslim country with a readership of different faiths and nationalities. We asked major religious and political figures from around the world to contribute. The feedback was extremely positive: ?Great idea,? we were told. But after months of reminders, not a single article has been submitted. It is profoundly disappointing. Never has the need for dialogue been so acute. Clearly dialogue cannot be left to well-intentioned experts. If the world were full of them there would not be a problem. But it is not like that. Dialogue must involve the largest possible number of people.
The Danish cartoon row should have provided the stimulus to intensify efforts. It did not. Maybe now, in the full fury of the papal row, the message will get through. It has to. In today?s global village, we cannot afford to be ignorant of each other?s faiths. Ignorance breeds fear and fear breeds hate ? and hate is scarcely a step away from war and conflict.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants
on: September 18, 2006, 04:05:54 PM
I'm not quite sure where to put this piece. "Dialog with Muslims" and "Free Speech vs. Islamo Fascism" are close, but not quite right. In that the views herein are strong and passionate I'm putting it here, even though here too it does not quite fit.
Regardless, what one thinks of the conclusions, a strong erudite piece of writing.
Jihad, the Lord's Supper, and eternal life
Jihad injures reason, for it honors a god who suffers no constraints on his caprice, unlike the Judeo-Christian god, who is limited by love. That is the nub of Pope Benedict XVI's September 12 address in Regensburg, Germany. It promises to be the Vatican's most controversial utterance in living memory.
When a German-language volume appeared in 2003 quoting the same analysis by a long-dead Jewish theologian, I wrote of "oil on the flames of civilizational war".  Now the same ban has been
preached from St Peter's chair, and it is a defining moment comparable to Winston Churchill's "Iron Curtain" speech at Fulton, Missouri, in 1946. Earlier this year, Benedict's elliptical remarks to former students at a private seminar in 2005, mentioned in passing by an American Jesuit and reported in this space, created a scandal.  I wrote at the time that even the pope must whisper when it comes to Islam. We have entered a different stage of civilizational war.
The Islamic world now views the pontiff as an existential threat, and with reason. Jihad is not merely the whim of a despotic divinity, as the pope implied. It is much more: jihad is the fundamental sacrament of Islam, the Muslim cognate of the Lord's Supper in Christianity, that is, the unique form of sacrifice by which the individual believer communes with the Transcendent. To denounce jihad on theological grounds is a blow at the foundations of Islam, in effect a papal call for the conversion of the Muslims.
Just before then-cardinal Ratzinger's election as pope last year, I wrote, "Now that everyone is talking about Europe's demographic death, it is time to point out that there exists a way out: convert European Muslims to Christianity. The reported front-runner at the Vatican conclave ... Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, is one of the few Church leaders unafraid to raise the subject."  The Regensburg address oversteps the bounds of dialogue and verges upon the missionary. A great deal has changed since John Paul II kissed the Koran before news cameras in 1999. The boys and girls of the Catholic youth organization Communione e Liberazione that Ratzinger nurtured for a generation will have a great deal to talk to their Muslim school-fellows about.
No more can one assume now that Europe will slide meekly into dhimmitude.
In that respect [I wrote during the conclave] John Paul II recalled the sad position of Pius XII, afraid to denounce publicly the murder of Polish priests by Nazi occupiers - let alone the murder of Polish Jews - for fear that the Nazis would react by killing even more. It is hard to second-guess the actions of Pius XII given his terrible predicament, but at some point one must ask when the Gates of Hell can be said to have prevailed over St Peter.
Specifically, Benedict stated that jihad, the propagation of Islam by force, is irrational, because it is against the Reason of God. Citing a 14th-century Byzantine emperor to the effect that Mohammed's "decree that the faith he preached should be spread with the sword" as "evil and inhumane" provoked headlines. But of greater weight is the pope's observation that Allah is a god whose "absolute transcendence" allows no constraint, to the point that Allah is free if he chooses to promote evil. The great German-Jewish theologian Franz Rosenzweig explained the matter more colorfully than did the pope, as I reported three years ago in the cited review:
The god of Mohammed is a creator who well might not have bothered to create. He displays his power like an Oriental potentate who rules by violence, not by acting according to necessity, not by authorizing the enactment of the law, but rather in his freedom to act arbitrarily ... Providence thus is shattered into infinitely many individual acts of creation, with no connection to each other, each of which has the importance of the entire creation. That has been the doctrine of the ruling orthodox philosophy in Islam. Every individual thing is created from scratch at every moment. Islam cannot be salvaged from this frightful providence of Allah ... despite its vehement, haughty insistence upon the idea of the god's unity, Islam slips back into a kind of monistic paganism, if you will permit the expression. God competes with God at every moment, as if it were the colorfully contending heavenful of gods of polytheism.
It is amusing to see liberal Jewish commentators in the United States, eg, the editorial page of the September 16 New York Times, deplore the pope's remarks, considering that Rosenzweig said it all the more sharply in 1920.
Benedict's comments regarding Islam served as a preamble to a longer discourse on the unity of faith and reason. "Is the conviction that acting unreasonably contradicts God's nature merely a Greek idea, or is it always and intrinsically true?" Benedict asked, and answered his own question: "I believe that here we can see the profound harmony between what is Greek in the best sense of the word and the biblical understanding of faith in God." It is not, however, the reasoned side of Benedict's remarks to which Muslims responded, but rather the existential.
Rather than rail at the pope's characterization of Islam, Muslims might have responded as follows: "Excuse me, Your Holiness, but did we hear you say that you represent a religion of reason, whereas Allah is a god of unreason? Do you not personally eat the body and blood of your god - at least things that you insist really are his flesh and blood - every day at Mass? And you accuse us of unreason!" That is a fair rebuttal, but it opens up Islam's can of worms.
True, we are not pottering about in this pilgrim existence to be rational. Today's Germans are irrational, and know that their time has past, and therefore desist from bearing children. What mankind - Christian, Muslim and Jew, and all - demand of God is irrational. We want eternal life! Christians do not want what the Greeks wanted - Socrates' transmigration of souls, nor the shadow existence of Homer's dead heroes in Hades. That is an unreasonable demand if ever there was one.
Before the Bible was written, the Babylonian hero Gilgamesh learned that his quest for immortality was futile. The demigods of Greece, mortals favored by Olympians, suffered a tedious sort of immortal life as stars, trees or rivers. The gods of the heathens are not in any case eternal, only immortal. They were born and they will die, like the Norse gods at the Ragnorak, and their vulnerability projects the people's presentiment of its own death. To whom, precisely, have the gods offered eternal life prior to the appearance of revealed religion? Eternal life and a deathless mortality are quite different things.
But what is it that God demands of us in response to our demand for eternal life? We know the answer ourselves. To partake of life in another world we first must detach ourselves from this world in order to desire the next. In plain language, we must sacrifice ourselves. There is no concept of immortality without some concept of sacrifice, not in any culture or in any religion. That is a demand shared by the Catholic bishops and the Kalahari Bushmen.
God's covenant with Abraham is unique and singular in world history. A single universal and eternal god makes an eternal pact with a mortal that can be fulfilled only if Abraham's tribe becomes an eternal people. But the price of this pact is self-sacrifice. That is an existential mortal act beyond all ethics, as Soren Kierkegaard tells us in Fear and Trembling. The sacraments of revealed religion are sublimated human sacrifice, for the revealed god in his love for humankind spares the victim, just as God provided a ram in place of the bound Isaac on Mount Moriah. Among Jews the covenant must be renewed in each male child through a substitute form of human sacrifice, namely circumcision.  Christians believe that a single human sacrifice spared the rest of humankind.
Jihad also is a form of human sacrifice. He who serves Allah so faithfully as to die in the violent propagation of Islam goes straight to paradise, there to enjoy virgins or raisins, depending on the translation. But Allah is not the revealed god of loving kindness, or agape, but - pace Benedict - a god of reason, that is, of cold calculation. Islam admits no expiatory sacrifice. Everyone must carry his own spear.
We are too comfortable, too clean, too squeamish, too modern to descend into the terrible space where birth, death and immortality are decided. We forget that we cannot have eternal life unless we are ready to give up this one - and this the Muslim knows only through what we should call the sacrament of jihad. Through jihad, the Muslim does almost precisely what the Christian does at the Lord's Supper. It is the sacrifice of Jesus that grants immortal life to all Christians, that is, those who become one with Jesus by eating his flesh and drinking his blood so that the sacrifice also is theirs, at least in Catholic terms. Protestants substitute empathy identification with the crucified Christ for the trans-substantiated blood and flesh of Jesus.
Christians believe that Jesus died on the cross to give all men eternal life, on condition that they take part in his sacrifice, either through the physical communion of the Catholic Church or the empathetic Communion of Protestantism. From a Muslim vantage point, the extreme of divine humility embodied in Jesus' sacrifice is beyond reason. Allah, by contrast, deals with those who submit to him after the calculation of an earthly despot. He demands that all Muslims sacrifice themselves by becoming warriors and, if necessary, laying their lives down in the perpetual war against the enemies of Islam.
These are parallel acts, in which different peoples do different things, in the service of different deities, but for the same reason: for eternal life.
Why is self-sacrifice always and everywhere the cost of eternal life? It is not because a vengeful and sanguineous God demands his due before issuing us a visa to heaven. Quite the contrary: we must sacrifice our earthly self, our attachment to the pleasures and petty victories of our short mortal life if we really are to gain the eternal life that we desire. The animal led to the altar, indeed Jesus on the cross, is ourselves: we die along with the sacrifice and yet live, by the grace of God. YHWH did not want Isaac to die, but without taking Abraham to Mount Moriah, Abraham himself could not have been transformed into the man desirous and deserving of immortal life. Jesus died and took upon him the sins of the world, in Christian terms, precisely so that a vicarious sacrifice would redeem those who come to him.
What distinguishes Allah from YHWH and (in Christian belief) his son Jesus is love. God gives Jews and Christians a path that their foot can tread, one that is not too hard for mortals, to secure the unobtainable, namely immortal life, as if by miracle. Out of love God gives the Torah to the Jews, not because God is a stickler for the execution of 613 commandments, but because it is a path upon which the Jew may sacrifice and yet live, and receive his portion of the World to Come. The most important sacrifice in Judaism is the Sabbath - "our offering of rest", says the congregation in the Sabbath prayers - a day of inactivity that acknowledges that the Earth is the Lord's. It is a sacrifice, as it were, of ego. In this framework, incidentally, it is pointless to distinguish Judaism as a "religion of works" as opposed to Christianity as a "religion of faith".
To Christians, God offers the vicarious participation in his sacrifice of himself through his only son.
That is Grace: a free gift by God to men such that they may obtain eternal life. By a miracle, the human soul responds to the offer of Grace with a leap, a leap away from the attachments that hold us to this world, and a foretaste of the World to Come.
There is no Grace in Islam, no miracle, no expiatory sacrifice, no expression of love for mankind such that each Muslim need not be a sacrifice. On the contrary, the concept of jihad, in which the congregation of Islam is also the army, states that every single Muslim must sacrifice himself personally. Jihad is the precise equivalent of the Lord's Supper in Christianity and the Jewish Sabbath, the defining expression of sacrifice that opens the prospect of eternity to the mortal believer. To ask Islam to become moderate, to reform, to become a peaceful religion of personal conscience is the precise equivalent of asking Catholics to abolish Mass.
Islam, I have argued for years, faces an existential crisis in the modern world, which has ripped its adherents out of their traditional existence and thrust them into deadly conflicts. What was always latent in Islam has now come to the surface: the practice of Islam now expresses itself uniquely in jihad. Benedict XVI has had the courage to call things by their true names. Everything else is hypocrisy and self-delusion.
Regarding Benedict XVI's statement that the characterization of the Prophet Mohammed did not reflect his "personal opinion": In 1938, at the peak of Stalin's terror, a Muscovite called the KGB to report that his parrot had escaped. The KGB officer said, "Why are you calling us?" The Muscovite averred, "I want to state for the record that I do not share the parrot's political opinions."
1. See Oil on the flames of civilizational war, December 2, 2003.
2. See When even the pope has to whisper, January 10, 2006.
3. The crescent and the conclave, April 19, 2005.
4. See The Death and Resurrection of the Beloved Son: The Transformation of Child Sacrifice in Judaism and Christianity, by Jon D Levinson (Harvard; Cambridge 1993).
(Copyright 2006 Asia Times Online Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact us about sales, syndication and republishing .)
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security
on: September 18, 2006, 02:41:34 PM
El Shukrijumah and the 'Dirty Bomb' Threat
Certain bloggers are circulating rumors on the Internet that alleged al Qaeda militant Adnan El Shukrijumah has been sighted recently in Central America and Texas, saying this indicates al Qaeda is close to conducting a "dirty bomb" attack against the United States.
According to the rumors, El Shukrijumah is in possession of dirty bombs -- devices intended to disperse radiation -- and is waiting for a "go" signal or a taped statement from al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. Still other rumors have circulated about an "American Hiroshima," or an al Qaeda nuclear attack against the United States. Although there is little chance that a dirty bomb attack is imminent, the U.S. government has good reason to believe that El Shukrijumah poses a significant threat.
Although the U.S. government says El Shukrijumah is a naturalized U.S. citizen who was born in 1975 in Saudi Arabia, the Saudis say El Shukrijumah's father was an expatriate worker in Saudi Arabia and that neither the father nor the son was ever a Saudi citizen. The family also reportedly spent time in Guyana, where his father, Sheikh Gulshair El Shukrijumah, worked as a missionary for the Saudi government. In the early 1990s, the family moved to Brooklyn, N.Y., where the father took a job at the Al Farouq Mosque. Some members of the mosque were subsequently linked to the 1993 attack against the World Trade Center and a plot to bomb targets in New York, including the Holland Tunnel and U.N. Headquarters. In 1995, the El Shukrijumah family moved to Miramar, Fla., where Adnan studied computer science at Broward Community College.
By the late 1990s, perhaps inspired by the war between Bosnian Muslims and Serbs in the former Yugoslavia, El Shukrijumah began to favor more radical interpretations of Islam. In late 1999, according to the FBI, he began traveling to Pakistan and Afghanistan to attend al Qaeda training camps. By 2001, the FBI was investigating El Shukrijumah in connection with two alleged militant plots based out of south Florida.
In the months before 9/11, El Shukrijumah allegedly traveled extensively in the United States and Canada, possibly scoping out potential targets. He disappeared from south Florida shortly before 9/11, but is not believed to have been part of that plot. Based on an investigation into his activities, the FBI obtained an arrest warrant for El Shukrijumah in 2003, but by then he had dropped off the radar. The FBI believes El Shukrijumah could be anywhere, and the hunt for him has spanned into Trinidad, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Pakistan's Waziristan province.
According to the FBI, El Shukrijumah is especially dangerous because of his intelligence and because his appearance, which enables him to pass as a Latino or Indian, allows him to blend in with non-Muslims. Also, having spent a considerable amount of time in the United States, he speaks English well and is familiar with U.S. culture. The State Department, through its Rewards for Justice Program, is offering a reward of up to $5 million for information leading to El Shukrijumah's arrest. There also is speculation outside of the government that he is well-versed in nuclear technology and is an accomplished pilot, but these claims are not supported by the FBI's investigation. His technical background, however, suggests he would be able to construct a dirty bomb.
Operationally, an "American Hiroshima" plot would be difficult to successfully carry out. Although obtaining and employing weapons of mass destruction, including dirty bombs, have long been part of al Qaeda's strategic thinking, there has been no indication that the jihadist network has been able to make any significant progress toward that goal.
Rumors of imminent attacks with dirty bombs appear in cycles and are nothing new. If al Qaeda were in the operational phase of such a plot, it doubtfully would provide warnings or allow indicators of its plan to leak out. Speculation about an attack, however, does allow the jihadist network to spread fear, forces U.S. authorities to waste resources and perhaps even serves as cover for its real actions.
The rumors about dirty bomb plots and the whereabouts of the shadowy El Shukrijumah may be unfounded, but they do add to the mystery surrounding him. If he is in fact an al Qaeda operative, he is one of the group's more technically adept and sophisticated members, which makes him dangerous. El Shukrijumah, however, is more threatening as a capable organizer of a more conventional attack inside the United States.
Send questions or comments on
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: WW3
on: September 18, 2006, 07:18:06 AM
Most Tribes in Anbar Agree to Unite Against Insurgents
Yahya Ahmed/Associated Press
A victim of a blast Sunday in Kirkuk. More than two dozen people were killed in coordinated attacks by suicide bombers in Kirkuk and Falluja.
By KHALID AL-ANSARY and ALI ADEEB
Published: September 18, 2006
BAGHDAD, Sept. 17 ? Nearly all the tribes from Iraq?s volatile Sunni-dominated Anbar Province have agreed to join forces and fight Al Qaeda insurgents and other foreign-backed ?terrorists,? an influential tribal leader said Sunday. Iraqi government leaders encouraged the movement.
Twenty-five of about 31 tribes in Anbar, a vast, mostly desert region that stretches westward from Baghdad to the borders of Syria, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, have united against insurgents and gangs that are ?killing people for no reason,? said the tribal leader, Sheik Abdul Sattar Buzaigh al-Rishawi.
?We held a meeting earlier and agreed to fight those who call themselves mujahadeen,? Mr. Rishawi said in an interview. ?We believe that there is a conspiracy against our Iraqi people. Those terrorists claimed that they are fighters working on liberating Iraq, but they turned out to be killers. Now all the people are fed up and have turned against them.?
It is unclear how quickly or forcefully the tribal fighters will confront Al Qaeda and other insurgents, who mostly operate in and around the provincial capital, Ramadi, despite recurrent American military efforts to stop them. But for American and Iraqi officials, who have tried to persuade the Sunni Arab majority in Anbar to reject the insurgency and embrace Iraqi nationalism, Mr. Rishawi?s comments are seen as an encouraging sign.
Word of the tribal agreement came on a day when coordinated suicide bombings rocked Kirkuk and Falluja, and graphic evidence of more sectarian killings surfaced in Baghdad.
In Kirkuk, an oil-rich city in the north bordering the autonomous Kurdish region, suicide bombers detonated four cars and one truck laden with explosives, killing more than two dozen people and wounding more than 100, Iraqi and American officials said. In Falluja, a Sunni-controlled city in Anbar, 30 miles west of Baghdad, five suicide car bombs exploded within 15 minutes, an American military official said, killing five people and wounding 23.
The police in Baghdad reported finding 36 bodies in several neighborhoods, an Interior Ministry official said. Eight were discovered in one area with gunshot wounds to the head and bearing marks of torture. But an American military spokesman said her office was aware of only 11 bodies found.
Also Sunday, the American military said a sailor with the First Marine Logistics Group died Saturday from wounds in fighting in Anbar Province.
Mr. Rishawi said the 25 tribes counted 30,000 young men armed with assault rifles who were willing to confront and kill the insurgents and criminal gangs that he blamed for damaging tribal life in Anbar, dividing members by religious sect and driving a wave of violent crime in Ramadi.
