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30251  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Invitation to dialog to Muslims on: June 29, 2006, 10:30:35 AM
Woof All:

I see that Bryan has deleted all his posts except for his good bye.  Oh well, we'll just have to struggle on , , ,

The Adventure continues,
Marc/CD
30252  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Invitation to dialog to Muslims on: June 29, 2006, 09:12:19 AM
By the way, I just noticed that Sibatan posted this clip's URL:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JQod2Ih_IEg

The assertions in this clip apparently are quite common in much of the Muslim world.  Would anyone care to offer a calm and reasoned assessment of this clip for Sibatan?  This seems to me a perfect subject for dialog.
30253  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Invitation to dialog to Muslims on: June 29, 2006, 08:34:23 AM
Woof All:

Rogt wrote:

"Like the parts about homosexuals being an abomination? I think we can agree that more than "hardly anyone" in the US takes those parts very seriously."

My comment was made with many other passages in mind, but I must acknowledge that this is a rational argument.  I would point out that this very point is vigorously contested within the various Christian groups and by non-Christian groups as well, without threats and violence.  

Rogt quotes me:

"As is readily seen by all members in our Association in the vigorous threads on the Association forum, one is free to think President Bush a vile idiot, our strategy in the War on Islamic Fascism profoundly wrong, and so forth."

He answers:

"So we're free to think the war is wrong, but your use of the term "War on Islamic Fascism" implies what exactly, if not that thinking it's wrong makes one pro-Islamic Fascism?"  

Please read the sentence again-- I said "our STRATEGY in the WOIF". To think we follow the wrong strategy does not make one in favor of our enemy.  A simple point really.

Which brings me to the key point:  THERE IS AN ENEMY.

In my opinion, there is no quitting in Iraq and going back to the way we used to think things were.  This enemy is out there and continues to try his best to do us harm.  This enemy uses terrorism to target civilians, here in America, in Spain, in England, in Spain, in Holland, in Russia, throughout Europe, in Canada, in Australia, in Bali, in Thailand and, it is worth noting, in Afghanistan and Iraq.    

This enemy is trying to kill our troops in Afghanistan and Iraq.  This enemy has openly declared that democracy is "against Islam" and targets civilians (fellow Muslims) there who work towards democracy.  This enemy seeks weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear devices, to use upon us.  This enemy is perfectly willing and capable of flying a jet airliner into a nuclear plant so as to leave the surrounding country glowing for centuries.

As I see it, this is the point of the Jihadi target in the foto.

Let?s review a point I made previously:

?Until then, my questions for you-- why do you assume that all Muslims are the intended target instead of only the fascists amongst you? Did not the United States stop England, France and Israel in 1956 from retaking the Suez Canal? Have we not had close military alliance with democratic Turkey for many decades? Did not the United States strongly support Afghanistan when it was invaded by the Soviet Empire? Did we not stop Saddam Hussein from conquering Kuwait and threatening the entire Arabian Peninsula? Did we not institute "no-fly zones" when he went to obliterate the Kurds in the north and the Shiites in the south of Iraq? Did we the United States not save the Muslims of Yugoslavia while Europe dithered? Did we not free Afghanistan from the religious fascism of the Taliban? (Whither Afghanistan now is of course a separate question.) Has not Iraq had three elections and does it not now have its own government? Do we not spill our own blood so that this can succeed? Did we not help the people of Indonesia after the terrible wave? Did we not help the people in the mountains of Pakistan after the terrible earthquake??

Unwilling to limit himself to persuasion, that fellow in the target there targets the majority of Muslims of Iraq, be they Kurds, Shiites or Sunnis, who want to have democracy.  That fellow there in the target does the same to the Muslims of Afghanistan.  That fellow there in the target calls us "infidels" and targets us.

I think the following piece from the highly respected British magazine ?The Economist? gets the big picture right.

May 29, 2005



'No god but God': The War Within Islam
By MAX RODENBECK

THESE are rough times for Islam. It is not simply that frictions have intensified lately between Muslims and followers of other faiths. There is trouble, and perhaps even greater trouble, brewing inside the Abode of Peace itself, the notional Islamic ummah or nation that comprises a fifth of humanity.

News reports reveal glimpses of such trouble -- for instance, in the form of flaring strife between Sunni and Shiite Muslims in places like Iraq and Pakistan. Yet the greater tensions, while similarly rooted in the distant past, are less visible to the wider world. The rapid expansion of literacy among Muslims in the past half-century, and of access to new means of communication in the last decade, have created a tremendous momentum for change. Furious debates rage on the Internet, for example, about issues like the true meaning of jihad, or how to interpret and apply Islamic law, or how Muslim minorities should engage with the societies they live in.

What is unfolding, Reza Aslan argues in his wise and passionate book, ''No god but God,'' is nothing less than a struggle over who will ultimately define the sweeping ''Islamic Reformation'' that he believes is already well under way across much of the Muslim world. The West, he says, is ''merely a bystander -- an unwary yet complicit casualty of a rivalry that is raging in Islam over who will write the next chapter in its story.''

Amid the surge of Western interest in Islam since 9/11, other quiet voices have argued similarly that the historical process we are witnessing is less a clash of civilizations than a working out of suppressed internal conflicts. Aslan's contribution to this line of thought is threefold. He traces the dogmatic splits in Islam to their historical origins. He provides a speculative but well-reasoned look at how Muslim beliefs are likely to evolve. And he does all this beautifully, in a book that manages to be both an incisive, scholarly primer in Muslim history and an engaging personal exploration.

Aslan does not shy from controversy. Conservative Muslims will certainly challenge some of his bold assertions -- among them, that there is scant support in authentic Islamic tradition for the veiling of women; that laws are created by people, not God; and that, as he puts it, ''the notion that historical context should play no role in the interpretation of the Koran -- that what applied to Muhammad's community applies to all Muslim communities for all time -- is simply an untenable position in every sense.''

Yet even the most hidebound traditionalists would find it hard to refute the main thrust of his argument, which is that the original message of Islam, egalitarian, inclusive, progressive and liberating, has been twisted and diminished over time. Aslan is at his best in trying to explain and recapture what was initially inspiring about Islam and what remains powerful -- things that can be hard for outsiders to see these days because of what some do in the name of their faith.

By carefully drawing in the social and political setting from which Islam emerged, Aslan presents a persuasive case for viewing the religion as very much a product of its age. He notes the appearance in the region of Mecca, during the prophet's youth, of religious fashions like iconoclasm and the fusing of faiths into one embracing doctrine, ideas that were to become central to Muhammad's message. Not just outsiders but Muslims themselves need reminding that during Islam's first centuries, the Torah was often read alongside the Koran. Both Muslims and their detractors also often forget that the Koran calls specifically on Jews, Christians and Muslims to ''come to an agreement on the things we hold in common.''

Aslan's wish to emphasize the tolerant, merciful side of Islam can lead to pitfalls. It is not particularly comforting to learn that when the prophet triumphantly returned to Mecca, the city of his birth that had rejected him, there were no forced conversions and ''only'' six men and four women were put to the sword. The killing and enslavement of Jewish tribes at Medina receives a similarly light gloss, although Aslan may be right to point out that their ''Jewishness'' may have been rather vaguely defined.

Whatever the case, he is clearly correct in stating that the more damaging influences on the faith were yet to come. Over the 14 centuries that followed Muhammad's 22 years of revelation, Muslim kings and scholars distorted its tenets to serve their own narrow interests, and then cast these accretions in stone. Not only were the words of the Koran reinterpreted, but so were the hundreds of thousands of traditions and sayings collected by the prophet's contemporaries. As one example, Muhammad's comment that the ''feebleminded'' should not inherit was taken by some to mean that women should be excluded from inheritance, despite the clear Koranic injunction to grant women half the portion of male inheritors.

Immediately after Islam's glorious early years of expansion, a great intellectual clash pitted rigid literalists against more rationalist interpreters. That the rationalists essentially lost is a subject of lament for Muslim modernists, particularly Western-educated intellectuals like Aslan, an Iranian-American scholar of comparative religion. His arguments for reintroducing rationalism, for accepting the utility of secularization and for contextualizing the historical understanding of the faith all put him in distinguished company among contemporary Muslims.

The Syrian reformist Muhammad Shahrour, for instance, proposes an elegant solution to the question of how to apply the controversial corporal punishments specified by most understandings of Islamic law, or Shariah. Instead of taking what some see as God's rules literally, he suggests that things like hand-chopping should be viewed as the maximum possible penalty. Anything more severe would contravene Islam, but it would be up to a secular, elected legislature to determine what lesser level of severity to apply.

Sadly, the dominant voices in Islam are still those that see the faith not simply as a path of moral guidance but as a rigidly prescriptive and exclusive rule book. Ferment is certainly in the air. If the Osama bin Ladens of the world have achieved one thing, it is to force Muslims to confront some of their demons. Even archconservative Saudi Arabia is slowly evolving. In April, its top religious authority declared that forcing a woman to marry against her will was an imprisonable offense. A full-blown ''reformation'' in the heartlands of Islam, however, is still a long way off.

Max Rodenbeck is the Middle East correspondent for The Economist.

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

Cancer in its midst'
TODAY'S COLUMNIST
By M. Zuhdi Jasser
March 30, 2006

During the dark days of our Revolution, Thomas Paine wrote, "That these are the times, that try men's souls." As an American Muslim, I feel the sentiment of these words like a red-hot brand on my brain.

    I have watched horrified as assassins have read out the words from my Holy Koran before slitting the throats of some poor innocent souls. To my non-comprehending eyes, I have seen mothers proudly support their sons' accomplishment of blowing up innocent people as they eat or travel. It shatters some part of me, to see my faith as an instrument for butchery.

    It makes me hope and pray for some counter-movement within my faith which will push back all this darkness. And I know that it must start with what is most basic -- the common truth that binds all religions: "Do unto others, as you would have them do onto you." The Golden Rule.

    But that is not what I am seeing taught in a great deal of the Muslim world today, and, unfortunately, in America it's just not much better.

    Night after night, I see Muslim national organizations like the Council for American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR, cry out over and over about anecdotal victimization while saying and doing absolutely nothing about the most vile hate-speak and actions toward Jews and Christians in the Muslim world. It is the most self-serving of outrage.

    The question I ask myself in the darkness of my own night is, "How did my beautiful faith become so linked with such ugliness." To me, the answer is both deep and simple. A spiritual path must be only about the spiritual while a worldly path must be about this world. When the two get mixed together, it brings out the very worst in both.

    Much of what passes today for religious thought and action is actually political. When I hear a sermon in a mosque about the horrors of Israeli occupation, I know that the political arena has taken over the spiritual one. When I see the actions of suicide bombers praised or excused by religious leaders, I know that this politicization is complete. But the current Muslim leadership in groups like CAIR and others want only to talk of victimization. So, it is now high time for a new movement by Muslims in America and the West.

    We in the Muslim community need to develop a new paradigm for our organizations and think tanks which holds Muslims publicly accountable for the separation of the political from the spiritual. Gone should be the day where individuals and their organizations can hide behind the cloak of victimization as a smoke screen for what they really believe.

    I do believe that religions have cycles that they go through. Christianity was once a highly intolerant faith. Jews were labeled as "Christ killers" and the colored peoples of the Third World were people whose native faith was like ragged clothes to be torn off their bodies.

    Thank God those days are over. Now my faith community must do the same. It should be the true test of a Muslim, not so much how he treats a fellow Muslim but how he treats someone of another faith.

    Time is not on our side and the volatile radical minority of Muslims could strike again at any time. But, while true change among Muslims may take generations, our history teaches us that once we start the ideological battle, nothing can counter the power of freedom, pluralism and the desire for human rights.

    There are some small signs that my community is finally beginning to wake up to the cancer in its midst. We are learning something that was the central lesson of World War II -- that once aroused, evil never stays self-contained.

    For many in my faith, it was all right to blow up innocent Israelis as they sat in their cafes and pizza parlors. Through some tortured act of logic, these suicide bombings were seen as some sort of legitimate religion-sanctioned acts. (All the while, notice how few Muslim organizations like CAIR will denounce Hamas by name). But, as evil always does, it migrates, and soon radical Muslims were blowing up little children in Russia, commuters in Spain and worshippers in one of Iraq's holiest mosques.

    Maybe our first true wake-up call was Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's homicide attack on the wedding party in Jordan. Because now, the evil unleashed on the occupying Jews had landed on the doorstep of Muslims as they partook in a joyous wedding day.

    That is the lesson that we in the Muslim community are now learning. Do evil to anyone and eventually it will boomerang on you. Perhaps, that's a good place to start. Let the barometer of our faith be how we treat our Jewish friends, because in the end, that is how we will eventually treat ourselves.
     
    M. Zuhdi Jasser is chairman of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy. A former Navy lieutenant commander, he currently is an internist in private practice in Phoenix.


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

http://www.aifdemocracy.org/
AIFD Commentary
The Synergy of Libertarianism and Islam
May 6, 2006
M. Zuhdi Jasser
Vital Speeches of the Day, May 2006
Vital Speeches of the Day

AFFAIRS OF RELIGION AND AFFAIRS OF STATE

Address by M. ZUHDI JASSER, Chairman of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy
Delivered to the Economics Discussion Group of Phoenix, Phoenix, Arizona, October 19, 2005



When it comes to libertarian ideology and its synergy with Islam, mine is a minority opinion within the "current" Muslim community. My prayer is that it is a majority opinion within the Muslim conscience.

It is my belief as a Muslim that libertarianism is a prerequisite for piety and for a pure unadulterated relationship with God. Faith must be personal in order to be "faith". Moreover, what is faith?-but a belief in that which cannot be proven but does exist and for which one may be held accountable? Islam as I know it and practice it is a personal faith without encumbrance external to my own physical being, to myself. It is unencumbered by clergy, or a man-made hierarchy.

It is my belief as a Muslim that liberty is necessary for religion and religion is necessary for liberty.

The independent nature of this relationship is at the core of the success of both ideologies-a virtual covalent bond.

What is Islam as a religion? What is Islam to me?

Islam is derived from the root term selama, "to surrender or submit" to God. Thus, in reference to the relationship of the soul with God, the almighty creator, the soul is only at "peace" [selam] if it has completely submitted to the will of God. One will achieve the ultimate free will-the purest of liberty and truth-if a Muslim has submitted to God. The crux of the matter is thus what is exactly meant by this submission. I could elaborate ad nauseam about what this concept is "not". But today I will only focus on what it "is" to me. I will focus on what my faith is, in forming who I am as a libertarian Muslim.

Interestingly, while we may have a few quibbles on whether I tow the line of libertarianism in areas of a forward foreign policy or accepting government payments in my medical practice, I believe the area in my life in which I am a strict uncompromising libertarian is in my relationship with God. This relationship is unidirectional. While I am a creation of God, my understanding and manifestation of that relationship is entirely created by me and enacted by me. The vehicle of internal harmony which I utilize to achieve peace in my relationship with God is one based on the Truth that my perception of God is that He is real and all encompassing, omnipresent, omnipotent, and all empowering in a divine humility. In the absence of a belief in a Creator and the free will He (the Creator) placed within me to choose to believe in Him, I am left inexorably with the emptiness of self-worship (this is a binary formula similar to many other binary choices in life). The presupposition of His creation is initiated with Free Will (Liberty).

In the Koran, God tells Muslims-"If I so desired to I could have forced you to believe, but I did not." Thus to believe in God and his faith is to believe an individual's choice is his or hers alone and must be free of coercion or else the entire faith is abrogated and irreconcilable. The purity of this choice, this liberty to believe, is unequaled in life for it is this choice over which all else is measured and over which I believe, as a believer, I will be judged in the Hereafter. The existence of a Day of a Judgment by the creator establishes the binary nature of life. Good and bad, joy and sadness, or pleasure and pain without both we know neither.

The decision, or any of our exercises of freedom and free will, are meaningless if they are not finalized with a judgment or an observation from the Creator. Joy is meaningless without pain. Love is meaningless without hate or apathy. This choice and final arbitration is the ultimate chance and the ultimate test of liberty. While we always seek to understand life, to understand God is to have that comfort of an explanation for all that in life which defies explanation no matter how hard I try. This is the submission. With liberty as the core truth upon which we all agree, the variation of that Truth whether the God of Abraham through Moses, Jesus, Mohammed, or any other faith is very personal with all being possibly the 'right path'.

Relevant historical landmarks of the Islamic faith

The religion of Islam was brought to this world from God, Muslims believe through a revelation transmitted by the angel Gabriel to the Prophet Mohammed beginning in 610 C.E. and ending in 633 C.E. This revelation intermittently was compiled to form the Muslim holy book-the Holy Qur'an. The faith was not revealed to Jews or Christians in order to convert them, but rather to the pagans of Arabia who had no moral code, and wallowed in materialism, arrogance, ignorance, and tribalism.

In the Qur'an, God retells many of the stories of Judaism and Christianity to the Muslims of Arabia from Adam to Abraham to Moses to Jesus.

Mohammed wore many hats, and in reading the Qur'an one notes that it is very clear in the passages when God is referring to Mohammed as His Prophet, as His Messenger, or as the head of state. This shared role certainly stretches one's ability to purely separate the concepts of religion and state. But in the scheme of history, the revelation of Islam had been a profound step forward in the journey toward liberty and in the journey to separate that of this world from that of the next. The creation of the city-state of Medina and its compact with the many tribes of various faiths in the region rests in history as one of man's greatest steps forward in establishing an example of pluralism and a governmental contract guaranteeing liberty and freedom from government and of religion regardless of faith. This was based upon a foundation of Islamic law, the sharia. So a knowledge of the legal processes of the faith of Islam was prerequisite.

For centuries this foundation became the basis of a new global liberty. Many in fact fled Europe to escape the persecution of medieval Christianity of the time in exchange for the open society of the Islamic world. Paul Johnson, in the History of the Jews refers to this period in the 12th Century as the Golden Age of Judaism. Islamic renaissance brought forward Greek philosophy, new sciences of algebra, applied mathematics, astronomy, advanced medicine (Avicenna's Canon of Medicine), and a cumulative experiential law based upon local precedents with little central authority.

The positive contributions to the world of Islamic society from 650 to 1500 are numerous and are the subjects of treatises. But, what followed is also a complicated history which through a number of stages led to the deconstruction of the Muslim community.

With the Ottoman Empire closed were the days of religious ijtihad-the interpretation of Islamic scripture in light of modern day understanding. The independence of religious centers of higher learning was a thing of the past. The dynamic nature of religious law in a precedent system similar to that of western courts of today was no more under the militarized Ottomans. This culminated in Ataturk outlawing the Arabic language and stifling any ability for attempts at ijtihad.

The Twentieth Century brought Muslims a colonial change, a change which distanced them even further from a modern interpretation of their faith. After the World Wars the abrupt withdrawal of foreign forces left some hope for democracy and freedom, but the vacuum and demilitarization of the people empowered coups and installed dictatorships across the Middle East. These dictatorships and oil monarchies ultimately completed the destruction of Muslim civilization, institutionalized corruption, and brought much of the community back to pre-Islamic tribalism, and moral vacancy. The only religious institutions fostered were those which catered to the despots and fostered radicalism. Witness the spread of salafism, Wahhabism, the Taliban, the Muslim Brotherhood, and the litany of other fundamentalist ideologies and their offspring militant organizations. The exploitation of the religion of Islam for political divisiveness spread throughout the Muslim world. Political Islam (Islamism) was born and remains the primary affliction of the Muslim world.

That which is sacred is above the scientific and the rational which is open to critique and deconstruction. As Abdelkarim Soroush, author of Reason, Freedom, and Democracy in Islam: the Writings of Abdelkarim Soroush states, "religious geometry or religious thermodynamics are possible in only as far as one presupposes that the world has a common source of truth otherwise the 'religious' is separate from science." He further asks, "How can human beings fraught with error create 'infallible' governments or churches?"

Dr. Soroush further states, Religion in Islam from the Qur'an is "a language of duties not rights". Humans are simply being given commandments by a supreme authority in a language of sharia' (rules of God transmitted to Muslims no different from 'mitzvot" of Judaism). But yet it remains that the ultimate acceptance and governance is still divinely individual-in point of fact libertarian.

If one were to sit down and write rules for one's own home, even though there is a strict set of rules, it would still be libertarian since the introduction, acceptance, continuation or the end of the rules would remain voluntary. While much of the Qur'an is rules, the acceptance of them is purely individual and is to be left inviolable by society.

The Muslim concept of sin and forgiveness as it relates to liberty

To a Muslim, infants are born pure and sin-free without need for baptism. In fact, it is felt in Islamic theology that children who die before the age of reason, age of true choice or liberty, are not judged by God negatively for any reason and are believed to go to heaven by His decision as a result of their purity. Once beyond the age when the superego and the soul understand right from wrong, at death an individual awaits God's judgment.

Muslims believe that life's actions are the ultimate barometer of faith on earth. In the end, Muslim theology imparts that God will judge these actions in a "bal?anced" fashion with an all-encompassing assessment of our good and bad deeds of our life. The only beliefs judged are those in regards to Him. The others are opinions related to this earth and are part of the shades of gray of human interac?tions. On earth it is not obligations but a measure of gain and loss as measured by a number of issues form one's intentions to the final arbiter-God.

Thus, individuals choose alone, and sin alone. No one else, not even the parent will be there on the day of Judgment to bear the sin (thus the major deviation from Christianity over 'salvation' or 'Jesus taking on our sins' or 'the assurance of heaven based only on salvation-there is no assurances of heaven in Islam regardless of what some may say). Confes?sion or absolution of sins by a third party is antithetical to Islam. The need for baptism to wash away sins of birth is also not in line with the essence of Islamic concepts of faith, liberty. The analogy of Adam choosing sin and thus we are all born to sin is also antithetical to Islamic concepts of sin and purity at birth.

As I stated at the outset, it is my belief as a Muslim that liberty is necessary for religion and religion is necessary for liberty. The independent nature of this relationship is at the core of the success of both ideologies-a supernatural covalent bond. In the first, as I mentioned, the loss of liberty negates actual faith and God's tests or challenges of free will then become rote actions of coercion. In the second, religion brings with it the definition of a value system or morality which forms the superego and allows society to function in security in the absence of the 'state'.

Now 'Godless' individuals can have a similar value system as a utilitarian argument. However, it is my belief that engrained within free will is an arrogance, a vacuum of humility, which without reigning in by religion and by a 'fear' or put more precisely a 'respect' for God, could not otherwise lead to a globally moral society. We have seen this in the pagan societies before Judaism, Christianity and Islam. It is in a way absurd to assume that the freedom, and liberty of today's society and our great advancements came from anywhere else other than as a result of a pious Judeo-Christian-Islamic culture albeit after wresting control away from religion (but still in the ever-presence of religion and its values). To say that atheism or paganism can now be successful whether or not moral, is like allowing the Chinese to claim a benefit from globalization and then saying that their communism created the success of their free markets.

Complete Equality of all human beings

Islam has no 'church structure', no institutional, hierarchy: all human beings are equal (even the Messengers of God)

This lack of institutionalization is certainly not obvious to a student of the so-called Muslim world, but as a devout libertarian Muslim, it's the only way I see my faith. The Koran is the only direct communication of the creator with Muslims and nothing else represents him. Thus the communication was one way via our messenger just as prior messengers and now we communicate personally in the other direction through prayer. This communication, this relationship would be inexorably altered if an intermediary were to step in with constricting rules as to the mechanism or 'permission.' In the end if it is clear that God will judge individuals on Judgment in isolation from anyone else, then they must be free of any hierarchical control or interpretative leadership.

In fact, in my own tradition of Sunni Islam (as compared to Shia) it is felt that 'ceremonial' practice is discouraged since it empowers a pseudo-clergy which may in the end interfere in this liberal relationship between an individual and God. From this innate close relationship comes the need to maintain its pure monotheism. Thus, in Islam one finds a distinct differentiation or theological disagreement with the Christian concept of the Trinity. The supernatural power and nature of God in his spirit is acknowledged but never separated from his oneness (tawhid). The Qur'an strictly describes that God begets none and is not begotten. This variant understanding of Jesus Christ as messenger of God in Islam versus son of God in Christianity is the primary theological difference between the faiths.

Thus, one understands the prohibition in Islam of giving God a human characteristic and also the prohibition of a picture of any of the prophets or deification of individuals no matter how great or pious.

The Legal Tradition of Islam

The sharia evolved in Islam as a legal framework from which to enact the moral guidance of God as enumerated in the Qur'an. This was lent to over centuries by scholars and jurists schooled in the religious law. The evolution was similar to the development of any precedent based juristic law. Just as our own American law evolved side by side with the original U.S. Constitution, religious law can evolve similarly side by side with the Qur'an. Its dynamic modernization is reflected off of the original intent of the primary document and its current understanding. This is with the most important caveat that these two legal systems should remain completely separate.

This separation is the essence of the conflict between the Muslim world and the non-Muslim world of the twenty-first century. I am an originalist in U.S. law and separately and similarly a classically liberal originalist and modernist in my own interpretation of the Holy Qur'an.

Accepting and rejecting Islam

While history of the spread of Islam is rife with assertions of the meanings of 'jihad', in today's world it is clear that this word, jihad is one of a militaristic coercion of religion. Based on the libertarian ideology of faith which I practice, any individual who expresses vocally let alone physically a need to change another individual has violated his own faith. Faith is simply limited to God's role with that individual. Any interference by any other individual violates the whole premise of faith in God.

In my understanding of my own faith of Islam, even the correction of minor transgressions of religious law are forbid?den between individuals for our moral behavior teaches us to honor individual independence and teach by subtle example not by coercion or even suggestion.

Free markets and Islam

The very nature of Islamic banking is free of collectivism and inherently decentralized. Profit-making, the invisible hand, and the 'virtue of selfishness" are all precepts to which I find no conflict within my faith and in fact I find encourage?ment within my faith.

I am going to use an analogy to the Islamic injunction against clergy. God states in the Qur'an, that he created natural needs of hunger, thirst, and intimacy and the clerical need to remain celibate is unnatural and violates the virtue of the sanctity of marriage. Free markets are the same. As long as we utilize our wealth in moral ways investment in capitalistic institutions is very Islamic and encouraged.

Some cite the prohibition of interest as anti-capitalistic. First of all, it is strictly usury which is discussed. Since lower interest rates could be interpreted as fees by simple semantic changes. But the intent of the theological argument is that all parties in a financial capital risk in fact share the risk. There should be no involved parties insulated from risk in the free market. For example, Islamic charity is prescribed to be 2.5% of one's savings (assets). Thus, the more one spends and the less one hoards, the less charity God commands us to spend. This seems to be a resounding endorsement of the free market and concept of 'virtue of selfishness'.

It is interesting to also note that Rose Wilder Lane in her book, Islam and the Discovery of Freedom cites the period of the introduction of Islam into the Arabian peninsula as one of the three major revolutions in man toward capitalism and free markets.

Libertarianism and Islam

Is Islam, is this a system of government? Islamism most certainly is while Islam most certainly is not. Islam does carry a set of laws and thus has an inherent rule of law which is inherent also within that which we understand as classical liberalism or libertarianism. But this is separate and without government.

Religion is negated by the abrogation of free will to the state. Actions prescribed by God, once they are prescribed by the state no longer become actions of faith but are actions of slavery imposed by a state. From charity to civic service to morality in dress and conduct, freedom and liberty allow one to exercise a moral faith. Just as libertarianism is abrogated by governmental control so to is a pious individually practiced Islam.

The concept of inalienable rights is a deeply religious one which without this foundation one could argue we should rather have a Darwinian society of the survival of the fittest rather than the freest.

Predicated upon the Muslim belief of God passing judgment is that this judgment is not only over the test of life's challenges and of one's moral failures and successes as an independent soul but upon the specific utilization of an individual's gifts. Society if it were to make rules could never create a situation other than in complete liberty where an individual's gifts from God are tested without encumbrance.

The actions of prayer, fasting, paying alms to the poor, pilgrimage to Mecca, and bearing witness to one God must be entirely free in order to be real. Coerced virtues are no longer virtues.

A society based upon liberty and free markets is predicated upon the presence of a moral code and the inherent trust of all of the participants (as Fukayama eloquently writes about in Trust). Thus, the more individually pious a society is, the more able they are to practice a libertarian philosophy within the society. The less pious and thus, the less ethical they are, the more autocracy they may need.

Working within the acts of this earth-studying this earth and its sciences is equivalent in Islam to reading the book of God. Both are in fact felt to be a form of communicating with God, the God of Abraham. This stimulation of human creativity is at its depth very free market, very libertarian and very Muslim. For Muslims are taught that creativity in science, nature, technology, art is equivalent to communicating with God.

This is one Muslim's view of his own faith. It is not only of interest because it is compelling to me, but the spread of a libertarian ideology within the Muslim community, the ummah, is one of the primary issues of the day. As we look at the threats to American and western security, the radical Islamists do not hate the west because of our affluence or of our free markets. They have been able to form an image of America and the west which the rank and file Muslim views as "godless".

The Islamists of the Muslim community (perhaps the majority of the ummah) have equated the separation of religion and state with the absence of religion. I believe it is rather the contrary-the most pious system for a society. They have equated the separation of religion and state as immoral. I believe it is rather the contrary-the most moral system for society. They have equated the separation of religion and state with a distance from God. I believe there is no society which permits a closer more genuine un-coerced relationship with God than one founded upon libertarian principles.

It is for this reason that my parents fled the oppression of the Syrian government in the 1960's in order to come to America and live the American dream. I was raised believ?ing and experiencing the fact that in no other place on earth do I have the freedom and the liberty to practice my faith unencumbered by government as I do in the United States. While we do see a sadly increasingly interventional government into our daily lives, the fact is until this very day, that scriptural and theological argumentation are not part of our governmental lawmaking in America. We simply use the logic of our human interactions to enact our values. It is this system which political Islam detests and it is this system which I as a freedom-loving classically liberal Muslim love.

My hope is that other libertarian Muslims wherever they may be wake-up and realize that their day has come now to be accounted and lead the ideological battle waged by Islamists against Muslims who separate the affairs of religion from the affairs of the state.

Thank you for your time and attention.


This speech was delivered to the Economics Discussion Group of Phoenix, Arizona on October 19, 2005.

It was published recently in Vital Speeches of the Day, May 2006, VOL. LXXII, No. 14-15. Subscriptions and copies can be obtained from the publishers website.


    ________________________________________
New Muslim leader wants Mideast democracy

 http://ads.thestar.com/image.ng/site...esc=w indowadBy Jon Wells
The Hamilton Spectator

(May 1, 2006) The new president of the Muslim Association of Hamilton is showing that he's not afraid to wade in on controversial topics.

In an interview with The Spectator yesterday, Ejaz Butt indicated he supports replacing dictatorships with democratic regimes in the Middle East.

"If (U.S. President George W. Bush) really went into Iraq to bring democracy, I would like him to go into other countries, too, if that is the real intention," he said. "Dictators are in most of our countries, and democracy should be brought to every Muslim country, and as a matter of fact the whole world."

When asked for his views on the Israeli-Palestinian issue, Butt supports Israel's right to exist as a sovereign country.

"I have a lot of respect for the Israelis, and they have a right to defend their own country. But I also want to have an independent state of Palestine -- a democratic one."

Butt was acclaimed yesterday by the association as its new president. The challenges are considerable for the association in the post 9/11 world.

"I'm an ex-military man, I can face any challenge," said Butt with a chuckle. "I'm ready for it."

Prior to coming to Canada in 1987, Butt was a soldier in the Pakistani army for 12 years. There, as a major, he worked for a time with a lieutenant named Pervez Musharraf -- now president of Pakistan.

Javid Mirza recently stepped down as association president. Butt plans to carry on Mirza's legacy of trying to build better relations and understanding between religious faiths in the community.
He is also determined to have the first traditionally designed mosque built in the city. The mosque where he was to be acclaimed was once a racquet club.

Butt, 53, is married and has two sons -- Atis is a soldier in the Canadian army and Asim is a Hamilton police officer. He said if Atis is called on to serve with Canadian troops in Afghanistan, he will support it.

"That's why you put the uniform on, you do not disobey orders when the crucial time comes. But Afghanistan is a very dangerous place, it's a very difficult mission ... When I hear of a Canadian soldier's death, they are like my own children, it brings tears."

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


(This Muslim American did not harbor any mental reservations about defending America and its Constitution from all enemies, domestic and foreign)
Army Pfc. Angelo Zawaydeh, 19, San Bruno; Killed in Iraq

From the Associated Press
April 23, 2006

When Angelo Zawaydeh of San Bruno, Calif., first told his parents that he wanted to join the military, they refused.

Not only were they worried about the dangers of their teenage son going to war, but they also had concerns about Zawaydeh, whose father is Jordanian, participating in a Middle Eastern war.


When Zawaydeh first brought up the idea to his parents when he was 16, the answer was simple, said his mother, April Bradreau. But two years later, he made his own decision. When he joined the Army, she said, "we asked, 'Why didn't you go to college?' And he said, 'I can't sit in the classroom anymore. I need to get up and do something.' "

Zawaydeh, 19, was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 502nd Infantry, 2nd Brigade, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) at Ft. Campbell, Ky., and sent to Iraq in September.

On March 15, the private first class was manning a machine gun atop a tank at a Baghdad traffic control point when he was killed by a mortar shell that struck him in the neck.

Kevin Campos said his best friend, a graduate of Terra Nova High School in Pacifica, Calif., and others had vowed to enlist after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. "We decided that America was worth fighting for," Campos said. "We thought if we're going to live in this country and raise our families here, we had to do something before we started our lives."

But Bradreau, who with her husband, Akram Zawaydeh, received the news of their son's death on the eve of their 21st wedding anniversary, said her son had grown disillusioned with the war over time. "He thought we could let them [the Iraqis] fight their own battles from now on over there," she said.

Bradreau remembered her son as a respectful young man who always was willing to lend a helping hand.

"He died like he lived," she said. "He gave his life for others."

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

(Another Muslim American who harbored no mental reservations)

Serving Was Soldier's Mission
Sudan Native Killed in Iraq Did 'Good Deeds'


By Martin Weil
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, January 4, 2006; A13

Ayman Taha, a Berkeley graduate who was described as athletic, a speaker of many languages, and a friend to all who met him, had only to write his dissertation to earn his PhD, his father said.

But three years ago, Taha, a budding economist and the son of a Northern Virginia couple, Abdel-Rahman and Amal Taha, joined the Army to serve in the Special Forces. About a year ago, he was sent to Iraq. On Friday, as Staff Sgt. Ayman Taha, 31, was preparing a cache of munitions for demolition in the town of Balad, the explosives detonated and he was killed, the Pentagon said yesterday.

It is "a very terrible thing," Abdel-Rahman Taha said. "He was a son, and a very special son."
The father added: "If you believe in God and you realize that this is God's will . . . it makes it a lot easier."
There is also consolation, the father said, in feeling that "this is something Ayman wanted to do."
A family friend, Nada Eissa, agreed. "No, he didn't have to do it," she said. "This is something he wanted to do."

Ayman Taha was born in Sudan, into an academically accomplished international family. Both parents hold doctorates. When his father worked for the World Bank, Ayman attended elementary school in McLean. He went to secondary school in England, then received a bachelor's degree from the University of California at Berkeley and a master's in economics from the University of Massachusetts, where he was working toward a PhD.

"He lived in many cultures," his father said, and spoke English, Arabic, Spanish and Portuguese. More important, his father said, were his personality and character.

"If he has a five-minute conversation with you, that would be the beginning of a lifetime relationship," the father said. "I never heard anybody who ever complained that Ayman did something wrong to him.
"He was just that type of character," the father said.

About three years ago, Ayman Taha told his father, "Dad, I have been going to school since I was 5 years old. I want to take a break."
The father said he suggested that his son "try something in the World Bank . . . or Merrill Lynch." But one day, "out of the blue," his son told him that he had signed the papers that would take him into the Special Forces.

He said his son was "definitely" patriotic and believed "in the mission."
"He strongly agreed that what they were doing is good and that they were helping people in the Middle East to get out of the . . . historic bottleneck" that had confined them.

Since boyhood, those who knew him recalled, Ayman Taha had taken an interest in military matters, which showed itself in the books he read and the toys he played with.

Joining the Special Forces was "something he felt compelled to do," said a friend, Hisham Eissa, who lives in Los Angeles and is Nada Eissa's brother.In economics, Taha's interest was in development. "He felt very strongly about making a difference," and "I think he felt that people like him" were needed for it, Eissa said.

"Everyone whose life he touched loved this guy," Hisham Eissa said. "There isn't a single person who knew him who isn't torn up about this."

The Pentagon said Taha was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 5th Special Forces Group, based at Fort Campbell, Ky. His wife, Geraldine, and child Sommer live near the base. One sister, Rabah, is a special education teacher in Fairfax County, and another, Lubna, attends Marymount University.

His father said Taha was a devout Muslim who believed that "the message of Islam is very simple . . . to believe in God and do good deeds."
"He believed that what he was doing were the good deeds Islam is asking for."

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

In summary, I reject hatred of all Muslims.  I believe that Islamic Fascism attacks us, both abroad and at home, and that we must defend ourselves.  I believe that good Muslims here should stand up to the fascists in their midst and report them to the relevant authorities and should support our efforts in the War on Islamic Fascism.  I believe that, just like Christianity struggled greatly in achieving its reformation, that Islam struggles with its reformation now.  Those victorious in reformation will believe in free speech, separation of Church and State and personal conscience in matters of faith.

Its too bad that Bryan doesn't seem to get this and regards what I say as he does, but this is America and that is his right.

This thread is titled a Dialog with Muslims.  I repeat my invitation to any and all Muslims to come dialog with us.   If I say something that is wrong or something that is untrue, show me and I will adjust accordingly.  If there is something I should know, then please educate me.

Marc/CD
30254  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Invitation to dialog to Muslims on: June 28, 2006, 10:17:58 PM
Bryan:

I have spent the last couple of days in the altered "higher consciousness"
space that comes after one of our "DB Gatherings" and now return to this
thread.  cry   Please forgive me for not limiting myself to five questions as requested, but instead asking more.

1)  From my post of June 17th:

All members of the US Armed Forces take an oath to uphold and defend the US Constitution. The First Amendment of the US Constitution calls for the separation of church and state. As you tell us, you take your Islam quite seriously, and Islam calls for a union of church and state. How do you reconcile this discrepancy?

2)  From Buzwardo's post of June 20th:

 Can we agree that Israel has a right to exist in peace with its neighbors?

3)  From the same post of Buzwardo:

I'm also having trouble with the implicit defense of the violence occurring
in the wake of the publication of the Danish cartoons. Perhaps the brush was broad and the images insensitive, but the fact of the matter is that there are a lot of horrors that have been perpetrated in the name of Islam, and other religions for that matter. As such it isn't particularly surprising that graphic representations inspired by the dissonance of holy violence emerged. Angered that brutality in the name of religion inspired said illustrations, more religious brutality broke out. And somehow the prime lesson we are supposed to draw from this is that sensitivities must be minded lest barbarity is unleashed?

4)  From my post of June 21st:

Concerning your professed tolerance in matters of religion, it simply is
inconsistent with your now deleted expression of desire for Sharia to be the law of America. In the homeland of Islam, Saudi Arabia other religions are prohibited. This brings to mind your now deleted reference about not being protected by the US Constitution. You can be a Muslim here because of our Constitution, but trying being a Jew, a Christian, a Buddhist, a Hindu, a pagan, etc in Saudi Arabia or many other Muslim majority nations-- let alone imagine them having a synagogue for Jews in their armed forces Sharia, which even your post-edited post tells us you like, calls for Jews and Christians to be taxed as a sign of Islam's dominance.

"Fight those who do not believe in Allah, nor in the latter day, nor do they
prohibit what Allah and His Apostle have prohibited, nor follow the religion
of truth, out of those who have been given the Book, until they pay the tax
in acknowledgment of superiority and they are in a state of subjection."
(9.29)"

Why do you, who tell us "Islam is My religion, Its always with me, I begin
my days with it, I live my days with it, I end my days with it, I dream it
in my sleep," wish this for America? Why do you wish the subjection of
other religions and to tax them?

I have read your answer that states:

"Its easy for me, I am not a citizen of a Muslim country. Therfore I am
rquired to abide by the laws of my country the United States. Contrary to
poular belief we dont sit around planning to take over the world but we are the fastest growing religion in the world. "

In other words you are saying that should Muslims ever do become the majority that you will participate in seeking the end of our First
Amendment.  Yes?

(As for not "planning to take over the world"-- please!  get serious!
Considerable proof to the contrary on the part of many Muslims, well
supported by passages in the Koran, exists.)

5)  From my same post:

"(H)ow does this square with your oath as a member of our armed forces to uphold and defend the Constitution against all enemies both foreign and
domestic? When I asked you this before you said, "I will always protect the office of the President of the United States and the American Embassies anywhere in the world in any country and consider it a honer (sic) to do so". This is quite a bit less than what is required by your oath!!! It sounds like your interpretation of your religion is in conflict with your oath.

In response you stated:

"Since George Bush is the single most hated man in the Muslim world my
earlier statement that I would defend the Office of the President "which
means him" anyplace anytime and all Embassies "Including those in Muslim Countries", . Thats about as big a statement as I can make on the issue and I highly doubt you could get most of the people talking smack about my religion to put their a$$ on the line for him."

Your Commander in Chief has issued orders for acts substantially beyond
defending his a$$ and our embassies.  To state the matter plainly, this
reads like you have substantial mental reservations about defending the US Constitution from domestic and foreign enemies who are Muslim because they and you are both Muslim.  If you were to receive an order to pick up a rifle and go to Afghanistan, Iraq or elsewhere and shoot fascist Muslims, would you obey that order?

6)  Myke Willis posts on June 23:

"In these dealings I have found that when it comes to "believers and non
believers" that the believers will look the other way and mind their own
business as to avoid conflict with fellow Muslims. Muslim speaking against Muslim, Muslim killing Muslim in strictly prohibited."

Your previous answer of "While it appears on the surface that all Muslims
defend each other this is just not the case, Sunnis and Shias have a long
and dark history of murdering each other. I as a American have a entirely seperate view than someone who was raised and is a citizen of Pakistan or Indonesia on these matters." is non-responsive on the essence of the question-- whether believers will look the other way to avoid conflict with fellow Muslims over what they do to non-Muslims, either through fear or sympathy.


Now I turn to answering your five questions:


1. Within Dog Brothers Martial Arts do you have any active Muslim members?

I have no idea.  I do not ask the religion of those who sign up.

2. In your cell phone do you have the phone number of any Muslim? Or do you have Muslim friends or even interact with any Muslims in daily life?

I have no phone numbers in my cell phone-- such technological skill exceeding my humble doggie abilities  -- I do have the number of a Muslim friend in my phone book though.  While it was still in business, I regularly ate at a neighborhood Palestinean restaurant for several years.


3. Have you ever gone to a Mosque for a afternoon and actully saw what goes on there and asked people questions about what they believe and how they live?

No.  That said, I have no doubt that Islam has much merit to it-- especially when one deletes its hateful passages such as this:

Disbelievers and infidels

"Therefore We will most certainly make those who disbelieve taste a severe
punishment, and We will most certainly reward them for the evil deeds they used to do." (41.27)

"Therefore let those fight in the way of Allah, who sell this world's life
for the hereafter; and whoever fights in the way of Allah, then be he slain
or be he victorious, We shall grant him a mighty reward." (4.74)

"Fight those who do not believe in Allah, nor in the latter day, nor do they
prohibit what Allah and His Apostle have prohibited, nor follow the religion
of truth, out of those who have been given the Book, until they pay the tax
in acknowledgment of superiority and they are in a state of subjection." (9.29)

"O you who believe! do not take the Jews and the Christians for friends;
they are friends of each other; and whoever amongst you takes them for a friend,
then surely he is one of them; surely Allah does not guide the
unjust people." (5.51)

"And fight with them until there is no more persecution and religion should
be only for Allah; but if they desist, then surely Allah sees what they do."
(8.39)

"So when you meet in battle those who disbelieve, then smite the necks until when you have overcome them, then make (them) prisoners, and afterwards either set them free as a favor or let them ransom (themselves) until the war terminates." (47.4)

"They desire that you should disbelieve as they have disbelieved, so that
you might be (all) alike; therefore take not from among them friends until
they fly (their homes) in Allah's way; but if they turn back, then seize
them and kill them wherever you find them, and take not from among them a friend or a helper." (4.89)

"The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His apostle and
strive to make mischief in the land is only this, that they should be
murdered or crucified or their hands and their feet should be cut off on
opposite sides or they should be imprisoned; this shall be as a disgrace for them in this world, and in the hereafter they shall have a grievous
chastisement" (5.33)

Friends with Infidels

"Let the believers not make friends with infidels in preference to the
faithful-he that does this has nothing to hope for from God-except in
self-defense" (3:28).

"Believers, do not make friends with any but your own people. They will
spare no pains to corrupt you. They desire nothing but your ruin. Their
hatred is evident from what they utter with their mouths, but greater is the hatred which their breasts conceal" (3:118).

 "Believers, do not seek the friendship of the infidels and those who were
given the Book before you, who have made of your religion a jest and a
pastime" (5:57).

"They shall be held up to shame in this world and sternly punished in
the hereafter" (2:114).

"[We] shall let them live awhile, and then shall drag them to the
scourge of the Fire. Evil shall be their fate" (2:126).

"The East and the West are God's. He guides whom He will to a straight
path" (2:142).

"Slay them wherever you find them. Drive them out of the places from
which they drove you. Idolatry is worse than carnage. . . . f they attack
you put them to the sword. Thus shall the unbelievers be rewarded: but if
they desist, God is forgiving and merciful. Fight against them until

idolatry is no more and God's religion reigns supreme. But if they desist,
fight none except the evil-doers"(2:190-93).

    "Fighting is obligatory for you, much as you dislike it. But you may
hate a thing although it is good for you, and love a thing although it is
bad for you. God knows, but you know not" (2:216).

"They will not cease to fight against you until they force you to
renounce your faith-if they are able. But whoever of you recants and dies an unbeliever, his works shall come to nothing in this world and in the world to come. Such men shall be the tenants of Hell, wherein they shall abide forever. Those that have embraced the Faith, and those that have fled their land and fought for the cause of God, may hope for God's mercy" (2:217-18).

"Believers, if you yield to the infidels they will drag you back to
unbelief and you will return headlong to perdition. . . .We will put terror
into the hearts of the unbelievers. . . . The Fire shall be their home"
(3:149-51).

"Let not the unbelievers think that We prolong their days for their own
good. We give them respite only so that they may commit more grievous sins. Shameful punishment awaits them" (3:178).

"You see many among them making friends with unbelievers. Evil is that to which their souls prompt them. They have incurred the wrath of God and shall endure eternal torment. . . .You will find that the most implacable of men in their enmity to the faithful are the Jews and the pagans, and that the nearest in affection to them are those who say: 'We are Christians'" (5:80-82).

The following quotes are excerpted from a sermon broadcast on Palestinian TV by Dr. Mustafa Najem, Dec. 6, 2002:

  "The Jews...are the brothers of monkeys and pigs...Allah has warned us
against their evil and their arrogance, and has said: 'You will find that
the most brazen among mankind, with hatred towards the believers, are the Jews and the Idolaters.' [(Quran 81:5)]...The Jews are Jews, and we are forbidden to forget their character traits even for a moment, even for a blink of an eye. O Servants of Allah! The Jews are those who tried to murder your Prophet in order to expunge the call (to Islam)....Prayer and blessing to the Imam of the Jihad fighters, Mohammed, who waged a Jihad against the Jews...The Jews...are Idolaters, heretics, whose faith is false."  

This bit about pigs and monkeys has been around for a while now.  In the Muslim Aghlabid dynasty (9th through 11th century, North Africa) Jews were forced to wear a patch that had an image of a monkey, and were also forced to affix the same image to their homes. For Christians, the image was that of a pig.

A May 2006 study of Saudi Arabia's revised schoolbook curriculum discovered that the 8th grade books included the following statements:

  They are the people of the Sabbath, whose young people God turned into apes, and whose old people God turned into swine to punish them. As cited in Ibn Abbas: The apes are Jews, the keepers of the Sabbath; while the swine are the Christian infidels of the communion of Jesus.

Some of the people of the Sabbath were punished by being turned into apes and swine. Some of them were made to worship the devil, and not God, through consecration, sacrifice, prayer, appeals for help, and other types of worship. Some of the Jews worship the devil. Likewise, some members of this nation worship devil, and not God.[15]

7)  I understand that you are American and do not necessarily hold the same views as in the parts of the world where Islam rules.  Will this be true should Islam come to rule in America as you hope for us?  I am confused because in your deleted post you spoke of living, eating, breathing and dreaming Islam and supporting Sharia-- including punishments such as chopping off hands -- which you proffered as proof your being a "real Muslim".   A large % of Muslim preachers here are educated in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and similar countries, and my understanding is that most mosques here and in Europe are funded, supported, and guided by the clerics of Saudi Arabia.  So it is hard for me to know what you believe, and given your belief that to have hard questions is offensive and to offend means one deserves fascist thuggery for being offensive, , , , well for me to come to know what you believe requires an above-average willingness to take chances.

I am fully aware of hateful passages in the Bible so no need to tell me about them.  As best as I can tell, hardly anyone takes them seriously-- and virtually everyone has no problem in denouncing them as ridiculous.

In other words, I CHOOSE what I believe.  

Do you?  

Or are do you follow what seems to be the path of most Muslims, foreign or American, who believe that one must take the Koran unchanged?

4. Do you wish to include Muslim members within your organizaion?

Forgive me the moment of levity, but you must have me confused with a
Democrat. (For the record, nor am I Republican.)  I believe in merit and truth.  There is no place in my path for
affirmative action, quotas and other such tomfoolery.   When government
forms ask me my race, I answer "human" and when they ask for my religion
 I tell them "None of your business".

As is readily seen by all members in our Association in the vigorous threads on the Association forum, one is free to think President Bush a vile idiot, our strategy in the War on Islamic Fascism profoundly wrong, and so forth.  We have gung ho Christians and pinko-liberal San Francisco types.  But, ANYONE who seeks theocracy, who seeks to overturn our First Amendment, who seeks harm to America most decidedly is not welcome.  Anyone who teaches hate, including that of Muslims, is not welcome (By the way, we discontinued our relationship with one European person when we discovered he had a poster of Mussolini on his wall). And, an American soldier unbelieving in his oath to defend our Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic without mental reservation is not welcome.

5. If you do include Muslims do you believe any of them would be interested
with your current position on the cartoon issue which includes promoting them when you have been told they are offensive?

As has been clearly explained to you already in this thread, I do NOT
promote them.  As is quite common in a free society such as ours, I let
people know where they could find them so that they could see what the
world-wide Islamic uproar was about.  This is American Civics 101. But I'll go further and say that any American so prissy as to get his panties in a bunch about them would probably find us to be a bunch of infidel dogs across the board-- and I'd say the same to anyone who sought to justify/explain/rationalize/call for violence against those who blaspheme Christianity, Jeddaism, Buddism, Hindism, Paganism, Animism etc.  THIS IS AMERICA.

In closing, I'd like to make two additional points.

1:  The importance to me of whether a Muslim is willing to speak up about Muslim fascists is completely consistent with what I have always been about.  Many of those who know me have heard me speak of the influence on me of the Kitty Genovese case when I was a boy in NYC in the early 60s (Goggle the name and you will find out about how a woman was raped and murdered in the street while people safe in their homes, safe to call the police, closed the windows and turned up their TV sets to drown out her screams.)  It is not morally different when a "good" Muslim remains silent over fascist plotting in his/her mosque-- exemplifed in the article about the Canadian case that I posted in this thread-- yet it seems to be common Muslim doctrine to never work with the infidels against a "fellow Muslim".  

2:   Most of my points here have spoken of my deep doubts about Islam.  I would also like to make clear that I have no doubt that a religion that appeals to so many must have deep merit.  I contrast the spam that arrives in my email box about seeing "Well-hung black dwarves anally deflower underage blond lesbian virgins" and what I felt when I was overnight in Indonesia on my way back from the Philippines.  I think of the spiritual look on the face of a Muslim teenager in her hijab I saw in a picture in the newspaper here in LA in an article about the challenges of following Islam in modern America.  I think of a calm, centered peaceful aura that I have sensed in some Muslims I have met.

If you choose that part of Islam, all is well.  If you choose to reject and condemn that part of Islam that seeks to intimidate, suppress, tax and lie to those of other religions, then all is well.  If you choose our First Amendment over theocracy and fatwas, intimidation and thuggery for impermissable speech, then we stand together.  

I understand more than you know that it must be a major drag to be a "fcuking muzzie" to the bigots and the fearful amongst us.  That said, if you can understand that at this point in time it is natural for Americans to have deep questions about Islam and the locus of loyalty of the Muslims amongst us, then perhaps instead of getting all in a snit you will be able to simply converse and share what you know.  Maybe some of us will learn, and maybe you will learn too.  This too is America.

The Adventure continues,
Marc/Crafty Dog

PS:  Here is a typical article that gives one pause about Muslim attitudes:


What Muslims think

Daniel Pipes, THE JERUSALEM POST Jun. 27, 2006

To find out, the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press carried out a large-scale attitudinal survey this spring. Titled "The Great Divide: How Westerners and Muslims View Each Other," it interviewed Muslims in two batches of countries: six of them with long-standing, majority-Muslim populations (Egypt, Indonesia, Jordan, Nigeria, Pakistan, Turkey) and four of them in Western Europe with new, minority Muslim populations (France, Germany, Great Britain, Spain).