?We are in battle with the terrorists who kill Sunnis and Shiites, and we do not respect anyone between us who talks in a sectarian sense,? said Mr. Rishawi, the leader of the Rishawi tribe, a subset of the Dulaimi tribe, the largest in Anbar. Half the Rishawi are Shiite Arabs and half are Sunni, he said.
Mr. Rishawi estimated that the insurgents had about 1,300 fighters, many of them foreigners, and are backed by other nations? intelligence services, though he declined to specify them.
On Sunday, he said the coalition of 25 tribes sent letters to the prime minister, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, and other top government officials to seek their support.
Sheik Fassal al-Guood, a prominent tribal leader from Ramadi, said Sheik Khalid al-Attiya, the deputy speaker of Parliament and a Shiite, met with the tribal leaders Thursday and gave them a ?positive response.?
In addition to the government?s blessing, Mr. Rishawi said, the tribes also wanted weapons, equipment and tactical help from an Iraqi Army brigade. ?The terrorists have different kinds of weapons while we have only AK-47?s,? Mr. Rishawi said. He predicted that with sufficient help, ?their force will collapse in one month.?
Ali Dabbagh, a government spokesman, said Mr. Maliki supported ?any operations that try to resist terrorism and aims to maintain security in this dear and important part from the country.?
Government officials are weighing an official response to the tribes, Mr. Dabbagh said, but there has not been any agreement to supply them. ?We are grateful to them for their desire to protect their cities,? he said, ?and we are encouraging them.?
An American military official said tribes had fought Sunni insurgents in Anbar in the past but had never formed a united front. ?This would be the first we?ve seen of tribes banding together,? said the official, who asked for anonymity because the subject was a delicate one.
Reuters quoted a man who identified himself as a senior Al Qaeda leader in northern Ramadi calling for an Islamic caliphate in Anbar and portraying tribal leaders as the enemy.
?We have the right to kill all infidels, like the police and army and all those who support them,? said the man, who called himself Abu Farouk, Reuters reported. ?This tribal system is un-Islamic. We are proud to kill tribal leaders who are helping the Americans.?
Last month, a Marine intelligence report described Al Qaeda as an ?integral part of the social fabric? of Anbar, and said the American military, with about 30,000 troops there, did not control vast reaches of the province, roughly the size of Louisiana.
In Kirkuk, Iraqi and American military officials said they could not immediately tell which groups were behind the suicide bomb attacks. Kirkuk has become a violent battleground between Iraqi Arabs ? Shiite and Sunni ? and Kurds who control Kirkuk?s police and government.
The deadliest of the Kirkuk bomb attacks, by a truck laden with explosives that blew up between the offices of two Kurdish political parties, killed at least 18 people and wounded 55, said Lt. Col. Urhan Abdullah of the Kirkuk police. Two minutes later, a car bomb, apparently intended for a private security firm, killed two people and wounded three others, said Maj. Farhad Mahmoud of the Kirkuk police.
A third suicide car bomb detonated near an Iraqi police checkpoint about 15 miles south of Kirkuk, the police said. A fourth car bomb exploded in front of the house of Sheik Wasfi al-Asi, who had recently publicly called on the government to release Saddam Hussein, who is currently being tried on genocide charges. The house was empty, the police said, but the bomb killed two people and wounded five others.
Firefighters battled flames at collapsed buildings and charred bodies lay in streets littered with twisted car parts, Reuters reported.
Reporting was contributed by Paul von Zielbauer, Omar al-Neami, Khalid W. Hassan and Qais Mizher.
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: The Tradition and Culture Thread
on: September 17, 2006, 07:44:29 PM
Woof Nasi et al:
Another random drive-by yip:
There's another strand in the weaving of themes here-- the concepts of the society in which the Art is practiced concerning the proper uses of Aggression.
I am proud to be an American. Off the top of my head I cannot think of another country which was consciously founded upon a creed. The American creed of our Founding Fathers is a spiritual one-- the source of the rights of the people is "the Creator", and the people who bequeath the State with powers which they see fit (10th Amendment of the Bill of Rights). All other rights not enumerated remain retained by the people (9th Amendment) The term "Creator" is specifically chosen precisely because it is generic. In their wisdom, IMHO which was guided by the Creator, they made the profound decision to separate Church and State. Henceforth no religion could seek advantage over another by seizing control of the State for the State itself by definition was to be excluded from the religious realm and religions were to compete with each other with Reason and Persuasion in Peace and not the Sword swung in War. Heneforth challenges to those in power could not be conflated with being for or against God, but instead were matters to be decided by words freely spoken, whether they offended or not and we the people were trusted to sort it out by freely choosing our representatives. WE RULE OURSELVES because the Creator made us to be so.
I am reminded of the words of Guro Dan Inosanto when he speaks of the martial arts having their true foundation in Love, the belief that we ALL our children of God/the Creator-- or perhaps as some would say, we are but pieces of God and the Life Force within us is God himself-- and that as such we have the right to defend ourselves. The guiding principle becomes that Moral Force is to be used so as to lessen the overall use of Force against those who act in self-protection. Respect others as you respect yourself, do not seek to submit them to your way, to take their property by fraud or theft and in general leave them to pursue happiness as they see fit while respecting the rights of others.
This right of self-defense (found, I submit, in our 9th Amendment as a right not otherwise enumerated) is given practical meaning by our 2d Amendment, the right OF THE PEOPLE to bear arms. Whether the defense be against an overbearing State or enemies foreign or domestic, or thug elements does not matter, for we have the right to defend ourselves.
That said, the 2d Amendment empowers the Federal government to regulate the militias that will naturally arise from an armed population. Whether the Federal government exercises that power to regulate the militias or not, the unorganized militia exists. When not regulated, the militia is called "the unorganized militia" see section 311, Title 10. http://dogbrothers.com/wrapper.php?file=savedbythemilitia.htm
and see the clip "The Unorganized Militia" www.dogbrothers.com
(I would add that, speaking as the retired attorney that I am, that it is my considered opinion that the language in the statute setting an upper age limit at 45 years to have been voided by subsequent age discrimination statutes. In other words, even though I am presently 54 years old, I am still part of the Unorganized Militia!!!)
What does this have to do with the original question presented about teaching martial arts?
The answer is that in America, our society is organized around the principal of freedom and responsibility. As I tell the fighters in my ?magic words? talk at the beginning of each Dog Brothers Gathering of the Pack, ?Only you are responsible for you.? A free people is a people responsible for defending its freedom. A people that cannot fight and/or lacks the means to fight is not going to stay a free people.
As the gun rights people say, ?Society is safer when criminals don?t know who is armed.? Understanding ?armed? to mean ?capable of effective action? then the logic of broad dissemination amongst the unorganized militia of fighting knowledge and skills, the logic of sharing through DVDs becomes apparent.
This is all I have the time to write at the moment. The next point I must address in this discussion is the question of what, if anything, NOT to teach, and why.
The Adventure continues,
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Invitation to dialog to Muslims
on: September 17, 2006, 12:51:08 PM
Second post of the morning:
Defining Today's Moderate Muslim
By Teresa Watanabe, Times Staff Writer
September 17, 2006
Who is a moderate Muslim?
Is it Maher Hathout, the Los Angeles Muslim leader who has promoted interfaith relations and women's equality but denounced Israel as a brutal apartheid regime? Is it Tashbih Sayyed, a journalist based in Alta Loma, Calif., who praises Israel's behavior toward Palestinians as tolerant and criticizes Muslims for corrupting Islam?
The question has come under intense debate since 9/11 as the public struggles to distinguish peaceful Muslims from Al Qaeda terrorists, and is at the heart of two Southern California skirmishes over who represents moderate Islam.
In a dinner scheduled for tonight, the American Jewish Congress plans to honor Sayyed and four others for what it sees as their friendly attitudes toward Israel and courageous efforts to reform Islam.
Gary Ratner, executive director of the Congress' Western region office in Los Angeles, said the tribute is part of the organization's global efforts to reach out to moderate Muslims in Pakistan, Indonesia, Albania and elsewhere, including sponsoring a dinner in New York last year for Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf.
"Israel is going to be a fixture in the Mideast," Ratner said. "If there is ever going to be peace, there has to be accommodation with Muslims."
The organization's choice of honorees, however, has offended some Muslims, in part because three of them no longer practice the faith.
In contrast, a different award has offended some Jewish sensibilities: the decision by the Los Angeles County Human Relations Commission to honor Hathout as a model of harmonious interfaith relations.
Hathout's critics argue that his controversial statements supporting Hezbollah and denouncing Israel have exposed him as an extremist. The Egyptian native and retired cardiologist, saying his opponents have twisted his record, asserts that he has long condemned terrorism, launched interfaith dialogues and promoted an American Islamic identity that celebrates pluralism, democracy and women's rights.
The commission is to vote Monday on whether to reaffirm or rescind the award.
Despite the dissent, Muslims, Christians and Jews named similar attributes when asked to define religious moderation. They included problem-solving without violence, affirmation of human rights, religious freedom and other Western values, and respectful attitudes toward women.
But on one key issue, there was sharp disagreement: attitudes toward Israel.
Ratner said his group believes support for Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state is central to the definition of a moderate because it speaks to the larger qualities of tolerance and acceptance.
Others, however, reject that as a litmus test.
"It's un-American," said John Esposito, Georgetown University professor of religion and international affairs. "Your principal and only obligation in terms of loyalty as an American is to America. You can have a variety of positions regarding foreign policy."
Still others say labels and litmus tests aren't terribly useful for either side.
"The question is ? can we find points of agreement, a place from which to build trust and move forward?" asked Rob Eshman, editor of the Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles. "I deal with Jews every day whom I don't consider moderate, but I don't write them off. And we can't afford to write off Muslims."
Since 9/11, Esposito and others said, the quest for moderate Muslims has become widespread as policymakers, journalists, terrorism experts and religious leaders seek to understand Islam and assess who is "safe" and who is extremist.
Often, those seeking moderate Muslims are looking for people to affirm their own values, said Reuven Firestone, a professor of medieval Jewish and Islamic studies at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Los Angeles.
When we say we want moderate Muslims, what we are really saying is that we want Westernized Muslims who have the same kinds of sensibilities we have," Firestone said. "But that's not realistic. It's a false but human assumption that moderates must agree with us on most issues."
To Firestone, moderates are those committed to settling disputes without violence and willing to hear and consider other points of view, especially those contrary to their own.
Others said that whatever yardstick is chosen must be consistently applied. If Muslims who condemn Israeli treatment of Palestinians are extremists, all Christians, Jews and atheists who feel likewise must be similarly described, said Khaled Abou El Fadl, a UCLA Islamic law professor and author of "The Great Theft: Wrestling Islam from the Extremists."
Many said a key criterion for Muslim moderates is that they in fact be Muslim.
Among the Jewish Congress honorees are Indian-born British author Salman Rushdie, a self-described atheist, and two women who say they left the faith years ago, Wafa Sultan and Nonie Darwish.
Darwish is a Southern California writer and founder of Arabs for Israel. Sultan is a Corona psychiatrist, writer and activist who has said she is particularly concerned about women's status in Islam.
"By honoring Muslims who are not practicing Muslims, the given message, even if unintentional, is that these people are good because they left the faith," said Firestone, who recently returned from a six-month sabbatical in Cairo. "But there are hundreds of millions of moral, deeply believing Muslims."
Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said Jewish groups have long tried to promote alternative Islamic leaders who may be friendly to Israel but in fact have little following among Muslims. "It's a slap in the face," he said.
But Ratner defended the selections.
"To me it's a phonetic debate," he said, referring to whether the awardees were practicing Muslims or not. "It's about the reform of Islam so that the Muslim world and the West can live in peace and tolerance with each other's values and beliefs."
Two of the honorees say they are practicing Muslims deeply concerned about their tradition's future and are unafraid to speak about it. Both Salim Mansur, a Calcutta native and Canadian political science professor, and Sayyed, the newspaper editor, said the Muslim world must stop blaming the West for its own ailments, including poverty, illiteracy, injustice or extremism.
Sayyed, 64, immigrated to the United States in 1981 to escape what he described as an increasingly radical practice of Islam in Pakistan. He said Muslims must reinvigorate their tradition with open debate even on sensitive questions. That includes, he said, whether Islam was spread by the sword or ideas, whether shariah is an outdated legal system for Muslims and whether the Prophet Muhammad's actions were all divinely inspired.
But when he wrote an article last year calling for Islam's reinterpretation, Sayyed said, he was widely condemned and threatened by fellow Muslims.
Mansur, too, said he was ostracized after writing columns for the Toronto Sun five years ago condemning the Taliban's destruction of ancient Buddhist statues in Afghanistan and comparing it to the murderous Khmer Rouge of Cambodia. The backlash prompted him to stop going to his local mosque.
Both men, however, said they have no intention of falling silent.
"Because I love my faith, I have to raise my voice and challenge it from within," Sayyed said.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Libertarian themes
on: September 17, 2006, 10:12:56 AM
The View From Guant?namo
By ABU BAKKER QASSIM
Published: September 17, 2006
I HAVE been greatly saddened to hear that the Congress of the United States, a country I deeply admire, is considering new laws that would deny prisoners at Guant?namo Bay the right to challenge their detentions in federal court.
I learned my respect for American institutions the hard way. When I was growing up as a Uighur in China, there were no independent courts to review the imprisonment and oppression of people who, like me, peacefully opposed the Communists. But I learned my hardest lesson from the United States: I spent four long years behind the razor wire of its prison in Cuba.
I was locked up and mistreated for being in the wrong place at the wrong time during America?s war in Afghanistan. Like hundreds of Guant?namo detainees, I was never a terrorist or a soldier. I was never even on a battlefield. Pakistani bounty hunters sold me and 17 other Uighurs to the United States military like animals for $5,000 a head. The Americans made a terrible mistake.
It was only the country?s centuries-old commitment to allowing habeas corpus challenges that put that mistake right ? or began to. In May, on the eve of a court hearing in my case, the military relented, and I was sent to Albania along with four other Uighurs. But 12 of my Uighur brothers remain in Guant?namo today. Will they be stranded there forever?
Without my American lawyers and habeas corpus, my situation and that of the other Uighurs would still be a secret. I would be sitting in a metal cage today. Habeas corpus helped me to tell the world that Uighurs are not a threat to the United States or the West, but an ally. Habeas corpus cleared my name ? and most important, it let my family know that I was still alive.
Like my fellow Uighurs, I am a great admirer of the American legal and political systems. I have the utmost respect for the United States Congress. So I respectfully ask American lawmakers to protect habeas corpus and let justice prevail. Continuing to permit habeas rights to the detainees in Guant?namo will not set the guilty free. It will prove to the world that American democracy is safe and well.
I am from East Turkestan on the northwest edge of China. Communist China cynically calls my homeland ?Xinjiang,? which means ?new dominion? or ?new frontier.? My people want only to be treated with respect and dignity. But China uses the American war on terrorism as a pretext to punish those who peacefully dissent from its oppressive policies. They brand as ?terrorism? all political opposition from the Uighurs.
Amnesty International reports that East Turkistan is the only province in China where people may face the death penalty for political offenses. Chinese leaders brag about the number of Uighur political prisoners shot in the head. I was punished for speaking against China?s unjust policies, and I left because of the threat to my life. My search for work and refuge took me from Kyrgyzstan to Afghanistan and Pakistan.
I heard about the Sept. 11 attacks for the first time in Guant?namo. I was not aware of their magnitude until after my release, when a reporter showed me images online at an Internet cafe in Tirana. It was a terrible thing. But I too was its victim. I would never have experienced the ordeal and humiliation of Guant?namo if this horrific event had not taken place.
I feel great sadness for the families who lost their loved ones on that horrible day five years ago. And I would be sadder still to see the freedom-loving American people walk away from their respect for the rule of law. I want America to be a strong and respected nation in the world. Only then can it continue to be the source of hope for the hopeless ? like my people.
Abu Bakker Qassim was imprisoned at Guant?namo Bay, Cuba, from 2002 to May. This article was translated from the Uighur by Nury Turael.
from today's NY Times
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants
on: September 17, 2006, 09:32:36 AM
CRADLE OF HATE
By RALPH PETERS
September 15, 2006 -- ISLAMIST terror is a deadly threat we have barely
begun to address. Yet religion-fueled fanaticism in the Middle East
shouldn't surprise us: The tradition pre-dates the Prophet's birth by
thousands of years.
Terrorists just have better tools these days.
What should amaze us isn't the terrorists' strength, which has limits, but
the comprehensive failure of Middle Eastern civilization. Given all the
wealth that's poured into the region, its vast human resources and all of
its opportunities for change, the mess the Middle East has made of itself is
Beyond Israel, the region hasn't produced a single first-rate government,
army, economy, university or industry. It hasn't even produced convincing
Culturally, the region is utterly noncompetitive. Societies stagnate as
populations seethe. To the extent it exists, development benefits the
wealthy and powerful. The common people are either ignored or miserably
oppressed - and not just the women.
Operation Iraqi Freedom wasn't so much an invasion as a last-minute rescue
mission - an attempt to give one major Middle Eastern state a
two-minutes-to-midnight chance to develop a humane, democratic government.
It may not work. But we'd better hope it does.
The Middle East's failure on every front enabled the rise of the
terrorists - as well as the empowerment of other religious extremists,
secular dictators and political parties willing to poison electorates with
The popular culprit for the mess is Islam. And there can be no doubt that
the faith's local degeneration has been catastrophic for the region. By far
the most numerous victims of "Islam Gone Wild" have been Middle Eastern
But we can't be content with a single explanation for a civilization's
failure, as powerful as the answer may appear. Yes, Islamist governments
fail miserably. But so do secular Arab, Persian and Pakistani governments
(whose leaders belatedly play the Islamic card).
Yes, the culture is Islamic, even in nominally secular states. But we have
to ask some very politically incorrect questions that cut even deeper.
Many of the social, governmental and psychological structures at the core of
Middle Eastern societies pre-date Islam. Authoritarian government; a
slave-like status for women; pervasive corruption; labor viewed as an evil
to be avoided; the relegation of learning to narrow castes; economies that
rely on trade rather than productivity to generate wealth, even the
grandiose rhetoric - all were in place long before Islam appeared.
The repeated failures we've witnessed go far beyond a religion on its
sickbed. Instead of Islam being the Middle East's problem, what if Islam's
problem is the Middle East?
Were Christianity and Judaism "saved" because they escaped the Middle East?
Were these other two great monotheist religions able to master the power of
knowledge and human potential because they were driven from their
stultifying cultural and geographic origins? Did the Diaspora and the
subsequent Muslim destruction of the cradle of Christianity ultimately save
these two faiths?
The Middle East is a straitjacket that turns religions mad. We got away.
A dozen years ago, I wrote that "culture is fate." And culture is tied to
soil. My travels over the intervening years have only deepened that
conviction. Regions have distinct cultures that endure long beyond the
shelf-life predicted for them by academics.
The stunning conquests Islam made in its early centuries may have been its
undoing - a faith secure in its heartlands never had to worry about its
survival thereafter. Despite gruesome invasions, Islam remained safely
rooted in its native earth.