The survey, which also looks at Western views of Muslims, yielded some dismaying but not altogether surprising results. Its themes can be grouped under three rubrics.

A PROCLIVITY to conspiracy theories: In not one Muslim population polled does a majority believe that Arabs carried out the 9/11 attacks on the United States. The proportions range from a mere 15 percent in Pakistan holding Arabs responsible, to 48 percent among French Muslims.

Confirming recent negative trends in Turkey, the number of Turks who point the finger at Arabs has declined from 46 percent in 2002 to 16 percent today. In other words, in every one of these 10 Muslim communities, a majority views 9/11 as a hoax perpetrated by the American government, Israel, or some other agency.


Likewise, Muslims are widely prejudiced against Jews, ranging from 28 percent unfavorable ratings among French Muslims to 98 percent in Jordan (which, despite the monarchy's moderation, has a majority Palestinian population).
Further, Muslims in certain countries (especially Egypt and Jordan) see Jews conspiratorially, as being responsible for bad relations between Muslims and Westerners.

Conspiracy theories also pertain to larger topics. Asked, "What is most responsible for Muslim nations' lack of prosperity?" between 14 percent (in Pakistan) and 43 percent (in Jordan) blame the policies of the US and other Western states, as opposed to indigenous problems, such as a lack of democracy or education, or the presence of corruption or radical Islam.

This conspiracism points to a widespread unwillingness in the umma to deal with realities, preferring the safer bromides of plots, schemes, and intrigues. It also reveals major problems adjusting to modernity.

SUPPORT FOR terrorism: All the Muslim populations polled display a solid majority of support for Osama bin Laden. Asked whether they have confidence in him, Muslims replied positively, ranging between 8 percent (in Turkey) to 72 percent (in Nigeria). Likewise, suicide bombing is popular. Muslims who call it justified range from 13 percent (in Germany) to 69 percent (in Nigeria). These appalling numbers suggest that terrorism by Muslims has deep roots and will remain a danger for years to come.

BRITISH AND Nigerian Muslims the most alienated: The United Kingdom stands out as a paradoxical country. Non-Muslims there have strikingly more favorable views of Islam and Muslims than elsewhere in the West; for example, only 32 percent of the British sample view Muslims as violent, significantly less their counterparts in France (41 percent), Germany (52 percent) or Spain (60 percent).

In the Muhammad cartoon dispute, Britons showed more sympathy for the Muslim outlook than did other Europeans. More broadly, Britons blame Muslims less for the poor state of Western-Muslim relations.

But British Muslims return the favor with the most malign anti-Western attitudes found in Europe. Many more of them regard Westerners as violent, greedy, immoral, and arrogant than do their counterparts in France, Germany, and Spain. In addition, whether asked about their attitudes toward Jews, responsibility for 9/11, or the place of women in Western societies, their views are notably more extreme.

The situation in Britain reflects the "Londonistan" phenomenon, whereby Britons preemptively cringe and Muslims respond to this weakness with aggression.
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Overall, the Pew survey sends an undeniable message of crisis from one end to the other of the Muslim world.

http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=115088586574...JPArticle%2FShowFull
30255  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WW3 on: June 28, 2006, 08:14:02 AM
Geopolitical Diary: Signs of an Approaching U.S.-Iranian Deal

Supreme Iranian leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Tuesday that Iran does not need to talk with the United States about its nuclear program because there is nothing to be gained from the negotiations. State television quoted Khamenei as saying, "We do not negotiate with anybody on achieving and exploiting nuclear technology ... But if they recognize our nuclear rights, we are ready to negotiate about controls, supervisions and international guarantees."

Western media jumped on Khamenei's remark and began flooding the airwaves with reports that Iran had categorically rejected talks with the United States, feeding the popular perception that the world is headed toward a major crisis on the Iranian nuclear issue. But the reality is the opposite. Khamenei's remarks are to be expected: Iran has intensified its preparations on the home front as well as on the international level to move toward public dialogue with the United States.

One of the most glaring examples of such developments is the report from the Iranian news agency Fars that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will soon make a trip to Baghdad. This would not be happening if Iran was not close to consolidating its geopolitical interests in Iraq. What's more, the U.S. State Department gave a cautious nod of approval to this visit.

Meanwhile, Iraqi Shiite leaders have been traveling to Iran, as did Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul over the weekend. Syrian President Bashar al Assad, in an interview published June 26 in the Arabic-language daily al-Hayat, said that Syrian interests would be best served through an understanding between the United States and Iran, and that he finds Arab fears over Iran's growing role in the region irrational.

The Iranians have also been engaged in some significant changes internally, trying to get all the factions of the clerical-led conservative establishment on the same page in order to move toward a dialogue with the Bush administration. The most important event in this regard is the creation of a new body that will be shaping Iranian foreign policy: the Strategic Council for Foreign Affairs (SCFA), meant to serve as an advisory group to improve the country's capabilities in making major foreign policy decisions. It is not an executive body and is not supposed to interfere with the function of the Foreign Ministry or the Supreme National Security Council (SNSC). The creation of the SCFA is part of Khamenei's effort to have greater oversight over the foreign-policymaking process in the hawkish Ahmedinejad administration.

It should be noted that this move follows several similar initiatives by the supreme leader. What Khamenei has done is retain key pragmatic conservatives from the previous government in positions that allow him to exercise greater control over the ultraconservatives who emerged with the election of Ahmadinejad. Senior officials of the three branches of the Iranian government called June 25 for the need to show greater solidarity and cooperation in order to achieve the aspirations of the Islamic Revolution and the supreme leader.

Signs of progress are also visible inside Iraq. Deputy Prime Minister Salam Zikam Ali al-Zubaie held meetings over the weekend with several tribal leaders from Anbar province, where the insurgency has been strong, and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki unveiled a 24-point national reconciliation plan early this week. It is quite possible the seven groups that responded favorably to the government's amnesty offer came forward as a result of these meetings. Under the amnesty plan, several hundred Sunni prisoners were released on Tuesday. As a result of all this, there was a noticeable drop in violence.

All of these developments indicate that Tehran and Washington are moving to finalize their deal on Iraq. What remains to be seen is how this will filter into Tehran's role in Lebanon and in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict -- and, of course, the nuclear issue.
30256  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Mexico on: June 27, 2006, 04:37:39 PM
The Spread of Mexico's Drug Wars
Mexican authorities recovered four beheaded bodies from a vacant lot near the U.S. border in Tijuana the night of June 21, pulling the heads from the nearby Tijuana River. The victims, three local police officials and a civilian, reportedly had been abducted by a convoy of heavily armed men. Three days later, the bodies of four police officers kidnapped the week before were found near the resort city of Acapulco in southern Mexico's Guerrero state. One of the victims had been beheaded. These attacks appear to confirm the escalation -- and spread -- of Mexico's drug wars.

In Nuevo Laredo, Tijuana, and, more recently, Acapulco, rival drug cartels are using heavier and more powerful weapons to carry out increasingly brazen attacks against one other, and any local police officers who get in their way. In Guerrero state, two police posts at the Ixtapa and Zihuatanejo tourist resorts came under simultaneous attack with automatic weapons and grenades June 24.

The attacks against the police posts occurred during a violent weekend in Guerrero state that saw a total of 11 people killed. In addition to the four police officers, the bodies of a businessman and a former police officer were discovered in Acapulco. Four more bodies were found in plastic bags on the outskirts of Acapulco, in Pie de la Cuesta, while another shooting victim was discovered bound and wrapped in a black plastic bag in another nearby town.

Until recently, beheadings had been rare in Mexico, despite the numerous deadly wars between drug cartels going back decades. The change in tactics suggests a new element has entered into the equation, most likely from Central or South America. It also is possible that local enforcers have adopted some of the tactics that have been so effective in Iraq and elsewhere.

Deputy Attorney General for Organized Crime Jose Luis Santiago Vasconcelos said the beheadings in Tijuana were likely carried out by members of the Mara Salvatrucha crime gang working as enforcers for the Sinaloa drug cartel. Vasconcelos himself, however, has been accused repeatedly in the Mexican media of having a direct connection to some of the cartels. It is a fact, though, that while the Maras can be extremely violent, they are not known to behead their victims.

The real culprits, then, could be Kaibiles, former Guatemalan special forces soldiers who have signed on as cartel enforcers. The Mexican media, citing the April beheadings of two police officers in Acapulco, have claimed that Kaibiles have been active in Mexico over the past few months. Some Guerrero state officials have publicly said they believe the Kaibiles to be behind the attacks, while others have requested information from the Guatemalan army about possible former Kaibiles participating with drug-traffickers. A Guatemalan army spokesman said Mexico requested information on three specific individuals, one of whom was positively identified as a former Kaibil.

The Mexican government has tried various tactics throughout the years to stem the violence associated with the cartels -- to no avail. With presidential elections set for July 2, the new administration and its security services will face the same old problems of internal police corruption and outgunned forces -- and likely will be unable to stem the escalating violence in Mexico. The introduction of enforcers from outside the country indicates that, as the stakes rise, the cartels are responding with increasing violence.
30257  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WW3 on: June 27, 2006, 12:18:37 AM
Iraq: An Offer of Amnesty in a Complex Landscape
Summary

Sunni leaders criticized a reconciliation plan put forth by the Iraqi government, saying it falls short of the minority Arab community's expectations. The Sunni reaction offers insights into the makeup of the Sunni political landscape in Iraq and underscores its complexity, further challenging efforts to scale back the insurgency and disband the militias.

Analysis

Iraqi Vice President Tareq al-Hashmi, a Sunni, warned June 26 that there will be no letup in the insurgency unless the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki negotiates with insurgent groups dominated by former Baathists -- and until there is a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S.-led coalition forces from the country.

Earlier, Hassan al-Sunaid, a lawmaker and member of the political bureau of al-Maliki's Hizb al-Dawah party, claimed that seven Sunni insurgent groups had responded positively to a national reconciliation plan presented by the al-Maliki administration. Al-Sunaid named six of the seven groups: the al-Ashreen Brigades, the Mohammed Army, Abtal al-Iraq (Heroes of Iraq), the 9th of April Group, al-Fatah Brigades and the Brigades of the General Command of the Armed Forces.

Meanwhile, Iyad al-Samarrai, a legislator from al-Hashmi's Iraqi Islamic Party, questioned whether the favorable response came from bona fide insurgent leaders. "The problem comes from people who say they represent this or that group," Al-Samarrai said. "Do they really represent them? Does he represent the leadership or a branch? This is something that needs investigating."

Apart from the Mohammed Army and the al-Ashreen Brigades (aka the 1920 Revolution Brigades), the others are quite insignificant. None is a first-tier Sunni nationalist group, a category that would include organizations such as the Islamic Army in Iraq and the Islamic Front of the Iraqi Resistance. Therefore, it is likely that the seven groups that contacted the government in response to the reconciliation plan are part of a Sunni approach that involves groups coming forward in increments. Sunnis do not want to surrender all their communal military assets until the Shia are willing to do the same.

That some insurgents groups are reportedly ready to lay down their weapons while Sunni political leaders remain critical of the government's opposition to dealing with Baathists underscores a complex political structure that has evolved over the last three years. The locus of power in Iraq's Sunni areas is shared by political, religious, tribal and military leaders. This means that, despite a general Sunni consensus toward seeking a political settlement with the Shia, the negotiating process will be excruciatingly lengthy and bloody. Moreover, the difficulties that the Shiite-dominated al-Maliki government faces regarding the Sunni demand for disbanding the militias will further complicate matters.

Maverick Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr's response to the reconciliation plan is quite telling. Sahib al-Amery, an aide to al-Sadr, was quoted June 26 in An Najaf as saying that the al-Sadrite bloc welcomes the 24-point plan but sees it as not being tough enough to keep Baathists out of the political system, and believes it must address the issue of releasing jailed leaders of al-Sadr's Mehdi Army militia.

Al-Maliki's plan would extend amnesty to all those insurgents who are not jihadists or Saddamists/Baathists. In effect, this plan is the Shiite response to the Sunnis moving away from the jihadists, and the Shia deliberately excluded members of the former government from the amnesty offer. The Shia will likely bargain on the issue of the Baathists as part of any settlement on the Shiite militias.

By coughing up al Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Sunnis showed a united front and exploited intra-Shiite differences when they demanded that the Shia reciprocate by disbanding the militias. This time around, the Shia are trying to take advantage of the splits among the Sunnis by linking the matter of the militias to a deal on the Baathists.

But the Sunni fragmentation is not as severe as that of the Shia, which was obvious when those Sunnis who are part and parcel of the system came out saying that any national reconciliation plan that failed to engage the Baathists was destined to fail. The Sunni political leadership is skillfully trying to leverage the complex structure of their community to their advantage.

On one hand are Sunni political groups such as the Tawafoq Iraqi Front and the Hewar National Iraqi Front, which together control 55 seats in Parliament. On the other hand are the sundry array of armed Sunni guerilla groups. Unlike the classical political-military wing model, the Sunni political and military leadership is connected through the pivot of tribal leaders, who are the ones with the most leverage over the armed groups and who act through the political forces within the two Sunni coalitions. Sunni religious scholars also exercise influence over political leaders and military commanders but they, too, are dependent upon the tribal shayukh for their power.

It is this structure that has allowed the Sunnis to mitigate internal differences and adroitly maneuver in their political dealings with the Shia, Kurds and Americans. More important, this structure will continue to allow the Sunnis to engage in tough negotiations with the Shia and to exploit their growing internal rifts, especially as the government moves forward on the issue of dismantling the Shiite militias.
30258  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Howl of Respect to our Soldiers/Veterans on: June 26, 2006, 04:34:16 PM
A Camp Divided

As U.S. tries to give Iraqi troops more responsibility,
clash of two American colonels shows tough road ahead.
By GREG JAFFE
June 16, 2006 11:24 p.m.; Page A1

Camp Taji, Iraq

This sprawling military base is divided down the middle by massive concrete barriers, a snaking fence and rifle-toting guards. On one side, about 10,000 U.S. Army soldiers live in air-conditioned trailers. There's a movie theater, a swimming pool, a Taco Bell, and a post exchange the size of a Wal-Mart, stocked with everything from deodorant to DVD players.

On the other side are a similar number of Iraqi soldiers whose success will determine when U.S. troops can go home. The Iraqi troops live in fetid barracks built by the British in the 1920s, ration the fuel they use to run their lights and sometimes eat spoiled food that makes them sick.

The only soldiers who pass regularly between the two worlds are about 130 U.S. Army advisers, who live, train and work with the Iraqis.


For many of these advisers, the past six months have been a disorienting experience, putting them at odds with their fellow U.S. soldiers and eroding their confidence in the U.S. government's ability to build an Iraqi force that can stabilize this increasingly violent country.

Army commanders back in the U.S. "told us this was going to be the most thankless and frustrating job we have ever held, and boy, were they right," says Lt. Col. Charles Payne, who until last month oversaw about 50 Army advisers.

He and fellow advisers say U.S. troops on the American side of the base saddle Iraqis with the least-desirable missions and often fail to provide them with the basics they need to protect themselves against insurgent attacks. "They treat the Iraqis with utter scorn and contempt," Col. Payne says. "The Iraqis may not be sophisticated, but they aren't stupid. They see it."

Col. James Pasquarette, who commands most of the soldiers on the U.S. side of Camp Taji, calls those claims "totally ridiculous." He says he's proud of what the Iraqi units have achieved in the region and has made supporting them his top priority, after ensuring his own troops have the protection they need. But he worries that if the Iraqis are given too much latitude to execute challenging missions too quickly, they will alienate Iraqi civilians with heavy-handed tactics.

He says Col. Payne and his fellow advisers have "gone native."

Though the divide here at Camp Taji is extreme, it reflects a growing friction throughout this war-torn country. No one on either side of the divide expects the Iraqi troops to be trained, equipped or housed to U.S. standards. But if U.S. troops are going to go home, U.S. commanders must allow Iraqis to take a far greater role in planning operations and taking the fight to the enemy, senior military officers say.

1
Right now, Iraqi commanders and some of their U.S. advisers say that isn't happening enough. Part of the reason, U.S. officials say, is that widespread Iraqi corruption has made it hard for the fledgling Iraqi government to supply their troops with basics like good food, batteries and fuel. But Iraqi soldiers and their U.S. advisers say the problem extends beyond basic supply issues. They complain that U.S. troops, bunkered down on large, fortified bases, treat Iraqi forces more like a problem than a partner. U.S. forces "don't talk to us," says Col. Saad, a senior Iraqi commander on Camp Taji. The Iraqi colonel, whose family has been threatened by insurgents, asked that his full name not be used.

U.S. commanders counter that there are huge risks to giving the Iraqi army too big a role right now. They worry some Iraqis will leak word of impending operations to the enemy or use military force to settle sectarian scores. Many U.S. commanders say Iraqi forces aren't as disciplined as U.S. troops and are too prone to abuse civilians and detainees.

The debate raises difficult questions for U.S. commanders, as they plot the way forward in Iraq: Should Iraqi units be held to the same standards as U.S. units? What happens when the Iraqis' solution is at odds with the American commander's strategy?

Earlier this spring, the tension between the two sides at Camp Taji reached the breaking point when the Iraqi army brigade that Col. Payne was advising leveled two dozen roadside kiosks. The Iraqi soldiers said insurgent snipers, who had killed and wounded Iraqi troops, used the kiosks for cover.

Col. Pasquarette thought destroying the kiosks would only enrage locals and drive them to support the insurgents. "This was a great day for the terrorists," he recalls telling Col. Payne on the day that the Iraqi army flattened the fruit and vegetable stands.

Col. Payne says the Iraqi army bulldozed the kiosks -- consisting mostly of palm fronds suspended by bamboo poles -- to protect Iraqi soldiers. "When I first heard what they had done, my initial response was, 'I am all for it,' " Col. Payne says. "This is not a law and order situation. This is a war."

Late last month, Col. Pasquarette asked that Col. Payne be dismissed from his position, just four months after the two men started working together. Col. Payne was then assigned to a desk job in Baghdad.

The unit Col. Payne headed is at the leading edge of a major shift in U.S. strategy. Until last summer, the U.S. military saw its primary mission as fighting insurgents. With pressure mounting to bring the 130,000 U.S. troops in Iraq home, President Bush decided the military's main effort should instead focus on training Iraqis to take its place.

To speed development of Iraqi army forces, about 3,000 U.S. soldiers were placed with Iraqi units throughout the country. The teams live and work with Iraqi soldiers in places such as Camp Taji.

In November 2005, Col. Payne came back from retirement to lead his team. The colonel had served 28 years in the Army, fought in the Grenada invasion and taught history at West Point. He retired in July 2001. A few weeks later, terrorists struck the Pentagon and the World Trade Center. Col. Payne called the Army and volunteered to return. "There was a chuckle on the end of the phone," he says. The Army told him he wasn't needed.

Four years later, with the Army stretched thin by the war, the 50-year-old soldier, who was teaching at Virginia Polytechnic Institute, called again. This time, the Army was eager to send him to Iraq. In November, he was told he had 23 days to report to Fort Carson, Colo., and link up with his unit. His wife was "very unhappy," he says. Col. Payne says he was determined to go. "The nation is at war and all real soldiers want to be where the action is."


Col. Pasquarette, a former college basketball player, took command of his 6,000-soldier brigade in June 2005. Before that, the 45-year-old had attended Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, worked for the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the Pentagon and served as an aide-de-camp to a four-star general.

The two men's troops arrived in Iraq in December 2005 and settled on opposite sides of Camp Taji, a sprawling former Iraqi army base, about 20 miles north of Baghdad. Col. Payne's group consisted of 50 U.S. soldiers, assigned to advise the Iraqi military. His team was one of the few at Camp Taji that didn't report to Col. Pasquarette.

The 2,500-soldier Iraqi brigade that Col. Payne was advising had formed 11 months earlier and had been fighting nonstop. The Iraqis had scrounged all of their tanks and armored personnel carriers -- most of which were at least 30 years old -- from a massive junkyard on the Iraqi side of Camp Taji. When something broke, Iraqi soldiers retreated to the scrapyard where they would pillage rusting hulks for spare parts. Of the $260 billion spent on the Iraq war since 2003, about $10 billion has gone to build Iraqi army and police forces.

The U.S. officers bonded quickly with their Iraqi counterparts. In January, Maj. Michael Jason, who leads one of the advisory teams, was on patrol with a 42-year-old Iraqi colonel when a terrified farmer told them he had found bodies in a field. He then led them to the corpses of 11 Iraqi army soldiers who had been headed home on leave. Each had been beaten, blindfolded and shot in the head. Their Iraqi army identification cards had been taken from their wallets and pinned to their shirts by insurgents who regularly target Iraqi forces.

Maj. Jason, a Roman Catholic, and his Iraqi counterpart, Col. Khalid, a Muslim, kneeled next to the bodies and prayed. The U.S. Army asked that Col. Khalid's full name be withheld for his safety. That night, Maj. Jason, a 33-year-old West Point grad, wrote an email home describing his Iraqi colleague's bravery and sacrifice.

"Col. Khalid's children have to move constantly for fear of their lives. When he goes home on leave, he cannot tell anyone for security reasons. He just disappears. He drives 90 mph with a pistol tucked in the small of his back and his ID hidden. I love these guys, no s-t," he wrote. A month later, Col. Khalid's brother, also an army officer, was kidnapped. Insurgents killed him and dumped his body on his parents' doorstep. Col. Khalid couldn't go to the funeral for fear that he would be assassinated. So Maj. Jason and soldiers in the unit mourned with him at Camp Taji.

In March, Col. Khalid left the battalion for a safer assignment, which doesn't require him to leave the base.

As the U.S. advisers grew closer to the Iraqis, they also grew more frustrated with U.S. soldiers on the other side of the base.

Shortly after Col. Pasquarette arrived at Camp Taji, he beefed up the number of guards and armored vehicles at the gates separating the U.S. and Iraqi sides of the base. "Securing my [base] is my No. 1 mission. I am risk averse here," he says. The U.S. advisers to the Iraqis thought the additional guards and guns were unnecessary and only served to make U.S. soldiers more suspicious of the Iraqis.

When the advisers asked if they could bring an Iraqi colleague to eat with them on the American side of the base, they say they were shocked at the response. They were told that the presence of an Iraqi officer in the dining hall might upset the U.S. soldiers.


"These kids go outside the gate and deal with a very hostile environment. They need a place where they can relax and let their guard down," says Lt. Col. Kevin Dixon, Col. Pasquarette's deputy commander. He says the policy was driven by the bombing of a dining facility in Mosul in 2004 by an Iraqi who had sneaked in.

The advisers felt differently. "We really believe there is a systemic contempt for Iraqi soldiers," says Master Sgt. John McFarlane, a senior enlisted adviser to the Iraqis at Camp Taji. The policy has since been amended to allow advisers to eat with Iraqi officers on the U.S. side if they file a letter in advance with the base's security office.

One of the Iraqi army's primary jobs in the Taji area is to guard water-purification substations that provide most of Baghdad's drinking water. Last summer, insurgents blew up one of the substations, cutting off water for two weeks. To ensure that didn't happen again, Iraqi army units were dispatched by the U.S. to guard the sites. Iraqi soldiers began to take regular sniper fire there.

In January, the U.S. advisers asked Col. Pasquarette for help installing barriers around one of the substations, to shield the Iraqis from snipers. Col. Pasquarette asked one of his units to help. Weeks passed, but help never came. American engineering units were too busy fortifying the U.S. side of Camp Taji and bases around it, says Maj. Martin Herem, who handled the request.

On Feb. 28, a sniper shot in the back one of the Iraqi soldiers at the water station. The soldier bled to death. Three weeks later, a sniper killed a second Iraqi soldier who was on patrol near the water station. Iraqi troops said that both times snipers used the small fruit and vegetable stands lining a nearby road for cover. The Iraqi army couldn't return fire without killing shopkeepers and customers.

When the Iraqi soldiers ran over to ask people who had been shooting at them, locals said they hadn't seen anything. It's dangerous for locals to be seen helping the U.S. Army or the Iraqi army.

The day after the second killing, Col. Saad, an Iraqi colonel in the unit Col. Payne was advising, ordered his men to tell the shopkeepers to empty the vegetable stands. The Iraqi soldiers then bulldozed the stands. Col. Saad says he destroyed the kiosks to protect his soldiers.

When Col. Pasquarette learned about the incident, he was furious. The Iraqis' actions ran completely counter to his strategy. He had told his soldiers to focus less on killing insurgents and more on reconstruction programs designed to win support of the people.

"When you go lethal or destroy property there may be a short-term gain, but there is a long-term loss," he says. He saw the move as a throwback to the Saddam Hussein era when the army was used to quell unrest and inflict mass punishment.


Photoillustration by Stuart Bradford; photos, left: U.S. Department of Defense; photos, right: Getty Images
Because the Iraqi troops operate in his sector, Col. Pasquarette oversees them. He called Col. Payne into his office and demanded that he tell Col. Saad to have his soldiers apologize and pay reparations to the shop owners.

Col. Payne passed along the orders. But Col. Saad says he refused to follow them. "Here in Iraq if someone makes a mistake, you punish them," he says, referring to the shop owners' failure to give Iraqis information about the snipers. "If you give him money, he will repeat the mistake. And he will consider the person who gave him the gift an idiot."

The next day, Col. Pasquarette met with Col. Saad's Iraqi superior and told him about the dispute. The Iraqi general fired Col. Saad. Later that day, three low-ranking Iraqi soldiers, accompanied by about a dozen Americans, passed out the reimbursement forms.

The Iraqi officers in Col. Saad's brigade felt betrayed. On March 21, just before midnight, four senior officers stopped by Col. Payne's office and threatened to resign. "They were furious," says Col. Payne. Two days later, Col. Saad was quietly re-hired.

Col. Payne says he is still angry that neither Col. Pasquarette nor his subordinate commanders talked to Col. Saad to hear his side of the story. "This is a respect issue. These guys don't respect the Iraqis," Col. Payne says.

"Personally I don't think there was anything to discuss," Col. Pasquarette says.

In the days that followed, the relationship between Col. Payne and Col. Pasquarette grew more tense. In mid-March -- about the time the Iraqis flattened the vegetable stands -- insurgents attacked an Iraqi army patrol base in Tarmiyah, a city of about 50,000, a short drive from Camp Taji. One Iraqi soldier from Col. Saad's brigade was killed by a rocket-propelled grenade and another was shot in the head by a sniper. The next day, four of Col. Saad's soldiers died when their armored personnel carrier hit a roadside bomb. The blast threw the turret of the vehicle about 30 yards and lopped off the head of one of the Iraqi soldiers inside, U.S. and Iraqi officers say.

Senior Iraqi officials in the Ministry of Defense were convinced Tarmiyah was a hotbed of insurgent activity. Col. Pasquarette says he was told by his commander in Baghdad to clear the city of insurgents.

Col. Pasquarette and his team spent several days building a plan before he invited Col. Payne, Col. Saad and Col. Saad's commander to the U.S. side to explain it.

The two Iraqi officers were led through a 208-slide PowerPoint briefing, in which all the slides were written in English. The six areas the Iraqi troops were supposed to occupy were named for New England cities, such as Cranston, Bangor and Concord. The Iraqi officers, who spoke only Arabic, were dumbfounded. "I could see from their body language that both of them were not following what was going on," says Maj. Bill Taylor, Col. Payne's deputy.

Once the plan was explained to them through an interpreter, the Iraqis strongly disagreed with it. Col. Pasquarette planned to surround the city with razor wire and set up checkpoints to search all cars moving in and out of the city. U.S. and Iraqi soldiers would then begin regular foot patrols through the city to gain intelligence on insurgents. The centerpiece of the plan was $5 million in reconstruction projects.

Col. Pasquarette argued that the projects would help the U.S. win support of the city's powerful mayor, Sheik Sayid Jassem, who had been detained by U.S. forces in the early days of the occupation for supporting the insurgency. He also thought the projects would turn the people to the side of the new Iraqi government.

The Iraqis favored a harder-nosed approach. They wanted to conduct house-to-house searches and find a way to put pressure on the mayor, who they insisted was still supporting insurgents. They suggested shutting Tarmiyah's business district down for a week. Once the mayor had been cowed with the stick, they favored dangling the $5 million in reconstruction funds.

Col. Pasquarette says the Iraqi approach would have alienated the people in Tarmiyah. He rejected it and stuck to his plan. Although the operation hasn't netted any insurgents, he says people are out shopping and businesses that had been closed are bustling as a result of the checkpoints and foot patrols. The U.S. military is bankrolling a pipeline that will bring potable water into the city, building medical clinics and repairing the main road.

Attacks in the city are down substantially since March, though they have begun to climb of late, Col. Pasquarette says. Still, he says the operation was a success because residents feel safer. He doubts the city was ever really a major insurgent hotbed. "We were all wrong about Tarmiyah," he says.

Col. Saad and Col. Payne say the insurgents have simply moved outside the city's gates.

Gen. George Casey, the top military officer in Iraq, acknowledges it has often been hard for U.S. commanders to let Iraqis take over the fight. "We are so mission-oriented and so focused, we tend to want to do everything ourselves," he says. "It is a constant battle ? . I would hope that when the Iraqis have ideas we try to help them execute them."

Iraqi troops "have never betrayed their U.S. advisory teams," adds Lt. Gen. Martin Dempsey, who is overseeing the effort to train and equip Iraqi forces.

In their four months together, Col. Payne and Col. Saad became close. Col. Payne teased him about a poster on his office wall of two fluffy white kittens, nuzzling next to a dozen roses. "What in the world is the deal with the cat and the flowers?" Col. Payne asked.

"It reminds me of softness and women," Col. Saad replied. He often referred to Col. Payne as "my brother."

Col. Saad confided his worries about his country and his army to Col. Payne. His unit was constantly short of supplies. His soldiers often didn't have enough fuel for their armored vehicles and generators. They also lacked AA batteries to run the night-vision goggles the Americans had given them. He blamed corruption in the Iraqi system for supply shortages. "If you don't have the basics to survive, you cannot be great. You cannot win," he said one evening. Col. Payne threw his arm around the Iraqi colonel's shoulder. "No, but you can survive," he said.

The U.S. says it is helping the Iraqis fix problems that have led to shortages of equipment. The Iraqi government recently replaced the contractor responsible for serving troops spoiled food. Supplying the army is the responsibility of the Iraqi government and "there have been a few cases of poor performance" among Iraqi contractors, says Lt. Col. Michael Negard, a senior spokesman in Iraq. "While the problems aren't huge, the issue's certainly of the highest priority," he says.

Col. Saad has also grown frustrated with the Americans on the other side of Camp Taji. Last month, Col. Pasquarette asked the Iraqis to provide a couple of dozen soldiers to man some checkpoints with U.S. soldiers. The U.S. soldiers showed up at the checkpoints for about a week. Then, without warning, they left the Iraqis to run them on their own, Col. Saad says. The Iraqis, who questioned the value of the checkpoints in the first place, were angry they had suddenly been abandoned.

"Why did they leave? Aren't they supposed to be helping us?" Col. Saad asked Col. Payne.

"I don't know what the hell they are doing," Col. Payne replied.

Col. Pasquarette says the Iraqis should have been informed that the U.S. soldiers were pulling out of those checkpoints.

In late May, Col. Payne began to push the Iraqi soldiers to get out on the offensive. "I am sick of sitting around and waiting to get attacked," Col. Payne told Col. Saad. He asked Col. Saad to cut loose 10 or 15 soldiers that he could pair up with three or four U.S. soldiers to venture out at night in search of the enemy. Col. Saad agreed.

On May 19, soldiers from Col. Payne's and Col. Saad's units set out on their second night patrol. After they stopped a car that was out in violation of curfew, the enemy opened fire on them from a surrounding palm grove. The soldiers fired back, killing three insurgents and dispersing the rest. When the shooting ended, a man stumbled out of a small shack deep in the palm grove. His hands were tied and a blindfold hung around his neck. "Come mister. I am problem," he sobbed in broken English.

The man said he worked as a legal adviser for Iraq's Ministry of Defense and had been kidnapped by men who told him they would slaughter him "like a sheep." The kidnappers were setting up a camera to film his execution, he said, when they heard the soldiers and left him. "God sent you to save me," the man said, as tears streamed down his face. (Read more about the mission.2)

Col. Payne was elated. "The Iraqi army saved a life. It also demonstrated that it will go into the field to find and destroy the enemy," he said.

His victory, however, quickly gave way to crushing defeat. The next day, he was summoned to meet with his immediate supervisor. Col. Payne was relieved of his command and told to move to a headquarters position in Baghdad.

He says he was told that he removed because he was "ineffective" and "lacked the skills necessary to lead [his] team in this challenging environment." An Army spokesman in Baghdad said Col. Payne wasn't relieved for any single incident. He declined to comment further.

A few days before Col. Payne was fired, Col. Pasquarette said in an interview that he thought Col. Payne and his men had grown too close to the Iraqis they were advising and his decisions were too often guided by emotion. "From my perspective, the move was warranted," Col. Pasquarette wrote in an email after Col. Payne was dismissed.

The morning after he was fired, Col. Payne spent the day saying goodbye to Col. Saad and the U.S. soldiers on his team. That evening, he boarded a helicopter for Camp Victory, a massive U.S. base on the outskirts of Baghdad.

"I'm now here in Victory -- an alien environment to me and one I never wanted to be a part of," he wrote in an email. He was able to hold his emotions in check until his helicopter lifted off from Camp Taji. Then, he says, he began to sob. "I simply cannot tell you how much I will miss my team."

Write to Greg Jaffe at greg.jaffe@wsj.com5
30259  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Law Enforcement issues and LE in action on: June 26, 2006, 01:09:54 PM
Bring this post of XtremeKali over here to start a new thread:
==========


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
Could not find an LEO thread.
Panel: Street gangs moving into suburbs By MICHAEL TARM, Associated Press Writer
Wed Jun 21, 10:03 AM ET



CHICAGO - Chicago street gangs are increasingly moving into the suburbs, driven by the demolition of housing projects that once hid their illegal activities and by the perception that police in smaller communities lack the experience to deal with them, a city crime commission found.


"People in the suburbs can no longer view gangs as an inner-city problem," said Jim Wagner, the Chicago Crime Commission's president who helped write a 272-page report released this week. "It's a problem they can no longer ignore."

The study surveyed 81 suburban police departments and found most had come into contact with gangs in their communities.

The report attributed the shift to gang members' perception that suburban police aren't as well-equipped to scrutinize and disrupt drug dealing and other illegal activities. It also cited the tearing down of high-rise housing projects in Chicago "that were hideouts for gangs, incubators for gang crime and were often impenetrable to law enforcement," Wagner said.

The document, titled "The Gang Book," is meant to serve as a guide for suburban police, parents and businesses who may know little to nothing about gangs. It includes photographs of gang hand signs and tattoos, as well as block-by-block maps showing which gangs control what parts of the Chicago area.

The Chicago area has many as 100 street gangs with an estimated 125,000 members, according to the report. Ten to 20 of those gangs, including the powerful Gangster Disciples, Latin Kings and Vice Lords, are well-organized entities.

Des Plaines Mayor Tony Arredia said suburban authorities are aware of the problem.

"Gang activity in the suburbs is not new," he said. "It hasn't been new since way before I was the mayor."
_________________
Freedom is for those who are willing to die for it
30260  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / db in australia ? on: June 26, 2006, 01:07:37 PM
Ozzie Trent Day fought in our DB Gathering of the Pack yesterday (did very well too).  He is making some noise about bringing me over, so any noise from his fellow Ozzies here could help make it happen.
30261  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Invitation to dialog to Muslims on: June 26, 2006, 12:13:00 AM
Bryan:

Just in from our After-Gathering dinner.  I look forward to composing a serious post in the next few days.

In the meantime, you have a number of serious and thoughtful questions on your plate.  I look forward to your answers to them.

CD
30262  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Gathering Of The Pack information on: June 24, 2006, 11:30:36 AM
Porn Star Dog!

Good to hear from you-- what is your sit rep?  When are you coming back to the US?
30263  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Invitation to dialog to Muslims on: June 24, 2006, 09:56:34 AM
All:

I noted this exchange:

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

BRYAN: No problem, You are polite and hospitable, That is all it takes for people to get along, that and a little understanding,

XTREME KALI: I have said before I have broken bread with many families and found them to be nothing but gracious. I have personally seen the good and experienced the bad. In these dealings I have found that when it comes to "believers and non believers" that the believers will look the other way and mind their own business as to avoid conflict with fellow Muslims.


BRYAN:  
Looking the other way is a complecated issue, It is also something that happens everyday in America. Crime happens and people just dont want to get involved for many reasons, lazy, fear, and a host of things.
The big thing is when youve had personal interaction you have been treated with dignity, respect, and fed good food.

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

Good personal interaction is profoundly important for all concerned.  That said, this question of looking the other way I think is a really important one for many of us infidels.   Its why I was so relentless on it with Sibatan for example.  It reads to me like I annoyed him by so doing, (not my desire) but perhaps the following article will help him and others understand why this point is so important to us and why "Why are you bothering me about this-- I'm a good person-- and what can I do?" as an answer leaves many of us still , , , uneasy.

This article also gives an example of why it leaves many of us wondering about the foreign (often Saudi) nexuses with domestic Islam.  I certainly appreciate that there are many variations within Islam-- that's why we're having this conversation!- but if we cannot count on the mainstream here to speak up about the fascists in their midst and there is much language to suggest that Islam strongly teaches loyalty to other Muslims, perhaps above all other things-- then there is a real problem for the security of our nation that will require more than hospitality and good food.

In this plot, the amount of bomb material sought was triple that of what was used to blow up our federal building in OK  shocked and credible plans were made to decapitate the Canadian Prime Minister  shocked  attack the Parliament  shocked  and assassinate various figures  shocked  .  The Canadians are our very good friends, our neighbors, and an attack upon them is an attack upon us.

Marc/CD
================================
http://www.cbc.ca/story/canada/national/2006/06/08/amiruddin08062006.html

Teacher witnessed transformation of some bomb-plot suspects
Last Updated Thu, 08 Jun 2006 18:06:10 EDT
CBC News

A Muslim religious leader in Toronto who knows some of those charged in
the suspected bomb plot says the young men underwent rapid
 transformations from normal Canadian teenagers to radicalized introverts.


Alleged bomb-plot suspects in a Brampton courtroom on Tuesday. (John
Mantha/CBC)

Sayyid Ahmed Amiruddin got to know Saad Khalid, 19, and some of the

other alleged conspirators at a local mosque.

Khalid was arrested last Friday at a warehouse, where he and another
suspect allegedly took delivery of what they thought was ammonium nitrate,
 a fertilizer, and the same substance used in the deadly Oklahoma City bombing in 1995.

Fifteen others are also facing charges connected to the alleged plot.

Entered mosque to pray

Amiruddin says Khalid used to come to his mosque to pray, sometimes in the
company of Zakaria Amara and Fahim Ahmad, two of the alleged ringleaders.

"They would enter into the mosque to pray, and they would pray in a very
aggressive manner, and they would come in military fatigues and military
touques and stuff.  It looked to me that they were watching a lot of those
Chechnyan jihad videos online and stuff."

Amiruddin is a teacher of Sufism, a traditional brand of Islam that
rejects the ideology of jihad. Amiruddin says the group was seduced by hardline
propaganda financed by the Saudi government and promoting a strict, Wahhabi brand of Islam.

He says the Saudis have flooded Canada with free Qur'ans, laced with
jihadist commentary.

"In the back of these Qur'ans that are being published in Saudi Arabia,
you have basically essays on the need for
offensive jihad and the legitimacy of offensive jihad and things like that.  Very alarming stuff," he said.

Amiruddin said many mainstream Muslim organizations in Canada are really
part of the problem, standing by as extremist propaganda spreads in the mosques.

He cites the Al-Rahman centre in Mississauga, Ont., which he links to the
Al-Maghrib Institute, which runs a popular educational website. It's
nominally run out of Ottawa, but Amiruddin says it's really a Saudi
operation. , , , "
30264  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Invitation to dialog to Muslims on: June 23, 2006, 05:35:32 PM
Sibatan:

I am sorry you are feeling testy on all this, but I hope you will take a moment for a deep breath and re-find your center.

Because the nature of the subject matter in this thread, I want to take the time to write with the care that is merited and so for the moment post only to let you know that I look forward to continuing our conversation.

The Adventure continues,
CD
30265  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / No time limit on the street or in combat on: June 23, 2006, 12:15:34 AM
Woof Dean:

What you suggest is a perfectly valid way to go.

Our reasons for doing it as we do are:

1)  We seek to come closer to the time pressures of street situations i.e. with limited time one has to explode faster and harder to finalize.  In our opinion, to have no time limit tends to shift things towards time consuming tactics and strategy and a premium on conditioning.

2) To go until someone loses, shifts the meaning of the experience towards young male hierarchical competition and away from our tribal values of preparing each other to stand together to defend our land, women and children.  

Please allow me to flesh this out.  In our experience, there are many moments in a fight when lasting damage can be imposed.  If for example a fighter with superior stick skills is in a position to badly drop someone with superior grappling skills as the latter attempts to close, rules such as you propose would, in our opinion, provoke ego driven temptations to be sure to "win" the fight now and avoid being "defeated" later.  Most of us have had more than one moment where we could have permanently dimished someone else's IQ or lastingly damaged his body.  My concern for the approach you suggest is that you make it hard to operate within the code of "No judges, no referees, no trophies, be friends at the end of the day".  

3)  Our approach also allows each fighter to experience several fights against various opponents and weapons.  This allows for more experimentation and more growth.

Off the top of my head, these are the points which occur to me.

The Adventure continues,
Crafty Dog
30266  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Invitation to dialog to Muslims on: June 22, 2006, 11:03:07 PM
With our DB Gathering of the Pack coming up on Sunday, I am very busy at the moment and do not have the time to compose extended thoughtful replies, so please forgive the fragmented and perhaps abrupt nature of my replies.

1) Reference to politics and WW3 is inevitable, but I suggest we all seek to focus on human relations.

2)  Bryan wrote:

"Crafty and Gabe, I will address the two of you together if you don?t mind."

Actually I do mind.  Gabe and I are friends and we share a deep concern for the dangers of Islamist  Fascism.   That said, each of us is his own man.  If you have a problem with him, take it up with him.

That said, I confess to being plenty irked at being lectured by you for spreading hate.  You have been told by others that I have contradicted hate against Muslims when no one was watching and when everyone was watching.  I have answered you questions here in this regard plainly, openly and without reservation.  Yet still you seek to paint me with this brush.   I disrespect this.

Do you do this because I read many sources?

I seek Truth-- indeed this very thread is part of that search.   I readily admit to knowing little-- that is why I seek to rectify it!  If something negative about Islam seems fair to me, I will consider it.  If something positive about Islam seems fair to me, I will consider it.  It is all very simple. I search for truth.  

In this search for truth I have asked you some questions. So far you have simply avoided and parried some very specific questions from me about the contradictions between your desire for Sharia for America (and its oppression of other religions) and our First Amendment freedoms of speech and religion and about the contradictions between your military oath to uphold and defend the US Constitution against all enemies domestic and foreign and your evasive answer.  You have not answered my question about willingess to serve in Iraq.  

So my search for truth leads me to consider the hypothesis that for you there is a contradiction between Islam and our First Amendment.  Similary, I consider the hypothesis that you entertain mental reservations about your oath to our nation's armed forces.

Well, my good friend Lonely Dog has just arrived from Switzerland and so it is time for me to go.

Marc/CD
30267  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Invitation to dialog to Muslims on: June 22, 2006, 11:10:50 AM
Sib:

I am on my way out the door for a full day of teaching and so must be brief.  

I think it would be of tremendous help for connections between all people of good faith, if we infidels had a sense that Muslims of good faith such as you seem to be, valued more highly whether someone was a good person than being of your religion-- in other words, that good faith Muslims were willing to act with us infidels against bad faith Muslims.

For example, recently in Canada a terrible conspiracy to commit massive bombings and decapitate the Prime Minister was uncovered.  It was discovered that the fascist muslims behind this were watching Chechnyan jihadi videos in their mosque-- yet no one in the mosque said anything about it to the authorities or even took the lesser step of disiniviting them from the mosque.

As I stated in an earlier post of mine to you, I would act to stop those who plotted evil against Muslims and asked if you would do the same against Muslims who plotted evil against infidels.  You did not answer at that time.  Maybe now?

For example there is a now virtually defunct organization called the Jewish Defense League that is shunned by everyone because they have descended into hate.  A couple of years ago, some of them plotted to bomb a mosque here in California.  How were they caught?  If I remember correctly (and someone please correct me if I am wrong)some of their own people were offended by the evil of the plan and went to the authorities.

Anyway, off to the joys of teaching (and thus, learning)

The Adventure continues,
Crafty Dog
30268  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Invitation to dialog to Muslims on: June 21, 2006, 01:00:50 PM
PS:  Due to extreme problems with my wireless connection I was barely able to post this morning and in my frustrations with doing so missed seeing the posts of yesterday entirely (wonder what those deletions were?) -- sorry if there is any non-responsiveness in my post as a result.
30269  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WW3 on: June 21, 2006, 12:38:35 PM
http://iraqthemodel.blogspot.com/  Mohammed has an interesting viewpoint on
the Insurgency and Intelligence.  We know what makes up the Insurgents.
This take on Intelligence I had not really considered. Hope you can use it.



Sir, would you please fill out this form?
Now and after a week since operation forward together was launched in
Baghdad let's try to evaluate this operation through the people's reactions
and through the authorities' announcements.

First we will see that the operation brought high hopes and was found
largely promising by the people of Baghdad as it reflected the level of the
government's determination to provide Baghdadis with their number one need,
which is security.

What happened in the first two days made people feel that there was a good
chance for the government bring calm to the capital but two days later the
insurgents we again able to find a way to disrupt peace and renew their
attacks against Iraqi civilians and ISF.

Yesterday the Iraqi minister of national security admitted that insurgents
are a step ahead of the government when it comes to intelligence. As bleak
as this confession may sound I think it's admirable of the government to
admit such a fact because the first step in solving a problem is through
recognizing it and never through denying it or speaking big empty words.

In fact the minister's statement was pretty close to what we wrote in our
earlier post, both accounts define the weakness point of this particular
operation and that of the government's efforts to fight the insurgency in
general which is intelligence.

To discuss this point we should go back few years in time to know the
intelligence system worked in Iraq and why we still be behind the insurgents
in this regard if we did not take the right measures.

As we all know, the bulk of the insurgency is made up mostly of the security
corps of the past regime, mainly the secret service, special republican
guards, military intelligence and former ba'athists and these corps
collectively were the ones in charge of collecting and analyzing
intelligence for the regime and over years, these corps were able to build a
massive database that contained lots of information about every single
citizen in Iraq.

I recall those years when everyone had to fill countless inquiries (general
information forms) every now and then; for example if I moved from one city
to another, applied for a job, moved from one school to another, rented a
house or a shop, started a new business or even signed up for a phone line I
would be asked to fill many of these forms to many entities. Not to mention
the inquiries every citizen had to routinely fill and these inquiries would
come from the police station, local ba'ath HQ, the district council and
every other authority you can think of.

these inquiries in addition to asking regular questions like number of
family members, their jobs, working places etc, etc, they also went as far
as asking detailed questions about relatives as far as of the 6th degree,
like "do you have any relatives that had been executed?" or "do you have any
relatives living abroad? And why?".

The data collected in this manner were used to keep track of citizens and
determine how this or that one should be treated (given or denied a job,
admitted to college or not, promoted or not).

You can imagine now how much information the past regime had about the
people of Iraq, and where did that huge database go?
It was kept by the same people who were in charge of it before, hard disks
and box files were all taken home and the rest was burned and soon many of
those personnel became the core of the local insurgency so it's somewhat
correct to say that those intelligence collectors did not lose power because
they retained one of the most powerful weapons in the kind of warfare we're
fighting here.

The regime was toppled and places were switched; the jobless former officers
became in control of a huge information treasure while the new
administration was left with office drawers void of files!

So this imbalanced possession of information needs to change, and to change
soon and a plan to build a new database should go simultaneously with the
plan to collect weapons. We need to do this because the insurgents are
hiding amongst us, they look and dress like normal civilians, they drive
civilian vehicles, not tanks and they operate from normal houses, not
military bases.
Building a new database can be done through reasonably simple procedures and
from the base up by a simple campaign coordinated the authorities, the
district councils (Mukhtars) and food ration distribution points.

Of course this should not be done in the same totalitarian demeaning manner
that Saddam adopted; just decently detailed records of who lives where and
who works where will be enough and can be of great help to our
counterterrorism efforts.
30270  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Invitation to dialog to Muslims on: June 21, 2006, 10:18:27 AM
Bryan:



I am having a hard time composing a response to you because to me it reads
like you are jumping all over the place: debating with posts made on other
forums; making vague and confusing references to conspiracies in Arkansas
and with regard to the well-deserved American actions against Libya in 1986
and so forth.  I have no idea what these passages mean or have to do with
the subjects at hand.



I also see that you have edited your posts-and so I perforce am working from
memory when I say that your original posts stated that you do not feel that
you are protected by our Constitution, and that as part of being a Muslim
you seek Sharia becoming the law of the land.



Why would you delete these honest expressions of your beliefs?



As best as I can tell, these are the pertinent points:



America is not the Christian nation that you say it to be.  It is a free
nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all.  The divinely inspired
Christian men who wrote our Declaration of Independence, our Constitution
and our Bill of Rights were given by our Creator (note that they did not say
"Jesus" even though they were Christian) to transcend to a higher level than to seek to impose their way
upon others.  They recognized that free men and women of this nation (and
any other!) are endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights.
Amongst these rights are free speech, and freedom of religion-which mostly
certainly excludes the merging of church and state sought by Sharia.



Contrary to your assertions, this means that writers, cartoonists and
citizens have the right to write whatever they d*mn well please without
intimidation-including from religious fascists.



You make reference to not going into black neighborhoods and using the word
"nigger" and the natural response being violent and vigorous.  What this
argument misses is that there are Nazi publications in America referring to
"kikes" and "niggers".  And when those Nazis wanted to march in Skokie,
Illinois precisely because it was full of Jewish holocaust survivors, Jewish
lawyers for the ACLU fought for their right to do so in the American courts
that you depreciate (not that your words in this regard are not quite
accurate on occasion) and the Nazis marched and the Jews of Skokie respected
that right.  WHY?  BECAUSE THIS IS AMERICA.



Other examples abound.  The singer Madonna (whom I dislike by the way) whose
stage name itself is a blasphemy, can make videos of herself cavorting in
her lingerie and humping an actor portraying Jesus.  Surely this qualifies
as blasphemy?  Yet all this goes without the Vatican or Jerry Falwell
issuing fatwas calling for her death or the bulk of the Christian majority
nations calling for boycotts of America unless our government shuts her up.
No howling mobs in the street either.



The actor Mel Gibson, whose father denies the Holocaust, can make a movie
about Jesus (whom by the way is regularly drawn, painted and portrayed by
actors with nary a burp from anyone) and portray the Jews so badly that
special dispensation was made for the movie to be shown in Saudi Arabia
because it did such a good job of showing "what the Jews are really like"--  
yet we do not see the "worldwide Jewish conspiracy" going on a rampage or
sending its children to commit mass murder of gentiles by suicide.



The "Da Vinci Code" surely blasphemes the Catholic Church, but , , , no
fatwas from the Pope.  And surely you have seen the blistering commentary
and scathing satire about the Catholic Church's problems with pedophiliac
priests and the institutional cover-ups thereof.  Again, no fatwas.  No
world-wide howling mobs of Catholics burning our embassies.  No boycotts.
The only reaction was some articles taking exception to the movie, some
sermons, and some invitations to the curious to "come on in and find out the
truth."



In the western world in which you and I live, in the America of which we are
both blessed to be citizens, we the people have the right to disrespect
power the powers that be.  That right most certainly includes the right to
blaspheme-- and that includes Islam and its symbols.   ISLAM IS NOT ABOVE
OTHER RELIGIONS AND GETS TREATED JUST LIKE THE REST. If howling mobs the
equivalent of Mussolini's brown shirts seek to intimidate when there is a
mocking of something Islamic, it is our duty as a free people to make it
clear that they can go f*ck themselves.



I am quite aware of the existence "fighting words" doctrine in our law see
e.g. the Supreme Court case of Chaplinsky vs. New Hampshire.   Working from
memory, the holding in Chaplinsky sought to distinguish personal insults of
a fighting words nature and free speech.  This is quite far from the
proposition for which you seek to use it-to justify fascist intimidation of
the obviously political speech in question here.



Concerning your professed tolerance in matters of religion, it simply is
inconsistent with your now deleted expression of desire for Sharia to be the
law of America.  In the homeland of Islam, Saudi Arabia other religions are
prohibited. This brings to mind your now deleted reference about not being
protected by the US Constitution.  You can be a Muslim here because of our
Constitution, but trying being a Jew, a Christian, a Buddhist, a Hindu, a
pagan, etc in Saudi Arabia or many other Muslim majority nations-- let
 alone imagine them having a synagogue for Jews in their armed forces  cheesy Sharia,
which even your post-edited post tells us you like, calls for Jews and
Christians to be taxed as a sign of Islam's dominance.