As "refugee religions," Christianity and Judaism had to struggle to
survive - the latter still struggles today. For all of the pop theories
blaming the Rise of the West on germs, dumb luck or sheer nastiness, the
truth is that Judeo-Christian civilization was hardened by mortal threats -
including horrendous internal conflicts.
We got tough. And the tough got going.
It isn't an accident that the industrial revolution took off in
resource-poor Britain, or that the poverty-ridden contin- ent of Europe
invented new means of exerting power.
In exile, the Judeo-Christian civilization grew up on the global mean
streets. MiddleEastern Islam suffered from easy wealth, luxury and a
narcotic regional heritage.
We changed, they froze. An Assyrian tyrant, such as the murderous
Ashurbanipal - who reigned over 1,200 years before Mohammed's birth -would
understand the governments, societies and disciplinarian religion of today's
Middle East. The West would baffle him.
Since the Renaissance, the West fixed its gaze on the future. Islamic
civilization sought to freeze time, to cling to a dream of a lost paradise,
part Islamic Baghdad, part Babylon.
Shocked awake over the past few centuries, some Middle Easterners realized
they had to change. But they didn't know how. Modernization sputtered out.
Pan-Arabism foundered on greed and corruption.
The shah tried to buy the "good parts" of Western civilization, but the
pieces didn't work on their own. Next, Iran tried theocracy - government by
bigots. Didn't work either.
"Oil-rich" Saudi Arabia has a per capita GDP half that of Israel's (whose
sole resource is people). Dubai has shopping malls - selling designer goods
with Western labels.
Today's fanatics can hurt us, but can't destroy us. Their fatal ability is
to drag their civilization down to an even lower level.
The problem is that the Middle East hasn't been able to escape the Middle
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Invitation to dialog to Muslims
on: September 17, 2006, 09:28:26 AM
There certainly is a certain humor, unintended as it may be, to a group responding to the Pope's statement on doctrinal violence in Islam by saying "We will punish you for saying we are violent by sending death squads".
That said, it would not surprise me if the complete text of the Pope's statement was often missing from the reportage of it in much of the Muslim world. Certainly the mirror equivalent in our world is capable of sensationalizing too.
Still, responses to the larger question presented by the Pope's speech seem utterly to be missing in action.
Report: Rome tightens pope's security after fury over Islam remarks
By Haaretz Service News Agencies
The Vatican has increased the security provisions for the Pope, Army Radio reported Sunday, a day after an Iraqi insurgent group threatened the Vatican with a suicide attack over the pope's remarks on Islam.
Muslims around the world have reacted furiously to the comments Tuesday by Benedict XVI, in which he quoted from an obscure Medieval text referred to some of the teachings of the Prophet Mohammad as "evil and inhuman."
The statement, posted online Saturday in the group's name, does not state the seat of the Holy See directly, but is addressed to "you dog of Rome" and threatens to "shake your thrones and break your crosses in your home."
"We swear to God to send you people who adore death as much as you adore life," said the message posted in the name of the Mujahedeen Army on a Web site frequently used by militant groups.
The message, the authenticity of which could not be independently verified, also contained links to video recordings of what the group claimed were rocket attacks on U.S. bases.
The Mujahedeen Army's statement vowed, "our minds will not rest until we shake your thrones and break your crosses in your home."
The same group has claimed responsibility for scores of attacks in Iraq, including the April 2005 downing of a helicopter carrying 11 civilians, including six Americans.
It was among 11 Sunni insurgent groups that offered in June to halt all attacks if the United States agrees to withdraw foreign forces from Iraq in two years.
Pope 'sorry' Muslims offended by his speech on Mohammed
The Vatican said on Saturday Pope Benedict XVI was sorry Muslims had been offended by a speech whose meaning had been misconstrued, as anger and protest grew throughout the Muslim world.
In a statement issued by the Vatican, the pope said he respects believers in Islam and hopes they will understand the true meaning of his speech.
In a speech on Tuesday the Pope repeated criticism of the Prophet Mohammad by the 14th century Byzantine Emperor Manuel II Palaeologus, who said everything the Prophet brought was evil "such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached."
"The emperor comes to speak about the issue of jihad, holy war," the Pope said.
"He said, I quote, 'Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached,"' Benedict quoted the emperor as saying.
The remarks sparked outrage across the Islamic world.
The new Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, said that the pope's position on Islam is unmistakably in line with Vatican teaching that the Church "esteems Muslims, who adore the only God."
"The Holy Father is very sorry that some passages of his speech may have sounded offensive to the sensibilities of Muslim believers," Bertone said in a statement.
Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood said the Vatican statement saying the Pope was sorry did not go far enough.
"We want a personal apology [from the Pope]. We feel that he has committed a grave error against us and that this mistake will only be removed through a personal apology," Muslim Brotherhood Deputy Leader Mohammed Habib told Reuters.
"Has he presented a personal apology for statements by which he clearly is convinced? No," he said.
Morocco recalled its ambassador to the Holy See in protest over the Pope's remarks, the Foreign Ministry said Saturday.
Ambassador Ali Achour will be recalled as of Sunday for consultation "following remarks offensive with regard to Islam and Muslims by Pope Benedict XVI," the ministry said in a statement released by Morocco's state news agency.
Assailants attack five churches in West Bank, Gaza
Assailants hurled firebombs and opened fire at five churches in the West Bank and Gaza on Saturday, causing no injuries, but sparking fears of a rift between Palestinian Muslims and Christians.
The attacks on four of the 10 churches in the West Bank town of Nablus, and on the Greek Orthodox Church in Gaza City unsettled a relatively peaceful coexistence in the city.
The assaults began with fire bombings of Nablus' Anglican and Greek Orthodox churches, which left trails of black scorch marks in their wake. At least five firebombs were hurled at the Anglican church, whose door was later set ablaze in a separate attack. Smoke billowed from the church as firefighters put out the flames
In a phone call to The Associated Press, a group calling itself the "Lions of Monotheism" claimed responsibility, saying the attacks were meant to protest the pope's remarks about Islam.
Hours later, four masked gunmen doused the main doors of Nablus' Roman and Greek Catholic churches with lighter fluid, then set them ablaze. They also opened fire on the buildings, pocking their outer walls with bullet holes.
In Gaza City, militants opened fire from a car at a Greek Orthodox church, hitting the facade. A policeman at the scene said he saw a car escape with armed men inside. Explosive devices were set off at the same Gaza church on Friday, causing minor damage.
There were no claims of responsibility for the last three attacks. Said Siyam, the interior minister from Hamas, ordered extra protection for churches across the West Bank and Gaza.
"The atmosphere is charged already, and the wise should not accept such acts," said Father Yousef Saada, a Greek Catholic priest in Nablus.
Ayman Daraghmeh, a Hamas legislator, denounced the attacks, and urged Palestinian police to do more to protect Christian sites.
Growing chorus of criticism in Muslim world against Pope
Iran condemned Pope Benedict XVI on Saturday for making what it called "a big mistake" in his comments on Islam and demanded an apology, the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported.
"The pope's expression contradicted his own leadership of a divine religion. Promotion of incorrect beliefs (about Islam) is considered a big mistake," Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini was quoted as saying.
Hosseini said the pope should "revise and correct" his remarks in order to prevent Muslims' indignation.
In the first reaction from a top Christian leader, the head of Egypt's Coptic Orthodox Church said in remarks published Saturday that Pope Benedict XVI's comments on Islam were "against the teachings of Christ."
Coptic Pope Shenouda III told the pro-government Al-Ahram newspaper that he didn't hear the pope's exact words, but that "any remarks which offend Islam and Muslims are against the teachings of Christ."
"Christianity and Christ's teachings instruct us not to hurt others, either in their convictions or their ideas, or any of their symbols - religious symbols," Shenouda was quoted as saying.
Egypt's Copts, whose liturgy follows Eastern Orthodox Christian traditions rather than the Vatican, account for an estimated 10 percent of Egypt's 73 million people.
Also on Saturday, Indonesians gathered outside of the Palestinian Embassy in Jakarta in protest over the pope's remarks.
On Friday night, some 2,000 Palestinians angrily protested against the pope in Gaza City, accusing him of leading a new Crusade against the Muslim world.
Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh Friday joined the growing chorus of criticism in the Muslim world against Pope Benedict XVI, saying he had offended Muslims everywhere.
Lebanon's most senior Shiite Muslim cleric on Friday denounced Pope Benedict XVI's recent remarks about Muslim holy war, and demanded the Pope personally apologize for insulting Islam.
"We do not accept the apology through Vatican channels ... and ask him [Benedict] to offer a personal apology - not through his officials - to Muslims for this false reading [of Islam]," Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah told worshippers in his Friday prayers sermon.
Fadlallah's words were some of the strongest yet in response to the pontiff's remarks on Islam's prophet Mohammed and holy war, during a speech this week in Germany, which angered many in the Muslim world.
"We call on the Pope to carry out a scientific and fastidious reading of Islam. We do not want him to succumb to the propaganda of the enemy led by Judaism and imperialism against Islam," Fadlallah said.
On Friday, Pakistan's parliament unanimously adopted a resolution condemning Benedict for making what it called "derogatory" comments about Islam, and seeking an apology. Hours later, its Foreign Ministry summoned the Vatican's ambassador to express regret over the remarks.
About 100 worshippers demonstrated after Friday prayers at Egypt's Al-Azhar mosque, the Sunni Arab world's most prominent institution, chanting "Oh Crusaders, oh cowards! Down with the Pope!"
Egypt's Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit said on Friday Pope Benedict XVI must explain himself after insulting the Muslim world with "unfortunate" remarks about Islam and jihad.
"He has to explain himself, and tell us what exactly did he mean," Gheit told The Associated Press. "It can't just be left like that."
Many attributed the Pope's comments to a larger political bias against Muslims. "This is part of the whole war against Islam. Whenever we close a door on evil, they open another door," said an Egyptian man who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.
"These Christians are all infidels. Benedict himself is an infidel and a blind man. Doesn't he see that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and other places were waged by Christians?" another worshipper said.One of the protest's organizers, a Muslim Brotherhood figure, shouted into a microphone, demanding an official apology from the Vatican.
Hundreds of Egyptian riot police wearing black helmets and carrying heavy
shields surrounded the mosque, preventing protesters from spilling over into the streets.
Fadlallah said he condemns "and protests in the strongest terms" the Pope's comments, "particularly his quoting without any occasion of the words of the emperor in which he insults Prophet Mohammed."
Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Saniora instructed Lebanon's ambassador to the Vatican, Naji Abi Assi, to visit the Vatican Foreign Ministry to seek
clarifications on the pontiff's remarks, a Lebanese government official said Friday.
In neighboring Syria, the grand mufti, the country's top Sunni Muslim
religious authority, sent a letter to the pope saying he feared the pontiff's comments on Islam would worsen interfaith relations. Sheik Ahmad Badereddine Hassoun, a moderate cleric, said the comments "raise intellectual, cultural and religious problems between followers of religious faiths."
The letter, addressed to the Pope and delivered to the Vatican embassy in
Damascus, avoided sharp criticism however, reflecting tight control by Syria's secular regime.
"We expect that what has been attributed to your holiness is not true and hope we can all work together on spreading divine values that call for harmony, accord and cooperation," Hassoun wrote.
Notably, the most violent denunciation so far has come from Turkey - a
moderate democracy seeking EU membership, which Benedict plans to visit in November.
Salih Kapusuz, deputy leader of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's Islamic-rooted party, said Friday that Benedict's remarks were either "the result of pitiful ignorance" about Islam and its prophet, or worse, a deliberate distortion of the truths.
"He has a dark mentality that comes from the darkness of the Middle Ages. He is a poor thing that has not benefited from the spirit of reform in the Christian world," Kapusuz told Turkish state media. "It looks like an effort to revive the mentality of the Crusades."
"Benedict, the author of such unfortunate and insolent remarks, is going down in history for his words," he said. "He is going down in history in the same category as leaders such as Hitler and Mussolini."
Even Turkey's staunchly pro-secular opposition party demanded that the Pope apologize to Muslims before his visit. Another party led a demonstration outside Ankara's largest mosque, and a group of about 50 people left a black wreath outside the Vatican's diplomatic mission.
Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi has tried to defuse anger, saying the Pope had not intended to offend Muslim sensibilities and insisting that Benedict respected Islam. In Pakistan, the Vatican envoy regretted "the hurt caused to Muslims."
But Muslim leaders said outreach efforts by papal emissaries were not enough. "We do not accept the apology through Vatican channels ... and ask him [Benedict] to offer a personal apology - not through his officials," Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah - Lebanon's most senior Shiite Muslim cleric - told worshippers Friday in Beirut, Lebanon.
Rashwan feared the official condemnations could be the precursor for widespread popular protests. Already there have been scattered demonstrations in several Muslim countries.
"What we have right now are public reactions to the Pope's comments from political and religious figures, but I'm not optimistic concerning the reaction from the general public, especially since we have no correction from the Vatican," Rashwan said
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Dog (Canine) Training
on: September 17, 2006, 09:21:15 AM
"The mention of the hip check reminds me that dominant dogs or people will try to occupy the space you're in, so for the non dog people that dog that always trys to lean on you is trying to dominate you in his mind."
When someone knocked at the door and I opened it, Zapata would stick his head out and announce himself with a low rumble. (When any of the Machado brothers came to visit, they would already be waiting with their hands cupped around their privates. The fact that he liked them all and would wag his tail upon seeing them did not change their protective posture while waiting for the door to be opened) This was fine with me, my front door at the time was in a narrow passageway with virtaully no visibility from the street. When all was well I would give him the all clear signal (a brief moment on touch with the index finger on his muzzle) and Z. would go lean against the person's leg and demand to have his chest be scratched. It having been established that he was on duty on his turf and was respected as such, he then would turn and come back into the house and completely ignore the people in question, unless they were buds of mine/his.
I had always thought of this lean/"Scratch my chest please" thing as his way of saying "Sorry I rumbled at you, its just my job and we're cool now" but now that you mention it as a dominance thing, I can see it that way too.
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Dog (Canine) Training
on: September 16, 2006, 09:16:31 AM
Many good and interesting points.
What I am about to say is simply my experience with Akitas. IMO Akitas have strong personalities with qualities distinct from any other breed with which I am familiar. They can seem quite arrogant, but really they simply respect themselves highly. Treating an Akita like other dogs is a set-up for conflict. The AKC video on the Akita shows one being given the command to jump an obedience fence. The Akita goes to a tree, lifts its leg, THEN comes back to the fence and jumps it.
Akita people laugh in recognition when they see this one. I have universally been told that Akita should never be put through shutzhund (sp?) work because they already are quite willing and able enough to take on humans and that such training would result in an animal that was too much for society.
For someone to be right for Akitas and vice versa there needs to be a desire for an independent minded dog whose respect you must earn. Its a hard thing to describe, but when it is there, a disapproving tone can leave the dog crushed. I remember one time I spoke with disapproval to Zapata. A couple of hours later I noticed I hadn't seen him for quite some time and then realized he was laying down at the far end of the hall (a place he never used) sadly awaiting my decision to recall him from his shame. The shame was mine and henceforth I was much more aware of the power that my word had.
When I first got Zapata, the breeder told me that the day would come when he would test me. He never did, but he sought out some other humans. Curiously enough, this included the breeder! I was walking Z. down the street and saw the breeder talking to the owner of the exotic car dealership and he saw me and called me over. As he talked to the dealer about how wonderful Akitas were he kneeled next to Z. and put his arm over his shoulders in a possessive way. Z first looked at him like "Get your hands off me you idiot" (Akitas are usually poker-faced, but VERY expressive when they wish) but the breeder didn't notice. He began a deep rumble in his chest and still the breeder blathered on. I hesitated, not wanted to embarass the dealer in front of this man whom he obviously was trying to impress. Finally Z rose up and the dealer instinctively did so as well and Z put his paws on the dealers's shoulders and rumbled in his face from about 2 inches away. No teeth bared, no snarl, just a low rumble. After a second, he returned to all fours and ignored the breeder. There was an awkward moment, and we walked on.
Another time, there was a body builder that Z didn't like-- maybe it was the smell of the steroids in his system (but then lots of people didn't like him either) and Z did the same front paws on the shoulders thing and humped him twice to his face before I could say anything. "Z!" I said in a shocked voice, and he got down and, confident of his dominance, ignored the man.
In the previously mentioned incident in which he pinned someone to the wall by the testicles, when I gathered my wits and called him off, his arrogant assurance of dominance was such that he turned his back on the guy, laid down again, and pretended to be asleep.
I tell these stories to give examples of what we might be dealing with. Because Akitas are what they are, the commands which are given should be few and with good reason, but those few given need to be respected.
Before Morro (who was FAR less aggro than Z.) hit puberty, I took him to the dog park everyday with the idea of socializing him as much as possible. (Given the Thosa Mastiff part of Akita lineage, the Akitas are genetically dog agressive) As the juices of adolescence began to hit, his behavior began to change. At 9 months (95 pounds), upon seeing an Irish Wolfhound (170 pounds) that had bullied him elsewhere at 6 months (65 pounds?), he knocked it across the park before I could pull him off the IW which was cringing in fear at the unexpected intensity. Naturally, Morro started feeling pretty cocky and a few days thereafter I saw his body language change towards a large male that had just entered the park. As he headed over, I called him. He heard me but deliberately defied me and continued to head over with what to me was clearly bad intention. So I ran up along side him and picked him up by the scruff of the neck amd the loose skin at the base of the tail and carried him thusly across the park, put his leash on, and took him home. M. was quite respectful for quite some time thereafter.
Because Ryan mentioned his thoughts on dog parks, I go on to mention that the alpha of the park at the time that we went was a three year old Malamute (120ish) who saw in M. a rising challenger to his status. Thus he was always hip checking M. At 11 months of age, M. had enough and put him yelping within 5 seconds of iniitiating his drive. I saw the writing on the wall, and stopped taking him to the dog park. I would say that my experiment in socializing M with puppyhood experience in the dog park was a failure. With Z. I simply knew that the approach of any other male was a fight 100% of the time and acted accordingly. With M, he could lure me into thinking he would behave himself and then start up a fight for no reason I could discern with a dog that wasn't a challenge. BTW, neither one ever hurt the other dog. Z. was a master of dissing the other dog from a distance and provoking it into coming over. Z would either swallow the muzzle on the first move, pin it by the throat or in one case of a dog with a fight collar put it on its back and grabbed it by the testicles
. M. would simply look to pin them down with his chest.
So, in answer to my own question, according to the particulars of the situation:
1) pick up by the scruff of the neck and base of tail (this is very strong and should be used quite sparingly)
2) squeeze the muzzle while looking into the eyes and giving a blow up the nose
3) pin by the neck. This I use with our current dog, a Cairn terrier (don't ask, it is what the children wanted
) when it jumps up on people and ignores command to cease, or when it barks mindlessly from the front deck at passers-by) This has worked very well with lasting effect.
Again, I am not a trainer.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Free Speech vs. Islamic Fascism (formerly Buy DANISH!!!)
on: September 16, 2006, 07:57:49 AM
The Pope's Real Threat
Many people have written about the controversy over Pope Benedict's recent
remarks at the University of Regensburg, where he quoted a medieval emperor
about the barbarity of forced religious conversions. In a replay of the
Prophet Cartoon madness, Muslims only escalated their rhetoric after the
Vatican apologized for any offense the quotation may have given followers of
Islam. Despite apologizing Wednesday for quoting Manuel II's words from 1391
(but not for its argument against violence in religion), Muslims burnt
effigies of the Roman Catholic leader and staged demonstrations around the
"Protesters took to the streets in a series of countries with large Muslim
populations, including India and Iraq. The ruling party in Turkey likened
Pope Benedict XVI to Hitler and Mussolini and accused him of reviving the
mentality of the Crusades. In Kashmir, an effigy of the pontiff was burnt.
At Friday prayers in the Iranian capital, Teheran, a leading ayatollah
described the Pope as "rude and weak-minded". Pakistan's parliament passed a
motion condemning the head of the Roman Catholic Church. Ismail Haniya, the
Palestinian prime minister, criticised him hours after a grenade attack on a
church in the Gaza Strip. ...
The head of Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Mohammed Mahdi Akef, said the
remarks "aroused the anger of the whole Islamic world".
Similar comments were made in other Muslim capitals, raising fears of a
repetition of the anger that followed the publication of cartoons depicting
the Prophet Mohammed in a Danish newspaper earlier this year."
All this has shown is that Muslims missed the point of the speech, and in
fact have endeavored to fulfill Benedict's warnings rather than prove him
wrong. If one reads the speech at Regensburg, the entire speech, one
understands that the entire point was to reject violence in pursuing
religion in any form, be it Islam, Christianity, Judaism, or Bahai. The
focal point of the speech was not the recounting of the debate between
Manuel II and the unnamed Persian, but rather the rejection of reason and of
God that violence brings (emphasis mine):
"The decisive statement in this argument against violent conversion is this:
not to act in accordance with reason is contrary to God's nature. The
editor, Theodore Khoury, observes: For the emperor, as a Byzantine shaped by
Greek philosophy, this statement is self-evident. But for Muslim teaching,
God is absolutely transcendent. His will is not bound up with any of our
categories, even that of rationality. Here Khoury quotes a work of the noted
French Islamist R. Arnaldez, who points out that Ibn Hazn went so far as to
state that God is not bound even by his own word, and that nothing would
oblige him to reveal the truth to us. Were it God's will, we would even have
to practise idolatry."
This is really the crux of the argument, which is that argument, debate, and
rhetoric are absolutely essential in forming any kind of philosophy,
including religious doctrine. The words of sacred text do not cover all
situations in the world, and therefore development of a solid philosophical
body of thought is critical to growth and wisdom. That requires the ability
to challenge and to criticize without fear of retribution, a difficulty that
most faiths struggle to overcome.
Islam, on the other hand, doesn't bother to try. Benedict never says this
explicitly, but Islam's demands that all criticism be silenced turns
doctrine into dictatorship, which rejects God on a very basic level. A
central tenet of most religions is that humans lack the divine perfection to
claim knowledge of the totality of the Divine wisdom. Islam practices a form
of supremacy that insists on unquestioned obedience or at least silence of
all criticism, especially from outsiders, and creates a violent reaction
against it when it occurs.
Islam bullies people into silence, and then obedience. We saw this with the
Prophet Cartoons, a series of editorial criticisms that pale into
insignificance when seen against similar cartoons from the Muslim media
regarding Christians and especially Jews. It is precisely this impulse about
which Benedict warns can occur in any religion, but modern Muslims show that
they are by far the widest purveyors of this impulse.
Unfortunately, the Muslims are not the only people who missed the point. The
New York Times editorial board joins Muslims in demanding an apology and an
end to criticism of Islam:
"There is more than enough religious anger in the world. So it is
particularly disturbing that Pope Benedict XVI has insulted Muslims, quoting
a 14th-century description of Islam as "evil and inhuman." ...
Muslim leaders the world over have demanded apologies and threatened to
recall their ambassadors from the Vatican, warning that the pope's words
dangerously reinforce a false and biased view of Islam. For many Muslims,
holy war - jihad - is a spiritual struggle, and not a call to violence. And
they denounce its perversion by extremists, who use jihad to justify murder
The Vatican issued a statement saying that Benedict meant no offense and in
fact desired dialogue."
The Times missed the point, too. They aren't satisfied with the explanation
offered by the Vatican. They want a "deep and persuasive apology" for
Benedict's temerity in criticizing the use of violence and rejection of
reason in religion, and specifically using a six-hundred-year-old quote that
insulted people who regularly insult everyone else, including other Muslims.
The Times counsels surrender to the threats and the violence.
Benedict opposes both. That's the real threat behind the Pope's speech, and
don't think the radical Muslims don't understand it.http://www.captainsquartersblog.com/mt/archives/008071.php
From a column in the WSJ:
Another AP dispatch quotes a spokeswoman for the Pakistani Foreign Ministry, Tasnim Aslam: "Anyone who describes Islam as a religion as intolerant encourages violence." Aslam's view of Islam can be described, charitably, as passive-aggressive.
If Kapusuz and Aslam are so concerned about Islam's reputation, why don't they denounce those of their coreligionists who do evil and inhuman things in the name of their faith? Most likely because they are afraid of them. In the eyes of a jihadi, a moderate Muslim is something worse than an infidel: an apostate.
By contrast, attacking Benedict is cost-free. After all, how many suicide bombers does the pope have?
The Pope?s Words
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?E-MailPrint Save
Published: September 16, 2006
There is more than enough religious anger in the world. So it is particularly disturbing that Pope Benedict XVI has insulted Muslims, quoting a 14th-century description of Islam as ?evil and inhuman.?
In the most provocative part of a speech this week on ?faith and reason,? the pontiff recounted a conversation between an ?erudite? Byzantine Christian emperor and a ?learned? Muslim Persian circa 1391. The pope quoted the emperor saying, ?Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.?
Muslim leaders the world over have demanded apologies and threatened to recall their ambassadors from the Vatican, warning that the pope?s words dangerously reinforce a false and biased view of Islam. For many Muslims, holy war ? jihad ? is a spiritual struggle, and not a call to violence. And they denounce its perversion by extremists, who use jihad to justify murder and terrorism.
The Vatican issued a statement saying that Benedict meant no offense and in fact desired dialogue. But this is not the first time the pope has fomented discord between Christians and Muslims.
In 2004 when he was still the Vatican?s top theologian, he spoke out against Turkey?s joining the European Union, because Turkey, as a Muslim country was ?in permanent contrast to Europe.?
A doctrinal conservative, his greatest fear appears to be the loss of a uniform Catholic identity, not exactly the best jumping-off point for tolerance or interfaith dialogue.
The world listens carefully to the words of any pope. And it is tragic and dangerous when one sows pain, either deliberately or carelessly. He needs to offer a deep and persuasive apology, demonstrating that words can also heal.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: WW3
on: September 16, 2006, 12:11:10 AM
The U.S. War, Five Years On
By George Friedman
It has been five years since the Sept. 11 attacks. In thinking about the
course of the war against al Qaeda, two facts emerge pre-eminent.
The first is that the war has succeeded far better than anyone would have
thought on Sept. 12, 2001. We remember that day clearly, and had anyone told
us that there would be no more al Qaeda attacks in the United States for at
least five years, we would have been incredulous. Yet there have been no
The second fact is that the U.S. intervention in the Islamic world has not
achieved its operational goals. There are multiple insurgencies under way in
Iraq, and the United States does not appear to have sufficient force or
strategic intent to suppress them. In Afghanistan, the Taliban has
re-emerged as a powerful fighting force. It is possible that the relatively
small coalition force -- a force much smaller than that fielded by the
defeated Soviets in Afghanistan -- can hold it at bay, but clearly coalition
troops cannot annihilate it.
A Strategic Response
The strategic goal of the United States on Sept. 12, 2001, was to prevent
any further attacks within the United States. Al Qaeda, defined as the
original entity that orchestrated the 1998 attacks against the U.S.
embassies in Africa, the USS Cole strike and 9/11, has been thrown into
disarray and has been unable to mount a follow-on attack without being
detected and disrupted. Other groups, loosely linked to al Qaeda or linked
only by name or shared ideology, have carried out attacks, but none have
been as daring and successful as 9/11.
In response to 9/11, the United States resorted to direct overt and covert
intervention throughout the Islamic world. With the first intervention, in
Afghanistan, the United States and coalition forces disrupted al Qaeda's
base of operations, destabilized the group and forced it on the defensive.
Here also, the stage was set for a long guerrilla war that the United States
cannot win with the forces available.
The invasion of Iraq, however incoherent the Bush administration's
explanation of it might be, achieved two things. First, it convinced Saudi
Arabia of the seriousness of American resolve and caused the Saudis to
become much more aggressive in cooperating with U.S. intelligence. Second,
it allowed the United States to occupy the most strategic ground in the
Middle East -- bordering on Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria and Iran.
From here, the United States was able to pose overt threats and to stage
covert operations against al Qaeda. Yet by invading Iraq, the United States
also set the stage for the current military crisis.
The U.S. strategy was to disrupt al Qaeda in three ways:
1. Bring the intelligence services of Muslim states -- through persuasion,
intimidation or coercion -- to provide intelligence that was available only
to them on al Qaeda's operations.
2. By invading Afghanistan and Iraq, use main force to disrupt al Qaeda and
to intimidate and coerce Islamic states. In other words, use Operation 2 to
achieve Operation 1.
3. Use the intelligence gained by these methods to conduct a range of covert
operations throughout the world, including in the United States itself, to
disrupt al Qaeda operations.
The problem, however, was this. The means used to compel cooperation with
the intelligence services in countries such as Pakistan or Saudi Arabia
involved actions that, while successful in the immediate intent, left U.S.
forces exposed on a battleground where the correlation of forces, over time,
ceased to favor the United States. In other words, while the invasions of
Afghanistan and Iraq did achieve their immediate ends and did result in
effective action against al Qaeda, the outcome was to expose the U.S. forces
to exhausting counterinsurgency that they were not configured to win.
Hindsight: The Search for an Ideal Strategy
The ideal outcome likely would have been to carry out the first and third
operations without the second. As many would argue, an acceptable outcome
would have been to carry out the Afghanistan operation without going into
Iraq. This is the crux of the debate that has been raging since the Iraq
invasion and that really began earlier, during the Afghan war, albeit in
muted form. On the one side, the argument is that by invading Muslim
countries, the United States has played into al Qaeda's hands and actually
contributed to radicalization among Islamists -- and that by refraining from
invasion, the Americans would have reduced the threat posed by al Qaeda. On
the other side, the argument has been made that without these two
invasions -- the one for direct tactical reasons, the other for
psychological and political reasons -- al Qaeda would be able to operate
securely and without effective interference from U.S. intelligence and that,
therefore, these invasions were the price to be paid.
There are three models, then, that have been proposed as ideals:
1. The United States should have invaded neither Afghanistan nor Iraq, but
instead should have relied entirely on covert measures (with various levels
of restraint suggested) to defeat al Qaeda.
2. The United States should have invaded Afghanistan to drive out al Qaeda
and disrupt the organization, but should not have invaded Iraq.
3. The United States needed to invade both Iraq and Afghanistan -- the
former for strategic reasons and to intimidate key players, the latter to
disrupt al Qaeda operations and its home base.
It is interesting to pause and consider that the argument is rarely this
clear-cut. Those arguing for Option 1 rarely explain how U.S. covert
operations would be carried out, and frequently oppose those operations as
well. Those who make the second argument fail to explain how, given that the
command cell of al Qaeda had escaped Afghanistan, the United States would
continue the war -- or more precisely, where the Americans would get the
intelligence to fight a covert war. Those who argue for the third course --
the Bush administration -- rarely explain precisely what the strategic
purpose of the war was.
In fact, 9/11 created a logic that drove the U.S. responses. Before any
covert war could be launched, al Qaeda's operational structure had to be
disrupted -- at the very least, to buy time before another attack.
Therefore, an attack in Afghanistan had to come first (and did, commencing
about a month after 9/11). Calling this an invasion, of course, would be an
error: The United States borrowed forces from Russian and Iranian allies in
Afghanistan -- and that, coupled with U.S. air power, forced the Taliban out
of the cities to disperse, regroup and restart the war later.
Covert War and a Logical Progression
The problem that the United States had with commencing covert operations
against al Qaeda was weakness in its intelligence system. To conduct a
covert war, you must have excellent intelligence -- and U.S. intelligence on
al Qaeda in the wake of 9/11 was not good enough to sustain a global covert
effort. The best intelligence on al Qaeda, simply given the nature of the
group as well as its ideology, was in the hands of the Pakistanis and the
Saudis. At the very least, Islamic governments were more likely to have
accumulated the needed intelligence than the CIA was.
The issue was in motivating these governments to cooperate with the U.S.
effort. The Saudis in particular were dubious about U.S. will, given
previous decades of behavior. Officials in Riyadh frankly were more worried
about al Qaeda's behavior within Saudi Arabia if they collaborated with the
Americans than they were about the United States acting resolutely. Recall
that the Saudis asked U.S. forces to leave Saudi Arabia after 9/11. Changing
the kingdom's attitude was a necessary precursor to waging the covert war,
just as Afghanistan was a precursor to changing attitudes in Pakistan.
Invading Iraq was a way for the United States to demonstrate will, while
occupying strategic territory to bring further pressure against countries
like Syria. It was also a facilitator for a global covert war. The
information the Saudis started to provide after the U.S. invasion was
critical in disrupting al Qaeda operations. And the Saudis did, in fact, pay
the price for collaboration: Al Qaeda rose up against the regime, staging
its first attack in the kingdom in May 2003, and was repressed.
In this sense, we can see a logical progression. Invading Afghanistan
disrupted al Qaeda operations there and forced Pakistani President Gen.
Pervez Musharraf to step up cooperation with the United States. Invading
Iraq reshaped Saudi thinking and put the United States in a position to
pressure neighboring countries. The two moves together increased U.S.
intelligence capabilities decisively and allowed it to disrupt al Qaeda.
But it also placed U.S. forces in a strategically difficult position. Any
U.S. intervention in Asia, it has long been noted, places the United States
at a massive disadvantage. U.S. troops inevitably will be outnumbered. They
also will be fighting on an enemy's home turf, far away from everything
familiar and comfortable. If forced into a political war, in which the enemy
combatants use the local populace to hide themselves -- and if that populace
is itself hostile to the Americans -- the results can be extraordinarily
unpleasant. Thus, the same strategy that allowed the United States to
disrupt al Qaeda also placed U.S. forces in strategically difficult
positions in two theaters of operation.
Mission Creep and Crisis
The root problem was that the United States did not crisply define the
mission in either Iraq or Afghanistan. Obviously, the immediate purpose was
to create an environment in which al Qaeda was disrupted and the
intelligence services of Muslim states felt compelled to cooperate with the
United States. But by revising the mission upward -- from achieving these
goals to providing security to rooting out Baathism and the Taliban, then to
providing security against insurgents and even to redefining these two
societies as democracies -- the United States overreached. The issue was not
whether democracy is desirable; the issue was whether the United States had
sufficient forces at hand to reshape Iraqi and Afghan societies in the face
If the Americans had not at first expected resistance, they certainly
discovered that they were facing it shortly after taking control of the
major cities of each country. At that moment, they had to make a basic
decision between pursuing the United States' own interests or defining the
interest as transforming Afghan and Iraqi society. At the moment Washington
chose transformation, it had launched into a task it could not fulfill --
or, if it could fulfill it, would be able to do so only with enormously more
force than it placed in either country. When we consider that 300,000 Soviet
troops could not subdue Afghanistan, we get a sense of how large a force
would have been needed.
The point here is this: The means used by the United States to cripple al
Qaeda also created a situation that was inherently dangerous to the United
States. Unless the mission had been parsed precisely -- with the United
States doing what it needed to do to disrupt al Qaeda but not overreaching
itself -- the outcome would be what we see now. It is, of course, easy to
say that the United States should have intervened, achieved its goals and
left each country in chaos; it is harder to do. Nevertheless, the United
States intervened, did not leave the countries and still has chaos. That can
be said with hindsight. Acting so callously with foresight is more
There remains the question of whether the United States could have crippled
al Qaeda without invading Iraq -- a move that still would have left
Afghanistan in its current state, but which would seem to have been better
than the situation now at hand. The answer to that question rests on two
elements. First, it is simply not clear that the Saudis' appreciation of the
situation, prior to March 2003, would have moved them to cooperate, and
extensive diplomacy over the subject prior to the invasion had left the
Americans reasonably convinced that the Saudis could do more. Advocates of
diplomacy would have to answer the question of what more the United States
could have done on that score. Now, perhaps, over time the United States
could have developed its own intelligence sources within al Qaeda. But time
was exactly what the United States did not have.
But most important, the U.S. leadership underestimated the consequences of
an invasion. They set their goals as high as they did because they did not
believe that the Iraqis would resist -- and when resistance began, they
denied that it involved anything more than the ragtag remnants of the old
regime. Their misreading of Iraq was compounded with an extraordinary
difficulty in adjusting their thinking as reality unfolded.
But even without the administration's denial, we can see in hindsight that
the current crisis was hardwired into the strategy. If the United States
wanted to destroy al Qaeda, it had to do things that would suck it into the
current situation -- unless it was enormously skilled and nimble, which it
certainly was not. In the end, the primary objective -- defending the
homeland -- was won at the cost of trying to achieve goals in Iraq and
Afghanistan that cannot be achieved.
In the political debate that is raging today in the United States, our view
is that both sides are quite wrong. The administration's argument for
building democracy in Iraq and Afghanistan misses the point that the United
States cannot be successful in this, because it lacks the force to carry out
the mission. The administration's critics, who argue that Iraq particularly
diverted attention from fighting al Qaeda, fail to appreciate the complex
matrix of relationships the United States was trying to adjust with its
invasion of Iraq.
The administration is incapable of admitting that it has overreached and led
U.S. forces into an impossible position. Its critics fail to understand the
intricate connections between the administration's various actions and the
failure of al Qaeda to strike inside the United States for five years.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: WW3
on: September 15, 2006, 08:27:49 AM
The Right Troops in the Right Places
By SETH MOULTON
Published: September 15, 2006
Today's NY Times
APPROACHING the city of Karbala last year for a meeting with a local Iraqi Army commander, my convoy of four Army Humvees came across hundreds of bearded men in green camouflage uniforms lining the road. They were directing traffic and searching vehicles for bombs ? good things ? and they waved us through, just as Iraqi security forces should.
But we don?t issue green uniforms to Iraqi troops.
After the meeting, I sent an e-mail message to my headquarters in Baghdad, asking whether an entire Iraqi battalion, usually 700 to 1,000 soldiers, had been newly authorized for this relatively peaceful province.