"Fight those who do not believe in Allah, nor in the latter day, nor do they
prohibit what Allah and His Apostle have prohibited, nor follow the religion
of truth, out of those who have been given the Book, until they pay the tax
in acknowledgment of superiority and they are in a state of subjection."
(9.29)"



Why do you, who tell us "Islam is My religion, Its always with me, I begin
my days with it, I live my days with it, I end my days with it, I dream it
in my sleep," wish this for America?  Why do you wish the subjection of
other religions and to tax them?



And how does this square with your oath as a member of our armed forces to
uphold and defend the Constitution against all enemies both foreign and
domestic?  When I asked you this before you said, "I will always protect the
office of the President of the United States and the American Embassies
anywhere in the world in any country and consider it a honer (sic) to do so".
This is quite a bit less than what is required by your oath!!! It sounds
like your interpretation of your religion is in conflict with your oath.
Please feel free to clarify.



            Which brings me to my turn to clarify-- although I think it is
already clear to you because you have been surfing the "other forum" so no
doubt you have been running into my posts there forthrightly challenging and
condemning the juvenile and sometimes hateful comments that do not
 distinguish between fascist Muslims and those such as Sibatan
sometimes found there.


            (You also have my posts here-including for example the one of
March 8th in the "Danish" thread in which I bring attention to Islamic
groups in India separating themselves from the fatwas.)


            As I have repeatedly said on the other forum, President Bush's
strategy for America in the War with Islamic Fascism (the "War on Terror" is
such a mealy-mouthed name) rightly seeks alliance with good Muslims
everywhere.   I have repeatedly said on the other forum that to turn all
this into a war on Islam would be both wrong and a mistake.



As for your posts about the Marines building an Islamic prayer center, that
simply seems to me to be the normal course of affairs in America.  Any
Muslim in our Armed Forces who fully believes in his oath to uphold and
defend our Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic has my
gratitude.  THAT SAID, I SEE NO REASON FOR YOU TO BE DEBATING HERE
STATEMENTS MADE BY SOME INDIVIDUALS IN ANOTHER FORUM.



American blood is spilling as we speak so that the mostly Muslim people of
Iraq are free to choose-and choose democracy they have-three times they have
voted in the face of Al Qaeda's murderous hatred and denunciations of
democracy as "anti-Islamic".



(Would you obey an order to go fight in Iraq?  From your statement about
"protect(ing) the office of the President of the United States and the
American Embassies anywhere in the world" it appears otherwise.)



I have already listed the many ways and times America has stood with Muslims
(please go reread this) -so the issue is not as the Islamic Fascists and
those deluded by their lies (a delusion enabled by the absence of a free
press) claim-- that we are "against Islam".


Like America, I am not for or against Islam-and given what you already know
about me do not see good reason for you to get indignant over page two of some
website I posted.  OF COURSE the statement is overbroad because it is
directed at ALL Muslims per se!  But who assumes that someone has read every
page of every URL they post?!?  My post of the URL that you question was
made on March 5 and it is now June 20th.  To the best of my recollection, I
posted it as a source of the cartoons in question so that people could make
up their own minds what all the fuss was about.



   I am FOR freedom and respect.  I am for freedom of speech.  I am for
separation of church and state-and regard it to be a profound error to merge
the two as you seek to do to the point that it would change the nature of
what it means to be America and to be American.



The Adventure continues,

Marc/Crafty Dog
========
Sibatan:

Good to see your post.

Marc/CD
30271  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Invitation to dialog to Muslims on: June 20, 2006, 12:22:09 AM
Bryan:

Sorry for the delay in my response, but I have been busy with finishing the "Die Less Often" DVD, helping some students prep for the Gathering of the Pack, and sundry other matters.  I will see if I can get to this tomorrow.

Marc/CD
30272  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Mexico on: June 18, 2006, 09:50:50 AM
?Mas noticias de la eleccion?  Aqui se lee que las encuestas dice que AMLO y Calderon son iguales en apoyo.
30273  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Invitation to dialog to Muslims on: June 17, 2006, 11:25:17 PM
Bryan:

I will be glad to answer your questions, but would you first please finish answering mine?

"Were you a Muslim at the time of the events you describe in 1986? (and more specifically when did you become a Muslim?)


All members of the US Armed Forces take an oath to uphold and defend the US Constitution. The First Amendment of the US Constitution calls for the separation of church and state. As you tell us, you take your Islam quite seriously, and Islam calls for a union of church and state. How do you reconcile this discrepancy?

The First Amendment also calls for free speech. Yet you seem to think the cartoonists were "asking for it". Would you flesh this out please?

Thank you,
CD
30274  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Invitation to dialog to Muslims on: June 17, 2006, 06:23:03 AM
Bryan:

Its 0430 and several mosquito bites have woken me up, so I may not be at my most lucid here, but OTOH in this moment I have the time to answer.

A brief review of the context of the "apology" which has upset you, culled from the Buy Danish thread.

BEGIN
Flemming Rose, the cultural editor of the conservative daily newspaper Jyllands-Posten, contacted 40 cartoonists and asked them to draw the prophet as they saw him. This was meant to highlight the difficulty experienced by Danish writer K?re Bluitgen in finding artists to illustrate his children's book about the Qur'an and Muhammad.
 
The cover of K?re Bluitgen's children's book.Artists previously approached by Bluitgen were reportedly unwilling to work with him for fear of violent attacks by extremist Muslims. Rose eventually received twelve entries from different cartoonists and published them alongside an article on self-censorship and freedom of speech.

The foreign ministries of eleven Islamic countries demanded action from the Danish government, and several Arab countries eventually closed their embassies in Denmark in protest after the government initially refused to intervene or apologize.[4]

A group of Danish Imams lobbied decision-makers in the Middle East. A consumer boycott was organised in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and other Middle East countries.[5] Rumours spread via SMS and word-of-mouth.[6] The foreign ministers of seventeen Islamic countries renewed calls for the Danish government to punish those responsible for the cartoons. The Organization of the Islamic Conference and the Arab League demanded that the United Nations impose international sanctions upon Denmark and EU introduce blasphemy laws.[7] For weeks, numerous huge demonstrations and other protests against the cartoons took place worldwide. On February 4, 2006, the Danish and Norwegian embassies in Syria were set ablaze, with no injuries. In Beirut, the Danish Embassy was set on fire,[8] leaving one protester dead.[9] Altogether, at least 139 people were killed in protests,[10] mainly in Nigeria, Libya, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Several death threats and reward offers for killing those responsible for the cartoons have been made,[11] resulting in the cartoonists going into hiding. Four ministers have resigned amidst the controversy, among them Roberto Calderoli and Laila Freivalds.[12]
END

BEGIN
Tehran, Iran, Feb. 28 ? A senior Iranian cleric has approved attacks on foreign embassies in Tehran over the publication of insulting cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in European dailies, a website belonging to the office of hard-line Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad reported.
END

As for the prohibition on the depiction of the Mohamed, it looks like  
http://www.zombietime.com/mohammed_image_archive/book_covers/
shows this simply to be not the case.  

I have also seen apparently serious articles doubting the claim about the alleged Koranic injunction against depicting Mohammed.  Can you give a specific citation?

Whatever one thinks about the cartoons, a couple of points need to be kept in mind:

In the west, we are allowed to blaspheme, especially in the context of political speech-- and here there was a massive worldwide effort, including the 17 Muslim governments to suppress free speech and in many, many cases to intimidate with violence including by high ranking government officials.

Where is your outrage when Jews are regularly called "monkeys and pigs" by top level Muslim clerics in Islam's homeland of Saudi Arabia and through out the Middle East?  Where is your outrage when official Saudi media and official media in other Arab countries report as truth that Jews take the blood of Arab children for religious ceremonies?  Where is your outrage when Egyptian TV produces a series based upon the well-known fraud "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion".  Where is your outrage when a Muslim who converts to Christianity is sentenced to death (as called for by the Koran) in Afghanistan? Where was your outrage when the Taliban dynamited Buddist statues?  Where is your outrage when other religions are prohibited by in Saudi Arabia, the home of Islam?  Where is your outrage that the whole country of Denmark is blamed for the polticial speech of a handful of its citizens?  One could go on at length with many such examples.  

IN THIS CONTEXT a hearty "fcuk you" by those whom these religious fascists intend to intimidate seems to me well less than a cause for outrage.  

Because your second post clarifies that the "fcuk you" is your real problem, I will pass commenting on your rather odd conspiracy allusions to the Clintons (whom I loathe btw) in Arkansas.

A couple of additional questions if I may:

Were you a Muslim at the time of the events you describe in 1986?

All members of the US Armed Forces take an oath to uphold and defend the US Constitution.  The First Amendment of the US Constitution calls for the separation of church and state.   As you tell us, you take your Islam quite seriously, and Islam calls for a union of church and state.  How do you reconcile this discrepancy?  

The First Amendment also calls for free speech.  Yet you seem to think the cartoonists were "asking for it".  Would you flesh this out please?

Thank you for your participation here.
30275  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WW3 on: June 15, 2006, 12:03:48 AM
The Real Iraq

Amir Taheri

Spending time in the United States after a tour of Iraq can be a
disorienting experience these days. Within hours of arriving here, as I can
attest from a recent visit, one is confronted with an image of Iraq that is
unrecognizable. It is created in several overlapping ways: through
television footage showing the charred remains of vehicles used in suicide
attacks, surrounded by wailing women in black and grim-looking men carrying
coffins; by armchair strategists and political gurus predicting further doom
or pontificating about how the war should have been fought in the first
place; by authors of instant-history books making their rounds to dissect
the various "fundamental mistakes" committed by the Bush administration; and
by reporters, cocooned in hotels in Baghdad, explaining the "carnage" and
"chaos" in the streets as signs of the country's "impending" or "undeclared"
civil war. Add to all this the day's alleged scandal or revelation-an outed
CIA operative, a reportedly doctored intelligence report, a leaked
pessimistic assessment-and it is no wonder the American public registers
disillusion with Iraq and everyone who embroiled the U.S. in its troubles.

It would be hard indeed for the average interested citizen to find out on
his own just how grossly this image distorts the realities of present-day
Iraq. Part of the problem, faced by even the most well-meaning news
organizations, is the difficulty of covering so large and complex a subject;
naturally, in such circumstances, sensational items rise to the top. But
even ostensibly more objective efforts, like the Brookings Institution's
much-cited Iraq Index with its constantly updated array of security,
economic, and public-opinion indicators, tell us little about the actual
feel of the country on the ground.

To make matters worse, many of the newsmen, pundits, and commentators on
whom American viewers and readers rely to describe the situation have been
contaminated by the increasing bitterness of American politics. Clearly
there are those in the media and the think tanks who wish the Iraq
enterprise to end in tragedy, as a just comeuppance for George W. Bush.
Others, prompted by noble sentiment, so abhor the idea of war that they
would banish it from human discourse before admitting that, in some
circumstances, military power can be used in support of a good cause. But
whatever the reason, the half-truths and outright misinformation that now
function as conventional wisdom have gravely disserved the American people.

For someone like myself who has spent considerable time in Iraq-a country I
first visited in 1968-current reality there is, nevertheless, very different
from this conventional wisdom, and so are the prospects for Iraq's future.
It helps to know where to look, what sources to trust, and how to evaluate
the present moment against the background of Iraqi and Middle Eastern
history.



Since my first encounter with Iraq almost 40 years ago, I have relied on
several broad measures of social and economic health to assess the country's
condition. Through good times and bad, these signs have proved remarkably
accurate-as accurate, that is, as is possible in human affairs. For some
time now, all have been pointing in an unequivocally positive direction.

The first sign is refugees. When things have been truly desperate in Iraq-in
1959, 1969, 1971, 1973, 1980, 1988, and 1990-long queues of Iraqis have
formed at the Turkish and Iranian frontiers, hoping to escape. In 1973, for
example, when Saddam Hussein decided to expel all those whose ancestors had
not been Ottoman citizens before Iraq's creation as a state, some 1.2
million Iraqis left their homes in the space of just six weeks. This was not
the temporary exile of a small group of middle-class professionals and
intellectuals, which is a common enough phenomenon in most Arab countries.
Rather, it was a departure en masse, affecting people both in small villages
and in big cities, and it was a scene regularly repeated under Saddam
Hussein.

Since the toppling of Saddam in 2003, this is one highly damaging image we
have not seen on our television sets-and we can be sure that we would be
seeing it if it were there to be shown. To the contrary, Iraqis, far from
fleeing, have been returning home. By the end of 2005, in the most
conservative estimate, the number of returnees topped the 1.2-million mark.
Many of the camps set up for fleeing Iraqis in Turkey, Iran, and Saudi
Arabia since 1959 have now closed down. The oldest such center, at
Ashrafiayh in southwest Iran, was formally shut when its last Iraqi guests
returned home in 2004.

A second dependable sign likewise concerns human movement, but of a
different kind. This is the flow of religious pilgrims to the Shiite shrines
in Karbala and Najaf. Whenever things start to go badly in Iraq, this stream
is reduced to a trickle and then it dries up completely. From 1991 (when
Saddam Hussein massacred Shiites involved in a revolt against him) to 2003,
there were scarcely any pilgrims to these cities. Since Saddam's fall, they
have been flooded with visitors. In 2005, the holy sites received an
estimated 12 million pilgrims, making them the most visited spots in the
entire Muslim world, ahead of both Mecca and Medina.

Over 3,000 Iraqi clerics have also returned from exile, and Shiite
seminaries, which just a few years ago held no more than a few dozen pupils,
now boast over 15,000 from 40 different countries. This is because Najaf,
the oldest center of Shiite scholarship, is once again able to offer an
alternative to Qom, the Iranian "holy city" where a radical and highly
politicized version of Shiism is taught. Those wishing to pursue the study
of more traditional and quietist forms of Shiism now go to Iraq where,
unlike in Iran, the seminaries are not controlled by the government and its
secret police.

A third sign, this one of the hard economic variety, is the value of the
Iraqi dinar, especially as compared with the region's other major
currencies. In the final years of Saddam Hussein's rule, the Iraqi dinar was
in free fall; after 1995, it was no longer even traded in Iran and Kuwait.
By contrast, the new dinar, introduced early in 2004, is doing well against
both the Kuwaiti dinar and the Iranian rial, having risen by 17 percent
against the former and by 23 percent against the latter. Although it is
still impossible to fix its value against a basket of international
currencies, the new Iraqi dinar has done well against the U.S. dollar,
increasing in value by almost 18 percent between August 2004 and August
2005. The overwhelming majority of Iraqis, and millions of Iranians and
Kuwaitis, now treat it as a safe and solid medium of exchange

My fourth time-tested sign is the level of activity by small and
medium-sized businesses. In the past, whenever things have gone downhill in
Iraq, large numbers of such enterprises have simply closed down, with the
country's most capable entrepreneurs decamping to Jordan, Syria, Saudi
Arabia, the Persian Gulf states, Turkey, Iran, and even Europe and North
America. Since liberation, however, Iraq has witnessed a private-sector
boom, especially among small and medium-sized businesses.

According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, as
well as numerous private studies, the Iraqi economy has been doing better
than any other in the region. The country's gross domestic product rose to
almost $90 billion in 2004 (the latest year for which figures are
available), more than double the output for 2003, and its real growth rate,
as estimated by the IMF, was 52.3 per cent. In that same period, exports
increased by more than $3 billion, while the inflation rate fell to 25.4
percent, down from 70 percent in 2002. The unemployment rate was halved,
from 60 percent to 30 percent.

Related to this is the level of agricultural activity. Between 1991 and
2003, the country's farm sector experienced unprecedented decline, in the
end leaving almost the entire nation dependent on rations distributed by the
United Nations under Oil-for-Food. In the past two years, by contrast, Iraqi
agriculture has undergone an equally unprecedented revival. Iraq now exports
foodstuffs to neighboring countries, something that has not happened since
the 1950's. Much of the upturn is due to smallholders who, shaking off the
collectivist system imposed by the Baathists, have retaken control of land
that was confiscated decades ago by the state.

Finally, one of the surest indices of the health of Iraqi society has always
been its readiness to talk to the outside world. Iraqis are a verbalizing
people; when they fall silent, life is incontrovertibly becoming hard for
them. There have been times, indeed, when one could find scarcely a single
Iraqi, whether in Iraq or abroad, prepared to express an opinion on anything
remotely political. This is what Kanan Makiya meant when he described Saddam
Hussein's regime as a "republic of fear."

Today, again by way of dramatic contrast, Iraqis are voluble to a fault.
Talk radio, television talk-shows, and Internet blogs are all the rage,
while heated debate is the order of the day in shops, tea-houses, bazaars,
mosques, offices, and private homes. A "catharsis" is how Luay Abdulilah,
the Iraqi short-story writer and diarist, describes it. "This is one way of
taking revenge against decades of deadly silence." Moreover, a vast network
of independent media has emerged in Iraq, including over 100 privately-owned
newspapers and magazines and more than two dozen radio and television
stations. To anyone familiar with the state of the media in the Arab world,
it is a truism that Iraq today is the place where freedom of expression is
most effectively exercised.



That an experienced observer of Iraq with a sense of history can point to so
many positive factors in the country's present condition will not do much,
of course, to sway the more determined critics of the U.S. intervention
there. They might even agree that the images fed to the American public show
only part of the picture, and that the news from Iraq is not uniformly bad.
But the root of their opposition runs deeper, to political fundamentals.

Their critique can be summarized in the aphorism that "democracy cannot be
imposed by force." It is a view that can be found among the more
sophisticated elements on the Left and, increasingly, among dissenters on
the Right, from Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska to the ex-neoconservative
Francis Fukuyama. As Senator Hagel puts it, "You cannot in my opinion just
impose a democratic form of government on a country with no history and no
culture and no tradition of democracy."

I would tend to agree. But is Iraq such a place? In point of fact, before
the 1958 pro-Soviet military coup d'etat that established a leftist
dictatorship, Iraq did have its modest but nevertheless significant share of
democratic history, culture, and tradition. The country came into being
through a popular referendum held in 1921. A constitutional monarchy modeled
on the United Kingdom, it had a bicameral parliament, several political
parties (including the Baath and the Communists), and periodic elections
that led to changes of policy and government. At the time, Iraq also enjoyed
the freest press in the Arab world, plus the widest space for debate and
dissent in the Muslim Middle East.

To be sure, Baghdad in those days was no Westminster, and, as the 1958 coup
proved, Iraqi democracy was fragile. But every serious student of
contemporary Iraq knows that substantial segments of the population, from
all ethnic and religious communities, had more than a taste of the modern
world's democratic aspirations. As evidence, one need only consult the
immense literary and artistic production of Iraqis both before and after the
1958 coup. Under successor dictatorial regimes, it is true, the conviction
took hold that democratic principles had no future in Iraq-a conviction that
was  responsible in large part for driving almost five million Iraqis, a
quarter of the population, into exile between 1958 and 2003, just as the
opposite conviction is attracting so many of them and their children back to
Iraq today.

A related argument used to condemn Iraq's democratic prospects is that it is
an "artificial" country, one that can be held together only by a dictator.
But did any nation-state fall from the heavens wholly made? All are to some
extent artificial creations, and the U.S. is preeminently so. The truth is
that Iraq-one of the 53 founding countries of the United Nations-is older
than a majority of that organization's current 198 member states. Within the
Arab League, and setting aside Oman and Yemen, none of the 22 members is
older. Two-thirds of the 122 countries regarded as democracies by Freedom
House came into being after Iraq's appearance on the map.

Critics of the democratic project in Iraq also claim that, because it is a
multi-ethnic and multi-confessional state, the country is doomed to
despotism, civil war, or disintegration. But the same could be said of
virtually all Middle Eastern states, most of which are neither multi-ethnic
nor multi-confessional. More important, all Iraqis, regardless of their
ethnic, linguistic, and sectarian differences, share a sense of national
identity-uruqa ("Iraqi-ness")-that has developed over the past eight
decades. A unified, federal state may still come to grief in Iraq-history is
not written in advance-but even should a divorce become inevitable at some
point, a democratic Iraq would be in a better position to manage it.

What all of this demonstrates is that, contrary to received opinion,
Operation Iraqi Freedom was not an attempt to impose democracy by force.
Rather, it was an effort to use force to remove impediments to
democratization, primarily by deposing a tyrant who had utterly suppressed a
well-established aspect of the country's identity. It may take years before
we know for certain whether or not post-liberation Iraq has definitely
chosen democracy. But one thing is certain: without the use of force to
remove the Baathist regime, the people of Iraq would not have had the
opportunity even to contemplate a democratic future.



Assessing the progress of that democratic project is no simple matter. But,
by any reasonable standard, Iraqis have made extraordinary strides. In a
series of municipal polls and two general elections in the past three years,
up to 70 percent of eligible Iraqis have voted. This new orientation is
supported by more than 60 political parties and organizations, the first
genuinely free-trade unions in the Arab world, a growing number of
professional associations acting independently of the state, and more than
400 nongovernmental organizations representing diverse segments of civil
society. A new constitution, written by Iraqis representing the full
spectrum of political, ethnic, and religious sensibilities was
overwhelmingly approved by the electorate in a referendum last October.

Iraq's new democratic reality is also reflected in the vocabulary of
politics used at every level of society. Many new words-accountability,
transparency, pluralism, dissent-have entered political discourse in Iraq
for the first time. More remarkably, perhaps, all parties and personalities
currently engaged in the democratic process have committed themselves to the
principle that power should be sought, won, and lost only through free and
fair elections.

These democratic achievements are especially impressive when set side by
side with the declared aims of the enemies of the new Iraq, who have put up
a determined fight against it. Since the country's liberation, the jihadists
and residual Baathists have killed an estimated 23,000 Iraqis, mostly
civilians, in scores of random attacks and suicide operations. Indirectly,
they have caused the death of thousands more, by sabotaging water and
electricity services and by provoking sectarian revenge attacks.

But they have failed to translate their talent for mayhem and murder into
political success. Their campaign has not succeeded in appreciably slowing
down, let alone stopping, the country's democratization. Indeed, at each
step along the way, the jihadists and Baathists have seen their
self-declared objectives thwarted.

After the invasion, they tried at first to prevent the formation of a
Governing Council, the expression of Iraq's continued existence as a
sovereign nation-state. They managed to murder several members of the
council, including its president in 2003, but failed to prevent its
formation or to keep it from performing its task in the interim period. The
next aim of the insurgents was to stop municipal elections. Their message
was simple: candidates and voters would be killed. But, once again, they
failed: thousands of men and women came forward as candidates and more than
1.5 million Iraqis voted in the localities where elections were held.

The insurgency made similar threats in the lead-up to the first general
election, and the result was the same. Despite killing 36 candidates and 148
voters, they failed to derail the balloting, in which the number of voters
rose to more than 8 million. Nor could the insurgency prevent the writing of
the new democratic constitution, despite a campaign of assassination against
its drafters. The text was ready in time and was submitted to and approved
by a referendum, exactly as planned. The number of voters rose yet again, to
more than 9 million.

What of relations among the Shiites, Sunnis, and Kurds-the focus of so much
attention of late? For almost three years, the insurgency worked hard to
keep the Arab Sunni community, which accounts for some 15 percent of the
population, out of the political process. But that campaign collapsed when
millions of Sunnis turned out to vote in the constitutional referendum and
in the second general election, which saw almost 11 million Iraqis go to the
polls. As I write, all political parties representing the Arab Sunni
minority have joined the political process and have strong representation in
the new parliament. With the convening of that parliament, and the
nomination in April of a new prime minister and a three-man presidential
council, the way is open for the formation of a broad-based government of
national unity to lead Iraq over the next four years.

As for the insurgency's effort to foment sectarian violence-a strategy first
launched in  earnest toward the end of 2005-this too has run aground. The
hope here was to provoke a full-scale war between the Arab Sunni minority
and the Arab Shiites who account for some 60 percent of the population. The
new strategy, like the ones previously tried, has certainly produced many
deaths. But despite countless cases of sectarian killings by so-called
militias, there is still no sign that the Shiites as a whole will acquiesce
in the role assigned them by the insurgency and organize a concerted
campaign of nationwide retaliation.

Finally, despite the impression created by relentlessly dire reporting in
the West, the insurgency has proved unable to shut down essential government
services. Hundreds of teachers and schoolchildren have been killed in
incidents including the beheading of two teachers in their classrooms this
April and horrific suicide attacks against school buses. But by September
2004, most schools across Iraq and virtually all universities were open and
functioning. By September 2005, more than 8.5 million Iraqi children and
young people were attending school or university-an all-time record in the
nation's history.

A similar story applies to Iraq's clinics and hospitals. Between October
2003 and January 2006, more than 80 medical doctors and over 400 nurses and
medical auxiliaries were murdered by the insurgents. The jihadists also
raided several hospitals, killing ordinary patients in their beds. But, once
again, they failed in their objectives. By January 2006, all of Iraq's 600
state-owned hospitals and clinics were in full operation, along with dozens
of new ones set up by the private sector since liberation.

Another of the insurgency's strategic goals was to bring the Iraqi oil
industry to a halt and to disrupt the export of crude. Since July 2003, Iraq
's oil infrastructure has been the target of more than 3,000 attacks and
attempts at sabotage. But once more the insurgency has failed to achieve its
goals. Iraq has resumed its membership in the Organization of Petroleum
Exporting Countries (OPEC) and has returned to world markets as a major oil
exporter. According to projections, by the end of 2006 it will be producing
its full OPEC quota of 2.8 million barrels a day.

The Baathist remnant and its jihadist allies resemble a gambler who wins a
heap of chips at a roulette table only to discover that he cannot exchange
them for real money at the front desk. The enemies of the new Iraq have
succeeded in ruining the lives of tens of thousands of Iraqis, but over the
past three years they have advanced their overarching goals, such as they
are, very little. Instead, they have been militarily contained and
politically defeated again and again, and the beneficiary has been Iraqi
democracy.



None of this means that the new Iraq is out of the woods. Far from it.
Democratic success still requires a great deal of patience, determination,
and luck. The U.S.-led coalition, its allies, and partners have achieved
most of their major political objectives, but that achievement remains under
threat and could be endangered if the U.S., for whatever reason, should
decide to snatch a defeat from the jaws of victory.

The current mandate of the U.S.-led coalition runs out at the end of this
year, and it is unlikely that Washington and its allies will want to
maintain their military presence at current levels. In the past few months,
more than half of the 103 bases used by the coalition have been transferred
to the new Iraqi army. The best guess is that the number of U.S. and
coalition troops could be cut from 140,000 to 25,000 or 30,000 by the end of
2007.