Of course, it hadn?t. This was another new militia. And even though the militia had already been approved by Iraqi officials, and recruited, outfitted and deployed in daily operations, no senior American commander in Baghdad knew about it.
Still, it wasn?t hard to explain how this could happen in Karbala, a major city just two hours from Baghdad. There were hardly any Americans there.
The last American base in Karbala was closed in the summer of 2005. Ostensibly our departure was a victory ? an area turned over to Iraqi control. The American troops weren?t sent home, though; they were simply shifted north to a town near Falluja, where they were needed more.
For most of 2005, I worked for the American commander in charge of training Iraqi security forces. My job was to keep tabs on Iraqi troops in several provinces south of Baghdad that were mostly Iraqi-controlled. As a young Marine lieutenant, I was honored to have the responsibility, but it was a sign of how thinly our forces are stretched. My team of two marines could have used about 50 more.
Time and again I watched as American forces drew down, and militias blossomed in the resulting power vacuum. The first provinces we are handing over to our Iraqi counterparts are in the heart of the Shiite south, an area where anti-American violence is minimal but ethnic hatred is brewing.
Sunni insurgents started attacking Shiites, who make up about 60 percent of all Iraqis, to destabilize the new Iraqi government. The Shiites? ethnic-based response, however, carried out by their militias, is what ignited the deeply sectarian violence that now threatens outright civil war. The premature departure of American troops from the places where the militias were born only feeds their growth. A good Iraqi friend from the area told me recently that Iraqis now call this time ?the militia era.?
In the long term, we must withdraw American troops, and replacing them with capable Iraqi forces is the right way to do it. But there are two serious problems with how we are putting this strategy into effect.
First, despite all rhetoric in Washington to the contrary, American commanders are being pressured to meet timelines rather than encouraged to wait until Iraqi forces are ready. ?Standing up? Iraqi troops is not enough; they must be well-trained.
Second, our strategy is based on consolidating American forces in huge megabases as a means to reduce numbers and, as advocated by several members of Congress, to ?move to the periphery.? This is exactly the opposite of what has been prescribed for decades to fight a counterinsurgency, or to squelch a fomenting civil war.
American military advisers, and the Green Berets they take after, are our greatest assets in Iraq because they are a model for how to fight insurgents and build indigenous forces. Our advisers teach the Iraqi troops everything from physical fitness to urban warfare tactics, and mentor their officers in leadership and mission planning.
I once visited an Iraqi base where a combination of officer corruption and insurgent activity had led to a severe water shortage. An entire battalion was ready to quit, but the Green Berets embedded with the Iraqis encouraged them to stay while they pressed for a solution ? and endured the shortage alongside the Iraqi soldiers. The battalion remained intact, and we discovered new problems with the Iraqi supply system and new tactics of local insurgents.
Our advisers can also thwart militia attempts to infiltrate the Iraqi units, and are better able to judge when the Iraqis are competent to take over. Most important, while sharing intelligence and conducting joint operations, these small groups of American soldiers and marines develop the trust of their Iraqi soldiers and the local populace. Our growing megabases do anything but.
So, what should we do? The obvious prescription to stop the rising violence is more troops, but the wrong kinds of soldiers and tactics only alienate the Iraqi people, strengthening the insurgency. On top of that, the Army and Marine Corps don?t have any extra troops to send. President Bush recently sent more American forces back into Baghdad, another place where militias took over after United States troops were withdrawn too quickly. But they too have to come from somewhere, and in turn we should expect those areas to become more violent.
This makes it all the more important to use the troops we have as effectively as possible.
We need more military advisers, including both Special Forces teams and specially trained conventional units. Our precious few Special Forces troops must focus on mentoring Iraqi troops, rather than on the more exciting diversion of unilateral raids. Some of our best Special Forces units were devoted to hunting down the Qaeda leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, but violence has only increased in the three months since his death. Had that same manpower and money been devoted to training Iraqi troops and stemming the growth of militias, we would have another Iraqi battalion or two ready to take our places.
While consolidating bases is a short-term way to reduce troop requirements, fielding more adviser teams will eventually allow more Americans to come home. American troops embedded with the Iraqis they train usually require less support than conventional units; many rely on the Iraqis for food, shelter and basic defenses. Green Berets in 12-man teams have already replaced entire battalions of conventional forces in some Iraqi cities.
Yet despite the success of advisers, the Army and Marine Corps still have a habit of sending their least capable troops to fill these positions. Many teams have trouble getting essential supplies like weapons and ammunition, even as the Army finds the resources to man speed traps on its ever-growing bases. Only 1 in 30 Americans deployed to Iraq serves as an embedded adviser. We can?t win this war from the Burger Kings and rec centers of our largest bases, nor can we afford the thousands of non-combat troops needed to support them.
Iraq?s militia problems are likely to get worse before they get better, and only a legitimate Iraqi government can rid the country of them completely. But we must be sure we are fighting the war we say we are. Both problems with our current strategy ? not waiting for Iraqi forces to be ready, and consolidating our bases at the expense of classic counterinsurgency tactics like small adviser teams ? emanate from the overriding concern for bringing the troops home.
Pushing for withdrawal timelines is not helping the struggle in Iraq; encouraging the military to better fight the insurgency will. After all, winning the war would be the best reason to leave.
Seth Moulton was a Marine infantry officerin Iraq from March toSeptember 2003 and from July 2004 toOctober 2005. He is writing a book about his service.
DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Mexico
on: September 15, 2006, 07:20:28 AM
Writing May Be Oldest in Western Hemisphere
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By JOHN NOBLE WILFORD
Published: September 15, 2006
A stone slab bearing 3,000-year-old writing previously unknown to scholars has been found in the Mexican state of Veracruz, and archaeologists say it is an example of the oldest script ever discovered in the Western Hemisphere.
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Courtesy of Stephen Houston
Sixty-two distinct signs are inscribed on the stone slab, which was discovered in the state of Veracruz in Mexico.
Oldest Writing in the Western Hemisphere
Oldest Writing in the New World (Science)The Mexican discoverers and their colleagues from the United States reported yesterday that the order and pattern of carved symbols appeared to be that of a true writing system and that it had characteristics strikingly similar to imagery of the Olmec civilization, considered the earliest in the Americas.
Finding a heretofore unknown writing system is rare. One of the last major ones to come to light, scholars say, was the Indus Valley script, recognized from excavations in 1924.
Now, scholars are tantalized by a message in stone in a script unlike any other and a text they cannot read. They are excited by the prospect of finding more of this writing, and eventually deciphering it, to crack open a window on one of the most enigmatic ancient civilizations.
The inscription on the Mexican stone, with 28 distinct signs, some of which are repeated, for a total of 62, has been tentatively dated from at least 900 B.C., possibly earlier. That is 400 or more years before writing was known to have existed in Mesoamerica, the region from central Mexico through much of Central America, and by extension, anywhere in the hemisphere.
Previously, no script had been associated unambiguously with the Olmec culture, which flourished along the Gulf of Mexico in Veracruz and Tabasco well before the Zapotec and Maya people rose to prominence elsewhere in the region. Until now, the Olmec were known mainly for the colossal stone heads they sculptured and displayed at monumental buildings in their ruling cities.
The stone was discovered by Mar?a del Carmen Rodr?guez of the National Institute of Anthropology and History of Mexico and Ponciano Ort?z of Veracruz University. The archaeologists, a married couple, are the lead authors of the report of the discovery, which is being published today in the journal Science.
The signs incised on the 26-pound stone, the researchers said in the report, ?link the Olmec to literacy, document an unsuspected writing system and reveal a new complexity to this civilization.?
Noting that the text ?conforms to all expectations of writing,? the researchers wrote that the sequences of signs reflected ?patterns of language, with the probable presence of syntax and language-dependent word orders.?
Several paired sequences of signs, scholars said, have even prompted speculation that the text contained poetic couplets.
Experts who have examined the Olmec symbols said they would need many more examples before they could hope to read what is written on the stone. They said it appeared that the symbols in the inscription were unrelated to later Mesoamerican scripts, suggesting that this Olmec writing might have been practiced for only a few generations and never spread to surrounding cultures.
Stephen D. Houston of Brown University, a co-author of the report and an authority on ancient writings, acknowledged that the apparent singularity of the script was a puzzle and would probably be emphasized by some scholars who question the influence of the Olmec on the course of later Mesoamerican cultures.
But Dr. Houston said the discovery ?could be the beginning of a new era of focus on the Olmec civilization.?
Other participants in the research include Michael D. Coe of Yale; Richard A. Diehl of the University of Alabama; Karl A. Taube of the University of California, Riverside; and Alfredo Delgado Calder?n, also of the National Institute of Anthropology and History.
Mesoamerican researchers not involved in the discovery agreed that the signs appeared to represent a true script and that their appearance could be expected to inspire more intensive exploration of the Olmec past. The civilization emerged about 1200 B.C. and virtually disappeared around 400 B.C.
In an accompanying article in Science, Mary Pohl, an anthropologist at Florida State University who has excavated Olmec ruins, was quoted as saying, ?This is an exciting discovery of great significance.?
A few other researchers were skeptical of the inscription?s date because the stone was uncovered in a gravel quarry where it and other artifacts were jumbled and possibly out of their original context.
The discovery team said that ceramic shards, clay figurines and other broken artifacts accompanying the stone appeared to be from a phase of Olmec culture ending about 900 B.C. They conceded, though, that the disarray at the site made it impossible to determine if the stone was in a place relating to the governing elite or a religious ceremony.
Dr. Diehl, a specialist in Olmec research, said, ?My colleagues and I are absolutely convinced the stone is authentic.?
Road builders digging gravel came across the stone in debris from an ancient mound at Cascajal, a place the discoverers said was in the ?Olmec heartland.? The village is on an island in southern Veracruz and about a mile from the ruins of San Lorenzo, the site of the dominant Olmec city from 1200 B.C. to 900 B.C.
That was in 1999, and Dr. Rodr?guez and Dr. Ort?z were called in, and they quickly recognized the potential importance of the find.
Only after years of further excavations, in which they hoped to find more writing specimens, and comparative analysis with Olmec iconography did the two invite other Mesoamerican scholars to join the study. After a few reports in recent years of Olmec ?writing? that failed to hold up, the team decided earlier this year that the Cascajal stone, as it is being called, was the real thing.
The tiny, delicate signs are incised on a block of soft serpentine stone 14 inches long, 8 inches wide and 5 inches thick. The inscription is on the stone?s concave top surface.
Dr. Houston, who was a leader in the decipherment of Maya writing, examined the stone with an eye to clues that this was true writing and not just iconography unrelated to a language. He said in an interview that he had detected regular patterns and order suggesting ?a text segmented into what almost look like sentences, with clear beginnings and clear endings.?
Some pictographic signs were frequently repeated, Dr. Houston said, particularly ones that looked like an insect or a lizard. He suspected that these were signs alerting the reader to the use of words that sound alike but have different meanings ? as in the difference in English of ?I? and ?eye.?
All in all, Dr. Houston concluded, ?the linear sequencing, the regularity of signs, the clear patterns of ordering, they tell me this is writing, but we don?t know what it says.?
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Howl of Respect to our Soldiers/Veterans
on: September 14, 2006, 05:18:18 PM
SEALs Receive Navy Cross
Pair Died Fighting Taliban in Afghanistan
By Ann Scott Tyson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, September 14, 2006; A12
Wounded and locked in a harrowing gunfight deep in Afghanistan's Hindu Kush mountains, Navy SEAL Petty Officer 2nd Class Matthew G. Axelson laid down covering fire so a teammate could escape -- an act of heroism for which Axelson was yesterday posthumously awarded the Navy Cross, the service's second-highest medal.
Fighting nearby, Petty Officer 2nd Class Danny P. Dietz was also mortally wounded but stood his ground in a barrage of fire from 30 to 40 Taliban militiamen who surrounded his four-man SEAL reconnaissance team on June 28, 2005. For his "undaunted courage," as described by the military, Dietz, 25, of Littleton, Colo., also posthumously received the Navy Cross yesterday in a ceremony at the U.S. Navy Memorial.
Families and comrades gathered to honor them on a chilly, gray evening, with flags on ships' masts waving in the breeze. One SEAL, who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of his work, recalled his close friend Axelson as laid back, a golfer and a quiet leader. His voice cracked as he described the inscription Axelson wrote on the back of a photograph of the two men that Axelson's wife gave him after Axelson died.
"But within the willingness to die for family and home, something inside us longs for someone to die beside. Someone to lock step with, another man with a heart like our own," the inscription read.
"I can't tell you how much I wish I could have been there for him," his friend told the gathering.
Patsy Dietz, 25, Dietz's widow, said her husband died during his final mission, only about two weeks before he was to return home. Describing him as a generous man who loved his dogs and who would hand out $20 bills to strangers, she said Dietz had volunteered for the deployment because he believed in the cause. She said he knew the risks that he faced. "Danny and his brothers went towards evil and ran forward and gave their last breath," she said in an interview.
The actions of Axelson and Dietz allowed a lone teammate to escape and survive, and he has also been awarded the Navy Cross, but the military has withheld his name for security reasons because he is still on active duty.
The perilous firefight erupted at 10,000 feet in some of the world's most rugged terrain along Afghanistan's border with Pakistan, when the SEAL team probed deep into enemy territory on a clandestine mission to kill or capture a Taliban militia leader. By nightfall that day, three of the SEALs lay dead, along with eight other SEALs and eight Army Special Operations aviators whose MH-47 Chinook helicopter crashed during a daring rescue attempt.
It was the worst death toll in a single day since the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in October 2001, and the biggest single loss of life for the Naval Special Warfare forces since the invasion of Normandy in World War II, the Navy reported.
The fatal mission -- Operation Red Wing -- began June 27, when Axelson, Dietz, Lt. Michael P. Murphy and the fourth unnamed SEAL, bearded and camouflaged, were inserted into heavily forested terrain east of the Afghan town of Asadabad to track down militia leader Ahman Shah.
The next day, however, the SEAL team was spotted and pointed out by local residents who were sympathetic to the Taliban. A Taliban force launched a "well-organized, three-sided attack," taking advantage of the high ground to assault the SEAL position using rifles and rocket-propelled grenades, according to an official military account.
"Three of the four SEALs were wounded. The fight relentlessly continued as the overwhelming militia forced them deeper into a ravine," it said.
About 45 minutes into the firefight, Murphy, 29, of Patchogue, N.Y., made radio contact with Bagram Air Base outside the capital, Kabul, asking for air support and reinforcements. Soon afterward, the Chinook lifted off with 16 special operations troops aboard on a mission to extract the surrounded SEALs.
The Chinook was escorted by Army attack helicopters, whose job was to suppress enemy ground forces to make it safe for the lightly armored troop carrier to land. But the heavier attack helicopters lagged behind at the high altitude and were outpaced by the Chinook, whose pilots then faced a life-or-death decision: Try to land unprotected in hazardous terrain in a battle zone, or wait while their wounded comrades on the ground risked being overrun.
They chose to land, but as the Chinook rushed into the fight, it was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade and crashed, killing all 16 men aboard.
Meanwhile, Axelson, 29, of Cupertino, Calif., "ignoring his injuries and demonstrating exceptional composure" urged his teammate to escape, according to the medal citation. "With total disregard for his own life and thinking only of his teammate's survival, he continued to attack the enemy, eliminating additional militia fighters, until he was mortally wounded by enemy fire," it said. His body was recovered July 10 after a massive military search effort in Afghanistan's Kunar Province.
Dietz was lauded for "undaunted courage in the face of heavy enemy fire, and absolute devotion to his teammates" as he remained behind to fight to defend his partners after he, too, was wounded.
? 2006 The Washington Post Companyhttp://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/09/13/AR2006091302071.html
Beach SEAL honored for his sacrifice in Afghanistan
By DALE EISMAN, The Virginian-Pilot
? September 14, 2006
Last updated: 1:29 AM
WASHINGTON - Danny Dietz was a quiet guy, devoted to his family, his dogs and his shipmates in the Navy's SEAL Team 2, a special-warfare unit based in Virginia Beach. The sort who never hesitated to take on extra responsibilities, extra burdens, one of his buddies remembered Wednesday, and who never thought there was anything remarkable about doing it.
Matt Axelson - "Cool Hand Luke" to his friends - was a Californian who loved golf, joking that he planned to hone his game for a career on the Senior PGA Tour once he got out of the Navy.
"No matter how hard I worked at something, he was always better," said friend Dave Albritton, a petty officer first class - but Axelson never boasted .
Under leaden skies and amid the bustle of rush hour on a memorial plaza in downtown Washington, more than 200 of the two men's friends, relatives and shipmates bit their lips and brushed away tears Wednesday evening as they expressed the nation's gratitude for the courage and sacrifice Axelson and Dietz exhibited on an Afghan mountainside last year.
The men were among 19 SEALS and U.S. Army NightStalkers killed June 28, 2005. It remains the bloodiest single day of Operation Enduring Freedom, the war in Afghanistan. Six of the SEALS killed were based in Virginia Beach.
"Heroes are ordinary people who make extraordinary decisions every day of their lives," sai d Lt. Brad Geary, a Dietz friend who spoke at the ceremony.
Their actions in the midst of a firefight with Taliban militiamen allowed another SEAL - the only survivor of the engagement - to escape and earned Axelson and Dietz the Navy Cross, the branch 's second-highest honor. The pair are part of Navy history because of the way they died, Geary said, but "these men are heroes because of the way they lived."
The citations presented Wednesday to their widows, Cindy Axelson and Maria Dietz, recounted how the men and two other SEALS tracking a Taliban leader in rugged northeastern Afghanistan were attacked on three sides by a force of perhaps 40 .
Dietz, 25, a gunner's mate second class, was wounded "in a hailstorm of enemy fire," his citation reads, but he continued returning fire and covering his teammates "until he was mortally wounded." Axelson, 29, a sonar technician second class, also kept fighting despite multiple wounds. "With total disregard for his own life," his citation reads, he laid down covering fire so the one surviving member could slip away.
That SEAL, who has never been identified publicly, was rescued several days later by other U.S. forces and received a Navy Cross earlier this year in a private ceremony at the White House, a Navy spokesman said. The service is still processing the record of the fourth man on the ground team, Lt. Michael Murphy, the spokesman added.
Eight other SEALS and the eight Army NightStalkers killed in the engagement died as they tried to come to the rescue of the four men on the ground. Their MH-47 Chinook helicopter was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade and crashed as it approached the battlefield.http://home.hamptonroads.com/stories/print.cfm?story=110985&ran=211415
DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Mexico
on: September 14, 2006, 03:15:46 PM
y, cambiando el tema completamente, uno mas:
'Dog' Arrested At Mexico's Request
POSTED: 1:54 pm EDT September 14, 2006
UPDATED: 4:02 pm EDT September 14, 2006
MSNBC has learned that U.S. officials have arrested TV reality star Duane "Dog" Chapman and two family members in Hawaii for extradition to Mexico.
Chapman's wife told MSNBC's Rita Cosby that heavily armed U.S. marshals arrived at the family's house today and took away Chapman, his brother, Tim, and son, Leland.
"I was getting the children ready for school and the U.S. marshals burst in our door and they just came right in and took him," said Beth Chapman on MSNBC.
"He was in shock. He was, he was shocked. He was shocked and he was amazed that the marshal's service that came to get him didn't even treat him as kind as he treats his own prisoners."
A representative from the Marshal's office had a different version of what happened in Hawaii. "There were 7 deputy marshals who went to Chapman's home," said Jay Beber, from the U.S. marshal's office in Hawaii. "We knocked on the door to announce that we were U.S. marshals. ? Mr. Chapman was compliant and very respectful."
The Chapmans were in custody and expected to remain in custody for three days until a bond hearing is held. Cosby said she was told that Mexican government officials wanted the three men sent back there in relation to a three-year-old case.
In 2003, the Chapmans went to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico to retrieve Max Factor heir Andrew Luster, who was wanted in the U.S. on rape charges. Bounty hunting is considered a crime in Mexico. At that time, Mexican prosecutors maintained that Luster's capture violated their sovereignty.
The Chapmans each could face up to 8 years in prison if they are returned to Mexico and convicted on kidnapping charges.
Luster is now in jail, serving a 124-year term, but at the time, the Chapmans were also jailed by Mexican authorities for a brief time three years ago.
The three returned to the United States after posting bail of their own.
Copyright 2006 by NBC10.com.
DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Mexico
on: September 14, 2006, 03:11:26 PM
Lopez Obrador Weighing His Next Move
The Mexican opposition leader must decide whether to form a shadow government or try to push reforms through protests.
By Sam Enriquez and Carlos Mart?nez, LA Times Staff Writers
September 14, 2006
MEXICO CITY ? Losing presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador will ask his followers Saturday whether they want him to head a parallel government or just chip away at the old one with a long campaign of civil disobedience.
A week after the nation's elections tribunal declared Felipe Calderon the president-elect, the summer-long protest movement by Lopez Obrador supporters demanding a national recount is fading. Tents pitched by demonstrators on Paseo de la Reforma, the capital's central boulevard, have started to disappear.
Despite apparently dwindling popular support, Lopez Obrador maintains a firm grip on a loyal core eager to reshape Mexico for its legions of poor.
He's expected to chart their next move at Saturday's National Democratic Convention, which he called to protest the July 2 election, narrowly won by Calderon, and to revamp the nation's institutions.
Lopez Obrador knows he lost the election fight, most analysts said. What he wants now is a permanent opposition to the Calderon government, and a lever to nudge his Democratic Revolution Party cohorts in Congress.
"He's trying to force changes on a double path: one within the institutions and the other one on the street," said Roger Bartra, a sociologist at the National Autonomous University of Mexico.
But Lopez Obrador will have to continue shaping hundreds of thousands of election protesters into a thriving leftist movement that can demand the attention of his party's congressional bloc, the second largest in the Senate and the lower house.
More than half a million delegates have signed up for Saturday's convention, organizers said, and tens of thousands more are expected to attend the event in the capital's central square, or Zocalo.
Delegates will decide whether they want to reform the government or start a new one ? a choice loaded with patriotic symbolism when offered on Mexico's Independence Day.
Simply declaring a new government doesn't give it any legitimacy. But followers of the charismatic Lopez Obrador don't seem worried.
The buzz among those rooting for a parallel government here is not whether the military will squash a nascent leftist rebellion or what to include in a reworked Mexican Constitution or even whether it's legal. It's over what to call their leader.
The longest thread on the convention's website forum concerns whether to declare Lopez Obrador the president of Mexico or name him "head of the resistance."
A Broader Debate
There's more to the discussion than a name: The many comments, protected by the forum's online anonymity, echo a broader debate over how far left to steer Mexico's new movement.
"He should be named 'Legitimate President' because it would be a very annoying counterbalance to Felipe Calderon," wrote "Hackal," who added, "He's already head of the resistance."
Others said they preferred a less provocative title than president, arguing that a direct challenge to the Mexican government was asking for trouble and reflected badly on their leader, who is often referred to by his initials.
"It's makes AMLO look like a dictator," said "Neon-Insurgents." "The key to the campaign of defamation against AMLO is to make him seem like a crazy person or a radical?. It's important that we're not so much a reactionary left but a left of center."
Rafael Hernandez Estrada, a member of the convention's organizing committee, said he believed delegates would favor naming Lopez Obrador the "elected president."
"We're also going to ask to create a parallel Cabinet," he said. "We won't vote on who'll be on the Cabinet. That will be up to the president."
None of the organizers could say what such a government would do next, or how they planned to govern. Lopez Obrador said the convention would draw its authority from Article 39 of the Mexican Constitution, which gives citizens the right to decide on their form of government.
But legal experts said the document does not envision changing the constitution by a show of hands on a public square, as planned for Saturday.
"Of course you can modify the form of government, but it has to be through established legal mechanisms," said Raul Carranca y Rivas, a law professor at the National Autonomous University of Mexico.
The registration of delegates, and their participation in the convention, keeps a tether on supporters and a ready-made contact list for Lopez Obrador as his recount campaign winds down. Some polls show his support fading.
Delegates could vote to keep the street blockades, but it's more likely protesters will go home next week, freeing up the Zocalo and several miles of Reforma after weeks of detours and worse-than-usual traffic jams, said Jose Agustin Ortiz Pinchetti, a member of the convention's organizing committee.
"We'll probably have new forms of civil resistance, but always peaceful ones," he said.
Lopez Obrador has not disclosed any plans beyond those that echo his campaign ? to narrow the income gap between rich and poor, and revamp the nation's justice system. Speaking to supporters this week, he promised a "true purification" of politics that would oust "domineering, ridiculous, mediocre, thieving politicians."
Lopez Obrador only hinted at using the pincer strategy of street protests and the PRD congressional bloc to implement his agenda. "We'll govern with one hand and transform with the other," he said in a speech Tuesday.
Bartra and other analysts are skeptical. "Lopez Obrador runs the risk of losing his influence over the PRD," Bartra said. "He's setting up all kind of confrontations, like when senators try to negotiate with other political parties."
Neither President Vicente Fox nor President-elect Calderon have had much to say about the planned convention. They have tried to drum up national pride during a week of Independence Day celebrations and turn attention away from Lopez Obrador's claim that the vote was fixed in favor of Calderon.
The threat of violent confrontation dimmed this week when Lopez Obrador agreed to keep protesters from the path of Saturday's Independence Day military parades in the Zocalo.
A Showdown of Sorts
Despite conceding the Zocalo to the military, however, he threatened a symbolic showdown with Fox on Friday night.
Fox, like most Mexican presidents, is to give the grito, or shout of independence, Friday night from the balcony of the National Palace.
Lopez Obrador, whose megawatt sound system and stage have stood all summer in front of the balcony where Fox is supposed to appear, says he may issue his own grito.
Calderon, who will take office Dec. 1, is on vacation until Monday, his spokesman said.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Invitation to dialog to Muslims
on: September 13, 2006, 11:46:12 PM
Only when a cause in another region would be of value in their own do the Moslems cooperate. For example, their widespread sympathy for the Palestinian Arab in his struggle against Zionism is translated into action only by the Arab states bordering on Palestine. The largest single group of Moslem believers lives in India, but its principle fear is of being swallowed up in a sea of Hindu millions; to these Moslems, the establishment of a colony of Jews three thousand miles to the west is by comparison a matter of little concern.
In addition to the dissension and selfish interests that tend to split the Moslem world from within, various foreign countries have parceled it into spheres of influence or areas of outright domination. From 1930 to 1940, only three Moslem states, with a total population of less than 40 million people, had any real degree of independence. They were Turkey, Iran, and Saudi Arabia, and each of these was jealous of the others and on the defensive to protect its national existence against the great powers.
6. Prostitution of leadership.?At the end of the 18th century, Moslem power had fallen so low that a series of self-appointed Protectors of Islam appeared. One of the earliest was Napoleon, who, as governor of Egypt from 1799 to 1802, outdid the old Moslem rulers in celebrating Islamic festivals and reviving decadent customs.
Later, Great Britain assumed the role, but her efforts had small success because her Zionist policy antagonized the Arabs.
Then Mussolini and Hitler represented themselves as guardians of the Moslems. Axis money and intrigue proved effective in many instances, so that with the approach of war, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and Rashid Ali al-Gailani of Iraq, among others, were in the Axis camp. In Iran, a group of important persons was formed into a loose political party which favored the Axis, and in Egypt the British could trust neither the king nor the premier.
The most recent claimant as Protector of Islam is the Soviet Union, which before the war showed little interest in championing religion but now realizes the value of such a rule as an instrument of policy. Thus, while the London BBC and Delhi radio have recently broadcast recitations in Arabic from the Koran and admonished the faithful to continue their devotions, Radio Moscow has told of the facilities which the Soviet Union had made available to pilgrims for traveling by air to Mecca.
Recent Soviet broadcasts have quoted the imam of the Moscow mosque, Sheikh Nasr ad-Din, on freedom of religion in the Soviet Union. The imam stated that "every Moslem in the U.S.S.R. is well aware of the fact that the Stalin constitution is a guarantee for the freedom of expression and belief," and (citing the oppression of Moslems under Christian regimes) that "Moslems in the U.S.S.R. always beseech Allah to protect the Soviet authorities and our great father and friend of all nations, the great and wise Stalin." The imam was also quoted as saying that "as a result of the consideration shown by the government toward Soviet Moslems, tombs of distinguished Moslem religious leaders are being maintained" and reconstructed. Another Moscow broadcast, directed at Arabic-speaking peoples, declared that rumors circulating in Arab circles regarding the Soviet Union's attitude toward religion, particularly the Islamic, were "nothing but political maneuvers of the imperialists, who are afraid of the Arab march on the road of democracy and true liberty."
The election in Moscow of the Grand Mufti of the Central Muslim Administration is reported to have been scheduled for January. Arab circles are reported to have taken more interest in this assembly of Moslems than in any other Soviet propaganda effort. It is to be anticipated that the election of the Grand Mufti of the Central Moslem Administration may prove as useful propaganda as was the election of Alexius to the Patriarchate of All Russia. The Soviets have also solicited the favor of the Coptic Church in Egypt and that of other religious groups in the Middle East.
The net result of all these intrigues has been that the Moslems are properly suspicious of their leaders. The moment a new leader appears, he is tempted by various European powers to accept their "assistance," and almost inevitably his loyalty and discretion are eventually sold to one of them.
Present Forces Tending to Strengthen Moslem Unity
1. The Pilgrimage to Mecca.?This ancient duty formerly brought many hundreds of thousands of pilgrims from all sections of the Moslem world to Mecca, where ideas were actively exchanged, along with goods. Although the pilgrimage is still made (the last was in November and December 1945), the number participating had dwindled greatly. The scarcity of shipping during the war reduced the usual horde to about 20,000-30,000 per year. While the numbers will probably increase now, they are not likely to reach their former proportions. Turkey discourages pilgrimages; Iran (where the dissident Shiah sect is the official religion) has prohibited them altogether since 1944. Yet they will continue to be a unifying force when Moslems from the East and West meet and repeat prayers in a common language.
2. Classical Arabic.?All written Arabic, as well as that spoken in public assemblies, is based on the classical forms. Accordingly, a newspaper printed in Casablanca can be read in Baghdad or by members of the Lebanese colony in New Jersey. The Arab press is reviving. Al Ahram, a daily newspaper in Cairo, has almost as large a circulation outside the country as within. Many new books have been published on the lives of the early Moslem heroes, and a "Book of the Month Club" distributes biographies of famous characters, almost all Moslems. The American Readers' Digest, in its Arabic translation, sells around 100,000 copies a month, indicating the increasing demand for reading material. It is still too early to know whether this literary revival will tend to break up Moslem solidarity by introducing new ideas, or will lead Islam out of its slough of intellectual inaction.
3. Modern communications.?The development of fast, comfortable, and relative [sic] cheap travel is affording a more cosmopolitan outlook to a small group in each country. Radio programs in all the languages of the East flood the air. Thus, for a few, the isolation of the past has ended, and these few will act as a leaven for the rest. Any growth in understanding among the poverty-crushed masses, however, will be very slow.
4. The Arab League.?After a spasmodic upheaval, such as that led by Lawrence in 1916-1920, the pan-Arab movement broke up under the pressure of British and French policies and because of rivalries between the Hashmite family of west Arabia and the Saud family of east Arabia. Nevertheless, two other forces were driving the Arabs of the Middle East toward greater cohesion: (1) hatred of European exploitation and (2) fear of a Jewish state on Arab soil. By 1942, leaders of the Arab world were advancing plans for the formation of an Arab federation, and in February 1943, British Foreign Secretary Eden declared that Great Britain favored any move toward Arab unity.
Soon there was a stirring of political activity, culminating in October 1944 with the announcement of the Alexandria Protocol of the Arab League Conference. A constitution was drafted in March 1945, and seven states (or mandated territories) have become members. The League aims to include all Arabs in North Africa and then to take in Turkey and Iran. It represents the sympathetic and broader vision that is being expressed by the Arabs of both East and West for the first time in centuries. At the very least, the League serves as a rallying point for Moslems, and many of them hope will restore Islam to some degree of political power.
The Present Estimate
If the Moslem states were strong and stable, their behavior would be more predictable. They are, however, weak and torn by internal stresses; furthermore, their peoples are insufficiently educated to appraise propaganda or to understand the motives of those who promise a new Heaven and a new Earth.
Because of the strategic position of the Moslem world and the relentlessness of its peoples, the Moslem states constitute a potential threat to world peace. There cannot be permanent world stability, when one-seventh of the earth's population exists under the economic and political conditions that are imposed upon the Moslems.
 Confidential (declassified on May 17, 1979), Feb. 14, 1946, no. 1., pp. 24-34.
 See Daniel Pipes, "Moslem States Represent a Potential Threat to World Peace," FrontPageMagazine.com, Feb. 13, 2006.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Invitation to dialog to Muslims
on: September 13, 2006, 11:45:14 PM
Forwarded to me by a friend:
This article, written in 1946 is amazing accurate in portraying the issues still faced today. What is also important is that it details some history of Mohammed, Islam, and the radical sects. ?Reading of the article shows that the problem of fundamental Islam began long before the US became active in the area. It was a threat that has been around for centuries. To blame the US for the problems today is to deny the history of the area.
Assessing the Islamist Threat, Circa 1946
Middle East Quarterly
In 1946, U.S. power was on the ascent. A U.S. nuclear bomb had hastened the end of World War II and, while the Cold War was beginning, the United States remained the world's only nuclear power. As the international community rebuilt from the ashes of war and the United Nations sought to preserve peace, the military intelligence division of the U.S. War Department?the predecessor of today's Defense Intelligence Agency?charged its analysts to speculate on long-term threats to global security. One resulting essay, which appeared in the classified periodical Intelligence Review, identified the Islamic world as a region of concern.
Written just over than six decades ago, the resulting analysis is prescient. The report describes a region beset by "discontent and frustration" and handicapped by a collective inferiority complex, yet unable to overcome "intellectual inaction," a situation which would keep the region from advancing in the modern world. The analysts speculate correctly about the growing importance of the Arab media and the divisive force of nationalism.
Ironically, while many academics today would dismiss as culturally insensitive the authors' frankness and generalizations about peoples and religion, the assumption that culture matters holds true. Many of the report's observations mirror those made in recent years by the United Nations' own Arab Human Development Report, which, if anything, is more pessimistic. In 1946, observers of the Middle East still had hope that increasing literacy and ease of travel would lead the region to become more cosmopolitan. While they raised concerns about nascent Islamist movements, they did not foresee just how malignant such groups could become, nor did they envision that oil-rich states such as Saudi Arabia would fund extremism rather than regional development.
As important as what the authors do say is what they do not. While it has become trendy in some academic and diplomatic circles to blame terrorism and regional instability on Israel's existence, the War Department's report suggests these problems?and anti-Semitism as well?predated the Jewish state. Many Arab states complained about Jewish immigration to Palestine, but the report's authors suggest local governments cynically promoted such concerns, and Muslims farther afield had different priorities. Well before Israel's independence and the 1967 war, Arab and Islamist groups embraced terrorism, using it for purposes unrelated to Zionism. Accordingly, while the scapegoating of Israel may be fashionable in the foreign ministries of Arab states, the European Union, and the diplomatic parlors of the United Nations, the 1946 report shows that responsibility for the political, economic, and social failings of the region are far more complex and deeply-rooted.
The Moslem world sprawls around half the east, from the Pacific across Asia and Africa to the Atlantic, along one of the greatest of trade routes; in its center is an area extremely rich in oil; over it will run some of the most strategically important air routes.
With few exceptions, the states which it includes are marked by poverty, ignorance, and stagnation. It is full of discontent and frustration, yet alive with consciousness of its inferiority and with determination to achieve some kind of general betterment.
Two basic urges meet head-on in this area, and conflict is inherent in this collision of interests. These urges reveal themselves in daily news accounts of killings and terrorism, of pressure groups in opposition, and of raw nationalism and naked expansionism masquerading as diplomatic maneuvers. The urges tie together the tangled threads of power politics which?snarled in the lap of the United Nations Assembly?lead back to the centers of Islamic pressure and to the capitals of the world's biggest nations.
The first of these urges originates within the Moslems' own sphere. The Moslems remember the power with which once they not only ruled their own domains but also overpowered half of Europe, yet they are painfully aware of their present economic, cultural, and military impoverishment. Thus a terrific internal pressure is building up in their collective thinking. The Moslems intend, by any means possible, to regain political independence and to reap the profits of their own resources, which in recent times and up to the present have been surrendered to the exploitation of foreigners who could provide capital investments. The area, in short, has an inferiority complex, and its activities are thus as unpredictable as those of any individual so motivated.
The other fundamental urge originates externally. The world's great and near-great powers cover the economic riches of the Moslem area and are also mindful of the strategic locations of some of the domains. Their actions are also difficult to predict, because each of these powers sees itself in the position of the customer who wants to do his shopping in a hurry because he happens to know the store is going to be robbed.
In an atmosphere so sated with the inflammable gases of distrust and ambition, the slightest spark could lead to an explosion which might implicate every country committed to the maintenance of world peace through the United Nations Organization. An understanding of the Moslem world and of the stresses and forces operative within it is thus an essential part of the basic intelligence framework.
History of the Moslems
The influence which integrates the Moslems is their religion, Islam. This religion began officially in the year 622 A.D., when Mahomet [Muhammad] was driven from Mecca because of his preaching of a synthesis of Jewish and Christian heresy, and took flight to Yathrib (Al-Medinah). Taking advantage of the age-old feud between the two towns, he soon rallied an army to his side, made extensive compromises with Medinah paganism, and attacked Mecca. At his death in 632 A.D., he was the master of all Arabia.