One might wonder why, if the military mission has been so successful, the
U.S. still needs to maintain a military presence in Iraq for at least
another two years. There are three reasons for this.

The first is to discourage Iraq's predatory neighbors, notably Iran and
Syria, which might wish to pursue their own agendas against the new
government in Baghdad. Iran has already revived some claims under the
Treaties of Erzerum (1846), according to which Tehran would enjoy a droit de
regard over Shiite shrines in Iraq. In Syria, some in that country's ruling
circles have invoked the possibility of annexing the area known as Jazirah,
the so-called Sunni triangle, in the name of Arab unity. For its part,
Turkey is making noises about the Treaty of Lausanne (1923), which gave it a
claim to the oilfields of northern Iraq. All of these pretensions need to be
rebuffed.

The second reason for extending America's military presence is political.
The U.S. is acting as an arbiter among Iraq's various ethnic and religious
communities and political factions. It is, in a sense, a traffic cop, giving
Iraqis a green or red light when and if needed. It is important that the
U.S. continue performing this role for the first year or two of the newly
elected parliament and government.

Finally, the U.S. and its allies have a key role to play in training and
testing Iraq's new army and police. Impressive success has already been
achieved in that field. Nevertheless, the new Iraqi army needs at least
another year or two before it will have developed adequate logistical
capacities and learned to organize and conduct operations involving its
various branches.

But will the U.S. stay the course? Many are betting against it. The
Baathists and jihadists, their prior efforts to derail Iraqi democracy
having come to naught, have now pinned their hopes on creating enough chaos
and death to persuade Washington of the futility of its endeavors. In this,
they have the tacit support not only of local Arab and Muslim despots
rightly fearful of the democratic genie but of all those in the West whose
own incessant theme has been the certainty of American failure. Among
Bush-haters in the U.S., just as among anti-Americans around the world,
predictions of civil war in Iraq, of spreading regional hostilities, and of
a revived global terrorism are not about to cease any time soon.

But more sober observers should understand the real balance sheet in Iraq.
Democracy is succeeding. Moreover, thanks to its success in Iraq, there are
stirrings elsewhere in the region. Beyond the much-publicized electoral
concessions wrung from authoritarian rulers in Egypt and Saudi Arabia, there
is a new democratic discourse to be heard. Nationalism and pan-Arabism,
yesterday's hollow rallying cries, have given way to a "big idea" of a very
different kind. Debate and dissent are in the air where there was none
before-a development owing, in significant measure, to the U.S. campaign in
Iraq and the brilliant if still checkered Iraqi response.

The stakes, in short, could not be higher. This is all the more reason to
celebrate, to build on, and to consolidate what has already been
accomplished. Instead of railing against the Bush administration, America's
elites would do better, and incidentally display greater self-respect, to
direct their wrath where it properly belongs: at those violent and
unrestrained enemies of democracy in Iraq who are, in truth, the enemies of
democracy in America as well, and of everything America has ever stood for.

Is Iraq a quagmire, a disaster, a failure? Certainly not; none of the above.
Of all the adjectives used by skeptics and critics to describe today's Iraq,
the only one that has a ring of truth is "messy." Yes, the situation in Iraq
today is messy. Births always are. Since when is that a reason to declare a
baby unworthy of life?



Amir Taheri, formerly the executive editor of Kayhan, Iran's largest daily
newspaper, is the author of ten books and a frequent contributor to numerous
publications in the Middle East and Europe. His work appears regularly in
the New York Post.
30276  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / HIGHER CONSCIOUSNESS AMONG DOC'S AND DOGS on: June 13, 2006, 08:41:04 PM
http://dogbrothers.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=329
30277  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Invitation to dialog to Muslims on: June 12, 2006, 12:51:18 AM
I did not know that this type of dress was found in the Philippines.  I associated it with the Arabic world.
30278  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Advice please on: June 11, 2006, 03:27:40 PM
There's already a thread or three on this.  If you surf your way back sufficient pages, you can find it/them.  Good luck!
30279  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Invitation to dialog to Muslims on: June 11, 2006, 01:07:03 PM
Greetings Sibatan:

Thank you for engaging in conversation with me.

I confess to utter bafflement as to why you see that target as "Muslim".  

Surely the figure there is not how you think of the meaning of Muslim?  

Why not see the target as the bad people we fight?

Who fights us now in Iraq?  Basically two groups:  Al Qaeda types such as Zarqawi and Baathist Saddamites.

For me, AQ is evil.  I look at 911 and ask myself what would have happened if Flight 93, the one heroically brought down by the passengers, had been crashed by its AQ pilot into the nearby nuclear reactor at Three Mile Island?  Thousands of square miles of my homeland would have been radioactively contaminated for centuries.   This is not fanciful.  This risk is quite real.  Osama Bin Laden has specifically called for using nuclear and/or radioactive devices against the United States.    I don't care what religion any group seeking such a thing is, I do care that it, its members, and those that give sanctuary to such efforts are stopped.  

Zarqawi of AQ who often dressed as you see in that target was fighting us in Iraq.  He seized innocent people and beheaded them on TV.  He bombed weddings (of Muslims by the way).  He killed those who sought to build a democractic Iraq (mostly Muslims by the way).  He, and AQ specifically stated that democracy was against Islam (nevermind mostly Muslim examples like Turkey and Indonesia)  I truly do not get why you worry that our being against such a man means we are against Muslims.

Lets look at the Baathist Saddamites now.  

SH and his followers brutally suppressed the Kurds (Muslims by the way) and the Shiites (Muslims by the way) of Iraq and sought to conquer his neighbors (Muslims by the way).  He supported terrorism, including paying $25,000 a hit to the families of suicide mass killers who specifically targeted women and children and other innocents in Israel because they were Jewish.  Now that SH is done for, his followers fear the consequences of Iraqi democracy, a democracy for which many millions of Iraqis (most of whom are Muslims by the way) have voted at great personal risk!   They too also target innocent civilians (most of whom are Muslims by the way).  

Once again, I truly do not get why our fighting such people gives you the idea we are against Muslims!

Indeed, why do you not express support?

Please help me understand.

The Adventure continues,
CD
30280  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / new guy looking for some advise.. on: June 10, 2006, 11:04:38 AM
Woof Jagger:

Sorry this slipped off my radar screen for a while.

In answer to your question, yes it is quite normal to feel more at ease with a particular foot forward.  The solution is flight time with the other foot forward Smiley

IMHO there are deep and powerful physical benefits to the training outlined in the DVD.  Precisely because the work goes deep, it is particularly important to work all the variables (Malayu stroke with each hand on top, done with each foot forward.) in equal measure.

Woof,
Crafty Dog
30281  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Filipinos outside of the Philippines on: June 10, 2006, 10:59:23 AM
I saw this article when it appeared in the LA Times.  Thanks for taking the time to share it here.
30282  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / classic fight scene on: June 10, 2006, 10:42:26 AM
Outstanding find  Cool  What year was this?
30283  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Invitation to dialog to Muslims on: June 10, 2006, 09:32:24 AM
Woof All:

This thread seeks to continue the conversation begun by Sitbatan on the "Intro to Gun, Knife and Emtpy Hand" thread nearby triggered by Gabe Suarez and I wearing "Infidel" t-shirts with a gun range target behind us of a "jihadi" type person.

Sitbatan wondered whether I was exhibiting anti-Muslim animus. ?In my initial response there I listed all the ways I could think of off the top of my head that the US has acted with and/or for Muslims countries. ?

In his response, the following was cause for me to reflect:

"Please understand from my point of view... I have taught other foreigners here, are they going to use their knowledge to kill my fellow muslims??? Is it that the true peaceful Islam has been buried under extremism?? Radicalism??"

What communicates in his words which I quote is a frame of mind in which it is more important whether someone is a Muslim than whether he is a good or a bad person. ?Is this the case Sibatan? ?

Thus I begin with this question: what is your reaction to our killing of Zarqawi? ?Are you sad/angry that we have killed a "fellow muslim" or are you glad that we have killed a fascist who targetted innocents? ?If you had known where he was, would you have told us?

The Adventure continues,
Crafty Dog

PS: ?The subject matter of this thread is particularly combustible, yet the need for honest communication seems to me to be as obvious as it is profound-- so I remind all who participate in this thread of the code of this forum "Be friends at the end of the day." ? A special note to my fellow infidels-- any Muslim who comes here probably will be quite outnumbered. ?Play fairly!
30284  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Die Less Often: Interface of Gun, Knife and Emtpy Hand on: June 10, 2006, 08:38:45 AM
Sibatan:

I sense in you a sincere person with whom a conversation is possible.  Will you engage in one with me?

Crafty Dog
30285  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Wolves & Dogs on: June 08, 2006, 06:21:47 AM
lose encounter raises concerns about wolvesBy Scott Richards - For the Idaho Press-Tribune


Warning: Picture may not be suitable for some viewers. Click here to continue.

GRANGEVILLE ? Hello. My name is Scott Richards. I have lived in Grangeville for the last 17 years. I have enjoyed training my hunting dogs for the past 34 years.
To do this it takes a great deal of love for your dogs and for the great outdoors. I have always prided myself in the manner of which I train my dogs and take care of them. When I choose a new pup, he or she spends the first 6 months in my house. He or she is loved and a bond is there forever.

I do not believe there are bad dogs, just inexperienced owners. I have spent the last four years trying to introduce this sport to as many young people as I can. My photo albums are full of pictures with children sitting under a tree with the dogs, telling them they did a good job.
 
That has all changed now.

The reason I am writing this story is not to debate whether the Canadian gray wolf should be or should not be here. I am not going to debate anyone about how many wolves are really in the state of Idaho. I will say our elk, moose and deer populations are in serious trouble now.

The real reason I am telling this story is that I have a conscience, and what happened to my dogs and me Wednesday, May 24, at 9:45 a.m. might open a few eyes.

It?s been a few days now, and the shock has turned from fear to disbelief to anger, and now the major concern for the safety of anyone who lives in or visits our state. My life that I have loved raising and training these special working dogs is now over.

Crying wolf

This Wednesday morning started like most days when I train dogs. I was a few miles from my house and turned up the hill on the Service Flats Road. I let my dogs out of the box, jumped into my truck and followed them up the road for a mile, letting them clean out. I had eight dogs with me, and seven of them were very experienced 2, 3 and 4-year-olds. I had one five-month-old pup.

I loaded four dogs on top of the box and four inside the box. I did not have to drive far, and the dogs sounded off, letting me know a bear had crossed the road.

My friend, Bryon, had driven up from Lewiston to train some of his young dogs.

I turned out a 4-year-old named Jasper. He left the road and let me know the track was fresh. I told Bryon to turn his dogs loose as did I. They quickly dropped into a canyon, where bears hang in the brushy bottoms in daylight hours.

When all the dogs reached the bottom, five went up the other side of the canyon headed toward Fish Creek campground. The other group of dogs came right back up the hill to us. They put the bears in a tree 20 minutes later.

The other group of dogs treed about the same time about 1 1/2 miles away. Bryon and I went to the nearest dogs first. When we were under the tree, we found they had a mature sow and a 2-year-old cub. We took a few pictures and were back in the trucks ready to go to the other dogs.

We drove back up to where we heard the group of five dogs top over and shortly thereafter tree the bear. We checked where the dogs still had the bear treed. We drove as close as we could and stopped and listened.

They were about 400 yards away, treeing solid. I made the decision to move the truck 200 yards to the low side of the saddle; this would be an easy way back with the dogs. When Bryon and I crested the hill, instead of hearing a roar of barking dogs treeing, we heard nothing. We were looking at each other like, ?Where did they go? We just heard them there five minutes ago.?

One dog barked, and another barked just 50 yards away. I said to Bryon that neither of the dogs we heard sounded like any of our dogs. He agreed. Then I heard a dog bark that I knew was mine, but at the end of his bark there was a sharp yelp. Bryon and I headed down the hill in a hurry about 75 yards apart.

About 300 yards down the hill I was stopped dead in my tracks by a big dark-colored wolf. Blackey, my dog, was getting attacked; I was 20 yards away now and closing fast, screaming and yelling as I ran. I stopped at about 12 feet from the wolf, and even though I was screaming and waving my arms, the wolf did not break from the attack. Every time Blackey tried to run, the wolf would sink his teeth into Blackey?s hindquarters.

All the while I was screaming louder than I ever screamed in my life. Without any thought I picked up a 4-foot stick, stepped toward the wolf, swung and hit a tree. When the branch went crack and the tree went thud, the wolf instantly lunged at me.

I remember thinking I was going to die.

I ran from tree to tree straight up hill toward my truck. When that wolf lunged at me, I believed I would have been seriously hurt or dead if not for Blackey. I did not see what took place, but what I heard was my dog giving his life to save me.

As I reached the truck, Bryon was digging around in his truck for a gun. As I ran up he started yelling, ?We got wolves.? I was trying to listen to him as I was searching for a gun as I took my pistol in my hand and turned toward Bryon.

When I looked into his eyes I realized I was not the only one threatened by wolves. We headed back down to see if we could save Blackey, Lady or Halley, but there was no sound. I wanted to hear a bell dingle or a bark, but nothing. As Bryon and I hurried back to the truck to get my tracking box, I finally understood that Bryon was able to fight off three wolves and save two dogs. Snyper and Bullet were safe in the dog box with no life-threatening injuries.

With the tracking box in hand, I tuned in on Lady?s tracking collar and said to Bryon, ?Not Lady, not Lady,? but I knew she was dead. Then I tuned to Blackey and told Bryon that Blackey was dead, and then I tuned in Halley?s collar. One beep every four seconds ? that means all three dogs had not moved for at least five minutes. All dead.

I was just standing there in shock.

We decided to look for Halley first. We were getting real close; the receiver was pegging the needle. I knew that with a few more steps I would be looking at one of my babies.

My heart skipped a beat when Halley?s tree switch went off. I didn?t know if she was alive or if a wolf was dragging her off. We ran the direction the needle was pointing, and in a few yards there she was.

She was trying to get up; her stomach was ripped open and her guts were hanging out a foot. She had more than 60 bite marks and deep gashes all over her body. Her stomach was torn in multiple spots.

Bryon went into action. Of came his shirt, and we wrapped it tightly around her stomach. I carried her back to Bryon?s truck and put her in the front seat; Brian headed for the vets. I remember thinking I wouldn?t see Halley alive again.

I started tracking Blackey next; it did not take long to find him. He wasn?t far from where the wolf came after me. He was dead and lying in a pool of his own blood. He was bit and torn so full of holes that I just fell to the ground bawling and crying. I could not quit thinking, ?He gave his life to save me.?

I was sitting there when it hit me: ?Lady! I?d better get to Lady.? When I tuned her in, I knew she was within a 100 yards. I lined up with her collar, and the next thing I knew there she was in a heap, her eyes wide open, looking straight into my eyes. For one second I thought she might be alive. When I knelt down beside her, I knew she was dead.

It?s very difficult to describe the type of death these dogs were handed. It was easy to see that the wolves want to cripple their prey, torture it and then kill it. I have never seen a worse way for any animal or person to die.

I made it back to town and took care of my dogs who made it through this nightmare that happened in the light of day. Then I headed to see if Halley needed to be buried.

When I walked into the veterinarian?s office, I was greeted with, ?Did you find the rest of your dogs?? I tried to say they were all dead, but I could not get the words out; all I could do was cry.

After a few minutes standing alone, I heard a voice behind me say, ?Halley is still alive; do you want to see her?? I instantly headed for the back room, and when I turned the corner I saw this little black ball covered in stitches ? swollen twice her normal size.

I stopped and said out loud, ?Oh my God, Halley, what have they done to you?? When she heard me say her name, she lifted her head, whined and waged her tail. I kneeled down, held her and comforted her ? the whole time wondering if she was the lucky one, or were Blackey and Lady the lucky ones? When I looked into her eyes it was easy to see the only reason she was still alive: the wolf had choked her out.

Her eyes were full of blood; they had left her for dead. The doctor said it was a miracle she was alive at all. Her lungs were badly damaged, but what most concerned us all was infection from all the tears and bites.

I knew this little dog had more heart and desire than a 1,200-pound grizzly bear, and yet was as gentle with my granddaughters as my chocolate lab. If it were just a fight with infection, she would win.

On the way home I called the Idaho Fish and Game to report what had happened. They were very understanding, and I could tell they were sincere when they said they were sorry for my loss. They also made it clear there was nothing they could do for me and that their hands were tied. They said they would write the report and call a federal agent.

Justin, the government trapper, contacted me by phone and arranged to meet me at first light. We were at the site of the attack early the next morning. We went to the site where I had laid Lady in the shade.

She was gone without a trace.

I took Justin to where Blackey was laying, and he had also disappeared. We searched around and found nothing. About that time a crow down below me called three times, so we walked toward the sound.

It did not take long before we were standing over the remains of the dog that saved me from harm. All that was left of him was his head and backbone. Had we been an hour later, there would have been nothing left of him.

We had spooked the wolves off while they were finishing their prey. In five hours all we found of Lady was a pile of fresh wolf scat full of white, brown and black dog hair. Lady was a tri-colored walker ? that color.

Justin and I buried what was left of Blackey. We piled heavy stones on his grave, and I walked away thinking that it could have been me. I could have been just a pile of wolf scat lying on the ground and leaving people to wonder where I had disappeared to.

I couldn?t help but think of the 22-year-old man who was killed and eaten by wolves in Canada this winter. There?s been a slaughter on hound dogs and pets in Idaho, and it is getting worse daily. I have been assured that if these wolves kill any cows, sheep, goats, pigs or horses, they will become a problem and will be dealt with, and the owners will be compensated.

That?s a relief.

Dogs have no value to anyone in the government, it seems.

So what I love to do is over; I will not send another dog to slaughter or feed another starving wolf pack. My concerns now are that the wolves are running out of easy prey and are now eating dogs.

In wet, muddy areas where elk and moose have always been plentiful, I no longer can find even a track.

Perhaps aliens took them off to a safer planet. I hope you did not find that funny.

This is the first documented case in Idaho where wolves have eaten a dog after killing it. The real reason I had to write this story is public safety.

The general public is unaware of the danger that awaits them. Since I retired, I have spent no less than four days a week in the mountains. What has amazed me are how many of these wolves are right around people?s homes. When they are out of easy prey, be ready.

For as long as I can remember, when you were in the mountains for any reason, a dog by your side was a great defense to warn you of predators. I used to believe in this. But now a dog is nothing more than bait to lure wolves.

Recently, while cougar hunting, an associate of mine, who is a licensed guide like myself, had a wolf encounter. He was cougar hunting with a dog on a leash when three wolves charged up on him. With waving arms and a screaming voice, he was able to persuade them to leave, but what if they had been a little hungrier? Your natural instinct will be to defend your companion. I am not saying you should leave your friend at home, but be prepared.

Put a bell or a beeper on him or her so you know where they are at all times.

The most important thing, in my opinion, is to pack a firearm. I personally believe pepper spray will not work in a pack attack. Keep your dogs quiet when you are walking ? no barking. If they are tied up in camp, no barking. And don?t let your children play with your pets and have them barking while they?re playing.

My personal belief is that the war has been lost. It?s too late to save our big-game herds in my lifetime.

What I have loved to do for most of my life is over, so enjoy it while you still can. Be prepared. I pray you never encounter a pack of Canadian gray wolves.

Copyright 2005 Idaho Press-Tribune.
http://www.idahopress.com/articles/2006/06/08/news/news3.txt
30286  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Peru on: June 06, 2006, 11:45:49 PM
Guau:

Como ya saben muchos de Uds, mi madre vive en el sur de Peru; por eso tengo interes en la situacion en Peru.

Como es frecuentemente el caso, muchos de mis fuentes de noticias estan en ingles.  Lamento el hecho que sean en ingles, pero busco la verdad donde sea.

La Aventura continua,
CD
=========================

Alan's back - but different?
John Crabtree
June 5, 2006 03:55 PM
http://commentisfree.guardian.co.uk/john_crabtree/2006/06/alans_back.html
The election of Alan Garc?a as the next president of Peru bucks a trend in some other Andean countries towards more interventionist, less liberal economic policies. Whereas in neighbouring Bolivia and Ecuador, governments have recently opted to overturn contracts with key foreign investors, Garc?a promises to pursue policies that acknowledge the need for outside investment in developing his country's economy.
The victory of Garc?a over Ollanta Humala, the left-wing nationalist candidate in the June 4 second round of presidential elections, also represents a reverse for Venezuelan president Hugo Ch?vez, who had urged Peruvians to vote for Humala, not Garc?a. Garc?a was able to exploit Ch?vez's overly strident support for Humala as a flagrant case of interference in Peru's domestic affairs. Garc?a's hostility to Ch?vez has earned him friends in Washington.
During the campaign for the second round, Garc?a made clear his espousal of what he called "responsible" economic policies, clearly not those of Bolivia's President Evo Morales who on May 1 announced his intention to nationalise his country's largely foreign-owned hydrocarbons industry. Garc?a, by contrast, emphasized the need for policies to attract foreign investment, not repel it. He also made clear that he supported the Free Trade Agreement negotiated by outgoing President Alejandro Toledo. Both Ch?vez and Morales - as well as Humala - have bitterly criticised Toledo for agreeing to a trade deal that risks wrecking the Andean Community (CAN).
Garc?a's preference for liberal economics also contrasts strongly with his own policies when president for the first time (1985-90). On that occasion he espoused heterodox formulae that challenged directly the orthodoxy of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). He also threatened to limit debt servicing to 10% of the value of annual exports.
However, the economic denouement of his first government - Peru ended up with hyperinflation and an unprecedented recession - has hung like an albatross around his neck ever since. Criticism was particularly bitter from the local business community, which castigated what it saw as his corrupt and inept government. The Fujimori government which followed in 1990 managed to stabilise the economy, accepting the policies of market liberalisation advocated by the international financial community.
In staging his political come-back, Garc?a had little option to express repentance for past mistakes. But his shift towards orthodox economics also is a consequence of the political situation he finds himself in. In order to win the second round, he needed the support of those who voted for the centre-right Unidad Nacional (UN) in the first round. In particular, he had to win overwhelmingly in Lima, UN's main stronghold, where he came a poor third in the first round.
When he becomes president again on July 28, Garc?a will have to appeal to different interests. He will need the support of the business community, but also to the support of poorer Peruvians, most of whom voted for Humala. His economic policies are therefore likely to include measures designed to make "trickle down" trickle further. More emphasis will be placed on the need to deal with chronic problems of health and education. Other key issues in the election campaign have been the need for employment and for policies to deal with crime in the country's urban areas.
Although the economic climate is benign - growth this year will probably exceed 6% - Garcia may well run into political difficulties. His party has only a minority (36 seats) in the 120-member legislature. The biggest party is Humala's Union por el Per? (UPP) with 45 seats. This may make for awkward coalition formation, possibly accepting unwelcome terms from UN.
Or it could mean doing a deal with those in Congress who support Fujimori. The price for their support is clear: lifting the extradition charges which Peru's former president, currently in Chile, has hanging over him. Since it was Fujimori who, in 1992, forced Garc?a into a 12-year period of exile, this may be seen as a price too high to pay.
30287  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Mexico on: June 06, 2006, 11:46:58 AM
MEXICO: Mexican presidential candidates face off in the second and last televised debate before the July 2 election. In Mexico City, unidentified assailants shoot at an armored vehicle carrying the wife and children of Carlos Ahumada, a jailed businessman closely associated with corruption scandals involving an array of politicians from the leftist Party of the Democratic Revolution. Ahumada has already released videos with evidence against the politicians. His lawyers announced June 5 they would release four new videos containing evidence against close associates of presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. Ahumada's wife and children were not injured.

www.stratfor.com

?Alguien sabe algo al respeto?
30288  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Tito Ortiz uses FMA on: June 06, 2006, 10:04:15 AM
My understanding is that some of the old Thai camps have some genuine differences in elbow shielding structures.

I remember being surprised when disceovering that the positions we learned in Inosanto Blend were unknown to other fellow American MT practitioners and as I watched MT fights from Thailand seeing different elbow shielding structures.  

A matter of my own ignorance no doubt , , , just underlining Tom's point that there are things that often things fly under the radar screen-- in this case an Old Thai structure.

I agree with Sisco's assessment of the importance of the role of Couture's anti-punch structure in his first fight with Belfort.
30289  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Guro Crafty en el DF, Mexico on: June 05, 2006, 12:32:29 AM
Cabe mencionar que habia un momento cuando Mauricio estaba explicando un aspecto de DBMA a un grupo de los hombres alli y yo estaba contento con su presentacion.
30290  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Die Less Often: Interface of Gun, Knife and Emtpy Hand on: June 04, 2006, 11:49:20 PM
Malhabah, keef halak Sibatan:

Yes I agree that there are terrorists/religious fascists, criminals, and pirates amongst most nations.  And I promise to stand with you should any from our shores be a danger to you.   Do you do the same for me?

Turning now to the question of the misunderstanding, I would ask your indulgence to follow up with a question: Obviously you are an educated man who already knew the facts which I stated, so may I ask why you first thought it was otherwise?

Maraming Salamat Po.
30291  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Tito Ortiz uses FMA on: June 04, 2006, 03:47:09 PM
I think Randy Couture was exposed to this idea in training for his first fight with Vitor Belfort.  Anybody out there remember this?
30292  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Free Speech vs. Islamic Fascism (formerly Buy DANISH!!!) on: June 04, 2006, 03:37:35 PM
SPIEGEL ONLINE - May 31, 2006, 03:04 PM
URL:
http://service.spiegel.de/cache/international/spiegel/0,1518,418930,00.html
Opinion

Why I Published the Muhammad Cartoons

By Flemming Rose

European political correctness allows Muslims to resist integration, argues
the culture editor of Jyllands-Posten. Instead, Muslims should be treated
just like all Europeans -- including being subject to satire. He argues that
publishing the caricatures was an act of "inclusion, not exclusion."




REUTERS
The burning of a Danish flag in Islamabad, Pakistan.
The worldwide furor unleashed by the cartoons of the Prophet Muhammed that I
published last September in Jyllands-Posten, the Danish newspaper where I
work, was both a surprise and a tragedy, especially for those directly
affected by it. Lives were lost, buildings were torched and people were
driven into hiding.

And yet the unbalanced reactions to the not-so-provocative caricatures --
loud denunciations and even death threats toward us, but very little outrage
toward the people who attacked two Danish Embassies -- unmasked unpleasant
realities about Europe's failed experiment with multiculturalism. It's time
for the Old Continent to face facts and make some profound changes in its
outlook on immigration, integration and the coming Muslim demographic surge.
After decades of appeasement and political correctness, combined with
growing fear of a radical minority prepared to commit serious violence,
Europe's moment of truth is here.