His successors, the Caliphs (or Khalifs) quickly overran much of the known world; they reached India and penetrated TransCaspiana and Musa ibn Tariq, and crossed the straits at the western end of the Mediterranean, giving to the mountainous rock at their entrance the name of Jebel al-Tariq (the mountain of Tariq), which the Spaniards later corrupted to "Gibraltar." In 732 A.D.?just one century after the death of the Prophet?the Moslem advance in Western Europe was finally turned back at Tours, France, by Charles Martel. To the north of Arabia, the Byzantine Kingdom held back the Moslem tide until the 15th century, when Constantinople fell and central Europe became a Turkish province. From that high point, Moslem expansion gradually receded. Although for centuries the Moslem world had been contributing to western arts, science, and trade, a period of increasing sterility set in, and during the next 400 years, the Moslems advanced very little in any phase of human endeavor.
At the present time there are no strong Moslem states. The leadership of the Moslem world remains in the Middle East, particularly in Arabia. This area lies near the geographical center of Eurasia's population, with industrial Europe to the west and the agricultural countries of India, Indonesia, and China to the east. Through it passes the Suez Canal; and north of it lie fabulously rich oil fields around the Persian Gulf.
Present Forces Tending to Weaken Moslem Unity
The many forces tending to tear the Moslem world apart have been so strong that there has been no central Moslem authority since the 8th century; the factors which generate disunity are discussed briefly below.
1. Lack of a common language.?Moslems east and south of the Tigris River (except those in Malaya and Indonesia) usually speak Urdu, Persian, or Turkish. West of the Tigris River, the dominant language is Arabic, but its far western dialects are unintelligible to the eastern Arab.
2. Religious schisms.?The oldest of these schisms is the Sunni-Shiah controversy, which arose in the 8th century. The eastern Caliphate, with its capital at Baghdad, gave impetus to the Shiah sect, but it was not until the 17th century that the Shiah creed was officially adopted in Iran. The majority of Moslems, however, belong to the Sunni (unorthodox) sect although islands of Shiah believers exist in Sunni regions. Neither sect has a recognized leader. In theory the Sunni should have a Caliph, a successor to the Prophet; but the historic Caliphate came to an end in Baghdad around 1350, and there have since been only "captive" Caliphs?puppets set up by secular powers and not generally recognized. The Emir Husayn of Mecca desired the British to recognize him as Caliph in 1916, and in recent years King Faruq (Farouk) of Egypt has made gestures indicating he would be willing to play the part. Nationalism keeps the Moslems apart, however, and no serious bid for the traditional role of a leader of Islam now exists.
Islam is also beset with modern movements which try to make it conform to new historical evidence and to modern psychology and science. These have included a reform movement known as Babism, which appeared a century ago in Iran, followed by Bahaism, which adopted many features of the former.
Along with "the acids of modernity," there have been atavistic movements designed to preserve the original "purity of Islam." In 1703 an Arab chieftain, Abdul Wahab, revived a fanatically purist faith, which soon swept over all Arabia. Thousands of "pagan Moslems" were massacred at Mecca by desert adherents of the new faith. Around 1850 the movement suffered eclipse but again appeared in 1903, led by Abdul Aziz of the Saud family. Again it overran the Arabian Peninsula, and it is now the recognized faith of Saudi Arabia. These Wahabis believe that the Koran is the only source of faith and that it contains the only precepts for war, commerce, and politics; they regard any innovation as heresy.
Paralleling this reactionary tendency, there have appeared in Egypt and elsewhere several societies that stress Islamic culture; these are openly anti-European and secretly anti-Christian and anti-Jewish. The best known is the Ikhwan el-Muslimin (Brotherhood of Moslems), which encourages youth movements and maintains commando units and secret caches of arms (it is reported to have 60,000 to 70,000 rifles). The militant societies, such as the Shahab Muhammad (Youth of Mahomet) and the Misr al-Fattat (Young Egypt), are led by demagogues and political opportunists. They issue clandestine pamphlets, attack the government, stir up hatred of the British, and sow the seeds of violence. In recent months, Premier Ahmad Maher of Egypt was assassinated, and former Premier Nahas Pasha was wounded by people associated with these groups. Christian minorities in the Middle East fear these fanatical and nationalistic Moslem societies which exploit the ignorance and poverty of the masses, and even the more enlightened Moslem leaders must cater to their fanaticism in order to retain their positions.
3. Geographical isolation.?The Indian Moslem knows little or nothing of his fellow believers in Mongolia and Morocco. To a Sudanese, Turkey and Iran are meaningless terms. High mountains, broad deserts, and great distances separate one group from another, and provincialism has inevitably resulted.
4. Economic disparities.?Throughout the Moslem world, social conditions closely approximate medieval feudalism. In Egypt, a few thousand people own the land on which 15 million labor as share croppers. In Saudi Arabia, where the purest desert "democracy" exists, the contrast between the living conditions of the peasant and the feudal land-holding classes is very great. That contrast is common throughout the whole Moslem world, where the lack of industrial development has made it easier than elsewhere to retain the feudal system of exploiting the land and the peasants. Social reform has been given only lip service, and the Moslem peasants have a growing conviction, stimulated by Soviet propaganda, that the landowners are their worst enemy. In northern Iran, the peasants have openly revolted under the instigation and protection of the Red Army, and such a revolt can happen anywhere in the Moslem world.
5. Political rivalries and nationalism.?The Iranian has always looked upon the Arab as a wild man and upon the Turk as a "son of a dog"; the Turk in turn considers the Iranian a degenerate but agrees with his views of the Arab; and so goes the cycle of animosity. These mutual dislikes have existed for centuries, but they have a deeper meaning in the present era of nationalism. For example, after exiling the puppet "Caliph" in 1923, the Turks completely nationalized the idea of Islam. Pilgrimages ceased almost entirely, the Koran was translated into Turkish, and all prayers were put into that language. Oaths no longer needed to be made on the Koran, but on one's honor. Thus, the roots of Islam were cut, making religion a purely passive phase of nationalism.
Likewise in Iran, during the period of 1920 to 1940, religious holidays were displaced by national fiestas, national heroes were substituted for those of Arab origin, and the old customs of Islam were replaced by new.
Even within the Arab-speaking world, nationalism transcends religion. Egypt is concerned with local issues. Saudi Arabia is absorbed in the age-old feud between its royal family and that of west Arabia. Nationalists in Syria, Lebanon, Tunisia, and Morocco are concentrating on means to throw off the French yoke.
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / SEMINAR Die Less Often: Interface of Gun, Knife and Emtpy Hand
on: September 13, 2006, 11:13:14 PM
Text by Gabe Suarez:
January 27-28, 2007
Interface Of Gun/Knife/Empty Hands - Pt. 2
Joint Seminar Featuring
Marc "Crafty Dog" Denny and Gabe Suarez
The first seminar changed everything. The DVD is changing the way people train for the close range problem. It has changed the way we move in force on force and changed the way we look at the close range knife attack problem.
After nearly a year of experimentationa nd refinement, we are ready to present more.
This seminar will revisit the Kali Fence and Dog catcher as well as look at new applications such as offensive (pre-emptive) actions, and its uses in gun versus gun and gun versus knife attacks at the medium ranges. We will have a strong force on force (gun material) component to examine the Kali applications with concealed firearms.
Location:? South Bay, Los Angeles CA
Additional details to be announced.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Geo Political matters
on: September 13, 2006, 10:32:44 PM
Neo-con favorite declares World War III
By Jim Lobe
WASHINGTON - Two years before the 2008 presidential election, Newt Gingrich, the former Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives, is trying desperately to grab the national spotlight by declaring he'd be a lot tougher than George W Bush in prosecuting what he calls "World War III".
In the latest in a series of recent presentations and writings, Gingrich called this week in a speech at the neo-conservative American Enterprise Institute (AEI) for, among other things:
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to "clear out
any Taliban forces" in Waziristan if Pakistan fails to do so.
Washington to "take whatever steps are necessary" to force Iran, Syria and Saudi Arabia to stop the flow of weapons, money and people into Iraq.
To help "organize every dissident group in Iran" with the goal of replacing the regime, failing which, "we certainly have to be prepared to use military force".
"End" the North Korean regime if it ships nuclear weapons or material anywhere.
Insist that Congress immediately pass legislation "that recognizes that we are entering World War III and serves notice that the US will use all its resources to defeat our enemies - not accommodate, understand or negotiate with them, but defeat them".
Gingrich's remarks, which significantly earned a rave review in the neo-conservative Weekly Standard, came in the context of early jockeying in the 2008 presidential race, whose leading - albeit unannounced - candidates besides Gingrich include Arizona Senator John McCain, former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, Virginia Senator George Allen, and Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.
Of these, McCain, the neo-conservative favorite until his defeat by Bush in the 2000 Republican primaries, is the most popular, along with Giuliani, among the electorate as a whole. However, McCain's occasionally maverick ways - such as his support for reductions of greenhouse-gas emissions and his efforts to ban torture and other abuse against terrorist suspects - have created tensions with the right-wing core of the party.
According to the latest polls, Gingrich, who is widely credited with masterminding the stunning 1994 Republican landslide that gave the party control of both houses of Congress for the first time in 40 years, ranks third behind Giuliani and McCain and appears to be making steady progress among the Republican faithful, who have, according to pollster Frank Luntz, forgotten the many controversies he generated during his four-year tenure as Speaker.
After taking responsibility for Republican losses in Congress in 1998, Gingrich resigned as Speaker, but he has remained politically active as a senior fellow at the AEI, an advisory board member of the pro-Israel Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, and a member of Pentagon chief Donald Rumsfeld's Defense Policy Board (DPB).
In all of these capacities, he, along with fellow DPB members Richard Perle and James Woolsey, has been an outspoken champion of the hardline hawks within the Bush administration led by Vice President Dick Cheney and a constant critic of the State Department, which, from time to time, he has accused of disloyalty to the Bush agenda.
Indeed, in mid-April 2003, just one week after invading US forces had consolidated control of Baghdad, he gave a speech in which he charged that the department was undermining Washington's military victory by endorsing a high-level dialogue with Syria and the "Quartet's" roadmap for reviving peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians.
His remarks, which were also delivered at the AEI, were so extreme that they provoked blunt-speaking deputy secretary of state Richard Armitage to give USA Today one of the most memorable quotes of the Iraq war: "It's clear that Mr Gingrich is off his meds and out of therapy."
Although both more Churchillian and alarmist in tone, Gingrich's latest speech, titled "Lessons from the First Five Years of War: Where Do We Go from Here?", was very much in the same vein in that it included attacks on the State Department, the news media, and even Harvard University, whose recent hosting of "tyrants" such as former Iranian president Mohammed Khatami should, he said, be openly compared to hosting Nazi propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels or SS commander Heinrich Himmler in 1937.
While praising Bush for his "courage and determination" in pursuing his "war on terror", Gingrich implicitly criticized the president for failing to communicate the potentially cataclysmic threats posed by "an emerging anti-American coalition" consisting of al-Qaeda, Iran, Syria, Hamas, Hezbollah, the Taliban, Venezuela and Saudi Arabia and doing more to counter them.
Bush's "strategies are not wrong, but they are failing", he said, in part because "they do not define the scale of the emerging World War III, between the West and the forces of Islam, and so they do not outline how difficult the challenge is and how big the effort will have to be".
"We have vastly more to do than we have even begun to imagine," he stressed, larding his text with quotes by Iranian officials, "Islamic fascists", and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez threatening the United States and Israel, and warning against "appeasement" and "utopian elites [at home who] suffer from ... denial of near-psychotic proportions".
Gingrich proposed a series of steps to counter the threat, beginning at home with gaining "absolute control of our borders" and "decisive port security", adopting a "one war" model in which everything in the country is "done in a coordinated, integrated manner with the same precision and drive in the civilian as in the military agencies" and major increases in the military and intelligence budgets, and developing a "strategic energy policy which is explicitly aimed at making the Persian Gulf and the dictatorships less wealthy and less important".
In Afghanistan, NATO should "clear out "any Taliban" in Pakistan if Islamabad cannot police the border areas and provide a major economic-aid program that would reduce the Afghan economy's dependence on heroin production and that would not be based on "hopelessly obsolete" State Department and US Agency for International Development (USAID) rules.
For Iraq, Gingrich called for "revitaliz[ing]" the economy by asking US corporations to buy "modest amounts of light manufacturing from Iraq" and creating a new US agency, other than USAID, capable of administering expanded public-works programs; improving security by doubling the size of the Iraqi military and police forces to get a "much larger forces-to-bad-guys ratio than we currently have planned"; and putting Iran, Syria and Saudi Arabia "on notice" against any interference in Iraq.
In Iran, "a dictatorship dedicated to Islamic fascism and ... a mortal threat to our survival", Gingrich called for a regime-change strategy through support for all dissidents, diplomatic and economic sanctions, and military force, if necessary. "This strategy means no more visas for Iranian leaders" and United Nations sanctions against President Mahmud Ahmadinejad for "threatening to wipe Israel from the face of the Earth".
"If we do not stand up against a Holocaust-denying, genocide-proposing, publicly self-defined enemy of the United States, why should we expect anyone else to do so?" he asked.
Washington must also pursue regime change in Pyongyang, according to Gingrich, who called for militarily preempting any launch of a North Korean missile and the announcement that "any effort by North Korea to ship nuclear weapons or material anywhere will be a casus belli and will lead to the end of the regime".
It was "vintage Gingrich: brassy, confrontational, direct, polarizing, articulate, harsh, disarming, and charismatic", wrote the Standard's Matthew Continetti approvingly. "His rivals should take note. The first speech of the 2008 presidential campaign was delivered on the fifth anniversary of September 11, 2001."
(Inter Press Service)
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security
on: September 13, 2006, 03:40:54 PM
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Thursday, September 07, 2006 11:55 PM
Subject: CAIR: Cops Training Terrorists?
In Defense of the Constitution
News & Analysis
037/06 September 7, 2006
CAIR: Cops Training Terrorists?
The US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has a "Citizens Academy"
designed to introduce selected Americans to FBI operations and tactics:
This training program requires both a security clearance and a
recommendation to attend.
What is to stop suspected and known Islamic terrorist front groups from
requesting this training? How about groups like the Council on
American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), which has had Islamic terrorists on
staff such as Ismail Royer and Bassem Khafagi:
Considering that CAIR has, and does, provide "diversity" training to
various law enforcement agencies, what is to stop a CAIR official from
requesting FBI training? If the training is denied, what will be the
grounds? The FBI would be hard-pressed to deny access to the program to
CAIR officials, considering that the FBI uses CAIR for training.
Recently, police officials in Great Britain learned a hard lesson about
trusting so-called "moderate" Muslims. Sussex police officers were sent
to the Jameah Islameah School near Crowborough, East Sussex to learn about
the Muslim faith and receive "diversity training":http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/news/news.html?in_article_id=403650&in_page_id=1770
Not explained by the Sussex police was just why Sussex police officers are
so bigoted, xenophobic, and prejudiced that they need special training by
Muslims to learn about Islam. However, this seems to be a defect present
in every police force in the West, but noticeably absent in police forces
located in Islamic countries.
Now, the Jameah Islameah School is under investigation as having been used
as an Al Queda training camp. Yes, to the complete surprise of everyone
who doesn't have a clue about how radical Islam functions, the "school"
appears to have been a hot-bed of Islamic indoctrination where young
Muslims were groomed to become terrorists.
How about North American police forces? Would they be stupid enough to
engage the services of an Islamic hate group to provide "diversity"
training for clueless police officers?
We're not so sure that law enforcement officials on our side of the
Atlantic are any more street-smart than their cousins in Great Britain.
On June 21, DHS officials gave members of CAIR (among others) a tour of
sensitive security areas at Chicago's O'Hare Airport. The group received
the whole dog-and-pony show, being treated to a tour of the
point-of-entry, customs stations, agricultural screening stations, and
interview rooms. Just the type of information members of an Islamic
terrorist-supporting hate group need, isn't it?
As if that wasn't enough, agents also explained how new systems recently
installed will work to identify suspect passengers.
Naturally, like good students, we're sure that CAIR took copious notes and
asked probing questions:
Witnessing the problems that European law enforcement is having with
so-called "moderate" Muslim groups, ACAIR can only hope that our own law
enforcement agencies are practicing due diligence when it comes to
partnering with Muslim groups with proven ties to Islamic terrorism such
American law enforcement agencies would do well to remember that CAIR is
no friend; that CAIR has proven ties to Islamic terrorist groups; that
CAIR works with groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU),
to undermine every action taken by our great country to defend ourselves
from Islamist terror.
Is there any doubt that information provided to CAIR by law enforcement
would end up in the hands of our enemies?
Just how would the FBI explain this to the American people?
Let us hope that the FBI has the good sense to not do anything dangerous,
like inviting CAIR personnel to attend academy training.
> Subscribers are warned that the Council on American Islamic Relations
> (CAIR) may contact your employer if CAIR believes you are using a work
> address to receive any material that CAIR believes may be offensive. CAIR
> has been known to shame employers into firing employees CAIR finds
> disagreeable. For that reason, we strongly suggest that corporate e-mail
> users NOT use a corporate e-mail account/address when communicating with
> ACAIR or CAIR. We make every reasonable effort to protect our mailing
> list, but we cannot guarantee confidentiality. ACAIR does not share, loan,
> sell, rent or otherwise publicize our mailing list. We respect your
> All persons are invited to submit tips and leads. ACAIR will acknowledge
> receipt of all tips/leads, but we will NOT acknowledge the source of ANY
> tip or lead in our Press Releases or on our web site. Exceptions are made
> for leading media personalities at the discretion of ACAIR and only on
> request of the person(s) submitting the tip or lead.
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Dog Brothers Gathering in Switzerland October 1, 2006
on: September 12, 2006, 12:23:46 PM
A Howl to All:
Registered fighters so far-- a special howl to Dog Rog of the US who seems a shoo-in for the "Long Distance Award"!
The Adventure continues
Benjamin "Lonely Dog" Rittiner
"Dog" Roger Tinkoff
Lars R. Christie
Christan von Praun
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: db in australia ?
on: September 12, 2006, 12:15:58 PM
Of course you are welcome to join!!!
Concerning seminars in Australia, Trent and I are emailing back and forth about organizing a tour. Things are looking promising.
The Adventure continues,
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants
on: September 12, 2006, 11:35:36 AM
By BRET STEPHENS
? The Liberals' War
? In Britain, the Jihadi Is Us
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Bret Stephens is a member of The Wall Street Journal's editorial board. He joined the Journal in New York in 1998 as a features editor and moved to Brussels the following year to work as an editorial writer for the paper's European edition. In 2002, Mr. Stephens, then 28, became editor-in-chief of the Jerusalem Post, where he was responsible for its news, editorial, electronic and international divisions, and where he also wrote a weekly column. He returned to his present position in late 2004 and was named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum the following year.