Europe today finds itself trapped in a posture of moral relativism that is
undermining its liberal values. An unholy three-cornered alliance between
Middle East dictators, radical imams who live in Europe and Europe's
traditional left wing is enabling a politics of victimology. This politics
drives a culture that resists integration and adaptation, perpetuates
national and religious differences and aggravates such debilitating social
ills as high immigrant crime rates and entrenched unemployment.

As one who once championed the utopian state of multicultural bliss, I think
I know what I'm talking about. I was raised on the ideals of the 1960s, in
the midst of the Cold War. I saw life through the lens of the
countercultural turmoil, adopting both the hippie pose and the political
superiority complex of my generation. I and my high school peers believed
that the West was imperialistic and racist. We analyzed decaying Western
civilization through the texts of Marx and Engels and lionized John Lennon's
beautiful but stupid tune about an ideal world without private property:
"Imagine no possessions/ I wonder if you can/ No need for greed or hunger/ A
brotherhood of man/ Imagine all the people/ Sharing all the world."


BIO BOX
Flemming Rose, 48, is culture editor of Jyllands- Posten, the Danish
newspaper that set off a wave of protests in the Islamic world when it
published a series of cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.

It took me only 10 months as a young student in the Soviet Union in 1980-81
to realize what a world without private property looks like, although many
years had to pass until the full implications of the central Marxist dogma
became clear to me.

That experience was the beginning of a long intellectual journey that has
thus far culminated in the reactions to the Muhammed cartoons. Politically,
I came of age in the Soviet Union. I returned there in 1990 to spend 11
years as a foreign correspondent. Through close contact with courageous
dissidents who were willing to suffer and go to prison for their belief in
the ideals of Western democracy, I was cured of my wooly dreams of
idealistic collectivism. I had a strong sense of the high price my friends
were willing to pay for the very freedoms that we had taken for granted in
high school -- but did not grasp as values inherent in our civilization:
freedom of speech, religion, assembly and movement. Justice and equality
implies equal opportunity, I learned, not equal outcome.

Now, in Europe's failure to grapple realistically with its dramatically
changing demographic picture, I see a new parallel to that Cold War journey.
Europe's left is deceiving itself about immigration, integration and Islamic
radicalism today the same way we young hippies deceived ourselves about
Marxism and communism 30 years ago. It is a narrative of confrontation and
hierarchy that claims that the West exploits, abuses and marginalizes the
Islamic world. Left-wing intellectuals have insisted that the Danes were
oppressing and marginalizing Muslim immigrants. This view comports precisely
with the late Edward Said's model of Orientalism, which argues that experts
on the Orient and the Muslim world have not depicted it as it is but as some
dreaded "other," as exactly the opposite of ourselves -- that should
therefore to be rejected. The West, in this narrative, is democratic, the
East is despotic. We are rational, they are irrational.

This kind of thinking gave birth to a distorted approach to immigration in
countries like Denmark. Left-wing commentators decided that Denmark was both
racist and Islamophobic. Therefore, the chief obstacle to integration was
not the immigrants' unwillingness to adapt culturally to their adopted
country (there are 200,000 Danish Muslims now); it was the country's
inherent racism and anti-Muslim bias.

A cult of victimology arose and was happily exploited by clever radicals
among Europe's Muslims, especially certain religious leaders like Imam Ahmad
Abu Laban in Denmark and Mullah Krekar in Norway. Mullah Krekar -- a Kurdish
founder of Ansar al Islam who this spring was facing an expulsion order from
Norway -- called our publication of the cartoons "a declaration of war
against our religion, our faith and our civilization. Our way of thinking is
penetrating society and is stronger than theirs. This causes hate in the
Western way of thinking; as the losing side, they commit violence."

The role of victim is very convenient because it frees the self-declared
victim from any responsibility, while providing a posture of moral
superiority. It also obscures certain inconvenient facts that might suggest
a different explanation for the lagging integration of some immigrant groups
-- such as the relatively high crime rates, the oppression of women and a
tradition of forced marriage.

Dictatorships in the Middle East and radical imams have adopted the jargon
of the European left, calling the cartoons racist and Islamophobic. When
Westerners criticize their lack of civil liberties and the oppression of
women, they say we behave like imperialists. They have adopted the rhetoric
and turned it against us.

These events are occurring against the disturbing backdrop of increasingly
radicalized Muslims in Europe. Muhammed Atta, the 9/11 ringleader, became a
born-again Muslim after he moved to Europe. So did the perpetrators behind
the bombings in Madrid and London. The same goes for Mohammed Bouyeri, the
young Muslim who slaughtered filmmaker Theo van Gogh in Amsterdam. Europe,
not the Middle East, may now be the main breeding ground for Islamic
terrorism.

Lessons from the United States

What's wrong with Europe? For one thing, Europe's approach to immigration
and integration is rooted in its historic experience with relatively
homogeneous cultures. In the United States one's definition of nationality
is essentially political; in Europe it is historically cultural. I am a Dane
because I look European, speak Danish, descend from centuries of other
Scandinavians. But what about the dark, bearded new Danes who speak Arabic
at home and poor Danish in the streets? We Europeans must make a profound
cultural adjustment to understand that they, too, can be Danes.

Another great impediment to integration is the European welfare state.
Because Europe's highly developed, but increasingly unaffordable, safety
nets provide such strong unemployment insurance and not enough incentive to
work, many new immigrants go straight onto the dole.

While it can be argued that the fast-growing community of about 20 million
Muslim immigrants in Europe is the equivalent of America's new Hispanic
immigrants, the difference in their productivity and prosperity is
staggering. An Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development study
in 1999 showed that while immigrants in the United States are almost equal
to native-born workers as taxpayers and contributors to American prosperity,
in Denmark there is a glaring gap of 41 percent between the contributions of
the native-born and of the immigrants. In the United States, a laid-off
worker gets an average of 32 percent compensation for his former wages in
welfare services; in Denmark the figure is 81 percent. A culture of welfare
dependency is rife among immigrants, and it is taken for granted.

What to do? Obviously, we can never return to the comfortable monocultures
of old. A demographic revolution is changing the face, and look, of Europe.
In an age of mass migration and the Internet, cheap air fares and mobile
phones everywhere, cultural pluralism is an irreversible fact, like it or
not. A nostalgic longing for cultural purity -- racial purity, religious
purity -- easily descends into ethnic cleansing.

Yet multiculturalism that has all too often become mere cultural relativism
is an indefensible proposition that often justifies reactionary and
oppressive practices. Giving the same weight to the illiberal values of
conservative Islam as to the liberal traditions of the European
Enlightenment will, in time, destroy the very things that make Europe such a
desirable target for migration.

Europe must shed the straitjacket of political correctness, which makes it
impossible to criticize minorities for anything -- including violations of
laws, traditional mores and values that are central to the European
experience. Two experiences tell the tale for me.

Shortly after the horrific 2002 Moscow musical theater siege by Chechen
terrorists that left 130 dead, I met with one of my old dissident friends,
Sergei Kovalev. A hero of the human rights movement in the old Soviet Union,
Kovalev had long been a defender of the Chechens and a critic of the Russian
attacks on Chechnya. But after the theater massacre he refused, as always,
to indulge in politically correct drivel about the Chechens' just fight for
secession and decolonization. He unhesitatingly denounced the terrorists,
and insisted that a nation's right to self-determination did not imply a
free ticket to kill and violate basic individual rights. For me, it was a
clarifying moment on the dishonesty of identity politics and the sometime
tyranny of elevating group rights above those of individuals -- of
justifying the killing of innocents in the name of some higher cause.

The other experience was a trip I made in the 1990s, when I was a
correspondent based in the United States, to the Brighton Beach neighborhood
of Brooklyn, N.Y. There I wrote a story about the burgeoning, bustling,
altogether vibrant Russian immigrant community that had arisen there -- a
perfect example of people retaining some of their old cultural identity
(drinking samovars of tea, playing hours of chess and attending church)
while quickly taking advantage of America's free and open capitalism to
establish an economic foothold. I marveled at America's ability to absorb
newcomers. It was another clarifying moment.

An act of inclusion. Equal treatment is the democratic way to overcome
traditional barriers of blood and soil for newcomers. To me, that means
treating immigrants just as I would any other Danes. And that's what I felt
I was doing in publishing the 12 cartoons of Muhammad last year. Those
images in no way exceeded the bounds of taste, satire and humor to which I
would subject any other Dane, whether the queen, the head of the church or
the prime minister. By treating a Muslim figure the same way I would a
Christian or Jewish icon, I was sending an important message: You are not
strangers, you are here to stay, and we accept you as an integrated part of
our life. And we will satirize you, too. It was an act of inclusion, not
exclusion; an act of respect and recognition.

Alas, some Muslims did not take it that way -- though it required a highly
organized campaign, several falsified (and very nasty) cartoons and several
months of overseas travel for the aggrieved imams to stir up an
international reaction.



DPA
Flemming Rose, culture editor of the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten, which
originally published the Muhammad cartoons.
Maybe Europe needs to take a leaf -- or a whole book -- from the American
experience. In order for new Europe of many cultures that is somehow a
single entity to emerge, in a manner similar to the experience of the United
States, both sides will have to make an effort -- the native-born and the
newly arrived.

For the immigrants, the expectation that they not only learn the host
language but also respect their new countries' political and cultural
traditions is not too much to demand, and some stringent (maybe too
stringent) new laws are being passed to force that. At the same time,
Europeans must show a willingness to jettison entrenched notions of blood
and soil and accept people from foreign countries and cultures as just what
they are, the new Europeans.

Flemming Rose is culture editor of Jyllands-Posten, the largest newspaper in
Denmark.




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

? SPIEGEL ONLINE 2006
All Rights Reserved
Reproduction only allowed with the permission of SPIEGELnet GmbH

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


More about this issue:

Related SPIEGEL ONLINE links:     OPINION: Threaten One, Intimidate a
Million (02/01/2006)
http://service.spiegel.de/cache/international/0,1518,398532,00.html
Muhammad Cartoons: The Importance of Being Danish, or Not (02/10/2006)
http://service.spiegel.de/cache/international/0,1518,400146,00.html
European Dis- Unity: Cartoon Conflict Shows Cracks in the EU (02/14/2006)
http://service.spiegel.de/cache/international/0,1518,400710,00.html
Cartoon Jihad: Rotten Judgment in the State of Denmark (02/08/2006)
http://service.spiegel.de/cache/international/0,1518,399653,00.html
30293  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Free Speech vs. Islamic Fascism (formerly Buy DANISH!!!) on: June 04, 2006, 03:34:21 PM
SPIEGEL ONLINE - May 31, 2006, 03:04 PM
URL:
http://service.spiegel.de/cache/international/spiegel/0,1518,418930,00.html
Opinion

Why I Published the Muhammad Cartoons

By Flemming Rose

European political correctness allows Muslims to resist integration, argues
the culture editor of Jyllands-Posten. Instead, Muslims should be treated
just like all Europeans -- including being subject to satire. He argues that
publishing the caricatures was an act of "inclusion, not exclusion."




REUTERS
The burning of a Danish flag in Islamabad, Pakistan.
The worldwide furor unleashed by the cartoons of the Prophet Muhammed that I
published last September in Jyllands-Posten, the Danish newspaper where I
work, was both a surprise and a tragedy, especially for those directly
affected by it. Lives were lost, buildings were torched and people were
driven into hiding.

And yet the unbalanced reactions to the not-so-provocative caricatures --
loud denunciations and even death threats toward us, but very little outrage
toward the people who attacked two Danish Embassies -- unmasked unpleasant
realities about Europe's failed experiment with multiculturalism. It's time
for the Old Continent to face facts and make some profound changes in its
outlook on immigration, integration and the coming Muslim demographic surge.
After decades of appeasement and political correctness, combined with
growing fear of a radical minority prepared to commit serious violence,
Europe's moment of truth is here.

Europe today finds itself trapped in a posture of moral relativism that is
undermining its liberal values. An unholy three-cornered alliance between
Middle East dictators, radical imams who live in Europe and Europe's
traditional left wing is enabling a politics of victimology. This politics
drives a culture that resists integration and adaptation, perpetuates
national and religious differences and aggravates such debilitating social
ills as high immigrant crime rates and entrenched unemployment.

As one who once championed the utopian state of multicultural bliss, I think
I know what I'm talking about. I was raised on the ideals of the 1960s, in
the midst of the Cold War. I saw life through the lens of the
countercultural turmoil, adopting both the hippie pose and the political
superiority complex of my generation. I and my high school peers believed
that the West was imperialistic and racist. We analyzed decaying Western
civilization through the texts of Marx and Engels and lionized John Lennon's
beautiful but stupid tune about an ideal world without private property:
"Imagine no possessions/ I wonder if you can/ No need for greed or hunger/ A
brotherhood of man/ Imagine all the people/ Sharing all the world."


BIO BOX
Flemming Rose, 48, is culture editor of Jyllands- Posten, the Danish
newspaper that set off a wave of protests in the Islamic world when it
published a series of cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.

It took me only 10 months as a young student in the Soviet Union in 1980-81
to realize what a world without private property looks like, although many
years had to pass until the full implications of the central Marxist dogma
became clear to me.

That experience was the beginning of a long intellectual journey that has
thus far culminated in the reactions to the Muhammed cartoons. Politically,
I came of age in the Soviet Union. I returned there in 1990 to spend 11
years as a foreign correspondent. Through close contact with courageous
dissidents who were willing to suffer and go to prison for their belief in
the ideals of Western democracy, I was cured of my wooly dreams of
idealistic collectivism. I had a strong sense of the high price my friends
were willing to pay for the very freedoms that we had taken for granted in
high school -- but did not grasp as values inherent in our civilization:
freedom of speech, religion, assembly and movement. Justice and equality
implies equal opportunity, I learned, not equal outcome.

Now, in Europe's failure to grapple realistically with its dramatically
changing demographic picture, I see a new parallel to that Cold War journey.
Europe's left is deceiving itself about immigration, integration and Islamic
radicalism today the same way we young hippies deceived ourselves about
Marxism and communism 30 years ago. It is a narrative of confrontation and
hierarchy that claims that the West exploits, abuses and marginalizes the
Islamic world. Left-wing intellectuals have insisted that the Danes were
oppressing and marginalizing Muslim immigrants. This view comports precisely
with the late Edward Said's model of Orientalism, which argues that experts
on the Orient and the Muslim world have not depicted it as it is but as some
dreaded "other," as exactly the opposite of ourselves -- that should
therefore to be rejected. The West, in this narrative, is democratic, the
East is despotic. We are rational, they are irrational.

This kind of thinking gave birth to a distorted approach to immigration in
countries like Denmark. Left-wing commentators decided that Denmark was both
racist and Islamophobic. Therefore, the chief obstacle to integration was
not the immigrants' unwillingness to adapt culturally to their adopted
country (there are 200,000 Danish Muslims now); it was the country's
inherent racism and anti-Muslim bias.

A cult of victimology arose and was happily exploited by clever radicals
among Europe's Muslims, especially certain religious leaders like Imam Ahmad
Abu Laban in Denmark and Mullah Krekar in Norway. Mullah Krekar -- a Kurdish
founder of Ansar al Islam who this spring was facing an expulsion order from
Norway -- called our publication of the cartoons "a declaration of war
against our religion, our faith and our civilization. Our way of thinking is
penetrating society and is stronger than theirs. This causes hate in the
Western way of thinking; as the losing side, they commit violence."

The role of victim is very convenient because it frees the self-declared
victim from any responsibility, while providing a posture of moral
superiority. It also obscures certain inconvenient facts that might suggest
a different explanation for the lagging integration of some immigrant groups
-- such as the relatively high crime rates, the oppression of women and a
tradition of forced marriage.

Dictatorships in the Middle East and radical imams have adopted the jargon
of the European left, calling the cartoons racist and Islamophobic. When
Westerners criticize their lack of civil liberties and the oppression of
women, they say we behave like imperialists. They have adopted the rhetoric
and turned it against us.

These events are occurring against the disturbing backdrop of increasingly
radicalized Muslims in Europe. Muhammed Atta, the 9/11 ringleader, became a
born-again Muslim after he moved to Europe. So did the perpetrators behind
the bombings in Madrid and London. The same goes for Mohammed Bouyeri, the
young Muslim who slaughtered filmmaker Theo van Gogh in Amsterdam. Europe,
not the Middle East, may now be the main breeding ground for Islamic
terrorism.

Lessons from the United States

What's wrong with Europe? For one thing, Europe's approach to immigration
and integration is rooted in its historic experience with relatively
homogeneous cultures. In the United States one's definition of nationality
is essentially political; in Europe it is historically cultural. I am a Dane
because I look European, speak Danish, descend from centuries of other
Scandinavians. But what about the dark, bearded new Danes who speak Arabic
at home and poor Danish in the streets? We Europeans must make a profound
cultural adjustment to understand that they, too, can be Danes.

Another great impediment to integration is the European welfare state.
Because Europe's highly developed, but increasingly unaffordable, safety
nets provide such strong unemployment insurance and not enough incentive to
work, many new immigrants go straight onto the dole.

While it can be argued that the fast-growing community of about 20 million
Muslim immigrants in Europe is the equivalent of America's new Hispanic
immigrants, the difference in their productivity and prosperity is
staggering. An Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development study
in 1999 showed that while immigrants in the United States are almost equal
to native-born workers as taxpayers and contributors to American prosperity,
in Denmark there is a glaring gap of 41 percent between the contributions of
the native-born and of the immigrants. In the United States, a laid-off
worker gets an average of 32 percent compensation for his former wages in
welfare services; in Denmark the figure is 81 percent. A culture of welfare
dependency is rife among immigrants, and it is taken for granted.

What to do? Obviously, we can never return to the comfortable monocultures
of old. A demographic revolution is changing the face, and look, of Europe.
In an age of mass migration and the Internet, cheap air fares and mobile
phones everywhere, cultural pluralism is an irreversible fact, like it or
not. A nostalgic longing for cultural purity -- racial purity, religious
purity -- easily descends into ethnic cleansing.

Yet multiculturalism that has all too often become mere cultural relativism
is an indefensible proposition that often justifies reactionary and
oppressive practices. Giving the same weight to the illiberal values of
conservative Islam as to the liberal traditions of the European
Enlightenment will, in time, destroy the very things that make Europe such a
desirable target for migration.

Europe must shed the straitjacket of political correctness, which makes it
impossible to criticize minorities for anything -- including violations of
laws, traditional mores and values that are central to the European
experience. Two experiences tell the tale for me.

Shortly after the horrific 2002 Moscow musical theater siege by Chechen
terrorists that left 130 dead, I met with one of my old dissident friends,
Sergei Kovalev. A hero of the human rights movement in the old Soviet Union,
Kovalev had long been a defender of the Chechens and a critic of the Russian
attacks on Chechnya. But after the theater massacre he refused, as always,
to indulge in politically correct drivel about the Chechens' just fight for
secession and decolonization. He unhesitatingly denounced the terrorists,
and insisted that a nation's right to self-determination did not imply a
free ticket to kill and violate basic individual rights. For me, it was a
clarifying moment on the dishonesty of identity politics and the sometime
tyranny of elevating group rights above those of individuals -- of
justifying the killing of innocents in the name of some higher cause.

The other experience was a trip I made in the 1990s, when I was a
correspondent based in the United States, to the Brighton Beach neighborhood
of Brooklyn, N.Y. There I wrote a story about the burgeoning, bustling,
altogether vibrant Russian immigrant community that had arisen there -- a
perfect example of people retaining some of their old cultural identity
(drinking samovars of tea, playing hours of chess and attending church)
while quickly taking advantage of America's free and open capitalism to
establish an economic foothold. I marveled at America's ability to absorb
newcomers. It was another clarifying moment.

An act of inclusion. Equal treatment is the democratic way to overcome
traditional barriers of blood and soil for newcomers. To me, that means
treating immigrants just as I would any other Danes. And that's what I felt
I was doing in publishing the 12 cartoons of Muhammad last year. Those
images in no way exceeded the bounds of taste, satire and humor to which I
would subject any other Dane, whether the queen, the head of the church or
the prime minister. By treating a Muslim figure the same way I would a
Christian or Jewish icon, I was sending an important message: You are not
strangers, you are here to stay, and we accept you as an integrated part of
our life. And we will satirize you, too. It was an act of inclusion, not
exclusion; an act of respect and recognition.

Alas, some Muslims did not take it that way -- though it required a highly
organized campaign, several falsified (and very nasty) cartoons and several
months of overseas travel for the aggrieved imams to stir up an
international reaction.



DPA
Flemming Rose, culture editor of the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten, which
originally published the Muhammad cartoons.
Maybe Europe needs to take a leaf -- or a whole book -- from the American
experience. In order for new Europe of many cultures that is somehow a
single entity to emerge, in a manner similar to the experience of the United
States, both sides will have to make an effort -- the native-born and the
newly arrived.

For the immigrants, the expectation that they not only learn the host
language but also respect their new countries' political and cultural
traditions is not too much to demand, and some stringent (maybe too
stringent) new laws are being passed to force that. At the same time,
Europeans must show a willingness to jettison entrenched notions of blood
and soil and accept people from foreign countries and cultures as just what
they are, the new Europeans.

Flemming Rose is culture editor of Jyllands-Posten, the largest newspaper in
Denmark.




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

? SPIEGEL ONLINE 2006
All Rights Reserved
Reproduction only allowed with the permission of SPIEGELnet GmbH

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


More about this issue:

Related SPIEGEL ONLINE links:     OPINION: Threaten One, Intimidate a
Million (02/01/2006)
http://service.spiegel.de/cache/international/0,1518,398532,00.html
Muhammad Cartoons: The Importance of Being Danish, or Not (02/10/2006)
http://service.spiegel.de/cache/international/0,1518,400146,00.html
European Dis- Unity: Cartoon Conflict Shows Cracks in the EU (02/14/2006)
http://service.spiegel.de/cache/international/0,1518,400710,00.html
Cartoon Jihad: Rotten Judgment in the State of Denmark (02/08/2006)
http://service.spiegel.de/cache/international/0,1518,399653,00.html
30294  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Help our troops/our cause: on: June 04, 2006, 03:28:52 PM
TTT
30295  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Die Less Often: Interface of Gun, Knife and Emtpy Hand on: June 04, 2006, 11:29:01 AM
Woof Sibatan:

Thank you for your candid, courteous and sincere expression of concern.  Today is Sunday, my day of rest and to be with my family, so I answer only briefly for now:

It is not aimed at Muslims--and it is not aimed at you (indeed if you look a number of pages down you will find on this forum a thread about Filipino Muslims and Christians getting along very well http://dogbrothers.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=698 ) it is aimed at those who attack us and those who deny others the right to pursue matters of belief as they see fit.  Indeed the "Infidel" shirt we wear uses their name for us.

You raise important questions and I look forward to doing my best to answer them in the coming days.

Until then, my questions for you-- why do you assume that all Muslims are the intended target instead of only the fascists amongst you?  Did not the United States stop England, France and Israel in 1956 from retaking the Suez Canal?  Have we not had close military alliance with democratic Turkey for many decades?  Did not the United States strongly support Afghanistan when it was invaded by the Soviet Empire? Did we not stop Saddam Hussein from conquering Kuwait and threatening the entire Arabian peninsula?  Did we not institute "no-fly zones" when he went to obliterate the Kurds in the north and the Shiites in the south of Iraq? Did we the United States not save the Muslims of Yugoslavia while Europe dithered?  Did we not free Afghanistan from the religious fascism of the Taliban? (Whither Afghanistan now is of course a separate question , , ,)  Has not Iraq had three elections and does it not now have its own government? Do we not spill our own blood so that this can succeed?  Did we not help the people of Indonesia after the terrible wave?  Did we not help the people in the mountains of Pakistan after the terrible earthquake?

Sincerely,
Marc/Crafty Dog

edited on June 10 to add additional examples.
30296  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Thank You Crafty Dog on: June 03, 2006, 05:56:48 PM
Woof Ray:

I just noticed this thread-- I was teaching in Mexico when you posted and missed it until just now.

Tail wags for the kind words about my humble offerings to our training together.  I too had a great time and will be doing my best to apply the things you shared with me-- exellent stuff.  I heard strong praise from my students who attended your seminar at the Inosanto Academy-- which I would have attended as well but for my seminar in Mexico City (30 prison guards-- what fun Cool  )

I look forward to our paths continuing to cross.

The Adventure continues!
Crafty Dog

PS:  Likewise my thanks to MS for putting us together.
30297  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Howl of Respect to our Soldiers/Veterans on: June 03, 2006, 11:39:56 AM
Edward Dahlgren, 90; WWII Actions Earned Medal of Honor
From Times Staff and Wire Reports
June 3, 2006


Edward Dahlgren, who was awarded the Medal of Honor for spearheading the rescue of an Army platoon that was surrounded in a German counterattack during World War II, has died. He was 90.

Dahlgren died Wednesday at the Maine Veterans' Home in Caribou, Maine. The cause of death was not announced.

ADVERTISEMENT
 A sergeant with the 36th Infantry Division, Dahlgren captured more than 40 enemy soldiers and killed several others during fighting at Oberhoffen, France.

According to his Medal of Honor citation, Dahlgren led his platoon to the rescue of a similar unit facing a German advance.

After spotting a number of enemy troops crossing a field toward the surrounded platoon, he ran into a barn and opened fire with a submachine gun. He killed six German troops, wounded several others and thwarted the advance.

Dahlgren's platoon then moved forward to join the other GI platoon.

The two units moved through Oberhoffen until they began taking rifle fire from a house held by enemy troops. Dahlgren dodged their fire as he ran toward the house and lobbed a grenade through the front door. The eight German troops inside quickly surrendered after Dahlgren burst into the house, firing his rifle.

Starting for the next house, Dahlgren was driven to take cover by hostile machine-gun fire. He grabbed rifle grenades and launched missiles into the house, destroying the machine-gun position and killing its two operators.

Dahlgren moved to the rear of the house and came under fire from a machine gun in the barn. After tossing a grenade into the structure, he burst in and five Germans surrendered.

But the house was still in enemy hands, and Dahlgren and his unit advanced to clear the dwelling. Entering through a rear window, he trapped several Germans in the basement. He again used a grenade to subdue the enemy forces, wounding several and forcing 10 to surrender.

After securing that block, Dahlgren and a comrade moved on to another street. Hearing German coming from a house, Dahlgren opened fire with rifle grenades, entered and fired several bursts down the cellar stairway. Sixteen Germans surrendered.

President Truman presented Dahlgren with the Medal of Honor, the nation's highest military honor, at a White House ceremony Aug. 23, 1945. The citation that went with the award noted that Dahlgren's "bold leadership and magnificent courage" repulsed the counterattack and saved the lives of American soldiers.

Friends recalled Dahlgren as a humble man who spoke little of his wartime heroics. He once noted, however, that he " ? was afraid before it happened and after it happened. But in battle I just acted on the spur of the moment."

The highly decorated Dahlgren left military service after the war with the rank of second lieutenant. His other medals included the Silver Star, three Bronze Stars, a Purple Heart and the French Croix de Guerre. He was awarded the French Legion of Honor in a ceremony in April.

A native of Woodland, Maine, Dahlgren spent much of his life in the northern Maine community of Blaine, where he worked for the state as a seed potato inspector.

In addition to his wife of 57 years, Pauline, Dahlgren's survivors include two sons, two daughters and a stepson.
30298  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Guro Crafty en el DF, Mexico on: June 02, 2006, 12:23:38 AM
En ingles digo "Consistency across categories" osea el indole del movimiento debe ser semajante no obstante la categoria.

Muchos dicen eso, pero menos lo viven.  En mi caso, porque tengo la experiencia de realmente pegar con palos a otros hombres con palos, osea en condicion de adrenalina, me parece logico y natural usar los mismos movimienots con mano desnudo, con y contra cuchillo etc.  Para una persona faltando eso en su experiencia escuchando a un maestro quien tambien faltando en eso experiencia se le resultara' much mas dificil en usar estos movimientos y conceptos cuando la situacion es verdadera-- y en este momento se va a usar movimientos de otro indole completamente o respondera' de manera padaciendo de entrenamiento completamente.

?Esta claro mi espanol aqui?
30299  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Mexico on: June 01, 2006, 08:44:58 PM
Mexico: Of Soccer and Electoral Strategy
Summary

Mexico's presidential race has become a very close contest. The latest polls show the conservative National Action Party's candidate Felipe Calderon tied with the Democratic Revolutionary Party's candidate, left-leaning former Mexico City Mayor Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador; Institutional Revolutionary Party candidate Roberto Madrazo is not far behind. On June 6, the candidates will meet for their second and last televised debate. Whoever wins that will have a good chance of winning the July 2 election.

Analysis

The final weeks of Mexico's presidential campaign have seen it become a very close race. After several months of leading the competition in virtually every opinion poll, left-wing Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador from the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) lost that position in May to Felipe Calderon from President Vicente Fox's National Action Party (PAN). The latest voter intention surveys indicate that Lopez Obrador and Calderon are tied, with Roberto Madrazo of the formerly long-ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) not far behind.

As recently as five weeks ago, Lopez Obrador looked like the certain winner. He held a modest but consistent lead in opinion polls, which gave him the initiative to set the campaign and policy agenda. In an attempt to protect his lead, Lopez Obrador decided not to attend the first televised debate, opting to attack Fox instead. After two false starts, Calderon finally found a way to exploit Lopez Obrador's weaknesses and launched an advertising campaign comparing Lopez Obrador to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. The campaign proved to be a success. Meanwhile, Madrazo has been trying to plug the holes that widespread scandals and internal discord have made in the PRI's ship.

The candidates' second and last televised debate, slated for June 6, is the most prominent event before the July 2 election The victor is likely to have a definitive advantage when voters go to the polls. Though the race has become more competitive, no candidate has created much excitement among the voters, and a large portion of the electorate will not even bother to vote. Furthermore, the soccer World Cup -- which will be held in Germany from June 9 through July 9 -- is expected to decrease voter attention even more. The three main candidates' electoral strategy is to try to get into first place before the World Cup begins, and the upcoming debate is likely their biggest chance to win over the undecided voters and consolidate their support bases.

Having lost his position as front-runner, Lopez Obrador also lost the impression of inevitability he was trying to bring to the upcoming debate. He has dismissed every poll that does not give him the advantage, maintaining that his own numbers say otherwise. He said in an ad on national television this week that he is focusing on just one segment of the electorate: those who earn less than $800 a month, to whom he proposed giving cash handouts as soon as he becomes president. The problem is that he would be dispensing those handouts to a great majority of the Mexican population, and he has yet to figure out where the money would come from. Lopez Obrador will continue attacking Fox, Calderon and the PAN's role in the bank bailout after the 1994-1995 financial crisis, which he considered a cover-up to protect rich bankers, even though Fox, Calderon and the PAN were not in power at the time. Also, having lost many of the "independent voters" who once sided with him, Lopez Obrador will appeal directly to voters identified with the PRI and try to win over those in the party's left wing to supplement the support from his own PRD.

Calderon, in turn, has had a tough time generating enthusiasm beyond his party base. Despite being the youngest of the candidates, he represents a brand of social conservatism that has not gone over well with the youngest voters. However, he could persuade many voters leaning toward Lopez Obrador that the PRD candidate poses a grave economic risk. Calderon's message that associates Lopez Obrador with Chavez and highlights his willingness to go on a spending spree once in power has played well in the northern states, where Calderon has consolidated a wide margin. However, he seems to have won over all those who can be convinced by that strategy, and he does not yet have sufficient support to win the election.

Madrazo, who has the highest personal negative ratings from voters, has been unable to run a consistent campaign. His run has been marred by scandals and party infighting -- some of which he is responsible for, and most of which was engineered by his opponents within the PRI. The scandals have put the once-invincible PRI on the verge of falling into third place, a position from which it would be hard to recover. Despite all that, the PRI has shown extraordinary resilience, and Madrazo is hoping that low voter turnout will allow him to take advantage of the party machinery's "get out the vote" strategy. Madrazo is also appealing to the segment of the population targeted by Lopez Obrador, saying he will help but without endangering the country's economic well-being. Madrazo also will relentlessly attack Calderon to undermine his support in the north.

Opinion polls after the debate could give a good indication of which candidate was able to win over the small segment of the electorate that is up for grabs. Economic and public security issues will dominate the debate. The candidates are not likely to pay much attention to the most prominent item on the U.S.-Mexican agenda -- immigration -- during the debate or during the rest of the campaign, unless there are incidents along the border involving the U.S. National Guard that result in the deaths of Mexican nationals. Such an event would directly affect Calderon, who would be identified with Fox's acquiescence to the U.S. National Guard deployment to the border.

This presidential election is the first in which Mexico is allowing absentee voting for Mexicans living abroad. This was a long-standing demand from the Mexican community in the United States, which accounts for an overwhelming majority of Mexicans living outside Mexico. Politicians had stalled on the issue for various reasons, but an eleventh-hour attempt in 2005 finally succeeded in allowing absentee voting. Of an estimated 4 million potential voters outside the country, only about 300,000 registered to vote, and even fewer will actually vote. The reasons for this are varied, but one major reason is that Mexicans living abroad whose status is not legal could be afraid of being identified if they send their votes. The number of registered Mexican voters outside Mexico will increase, and then the Mexican community in the United States will become an active constituency. This is likely to change the dynamics between Mexico City and Washington.
30300  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / We the Well-armed People on: May 31, 2006, 11:27:23 PM
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Interview With Jeff Snyder
by Carlo Stagnaro

Very often, anti-gun activists claim guns do kill people, while their opposers assure that guns, on the contrary, do save lives. Actually, real statistics and crude numbers seems to agree with the latter, as ? among other ? John Lott showed in his well known More Guns, Less Crime. Anyway, stats and numbers cannot answer the entire question; rights cannot lie on data books. One should also make a moral argument. Do people have the right to be free? In that case, do they have the right to protect themselves? Finally, do they have the right to use arms for self-defence? If so, it shouldn?t matter whether, according statistics, guns wither kill or save lives. The fact that one should be allowed to defend himself simply excludes that government disarm him.

We have talked of this, and much more, with Jeff Snyder, whose last book, Nation of Cowards (Accurate Press, 2001) is a strong case in defence of the individual right to keep and bear arms.

On September 11, 2001, the worst terrorist act in history was committed without any guns. The terrorists were armed only with knives and box-cutters. Some say that the hijackers found it quite easy to realize their plans; airplane passengers, in fact, can?t carry firearms. Even pilots and cabin stewards are unarmed. What about gun-free airplanes and airports?

The track record of gun-free zones is, how shall we say this, less than impressive: post offices, schools, and now, airplanes. The events of September 11 could not have occurred but for the fact that air travelers are disarmed, and airplanes are a Second Amendment free zone. In no other way could the terrorists have commandeered the planes with box cutters and pocket knives, turned them into flying bombs, and wrought such massive destruction of life, property, and our economy. This is not because the terrorists would have been afraid of being shot and killed by passengers, since they were obviously prepared to die. Instead, they would have known that they would not succeed in carrying out their mission against the World Trade Center and Pentagon, and so there would have been no point in trying that.

So it turns out that depriving people of freedom has its costs. It is hard to conceive of a more graphic illustration.

People imagine that curbing liberty will prevent those with evil intentions from carrying them out, by depriving them of the ability to act in a dangerous or deadly fashion. However, liberty is not just the necessary condition for bad people to act, it is also the necessary condition for good people to act. Unless the act prohibited is mala in se (wrong in itself), like murder, then restricting liberty in hopes of rendering bad people harmless comes at the price of incapacitating good people and rendering them helpless.

This is a Faustian bargain that would not appear desirable to the good unless the good believed that it was not their responsibility to act. It appeals to those who think of themselves as consumers of public safety, who believe, with the State?s encouragement, that government can and will control external reality to deliver a safe world to them. So they choose to trust in government control, which expressly promises to deal with the problem, rather than relying on the unpredictable chance that their fellow citizens have the moral capacity and willingness to do the right thing when circumstances call upon them to do so. They know that they do not intend to act, but expect government officials to save them. How, then, can they believe that other citizens will do so? Fundamentally, then, this concept of the "gun-free zone" reveals a very profound failure or inability to trust in one another. Of course, we are encouraged by the State to trust in it, in lieu of or in preference to trusting in one another.

Do you still believe that America is "a nation of cowards"?

No. Actually I think that Americans are, by and large, encamped in a mental state that precedes cowardice. Cowardice implies that a person knows what he ought to do, but shrinks or flies from it in fear or self-interest. The bulk of Americans, it seems to me, are in one or two states that precede awareness and acceptance of the notion that they should defend themselves: (1) denial that anything will happen to them, or belief that their risk is adequately controlled by insuring that they work and live and travel only in what they perceive to be "safe" neighborhoods, i.e., relatively crime free zones; or (2) belief that it is not really their responsibility to protect themselves or others, but the state?s, and that the state will protect them. I suspect that most Americans do not acknowledge that they have any responsibility to protect themselves from a violent assault, or have not realized or accepted the reality of what that entails, or believe that avoidance of "dangerous areas" is adequate. I might be wrong, because there is a third possibility, namely, that they are fully cognizant of the risks and accept them, but do not wish to become "the kind of person" that carries a gun everywhere, or cannot be bothered with the nuisance of it all. If that position is adopted with full awareness of the implications, it is not cowardice.

Your book is a strong case against utility. You state every individual has the right to keep and bear arms and, more generally, certain rights, no matter whether or not it leads to a more prosperous and peaceful society. Why?

I do not believe that rights are founded on prudential grounds, nor do I believe that individuals are entitled by society or their government to possess or exercise rights only so long as society or the state judges (whether rightly or wrongly) that the rights confer an aggregate net benefit upon society or the state as a whole. I have been concerned in many of my writings to demonstrate this, as well as the corollary proposition, that rights cannot be defended or justified on utilitarian grounds, since to undertake such a defense is to imply that rights require a utilitarian justification, and are therefore contingent on positive aggregate outcomes. By the way, I speak of social utilitarianism, normally expressed as "the greatest good for the greatest number," not of individual utilitarianism, that is, the notion that each individual acts to maximize his individual welfare.

Utilitarianism is a result-driven ethic, that is, it is driven by a desire to secure a specified result, a particular "greatest good," desired by the greatest number. Utilitarianism thus concerns itself with gaming the outcome of the exercise of man?s freedom. By definition, all matters are necessarily subordinate to the acquisition of the "greatest good" for the "greatest number," a particular aggregate net benefit. As a result, particular individuals simply don?t count and, in fact, the philosophy sanctions the use of individuals solely as a means to an end, that is, it sanctions human sacrifice, so long as those to be sacrificed are not so numerous that it eliminates rather than contributes to the overall aggregate benefit.

This is very evident in Handgun Control Inc.?s writings in favor of gun control. They do not deny that some people successfully use guns to defend themselves, and they freely site Department of Justice Statistics that report that this happens about 65,000 times a year. But they argue that this benefit is small in comparison to the number of homicides, suicides and crimes committed with guns each year, and that it would result in a greater benefit to society to eliminate or severely restrict access to handguns. Thus, tacitly, by their own admission, the 65,000 persons a year who would otherwise benefit from having a gun are to be sacrificed in favor of the hundreds of thousands a year who will benefit from elimination of guns.

Because utilitarianism is concerned with securing a desired aggregate outcome, whether the individual is permitted liberty to act depends on whether his fellow citizens are, in the aggregate, using their liberty to achieve the desired good. If not, the individual?s liberty may be curbed or re-directed. Thus, the individual?s freedom depends on how others behave, and is defined and circumscribed with reference to the results that others achieve. In other words, you cannot carry a gun, because too many others are using them to commit crimes. Thus the scope of your freedom depends not on how you act, but on how others act.

By contrast, classically, individual rights are founded on the notion, as expressed by Kant, that each individual is "an end in himself," that all are entitled to be treated as having equal dignity, and that it is therefore wrong to treat others solely as a means to a desired end. A philosophy of individual right is not results-driven, and therefore does not sanction human sacrifice in favor of the highest good desired by the greatest number. An approach that rests on man?s freedom cannot, by definition, be driven by outcome or result: if men are left free, the outcome will be left variable! Of necessity, then, an approach that rests on freedom cannot possibly guaranty a specified, favorable outcome, either individually or in the aggregate. It cannot, therefore, promise safety, security, a reduction in violent crime, etc. Such concerns are blissfully beside the point, for the point is precisely to respect each individual as an end in himself.

However, individual autonomy and dignity are thin reeds to hang anything on these days! It?s just not enough, you understand! And I often think that that would be a pretty good epitaph for the whole wretched 20th Century: "Dignity Was Not Enough." People seem to believe they are more secure on the seemingly "scientific" grounds found in the results uncovered by social scientists. For example, in the gun control debate, you find people who are immensely comforted and bolstered by the findings of John Lott, that concealed carry laws are associated with measurable, significant decreases in violent crimes. They feel that this, truly, establishes legitimacy for their right to carry arms. Who needs ethics when you have numbers? Amazing.

Many people agree with you, that anyone should be able to own and carry a handgun for personal defense. But what about military weapons? Don?t you think it would be dangerous to let people be so strongly armed?

I do not wish to alarm you, but we already freely permit people to have military weapons and, what?s worse, the people we permit to have these weapons are clearly the most dangerous people on the planet. I mean, of course, those in government. Do I take your question, then, to mean, that while we manage to live in the world with this state of affairs, the incremental danger of letting anyone else (who is so inclined) have these weapons would be simply too dangerous and intolerable, so that it is better to protect the monopolies enjoyed by those now in power?

I am sorry to be a little glib, but really I don?t know how to answer your question. It is a sometimes unfortunate fact that we generally take the familiar, the status quo, as the proper baseline for judging all matters and see any change productive of uncertainty as an intolerable threat to our current comfort level. This is illustrated in the gun control debate all the time. People are concerned that, if concealed weapons permit laws are passed that allow any sane, law-abiding adult to carry a handgun for self-defense, these unknown strangers will be a danger to their community. You see, what do we really know about these people, and what training do these people really have? Yet ask them how much they really know about the police who are carrying not only handguns but also who have shotguns and, sometimes, semiautomatic rifles in their cars. What do they really know about the temper, character and personality of these people? What do they really know about their training? Basically, they know nothing about that. They know they wear uniforms that make them look "official" and that they work for a respected organization that is supposed to protect them, and this is enough. It is familiar; it is part of the ordinary fabric of life, so it is part of the baseline or background against which risks are measured, rather than part of the risk assessment itself. If you try to point out to them that they already live, quite comfortably and with scarcely a thought, with the risk they are supposedly worried about, they look at you like you are a madman. It is a failure of imagination. They cannot step off the baseline, cannot see the world apart from the baseline.

Really, would we any better or worse off if the individual right to keep and bear arms clearly encompassed the right to own tanks, fighter jet aircraft, stinger missiles, and suitcase nukes? I have no idea, but I think that the question is unanswerable except as a general indication of our beliefs about the nature of people. However, I will say that, at least here in the United States, historically, at least prior to the 1960s, except for the 1934 tax imposed on machine guns (which had the merit of doubling their cost to help keep them out of the hands of the disgruntled poor), I believe that there were no legal prohibitions against owning most military weapons. I am not aware of any instances during this period in which the absence of these legal prohibitions led to societal horrors. Perhaps almost all who are inclined to use these weapons against their fellow man are attracted to service in government, where it is socially acceptable?

You say that the Second Amendment affirms an individual right, which exists before any organized government, so that it cannot be repealed any more than we could repeal the right to life or any other natural or God-given right. But don?t you think, as some say, that it is an anachronistic legacy of the Revolutionary War?

Okay, you?re baiting me now! First, I hope that I do not say this, but that I simply state what was once believed or elucidate the implications of the now largely forgotten theory of natural rights. I try to demonstrate how far we have fallen away from this understanding and, correspondingly, how illegitimate our government has become judged by reference to its founding principles. I do this mostly for my own edification but also in hopes that others will pick up the thread and re-examine the whole question of the nature of the state and its legitimacy.

I?m not going to take the bait and argue that the right is just as relevant today as it was at the time of the Revolutionary War, nor address the claim that, since small arms are insufficient to defeat a modern army, with its helicopter gun-ships, laser-guided bombs and satellite surveillance, the right is quite anachronistic, at least in terms of protecting against government tyranny, because I?m not really interested in that. You?re still judging the right?s right to exist by whether or not the right works. The question implies a utilitarian standard. If it isn?t productive of desired or useful results in the present age, it has no raison d?e?tre. The question in this case is, rather, why you think you have a right to deprive a peaceable individual of this liberty because it doesn?t produce any discernible benefits for you or others. Is Carlo?s idea of utility the measure of all things, is Carlo the center of the universe which, himself unmoved, moves all he surveys? Or do others have equal autonomy and dignity? For if so, then there is no single measure of a common utility held in common, and, all being equal, no one has a right to impose his will on others. Or to say the same thing a bit differently, a common or shared utility exists, if at all, only to the extent of what people do entirely by voluntary association and cooperation.

Or perhaps your question really inquires into the status of natural rights, namely, whether or not what we call "natural" rights are really simply historical in nature, or creatures of custom, and can therefore come into and go out of existence. If they can be made by custom, why can?t they also be unmade by custom? Or, if they are made by custom, why can?t they be unmade by positive law?

The theory is that such rights are in some sense "God-given," or necessarily presupposed in individual autonomy or dignity and in the tacit requirement of mutual respect among persons of equal inherent dignity. Or some would argue that they are the necessary logical conditions of a government by consent of the people, and are in that sense prior to government. As such, government cannot legitimately change them, without government ceasing to be a "servant" of the people.

Yet the fact remains that what we call individual rights achieve recognition of that status at some particular point or era in history, and reflect the temper of that time. For example, in 1689, the English Bill of Rights took formal recognition of the right of English Protestants to keep arms, after a Catholic King endeavored to disarm them. However, the "right" reflects a long-standing custom of leaving people free ? largely undisturbed ? to own and bear arms for self-defense. So because the right is manifested in human affairs at particular times and places and not universally among all peoples at all times and places, it appears a matter of custom, "arbitrary" in the sense that it does not express the necessity of a physical law. Then here is the leap: therefore we can change it, or refuse to recognize it as a legitimate ethical principal. This debate has been going on since the Greeks. In Ethics, Aristotle distinguishes between what we call positive or man-made laws and natural laws and notes that some say that even so-called "natural" laws are just based in human custom. Aristotle concedes that there is some merit to this view, in the sense that so-called "natural" laws are not "natural" in the sense of physical laws, but cautions that the distinction is a legitimate one and not to presume that because such laws are "customary," that natural laws are subject to ready political manipulation. The implication is that human nature is not infinitely or readily malleable, least of all by fiat.

What about Christians and guns? Some of them say that people should not resist aggressions, because violence is never justified. Some others believe that life is a gift from God, which should be defended by every necessary means. What of this?

Frankly this is not as clear as I would like, although I will certainly not blame God for my confusion! The position that the Christian does not offer violence against violence, or resist, even in self-defense, is rooted both in the commandment, "Thou shalt not kill," and in the Sermon on the Mount, where Christ counsels not to resist evil, to turn the other cheek and to love one?s enemies (Matthew 5: 38 ? 45). On this basis, the use of all force, even to fight for or establish what is right or just, is wrong, and the counsel implicitly condemns all governments, which are founded on coercion. Few have written as forcefully on this issue as Leo Tolstoy. If you are interested in this I recommend The Law of Violence and the Law of Love and The Kingdom of God is Within You. However, there are those who, examining the nuances of the original, untranslated words, argue that Christ?s counsel is against retribution, revenge or punishment, and does not prohibit self-defense in the moment of assault. This seems also to be Aquinas? position, who essentially argues that self-defense is legitimate as long as there is no hatred or retribution in your heart, and the current Pope has also written that self-defense is legitimate in the eyes of God. Frankly, I am not sure where the truth lies, because I find it difficult to accept the notion that loving one?s enemies is consistent with striking them down or killing them, and further, non-resistance is consistent with Christ?s own life as revealed in the Gospels. So I suspect that Tolstoy is correct. But even the alternative view implies a severely limited domain for the exercise of force and, I believe, essentially prohibits the use of force to render justice.

You write, "self-government, not war." What does it mean?

This is from an article I wrote titled, "The Line in the Sand," which addresses the question of when it is appropriate for people to take up arms against their government. Basically it means, don?t wage war trying to reform the government, or to institute a new form of legitimate government; instead, ignore the state, accept and handle your responsibilities without trying to pass them off onto others, and govern yourselves through voluntary arrangements. That warrants some elaboration. First, I think it necessary to recognize and admit that perhaps the most important fact of the American experiment in limited government, with its Bill of Rights and express reservation of rights to the People, is that it did not work. I don?t think any new, supposedly better institutional or structural elements of a reformed government will work either. Fundamentally, it is a problem of the nature of man, and his ready desire to use force to compel others to secure benefits to himself; fundamentally, this is a religious problem. If you create an institution with the sole legitimate power to compel others, nominally only for certain limited purposes, the power will eventually be used for any purpose. It?s like building a car that can go 120 miles per hour, telling the driver he can only ever drive 10 miles per hour and expecting that he won?t exceed the self-imposed speed limit.

Second, its pretty clear from de Jouvenel?s examination of the growth of power of states that government grows by offering to relieve individuals from burdensome social obligations that they have (such as educating their children or taking care of one?s parents in their old age) or intervening on their behalf where they are the weaker party (such as in employer-employee relations), thereby creating fealty to the government in return for empowerment against others or a release from obligations. This process ultimately creates an individual who is free from all social ties, a solitary figure who relates to everyone else only by and through the state. This theory makes sense of the seemingly incongruous expansion of personal, sexual or reproductive rights following the radical curtailment or destruction of individual property and contract rights and all encompassing expansion of the Federal government?s power via a creative interpretation of the commerce clause during the New Deal. Whatever may be your opinion of sexual freedom or marriage, the fact is that the Supreme Court?s "discovery" that the use of contraceptives and abortion are fundamental individual rights, coupled with the growth of no-fault divorce, high taxation that drives women to work, subsidized day-care and increasingly, children?s rights, are gambits by the state to break down what most would consider to be the final and most basic structure of society: the family. It is an indication that the process of freeing the individual from all obligations to others in favor of one, all encompassing obligation to the state, is nearly complete.

In this light, the state is best resisted by ignoring it and refusing it?s offers and assistance and, since the state seeks to isolate, by forging voluntary social relationships with one another to provide for our mutual needs and wants. A good and so far successful example of this is the growth of home-schooling.

If America is a nation of cowards, what about other nations? For example, European countries have no Second Amendment (and no Bill of Rights) to stand for. What do you believe those people should do?

Okay, from de Jouvenel to popular culture. In The Empire Strikes Back, when Luke is about to enter the cave that "is strong with the dark side of the Force," Yoda says to him, "Your weapons, you will not need them." I would like people to understand, "Your rights, you will not need them." Rights do not make you free; only by acting free can you become free. The knowledge of the prior existence of rights is useful, as reminders of what men once were, what they fought for, where they drew a line against compulsion by their King or government; it helps us perceive that men one time conceived themselves as possessing a core dignity and autonomy that they would not permit others to lay hands on ? it helps us to perceive our baseline, which we would otherwise be blind to.

But to fight for the establishment of rights or for recognition of rights by one?s government involves tacit subordination to the state. The struggle to make a government recognize a right works in favor of the state, because it implicitly sets up government as the arbiter of the existence of the right. If one will not act within the scope of freedom delineated by the right unless or until the state concedes it lawful to do so, why of course then there is no right and the state controls your conduct. Thus, the passage of concealed carry permit laws in the United States is an admission that the right to keep and bear arms no longer exists in this country.

But there is more to it than that. The whole notion of individual rights is fundamentally a bankrupt notion, and not because of the problem I spoke of before concerning whether or not the rights were really "God-given" but merely customary and subject to change. The notion of "fundamental rights" is correlative to the notion of legitimate coercion; it implies, and tacitly depends upon acceptance of subjection to a domain of coercive authority. You can be governed, except that government must leave you alone in such and such spheres of activity: free speech, free exercise of religion, bearing arms, etc. The "rights" analysis pictures envelopment in a sphere of coercive authority, with specified, limited pockets of freedom. It?s the baseline problem! Why are just those areas of my behavior "protected" and not others? The fundamental question is not what rights do I have, but why may anyone exercise coercive authority over me in the first place? It is coercion, not freedom, which must be justified. If coercion is not legitimate, there is no need for "rights." Arguing "rights" is arguing from an acknowledged and accepted subordinate ? unfree ? position.

So, your rights, you do not need them! They cannot and will not help you, because no government wishes to recognize them (although it may make a show of doing so as long as it thinks it necessary, until most people can be brought around), and it is fine with the state if you spend your life attempting to compel the state to acknowledge and respect their existence. The question is whether you will act free or how you will use your freedom. But take care that you do not throw yourself away cheaply or needlessly, for such a one as the state; choose well how to create good in the world. Seek and speak the truth about what you know about the nature of the state, ignore the state as best you can, refuse its assistance, accept and fulfill your responsibilities instead of seeking ways to shift your burdens to others, and forge the social relationships you want or need to live as you would like without the state?s tender mercies.

February 8, 2001

Carlo Stagnaro [send him mail] co-edits the libertarian magazine "Enclave" and edited the book "Waco. Una strage di stato americana." Here's his website.

Copyright ? 2002 LewRockwell.com
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