Mr. Stephens was raised in Mexico City and educated at the University of Chicago and the London School of Economics. He lives with his family in New York City. He invites comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
The Liberals' War
September 12, 2006; Page A21
"When I was 19, I moved to New York City. . . . If you had asked me to describe myself then, I would have told you I was a musician, an artist and, on a somewhat political level, a woman, a lesbian and a Jew. Being an American wouldn't have made my list. On Sept. 11, all that changed. I realized that I had been taking the freedoms I have here for granted. Now I have an American flag on my backpack, I cheer at the fighter jets as they pass overhead and I am calling myself a patriot."
-- Rachel Newman, "My Turn" in Newsweek, Oct. 21, 2001
Here's a puzzle: Why is it so frequently the case that the people who have the most at stake in the battle against Islamic extremism and the most to lose when Islamism gains -- namely, liberals -- are typically the most reluctant to fight it?
It is often said, particularly in the "progressive" precincts of the democratic left, that by aiming at the Pentagon, the World Trade Center and perhaps the Capitol, Mohammed Atta and his cohorts were registering a broader Muslim objection to what those buildings supposedly represented: capitalism and globalization, U.S. military power, support for Israel, oppression of the Palestinians and so on.
But maybe Ms. Newman intuited that Atta's real targets weren't the symbols of American mightiness, but of what that mightiness protected: people like her, bohemian, sexually unorthodox, a minority within a minority. Maybe she understood that those F-16s overhead -- likely manned by pilots who went to church on Sunday and voted the straight GOP ticket -- were being flown above all for her defense, at the outer cultural perimeter of everything that America's political order permits.
This may be reading too much into Ms. Newman's essay. Yet after 9/11 at least a few old-time voices on the left -- Christopher Hitchens, Bruce Bawer, Paul Berman and Ron Rosenbaum, among others -- understood that what Islamism most threatened wasn't just America generally, but precisely the values that modern liberalism had done so much to promote and protect for the past 40 years: civil rights, gay rights, feminism, privacy rights, reproductive choice, sexual freedom, the right to worship as one chooses, the right not to worship at all. And so they bid an unsentimental good-bye to their one-time comrades and institutions: the peace movement, the pages of the Nation and the New York Review of Books, "the deluded and pathetic sophistry of postmodernists of the left, who believe their unreadable, jargon-clotted theory somehow helps liberate the wretched of the earth," as Mr. Rosenbaum wrote in the New York Observer in 2002.
Five years on, however, Messrs. Hitchens, Bawer et al. seem less like trendsetters and more like oddball dissenters from a left-liberal orthodoxy that finds less and less to like about the very idea of a war on Islamic extremism, never mind the war in Iraq. In the September issue of the Atlantic Monthly, James Fallows, formerly Jimmy Carter's speechwriter, argues that the smart thing for the U.S. to do is declare victory and give the conflict a rest: "A state of war with no clear end point," he writes, "makes it more likely for a country to overreact in ways that hurt itself." Further to the left, a panoply of "peace" groups is all but in league with Islamists. Consider, for instance, QUIT! -- Queers Undermining Israeli Terrorism -- a group that, in its hatred for Israel, curiously fails to notice that Tel Aviv is the only city in the Middle East that annually hosts a gay-pride parade.
An instinct for pacifism surely goes some way toward explaining the left's curious unwillingness to sign up for a war to defend its core values. A suspicion of black-and-white moral distinctions of the kind President Bush is fond of making about terrorism -- a suspicion that easily slides into moral relativism -- is another.
But there are deeper factors at work. One is appeasement: "Many Europeans feel that a confrontation with Islamism will give the Islamists more opportunities to recruit -- that confronting evil is counterproductive," says Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the Somali-born, former Dutch parliamentarian whose outspoken opposition to Islamism (and to Islam itself) forced her repeatedly into hiding and now into exile in the United States. "They think that by appeasing them -- allowing them their own ghettoes, their own Muslim schools -- they will win their friendship."
A second factor, she says, is the superficial confluence between the bugaboos of the Chomskyite left and modern-day Islamism. "Many social democrats have this stereotype that the corporate world, the U.S. and Israel are the real evil. And [since] Islamists are also against Israel and America, [social democrats] sense an alliance with them."
But the really "lethal mistake," she says, "is the confusion of Islam, which is a body of ideas, with ethnicity." Liberals especially are reluctant to criticize the content of Islam because they fear that it is tantamount to criticizing Muslims as a group, and is therefore almost a species of racism. Yet Muslims, she says, "are responsible for their ideas. If it is written in the Koran that you must kill apostates, kill the unbelievers, kill gays, then it is legitimate and urgent to say, 'if that is what your God tells you, you have to modify it.'"
A similar rethink may be in order among liberals and progressives. For whatever else distinguishes Islamism from liberalism, both are remarkably self-absorbed affairs, obsessed with maintaining the purity of their own values no matter what the cost. In the former case, the result too often is terror. In the latter, the ultimate risk is suicide, as the endless indulgence of "the other" obstructs the deeper need to preserve itself. Liberal beliefs -- and the Rachel Newmans of the world -- deserve to be protected and fought for. A liberalism that abandons its own defense to others does not, something liberals everywhere might usefully dwell on during this season of sad remembrance.
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Dog (Canine) Training
on: September 12, 2006, 11:34:33 AM
Porn Star Dog is correct-- "Man meets Dog" is an outstanding book on so many levels.
I used to bring "Zapata" (the Akita in our logo) to the old Inosanto Academy (Glencoe) and he certainly showed good judgement at whom to growl (I won't mention the famous names) but when he chomped a foot that strayed by him as he watched from the edge of the mat (not too hard, but enough to mildly break the skin through the shoe) I was asked to leave him outside during grappling sessions.
With my second Akita, "Morro" the only sparring/grappling I would let him see was with my backyard group, each man of which he had invididual relationship. It may have facilitated things that as teacher, I was the "alpha" and as such was usually in dominant position.
There was once someone in my house who raised his voice to me. Long story short, he was pinned to the wall by the testicles (snout closed, but intimidating nonetheless).
I am NOT a trainer, and my dogs were Akitas- which have strong and distinctive aggression characteristics- so my experience may or may not apply to you and your dog. That said IMHO your dog is showing sound instinct and I suggest you tread with care in this area. Talk to trainers who are not kitties with regard to dogs with protective instincts.
The Adventure continues,
DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Bolivia tambi?n es de Fidel
on: September 12, 2006, 10:35:20 AM
Gracias Denny por el informe. Desafortunadamente, mis fuentes esta'n en ingles:
Bolivia 'close' to split after violence, eastern strike
By Martin Arostegui
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
Published September 11, 2006
SANTA CRUZ, Bolivia -- Racial and economic tensions tearing at the social fabric of Bolivia have been laid bare by a general strike on Friday that sparked violent clashes and paralyzed the eastern half of the country.
"We are very close to a separation of the two regions of Bolivia," said Ruben Dario Cuellar, a deputy for the conservative Podemos party, which accuses President Evo Morales of trying to force through a new constitution that would institutionalize an indigenous socialist state.
All commerce and transport halted during the daylong work stoppage called by opposition leaders and regional governors in the four eastern provinces that produce 60 percent of Bolivia's economic output.
Pro-government groups trying to break the strike clashed in several eastern cities with members of civic and militant youth organizations that favor regional independence for Bolivia's wealthiest provinces.
Mr. Morales accused his opponents of seeking to "sabotage" the constituent assembly in which his Movement to Socialism (MAS) party has a majority of delegates. He also called the strike "racist" and said the opposition wanted to "humiliate the original indigenous people of Bolivia."
But Mr. Cuellar said the country is "divided between two visions. The west wants to take us back a thousand years to a savage primitivism while the east wants to move toward the future through a culture of free enterprise."
MAS scored barely a quarter of votes in Santa Cruz, Beni, Tarija and Pando during recent balloting, in which the four eastern departments voted overwhelmingly for regional autonomy.
Mountainous western Bolivia strongly backed the central government, but fell short of delivering the two-thirds majority required to force constitutional changes that would restrict private enterprise and empower a peasant-controlled "council of original peoples."
The assembly fell apart when opposition leaders protested rulings by MAS Assembly President Sylvia Lazarte, a Quechua coca farmer, that would allow key clauses to be approved by a simple majority.
The conflict is also marked by racial animosities. Eastern lowland "cambas" are a mix of European whites and Guarani Indians. The western Andean region is mainly composed of Quechua and Aymara Indians.
Santa Cruz civic leader German Antelo warned at a weekend press conference that the opposition will adopt "further measures" if the government does not give in to regional demands.
"They have until Thursday to agree to our conditions for restoring two-thirds majority and recognize regional autonomy," he said.
The coordinator of civic committees, Mariano Aguilera, says that eastern Bolivia is going to hold its own constitutional assembly.
"If they want their Aymara nation in the west, let them have it. We can write our own constitution here in the east," he said.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Howl of Respect to our Soldiers/Veterans
on: September 11, 2006, 03:49:36 PM
A Howl of Respect to our troops who fight religious fascism so that all of us -- Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, and Pagans -- are free to speak, free to pray, and free to choose -- rights to which we are all endowed by our Creator.
The Adventure continues!
Marc "Crafty Dog" Denny
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 9 11
on: September 11, 2006, 03:47:09 PM
What would Osama bin Laden say to jihadists five years later?
By Brian Michael Jenkins, BRIAN MICHAEL JENKINS has studied terrorism for more than 30 years at the Rand Corp., a nonprofit research organization. He is the author of "Unconquerable Nation."
September 11, 2006
OSAMA BIN LADEN has issued many audio- and videotapes to spread his message. But what might he tell his most loyal followers about the state of the global war against the infidels five years after 9/11?
What follows is that fictional speech, using his jihadist ideology as the guide. The sentiments are based on the views Bin Laden is believed to hold. My purpose here is not to parrot Al Qaeda propaganda, but to better understand why it has been so difficult to dent the determination of the jihadists.
"The five years since 9/11 have been difficult. Our Taliban protectors in Afghanistan have been overthrown, our training centers there dispersed and thousands of jihadist brothers worldwide have been thrown into dungeons where the infidels and their henchmen probably tortured them. Our communications are vulnerable to interception. We no longer can move large sums of money easily. Every border crossing is more risky. We face martyrdom daily.
"A number of Al Qaeda's key operational planners have been killed or captured ? talent hard to replace. Continual pursuit by the infidel assassins has forced me and the rest of our top leadership to stay on the run. We have decentralized our operations to meet this challenge, but at the risk of fragmentation and loss of unity ? our historical weakness.
"Yet despite our evil enemies' best efforts, we remain on Earth to do the work of God, and every success that we experience is his will expressed. God enables us to incite righteous young men to shed centuries of humiliation, join the jihad, take up arms and restore their honor by attacking wherever the infidel is inattentive.
"The jihad is wired. Our public pronouncements providing inspiration and instruction are accessible on a growing number of websites. Production values have improved. We have harnessed the most modern methods of communication to transmit the ancient words of God and our holy prophet.
"Our worldwide campaign continues at an accelerated pace. Since 9/11, our holy warriors have carried out more than 30 major attacks from Mumbai to Madrid, not counting any of the continuing operations in Afghanistan or Iraq.
"If we add to these successes the attempts that nearly succeeded, we are, on average, undertaking an attack every four weeks. Unfortunately, the scale of the operations remains well below that of 9/11. Spectacular attacks involve too many people or take too long to put together, thus exposing the operation to betrayal or discovery by infidel spies. We have a quality-control problem. But we expect that the valuable experience our jihadist brothers are gaining in Iraq will soon raise our operational and technical skills on other fronts.
"Since 9/11, none of the major terrorist operations have directly hit an American target. Operations before 9/11 hit Americans in Saudi Arabia, destroyed their embassies in Kenya and Tanzania and nearly sunk one of their warships off the coast of Yemen. Yes, some infidels were killed in the attacks on the foreigners' residences in Riyadh three years ago. But more Saudis were killed, which obliged us to issue a document disputing the casualty figures and justifying collateral Muslin casualties.
"Sending another team to the United States, as we did in 2001, is beyond our operational capability. We are thus obliged to rely on locals there, and they seem little inclined to action. Our operational prospects are much better in Europe and better still in Iraq. The American invasion of that country was a gift to us. Although we hear from Baghdad that our organization there is in disarray, violence has spiraled beyond the Americans' ability to control it. The late brother Abu Musab Zarqawi's strategy of fomenting a civil war appears to be succeeding.
"The immediate objective in Iraq remains: to inflict a humiliating defeat on the Americans. Despite their military might, they are weakening, and they lack moral conviction. Remember how they fled from Lebanon in 1983? From Yemen in 1992? From Somalia in 1993? When the Americans withdraw from Iraq, chaos will follow. Deprived of American protection, the apostate regimes in the region will tremble and fall. On their ruins, we will control the oil. The shopkeepers of Europe will abandon all support of Israel while the United States licks its wounds.
"We must acknowledge that not since the days of colonial rule have we seen as many infidel soldiers in the Middle East and western Asia. But we must remember that the infidels we confront today are no different from the brutal infidel colonialists who tired to subjugate Muslims and rule the Holy Land, no different from the Crusaders who tried to establish their enclaves in the Middle East centuries ago. They are aggressors and will tighten their grip until they are defeated, once and for all. Their growing military presence and the atrocities their soldiers inflict upon Muslims will galvanize the Muslim world.
"We need not concern ourselves with such new competitors as Hezbollah's Hassan Nasrallah. He is not our ally, but his defeat of the vaunted Zionist army helps us by demonstrating the impotency of the infidel's modern military technology, just as our heroic fighters are doing in Iraq. We should not focus on our losses ? they test our faith. We need not worry exactly how victory will be achieved. God is our strategist. It is our mission to be worthy of his reward.
"It has been 10 years since we declared war on the United States, 15 since we first assisted attacks on the United States in Yemen and Somalia, 18 years since the creation of Al Qaeda, and a quarter of a century since I first went to Afghanistan to participate in the first truly global jihad, against the Soviet Union. For Americans, this is a long time. For us, it is a mere instant in a conflict that began centuries ago and will last until Judgment Day."
9/11: FIVE YEARS ON
By RALPH PETERS
September 11, 2006 -- THE biggest story since 9/11 is that there hasn't been an other 9/11. According to our hysterical media culture, everything's always going wrong. The truth is that we've gotten the big things right.
On this fifth anniversary of the cold-blooded murder of thousands of Americans by Islamist fanatics, it's tempting to settle for grand rhetoric honoring our dead and damning our enemies. But the greatest tribute to those lost on that September morning is what we've since achieved.
In this vile political season, with those on the left suggesting that our president's a worse threat to civilization than Islamist terror, the rest of us should just review what's happened - and what hasn't:
Islamist fanatics have not been able to stage a single additional attack on our homeland. For all its growing pains, our homeland-security effort worked. In this long war with religion-poisoned madmen, the most important proof of success is what doesn't happen - and we haven't been struck again. Wail as loudly as they can, the president's critics can't change that self-evident truth.
Eventually, some terrorists will get through. That's just the law of averages. But we've enjoyed five golden years of safety and prosperity, thanks to our men and women in uniform and those who serve at all levels of government.
Al Qaeda is badly crippled. While the terror organization and its affiliates remain a deadly threat, al Qaeda is no longer the powerful, unchallenged outfit it was in the years of Clinton-era cowardice. Instead of holding court, Osama bin Laden's a fugitive. Almost all of his deputies are dead or imprisoned. The rest are hunted men.
And yes, we'll get Osama. Those who whine that we haven't offer no specific solutions themselves - and they'd like us to forget how long it took to apprehend criminals such as the Unabomber here at home. Al Qaeda can still kill, but its power has been reduced by an order of magnitude.
Terrorists no longer operate in freedom. Even Europeans have begun to awaken to the nature of Islamist fanaticism. One terror plot after another has been foiled. Those that succeeded proved counterproductive, mobilizing anti-terrorist sentiment. The world hasn't fully come to grips with the threat, but the progress has been remarkable. The terrorists are now on the defensive.
Our enemies fear our military again. Despite tragic mistakes in Iraq, we've already accomplished one crucial mission neglected for a generation: We've resurrected the reputation of the American soldier.
After our maddening retreats from Beirut and Mogadishu, and the Clinton administration's unwillingness to retaliate meaningfully after terrorist attacks, Islamist extremists concluded - and bragged - that Americans were cowards who wouldn't fight and hid behind technology. Well, Iraq proved that our troops don't run, but fight more fiercely than any other soldiers on earth. Now it's the terrorists who rely on stand-off weapons - roadside bombs. They're terrified of taking on our forces in combat. The importance of regaining our street cred can't be stressed enough.
Iraq has become al Qaeda's Vietnam. No end of lies have been broadcast about our liberation of Iraq and Afghanistan "creating more terrorists." The terrorists were already there, recruited during the decades we looked away. Our arrival on their turf just brought them out of the woodwork.
As for Iraq, Osama & Co. realized full well how high we'd raised the stakes. They had to fight to prevent the emergence of a Middle Eastern democracy. As a result, they've thrown in their reserves - who've been slaughtered by our soldiers and Marines.
The media obsesses on the price of this fight for us, but the terrorists have been forced to pay a terrible cost in trained fighters - while alienating fellow Muslims with their tactics. Pundits will argue forever over whether deposing Saddam was a diversion from the War on Terror, but the proof of its relevance - even if unexpected - is the unaffordable cost we've forced on al Qaeda.
We've achieved new levels of domestic security without compromising civil liberties. Frisking granny at the airport may be silly, but (despite the lies of the Left) Americans continue to live in unprecedented freedom. The Patriot Act and other measures worked - without harming the rights of a single law-abiding citizen. The only people who lost out were the terrorists and their supporters. We should be applauding the feds, not running them down.
America is much stronger today than we were five years ago. We have new homeland-security structures up and running, improved intelligence agencies - and the most experienced military in the world.
The dishonest nature of domestic politics and the media's irresponsibility obscure the fact that no one - not even the terrorists - now believes that our enemies can win a global victory. The terrorists are no longer fighting for conquest - they're running a salvage operation.
Does that mean everything's perfect? Of course not. As noted above, some terrorists will manage to hit us again. But if attempt No. 500 succeeds, it doesn't mean it wasn't worth stopping the other 499. Yet, after the next attack, we'll hear no end of trash-talk about how the War on Terror "failed."
The truth is that we're winning. Hands down. We just can't afford to revert to yesteryear's weakness and indecision.
WHAT should we worry about? Plenty. First, the unscrupulous nature of those in the media who always discover a dark cloud in the brightest silver lining. They're terror's cheerleaders. Second, the rabid partisanship infecting our political system - when "getting Bush" is more important than protecting our country, something's wrong.
A third concern is the Internet's empowerment of fanatics, conspiracy-theorists and all of the really good haters - on both extremes of the political spectrum. If there's one thing all responsible citizens, conservative, centrist or liberal, should agree on, it's that all extremism is un-American.
On this September morning, let us dedicate ourselves to living for the values the hijackers feared: freedom, tolerance, human dignity - and the invincible strength of our democratic society. The greatest tribute we can pay to the dead of 9/11 is to be good Americans.